Lazy Saturday Afternoon...Having Pate on a Fresh, Crusty baguette.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Woke up to a languid morning and snuggling in my sheets. Would have continued to hibernate longer, if not for my grumbling tummy. Nothing too back-breaking. With pate from Savenor's, I picked up a freshly baked loaf from Clear Flour Bakery and assembled a light gourmet lunch with my homemade sauerkraut, chinese pickles (no cornichons at home) and coarse-grain Dijon mustard sauce (w/ sea salt, pepper, dash of cayenne pepper for heat). Soooo good!


Dinner at Bergamot's. Very highly recommended!

Friday, October 29, 2010

B's Birthday Dessert. compliments of the chef.

Bergamot Boston
118 Beacon St
Somerville, MA 02143-4304
(617) 576-7700

Food (4.7/5.0)
Service (4.6/5.0)

I haven't gotten that excited about a restaurant in Boston in a while.  Even though I got lost for an hour before arriving, my dining experience made it all worthwhile. 
I went there with no expectations but came out of the restaurant a bonafide Bergamot convert. Believe me, Bergamot ranks up there together with my favorite restaurant Radius, L'Espalier and the like. The food was not too expensive ($10 appetizers, $25 entrees and $10 desserts/wines) considering that each and every plate was well-thought of, the produce was very very fresh and of exceptional quality (local, sustainable and organic), plating was tasteful, the ambiance was romantic and intimate, service was attentive and charming (+waitstaff of men all very very appealing to the eye). Our table of 5 girls (Eve, Tiffany, Deborah, B and I) was also spoiled with small treats from the chef. My favorites were the pea green salad, the house special (Deborah's fish), the pork tenderloin (Tiffany's) and the goat cheese cheesecake. I would definitely be back for more. Love this place!

Compliments of the chef
 Sunchoke Bisque Lobster, Green Beans, Niçoise Olives, Espelette. 
 Pea Green Salad Fried Egg, English Peas, Berkshire Ham, Pecorino Cheese, Pea Shoots, Truffle Vinaigrette. Simple ingredients which were so fresh and clean, it was heaven in my mouth. Can probably still taste the earth....
 Deborah's Special. This was amazing. What FISH was this?! Melt in your mouth. Seasoning was clean and the crispy fish skin....everything about this dish was perfect. 

 Pork Tenderloin Devonshire Creamed Romano and Yellow Wax Beans, Baby Shitake Mushrooms, Maitre d’ Sauce. Very juicy and tender. Greens imparted much-needed crunch with pillowy slabs of tender pork.
 Pan-Seared Monkfish Medallions-Baby Artichokes, Pat Woodbury’s Clams, Fiddlehead Ferns, Fried Capers, Chorizo Dust, Bread-Garlic Sauce. Good variety of seafood and flavors.

Herb-Roasted Giannone Chicken-Crispy Confit, Spring Dug Parsnip Purée, Braised Endive, Ham, Chinese Dipping Sauce.-Pretty good but I was still blown away by the fish and pork so...
 Plantain Gnocchi Black Bean, Avocado, Roasted Red Pepper, Portobello Mushroom Confit, Shishito Pepper, Cilantro Sprouts.-Interesting texture. Looks a little like silkworm larvae doesn't it? 
 Goat Cheese Cake, Sweet and Sour Cherries, Candied Angelica.WOW! What better way to show off the versatility of goat cheese? Sour cherries was a perfect accompaniment to the richness of the cake. FAVORITE.
 Guajillo Chile Chocolate Pavé Taza Chocolate, Milk Stout Ice Cream, Apricot Caramel, Pretzel Sticks. Absolutely Delicious.

Re-creating Kyoto-style Chakin Shibori Sweet Potato with Cinnamon.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The finished bun!

I'm not sure if you know this, but I'm a huge fan of KyotoFoodie. After seeing beautiful pics of Chakin Shibori sweet potato buns and reading about the history of this traditional Kyoto-style dessert, I had to try my hand at making these. From,
Chakin shibori is a cooking method for forming mashed ingredients in chakin (tea cloth). As shibori means wringing in Japanese, a small amount of mashed satsumaimo is wrapped in thin cloth or plastic wrap and is formed by twisting the cloth or plastic wrap, leaving a patterned surface.
While home in Singapore, I saw a bunch of steamed sweet potatoes lying around after breakfast and impulsively stole them for my own. Armed with everything I needed, I got to work right away, thinking that they would be good for lunch. I liked the uncomplicated use of sweet potatoes in creating a simple yet hearty snack.

Recipe from Kyotofoodie:
2 sweet potatoes 
6 tablespoons sugar
30 grams butter
3 tablespoons milk
2 egg yolks (one for potato mixture one for glaze)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt 

In a nutshell, I got steamed sweet potatoes, mashed them up, then added the ingredients together. Dividing the mixture into small balls, I twisted them with a coffee filter (you should use cheese cloth ideally) and topped off the balls with a smear of egg wash on the tops and baked them for 15 minutes at 400 deg F or 200 deg C. 

Verdict. Being too impulsive might be a bad thing. Thinking that the mashed sweet potatoes are not going to hold up on their own, I added more flour, which caused the buns to be a little too dry. Running out of butter did not help either. The resultant dryness mopped up my egg wash. As shown, there were floury nooks and crannies left out, which was a bummer. My buns are no way as delicate, smooth and elegant as KyotoFoodie's. Taste-wise, my family enjoyed them because milk added teased out the natural sweetness of the potato. Ironically, they approved of the chunkier texture because it reminded them of tau sar pia's (mung bean cookie-cakes) and traditional Chinese tapioca cakes. Go figure. I need to tweak this a little more...

Wine and Cheese #10 at Eve's.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our cheeses for the evening
The beautiful cake
Close up! Fruit Mmmm....

Our resident patissier Eve hails from Long Island and so it comes as no surprise that the theme for her wnc is Long Island Wines. She thoughtfully got a card and champagne for Tiffany and A in celebration of their engagement and we all couldn't be happier for the lovely couple :) Fyi, all of the cheeses came from Central Bottle. Eve prepared yellow cake and didn't have high hopes because yellow cake reminded her of box cake but I (and everyone else) loved it! Of firm crumb, the very buttery cake was cleverly moistened with limoncello, which complemented the luscious  layers of berries and cream, delicious! Many of us posed with the beautiful, gleaming cake in mention; in fact Eve and I had the pictures as our facebook profile :) My favorites of the evening, in highlight below.

According to Long Island Wine County:
-Located in New York State, on the East Coast of the United States, Long Island extends some 120 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Its maritime climate, geography and soil characteristics provide ideal conditions for producing wines of exceptional quality.
cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, chenin blanc, dolcetto, gewurztraminer, lemberger, malbec, merlot, petit verdot, pinot blanc, pinot gris, pinot noir, riesling, sangiovese, sauvignon blanc, semillon, shiraz (syrah), tocai friulano, viognier 

1) Macari Vineyards (
2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Paired with: Roves de Garriques (Goat’s milk – Provence, France)-lemony and floral, so refreshing. It doesn't have the heavy tang that goat's cheeses have usually.
2) Lieb Family Cellars (
Reserve Chardonnay 2006
3) Lenz Winery ( like because I tend to prefer sauvignon blancs.
2007 White Label Chardonnay
Paired with: Champlain Triple Crème (Cow’s milk – Vergennes, Vermont)
Paired with: Twig Farm Square (Goat’s milk – West Cornwall, Vermont)
4) Palmer Vineyards ( smooth finish.
2007 Cabernet Franc Paired with:  Hudson Red Twin Maple Farm (Cow’s milk - Ghent, New York)- I love the nutty aroma and soft-medium texture!
Paired with:  Vegetable Lasagna. Served warm. Someone mentioned that this was their favorite cheese and I laughed like crazy.
5) Castello di Borghese Vineyard and Winery (
Pinot Noir 2006 Estate
Paired with: Pecorino Ginepro (Sheep’s milk – Emiglia-Romagna, Italy)
6) Duckwalk Vineyards ( 2007 Blueberry Port-Concentrated berry bouquet! Had it before at Eve's birthday party earlier this year and I was glad I was able to siphon a sip. I had to bargain my way for another refill from Ritesh. :)
Paired with:  Dark Chocolate!

Lunch at Ippudo Tao, Singapore

The Aka (red) and Shiro (white) ramen with Pork Belly at Ippudo Tao Singapore

Ippudo Tao UE Singapore
207 River Valley Road
UE Square
Singapore 238275

Food (4.4/5.0)
Service (4.0/5/0)

I've tried Ippudo in Nyc a while ago, but surprised that somehow Singapore has a branch as well, I dragged my mum out for ramen. After hearing some some ramen aficionados that Ippudo Tao is significantly better than Ippudo Mandarin Gallery, that's where I went. Ippudo Tao is a themed collaboration between the Ippudo franchise (Ramen King 
Shigemi Kawakara) and TAO, an internationally-renowned Japanese drum (Taiko, 太鼓) performance group. The first Ippudo Tao opened in Fukuoka, whilst the Singaporean location ended up being the second, and Tokyo being the third. All this just strengthens my observation that Singapore franchises almost everything acclaimed from foreign shores. I did my research and chanced upon Camemberu's blog, which is a treasure trove of information on things to eat in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. 

I almost forgot to mention that they also offer the option of how done you want your noodles to be; my mum's firmest noodles softened to a perfect al dente after minutes of soaking in hot, piping pork broth while my medium noodles became a tad too soft, so do factor the soaking time when you considering your bite. I had the aka/red bowl which layered the shiro/white broth with fish stock and spicy miso, which I thought was very tasty but a little too rich and salty. I enjoyed the delicate but flavorful white broth more, because individual ingredients were given a chance to shine and somehow come together harmoniously in a savory sea of goodness. Having eaten my fare share of noodles, I would have to concur that ippudo's protein- and collagen-rich magical ramen brew is worth its price and is the epitome of umami. I wonder if there are any plans to send the franchise to Boston anytime soon. Damn you, NYC!

The location at UE, which we got confused with United Square.

The interior
Napkins too were photographed.
Gyoza. Its good but that's about it.
I had the pork belly buns and then had more pork belly with my ramen so it was pork belly overload.  Taste-wise, I prefer Momofuku's :P
The signature Ippudo "Shiro" (White) is the original tonkotsu soup with Hakata-style thin noodles, Rosu Chashu (pork loin), cabbage, black fungus and spring onions.
TAO "Aka" (Red) - Thin curly noodles in a tonkotsu soup blended with fish stock and spicy miso paste. Topped with Bara Chashu (pork belly), spring onions and fragrant garlic oil.
Check out the sesame grinder. So cute! I want one!

Attempt at Basic Molecular Gastronomy-FAIL

Monday, October 25, 2010

My foodie friend Jh received a at-home-molecular-gastronomy kit as a birthday present and invited some of us over to play. We started small with spherification, a process popularized by El Bulli's Ferran Adria. Essentially, it means shaping liquids into balls, and many have used it to create pseudo-caviar.
When I saw the basic ingredients sodium alginate and calcium salt, my first thought was... WAIT. I use this basic combination in my lab to create gels for tissue engineering. Fyi, Alginate is a seaweed derivative and is widely used in medicine, pharmaceuticals, food etc.
We decided to create some cranberry "caviar" using cranberry juice. In our first attempt, we fastidiously weighed each ingredient out according to instructions and allowed each mixture to dissolve and equilibrate. When the time came for us to drop cranberry-alginate into calcium solution... nothing happened. The solution just bleeded into the calcium stock. Experience tells me that when i create my own gels in the lab, alginate concentrations tended to be a lot higher and i often had to vortex or sonicate everything for a more homogeneous mixture. Also, the process happens relatively fast. So kids, if you do have cuisine innovation's MG kit, double-up the proportions so that the balls would be firmer.
Finally, after some tweaking,
We managed to create actual spheres using a dropper.
We also injected some liquid using a syringe to give stringy noodles.

-Using a dropper to create caviar was tough work. I was dropper-ing for a good 30 minutes and amassed only a small number of balls. 
-Also, the balls weren't as crunchy and chewy as I expected. Singapore has a number of desserts which are peppered with a similar equivalent called Q-balls (see below), aptly named for its colloquial expression for chewy/Q. Light and refreshing nata de coco shaved ice....I want some!

-Our balls were flavorless and bland. Maybe the next time, we'll use concentrate instead, since I'm assuming that the sugar in the balls diffused into calcium stock.
-we ended up using 2 hours for a process that should take 15 minutes to accomplish. Talk about tedious. No one had more than a taste and sadly, the damn bowl was chucked away. :(

Wine and Cheese #8 at Jen's.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vino Lineup.
Amazing views at Jen's rooftop.

partial assembly of our w&c


Crab Cake salad

Smoked pancetta. Is it me or does one of the fat veins appear peppered with gold flakes?

The theme for w&c #8 is "North End Wine Tasting" (pairing and notes, courtesy of Jen):
1) Col dell'Orso, Frozza, Prosecco
Paired with; Crab Salad with Orange & Oregano

2008 Monestero Trappiste Vitorchiano, Coenobium, Lazio
Paired with; Pecorino Romano

2009 Bisson, Ciliegiolo Rosato, Cinque Terre, Liguria

Paired with; Cool Pesto Salad with Fresh Mozzarella 

2007 La Kiuva, Arnad-Montjovet, Valle d'Aosta

Paired with; Fontina Cheese & Smoked Pancetta 

2006 Paolo Bea, San Valentino, Umbria

Paired with; Italian Sausage 

6) 2008 Gulfi,
Rossojbleo, Sicily

2009 Bruno Verdi, Sangue di Giuda, Oltrepo` Pavese, Lombardy

Paired with; A slice of Heaven on a plate– made with love by Eve. 

This w&c was enjoyable on many many notes. That day, I submitted a paper after countless nights of not-sleeping, so libations were very much anticipated. This was one of the times I actually arrived high and tipsy (on adrenaline) even before I had my first sip of wine. I spent most of w&c 8 talking about how happy I was to whoever my audience was and for the most part, neglected to focus on the wines 100%. 

I dredged my memory and managed to retrieve snapshots of the color, sequence of wine and the cheese I liked, which I highlighted. 
Blush-colored (3) and the cheeses were especially memorable. The wine after the cheese was my 2nd favorite, after the dessert wine. That wine paired fabulously with Eve'amazing raspberry white chocolate tiramisu as the flavors complemented each other; the slight tartness and sweetness was just nice and not overwhelming. (i am picky about Tiramisus but this is simply delicioso!!!!) I might have to recreate it the way I recreated her mango cobbler too! 

But fear not my fuzzy memory, because Jen's wine choices were exemplary + she even made sides of mozzarella caprese salad with juicy cherry tomatoes and crab cakes on top of our tradition cheese pairings. Yummers!

When the party was over, I was definitely high on adrenaline and also vino as I skipped and tripped my way to Park Street T stop. Dubious looking bruises which presented themselves the next day were worn as badges of academic victory.

Wine and Cheese #7 at Tiffany's.

Like an underground foodie event, I finally had the opportunity to make w&c #7 because Tiffany and B hosted! I forgot if this was the complete list but just a peek at the wine list...

Here are the crusty, fresh baguettes from Clear Flour Bakey :)

Assembling part of the cheese and meat platters on some lovely stone tablets :) I love all of Tiffany's silver and crockery.

The theme for this w&c was "Not red, not white, but somewhere in between”.

From wiki, What are orange wines?
Orange wine is wine made from white wine grape varieties that have spent some maceration time in contact with the grape skins. Typically white wine production involves crushing the grapes and quickly moving the juice off the skins into the fermentation vessel. The skins contain color pigment, phenols and tannins that are often considered undesirable for white wines while for red wines, skin contact and maceration is a vital part of the winemaking process that gives red wines its color, flavor and texture. Orange wines get their name from the darker, slightly orange tinge that the white wines receive due to their contact with the coloring pigments of the grape skins. 
This winemaking style is essentially the opposite of rosé production which involves getting red wine grapes quickly off their skins, leaving the wine with a slightly pinkish hue. However in the case of Pinot gris, among  he more popular grapes to apply a skin-contact treatment that is neither red nor white, the diffuse nature of the term becomes illustrated, as both an orange wine and a rosé might achieve a similar expression of  pink/orange/salmon-colored wine.

Our wine and cheese tastings/pairings were as follows (courtesy of B): 

1) Ca’de Noci, Querciole, Vino frizzante bianco 2007, Italy. (The Wine Bottega $35)
Parmigiano Reggiano Cravero 2 yr (Formaggio’s Kitchen [FK]
$23.95/lb), Sopressata Piquante (FK $21.99/lb), Saucisson Sec
Basque (FK $20.99/lb), Salame Ligure (FK $11.99/lb)

2) Movia, Pinot Grigio 2005, Slovenia. (The Wine Bottega $28)
La Tur (Triple milk cheese, Piedmont, Central Bottle $9.50 each)

3) Mulderbosch, Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2009, South Africa. (Boston Wine Exchange $12)
Strawberries, Moses Sleeper (Cow’s milk cheese, VT, FK $21.99/lb)

4) Isabel Mondavi, Deep Rose Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley. (Boston Wine Exchange $15)
Carboncino (Triple milk vegetable charcoal-covered cheese, Piedmont, Savenor’s $7.99 each)

5)Domaine Renardat-Fâche , Cerdon de Bugey, France. (The Wine Bottega $24)
Comté Grand Cru (30 months, Jura, FK $18/lb), Mast Brothers’ Dark Chocolate (Madagascar 72%) + Hazelnuts (Central Bottle $8), Seasonal Berries with Cream

Coming from our resident oenophile, B, I really was not disappointed with the choices of wine. She even compiled comprehensive tasting notes (not included here, may try asking for permission) that heightened my appreciation of the wines :) Although they were all really delicious, my favorites are highlighted above in green. We all agreed that the frizzante was the best we had! It was so tart and refreshing. If not for the pricy-ness, it would be my staple tabletop vino for sure. There were 2 roses, affectionately called the lady rose (3), and the manly rose (4). The Isabel Mondavi was my favorite, so while I do not profess to be a vino expert, I enjoyed the seductive notes of dark red fruit for its complexity vs the lighter lady rose. The Comte Grand Cru was so well-received, B and I got more to nibble on later :) We even brought it to Jess' roof-deck party. 

Had a great time with the girls and boys as always!

Making Roasted Pork Belly or Char Siew at home

Close-up of the beautiful Pork Belly I made. Glistening. Totally sexy.

Making my own roasted pork belly or char siew seemed rather strange, somehow. Mostly because 99% of the time, my family would get our char siew from the butcher or grocer or hawker. Therefore, I considered it  a pseudo-specialty food, in the same catergory as Chinese sausages or lap chuong and Singaporean pork jerky or Bak Kwa.
Until I chanced upon
this recipe from David Chang's (Momofuku fame), I had no idea it could be that simple. I didn't make the buns because I was too lazy + it's good on noodles and rice anyways. I adapted the recipe, choosing to brine the pork and make a separate glaze for the roasting process.

Adapted ingredient list and brief instructions to follow:

 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar4 1/2 cups water, divided2 1/2 lb skinless boneless pork belly, cut into quarters1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
-Combine all ingredients and brine in the fridge for 24 hours.
2½ tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
1/4 -1/2 cup sugar/honey *important for caramelizing
1 tb cooking wine
1/2 tsp 5 spice powder
salt and pepper
-Remember to make it as dry of a paste as you can (see pic below) because the pork will produce copious amounts of oil which will dilute the glaze sufficiently.

Pat pork belly dry

Glaze on each side
Cover with aluminium foil and roast at 300 degF for 45 minutes, then increase to 450 degF for 30 minutes. taking care to turn in between. Once done, cool to room temperature. 
The pork needs to rest and chill before cutting.  WOOOW!
Check out the meat juices!
I filtered the resultant golden liquid lard into a shot glass......for use with later pad see ew!!! or any other noodle stir fry! 
Thoughts. Experiment and tweaking of recipes worked better than expected. The pork was tender and flavorful and the glaze had a touch of sweetness without it being cloying.  :)
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