Showing posts from March, 2011

The Making of Penang Pancake

Ah Guan Apong - the display reads - is run from a single, modest wheel cart placed at the same spot everyday along the same street - Burmah - in Georgetown, Penang Island. The ingredients and tools of the trade are all stacked and perched on this vehicle and spot. The couple who run this business are modest, quiet and persevering. A piece of their pancake. otherwise known as ban chien kueh in the Penang version of the Fujian dialect, costs only less than 15 Australian cents. What makes them tick? Turnover, reality, a past time or passion in their food craft?

Ingredients Required:
Sifted 175g self-raising flour

3/4 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda

25g of castor sugar

1/2 tablespoon of salt

2 small or medium eggs, lightly beaten

130 ml of low fat milk

130 ml of water

40g of butter, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon of alkaline water

1 cup of peanuts, toasted and grounded coarsely

Extra granule sugar for sprinkling


Sift self-raising flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Add su…

Breakfasts in Melbourne

"He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart." (C.S. Lewis) Above, an Aussie breakky found at the South Bank.

"I didn't forget your breakfast. I didn't bring your breakfast. Because you didn't eat your din-din.”
(Bette Davis) Below, early morning at The World Cafe.

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." (Adelle Davis)
Below, a hearty serving of a quisadilla wrap over the usual mix of cooked mushrooms, cut tomato slices, fried omelette, bacon slices and a dousing of barbecue sauce.

"He was my cream, and I was his coffee - and when you poured us together, it was something." (Josephine Baker) Above, blood red Italian orange juice with a mug of cappuccino, somewhere in the business district.

"All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast." (John Gunther)
Above, the roti prata served at the Sambal Kampung at 234 Little Bourke Street in…

Melbourne - The Langham, South Bank

Morning clutter and the rush to get up and out on to business and purpose of the day (above) may contrast with the elegance and leisurely pace that the Langham Melbourne offers. Lights are placed strategically in a residence room, including bedside reading lights and double choice work desk lamps, and outside corridor passageways. Cleanliness is strictly observed - and dawn delivered newspapers of your choice (mine was the Financial Review) provided for you in a monogrammed bag. Stationery is printed in pastel pink pretty.
My view of Flinders Station, Federation Square and rowers on the Yarra were, simply said, unobstructed.

The toiletries are liberally provided and sitting on the vanity upper shelf waiting for you, when you return after a hard day's work, wheeling and dealing. The toilet bowl is Villaroy and Boch, and the tap handles utilitarian but charming. The shower head is wide and generous with the water spray. Staff make the effort to smile, and are quick with guest requests…

Melbourne - Lygon Lair

A lair is a hideaway, a resting place and a den - and perhaps nothing fits more on a Melbourne evening than for a casual getaway after a hard day's wheeling and dealing, than to head to Carlton and its iconic street, Lygon. Whether one speaks fluent Italian or not (a restaurant staff member said "Ni hao" to me) does not matter - all it takes is an appreciation of the good life and la dolce vita.Above, beef ala Italia.

Dolci awaits and rewards one who has finished the secondi. Above a selection of favourite sugar fillers - tiramisu (foreground) , lemon tart and a half eaten chocolate-laden cannoli. All desserts from the Brunetti Cafe.

Above, Dave, Sonja and Shane (left to right).
Below, Kev, Dave and Sonja (left to right) with their unique paper bags containing served spaghetti marinara, a signature dish of the Little Lygon. Bon appetit!

(Above image credit - Shane Campbell)

Above and below, impressions from the Brunetti Cafe along Faraday Street in Carlton on a Monday ev…

Penang - Street Side Curry Mee

Street side pavements and food stalls hark back to the past two centuries on Penang Island, Malayisa.
I was recommended a terrific and worthy dish of curry mee noodles ala Penang style if I went early to Air Itam Markets by dawn on a Saturday morning in February 2011. Penang's curry mee offers a unique taste in the soup that you cannot get elsewhere - neither Sydney, Kuala Lumpur nor Singapore. I found my delight, beside a bridge, where eager customers waited right in front of the elderly ladies
preparing the stuff. (above)

What's so special, you may ask? The dish is not overly rich, only with hints of dried shrimp paste (belacan), a dash of palm sugar, prawn and/or chicken stock and light coconut milk, but gentle with a kick of flavour. The garnishings are also important - for this stall, it is the marinated dried cuttlefish (jee hu in Hokkien) that obviously stands out. Also tasty ingredients are deboned chicken breast cuts, cockles, deep fried tofu squares and chicken blood c…

Home Made Breakfasts

Ah, the glory and joy of an easy morning meal, when I wake up with no commitments and just look forward to how the day flows along. I like slurpy egg yolk meandering through a textured bread slice, carrying with it the infused aroma of freshly cracked pepper, a hint of light soy sauce and with a dollop of olive spread below.

Then there's Dairy Farmers Thick and Creamy country vanilla yogurt - not too much, but just enough to savour them with blue berries (above). This combination refreshes and is such an appetizer. No streaky bacon, no overcooked mushrooms, just plain and easy.

And I won't forget getting the navel orange slices being crushed through the juicer.
Bon appetit!

Penang Street Foods - A Sampling

With names like poh pniah, lam mee, chee chong fun, tom yam mee and more, the labels on the variety of street food on the island of Penang, Malaysia can be simply bewildering. Above, the food court in New World Park, along Burmah Road in Georgetown. The variety available is astounding - and even if servings can be relatively small in the perception of the Australian, American or British visitor, the price asked for is only a fraction of what is required back in the Western countries. The dishes are an evolving result of the fusion of different cooking styles, traditions and ingredients - when they all meet up on the island. The trick is not to over indulge, go for the widest choices and take a break of at least three hours before starting to snack again. Most of these dishes come served with various sauces and condiments to enhance the experience.

Deep fried yellow-striped scad (above), or black pomfret, with the insides stuffed with spicy mixes, are a feature of Malay and Straits Ch…

Three Cities, Many Hearts

Note: Due to some unresolved technical issues, the following blog posting, from a past year, has suddenly decided to re-park itself as a 16 March 2011 entry.

It was a truly happy greeting me from Happy coming for me, my nephew Chet and Karen at the pool area in a Yishun condominium. The not quite four year old had a most delighted surprise on her face, as if to recall that I promised to see her in person in Singapore, if I could at the next opportunity. Then she settled into a demeanour that she would enjoy my visit to her parents' home and to see her younger brother Stuart as well.  She naturally chatted away, played with every one of us and even sat at the dining table joining me to partake in the Lunar New Year treats.  Stuart sat on my lap, and even if only a year old, sent me strong communicative vibes through his expressive eyes.

Karen later that evening got us my fav Katong laksa and otak otak (that heavenly combination of steamed egg, fish fillet and aromatic leaves of the…

Another Weekend Too

Mee rebus in Chatswood (above)

Note: Due to some unresolved technical issues, the following blog posting, from a past year, has suddenly decided to re-park itself as a 16 March 2011 entry.

Fresh bean sprouts are mixed with other crunchy and sweet vegetables. These are next poured on to a plate and mixed with a zesty sauce that provides savoury touches of chilli, lime drops and potato smoothness. The key ingredients are the shrimp fritters, small enough to bite into and optimally crispy to provide a contrast from the vegetable bites. This South Indian inspired mix, often referred to as rojak, appears in different forms throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

The Thai vermicelli salad,also dished up by Susan and Boo Ann,was lighter in outlook, with mint leaves, pineapple cuts and the compulsory chili bits. Here the overall effect can be more outrageous, as the sourness combines with the peppery heat - and there are hidden landmines in those small but powerful chillies hidden in the…

Sydney's Broadway - Another Malaysian Food Trail

There are now more than a few cafes and restaurants providing the roti canai and murtabak in Sydney CBD. In India and South-east Asia, they first emerged as handy and viable backpacker food to the throngs of Western visitors from the seventies to the nineties. They are delicate, airy and appetising to fill up any one's hunger pangs. The roti can be eaten plain, or dipped in light vegetarian, dhall bean or meat curry gravy. Above, the serving at the Mamak Village cafe along Glebe Point Road near the junction with Broadway.

I was especially taken with the anchovy-based condiment above at Mamak Village.

My accompanying mates who live nearby in this precinct have so much choice and variety of food that they may not have been as enthusiastic as me for this mamak cuisine.

Above, a balcony with a view upstairs at Mamak Village in Glebe, reminding me of a comparable scenery from the Lee & Me Cafe along Crown Street in Wollongong CBD. Below, an authentic tasting teh tarik, to accompany t…