Showing posts from July, 2012

Whatever and However

I recall from Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Remaining loyal does not pay. That is, when dealing with certain business providers in our everyday routine lives.  When they want you, they woo you to the ends of the Earth. Once they have you, they eventually take you for granted.  Is this what we want in our society?  I am amazed at this attitude of not maintaining customer relationships. In my twenty years dealing with Australian providers,  I seriously am convinced of two things:

1. When they run shouting advertisements, out of the internet, print or telly, on their side, things are actually happening exactly to what they are desperately trying to tell us otherwise - when the catch cry is more captivating, be careful and be very afraid;

2. Like false love and friendships, such businesses court you only in the beginning. After that, I feel like an abandoned parent, of whatever gender, holding the infant (s) in my arms.


Rodizio Brazillian Churrascaria - Cronulla, Sydney

Bun bread on skewers. Tongs for each guest to help take off a meat slice hanging ready on the sword like skewer.  The last time I saw such skewers was at Santa Fe Portuguese in Wollongong CBD. This time, in a southern Sydney suburb in the Shire, I am surrounded by family groups and couples, with our table of five selecting the churrasco and tapas degustation menu.  The meats are cooked over hot charcoals and offered in a wide variety, from minted lamb to beef sirloin.  Above picture captures our starting blocks, with chorizo and chicken (which was my fav selection for the night, crispy and full of flavour).  A variety of condiments are utilised to marinade the meats - lemon, French mustard, herbs like thyme, garlic, honey, wine and chili.  These ingredients reflect the heritage of European settlers from more than a hundred years ago merging the availability of meats from an extensive animal grazing industry to the cuisine of their forefathers.

For starters, we loved the banana fritte…

Italian Home Feast - Cena from Chris and Charmaine

On a Saturday evening in July, the Wans cooked out a menu course Italian meal.  I loved the pasta with pesto sauce  (picture above), full of flavours and texture and yet not heavy to the palate.  I reckoned the four children present also loved this dish, not overly creamy and lightly garnished.  Pine nuts are blended with olive oil to make the pesto sauce in a Genoan tradition.  Freshly made garlic bread started the meal, together with the fresh garden salad -  insalata (photograph below).

Secondo - Neapolitan Ragu or Spaghetti Bolognese?  Italian-Americans pioneered the latter, with a full on tomato gravy, as this is not common back in Italy.  The evolution of such immigrant inspired dishes in new lands reminds me of the history of another home grown USA dish called chop suey.

Prima - pasta gambero,  that delightful combination, light and easy, that can only come from peeled whole prawns,  fresh whole tomatoes (pelati, also peeled)  and an appetising sauce.  It reminds me of good vers…

Monocle Magazine - My Fav Covers

Monocole, to me, marks a  landmark moment in periodical publishing developments. Just like Reader's Digest in the mid 20th century, the concept, idea and product from Monocole fascinates, confronts and entertains my mind and mindset. Here I share with you my favourite covers from this outstanding publication, which manifests fusion, cosmopolitanism and the beauty of why not? It suggests there is another perspective on important issues, and also brings out many hidden gems and trends.  Every issue can be different and surprising. At times each edition is like a compedium and collection of related things, at others it can be a one spot of contrasts and contradiction.   To me, Monocole captures the essense and diversity of a wonderful world. All covers shown here are copyright of Monocole.

Mochi Sweets, Gardens Mall - Kuala Lumpur

Premium Japanese, carefully and elegantly presented.  Mochis are bite-sized sweet and savoury snacks that can contain fillings like peanut, mango yogurt, bean paste, chocolate, coffee and green tea.   The outer dough is made of pounded glutinous rice and one cannot re-freeze those lovely little balls after dethawing them - there will be an impact on taste.  Ideally, mochis should be eaten as soon as possible on the day of obtaining them.  I noticed them at a cutely set up stall at the Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur.  In Japan, they are consumed on festive occasions like the New Year - and has a dedicated festival named after them, the Mochitsuke.

The Mochi Sweets business I saw is a franchise from Hong Kong. To me, their appeal here looks like the equivalent of the penchant for macarons in Australia. There is even a cherry blossom flavour at Mochi Sweets - yes, they are called Sakuras! A daifuku is a specific type of mochi moulded in round shape and containing sweet tasting bean fill…

Canoodling,Bangsar - Kuala Lumpur

This cafe restaurant has since closed.

"Canoodling" can mean the act of consuming noodles whilst in a  canoe, but the more used meaning is one of enjoying each other's company in close proximity.  Benjamin Yong, of the Malaysian Big Group, must have wanted us to be with good mates and loved ones when visiting his Canoodling chain in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley of Selangor.  Bob and Sanei introduced me to this delightful concept restaurant, something that would go well with Sydney and  Melbourne diners.  I had a pleasing combination (picture above) as my mains - chicken with nasi lemak, accompanied by crackers, sambal condiment and vegetables.  There are also daily specials on the board. It was lunch time on one of my holidays and I was captivated by the business model and customer service found at this restaurant.  I also had a relaxing time catching up with mates I do not often meet up with.

Amidst the modern decor of pots, spatulas, pans and chalk boards, one c…

Bankstown Bazaar - Sydney

The hype about Bankstown has been exotic, with a market atmosphere and a possible mystery.  At the grassroots, these are ordinary battlers and some resourceful business people who make a living based on turnover, logistics and crowds.  Maybe not unlike from where they and their families came from. Perhaps not different from financial traders, who move their wares and transactions by bytes and bytes, instead of having to heave them physically - but all have to constantly watch the flow, trends and movements.
A stroll through the markets at Chapel Street can open our eyes and minds to the culinary delights on offer in this bustling suburb.  This time around, I shall focus on the small things that can bring a smile to our face or a sensational feel to our palate.  I begin with the most plain and freshly produced snack - the prawn and veg roll or the goi cuon (image above), tightly wrapped, not deeply fried but eaten as a rather healthy bite. Shredded carrots, basil leaves and lettuce pro…

Steamboat Sizzle - Carlingford, Sydney

Steamboat sessions are favoured in the middle of winter. In China, they are referred to "huo guo" or hot pot, and traditionally use charcoal instead of the contemporary cooking gas. Close cousins are the Lancastershire hotpot in the UK; the canh chua in Vietnam;  the flower peppery Chongqing hotpot; and the shabu-shabu from Japan. A tasty and rich stock base that has been brewed before hand sets the stage for a gathering with inner warmth and nurturing engagement, especially amongst friends and relatives.  There are lots of slicing and cutting in the preparations leading up to the meal. The idea is to faciltate naturally responsive cooking in the hot soup, once the ingredients are poured into the bubbling brew!

Popular ingredients are seafood, tofu, all types of vegetables, dumplings, noodles, poached eggs, all varieties of meat and seafood balls and meat slices.  The sauces accompanying each steamboat session can vary, depending on the region and climate. Chili oil, white …