Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My first Lovebites Party :-))))))

I'm very excited about my first event with a  LoveBites logo, I've had many a dinner party at home before, but this one feels different. Whether it's because it's the first time I've booked out an entire restaurant, or because I'm choosing an exclusive provider for the wines, or just because it's not just any dinner party...it has a name. I'm nervous, excited, and hungry. I really hope that for the sake all of my friends who are coming, that it will be a fabulous night!

Monday, June 11, 2012

In Pictures - Robuchon au Dôme, Macau

We visited Macau earlier this year for a weekend treat with a couple of friends, SO MUCH FUN! I was going through my photos during a rainy, lazy Sunday at home, and apart from being alarmed at how many more photos of food I have than of people (!!!), I loved the memories conjured up by these photos from our weekend, and our Sunday lunch at Robuchon au Dôme.

The rather odd looking Grand Lisboa Hotel in Macau, where Robuchon is located at the very top

I go to so many restaurants, take so many photos, and can't share them all because the idea of writing a blog post every day of the week is a bit too daunting. 

So, instead of writing about every dish we had, I invite you to look at the photos that I took of the experience, so you can create your own impression of the restaurant (I hope it's an amazing one!), then call them to make the first available booking you can. Invite some friends, go to Macau, and go HUNGRY.

Make a meal of it, so to speak! :-)

Downstairs, the walls of the lift entrance are lined with fabulous wines and champagnes..
The lift opens up to an opulent mirrored foyer, with a pianist playing on a beautifully hand-carved and inlaid piano...

The epic tome of a wine list, the largest I have ever seen. There are also some really nice options by the glass

The Butter Trolley - salted or unsalted
A perfect wheel of butter
The bread basket - ask for extra bacon sticks!


The Amuse bouche: Cauliflower panna cotta with uni
The vegetarian amuse bouche: Cauliflower panna cotta with a sweet corn velouté
My friend AB is a vegetarian, and we had no doubt that such an establishment would be able to cater to her tastes very well. We were excited to see what they came up with, and the amuse bouche was a good start!

Crispbread with truffle butter and sea salt - yum


Duo of crab and mozzarella with heart of palm in romaine leaves seasoned with sweet and sour dressing. All the plates are hand decorated as well! See the red to the top left of the plate
Gratinated Roseval potatoes with medley of pork and black truffle served with preserved mushroom
The vegetarian starter - mixed salad with black truffle. Although the coloures were beautiful, it was competely lacking flair and ingenuity if you ask me! Surely the chef is faced with the challenge of a vegetarian meal quite regularly, and this was very boring.
The wine pairing for the starters, a nice crisp riesling, which everyone loved!


Hot Jelly of Shellfish Bouillon with Scallop Royale and Spiced Shredded Lobster - what an amazing, amazing dish! Quite simply, the best soup dish that I've ever tasted!
Jerusalem artichoke veloute served with foie gras emulsion and black truffle

Friday, June 8, 2012

Easy peasy meals @ home - CHICKEN

PB and I love to cook (as if that wasn't already obvious), and we like to eat healthily when possible (him more so than me!). But unless we're prepared, we end up eating the same old thing over and over because we know we can cook it fast. When we get home at 8pm after a day of slogging away at the office, I can't be arsed to cook for 2 hours, and it's horrible for digestion to eat so late. 

This recipe requires me to get home at 6.30pm, but if you have an early day, give it a go. If you tried my French Onion Soup recipe, then you will have thyme and white wine in your fridge - you can use it up here!

I got this recipe from one of my favorite cooking blogs, Proud Italian Cook. She really makes Italian cooking easy, accessible and tasty! I had something similar before at Bistronomique in Hong Kong, and had always wanted to recreate it. 

Chicken Vesuvio
You'll need:

4 chicken thighs (skin on)
4 chicken breasts (skin on)
Dried Oregano 
Granulated Garlic
A few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional) 
4 large potatoes, cut into wedges
1 1/2 cups White Wine 
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
10 to 12 Whole Garlic Cloves (skin on)
Frozen Peas

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, dried oregano, granulated garlic. Wash, peel and cut your potatoes into wedges.

In a large skillet, heat some olive oil and brown the chicken pieces and potatoes, then remove and place in a roasting pan/large pyrex dish.

Add the garlic cloves to the skillet and brown then, then deglaze the pan with wine. Add the chicken broth and cook it down for 5 minutes.

Pour your sauce into the pyrex then sprinkle fresh thyme (optional).

Bake for 1 hour and 15 mins, until the chicken is cooked through. 15 minutes before it's finished, add the peas.

If you like your peas more green and crispy (like me), 10 minutes before it's done, cook the peas in the microwave, covered in boiling water, for 3 minutes, then drain. Add to the dish when it's out of the oven.

If you'd like your sauce to be more gravy-like, when the dish has finished cooking, remove the chicken, potatoes, and garlic and set aside. Place the dish over a low flame on the stove and stir in some gravy granules, such as Bisto Chinken granules. Start with a little at first and add as needed (the granules should be mixed with a little water first so that they don't clump). Then put everything back in the dish to serve.

You don't need to serve it with anything else, it's a one dish meal, which means less washing up! We all like less washing up :-)

Smear the garlic on the chicken for some extra garlic-y goodness!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Easy peasy meals @ home - ONIONS

Summer is well and truly here, we're junking, we're beaching, and those annual summer holidays are approaching! I've just shelled out for tickets to Paris, and after a week of degustation menus, day trips to vineyards in Champagne, and a romantic getaway to Mont St. Michel, followed by a week in Corsica with best friends (yay!), I know I'm going to be feeling very poor!

So after a gorgeous meal at Yardbird last Friday with my lovely gal pal SN, I have decided that I am going to try and conserve my funds (and my waistline) as much as possible until France - which certainly means no shopping, and much less eating out.

Consequently I'll be cooking more at home, which I'm quite excited about! I'll be opting for recipes that are simple and tasty, which allow me to use all of the ingredients I purchase, rather than scooping out that one tablespoon of creme fraiche and then letting the rest of the $60 container go bad. And let's face it, the last think we want to do when we get home after a long day is channel our inner chef!

Similarly, I have lots of random ingredients in my pantry that I bought for some elaborate recipe in the past (a huge bag of pine nuts and hazelnuts, coriander seeds, Japanese cake flour, coconut oil,  to name a few), which I am going to try and use.

To start off, yesterday I made my French Onion Soup, and all I needed to buy was onions and thyme! :-) If you have a 1/4 bottle of white wine in the fridge which you are never going to drink, this is the perfect way to use it.

French Onion Soup - simplified

You'll need (serves 4 as a light meal or 6 as a starter):

30g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
a few sprigs of thyme (optional)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp plain flour
1.4L boiling beef stock
120ml dry white wine
2 tbsp cognac or brandy
French baguette (or any crusty bread you have on hand)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced(or any cheese which melts)

Melt the butter in a large pot, add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook them over low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that they don't brown.

Sprinkle in the flour and salt, and cook for a further 3 minutes. 

Turn off the heat and add the boiling beef stock and wine, stirring it to incorporate everything well.

Cover the soup and simmer over low heat for 30-40 mins, skimming occasionally. Stir in the cognac right before serving, et voila! You can either have the soup just like this for a lighter version, or if you want, grill one slice of baguette each with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan, place it in the bottom of the soup bowl. Pour over the soup then layer the thinly sliced Gruyere over the top. Place it under the grill until melted and bubbling, then serve immediately.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Casual London

I LOVE going to London on business trips, looooooooove it! It's a great chance to see friends and visit my favorite restaurants, and we always manage to bring the sunshine! After 19 straight days of torrential rain, the sun came out on the day we landed, and I was hopeful that it was a good sign of a great week to come!

We stayed at Fraser Place for the first day, near Hyde Park. It's a neat place for long and short stays (£200 nett for a one bedroom apartment, although if you stay longer the daily rate is less), with functional one or two bedroom apartments a stones throw away from some great sights.

If you want to fit in a great load of sightseeing in one hour, pull on some running shoes and head to a park, any park! Since we arrived at our accommodation at 8am, that's exactly what I did, and it beats running Bowen Road x 1,000.

My running tour of Hyde Park: Kensington Palace - William and Kate's future residence.  Shadow art display at The Serpentine.  Royal Albert Hall and a big red bus. Lounge chairs by the Round Pond
After a quick shower, we made a last minute booking at Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental, in the vicinity of Harrods and Harvey Nics. They make a mean burger, as was evident by the number of burgers coming out of the kitchen! You have a choice of four, including a "Yankee" burger, as well as pulled pork and other options.

Bar Boulud is a chain of restaurants originating in the USA, opened by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Daniel Boulud. Now, this French American Bistro doesn't pretend to compete with Mr. Blumethal's gig upstairs, but instead is a casual place to have a nice meal with excellent service.

Their "Prix Fixe" set lunch menu is surprisingly good value at £23, and the portions were quite generous - I could have shared one menu with my mum. 

Bar Boulud's Olive Bread. Lunch menu: Rocket Salad with mozzarella and a trio of aioli, tomato and tepanade toasts. Whole bone-in Pan-Fried Sole with Brown Butter Sauce. The Yankee Burger with a side of french fries. Lunch menu: Grilled Plaice with Creamy Polenta and Basil. The AMAZING dessert with the Prix Fixe menu, and free macaroons because they took our fries away before we were finished!

Hong Kong Mother's Day fell on that Sunday, so we treated our mum to our favorite Italian in Notting Hill - Osteria Basilico. I called from HK in advance to secure a table on street level. On a sunny day with light streaming through the windows, it's much nicer than the dark yet still cozy basement level. We love this place for it's non-fussy, straight-forward and scrumptious food, not to mention at a great price.
Fresh selection at the Antipasto Buffet (only one visit) -  £8.50. I practiced my piling skills from back in the old days (Four words: Pizza Hut Salad Bar), and this was more than enough for three of us to share as a start.
Veal Milanese with rocket, artichoke and cherry tomatoes - £18.50. This dish was the only disappointment that I have encountered at Osterio, the meal was bashed way too thin, it was dry and completely uneventful. 
Fresh fettuccine, veal and rosemary ragout - £12.50. A mild and meaty sauce, one of my favorites.
Pasta special: Linguini with beef and mushroom ragout and truffle oil $12.50. The meat sauce was so flavorful, rich and tasty! A heavier option than the veal ragout, and the truffle oil aroma was a bit overpowering for my brother (mind you, he's a fussy eater)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Monogamous Chinese

Photo from www.timeout.com.hk
When I asked my friend if she'd like to try out this restaurant for dinner, there were two immediate replies:

1: "Huh? Monogamous?"
2: "Just as long as it's not one of those really brightly lit clinical places."

Loving the crockery and glassware!
And it's true, not all Chinese restaurants can be said to pay attention to mood lighting! But this place is different - I quite like the colourful walls, the large pieces of commissioned Chinese art, the red lanterns, the soft and romantic lighting. And what better place to take a date to a place with the word "monogamous" in it's name! Goodness knows why they chose to call it "The Monogamous Chinese" but I've heard that it's because they want to remain true to Sichuan and Peking dishes - which I was particularly looking forward to, as the cuisine always reminds me of my good ol' student days in Beijing.

Our favorite of the evening - Braised aubergine and minced pork in a hot and spicy sauce (HK$ 128)  flavorful and not too oily, the aubergine was perfectly cooked.
Deep-fried Tofu with Spicy Salt and Crispy Garlic (HK$ 98) - silken tofu wrapped in a wonderful crispy batter. Although tasty, the salt level was a bit too overwhelming after the first couple of bites. When we mentioned this to the manager, he looked a bit offended! "It's supposed to be salty!" Hmm...yes, but does it have to be that salty?
Green vegetables with mixed mushrooms
Deep-Fried Blackbone Chicken with Diced Sichuan Chili and Peppers (HK$ 218) 
Deep-Fried Soufflé balls (HK$ 88) - this delectable puff ball was a nice way to end the meal. With a distinct egg-white taste, I was was hoping for an ice-cream filling rather than more of a cream filling.

The ambience makes it a really cool place to have a more leisurely dinner than most Chinese establishments, and you can tell that great care has been taken to ensure that every detail is just-so. 

The selection gives you a lot to choose from, and there are a number of vegetarian options. Dishes are not oily and don't have you leaving like you have to drink a gallon of water. There are 3 choices each of red and white wine - we opted for the pinot grigio, which for me worked quite well.

I would definitely revisit this place to try other dishes with a larger group of friends, and especially want to try the Peking Duck!

The restaurant is located below the Mid-Levels escalator, between Elgin Rd. and Caine Rd. Walk up the steps from Elgin and it is tucked away in a little side alley. There are some nice little tables in an alcove outside if you fancy some al fresco dining, although proceed with caution - when we were outside for a cheeky ciggie, I could have sworn I saw a rat the size of a ferret lurking under one of the tables! 

The Monogamous Chinese
59 Caine Road
Tel: +852 2523 2872

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dinner & Movie = Nachos & Potato Skins

This past weekend, JY&MY came over for a movie night to watch "Chronicle" at ours, and for some reason I felt inspired to emulate a sports bar experience: eating nachos and potato skins while watching something on a big screen. 

These were not to be any normal nachos, oh no. I had a tub of crabmeat in my fridge, and I intended to use it liberally - gourmet nachos, if you will. 

You will not believe how hard it is to find plain corn nachos in Hong Kong until you try it yourself! Forget the 5 supermarkets/stores that I tried (even GrEAT) and go straight to Oliver's - at least I know now that they are sold there.

We laid a layer of nacho chips on the platter, then chili crabmeat (seasoned with salt, pepper, chili powder and a dash of tabasco sauce, then pan-fried lightly), and a mix of grated cheddar and monterey jack cheese. On top of the third and final layer, sprinkle a final large helping of cheese (I believe we had a 250g bag, and almost 2/3 of it went on the nachos). I put my nachos under the grill, but JY suggested that next time we bung it in the microwave instead, so that the cheese doesn't go too dry, and the nachos don't burn before the lower tiers of cheese melt. Next time!

The nachos were quite glam, and to top off the whole experience we opened the bottle of Ruinart Rosé champagne that JY & MY treated us to, thanks guys!

For the sauces, we put together my usual guacamole recipe minus the tomatoes. We also made a pretty awesome salsa, although next time I'll blitz everything but the tomatoes, then add it to the tomatoes and mash them by hand so the sauce is more chunky.

(this recipe will make enough for your nachos, and much more...) You'll need:

1 can of plum tomatoes
2 jalapenos or large green chilies
a generous handful of coriander, roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/2 red onion, roughly diced
1 clove of garlic, roughly sliced
salt and pepper

In a food processor, pulse all of the ingredients to the desired consistency.