Friday, 28 September 2012

Matcha & Red Bean Snowskin Mooncake for Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

Hello Everyone! Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is two days away and I wanna wish you all Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!  This snowskin mooncake here is my very first attempt, so its a big deal.  Everyone seems to think that making mooncake is easy peasy, but trust me ... folding the dough skin around the filling is a skill by itself!  But I made it (gosh, you should have seen how ugly it looks underneath these babies).  If all goes well, I would like to attempt to bake Teochew Mooncake tomorrow too but will see.  I can´t wait for Sunday to arrive to cut them because I am eager to see how the inner part looks like so stay tune if you are curious like me!

Till then!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Dutch Pea Soup @ Red Light District, Amsterdam

When I think of Dutch food, I think of potato, ham, cheese, fish and pancake with Dutch Pea Soup sipping deep behind my mind.  When my sister was in Amsterdam for a night before adjourning over to Paris, I decided to bring them to a little cafe located next to the canal at the end of Red Light District lane.  Dutch food frankly is not easy to find, even in a big city like Amsterdam but this one is totally worth it. With the view and generous portion, I´ll say this is a must for me in the future when someone comes visiting.

Here´s what we ate ...

Fresh fish fillet simply panfried and served with seasonal vegetables and cream/cheese base sauce.

Dutch Pea Soup with huge chunks and chunks of smoked ham and sausages, plus lots of potatoes cooked evidently for a long time.  Very filling on its own and the portion seen here is small. We shared our food and yet, we had a hard time finishing them.

Another variation of fish but deep fried this time (Fried Fish is famous in Netherland and I personally feel it beats English Fish and Chips hands down!) ... served with thick fries which Netherland is so famous for.  A walk along any main streets in Netherland and you will stumble upon independent fries shop serving these.

But the main reason why I am putting this entry up is, my niece was in my arm falling asleep due to jet lag for almost 2 hours after dinner when mummy and daddy decided to venture down the road to check out Red Light District.  Two whole hours holding her.  Torture by defination but I really do miss her a lot :-)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Laduree Macaron - Seasonal Selection

After all the drooling from photos seen all over the internet and hearing so much about Laduree´s impecably made macarons from near and far, I finally get the chance to taste them few days ago.  We got them as a gift from a visiting friend base in Netherlands but are currently on-off in London for work.  In the nicely packaged box was eight fantastic selection, some seasonal I was told but really, how does one decide which to pop into the mouth first? My sense told me to start with the lightest hue before moving on to the darkest which is the chocolate flavoured one.  The mixed berry ones tasted deep, totally unexpected for such compact little thingy.  The orange one packed a punch with its zesty orange taste too.  One of my favourite is mint, which is the blue one but really, every single one tasted unique on its own.  Be it hazelnut, apple or chocolate ... Laduree macaron I must say is top notched superb.  I loved it as it is not too sweet too.  Its shell were perfectly made with no hollowness in the middle.  Even hubby noticed and commented on that immediately.  Its feet were perfectly formed.  Colour was intensed and ganached was to no fault whatsoever.  Oh dear, I still have a long way to go to master the art of macaron making. Sigh.

Brasserie Balzar´s Smoked Duck Terrine & Creme Brulee in Paris

This is my niece whom last month flew 23,000km to see me.  As you can see here, she´s a vain pot.  She is pretty good at applying makeup on herself although she´s only 8.  Colour application seems to be her forte because it is precisely this skill that got her to come all the way here.  You see, she won herself top prize in a colouring contest last year and her prize was a week stay in Shanghai!  How is that for an 8 year old eh.  But mummy and daddy had better plans, thankfully.  Instead of accompanying her to Shanghai, they told her that she get to visit me and Uncle Juergen in Germany and the rest is history.  To add icing to the cake, mummy and daddy will bring her to Amsterdam and Paris too including Paris Disneyland! WOW!

This was taken one morning while we were in Paris.  I voluntered to babysit her for the day.  I told her she could wear anything she want, put on makeup if she wishes and I would bring her to anywhere in Paris as long as she behaves herself.  So here´s what she did first ...

Check out her sandals ...and her colourful toe polish!

We started the day with a trip to Jardin De Luxemburg to sail some miniature sailboat.  It was not her favourite activity because she thinks it is too boring.  The sail boat takes a while to reach the edge before she gets to push it to the middle again.  Ah well.  As luck has it, her first sail  boat got stuck underneath a sprouting fountain in the middle of the pond.  So this was her second sail boat.

The highlight of the WHOLE trip, yes .. the whole 2 week stay, is this ... THE pony ride.  I still remember clearly how frighten she got when she went up to the pony.  But the funniest of the lot must be when she started shouting to the pony carer `where is my seatbeat, where is my seatbelt´?! while seated on the pony!  Haha!

Eiffel Tower is a must when one is in Paris and I knew exactly why I wanted to bring her there for.   She was thrilled to say the least.

We adjourned to Notre Dame to meet up with her mummy and daddy but plan changed a little.  After playing in a nearby park with some local children, I took her to a local bistro for a meal.  A proper meal.

She ate up two servings of baguette and claimed that its the best bread she´d ever eaten.  Well.  She´s in Paris after all.  I also ordered I believe one of the most expensive vanilla ice cream one could find.  12 Euro per glass and she did not even liked it.  Ha.  She instead missed rice so much and nicked most of it off my plate, just as it is ... plain.  No sauce, no chicken breast pieces, nothing.

smoked duck terrine appetiser ...

Eating in Paris is pricey.  For a basic set lunch like this where I easily pay under 12 Euro around Provence, I had them around 25 Euro in Paris.  But it is a meal with my beloved niece.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Taste of North Sea, Becks Beer & Jacobs Coffee in Bremen, Germany

Germany is a vast land. And every single meeting with my Stammtisch, I would chance upon ideas on where else should I go visit and see.  It really is a pity that Germany whom is so well known for their machineries, cars, medicine and what not is so bad at marketing it.  Most of the thing that would pop into someone´s mind when they think of Germany is probably Oktoberfest, Pork Knuckle, Sausages or Beer which is pretty much Bayern´s identity (one of Germany´s prosperous state) and it does not represent what Germany really is, really.  Anyway, I wanted to share you (finally) my other good news.  Some of you whom have been following me here but are my friends in Facebook started speculating wildly.  But no, again ... I am not pregnant.  My good news is I finally got myself a proper job.  After four years being in Germany, it surely felt great and liberating!

It is a freelance job, which suits me fine.  I am given the flexibility to increase the hours as I wish and minimise it when it is needed.  The perks are lovely.  They are paying me pretty well I must say, double the normal wage here for a starter, and lots of opportunities to attend seminars, conferences and trainings which I love because it means that I get to meet new people!  What job is it? Hah. It is a teaching job.  Big chance I must say for a marketeer like me but I am loving it so far because it is a proven international learning centre, it is catered mainly to babies that is 3 months old and above, to 18 years of age.  The group is small and the method, I love it.

As a start, I was sent to Bremen for training.  It was five days long with lots of assignment to do for the next day´s presentation.  Our training was small too, with not more than 8 teachers from the northern region but what I really liked was how global the participants are.

Hubby came over to pick me up at the end of the training session.  We stayed a night in Atlantic Hotel, a lovely four star not far from the city centre. The day before and after was spent sighseeing a bit in Bremen.  Bremen is lovely! I had no expection of how Bremen should be but yeah, it was a big surprise. If you like old and detail architecture like what you get in Paris or Brussels, then Bremen is the place for you.  The other thing I really liked about Bremen is also that, the Bremers are blessed with waterfront.  It is an artistic city, so couple that with waterfront lifestyle and fine architecture - one can´t go wrong isn´t it?

We stopped by Becks for beer.  Becks is from Bremen and I reckon is a must do for tourist to try their fresh from the tap beer from their first restaurant where it once originated.  The other notable thing from Bremen is Jacobs coffee too. And I love it too! Strange that we had been purchasing coffee pads from Italy and Netherland but never really supporting local made once but after tasting them, I must say they taste just as good or even better! The other brand is Dallmyr from Munich.

They say, when in Rome do what the Romans do.  Bremen is not far from North Sea so there´s plenty of fresh seafood around. Our dinner was next to the waterfront and I had a very delicious plate of Seafood Pasta.  Forgot the pictures because I was swayed by the ambience that night.  Our table was located above an underpass walkway and so happen that a saxaphonist was playing there.  Romantic overload moment. Ha.  For breakfast, I got the chance to try out their herring in assorted flavours.  There´s more but no pictures again.  Sorry!

I promise more pictures to come!