Books about Food (not recipes books)

22 Mar

Recently, I’m in a reading craze. Since moving to Singapore, I am now working from home. It sounds really silly but I am afraid oflosing touch with the outside world. This is almost impossible when I have high speed internet at home and random facebook postings informing me the state of the world with the likes of Donald Drumpf (hehe), what horrible things you will catch if you have the packet of instant noodles made from a third world country etc

So anyway, I decided, yes – let’s start reading. I want to continue to grow and I want to feel inspired! Yes – I will get war and peace, only to realise… is over 1000 pages. Ok, maybe something… lighter. Over the weekend, I watched Anthony Bourdain latest series “The Layover”. He went to a bookshop in New York specialising on books about food. He shared a few of his favourite books and he has inspired me to compile my own list of books about food (that are not recipes!). So here goes…

I would start my gastronomy journey braving my way through the noise, stink and dirt of Les Halles in the late 1800s  with The Belly of Paris,  to experience the hustle and bustle and to view the amazing array of fresh produce from the french countryside.

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I would then begin my literary feast with Salt: A history of the world before sinking my teeth into Food in history.

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After all the savoury readings, I would quench my thirst with The Brewer’s tale: A history of the world according to Beer and slowly work my way through Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures.

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I am curious what the world most expensive wine is like and I will find out in  The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine, then go light again with Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.

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It’s time for me to sober up with Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World and finish up with a fun read of The Devil’s Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee.

 

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I think I’m full for now. .

 

My top 3 highlights for 2015

1 Jan

I have neglected writing for over a year because 2015 was a whirlwind of adventures for me. I didn’t spend as much time experimenting in the kitchen but is not all that bad. I took a backseat on the practical part and got tasted real food during my travels, exposing my palette to different flavours and ingredients.

The top 3 adventures in 2015 that will influence what I’m cooking and how I will cook for 2016 are:

  1. I got married in India (and then Melbourne). I saw Taj Mahal and ate real Indian food – chaats and home cooked Indian meals with farm fresh ingredients.

I’m really, really married. I had 2 beautiful weddings! (How much more married can you be?) I became part of an Indian family and I welcome this new addition to my identity . I’m finding the most practical way of incorporating this new part of my life, is to learn Indian cooking!

The past few times when I tried making Indian meals all by myself, I feel really accomplished when I saw Mr T’s satisfying grin on his face. I think I’m doing it right and I’m gradually getting used to the spices and remembering their taste.

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Wedding photography by Jon Low

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2. I had my honeymoon in Italy and we literally ate our way through

We had our long overdue honeymoon at September, just before we moved from our beloved Melbourne to Singapore. The trip was 3.5 weeks and we enjoyed Italy thoroughly. We love the architecture, the history, the art and the food. We love the food. We ate alot and we are extremely picky on where we ate. Even when we were exhausted, we will go the extra mile (literally) to find a place where they serve real/good food. We stayed away from tourist traps.

We had pizza at the oldest pizzeria in Naples, the best artisan gelato in Florence (I had them everyday), squid ink risotto in Venice, a wonderful Tuscan lunch at Chianti (of course, with a nice glass of Chanti Classico!), Bolognese in Bologna, another nice gelato in Milan (we were only in Milan for 1 day) We discovered a local coffee place in Rome, where we would visit every morning  (we name the barista Mario) and drank our coffee the italian way – standing up and zipped in and out of the place in 15 mins. There was no long, pretentious queue for good coffee like those in Melbourne. We ended the trip with a quiet, relaxing time at Lake Como, where I fell asleep after a glass of gin and tonic at the porch. Boy… do I miss Italy now.

I tasted real Italian cooking – not hard crust pizza, not soft pasta, real Italian tomatoes (there seems to taste more harmoniously in a dish than tomatoes elsewhere. Perhaps is the skilful used of it…) When in doubt, always go with the Basil + Tomato + buffalo mozzarella combo. I love the creamy, fresh Burrata I had in Tuscany and I would use that in place of mozzarella if I could get my hands on them.

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3. I move to Singapore, next to Johor Bahru, where I grew up.

Oh boy… my childhood favourite hawker food. hello! My tastebuds never mature, it simply remained 16 years old. The fancy food chains and the gimmicky taiwanese/japanese/korean snacks does not appeal to me. Anytime, I’m up for my traditional Malaysian kuehs.

This move also changed what I can make in the kitchen. The ingredients i’m used to are a premium here. On the other hand, the ingredients available in the supermarket are ingredients my mum would use, the yummy kueh people would use, which means is time to learn how to make food I like to eat as a child.

In 2016, I’m getting back to the kitchen. I would like to experiment with more spices in 2016,  try some kueh recipes, learn cooking from mum and start sharing my kitchen experiments again on the blog!

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Green tea soba with Roast Chicken on a hot lazy day

15 Jan

Melbourne heatwave has finally started. This year summer has being kind so far. December was cooling and I like that weather. 

I have overheard at Woolworth yesterday that their roast chicken goes on special every Tuesday. I love tight arse Tuesday. For only 8 bucks, I got a big roast chicken that a bride-to-be should not finish all by herself. (Yip! I’m engaged and I need to fit into a wedding dress!)

And so… this is the dish that I have created. Perfect for a lazy evening after work and in this hot summer day.

Ingredients

A handful of Green tea soba

Watercress

Mixed lettuce leaves

Cucumbers

Deep roasted sesame dressing 

Some roast chicken (from Woolworth)

Sesame Oil (Korean)

Soy Sauce 

Roasted Sesame seeds for garnish

Preparation time: 15 mins

1) Cook the soba noodle like how you would cook pasta. Add soba noodle into boiling water and cook for a few minutes until it is slightly softer than al dente. (You don’t want mushy soba noodle)

2) Slice up cucumbers. Drizzle roasted sesame dressing over cucumbers, lettuce leaves and watercress to make salad. Set aside

3) Chop up or slice up roast chicken anyway you like

4) Plate salad, roast chicken and soba noodles 

Enjoy!!!!

 

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