Friday, August 31, 2007

New blog discoveries

Thanks to Pim, I have discovered a couple of new tasty food blogs:

Ms. Glaze's Pommes d'Amour - the French write a lot of food blogs, but luckily for me this one is written in English. Ms. Glaze is an ex-teacher who now graces the kitchens of a 3-star restaurant in Paris. She has some fascinating stories from behind the scenes and the recipes are pretty good too.

Foodbeam - a beautifully stylish and girly baking blog, again from France (the Cote d'Azur this time) but written in English.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New lunch menu at the Ebury

The Ebury in Chelsea has a new summer lunch menu. I really like this place...great food and only a stone's throw from London Victoria. Unfortunately the lunch menu doesn't include the divine chocolate fondant with peanut ice cream and honeycomb that I have previously sampled there, but it looks pretty good all the same! I will definitely be paying a visit when I'm back in Blighty.

Anyone for strawberry pasta?

La Favorita Fish, an Italian company specialising in gourmet products is now being stocked at Harvey Nichols foodhall in the UK. I don't think it's got to Hong Kong as yet but I'd be very intrigued to try some of their ingredients, particularly the Strawberry-Barolo Tagliatelle and the Tasty Sauce.

The website also has quite a few unusual recipes, so I would recommend checking it out!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Martha's Tom Yam Koong

I promised you a recipe, so here it is! At Martha's cooking school last weekend I learnt a delicious Tom Yam Koong recipe which I'd like to share with you. This is the traditional recipe with no cheeky short cuts. Did you know that the reason the restaurant version is often milky rather than clear is because they add milk to disguise the bitter taste from the herbs where the soup has been made too long in advance? No such shenanigans at Martha's class - her recipe is the real deal.

This makes enough for 2 large bowls.

2.5 cups water
150g fresh button mushrooms (or straw mushrooms if you can get them), halved
3 tblspoons fish sauce
2.5 tblspoons lime juice
2 large stalks of lemongrass
2 large coriander roots
5 individual kaffir lime leaves
20g galengal (similar to ginger but a more subtle flavour)
10 whole fresh birds eye chillies
225g shrimps with shells
Coriander leaves to garnish

Start by crushing and roughly chopping the lemongrass, crushing the coriander root, tearing the lime leaves into a few pieces, crushing and slicing the galengal and bruising the chillies. Martha used a meat tenderising hammer to do this - it looked very satisfying indeed! Take that! And that! You should start smelling some delicious aromas.

Next, the shrimps. Martha recommended buying these live, then putting them in the freezer to die. Once they've snuffed it, twist off their heads! Yes, this is a violent recipe, perfect if you've had a tough day at the office. Leave the tails on as they help the shrimps to stay together whilst cooking. Don't forget to devein - we don't want all that nasty stuff in our soup. That's all our ingredients prepared.

In a saucepan, bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, add the lemon grass, galengal, coriander root and lime leaves then let it boil for one minute.

Add the shrimps and the mushrooms and submerge in the soup - don't stir. You should see the
shrimps turning nice and pink. Once the soup has come to the boil again add the fish sauce and chillies. Remove from the heat straight away and add the lime juice.

Now we're ready to eat. Just in case (like me) you don't realise, you only actually eat the prawns, mushrooms and the broth itself - all the herbs are just for flavour! Delicously hot yet fresh and healthy tasting.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thai cooking with Martha Sherpa

I am exhausted, wiped out, knackered. You see, I'm still recovering from a hard day's chopping, pounding and stir frying with Martha Sherpa.

I enrolled on the one day Thai intensive course - now that my time in Hong Kong is coming to an end I really thought I should learn some Asian cooking whilst I'm out here. If you fancy something more authentically Hong Kong, Martha also teaches Chinese cooking and Dim Sum.

I was slightly put off by the dilapidated exterior of the building when I arrived - however once I was inside the kitchen I was relieved to find that everything was meticulously clean and tidy.

The course was excellent value as there were only two students so we really got a lot of one-on-one attention. My classmate Coco was also from Surrey in the UK so I felt at home right away! Martha is an absolute mine of information and gave us lots of handy hints and tips, plus where in Hong Kong to find all the ingredients and equipment that we would need. I will definitely be visting the WanChai wet market for herbs and Shanghai Street for kitchen tools...

We started the day with three demonstration dishes. First Martha whipped up some Tom Yam Koong, showing us the traditional way to make the dish. The herbs were incredibly fragrant - we learnt how to use lemongrass, galengal and coriander root (not sure how I'm going to find this one back home!). The resulting soup was clear rather than red and milky as you see in restaurants. The flavour was deliciously fresh and hot, yet without being spicy.

Martha also whipped up a couple of fish dishes. Coco and I quivered as we helped to fry one of the unlucky pisceans in a wok full of boiling oil! Still not sure whether I would try this one at home, but the sweet and sticky 3 favour sauce it came with would definitely work for dipping fish or crab cakes. I will be posting a recipe for this one once I've experimented a bit!

Lunchtime was spent tucking in to Martha's freshly made delicacies. Then, armed with huge machetes, it was our turn to do the cooking.

We chopped (finely!), pounded in a pestle and mortar, and stir-fryed until our arms almost dropped off. We were rewarded with delicious Pad Thai, Green Curry and Penang Curry kebabs.

I would definitely recommend Martha's!

Gaddi's tasting menu

It was our 1st anniversary this week so we decided to splash out and try the tasting menu at Gaddi's. The dining room was similar to Toscana at the Ritz-Carlton, very traditional and glitzy, with the addition of a sultry jazz singer and band. The ambience was just perfect, the music lovely but unobtrusive, the service attentive without being obsequious. I was already impressed and so far we had only tasted the water and bread selection...

We started off with an amuse-bouche of tuna tartare on a bed of fresh vegetables. This isn't the sort of thing I would usually choose but I can say I have definitely been converted. The fish was beautifully tender, almost melting in the mouth. The tomatoes and beans provided a contrasting fresh crunch.

Our starter came next - foie gras with cubes of rhubarb jelly and a rhubarb puree. My two absolute favourite things in one dish! I have never seen foie gras served with rhubarb before but they tasted very good together. Unlike my experience at Spoon, I had just the right amount of crisp but yielding brioche to go with. A sweet white wine set this dish off perfectly.

I'm afraid I gave up on photo taking after the starter, I was just too interested in focussing on eating...

The first course was some pork belly served with a crisp, wafer thin piece of bacon, poached apple slices and black pudding. Quite a traditional combination but nonetheless delicious.

Next we moved on to salmon poached at 55 degrees in olive oil, with asparagus and a fennel sauce. This was categorically the most beautiful salmon I have ever tasted. Interestingly, the wine choice for this course was a red, but a deliciously soft and light one.

Our final main was roasted pigeon. I can't remember what this was served with - the four glasses of wine must have been doing their job!

For dessert, something I wouldn't normally choose, passionfruit sorbet with nougat. I was overwhelmed by this dish - the sorbet was fresh and fruity and contrasted well with the more solid sweet flavours of the nougat.

For me, the best thing about tasting menus is that it forces you to try new things and you often find them to be delicious. Otherwise I always end up plumping for chocolate fondant with red cherries wherever I go! This meal wasn't cheap at HK$1700 each including wine, if that isn't extravagant enough for you there is also a more ambitious ten course version...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Saturday lunch at Toscana

Linguine with Lobster & Eggplant

Ocean Trout on Green Vegetable, Parsley Sauce, Chanterelle Mushroom

We finally did Toscana was absolutely divine and very refined. The BF has been here several times with clients on the expense budget recently, but I've never been as I have frequently been pointing out! The only way to stop me from sulking was to treat me to sample the cuisine, however as expenses don't stretch to smoothing over domestic incidents we decided to opt for the Saturday lunch at HK$280 a head.

I've actually never been to the Ritz back in London. Well I tried once but as I was wearing jeans and slightly worse for wear I was ever-so-politely turned away, making the whole Ritz experience was completely new to me. It didn't disappoint however, we were seated in a gorgeous if chintzy ballroom, complete with chandeliers and ladies lunching. The only thing that was really missing was a harbour view, but as it was a smoggy day I guess it didn't matter!

We started with the antipasti buffet and both made a beeline for the delicious salmon on the BF's recommendation. We then proceeded to try absolutely everything on the table. This is what Italian food is all about for me - mouthwatering salamis, sun-dried tomatoes, plump olives, salads, it was all absolutely beautiful. As was the bread, I must add.

We were then offered a bewildering choice of mains. The BF went for the Ocean Trout on Green Vegetable, Parsley Sauce, Chanterelle Mushroom and I had the fabulously rich Linguine with Lobster and Eggplant. It didn't look like much but the subtle flavours more than made up for it.

Mains digested and we were off to the dessert buffet. I sampled a tiny chocolatey fresh fruit tart, raspberries with cream and a blackberry pudding with beautifully speckled vanilla custard.
All in all a very satisying experience for less than the cost of a starter on the a-la-carte menu.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Some proper Chinese food

A rather surprised looking sweet & sour fish!

Last night I ate out with the office at XinJiShi Shanghai Restaurant in Causeway Bay, it was pretty tasty but you'd have to go there with someone who speaks Cantonese. I was none the wiser to what we were eating but it was all pretty tasty...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thai Thai?

I am so looking forward to an intensive one-day Thai cooking course at Martha Sherpa's cooking school. Watch this space for some recipes and tips once I emerge as a newly-minted Thai cookery goddess! Such delicacies as Pad Thai, Tom Yang Koong (that's hot and sour shrimp soup to the rest of us) and green chicken curry are all part of the package.

Welcome...and a bit about me

Welcome to my blog! I don't know what else to say really, I've been meaning to get around to this for ages.
I'm a British girl living in Hong Kong, and hating it so much that the only thing that can cheer me up is to sample the delights of Hong Kong's high-end restaurants. So far I have been to Felix (I seem to like this a lot more than other people do), Spoon (somewhat disappointing from a 9 Michelin starred chef), Hutong (more on this later - I have to go again), M at the Fringe (ditto!). This weekend it's lunch at Toscana...mmm can't wait.