Monday, June 27

Gazpacho Season

Today, we have a special guest post from Rachel over at Mañana Mama. Rachel shares with us her family recipe of gazpacho, perfect for the weather we're having here in England.

Truffle and Frangelico - brave souls that they are - had Chaos HQ over to lunch recently. It was such a hot day that Londoners spilled into the streets, laughing and eating with unrestrained joy.

We four grown-ups drank cold coronas and ate a delicious meal courtesy of Truffle and Jamie: lime-chilli chicken, rocket, sweet potato mash with feta and coriander, followed by the famous C&T crème brulée. In the background, Chaos and Destruction methodically ransacked Trungelico's beautiful grown-up flat.

Ali scaled furnature, headbutted the table, then casually tried to toss the TV remote out the window. Ana ran in circles, and squares, and any other shapes she could think of. Amid all this activity, Truffle and I managed a brief chat about that pinnacle of summertime eats: gazpacho. And I was reminded of Great-grandma Barbara's famous recipe, which is a seasonal staple in our house. Belatedly, but as promised that afternoon, I am passing it on here.

Tomatoes for gazpacho

Sunday, June 19

Cinnamon Goes to New York

I was in New York last week on a seminar and as a major food maniac, I had organized weeks ahead to meet with my cousin and a friend for the two nights I was to spend there. My cousin, a young man of 27 with many corporate talents, was coming in from Pennsylvania and had suggested we dine his style - hitting a couple of bars, a Indian-Kebab-roll hole-in-the-wall, followed by another bar and finally a food truck on 57th and something. I very enthusiastically agreed in a vain attempt at wanting to be 27 again but when I landed in NY and got to my hotel at 6pm, I got a little worried.

I am a good deal older and further along life in terms of children and gastric-wall deterioration. As I knew I had at least two hours before I was to meet with him, I sneaked out to a sushi restaurant, Monster Sushi, a very decent chain close to the hotel. I thought I'd get a small platter, but it turned out a little bit more generous than I thought. It was very good... And yes, I was pretty full when I met him, but he doesn't know that!

My cousin arrived at my hotel at 8:30pm and off we went to the Village!  It was crawling with the young life of New York. We drank a couple of beers and went quite quickly to Kati Roll.

Saturday, June 18

Taste of London, Regent's Park

Look at the steam rising from this one (my friend says I have it in for the pigs this week)

Another year, another Taste of London in the rain. Must be something about festivals, that they require mud, wellies and waterproofs as proof of concept. There were snatches of sunshine too, though, and the park would become really warm. So the whole thing called for summer dress and slip-ons, spring jacket and cardigan, sunglasses, an umbrella, and an autumn knit rolled up in the back-pack. How to negotiate a food festival in a city centre park (if that city is London).

The Taste of London food and restaurant festival takes place in Regents Park every year. For four days, some of the capital's best restaurants (plus some others) set up temporary kitchens fronted by counters, which are then mobbed by greedy Londoners. Oh yes, the elbows were out today. My Singaporean training stood me in good stead for dealing with kiasus, though, and I weaved in and out like a Mazda on the ECP, finding my way to the front of the herd very quickly. 

The front-of-house teams dealt with all of it very well, each in their own way. Asia de Cuba had a thumping stereo going, and the waiters had a little disco between the kitchen and their counter. Small paper plates somehow wound their way from the chef's hands to the customers', following the rhythm of a hip-hop beat. The Hart brothers' trio of Barrafina, Fino and Quo Vadis displayed discipline and focus, yet were as vibrant as their actual restaurants' kitchens. It was order that, to an outsider's eyes, could look deceptively like chaos.

Thursday, June 16

Don't read this if you're vegetarian

The Singapore Takeout lunch on the South Bank was heavily rained upon. Thankfully, the event was taking place in a marquee, so all we had to contend with were icy, blustery winds blowing in from the Thames. (If you can't stand the heat in the kitchen...) After lunch - by which point the rain had stopped - I took a walk past the Royal Festival Hall. The rain had scattered most people, so it was a pleasant walk in the cool, slightly humid environs of the South Bank.

I must have some sort of homing device that leads me straight to food. Frangelico has remarked on my uncanny ability to be walking around, guided by some indefinable inner sense, and happen upon a high-quality food phenomenon. (Another thing I can find this way is bookshops. Drop me in some unfamiliar territory, and I'll walk in a straight line to a bookshop in less than twenty minutes.)

On this occasion, walking around the Royal Festival Hall, I realised that I'd been led straight to a food market! The Real Food Market, a recent initiate to the London market scene, runs every weekend (Friday to Sunday) in the southern courtyard of the RFH. It brings together selected food and drink producers in a bid, they say, to "offer a completely different experience to soulless supermarkets".

Arancini with mayo

Monday, June 13


Photo credit:

Frangelico prepared some strawberries for dessert this evening. (It usually starts with me thinking out loud: "I feel like something sweet". And before my craving for something generally sweet turns into a craving for something specifically pastry, Frangelico quietly starts rinsing and hulling fruit.)

While enjoying the strawberries, I couldn't help but be startled by just how miraculous it is, that something so bright and red and sweet comes from unremarkable, heavy, grainy clods of earth. The natural world is full of magic and miracles.



Sunday, June 12

Tex Mex Brisket - PBAB

The weekend is over and I am still reminiscing about the fabulous dinner party Prince Charming and I attended on Friday night. My good friend Fruit Salad and her husband Tex Mex hosted our tight circle of friends over at their place in our neighborhood. Tex Mex is an ex-hedge fund manager from New York and like most hedge fund managers knows a lot about wines. Why is that? Do all hedge fund managers have to attend a wine course as part of their orientation? "Hey, before you short that stock, better learn which French blends from the Languedoc region include Cab Franc!" Prince Charming and I have benefited from his knowledge and their generosity as they always bring fabulous wines to our house when we have hosted them in the past. The responsibility of bringing a good bottle of wine to their dinner party was on me.

On the way back from work, I headed directly to our country club to see if I could purchase a bottle directly from them. I called the club's wine expert as I drove in, and was told that he was out on vacation, and the F&B director was kind enough to help me out. She actually took me down to the wine cellar with the wine list! I was thrilled to be there but wished I knew more about wines to have enjoyed the experience more.

Saturday, June 11

Singapore Takeout

This is going to be a quick post, because if you're kicking around London this afternoon, you might want to hot-foot it to the South Bank, instead of spending too long in front of your computer.

Truffle here was recently invited along to preview a taste fest called 'Singapore Takeout'. Singapore Takeout is kind of like mobile food - except that the 'mobile' is a shipping container, the 'food' is Modern Singaporean cuisine, and it's free. It's an event showcasing the best of Singaporean cuisine in 9 cities around the world, including Paris, Moscow, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Delhi, Dubai and Sydney. You can find dates for your city here.

The first stop is London (of course). Each city is treated to the delights of one Singapore chef working with one local hero. Londoners have Janice Wong - chef of the 2am Dessert Bar - and Peter Gordon. Peter Gordon needs no introduction in this city, but for the benefit of our international readers, he's a New Zealand-born fusion chef and entrepreneur who started off Notting Hill's Sugar Club, and who's now behind The Providores and Tapa Room in Marylebone, and new Covent Garden arrival Kopapa.

Janice Wong and Peter Gordon

The event ends at 8pm tonight, so I'm going to get to it!

Thursday, June 2

Kueh Pie Tee! I am coming home!

Did you read my sister's post on that fabulous Singaporean meal in London? OMG, it has caused much turbulence here in Charlotte. I have been craving Kueh Pie Tee, Satay, Beef Rendang, and all things Singaporean ever since and am deeply frustrated by my lack of options.

As a result, I am dragging my friends, Swiss Chocolate and Rhoshogolla, to Cuisine Malaya in Uptown Charlotte tomorrow for lunch where I am going to declare that I am Singaporean and that they better serve me some authentic Beef Rendang!  If not, they are going to be dealing with one grouchy and hungry Singaporean!

I also sent my mother an email this morning. My little family and I are going to Singapore to visit my parents at the end of the month, with our friend Kohlrabi and her little ones for our summer break. I will also be attending my 20-year reunion at RJ.... (wah lau, 20 years!).  My mother had already informed me that she will be putting together an Excel spreadsheet for our 7 days there so that we squeeze in as much as possible during our stay. You know, Monday - Singapore Zoo, Tuesday - Botanic Gardens, Wednesday - that big ferris wheel that looks like the London Eye, so on and so forth. "You sure you don't want to take Kohlrabi to the Night Safari?" "No need, Amma! Zoo enough already!" The email I sent my mother this morning was a request to add another column to that spreadsheet specifying what we will be having for lunch and dinner that week. Tuesday - Botanic Gardens plus Dhoby Ghaut Popiah on the way back, Friday - Hindu Temple plus Maxwell Road Food Center etc.


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