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Food & Drink


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Food & Drink


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The Art of Smart


For the second entry in the series, Super Chef examines what’s new in the kitchen

The Art of Smart


For the second entry in the series, Super Chef examines what’s new in the kitchen

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

The Art of Smart

June 6, 2018 / by Howard Elias

Weight management is big business these days, so it’s not surprising that product designers and developers of smart kitchen appliances are rushing to introduce items that will allow you to easily track what you’re putting in your stomach. Here are a few items that might whet your appetite.

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HapiFork

Both nutritionists and your mother will tell you that if you eat slowly, you’ll end up eating less and digesting better – and that’s the logic behind this internet-linked utensil. The HapiFork helps you monitor and track your eating habits, and even alerts you (with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations) when you’re eating too fast. Among its measurements are how long it takes you to eat your meal, how many “fork servings” are taken per minute and how long the intervals are between those servings. This information is then uploaded via USB or Bluetooth to an app so that you can track your progress in real time and hopefully modify your behaviour. The company currently just makes the one utensil, and there’s no indication that HapiSpoon or HapiChopsticks are on the horizon just yet.

Hidrate Spark Smart Water Bottle

In any climate, keeping hydrated isn’t only good for your brain, kidneys and joints, it’s also good for reducing your appetite for fattening snacks. The problem most people have throughout the day, though, is that they either forget to drink water or they just don’t drink enough of it. The Hidrate Spark Smart Water Bottle has a built-in sensor that automatically records how much you have drunk (in millilitres or ounces). If you haven’t met your hydration goals for the day, the bottle will start to glow as a reminder to drink more. The bottle syncs with the company’s proprietary app and integrates with a number of popular fitness trackers so that you can check on your progress in real time, too. It also comes in seven different colours to match your personal style.

Ember Travel Mug

Billed as the world’s first temperature-controlled mug, the Ember Travel Mug is designed for people who like to drink a hot beverage while on the go. The vessel allows you to set your preferred drinking temperature, then maintains it so your coffee or tea will taste perfect from the first sip to the last drop. The proprietary app will notify you once the drink has reached your preferred temperature, and even lets you save and choose presets for different beverages. It also lets you name your mug – so the barista won’t mangle the spelling of your name next time you order a double skinny latte from the neighbourhood cafe. Will it help you manage your weight? Probably not, but at least you’ll be enjoying what you’re drinking while reducing your contribution to the city’s landfills.

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Eat Healthy: Kombu and Squid Steamed Rice


Savoury, detoxifying and good for your bones – explore the magic of the king of seaweed

Eat Healthy: Kombu and Squid Steamed Rice


Savoury, detoxifying and good for your bones – explore the magic of the king of seaweed

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Eat Healthy: Kombu and Squid Steamed Rice

June 6, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

There are more than 10,000 different types of seaweed in the world, but only one is crowned the “king of seaweed” – kombu.
It’s low in calories and rich in a variety of health essentials, including fibre and minerals such as calcium and iron. The former
is your best detox friend, while the latter two play critical roles in improving skeletal functions and the immune system. What’s more, the delightful combination of kombu and squid will satisfy your palate for that elusive, savoury taste of umami.


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How to prepare (serves two)

 

* 125g of fresh or defrosted squid, cut in half with the tentacles left whole

* 2 pieces (about 35g) of kombu, soaked in water for 8 hours, then shredded 

* 1 cup of Japanese short-grain rice mixed with red rice (which has twice the fibre of white rice)

* 1 small piece of ginger, peeled and julienned 

* 1 teaspoon soya sauce

* 1–1.5 cups of water (enough to submerge all the ingredients)

* Chopped parsley (optional)

In a rice cooker or a saucepan, put in the squid, kombu, mixed rice and ginger. Make sure all ingredients are below the water’s surface. After bringing it to the boil, add the soya sauce. Then reduce the heat to low if you’re using a saucepan; cook until the rice is tender, for about 30 minutes. Stir well and serve; garnish the dish with parsley if desired.

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If You Can’t Stand the Heat…


What’s new and cooking in the kitchen? Super Chef opens the oven to take a look at the hottest gadgets out there

If You Can’t Stand the Heat…


What’s new and cooking in the kitchen? Super Chef opens the oven to take a look at the hottest gadgets out there

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

May 23, 2018 / by Howard Elias

How smart is your kitchen? If it’s like mine, you can bet it’s fairly dumb. Yes, you may have a coffee maker that you set before you go to bed, so that it has your morning jolt of goodness brewed and ready as soon as you hop out of the shower. Perhaps you have a fuzzy-logic rice cooker that prepares the tastiest and fluffiest rice you’ve ever eaten. But both of those examples are yesterday’s tech – today’s smart kitchen appliances harness the power of the internet to deliver benefits that make you wonder how you ever survived without them.

Arguably, the smart kitchen appliance that has received the most buzz so far has been the connected refrigerator; quite a few big-name manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon with aims of convincing you that you need to buy one right now. These fridges have an extra-large internet-connected touchscreen built into one of the doors that offers a variety of apps including a shopping list, calendar, bulletin board, music player, photo album, the weather and even recipes. Some models can even examine what’s already inside your fridge and notify you when you’re running low on items so you don’t have to open up the door to check. The shopping list app will then connect you to your preferred online supermarket and place your order for you – all you need to do is unpack the groceries when they arrive at your home. 

However, if that sounds a bit too pretentious for your humble lifestyle, there are a number of small, smart kitchen devices have been released in the past few months. Here are just a few:

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Behmor Connected Coffee Brewer

Working with an app on your phone, this smart coffee maker allows you to control the pre-soak time, the temperature, and the altitude for precision brewing. If you and Amazon’s Alexa are already acquainted, you can get your cup of java brewing with just your voice, too. The machine also allows you to create and save brewing profiles so that everyone in your family can have their cup exactly the way they like it.

Wireless Perfect Bake Pro Smart Kitchen Scale

If you love baking, this may be exactly what you need. Connect the scale to your mobile device, select one of the companion app’s more than 300 recipes (or use one of your own), place a bowl on the scale and start to pour your ingredients in. A virtual bowl on your screen will fill up as you pour and will tell you when to stop according to the recipe you’ve selected. Want to make an eight-serving dish for ten people instead? No problem! The scale will automatically adjust the quantities needed to give you perfect results – no matter the number of servings, or the pan size or shape. Now that’s smart.

Wink Egg Minder Smart Egg Tray

This smart egg tray sits in your fridge and lets you know (via a companion app) how many eggs are still there. You’re probably wondering why you couldn’t just open the fridge door and do a visual check, right? Well, let’s say you’re already at the supermarket and you can’t remember if you need eggs or not. The tray also has a sensor and a built-in LED installed in each slot that tracks how long the eggs have been there – so that you’ll remember to eat the oldest ones first.

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Air- picurean wonders


Want a perfectly cooked piece of meat? Once the preserve of top chefs, the sous vide experience can now be yours at home

Air- picurean wonders


Want a perfectly cooked piece of meat? Once the preserve of top chefs, the sous vide experience can now be yours at home

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Air- picurean wonders

April 6, 2018 / by Howard Elias

Around the world, cooking-show fans and celebrity-chef groupies are well aware of the culinary technique known as sous vide, though they may not have tried their hands at it themselves. But now, with a number of affordable sous vide precision cookers available on the market, making that perfectly cooked edge-to-edge steak at home is not only possible, it’s easy, too.

Sous vide (from the French for “under vacuum”) has actually been around for a few centuries. Benjamin Thompson, an American-born British physicist and inventor, has been credited with inventing the technique back in 1799 when, almost by accident, he left a piece of mutton in a hot-air roaster overnight. Although Thompson used air rather than water as the medium to transfer heat, the result was the same – a nicely cooked, juicy piece of meat. Since that time, a number of French and American engineers, scientists and chefs have refined the technique, eventually developing specific guidelines on cooking times and temperatures for different foods. 

Protein-rich items such as beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, seafood and even eggs are ideal for sous vide, but you can prepare some vegetables this way too – including carrots, pumpkin, asparagus and beetroot. Today, numerous companies market sous vide machines, with all the accoutrements you’ll need to bring the restaurant experience to your dining table.

At the core is the immersion circulator, which looks like a giant thermometer. All of them have a large LED panel on top so that you can set and see the precise temperature of the water your food is bathing in. Some are even Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled so that you can check the water temperature remotely – and this is helpful because the cooking times can be quite long (sometimes even days), so you don’t have to babysit it. Just turn on the machine, set the desired temperature and walk away. The only problems that can arise are if the water level gets too low, or if the bag that the food is sitting in leaks or breaks. There are, however, simple ways to get around these snags.

The second thing is a vessel for the water. While you can use a large metal pot, it’s not ideal – for one, you won’t be able to see the food cooking. Also, water will evaporate off the surface, meaning you may need to top it up from time to time; this will affect your water temperature and the final cooking result. Fortunately, you can get around this issue by either covering the top of the pot with cling wrap or by covering the water surface with ping-pong balls. The better solution, however, is to purchase a clear-plastic food storage container that has a hole in the lid for the immersion circulator to fit through. These are inexpensive, and available online or in speciality stores.

The third item is a plastic bag to hold the food in as it cooks. Chefs use restaurant-grade bags and a vacuum sealer, but you don’t need to go that route. Instead, use resealable freezer bags and the water-displacement method to remove the air from the bag prior to sealing it. (More information on this is available online.) Finally, you’ll need a good iron skillet or an oven grill, so that you can sear the outside of your food right before it goes on the serving plate. 

Admittedly, sous vide isn’t the final word in cooking; you won’t be replacing your microwave oven or hot-air fryer with one of these. Cooking times are very long, so you’ll need to plan well in advance – even soft-boiled eggs take 45 minutes to cook. (They are delicious, though!) And some foods, like onions, don’t turn out well with this technique. But if you have the time, and you love your protein to look and taste as if Heston Blumenthal or Joël Robuchon cooked it himself, then sous vide is the way to go.

Here’s my recipe for beef brisket, which I adapted from different recipes. It results in something the British call “moreish” – everyone will want more. Every slice from edge to edge should be cooked to perfection.

Smoked Beef Brisket Sous Vide

  1. Rub a fair amount of salt and pepper onto both sides of a 2kg–3kg piece of brisket. Cut it in half and split it between two resealable bags. Into each bag, add a few drops of liquid smoke. Seal them up and put them in the water.
  2. Set your immersion circulator to 57°C, which is hot enough to pasteurise the meat, and leave it for 48 hours. (Yes, two full days!) When the time is up, take the bags out of the water and put them in the refrigerator for three hours to cool down. Once cool, take the meat out of the bags, pat them dry with some paper towels. Rub in a bit more salt and pepper, and put them in the oven on a skillet or grill, fat cap side up, at Gas Mark 2 (150°C) for about 1 to 1½ hours.
  3. While the meat is developing a crust, prepare a simple gravy. If you wish, add in some of the liquid from the bags. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest, tented on a cutting board, for about 20 minutes. Slice it up right before serving.

Images: Wikimedia Commons: Gary J. Wood/Creative Commons (beef brisket at Tujague’s, New Orleans, removed background and tuned colour)

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Scientific Inspiration


A simple guide to experimental cuisine – and where to try it in the city

Scientific Inspiration


A simple guide to experimental cuisine – and where to try it in the city

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Scientific Inspiration

March 2, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Atum Desserant

How much do you know about food? In the eyes of scientists, the delicious ingredients of meat, fish, vegetables and fruits are just organised mixtures of compounds that can create unlimited possibilities of taste. In 1988, French scientist Hervé This coined the term “molecular gastronomy” – referring to the studies of how physics and chemistry help transform the tastes and textures of food. Even earlier, his collaborator, Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti, first brought up the idea of applying physics to the kitchen in 1969. 

Today, the practice of molecular gastronomy is often associated with the use of liquid nitrogen, emulsifiers, edible gels, and equipment such as the blowtorch and pipette, which are more often found in laboratories. Innovative chefs who love exploring the next levels of flavours are experimenting with how ingredients behave under different temperatures and pressures, and how the old tastes can be wrapped in new forms or the other way round – such as caviar made of olive oil, spherical xiao long bao or spaghetti made of fruit through the process of gelification. 

Some chefs may prefer “experimental cuisine” or “modern cuisine” to the more scientific term. The Cooking Lab, just outside of Seattle, is a sizeable research kitchen and laboratory dedicated to culinary trial-and-error using scientific knowledge. Led by former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, the lab is also behind the influential six-volume cooking bible Modernist Cuisine, which was published in 2011.

Options in Hong Kong

For avant-garde desserts that look like contemporary art, Atum Desserant offers sweet and savoury choices, freshly made in the open kitchen – its signature is Improvisation, made with liquid nitrogen ice cream and any other fun ingredients you desire. The restaurant also has a dessert plate featuring Hong Kong-style claypot rice flavours. 

16/F, The L Square, 459-461 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay | $$

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Hong Kong’s pioneer of molecular gastronomy, the three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation provides a sumptuous dining experience focused on food and novelty, led by “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung. Try the signature molecular xiao long bao and char siu bao, as well as the foie gras with mui choy ice cream.

1/F, J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai | $$$$$

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Probably the most popular bar in town for molecular mixology, many flock to Quinary for a glass of the Earl Grey Caviar Martini. Other fusion drinks include the vodka-based Oolong Tea Collins and the Marshmallow Duo – both highly Instagrammable.

56-58 Hollywood Road, Central | $$$

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Images: Facebook: @ATUMDesserant; Facebook: @BoInnovation; www.quinary.hk

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What Comes Naturally


In Kyoto, Japan, this cafe and retail shop serves up a tranquil destination inspired by geology

What Comes Naturally


In Kyoto, Japan, this cafe and retail shop serves up a tranquil destination inspired by geology

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

What Comes Naturally

March 2, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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At Usagi no Nedoko in Kyoto, expect to discover the beauty of nature in a classical Japanese atmosphere. Located in a traditional house originally built in the early Showa era (the mid-1920s and ’30s), the abode has been renovated and transformed into a cafe, a shop and a small lodging area, furnished in the simple, old style of the city.

The cafe here serves a menu featuring dishes and desserts inspired by rocks, stones and minerals. You’ll find delights including panna cotta topped with purple jelly that resembles amethyst quartz, cocoa cake that references black charcoal, and assorted cheeses and meats arranged in a way to look like various gifts of nature such as calcite, marble, jade and the famed “pork stone” – a treasured piece of jasper carved into a meat shape in the 19th century that’s today housed in Taipei’s National Palace Museum. The menu is seasonal, so expect the unexpected on your visit.

The shop renders a truly museum-like ambience with a variety of natural gifts collected from around the world. The “sola cube” is an acrylic decor item that preserves some delicate-looking plants and nuts such as dandelion, bunny’s tail grass and a cross-section of a Japanese walnut. For marine life lovers, “uninoco” is an interesting presentation of sea urchin bones complete with an elastomeric holder, which makes the whole object look like a cute mushroom. 

No matter if you’re dropping by for a one-time visit or a short stay, this destination offers a wholly unique experience in Kyoto.


Address: 37 Nishinokyo Minamiharamachi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
(usaginonedoko.net)

Images: Usagi no Nedoko Inc

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Fry, My Pretties, Fry!


Get back into the joy of cooking – with an air fryer

Fry, My Pretties, Fry!


Get back into the joy of cooking – with an air fryer

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Fry, My Pretties, Fry!

March 2, 2018 / by Howard Elias

On last year’s Singles’ Day (November 11), I took the plunge and decided to join the millions of people across China and Hong Kong – to do some online shopping. My purchase? An air fryer. I had heard about these magical countertop kitchen appliances for a couple of years now and how they fry foods using a tiny fraction of oil compared to traditional deep frying. Clean up, too, I had heard was a breeze. Being a contained unit, there’s no chance for oil to splash around your stovetop and onto your kitchen floor. A bit of soap and warm water on the handheld basket and presto, you’re done!

Philips launched the first air fryer back in 2010, introducing the world to something called Rapid Air Technology, which circulates very hot air – up to 200°C – at high speed, cooking the food on the inside and producing a crispy layer on the outside. It does this using up to 80% less fat than deep-fryers. Love French fries? They’re still fattening, but not nearly as much with this. Like to buy frozen dumplings, but only know how to steam them? Now you have another option. Thinking about microwaving some leftover pizza? Put it in your air fryer instead. Got a taste for chicken wings or shrimp? Your air fryer can make those crispy, too.

Today, there are quite a few air fryers on the market, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to just a bit more than HK$1,000. Most are quite simple; they have a temperature setting and a timer, and that’s it. Inside, there’s a basket to hold the food and perhaps a few other removable items such as a wire stand, possibly for multilevel cooking. (I have yet to use mine to know for sure.) They also have a removable, easy-to-clean drip tray. Being a neophyte at this type of cooking, I opted for a Chinese model that had a number of preset programmes available. Instead of pressing three buttons – temperature, time and start – I’m pressing two. Now that I’ve used the machine a fair bit, though, the presets are becoming less important.

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Although my appliance came with a not-so-handy recipe booklet (my Simplified Chinese is good, but not that good), there are plenty of air fryer recipes available on the internet. Because this is such a simple appliance to use, it’s easy to experiment. I began my culinary journey with sweet potato fries. I cut a few sweet potatoes into spears, coated them with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, a bit of salt and some rosemary, added them to the basket and pressed the “chips” preset button on my machine. They were delicious, but admittedly more limp than crispy. My next set of attempts involved a variety of fresh vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, sliced tomatoes, carrots and Brussels sprouts. Again, all were delicious, but I learned that my machine needs to be hotter and cook longer than what the recipes call for. 

My next foray involved more fiddly fare – homemade spring rolls, teriyaki-flavoured tofu, taco-seasoned chickpeas, and green beans dipped in a flour, egg and breadcrumb mixture. The beans were a bit messy, but they all turned out to be deliciously crispy. My greatest success to date has been apple chips, which are fabulous. Simply slice up an apple, coat the slices with a teaspoon of vegetable oil, and air fry them for about 12 minutes at 190°C. If they’re not crispy enough, put them back in the machine for a few more minutes. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top and you have a healthy snack that has no added sugar, no salt and no preservatives. It’s also a lot cheaper than the packaged version.

If you have room in your kitchen for yet another appliance, an air fryer is a good investment. I’m having a blast with mine. Next up: banana fritters!

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’Tis the Season


Overwhelmed by the glut of dining choices for Christmas? Here are a few intriguing picks worth checking out

’Tis the Season


Overwhelmed by the glut of dining choices for Christmas? Here are a few intriguing picks worth checking out

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

’Tis the Season

December 1, 2017 / by Jon Braun

Image above: Rhoda

  Tri

Tri

  Frites

Frites

Frites

At all Frites locations on December 24 and 25, dig into a hearty menu with corn chowder mussels, Turkey ballotine or 1855 USDA black angus roast beef, as well as Christmas brioche pudding. For an additional charge, enjoy two hours of unlimited draught beers, prosecco, house wine and other drinks. Kids also get a Christmas gift and candies from Santa!

All locations including G/F, Oxford House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay; +852 2250 5188 (frites.hk)

The Garage Bar

Enjoy a heart-warming Christmas at the Cordis, Hong Kong with barbecue buffets at the hotel’s outdoor “food truck bar” on December 24 and 25. Among the offerings are rib-eye steak, charcoal-grilled lamb chops, fresh oysters, Canadian snow crab, turkey burgers and more – and the feast isn’t complete without a dessert of baked Alaska and craft beer stout ice cream.

4/F, 555 Shanghai St, Mong Kok; +852 3552 3028 (cordishotels.com)

  The Garage Bar

The Garage Bar

El Mercado

The Peruvian-Nikkei restaurant wishes you Feliz Navidad with a festive menu proffering the classics such as roast turkey and Christmas pudding alongside less traditional fare including beef heart anticucho, ceviche and tuna tataki.

21/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai; +852 2388 8009 (elmercado.hk)

Rhoda

Get down with chef Nate Green’s festive menu for The Whole Hog, boasting a whole roast pig, venison tartare, roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots, and a slew of other dishes – as well as 2.5 hours of free-flow sparkling, red and white wine, and HK Yau beer. If you’re able to walk out of here on your own two feet, then colour us impressed.

G/F, Upton, 345 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Wan; +852 2177 5050 (rhoda.hk)

Tri

It’s Christmas dinner, Indonesian style on December 24, 25 and 26, with a prix fixe menu featuring sambal udang jimbaran (langoustine and coconut sticky rice), bebek kuah putih (smoked foie gras balado and sweet potato in a coconut curry sauce), tongseng kambing (grilled lamb rack) and more. Your taste buds will be whisked away to the tropics.

Central L2, Shop 206, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay; +852 2515 0577 (tri.hk)

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Pierre’s Picks


Get ready for a gourmet Christmas with renowned French chef Pierre Gagnaire, who shares his fond memories of an unusual family favourite that remains synonymous with the joys of the holiday – and an easy recipe for you to try  

Pierre’s Picks


Get ready for a gourmet Christmas with renowned French chef Pierre Gagnaire, who shares his fond memories of an unusual family favourite that remains synonymous with the joys of the holiday – and an easy recipe for you to try  

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Pierre’s Picks

December 1, 2017 / by Philippe Dova

What food do you most associate with Christmas dinner? 

Oysters, as they come, with boiled rice and warm sausage. 

That’s unusual – is it something you remember from your childhood? 

My parents had a restaurant in Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, a village near Saint Étienne. My father was a chef, but he was also a peasant; every year he slaughtered a pig and made sausages. He covered them in wood ash and dried them in the attic at home, with the air circulating around them.

I’ve never eaten such a delicious sausage since. They were aged at least three years, so they were very dry. My father boiled the sausage a first time, and then a second time for about two hours, then cut it into very thin slices. The taste was very woodsy and smoky, with a bit of a hazelnut flavour. We ate it with plain boiled rice and oysters. This was the meal that we would have after returning home from midnight mass.

My father would already be asleep – he was very tired because he was so busy at the restaurant at that time of year. He never closed, not even on Christmas Eve. My mother did her best to make everyone happy. Santa Claus was very generous. We weren’t rolling in money, we didn’t go mad with the presents, but there was always a bicycle, shirts, pyjamas, a football and books – no computers! It was a happy time but a little sad as well, because it represented the angst of seeing one’s father so exhausted by work. 

What will be on your own menu this Christmas?

I’ll be spending Christmas in France with my family. It will be quite a simple menu, with some excellent things that we can enjoy together. For example, we’ll start with oysters from Yvon Madec. As a main course, we’ll have roast goose or roast capon with sautéed potatoes – which I adore – and some truffles, chestnuts, salsify and a lamb’s lettuce salad. Next, we’ll have some good bread and a beautiful cheese platter with a Fourme de Montbrison – that’s the cheese we had at Christmas when I was a child. It’s a little drier and crumblier than the famous Fourme d’Ambert, but I’m very fond of it. To end, a Bûche de Noël – a light version, made with tropical fruits. 

Could you share a festive recipe with our readers? 

Potato croquettes with black truffles and pine nuts – it’s a very simple recipe to make, and it goes marvellously with a fine piece of poultry or roast beef.

Recipe

Potato Croquettes with Black Truffles and Pine Nuts

 
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Truffle base:

125g water

60g flour

50g minced truffle

40g butter 

Salt, pepper and nutmeg

Potato mixture:

500g potatoes

180g of the truffle base

50g egg

Pine nuts

 


  • Wash the potatoes and place them on some coarse salt. 
  • Place in a 180°C oven. 
  • When the potatoes are cooked, put them through a sieve. 
  • Heat the water, butter and minced truffle. 
  • Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly. 
  • Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
  • Use the flat beater of an electric mixer to mix the truffle base and the sieved potato.
  • Add the eggs, then adjust the seasoning. 
  • Form this mixture into balls of equal size and roll them in pine nuts. 
  • Chill in the freezer until firm. 
  • Fry the potato balls in oil heated to 180°C.
  • Drain and sprinkle lightly with salt. 

Images: Marco Strullu; ©Jacques Gavard (portrait); Pierre Gagnaire (potato croquettes)

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Best of Both Worlds


Four months in Italy in 1986 led Manila-based chef extraordinaire Margarita Forés on a lifetime culinary journey that’s culminated in a shared love of Italian and Filipino cuisines

Best of Both Worlds


Four months in Italy in 1986 led Manila-based chef extraordinaire Margarita Forés on a lifetime culinary journey that’s culminated in a shared love of Italian and Filipino cuisines

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Best of Both Worlds

December 1, 2017 / by Kitty Go

In 2016, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants named Margarita Forés Asia’s Best Female Chef. This came as no surprise to the many fans of her culinary skills and the followers of her road to restaurant success in the Philippines. Royalty from Prince Andrew to the King and Queen of Spain have enjoyed her cooking, and Forés has represented her country at prestigious culinary events in Berlin, Torino and Madrid. Descended from a Basque family that came to the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period, Forés honed her cooking skills in Italy, but credits early-’80s Hong Kong as the place where she began her appreciation of food “regardless of cuisine”. 

Her restaurant Cibo is named for the Italian word for “food”, but the idea was more than that, Forés explains. “I wanted something basic and it sounded like chi-bog – local Filipino slang that means ‘to eat’.” The chef observed an emerging working middle-class in Manila who could be open to more sophisticated Italian cuisine beyond the “American-style sweet spaghetti.” Aiming for casual, reasonably priced and authentic Italian cuisine, Cibo simply took off. 

The restaurant proved so successful that in 2000, a group of local Chinese businessmen approached her to open a branch in Shanghai’s Xintiandi. Although she has no regrets and still remains cautious about expanding outside the Philippines, Forés recalls: “At that time, China was not in my sphere of things. Now, I realise if we did it, we would have had our foot in the door early.” 

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Of course, Forés is a woman who’s always been a bit of a visionary – and her refusal to compromise or settle for second-best has reaped all sorts of rewards in a competitive, challenging industry. With Cibo, she refused to
substitute ingredients or flavours to suit local tastes (in fact, there was a sign indicating exactly that on every table) as she aimed to educate the market on real Italian cuisine. 

Her tart-flavoured pasta and the organic squash soup, both using local ingredients, have become two of Cibo’s iconic dishes. “I had to fight for this with my family and partners, because it drove the food costs up,” she recalls, on the restaurant’s 20th anniversary this year. “One really needs to take a position. Not everything on the bottom line can be measured with money.”

Economic progress in the Philippines has been relatively slow compared to many other Asian economies. But instead of mourning the country’s lack of industrialisation, Forés celebrates it. “Slow food and the farm-to-table trend caught up with us!” she exclaims with a smile. “We hardly industrialised and were so behind that way, but now we are ahead because we were behind.” 

Agriculturally, the country now produces a variety of tomatoes in the south (which has a similar terroir to Italy), local cheeses, healthy rice substitutes such as Job’s tears (adlay), and heirloom rice in an array of colours from black to red. Souring agents and vinegars are created from local citrus fruits, pineapple, palm leaves and cane sugar. Wood sorrel, popularised by the globally lauded Copenhagen restaurant Noma, is a weed that literally grows “like a weed” in the Philippines. 

“We have the first fusion cuisine,” claims Forés proudly, when asked why Filipino food has taken so long to be internationally accepted, “We have Chinese, Malay and Mexican cuisine via the Spanish galleon trade – then add to that 45 years of burgers and Coke. This diversity is hard to identify and put in a box. We have to realise this – and to single it out is a big mistake.” 

With its open-minded mix of global influences, Filipino cuisine seems to be in the early stages of discovery by the rest of the world. Forés is a leading educator on her country’s food – and from her decades of experience in Manila, New York, Hong Kong and Italy, we can’t wait to see what she cooks up next.

Image: Margarita Forés

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On Gourd


One of the season’s most flexible delicacies, explore two of the myriad ways in which to prepare the humble squash

On Gourd


One of the season’s most flexible delicacies, explore two of the myriad ways in which to prepare the humble squash

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

On Gourd

December 1, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

 

Acorn Squash with Bacon-Chive Crumbs

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized acorn squash (peeled, cut into slices and deseeded)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 slices bacon
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
  • ¼ cup fresh chives, snipped

Add the acorn squash slices, garlic and thyme in a slow cooker. Next, pour in the cider, broth and brown sugar. Leave on low-heat mode for 3 to 6 hours. Near the end of that process, fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp; drain the grease, then finely crumble it and set aside. Cook the panko in the same skillet until golden. Mix the crumbled bacon, panko and chives in a separate bowl. To serve, sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the cooked acorn squash, which should be moved to a separate platter after cooking.

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Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash (cubed, cut into slices and deseeded)
  • 2 tbsp butter 
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 carrot, chopped 
  • 2 potatoes, cubed 
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • Salt and black pepper (to taste) 

Roast the squash on high heat until deeply browned. Melt the butter in a skillet, then add the olive oil, onion, carrot, potatoes and roasted squash and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the mixture until the vegetables are tender. Season the soup with the chillies, salt and pepper to taste. 

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Strange Bedfellows


Here’s something you might not expect to be a remarkable pairing: vintage sardines and Loupiac wine

Strange Bedfellows


Here’s something you might not expect to be a remarkable pairing: vintage sardines and Loupiac wine

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Strange Bedfellows

December 1, 2017

Bordeaux’s sweet wines are known for their affinity with foie gras, dark chocolate and blue cheeses such as Roquefort. For most people, however, the pairing of Loupiac wine and oil-packed sardines is uncharted territory. But for Michel Boyer, owner of the Château du Cros winery, this noble sweet wine goes delightfully with vintage sardines. He shares this simple recipe:

“You need to choose sardines that are packed in olive oil and aged in the tin for at least two years. Like a good wine, oil-packed sardines get better with age; the longer they’re cellared, the more delicious they’ll be. Open the tin and drain away the oil. Then just blend the sardines in a food processor with lightly salted butter, using 100 grams of butter per 100 grams of sardines. Spread the mixture on thin slices of toasted bread and enjoy with a chilled glass of Loupiac – as an aperitif or any time. It’s a real treat!”

Images: Patrick de Talance (sardines); Philippe Dova (portrait)

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Destination Cocoa


Cuvée Bali chocolate, launched in 2016 by Valrhona, has elevated the quality level of Balinese cocoa beans

Destination Cocoa


Cuvée Bali chocolate, launched in 2016 by Valrhona, has elevated the quality level of Balinese cocoa beans

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Destination Cocoa

October 27, 2017 / by Albert Pommier

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Although Indonesia is the world’s third-largest cocoa producer after the Ivory Coast and Ghana, its beans have not traditionally been known for their quality. Bali, which harvests some 5,000 tonnes a year (about 3% of Indonesia’s total production), was no exception – that is, until recently, when the Cuvée Bali chocolate by French brand Valrhona helped raise the bar. 

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Far from the island’s idyllic beaches and tattooed surfers, the Jembrana region produces 50% of Bali’s cocoa. Until recently, the beans were sold raw, at low prices to middlemen working with agri-food and cosmetics industry giants. But five years ago, Agung Widiastuti, the chairwoman of non-governmental organisation Kalimajari, and the 500 cocoa farmers of the Kerta Semaya Samaniya (KSS) cooperative decided to take up the quality challenge. 

“When you talk about quality, you’re talking about the process of fermenting the beans,” says Widiastuti. “In 2012, I started helping the farmers of this cooperative to improve their production in order to find more upscale buyers.” At the time, Valrhona was looking to create an Asian chocolate to address growing demand from its clients in the region. The company entered into a partnership with the cooperative and in 2016 bought its first container-load of the fermented, sun-dried, hand-sorted beans, paying double the usual market price. Valrhona then shipped the beans to France – and Cuvée Bali was soon launched.

“With a 68% cocoa-content chocolate and a good chocolate-to-acid balance, it’s definitely going to appeal to lots of consumers and pastry chefs,” says Pierre Tabarié, chief representative and area manager for Valrhona Asia Pacific. 

Jean-Marc Gaucher, the executive pastry chef at The Mira Hong Kong, is also impressed – he makes it a point of principle to use quality local products such as organic honey from Hong Kong, and uses Cuvée Bali in a number of the desserts served at the hotel’s Café Gourmand afternoon coffee hour. “I’m not going to say it’s got this or it’s got that, or that I can sense the sea breeze when I bite into it – that’s not it,” he says. “But it really has a character and a sophistication that I like.” 

With these developments, Bali can expect to raise its standing in the world market for quality cocoa. The outlook is positive: KSS fermented 100 tonnes of beans in 2017, doubling its annual production levels. Consumers will have to wait for Cuvée Bali to join the Valrhona Grands Crus collection in retail stores – but according to the company, this will happen soon. How sweet it is!

Images: Hugo De Piccoli/A Different Story

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Count the Stars


The 2018 Michelin Guide Shanghai awarded three stars to Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet; he joins an elite club in the region that also features Alvin Leung’s Bo Innovation in Hong Kong. These two wildly atypical chefs sit down for an exclusive chat with CDLP 

Count the Stars


The 2018 Michelin Guide Shanghai awarded three stars to Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet; he joins an elite club in the region that also features Alvin Leung’s Bo Innovation in Hong Kong. These two wildly atypical chefs sit down for an exclusive chat with CDLP 

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Count the Stars

October 27, 2017 / by Philippe Dova

Alvin, what was your reaction to Paul Pairet entering the very exclusive three-star club?

Alvin Leung: I know Paul very well; he’s been in Shanghai for many years. I recently dined at Ultraviolet and it’s an incredible experience – not just in terms of the cuisine, but on every level. I was considered the only slightly “crazy” chef in the three-star club – and now there are two of us! Having chefs like us is very good for the profession and for cooking.

Do you agree with the “slightly crazy” bit, Paul?

Paul Pairet: I agree with it for Alvin! [laughs] I really like his personality, his perceptiveness, and his ability to combine Chinese flavours and Western techniques. It’s true that there’s a parallel in that we’re both a bit different. Three stars is always a consecration. What’s interesting in our case is that we obtained them in a specific, extremely personal context that’s totally different from that of other three-starred chefs. It proves that when the cuisine is up to the mark, Michelin doesn’t hesitate to award three stars. You can be different, it’s just excellence in another format – and that’s all the better for us.

What dishes do you like most in each other’s restaurants?

PP: I haven’t been to Hong Kong in a long time. I remember the harmony of the meal, from the first dish to the last. You can really sense the chef’s personality – and that’s what defines a great meal. This same spirit and tradition can of course be found at Bo Shanghai, which opened a few months ago.

AL: We chefs like simple things. So when I tasted Paul’s “truffle bread”, I found the taste extraordinary. It’s a simple dish, but I could eat it every day and never get tired of it.

What are your plans for the future?

PP: This is a bit of a scoop! When we saw each other at the Michelin party in Shanghai, we again discussed the idea of opening a restaurant together – something that no one would expect from either of us. We’d really like to do it. I don’t know if it will happen, but I’ve already got the marketing campaign for the restaurant all planned in my head.

AL: We’ve been talking about this joint project for a long time. Each of us would bring his own precision to it. It would be a tremendous experience.

Images: Scott Wright of Limelight Studio (Paul Pairet); Bo Shanghai (Alvin Leung)

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Alvin Leung

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Paul Pairet

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Fun Guy


French-based woodland mushroom company Borde was founded in 1920 – Alain Bordes, who represents the third generation of the family-run concern, shares his vast knowledge of fungi

Fun Guy


French-based woodland mushroom company Borde was founded in 1920 – Alain Bordes, who represents the third generation of the family-run concern, shares his vast knowledge of fungi

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Fun Guy

October 27, 2017 / by Pierre Godeau

What are the most popular types of mushrooms and what’s the best season to gather them? 

The most emblematic are porcini, chanterelle and morel. In France, morels start to grow in the spring, chanterelles from mid-June and porcini in the autumn. Depending on the country, the mushroom season ranges from spring until late autumn. In China, summer is porcini season, whereas in the Balkans you get them in late spring. 

Where do they grow best? 

You can never be sure. For mushrooms to grow, you need a humid climate with some temperature variation, you need woodlands or prairies, and you need elevation. In the woodlands, there have to be particular species of trees. Some require deciduous trees like oak, ash and hazel to develop, while others prefer resinous species such as pine and spruce. Porcinis grow in most regions of France, in the Balkans, in Yunnan and in Mongolia. You get lots of morels in India, Pakistan, China and Turkey, and large quantities of chanterelles in the Balkans. Everywhere, growth increases when the phase of the moon changes.

How are wild mushrooms different from cultivated ones? 

The former grow naturally in forests, without any human intervention, and are gathered by hand. Quantities vary greatly from one season to the next – and from one location to the next. It’s impossible to predict what the harvest will be. 

While there’s no difference between a wild mushroom and one cultivated from the same mycelium, most wild mushrooms such as porcini, chanterelles and black trumpets remain impossible to cultivate. The Chinese cultivate certain types, such as morels, and experiments are being done in France. However, there are so many factors that need to be controlled – temperature, moisture, proper mycelium development – that growing them is still a very uncertain and not necessarily economically worthwhile venture.

What’s the best way to preserve a mushroom after picking it? 

The best “technology” to use depends on the type. Morels are best dried, chanterelles should be preserved in glass jars and freezing is best for porcinis. 

What’s the best way to cook them and what are some ideal wine pairings? 

Mushrooms can be cooked very simply by pan-frying them with garlic and parsley, or can be prepared in more sophisticated ways. Although recipes reflect a country’s gastronomic traditions and culture, some are very similar from one to another. For example, in Yunnan, mushrooms are cooked with herbs and the recipes are very similar to French ones. 

As for pairings, a chicken cooked in cream with morels is delicious when served with a Jura yellow wine. And you can’t go wrong with a Bordeaux, especially the Pomerols, with their woodsy notes recalling the scent of mushrooms. A white Burgundy like chardonnay or a young Rhône such as a Condrieu goes marvellously well with sautéed chanterelles.

Images: Eric Soudan/Borde

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