Wednesday, June 30, 2010
During our stay at the Captain Fairfield Inn in Kennebunkport, we were treated to the most delicious baked goods by Loryn, the co-innkeeper and resident chef. Among the most memorable breakfast items she made was a sea salt, black pepper, and scallion biscuit. Fresh from the oven, the biscuit was a revelation: redolent with the fragrance of the scallions, with a nice bite from the pepper and a savory crunch from the sea salt sprinkled on top.
So you can imagine the giddiness I experienced when she told me that the recipe for this scone-like concoction was on the Inn's website.
To make the biscuits, first preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Whisk 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup cake flour together in a large mixing bowl.
Grate 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of frozen butter into the flours and mix with hands until well distributed. (Tip: Flouring the grater before you start grating will prevent the butter from sticking together into clumps as you grate it.)
Whisk in 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. (I think the next time I make this, I'd up the sea salt to 3/4 teaspoon.)
Add 1/2 bunch of scallions, trimmed and chopped into small pieces, to 3/4 cup cold buttermilk. Then add the buttermilk and scallions to the flour mixture.
Many thanks to Loryn Kipp for the recipe and for keeping us so well fed last weekend. And if you ever get around to writing that cookbook, there's a recipe for chocolate chunk cookies that I desperately want. ;-)
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Now that I'm in my thirties, I think I have to be okay with the fact that I'm just not going to squeeze into the swimsuits of my twenties.
Instead, I've expanded into the swimsuits of the Fifties.
In a burst of retro enthusiasm, I bought two Esther Williams swimsuits: a one-piece red and white polka-dotted number (like the one pictured above) and a two-piece with a saucy cherries print.
Both the bikini and one-piece versions have a hidden elastic panel and cute ruching to hold in and camouflage any lumps and bumps (not sayin' I have any, but you know . . .). And the halter-like design on top is super flattering.
So now I can go to the beach feeling more like a pin-up girl than a sausage. And I don't have to do a billion crunches before I can go to the beach.
Which means I can go eat more of the delicious biscuits I made today.
* Unless you really want the cherries print (or enjoy waiting weeks for a small piece of cloth to arrive in the mail), I'd suggest ordering the suits from Modcloth rather than the Esther Williams website.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Unfortunately, I forgot to ask the innkeepers to identify the cheeses, but every one of them was delicious. In particular, there was an herb-rinded manchego-like cheese that was just dreamy. Accompanying the cheeses were a selection of meats, fresh fruit, olives, and nuts. Oh, and did I mention there were freshly baked chocolate chunk cookies . . . the most perfectly textured, chewy, buttery, and delectable chocolate chunk cookies?
|Image Source: Taste of the Coast|
For our second course, we had freshly baked sea salt, black pepper, and scallion biscuits, which were delicate, savory, and so delicious that I tried to stab my husband with my fork when he reached for the last morsel of mine. We again made peace by the entree so that we could share blueberry waffles and eggs florentine. Then we debated staying for another night so that Loryn could feed us again.
Because at the end of the day, food is probably the best part of Kennebunkport. While the coastline and beaches are beautiful, and there are a number of lovely art galleries, the town itself is pure New England kitsch -- a bit more vibrant than Newport, but otherwise fairly indistinguishable.
That being said, I'd happily take another weekend of faux-nautical tourist kitsch for more of Loryn's cooking.
High five to my husband for planning a great trip. I will stop complaining that we never do anything fun.
Well, for a little while anyway.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
It's my last day in Hong Kong. My suitcase is full, so I can't do any more shopping. Which means I don't need to squeeze my American-sized ass into more Hong-Kong-sized fitting rooms or -- worse, much worse -- Hong-Kong-sized pants. (My derriere is totally miffed that an American size 4 or 6 is apparently a 42 -- a large -- in Hong Kong.)
This is all to say that I finally get to eat to my heart's delight.
And how very delighted is my belly today! It's in such a good mood, it's willing to share documentary evidence of its happiness.
|Image Source: I Eat Therefore I Am|
I, of course, was unfazed. I am half-Singaporean and half-Vietnamese/Chinese; I use red pepper in my cooking the way most people use salt.
Bring it on, nameless sichuan restaurant.
Half an hour later, I was sweating like Richard Simmons at the nursing home disco. My tongue felt alternately on fire and -- I know this doesn't seem possible -- painfully numb. Everything tasted like chili -- or, more accurately, like CHILI. Every dish we ordered -- dan dan mien (spicy noodles with meat sauce), sichuan chicken, paper-thinned sliced pork belly, chilled braised eggplant -- was delicious, I think (after a while my taste buds were so scorched I really couldn't tell whether something was yummy or awful). But every dish we ordered was en fuego.
I chugged a glass of iced tea and a bowl of chicken soup, but the burn was persistent.
Nameless sichuan restaurant kicked my ass and made me its bitch.
And I think I liked it.
|Image Source: OpenRice.com|
The "snowflake ice" is created using a special machine that integrates the flavoring right into the ice itself, so that every bite tastes like mango or green tea or chocolate . . . or whichever flavor you choose. Also, the consistency of the dessert is more like a snowflake and less like ice: it's soft, almost creamy in texture, and very light. The best part of the dessert is that you get to select any number of delicious "toppings" (well, more accurately, "bottomings," as they sit under the pile of ice).
I have a huge crush on the mango ice, but they ran out of mango today, so I had to go with the banana flavored ice instead. With it, I got tapioca balls, little cubes of flavored jello, aloe, and -- my personal favorite -- passionfruit pearls. The latter (pictured in the lower right quadrant above) look like the tapioca balls you find in boba tea, but are actually juicy little balls that "pop" when you bite into them.
Wait -- that sounded really dirty.
Anyway, they are passionfruit flavor bombs.
This Belgian waffle, I'm telling you, is unreal. The scent of it fills the entire market section of CitySuper with vanillaliciousness. It's warm, delightfully chewy (not dry and insubstantial like regular waffles), a little sticky, and just perfectly glazed with sugar or honey or nectar of the gods or crack (who knows what it is, it's good). You can order it with Nutella, but I find it scrumptious plain.
And since I was already at CitySuper, I figured I should take a visit to their bakery to carbo-load for my flight tomorrow. The Little Mermaid Bakery makes the most amazing brioche sucre (above right): The brioche is buttery and delicate, but the very best part of it is the little wells in which more butter has been poured. Then the whole thing gets a sanding of sugar and a sugar glaze.
It's a pillow of buttery goodness.
|Image Source: I Eat Therefore I Am|
Something so good though needs to be chased with something equally delicious. So I picked up a few pandan buns from the Toast Box, a Singaporean snack shack, to go with the brioche.
What? I have an EIGHTEEN-hour flight tomorrow. A girl's gotta be prepared.
|Top Image: I Eat Therefore I Am; Bottom Images: Tai Hing Roast|
Before I get on the plane, however, there's still the issue of dinner. Dinner at my grandparents' house is pretty much the same every night. Every night, there's a steamed fish course. Every night, there're two vegetables. Every night, there're two meat dishes, usually a braised dish and a pan-friend one.
But tonight, since it's my last meal, the usual courses were supplemented by char siu (barbecue pork) from Tai Hing, which is widely considered the best Chinese barbecue place in Hong Kong (see my sister's review here).
Tai Hing's barbecue is great, but I probably find it more delicious since I generally don't eat pork back in Boston. (The rules of Chewish living provide that prohibitions against tref foods don't apply when we're traveling in Asia. If you have a porcine aversion in Hong Kong, you'll starve.) I know Americans think they've got a monopoly on BBQ, but I assure you that a really good roast meats place in Asia -- not the gross, red-dyed spareribs you get at fake Chinese restaurants in the States -- can go toe-to-toe with a Memphis barbecue joint and win, Shaolin Master style.
And that's my last day of eating in Hong Kong. Back to Boston, back to lettuce, back to low carbs.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
From the wet market in Wanchai yesterday.
I've never seen such perfectly round pom pom chrysanthemums. I stared at them for a long time, while the lady manning (womanning?) the stand gave me a "bitch, buy it or get the f#$k out of the way" death stare. I finally snuck a photo with my iPhone and ran away.
Remember my post about our visit to Beijing, when I said that the critters being served satay-style in Wangfujing were so horrifying that I had to delete my photos?
Friday, June 18, 2010
Attention Kitchenistas: A limited selection of Le Creuset is on deep discount at Ruelala.
Not a huge selection of colors, but some cheerful ones available nonetheless. Here's your invite.
Among my favorite places to go for decor inspiration is a store called G.O.D. in Hong Kong. G.O.D. has nothing to do with religion, unless you also worship at the altar of American Express; rather, the letters stand for Goods of Desire and happen to be a homophone for the phrase "to live better" in Cantonese (ju ho dee).
|Longevity Teapot via Pearl River; Mousepad, shorts, and bedding via G.O.D.|
For example, I love their new line that is based around the patterns of the "longevity" style of ceramics that was ubiquitous in Hong Kong restaurants when I was a kid. I've always loved the aesthetics of those old-fashioned bowls and cups: they came in delicious colors like bright canary yellow, turquoise, and pink. G.O.D. has picked up the patterns and colors and put them onto mousepads, aprons, bedding, and clothing. I picked up a pair of the yellow boxer shorts today!
G.O.D. has "remixed" other classic Hong Kong iconography, including the colorful mail boxes of 60s Hong Kong (seen on the messenger bag above); the Hong Kong passport as it looked under colonial rule (now on the notebooks above); the teeming, tottering tenements -- now demolished -- of Yau Ma Tei (seen on the boxers above); and the red, blue, and white bags that Mainland Chinese immigrants once used to tote their belongings (remixed as a totebag above).
As Hong Kong's old cafes get increasingly squeezed out by Starbucks, KFCs, and McDonalds, for example, it's kind of lovely (albeit in a sad way) that G.O.D. has come out with a line of coasters with images of classic Hong Kong cafe specialties, such as milk tea, lemon Coke, and French toast. Sure, it's simulacra. But it captures an illusion of authenticity for which I'm so nostalgic.
I love the saucy and a tongue-in-cheek vibe of the store. (Their fashion line, for example, is called "Delay No More," which is a homophone for "motherfucker" in Cantonese!) But I love more that the store, by remixing the icons of old Hong Kong, has in a way preserved them for prosperity. Hong Kong loves progress, modernization, speed . . . and in building higher, running faster, getting shinier it's left behind so many beautiful items worth preserving. G.O.D. captures the nostalgia for the Hong Kong I grew up in, the Hong Kong of dai pai dongs (alleyway cafes), clothesline-heavy three-floor tenements, and green electric streetcars.
|Double Happiness Dinnerware via G.O.D.|
If you get a chance to visit Hong Kong, you should definitely drop by G.O.D. I really don't think any other store captures so well the essence of modern Hong Kong: forward and backward-looking, naughty and respectful, East and West.
|The G.O.D. in Causeway Bay via NYT|
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Attention Anthropologie fans: Leifsdottir is on deep, deep discount for today only on Ruelala.
Because they're awesome.
In fact, I might just sit and look at them -- that's how awesome they are.
Hong Kong is also on a big recycling streak, and most markets, including CitySuper, no longer supply free plastic or paper bags. So I purchased two delightfully mod Envirosax bags. They're super light, and can be folded into a compact little roll.
|Envirosax "Origami Bag 2"|
|Envirosax "Origami 3"|
The bags come in a variety of fun colors and styles, and I like them even more than the Casauri bag my laptop lives in. Hellolulu is a Hong Kong-based company, but a store is opening up in New York.
|Nylon Laptop Shoulder Bag|
|Nylon Laptop Tote|
|Nylon Laptop Case|
I'm aware that some people do something called "relaxing" while on vacation. I, on the other hand, shop. Very busily, seriously, and intently.
What's your vacation style?