Sunday, April 29, 2012

upside down banana cake: taking pictures of food

A picture of a delicious upside down banana cake.

On Facebook the other day, one of my friend's posted a picture from this blog on her profile: I love the concept of this blog - it highlights the culture of asians taking pictures of food. People would laugh at this blog if they were embracing their own stupidity in doing food pornography or if they've been in the awkward position of eating out with an Asian who does this.

This food-photography culture reminds me of tourists who have travelled far and take photos of things such as spectacular buildings, famous artworks or the landscape. People seem to do this as a way to 'capture their memories' on hard/soft copy. A fleeting moment or experience is turned onto a hard/soft copy image - something which the photographer may keep for a long time. A photograph allows the individual to experience or 'consume' the memory for much longer.

My questions are: Do you have to have an photo/object to remember something? Is it necessary for me to take photos of food? If I throw my photos away, would I still remember it? What is it saying about our society if we must have a consumable object to jot our memories of something? tbc...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

food court at centrepoint westfield

In my recent trip to Sydney, I brought my mum to the new Centrepoint Westfield which has an stunning food court. The floor is filled with upmarket fast food franchises, restaurants turned into casual eateries and one-off stores. This included Grill'd burgers, Din Tai Fung (best dumplings in Sydney), Iku Wholefoods etc. In fact, the space is like a convergence of street food to mid/high-market eateries. It brings these eateries in one convenient location to the shopping masses. Customers ranged from suburban families to the Sydney North Shore yuppie to the international tourist with large expendable incomes.
The black reflective floor emphasises the food court's 'sophistication' - a sensation oozing out of the shiny decor in the rest of the Westfield. Walking around the food court, it reminds me of a gallery - each store has immaculate displays, each showing off a carefully designed concept/marketable image. To some point, I also felt like I was in a food court of a UK/European high-end department store. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Insadong Korean BBQ, Eastwood

One thing I appreciate about Sydney is the non-pretentious nature of the restaurants. Eastwood, a dominantly Asian suburb, is filled with these. The suburb is also dominated by lots of Asian grocery stores and cheap shops where 'Made in Hong Kong/ China' is embraced to many extents.
The Insadong Korean Restaurant in Eastwood feels like a family run business, is low key and serves simple, no-fuss food. I used to frequent here in my uni days - after a long musty lecture, my mum would bring me out for lunch in Eastwood or to this restaurant. It was the perfect way to wind down. Since the restaurant is filled with locals, the customer service is not patronising and would make many feel at ease.

Serving sizes are plentiful and meat for the BBQ is cut in decent chunks. My friend and I got the medium spicy chicken, ribs marinated in a special Insadong soy sauce and a Korean seafood pancake. Food didn't lack taste and our choices weren't too fatty. It was more than enough for us and I was happy and content.

Insadong Korean Restaurant
223 Rowe Street
Eastwood, Sydney

Coffee Emporium, Parramatta

In a recent visit to Sydney, I met a friend at Parramatta Westfield. We had tea/coffee at the Coffee Emporium - I despise having to pay $4 for tea, but did it anyway. Plus I had to wait 20 minutes for my tea leaves and boiling water. Not happy Jan.
First world problem.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

home-made pancake with figs

The first things I learnt to cook between the approximate ages of 7 and 12 were pancakes and cupcakes from the packet mix. I whipped up a wholemeal and soy pancake drizzled with honey and fresh figs as a reminder of home (and my competency of cooking beyond opening a can of mixed beans - joke).
As much as I love food, lately I've been wondering whether there is more to life than the next party, the next meal, the next weekend after a tough week at work and/or the next meaningful project you'd get at work. In Canberra or by just starting full-time work, so many people are consumed in the work/leisure cycle - work enough so you can afford your after-5pm lifestyle. And relax/rejuvenate after hours to get you back into the speed of work. At the moment, it seems to me like a cycle which lasts for a loooooonnnngggg time.

To 'spice' things up, people get into relationships, buy properties, have children/get married/divorced. Maybe I'm just dreading the inevitable and should appreciate the finer/larger things in life. This is a journey in progress.

chai cupcakes

It was the day after 'Harmony Day' so my Branch at work hosted a pot-luck multicultural food feast. I normally wouldn't cook for these things as I'd prefer to spend my out-of-office hours doing things which don't relate to work, but I was persuaded by ethnic-inclusive colleagues to whip up something.

I've tried the chai cupcake recipe from Fergal Connolly's 500 cupcakes book a few times and found the original recipe lacked a genuine chai flavour as it only used chai tea powder rather than raw spices. I substituted 1 tablespoon of chai tea powder for the from-scratch ingredients used to make 4 servings of chai.
My mother got the following chai recipe from a local Indian woman who taught an Indian cookery class: 
3 1/2 cups water (for the purpose of these cupcakes, omit this)
1 cup milk
4 black teabags
4 cardamon pods
2 tsp fennel seeds
4 tsp sugar
1/4 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
1/4 tsp peppercorn (optional)
1 inch fresh ginger (optional)

From memory, place all ingredients in a pot til boiling. Simmer until the milk is infused with spices.

Use this recipe in any chai cupcake recipe. It's best to sieve the chai before placing into the cupcake mixture to remove any bitter chunks of cardamon, fennel seeds etc
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