Monday, March 29, 2010

Singapore Noms April 2010

I've added a photo slideshow bar over on the right side for the month of April.  This photo log will be dedicated purely to the Singapore eats I've gotten to enjoy during my month stay here.  I'll still be updating my Hong Kong NOMS Series while I'm here as well.  I still have quite a number of dishes I want to share. :)

A lovely greeting upon arrival.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I like apples. I really do.

And this is how I like to eat them these days.  I know I cut them a bit strangely now, but I like my thin crispy little rounds!

 Yes, I realize this is an Asian Pear and not exactly an apple, but you get the idea.  I was eating them just now.

Apples have always been my leading favorite fruit, even before I had teeth.  Favorite baby food?  Apple sauce.  When I was a child?  My dad would find apples left in the fridge with bite marks in them.  He always knew it was me, especially since the teeth pattern was a bit off... I had lost my first baby front tooth around that time.  The story goes that I couldn't manage to bite through some of the apples, so I gave up and put it back in the refrigerator until one of my parents could cut them up for me (keep the apple skin on please!).

I've had other loves over the years... pineapples, mangoes, mangosteens, strawberries, kiwis, pears, lychee, dragonfruit etc... But none ever surpassed my beloved apple of any shape, size or variation.

In a list of my ultimate comfort foods, a fresh, juicy sweet apple is on my top five list.  Give me a good apple and I'm happy.  It's one of the simple secrets to my heart.  Shhh..

Great story, right?
Shush.  I love my apples.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hong Kong Noms Series: Organic Eggs, Potatoes & Chorizo (Fofo by el Willy)

I've been in Hong Kong for 2-3 months now, soon to be departing tomorrow evening.  I've mentioned a few things here and there about the food in HK, but there's so much more that needs to be highlighted here on Gastronommy!  And so, I'm going to dedicate the next handful entries to my "Hong Kong Noms" series.  I'll also be focusing more on favorite specific dishes rather than the restaurant menu as a whole.  Number# placement of Noms is NOT a ranking, but simply a list.  Order is based on my mood. 

I've already written about TBLS Kitchen-Studio and Australian Dairy Company, now my unofficial Hong Kong Noms #1 and #2.

Hong Kong Noms #3: Fofo by el Willy

Gastronommy's Notable Dishes (quite different than Fofo's Signature Dishes):
Organic Eggs, Potatoes & Chorizo HKD$98
Balic style Salmon, Sour Cream & Black Truffle Honey HKD$60

Adrian, Geoff, Borja and I went to scope out the new opening of contemporary Spanish restaurant, Fofo.  The original Fofo was successfully opened in Shanghai by Chef "Willy" Guillermo Trullas Moreno.  Now, fellow chef from Barcelona, Alexander Fargas brings Willy's menu and philosophy to Hong Kong.

While Fofo is not considered fusion cuisine, it is apparent Chef Willy and Chef Fargas have paid special attention to cater to the local crowds in Shanghai and Hong Kong in more than just their menu.  Geoff and I were most amused at the chopsticks at each table.

Cantabric Anchovies with toasted tomato bread... and chopsticks!
(anchoas con pan con tomate HKD$55)
At some point, Geoff finds a way to use our sadly neglected chopsticks.

Fofo, meaning "fat" in Spanish, is hopefully not referring to its customers and only to its strange decor of cute chubby things, like its statues of elephants, penguins, and pigs.  The tall windows with the gorgeous view of urban Hong Kong is a stark contrast to Fofo's clean almost alpine-like interior.  I was half expecting to see a bear rug under my table.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nomming Cats and Dogs

When it comes to dog and cat meat, it has been a running joke for some and a long time controversy for many others. In this CNN video about the consumption of dog and cat in China, she mentions various dog dishes, like Dog Stew, Dog Steak, and Dog with Tofu. If my dog was for serving, would that just make it Tofu with Tofu? hurhur.

 Tofu, one of our five dogs.

Nah, this fuzzy Tofu wouldn't be eaten in China or Korea.  I don't think pure bred maltese and most small breeds would be very scrumptious.  And as much as I love Tofu (the dog that is), he is an exception since I actually prefer larger breeds as a furry companion.  ...You know, the kind of larger mutts and pure breeds that would be eaten in some parts of the world.

CNN report about the possible banning of dog meat in China

Given my adoration of man's furry best friend, it may be surprising that I actually do not find dog and cat eating objectionable.  Don't get me wrong, personally I wouldn't ever eat dog, but it seems incredibly hypocritical to get all self-righteous about it since I do enjoy the pleasures of gorging on other meats, poultry and fish.  I wouldn't ever eat cat either, but that's mostly because the idea of cats repulse me on any level (not a cat person, you see).  Yet, I would prefer kinder treatment of the animals before they're swiftly slaughtered.  I hear food tends to taste better that way too ;)  (cow, lamb, foie gras, chicken, eggs, you name it..)

And though I may not try dog, I might try cooked snake one day... despite having Kerrigan, my dear corn snake.    

I've heard such varied responses about the taste of dog meat.  I wonder if there's a huge significance in taste from dog to dog.  Guess I'll never know!

Just a little preview on the future of this site's look... This cool Gastronommy banner was a rough sketch made by talented Henry Lai :)  Notice the little cats nomming on the 'M'?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Edible Zombies

As many friends know, my passion for food is comparable to another passion of mine: gaming.
Combine the two?  Asides from wiping Cheetos onto the side of my shirt before regrabbing the controller, is a combination even possible?

Just now, Adrian sent me a link to this:

(click to enlarge)

My first reaction?  AWESOME!  That is a GREAT cake!
Second reaction?  Actually, that's kind of a gross concept.  I don't think I'd eat it.
Final reaction?  Wait, does that say "Trent's 4th Birthday?"  This was made for a FOUR YEAR OLD?  

Twisted, man.  And not just because nasty zombies from a disgustingly violent game is on a four year old's cake, but because it seems I've also been playing L4D2 against four year olds.  It makes pwnage that less satisfying!

I just turned another year older this past weekend, and it seems I still need to grow up.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Moleskine Passion's Recipe Journal is on the shelves!

Update 3.20.10: Including my book, Moleskine's website has a full listing of all the other Recipe Notebook contributors!  Many of the others put mine to shame! :)

Let's get away from the internetseriousbusiness posts and back to the usual lightheartedness that is Gastronommy, shall we?

My notebook displays are now out across Asia!  I guess I shouldn't have given them the same profile photo as I'm using on this site.  The low res photo came out all pixelated on the Moleskine posters!  haha!

So here are the posters!

It's kind of funny, they used the same 4 pages I chose to display in a previous post about this.  I should have taken photos of all the pages of my hard work, since I had to give the notebook back :'(  There were also written shoutouts to those of you whom I knew enjoyed a particular recipe of mine.

And here is Geoff of Geoffstwitchen and a sample of his lovely Moleskine journal!

 If you've come across these posters, give us a shout on Gastronommy/@victoriacheng/@gastronommy I myself haven't seen them yet (haven't been to the locations this week).
Taiwan - Eslite
Hong Kong - City'Super, Page One, Dymocks, Kelly & Walsh
Macau - New Yaohan
China - emo+, Gistyle, Homeplus, Kubrick Beijing, Popular Bookmall, Point to life design bookstore, Chapter 7, CNPIEC
Singapore - Page One, Kinokuniya
Malaysia - Cziplee

As for what else I'll be posting about, upcoming are some more food and beverage adventures in Hong Kong!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The ethics of food writing.

Coincidentally, three weeks ago I started a Gastronommy draft about my disapproval towards today's so-called "foodies," Food Network whores, the crappy saturated food blogosphere across the globe (maybe mine included!), and picky eaters who have decided to eliminate entire food groups from their diet for exasperating reasons.

Two weeks later, I pick up an issue of TimeOutHK sitting on my colleague's desk in our Duke's Group office.  I flip through and notice a review on TBLS and generally approve, as the writer and I seem to be on the same page about that restaurant.  Later I see a column by the same writer about food bloggers.  I found the article relevant to my original post and was actually going to link to it, not realizing who exactly she was referring to in her anecdotes.  A week later, some minor silliness unravels in the digital world... as you may have noticed from my previous entry.

I've decided to copy and paste my comments on that previous entry here along with some additions.  I don't know if I'm going to post my draft from three weeks ago anymore, since half of it is now covered below.  But we'll see.

Quote from my comment in previous entry (slightly edited):
On topic, what's interesting to note is that after my post on TBLS on Feb 3, linked my entry quite a number of times, including directly to TimeOutHK. One week later, a review of TBLS by TimeOutHK AND their  "Bloggers shouldn't be allowed to blog" column.  Hmm....
--Just forming theories and insinuations. ;)
(I'm joking, guys... half joking anyway)

What's funny is that the writer of this article and the dyslexic FoodInsider don't seem to realize is that I actually agree for the most part with her Blogger-hate attitude and food journalism ethics.   Particularly her categories of food blogs:
"Many blogs fall into one of three categories: the ego-driven nobody who power-trips with his iPhone, writing negative, knee-jerk reviews if they are not fawned over at restaurants; the “I took my mom to ____ and we liked ____ very much” variety; or the worst of the breed, the marketing spiel disguised as a personal blog."  

Some writers are elitist when it comes to dining and food writing.  But I'm very cool with that.  As dear friends and family already know, admittedly I too am elitist about those who choose to label themselves foodies.

 I can't stand wannabe food writers who blog about food, simply because they eat.  They don't research or understand how to completely appreciate food or all of the hard work that may have gone into the establishment.  I also can't stand lazy food journalists (rampant in HK for that matter), who nag restaurants for free tastings and end up taking one or two bites, before taking advantage of the free alcohol and copy+paste press releases.  From personal experience, I've seen certain HK food writers parade into Duke's Burger and our other establishments literally saying to our staff, "Don't you know who I am?"  In an IDEAL world, I expect established food journalists around the globe to follow the New York Times' standards: at least 3 visits, stay anonymous, try as many items as possible on the menu, research, and get the facts right.  Additionally, editors should not be influenced by their advertisers.  I've also personally experienced advertisement salesmen of well-known publications in Hong Kong who have made promises to influence their editors to write about our various restaurants if I chose to advertise with them.  These things happen.  That's life.

Where the writer of this article and I divide (besides the writer's nonsense victoria-hidden-identity-bullshit) is her inability to get with real life and understand how media is edging towards the digital, whether we like it or not; that restaurants giving free tastings to bloggers is all part of the marketing and PR scheme. The common blogger, regardless of their writing quality, integrity or intentions, have some power. At the end of the day, restaurants are a business.. and the common restaurant patron often uses the internet as their first source of food-research.

This TimeOutHK writer and others need to accept that reality and work with it before they get left behind. If she truly cares about the ethics of food writing in the blogosphere, perhaps she should stop with the petty gossip and should instead be using her journalism power towards making movements to standardize laws or regulations, similar to the US Federal Trade Commission's new regulation on requiring consumer-driven blogs to state when an article is actually an advertorial or based on complimentary products and services.

As for this statement in the TimeOutHK column:
"The last category is harder to spot if you don’t do the due diligence. Some of the most respected food bloggers keep their identities hidden for anonymity, but if you cover the food beat, then you’ll know instantly which ones are blood relatives of people running various restaurant groups."

First, I'm going to completely ignore the part about anonymity as it is completely irrelevant to me (see previous entry notes on this, if you want to be updated on the story).  I will be completely straightforward and say that I speculate that this writer either has a grudge against me or she's simply deluded if she still believes her original accusation.  The bizarre accusation being that I am hiding my identity, hiding my affiliation with Duke's Group, hiding my relationship to my father (owner of Duke's Group), hiding my affiliation with Gastronommy, and thus she implies Gastronommy is being used for ulterior motives.  From what I know of her writing, background, education, and mutual friends, she originally struck me as a relatively aware and logical human being.  Her accusations and implications about me on her Twitter are surprisingly irresponsible and quite disappointing. As a journalist, she should get her facts right.  As a person, she should show some grace and admit the error. ...but I digress.

So let me ask you guys this, unless the industry-related blogger is using his/her blog as an advertising platform or other gray-area means, isn't it to be expected that the individual has a keen interest on the topic as a hobby as well?  Is it really that surprising if someone who grew up in a vineyard to end up blogging about wine?  Is it wrong?  If anything, I'm personally interested in food blogs written by waiters, chefs, line-cooks, restaurateurs, baristas, cashiers, farmers, doorbitches etc as it gives another perspective and insight I otherwise might not have realized.

A second question:
Should non-paid bloggers of any genre, be expected to uphold the same responsibilities as a paid journalist?  Is it fair to demand that they always include proper disclosure, honesty and research?

Out of personal values and integrity, even with Gastronommy being purely a casual personal hobby-blog, I hold myself to the same responsibility.  However, I'm quite torn about expecting the same from the thousands upon thousands of other bloggers in the world.  Hobby-blogs are a personal matter, so I feel self-righteously demanding the same is not my place.  I figure the quality blogs (or the entertaining gag-worthy cheap blogs) will rise and the rest will naturally fade into the shadows.

I shall leave you with my sleepy late night thoughts.  Thanks for reading.


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