Thursday, April 22, 2010

FoodHotelAsia Singapore

FHA 2010 Visit 1: Wednesday

The Coffee & Tea aisles were quiet.  The stalls were sad and empty since many of the French and Italian coffee company staff were stuck in Europe.  The volcanic ash situation really mucked up a good number of stalls throughout the expo with missing representatives and products that won't make it until Thursday or Friday of the show.

Caffe Vergnano 1882 had none of the Vergnano family there, though one Italy representative was there at least!  He was fortunate enough to have taken a flight a few days earlier to the ash disruption.  Good thing or else we would see an empty stall here too!

The dazzling machinery that comes with Caffe Vergnano Singapore

Elektra's beautiful Belle Epoque.  I would love to have one of these in my future shops or kitchen.

Mr. Foo of Singapore's fabulous artisanal coffee shop, Papa Palheta oogling at coffee machinery and our friend Colin trying not to break it.

Many local brands and dishes, as expected.

Delicious magnificent honey!  Their leatherwood honey was divine.  And Manuka honey isn't as terrible as some people make it out to bee.  I mean, be.

Dragon's Beard Candy isn't new to this Honky*, but wasabi filled ones are!  Seaweed and wasabi go with the flossy delicate candy much better than I expected.  
*Singapore's nickname for Hong Kong natives, not the US definition of honky!

The coconut crab.  Easily one of the biggest, ugliest crabs out there.  I can't remember if I've ever seen it in the flesh at an aquarium before, but this is definitely the first time I've seen it in the fridge.

I'm a French fromage lover at heart, but certain Dutch Goudas can slip their way into my affection from time to time.  The Two Sisters Serafina Gouda has been aged 18 months and is slightly sweeter than your average gouda with a butterscotch-like flavor.  It is fabulously rich for a gouda!  Cheeseland's cheese aren't available in Hong Kong or Singapore yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to find them there soon.  

The Chinese palate isn't used to richer cheeses out there, so Dutch cheeses are one of the best for the beginner to begin his or her cheese exploration with.  In general, Gouda, Edam and Leiden cheese are a bit more mild with a familiar firm texture.  I believe Cheeseland's selection of cheese are great for the Asia market.  Other Cheeseland cheeses I must recommend for both cheese novices and cheese masters: Ewephoria Aged (matured sheepsmilk gouda), Truffle Noir (Italian truffles and cowsmilk gouda), and HoneyBee (goatscheese with a touch of honey).

Cotton candy is relevant to my personal interests. yumyumyumsugar.
See that giant ball he's creating?  Yeah, that was mine.  Now it's in mah belly!

The infamous coffee, Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee.  I have to admit that the grinds smelled wonderful.  Yes, it's true the coffee beans are harvested from the butts of a cat-like animal from Indonesia.  Yes, that is a box of the civet's raw poop.  And yes, it's the most expensive coffee roast in the world.  om nom nom?
 eat my poop!

All in all, FoodHotelAsia exceeded my expectations so far.  I might even venture to say that I was slightly more impressed by FHA 2010 than HOFEX Hong Kong (2-3 years ago).

[Civet animal photo source: wikipedia]

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who are you?!

Hello visitors.  I was taking a look at Nuffnang's analytics of Gastronommy from the past 2 weeks.  It seems most of you are from Singapore, USA and Hong Kong (unsurprisingly)!

But I'd like to know more!  On the right side bar there's a poll option asking if you're a dude or girl.  Click away!

And please do leave comments, even if it's to say hello once in a while.  It makes the whole blogging thing less lonely.  I know you guys are out there, but you're all just clicks and numbers.  Give me some feedback, suggestions, ideas, who your pet dog is...  I insist!  Gracias and looking forward to hearing from more of you. :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crazy Fruits: The Pineberry

all photos courtesy of VitalBerry

The existence of Pineberries have only been brought to my attention for the first time the other day (on a gaming forum of all places).  It looks like some kind of alien albino strawberry.  At first I thought this was some kind of myth and I wasn't going to fall for it!  (I had a bad experience finding out ligers weren't real animals when I was 21)

The German name for these berries, Ananaserdbeeren, may be a more appropriate name as it literally means "pineapple strawberry."  Though it looks like a strawberry, it tastes like a pineapple.  Originating from South America and one of the oldest breeds of strawberries, the Pineberry is one of the great ancestors of today's common strawberries.  These Chilean white strawberries were later crossed with the wild red North American variety after the 1700s, producing the common garden strawberry that are in groceries today*.  As a result of the popular garden strawberry and the delicate nature of Pineberries, Pineberries were nearly forgotten into extinction. [main source: VitalBerry, pineberry supplier in Holland to the UK]

But!  For the past seven years, a breeder in the Netherlands has worked on bringing these little babies back to the global market.  This cultivar is first scheduled to be available in the UK very soon.

How cool is that?!

edit: It turns out ligers (and pineberries) ARE real after all!  This is amazing!  What's next?  Unicorns?  Boo you people who told me ligers weren't real. I was scarred for years after that.

*edit2: There seems to be a lot of conflicting or false information about the origins of this berry, even in professional news media articles--boo to irresponsible/lazy UK journalists who don't have interns to cross check their information.  I'm sticking to the supplier's version, even if it conflicts with wiki's version of the story.  I've personally contacted the suppliers in Holland and am awaiting their confirmation on the information I've posted.

Follow up on the Pineberry.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


One blog I like to check out on occasion is Cake Wrecks.  True to its name, Cake Wrecks post hilarious W-T-F worthy cakes from around the world.  I was cracking up at one particular post that I must share with the rest of you!

This is the problem with cake ordering and technology:

For those of you who aren't getting the lolz about this cake, the client meant for the bakery to use the image from that link... not the actual URL itself!

Thanks Cake Wreck for this post!  (see original post here)

Food Poetry

i once knew a girl named victoria
who was struck by a sense of dysphoria
for her bread did not rise
much to her surprise
so she moved all her things to pretoria

-Brandon Leong

Restaurant of Nations, a taste of FHA2010's National Team Challenge

The other night, Adrian and I were invited to a pre-competition tasting by this year's chefs for FHA's National Team Challenge.  9 National Teams will be competing in a series of cook offs, showcasing their pre-planned 3-course menu.  Three teams will then be selected for the finals (Battle for the Lion) in which they be given a basket of unknown ingredients to produce an impromptu 3-course meal for 50 people.

The Singapore FHA team gathering and discussing after dinner at Chef Daniel's Kitchen

Various selected chefs from top restaurant and hotels around town make up this year's team for Singapore.  Mr. Mah and I attended the team's final practice round at Chef Daniel's Kitchen (7/F Iluma).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pass on the KFC Double Down, here's a real Heart Attack

The KFC Double Down comprises of two fried fillet chicken fillets sandwiching slabs of bacon,  Monterey Jack and pepperjack cheese.  That's right, there isn't bread on that sandwich.  It's chicken and chicken.

The new KFC Double Down has not only been linked to me several times by friends, but I've also seen it  continuously on various food journals, blogs, and even an article by NYTimes' food critic Sam Sifton.  In the media, there is concern about the never ending problem of obesity (32g fat, 540 calories, 1,380mg sodium per sandwich), but for the rest of America, it's mostly excitement about this chicken greasefest of a sandwich.

I say, big deal!

Check this beauty out:

The Heart Attack at 2nd Ave Deli.  Layers upon layers of pastrami or corned beef sandwiched between two fat potato pancakes.  The whole sandwich is thicker than my fist!  It puts the KFC Double Down to shame!

If I'm going to clog up my arteries, I'm going to save it for special occasions with my favorite NY Kosher Deli.  As a side note, 2nd Ave Deli is not on 2nd Ave as you would expect.  It shut down a few years ago due to family business complications, but it has reopened and ready to serve on E 33rd St and Lexington Ave.

KFC's Double Down is scheduled to be released upon the masses of America tomorrow, April 12th.

2nd Ave Deli
162 E 33rd St
New York, NY 10016
Tel: +1 (212) 689-9000

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Burger King is caught stealing McDonald's Sausage McMuffin recipe!

American Fast-Food Advertisements have broken down a new door with blatant competitor rip offs.  In Burger King's recent commercial, the King breaks into McDonald's headquarters and steals their Sausage McMuffin recipe.  Burger King ends the commercial by flaunting their Breakfast Sandwich copy cat move, "It's not that original, but it's super affordable."  See below for the commercial.

Thanks to Twitter (this piece via @e_ting and @Francis_Lam), I've been alerted about this new commercial despite not being in the US at the moment.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Peeps + Sushi = ?

Peepshi!  Created by Grace Kang on Serious Eats, the Peepshi recipe was posted just in time for Easter.  And I'm reposting it just in time for... the end of Lent for those of you who cut out junk food!  ... heh.

[ all photos by Robyn Lee on Serious Eats ]

She creates these little cute creations out of classic American snacks: Rice Krispy Treats, Foot by the Foot and Peeps!  I'm not a fan of eating Peeps, but they do have a soft spot in my heart as America's favorite sugar coated marshmellows.  Beheaded and served on a Rice Krispy Treat in all its glory.

There were also attempts at Peeps themed dishes by other Serious Eats readers, like melted Peeps on a Pizza, but I'm not so sure they work as well as Peepshi.  Blech.

Here's an excerpt from Grace Kang's humorous Peepshi Recipe tips (click here for the full article):

A Primer on Peepshi Traditions

The Peepshi tradition calls for certain deviations from the standard sushi-eating customs you're used to seeing at, say, a sushi bar. Since Serious Eats has come to embody the contemporary Peeps revolution, I feel comfortable in providing a beginner's guide to enjoying Peepshi. It can be a roller coaster ride of sugar, and let me just say that you never want to be the first person booting at a Peeps party.
1. There is no wasabi. Same goes for ginger. Peeps are sassy enough on their own. (We tried smashing up a green Peep for a wasabi-esque condiment, but decided against this.)
2. Do not eat an entire Peeps roll. Unless it's a challenge. (Honor must be kept at all costs.)
3. Use the extra Peeps bodies (there will be many) to create your own Peeps diorama!
4. Room temperature water is the ideal companion to Peepshi. Too cold and the sugar feels gritty in a bad way. Too hot and then, you're just drinking hot water.
5. Don't let silent Peeps screams deter you from your task. You're a professional.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hong Kong Noms Series: Truffled Mac & Cheese (RED SoHo)

Now back to Gastronommy's Hong Kong Noms Series!  As a reminder, the Hong Kong Noms Series focuses on specific Gastronommy favorite dishes rather than the entire menu at particular restaurants.  My preference for a specific dish may not reflect my impression of the rest of the menu.  Also, my chosen numerical order of listing is not based on any ranking.  It just helps me keep track!

Hong Kong Noms #4: RED SoHo

Gastronommy Notable Dish:
Truffled Mac & Cheese HKD$128 (standard), HKD$178 (large)

I know I'm not the first in wondering how an established gym chain can also run a decent restaurant.  I assumed the dishes would be purely health based instead of taste based... not something I'm wild about.

So, I've always been a skeptic of PURE Group's restaurant, RED until I finally gave it a shot this past year.  Geoff, the Marketing Manager for PURE Dining, graciously hosted one of our friendly meet-ups at RED for fellow foodies around town (including foodies from HKFashionGeek, Geoffstwitchen, WOM Guide, and others).  The menu was surprisingly not as healthy and green as I had expected!  Buttermilk fried chicken, steaks, creamy soups, giant burgers, cobb salad...  Geoff later explains PURE believes in a balanced lifestyle: work hard, eat hearty.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What to eat in New York City (Part I)

I'm helping out some friends in their upcoming venue and have been asked to assist in some aspects as a F&B consultant.  One of these friends also happens to be flying to New York tonight and has asked for "THE list" of places for him to eat during his one week stay.  I've done as such, catering the list specifically for his tastes and potential inspiration for his upcoming venue here in Asia.

I've decided to share the e-mail here (with some edits to keep a certain level of privacy and have added photos), so I can simply send a link to any friends traveling to New York.  This list mostly limited to just the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village and the East Village and to certain comfort foods.  One or two of the listed places are stated more for the interior design rather than the food, per request of my friend.

So with what you said in mind, I'll start off with some joints you might want to try. 

Back Forty: Gastropub fare without being overly British.  Notice the grass-fed burger and especially their Stout Float. 

The Spotted Pig: menu is a bit weird, but notice the interior.  Not suggesting you paint the walls pink and put pigs everywhere, but the 2nd floor has a very unique charm.  Artsy but not snobby, casual but not careless, fun and playful but mature.  Also try the chicken liver pate and deviled eggs.  They do it well here.  The rest is meh.

Caracas Arepas Bar: Taste and see for yourself how awesomely delicious, comforting, and non fussy venezuelan arepas.  Can't decide which arepa to order?  Try the La de Carnes (Curiaras- samples 3 different arepas)

Porchetta:  Tiny little joint in the East Village run by a young Italian with slicked back jet black hair.  Try the porchetta sandwich.  

Kampuchea: It's Cambodian/Vietnamese, but if your chef is including Asian items on the menu, I suggest a visit to Kampuchea.  Ignore the noodles (despite kampuchea being called a noodle bar) You MUST try the sweet corn with their special toppings.  TRY IT!  YOU MUST!!!!!  In fact, eat two orders of that for me.  The crispy pork belly appetizer is also quite delicious.  The Numpang is great--love the baguettes they use too.  I like the general feel of the place.  Cozy, casual, open kitchen, and you know it's quality.

Shake Shack: The ultimate classic backyard grilled feel burger.  Not fussy and just straight to the point.  And yes, definitely get a milkshake.  There are two locations currently.. I've only been to the Madison Park location, but the other one is definitely closer to your apt (and it's indoors). 

Little Owl: Meatball slider appetizer.  Don't bother staying for the rest.. and yes, it's worth going simply for the slider.  (It's in the West Village, so it's close to Blue Note) 

DBGB: New place by Daniel Boulud, play on CBGB (the old live music venue that has pumped out a lot of famous present day rockers).  Interior is quite interesting.  Slightly industrial, but also sophisticated.  It's a cool balance..  As for food, Daniel Boulud does good with the sausages.  Get one of those.

Just plain ol' delicious:

Clinton Street Bakery: OMGWTFBBQSAUCEAWESOME Blueberry pancakes.  All of their brunch items in general are great... but oh man, do I love their pancakes!  I say eat the eggs benedict at Sarabeth's (they do a great eggs benedict) and save the pancakes for Clinton Street.  You can come back and tell me how kickass the syrup is too.  Their biscuits are just about perfect too.  Tip: Don't go on a weekend.  You'll never get a table.

Magnolia Bakery:  Try a cupcake just to have been there done that (whether it's their original or red velvet, I'm going to leave that tough decision up to you).  But the real star at Magnolia is actually the banana pudding.  Go ahead and get a large.

Joe's Pizza: Spiderman was filmed here, dude!  You know in the first movie when Peter Parker has a pizza delivery boy job and ends up getting fired from?  This is the place!  Well, actually the original film location was down the block and Joe's has since moved a couple doors down.. Anyway, get the fresh mozzarella slice.  You want to keep it simple here.  It's yum.  John's is around the corner on Bleeker, also quite famous.. but you can't order by the slice.  Pies only. 

Yatagan Kebab House: Doner kebab.  YUM-MY.  Open until late night and also very close to Blue Note.  Blue Note food is absolute shit, so save your stomach for supper at Yatagan or Joe's.

Five Guys: There's a location right in the West Village too.  Five Guys is a burger chain from DC.  I personally think it rocks In-N-Out's socks off, but many Californians beg to differ.  Not the end of the world if you miss out on Five Guys though... as long as you go to Shake Shack!

Peter Luger:  If you want to spend a little more moola, you know you gotta go to this legendary New York steakhouse.  Stick to the porterhouse and bacon (yes, bacon--get it!).  Forgeddabout the rest.  Don't you dare get it anything beyond medium rare.  You want this one bloody.  Daytime reservations aren't too tough.  Alternatively, Wolfgang Steakhouse is right in midtown Manhattan.  It has been compared to the likes of Peter Luger's porterhouse.  (Wolfgang used to work at Luger before opening his own joint back in the day)

Ippudo Just to compare to Singapore's.  It bothers me that Ippudo Singapore sucks when Ippudo NY is so good haha.  Yummy ramen.

2nd Ave Deli: pastrami on rye, mushroom barely soup, potato pancake.  awesome.  If it's too out of the way (it's midtown east and NOT on 2nd Avenue as you'd expect) then just go for the same at Katz' Deli in the Lower East Side.  Very close to Mercury Lounge.  A lot of history at Katz' too, I just happen to think 2nd Ave is the best Jewish Deli in NYC. (More on 2nd Ave Deli)

Gray's Papaya: The classic New York hotdog.  The papaya drink is absolutely horrid by the way.
Crif Dog: taking hotdogs to another level.  Also another late night spot. 
Co. :  As in "company."  Pizza place.  A little different than the usual pizza.
Pommes FritesBelgium fries with all sorts of different sauces to choose from.  Late night munchie paradise.

Check out these joints for top notch mixology without any door policy or stuffy attitudes:
B Flat
Angel's Share

I can keep going on and on and on.. but this should be more than enough choices for now!  Let me know if there's a certain cuisine or dish you want to try that I didn't mention either.  Korean, Japanese, Northern Italian, Mediterranean, bagels, mac&cheese, French, fine dining etc

Most definitely let me know which places you end up going to.  Happy eating!  Wish I was there to eat through NY too :)


I can actually remember who I went with for the first time to each of these places.  If you were one of them and you remember too, then I thank you for sharing my first experience there with me!  I've been to each of those places many times over!

Random old pictures from New York 08-09

Towe, Laibond and me

Me and Duke on the S train

Temporary art exhibit in Greenwich Village: The Village Petstore by Banksy


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