Christmas flog exchange meet-up
Once again, a very belated post. Excuses this time: business trips (the usual, except for a first trip to freezing cold and miserable Wuhan) and also my beloved Casio Exilim has suicided *moment of silence*.
Tried taking photos with my new and not so beloved Nokia N73, have to say the macro is fairly impressive, but uploading photos is a super bitch. All the supplied software only works with Windows PC, so I literally spent an entire night attempting all these fancy technology tricks that up till then I'd only heard of and never imagined as being practically relevant. Eventually managed to Bluetooth the pics to Philippe's laptop, then spent another 2 hours trying to upload photos to Flickr. Even then, my pics came out different sizes, of funny orientation and with these weird blue borders around them, please bear with me while I figure all this stuff out!
This is why I am a mere food blogger and not a Google billionaire.
Anyway, here are pics from our Christmas flog exchange get-together! In attendance: Jasmine, Leroy, Callen, Ivan, Joone, SuperFineFeline and Mia. Venue was Tea Bone Zen Mind Cafe on Seah Street, a charming and homely place recommended by Umami for its tea eggs.
My wishee, Brenda, had wished for "Jewish or Mexican delights", but couldn't make it at the last moment, so she kindly gave us permission to share her gift - a store bought bag of tortilla chips with homemade salsa, guacamole and Mexican wedding cakes. I'd gotten the recipes from Epicurious, which I strongly recommend as a repository for great recipes of various cuisines. I especially like their feature whereby cooks who have tried the recipe can post comments - often, following their recommendations leads to quite a few surprising discoveries.
The salsa was a fairly standard mix of fresh chopped tomatoes, white onions, garlic, red chilli and cilantro, flavoured with sugar, lime juice, salt and pepper. Nothing terribly original but definitely much more enjoyable freshly made.
The guacamole, on the other hand, was far from any guacamole I've ever tried, and, as proclaimed by many of the Epicurious reviewers, possibly the best (and prettiest looking) guacamole ever. This was cos, in addition to the usual hand mashed avocado and chopped onions and chillies, this guacamole also contains halved green seedless grapes, finely diced pear and loads of scarlet red and delightfully crunchy pomegranate seeds. Some coarse salt and lime juice is all you need for flavouring.
As for the Mexican wedding cakes, these were also quite simple, and fun to make on account of being able to play with all the icing sugar. The shortbread-like cookies, studded with chopped nuts, have a very basic, "didn't I make that in Home Econs" sort of taste, but the icing sugar lends some elegance and keeps them incredibly addictive. Brenda - sorry couldn't share them with you this time, will definitely start on a Jewish cooking project for you soon!
As for my wish of Japanese mochi desserts, Leroy brought a box from Minamoto Kitchoan in the Takashimaya basement that had all the girls cooing over the gorgeous packaging:
The wrapped box
The unwrapped box
The assortment was hand selected by Leroy, and contained several special items for the new year (in particular, the two wrapped ones in the top right hand corner of the photo).
Each piece was a beautifully shaped and coloured combination of two or more of the following ingredients: mochi, red bean, green tea, white chocolate, chestnut paste and sakura, and felt like such an absolute treat. We managed to finish about half the box as a group, surreptitiously dividing each piece into 6 and devouring when the proprietress wasn't around (no outside food lah). The rest of the box was quickly finished the next day at home in front of the computer in true pig-out form.
Thanks Leroy for the wonderful gift!!!!!!!
As for Tea Bone Zen Mind cafe itself, we each had ordered a pot of tea and a tea egg to earn our squatting rights.
The cafe's tea variety is quite impressive, as is the delicate presentation on a fern-lined wooden tray with a dish of dried dates on the side. The extra tea leaves were even wrapped in an elegant brown sleeve for taking home. That said, it was rather on the pricey side at $10 upwards for a pot of tea - ok if you plan on spending a long lazy afternoon at the cafe, but a bit much if you only have time for a quick pop-in.
The tea egg that Umami had recommended likewise came beautifully presented, and surprised in being soft-boiled. The advantage is that the runny egg then mixes effortlessly with the herbal tea steeping mixture, which gives you much more flavour than just a dry egg. Again the pricing was on the high side though at $3.50 an egg, which is gone in a couple of spoonfuls.
All in, it was a fun afternoon seeing regular food blogger friends again and meeting new ones. Giving and receiving presents in mid-January also extended the Christmas joy a bit longer. It was, presumably, high on guacamole and visions of strawberry shortcake, that Jasmine volunteered to organize the next get-together. Jasmine, here's a little reminder *nudge nudge* :)
Hope everyone else who was there that day had a great time as well. And thanks to Joone for helping organize the exchange, sort out pairings and send e-mails, it was fun being your buddy-in-crime :) 11 more months till the next flog exchange!