Saturday, April 26, 2008

Warmth is...

...coming home to a big bowl of prawn noodles. Thanks Dad!

Freedom in just under a week! Yay.

Btw, I went for my first FHA exhibition and was awed at the scale- seven halls at Expo. But I have to say I was disappointed with the way the organisers handled my registration application. Apparently it got rejected because I'm a student and the event was only open to trade visitors. This despite the fact that two of their exhibitors invited me and I'm into organising food and wine events for the university. Good thing one of the exhibitors I know passed me a free pass.

Oh well, students seem to be classified as 'low life' in many contexts. A grossly short-sighted notion ,in my opinion. Never underestimate the potential of young people. It's a source to be tapped and developed. Hey, besides that, we've got one priceless thing on our side- TIME.

I may not bring in millions of dollars or have a budget of thousands to make purchases at the exhibition, but I think I still ought to at least get an email notifying me of the disapproval of my application yea?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Hungry Cow Turns 2-wwwenty Four!

Eating: Easy
Taking shots of the food while family/friends wait eagerly hungrily: Not easy
Food Blogging: Priceless

The Hungry Cow turns two today while the cow behind the blog turns 24! Looking back at entries over the past two years brings back many fond (and delicious) memories of food, fun, wines and laughter. The many unposted entries from the ever-increasing backlog are a constant reminder that one mouth and four stomachs are faster than two hands and one brain. Haha.

The Hungry Cow started two years ago as a hobby and a passion to document my experience with food. The older one gets, the more forgetful lah. :p I am constantly inspired by my fellow food-bloggers who continue to do an amazing job of taking beautiful pictures paired with detailed and often entertaining write-ups. It's quite challenging to maintain a food-blog especially since none of us (I think) is a full-time blogger.

To me, being a food-blogger is kinda crazy. Who wants to go through all the trouble of lugging a camera around everytime he/she steps out, snapping pictures of the food, uploading and optimising photographs, drafting up a blog entry, editing and finally posting it?? With no tangible benefits as well may I add. I can't explain it either. Haha.

So this hungry and crazy cow would like to thank you for supporting this blog, not that it brings me money or food.

Being neither a food expert nor critic, I am honoured and humbled by my regular visitors for your continued viewership and companionship on my gastronomical journal. Exams are here so birthday celebration and food-blogging will have to take a back seat for the next 2-3 weeks. While I will still update, posting may become more irratic. Do bear with me. :)

Chew On This: In case you were wondering, I am still not coming up with a rating system of numbers, stars, chopsticks or woks despite some people's suggestions. But what I hope to do is to label my posts to make it more viewer-friendly. This could happen during the holidays (I hope!).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sunday Lunch @ Arab Street

Sundays have always been more of a family day for me. And when a family gets together, they eat together. After church, we headed to Cafe Le Caire for some physical food.

We decided to share a starter of Foul and Falafel Set ($7.50). The Foul (stop thinking of yellow and red cards!!) pictured above, is a dish of slow-cooked fava beans, topped with olive oil. Earthy and rich, it made for good eating.

How or what did we eat it with, you might wonder?

Arabic bread! Thin and floury, it was a little like chapatti and great for scooping up the Foul.

The Falafel that came with the set was essentially deep-fried patties of spiced fava beans or chickpeas. With a soft and chewy interior, and a nice fragrance of the spices used, I enjoyed this snack. Dip it into the Foul and their flavours complement each other. Oddly, the taste of Falafel here reminded me of McNuggets, without the chicken of course. It could be the seasoning/spice mix used I guess.

Mum's order of Sharam El Sheik ($5), spotted a pinkish blush and was supposedly a drink concocted from lime juice, Sprite and pomegranate. But all that hit my tongue was the distinct taste of Sprite, Sprite, Sprite.

I had fond memories of the Karkadeh ($4), after Dinesh brought some of the Station guys here and recommended the drink. Made from the extract of hibiscus, my Iced Karkadeh had a reddish hue. The drink on this visit turned out to be a tad too sour and thick. Better memories of it were light and refreshing with just a bit of tang.

Okay, fans of Tweety Bird please scroll past the next few lines.

For main courses, the Grilled Quail ($10) was the first to be ordered as it had required 25 minutes of preparation time. I found the meat slightly tougher than chicken (yes, it seems that chicken is the GOLD standard for comparison when it comes to 'exotic' food) but more flavourful. Personally, I would prefer big chunks of meat rather than small bits here and there but I reckon people who enjoy bony parts would better appreciate the quail.

The Laham Meshwi ($15) was a burnt grilled lamb steak with garlic sauce or so said the menu. The exterior of the three pieces of lamb steaks were too blackened for my liking but just a notch below what I would term chow tar (burnt). Scrapping some of the blackish bits away, I sliced into the lamb and found it sufficiently tender and tasty. There was that lamb-y flavour, but nothing too harsh. Dip the lamb into the yogurt and it adds another dimension- cold, creamy and tangy. Yums.

All main courses comes with a choice of rice, fries, potato wedges or mashed potato (add $1.50 for the mashed potato) and a small side of salad. There are three different styles of rice and what you get depends on the day and availability. On that Sunday, it was Bukhari rice. Those beautifully-long grains were sweet and nutty. A good companion to the grilled meats.

The last main course we tried was the Fish Kebab ($13). Once again, I would have preferred it less blackened. Looking past that, each fat cube of fish on the skewer was moist, sweet and tasted very fresh. The white meat was firm and the flesh held together well. As with the lamb, dip the fish into the yogurt (this time lightly spiced and drizzled with a very fruity olive oil) and taste the beautiful harmony of the smokiness of the fish and the calming, savoury-sourish tone of the yogurt. I think they serve grilled fish and yogurt in heaven.

Lunching at Cafe Le Caire was a laidback, no-frills affair. The prices seemed to have increased by quite a bit compared to one or two years ago but with the recent hike in food costs and oil prices, it probably can't be helped. Having said that, the current prices are still affordable and the food generally is unpretentiously delicious with a rustic feel.

Cafe Le Caire
39 Arab Street
Tel: 6292 0979
Opens: 10am - 3.30am (Sundays to Thursdays)
10am - 5.30am (Fridays & Saturdays)

Chew On This: Cafe Le Caire also does catering and has a high-tea buffet in the afternoons, on the second floor. They can even help arrange an Arabian Night party complete with belly dancers and sheesha for your Aladdin fantasy! Magic carpets not included.

Friday, April 04, 2008

March Makankakis Dinner 2008

Hey, we are already in April! Which means two things- exams are coming and I've got to blog about March Makankakis Dinner. Brought along my sis, Pearl, for her first Makankakis dinner!

Held in Rabbit Brand Seafood Restaurant, I was wondering if they serve rabbit. Oh rabbit brand!! Thankfully, no claypot bunnies here! :)

Instead, the first dish to arrive was the Braised Shark’s Fin with Japanese Scallop. I had imagined it to be the fresh scallop but it was the dried version that was served. The shark's fin was a little too gooey and definitely too, too salty for my liking.

Next up was the Steamed Live Patin Fish In Nonya Style. I have to admit that this was one ugly-looking fish! Black, rubbery cracked skin and all. But they say don't judge a fish by its appearance. And it was rewardingly so!

The slightly oily texture of the fish was beautiful. Delicate and smooth in the mouth, the flesh was flavoured with the tasty Nonya sauce. This dish prompted orders of rice...1)because people were hungry and 2) the Nonya sauce goes very well with rice!

Deep Fried Live Prawn with Salted Eggs sounds pretty pedestrian as with most things fried with salted egg now. While the prawn was relatively fresh, I would have hoped for a salted egg sauce to cling onto it. The version here did not feature much sauce and was rather salty (tasted like it had too much salt). Not too good on the salted egg punch factor.

Dinner crawled at a slow pace as diners polished dish after dish, waiting and anticipating the next.

So imagine the delight when we saw this!

This monster crab dish of Sri Lanka Crab with Chilli Sauce was a welcome sight at the table. After the cracking and peeling and de-shelling, the meat within was firm and tasted very fresh. Unfortunately the accompanying chili sauce was a tad too sweet and I found it off-balanced.

Still, there was a plate of nicely deep-fried mantou to add more starch to my stomach. It was stated as Handmade Fried Buns on the menu but I really can't tell.

Moving along, the Homemade Spinach Beacurd with Tobikko was another winner on that night! I love the contrast of the soft wobbly insides against the wrinkly brown skin. The sauce with mushrooms was also very delicious. More rice I say! The tobikko added an interesting touch.

Pan-Fried Fragrant Pork Chop would have brought to mind something else than this. Nonetheless, the pork was tender and well-marinated, if a bit fatty.

The Baby Cabbage In Superior Stock featured baby bok choi (if I'm not mistaken) and was a little green haven from all the preceeding meat and seafood. Simply, cruchy veggies. The wolfberries provided a slightly (herbal) sweet counterpoint.

Fried Rice with Shredded Topshell Clam & Tobikko was the last 'proper' dish for the night and it made us wonder.... why is the carbo (be it fried rice or ee-fu mee) always served almost at the end of Chinese dinners, especially Chinese wedding dinners? I feel very empty without carbohydrates.

Back to the fried rice, I didn't observe any topshell clams but rather what I thought were shredded dried scallops. While decent, it could have been fried in the wok a little longer for more wok hei (aroma imparted by the hot wok).

The meal ended on a very (literally) sweet note. The dessert of sea coconut and mixed fruits tasted just like those canned ones. The heavy syrup taste was unmistakable. Where did the fresh fruit platter go?

Both the wines on our table that night came from rather 'exotic' places. The Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot (above left), brought by CJ, was from Israel while the Pinot Noir (above right) was from Brazil! I brought the Brazilian Pinot Noir along as it's one of the most interesting wines I've come across this year. Wines from Brazil are almost unheard of and it's a pity. I find Brazilian wines to be interesting and of good value. This Pinot Noir was chewy and fresh with a nice finish. Allowing it to breath in the bottle over the course of dinner, brought out a floral scent of rose petals. Mmmm.

I'll have to miss the April Makankakis Dinner due to exams...oh boy, I'm begining to hate that E-word already. Will sure miss the Makankakis. Till the next one then, my friends!

Rabbit Brand Seafood Restaurant
325/327 Joo Chiat Roat
Opens: 6pm - 3am daily
Tel: 6348 8772

Chew On This: For those looking for a smaller-scale dinner, the set meals do look enticing!