Monday, August 31, 2009

Kopi Luwak - Indonesian Civet Coffee

"Ignorant" should have been my middle name.
I grew up in Indonesia, and my only knowledge of "luwak" had been limited to knowing that it has something to do with coffee.

I only learnt that Kopi Luwak is a highly coveted and super pricey coffee when I watched a Hong Kong TV program recently (shame on me :p).

What makes Kopi Luwak so good expensive?

Luwak, or Civet the cat (or the weasel), picks the best coffee cherries, eats them, helps make the coffee less bitter and spills the undigested beans (if you really wanna know more...ask uncle wiki).

Wait a minute!
So it's weasel's crap?
We're gonna drink it?
...and it is EXPENSIVE???!!!

It's IDR165,000 (around HKD127 or USD16) for a sachet of 10 grams.
It's an expensive sachet of weasel crap!

But we aren't exactly gonna drink weasels' crap.

The undigested beans found in the crap had to go quite a labour intensive process before ending up in my cup, including cleaning, sun drying, and high temperature roasting. No bacteria should be able to survive that. The long cleaning process as well as super limited supply contribute to its expensiveness.

Call me weird, but I was never put off by the coffee-beans-found-in-a-pile-of-crap thing.

It only made me wanna try it even more! ^_^
I had my kopi luwak just like how I normally have my coffee. Slightly sweetened with a bit of milk. No fancy coffee press, no fancy coffee maker, just the way they do it in back home in Indonesia.

Coffee fragrance filled the room as I poured boiling water into the cup....

...I added a bit of sugar (and a bit of milk if you want, or try it without milk to really taste it), stirred for a bit, then I stopped stirring, and waited for the coffee granules to settle.

Patience is the key, drinkers. You really have to wait until it has completely settled. Otherwise, you're gonna be munching some coffee granules and it ain't no fun.

Since I only had one sachet and everyone wanted to try, we divided the cup into small shot glasses.
Shit good thing is best for sharing, right?

...and we have two more eager tasters...panting, hoping, begging by the table...

So, we gave in and let them have a lick...

Seriously, this can't be good for the dog????!!!!

How did it taste?
Kopi luwak is well known for its mild flavors and lack of bitterness.
It was indeed mild and not at all bitter.
But was it craveable?

Judging from Ah Yi's smirk...

It's definitely something worth trying once in our lifetime...but I won't be running to get another sachet anytime soon.

My smirk isn't as photogenic as Ah Yi's, thus it shall remain unposted.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quick & Easy Semur Ayam - Outta My "Designer" Kitchen

Just like I've previously mentioned, there was a moment of my life when I love designer items.
Designer bags, shoes, watches, jewelries...LV, Gucci, Prada, name it, I've probably lusted over it :p

These days, I drool at different kind of brands...such as Canon,
Le Creuset, Miele, or Tefal. However, since I can't afford them, I'd normally settle for their Chinese "alternatives", such as Midea (this brand makes affordable stuff and they work well too! I have quite a lot of Midea stuff in my kitchen).

When I first moved into my new place, I didn't realize that apart from the
breath-taking view, my kitchen has a "designer" item!

Well, not really....but close enough.
It's not exactly a brand you'd see in a kitchen....
What is it?

Wouldn't you love anything Gucci Guchi in your kitchen?
You can even sing it!
"Guchi guchi yaya dada...."
Sexy eh?
With or without an H, this sink has helped me prepare loads of wonderful meal...

I certainly rinsed and cleaned my chicken over my Guchi, and dumped lots of carrot, garlic and shallot skin into it while preparing this dish...

Quick and Easy Semur Ayam
A severely simplified version of a semur (Indonesian sweet stew) dish, perfect for a weekday dinner.

(serves 2)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 cloves shallot (I use more shallot compared to garlic for sweetish dishes)
- 2 x 1 cm pieces crushed ginger
- 2 pieces of chicken thigh fillet, remove skin and excess fat, cut into bite sized chunks
- 1 carrot, cut into bite sized chunks
- cinnamon, clove, ground nutmeg, ground corriander seeds
- water, olive oil, salt, pepper, sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)

Saute garlic, ginger and shallot in olive oil, add chicken pieces, add carrot, add water, season with spices, salt, pepper, and sweet soy sauce. Cook until the carrot pieces are tender. Garnish with crispy shallot (optional), serve with steamed rice.

Sous chef will give little Guchi the tender loving care it deserves by cleaning, scrubbing and wiping it dry.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chez Moi, Causeway Bay - Desperate for Lighting in Romantic Restaurants?

Who knows that this humble little door will lead you to....

is this heaven?

A place full of everything beautiful...
A place that gives you warmth...romance...intimacy...
and most of all...
A place full of deliciousness.

My first visit to Chez Moi was so memorable, I just had to go back and take better pictures than my previous point-and-shoot disasters.

A quick tip.
How do I say "Chez Moi"?
Don't do what I did. I made a huge fool of myself when booking for a table, calling the place "CHESS moa", although they might get that a lot...but still. Damn. Lucky I don't get embarrassed easily. HAHA!
It's pronounced as "shey moa". I'll remember that.

Now on to the deliciousness...

Pan Seared Goose Liver & Sliced Caramel Apple with Port Wine Sauce. The seared foie gras was perfectly cooked and the sweet apples were just the perfect match for it. Don't forget to wipe clean the rich sauce in the middle. The salad balances out the rich components.

From my previous visit, I knew that the place has quite a romantic setting, i.e. very dimly lit.
I tried cheating and adjusting the lighting when our server wasn't looking, but boy! her sense of lighting is superb, she immediately dimmed the light the moment she was back in the room.

But I came prepared. I brought a small flashlight (when I took it out, I think I scared our server a little)....did it work?

Well, in some occasions. But, next time, I'm gonna bring some stuff which could act as a diffuser, a reflector...heck! Am I crazy enough to set up an impromptu "studio" in public now? It must be darn embarrassing dining out with me.

Sauteed French Live Mussel with White Wine Garlic Sauce. Heavenly! The sauce was so good, so savoury...I used my soup spoon to scoop and slurp, and used these fantastic garlic bread below to mop the juices clean.

Crusty, buttery, garlicky, herby on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. Just the way we like it.

The shrimp bisque was well seasoned, flavorful, with plenty of shrimp bits. Again, I dipped some bread to get some soup soaking action. Fantastiqqqq!!!! (clearly, I don't speak any French apart from !@#@$@$@#$*&*&)

In my previous visit, a friend of mine complained about being served "dessert" in the middle of a meal...ohhh I guess this is what people call "palate cleanser" in Top Chef episodes eh? Something to refresh my palate and welcome the star of the meal. Whatever you call it, this lychee sherbet was very light and refreshing.

By the way, did you notice the "sherbet from heaven" effect? It was a result of the flashlight action :p

Grilled Australian Wagyu Rib Eye Steak with Red Wine Sauce. One of the best steaks I've ever had. Well seasoned, well seared, juicy and tender. I must admit that this one kinda looked like a piece of grilled chicken leg and wasn't really photogenic. But trust me, it was absolutely delicious!

The Lobster Thermidor looked fabulously sexy sexy SEXY! It was well cooked, the lobster meat pieces were succulent, the sauce was rich and tasty...however, it felt a little bit too rich and creamy for summer. I hope that Chez Moi could create a more seasonal menu in the future.

The green tea cheese cake was wonderfully light. Not too rich, not too sweet. Just perfect!

The Vacherins of Strawberries with Mango Mascarpone Cream cured me of my meringue-phobia. The sweet and crunchy base was perfect with the creamy mascarpone cream and tasted even better with the pieces of berries. It was perfectly orchestrated symphony! Sorry for overusing the word perfect...:p

Ideally, I love my sweets with hot, unsweetened tea, but I gotta try their coffee. I am a sucker for a good cup of coffee with cream...the one that gives you the kick-in-the-stomach feel, and this fella did exactly that. I was playing with my flashlight lighting the left, the right, the top, and the bottom of the cup, bounces the light off a plate, etc etc...Fellow diners shot me a "WTF" look...they should consider themselves lucky that I still had my senses and did not aim my flashlight at them :p

For reservation, call +852 2881 1929
A set dinner and a glass of wine cost HK$415 (no service charge)
They only accept cash, so hit the ATM to avoid embarrassment, folks!

Thank you, Mr. Flashlight. I had a fantastic night. Shall we do this again sometime?
(He said no)

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Zombilicious Bday Bash with Tonnes of Food

The amount of food served at our party last was shocking!

First thing's first. I just discovered that my floor to ceiling mirrored wall is extremely do this ^_^. You'll also notice that Vincent has difficulties posing normally for pictures, and you might wonder why were there pots, and mixing bowls in a party? Whatever happened to place settings, pretty napkins, gorgeous center pieces, party favors? Ehm, as always, there was none ^_^ all we had...was food.

Lots of food.

Athena's prawns and fresh fruit salad. The prawns were succulent and super fresh! The dressing was mango juice and a bit of butter. Check out the recipe at Athena's blog (it's in Chinese, but you can use google translate or leave her comments to ask questions).

Athena's fresh clams in garlic and white wine. Light and refreshing, a perfect starter. Simply clean the clams and saute in olive oil, butter, garlic and white wine.

Grilled chicken legs in sweet and spicy apricot sauce. The skin's sweet, spicy and sticky, the meat's tender and juicy. The recipe can be found here, I simply added minced shallot to it.

Honey Mustard Grilled Pork Ribs

I dry rubbed my ribs (about 1 rib each per person) generously with garlic salt, ground paprika, and black pepper, and kept them overnight. The next day, I baked the ribs in 180C oven, covered, for 90 minutes....they came out gorgeously golden. Set aside and let them cool....

...while preparing the wet rub.
In a mixing bowl, mix honey dijon mustard (about 4 tbsp) and some honey (about 2 tbsp), mix well, throw ribs in, coat every piece, and give them a good rub.

Grate some lemon zest on top...and refrigerate ribs.

Before serving, grill ribs uncovered in 220C oven until golden brown (about 15 minutes). I was really surprised by how they turned out. I hate blowing my own trumpet, but they were pretty damn good!

Coq Au Vin

My guests have different food restrictions, some can't eat beef, some can't eat chicken and pork are my meat choices. When I saw this gorgeous picture of coq au vin, I knew I had to try it. It's the perfect non beef, non lamb dish!

Although mine didn't end up as beautiful as the original...I was quite happy with the flavors. Browned chicken skin, flavorful sauce.

We gotta have something "long" for birthdays. Hence the pasta. I thought of a creamy mushroom sauce, but eventually changed my mind after consulting my guests. We weren't in the mood for anything creamy and heavy in this scorching heat! So the spaghetti was simply tossed in mushroom sauce. Five different kinds of mushrooms (my guests are all mushroom fanatic), sauteed in olive oil, butter, garlic, mixed Italian herbs, white wine, seasoned with salt and black pepper, sprinkled with bacon.


Never thought a bunch of vegetables simply thrown and cooked together could be so tasty. The recipe can be found here. Whoa, I couldn't believe how well I followed recipes this time!

Grilled Pork "Sausages" in Pineapple Sauce

The sausages were minced pork mixed with corn flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic salt, sugar and worchestershire sauce, rolled into small "sausages", microwaved until almost done, browned on frying pan, and tossed with sauteed garlic, onion, pineapple, sweet soy sauce, worchestershire sauce and fish sauce. Tangy, sweet and savoury at the same time!

Pineapple Shandy

Simply mix a can of pineapple beer, pineapple chunks, sprite and ice. Light and summery!

Behold...make a way for the best chocolate cake I've ever had!

It's from Zoe Bakery, Wan Chai. Melt in your mouth, velvety and super chocolatey chocolate cake! We devoured this with hot peppermint tea. Perfect!

...and the cake looked gorgeous with sparkling candles...(so hard to photograph!)

...and although we were stuffed to our throat, we still wanted to take a peek at Annie's birthday gift to the adorable!

Light yet buttery butterfly danish. Yum!

The star gifts of the night...XBOX 360 game console for Joe from Athena (which involved an elaborate logistics planning, collaboration, and deception), Left for Dead game (for Joe, from Vincent and Amy), Transformer game (from Vincent and Amy to Kenneth), and XBOX hard disk (from Kenneth to Joe).
Clearly, the boys couldn't contain their joy...

....they were so happy, they did this!

...and ended the night by revealing their inner zombie...Smoker, Boomer, and Hunter.
Video game geeks...they're kinda sexy, aren't they?

It was one heck of a zombilicious night.