Cauliflower Rice with Almonds, Currants and Mint

So we bit the bullet and bought a Thermomix TM5 for our kitchen! This is also the first time I have posted in over a year, and with a baby on the way and arriving in June (yay!) I thought … Continue reading

Pineapple Caramel Upside-Down Chocolate Cake

Another recipe from my magazine cutout folder – this one is from the French issue of Saveur, and caught my eye as I just love any cake with fruit in it. Somehow I can trick myself into thinking that it’s a ‘healthy option’ 🙂 It’s also a simple recipe with few ingredients and really easy to put together, all good reasons for trying it out for yourself. It’s a winner at dinner parties!

Magazine recipes are a bit of a gamble as I find that sometimes, there is just something missing, or the cooking times aren’t quite right. This one however is spot on – a nice cakey exterior with a moist interior, the sweetness of the pineapple juxtaposed by the bitterness of the chocolate (the darker the better).

My latest kitchen toy is a pineapple corer, which is rather indispensable if you want your cake to have nice round pineapple circles. It also takes a lot of the fuss out of eating this rather prickly fruit as it takes literally seconds to peel and core it – without it, I just wouldn’t be bothered as it’s so much of a hassle to do it by hand.

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You’ll need:

1 whole pineapple
150g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
150g plain flour
150g unsalted butter, softened
100g dark chocolate
3 eggs
2 1/2 tsp baking powder

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Upper Modern Bistro

Having effectively been out of Hong Kong for the last month and a half, I feel like I’ve come back and ten different new restaurants have opened. Not only are they new, but they are impressive restaurants that have been causing a buzz and sending my Facebook news feed into a visual frenzy of food photography.

We were out for a nice dinner with our friends, the elegantly gorgeous KW and her ever-amusing beau BB – with company such as theirs, a meal is always off to a good start!  Fish & Meat was fully booked, and we were lucky that Upper Modern Bistro has just had a cancellation.

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The whimsical ceiling feature @ Upper Modern Bistro

Mirrors and a full glass panel façade makes the restaurant feel very roomy, whilst the soft colour scheme makes the space comfortable and welcoming.  Your eyes are immediately drawn to the fabulous ceiling feature, the design apparently is attributed to chef Philippe Orrico’s love of eggs. The kitchen is set slightly higher than the dining room, and is visible from the street so that you are greeted by the sight of chefs busying away.

At the time of our visit, it felt like the façade was not yet completed, and I had to squint and search to confirm that this was indeed Upper Modern Bistro.  But once I entered the restaurant, I was truly excited to start my meal. Our friends had been raving about how amazing the food was at St. George, the restaurant where Orrico was head chef previously to opening his own place. I had never had the chance to go, and anticipated a great meal at Upper Modern Bistro.

There’s a snack menu, a tasting menu, and the main a la carte menu to choose from. As enticing as the snack menu looked, we decided to go straight to choosing our main meal. With the 4 of us dining, I have lots of lovely food pics for you here!

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Oyster w/ Ponzu Sauce @ HK$ 58 each

I started off with 2 Brittany oysters, they were crisp and not too big with a fabulous ponzu sauce.

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Steak Tartare HK$ 168

As my first choice of moules mariniĂšre was sold out, I went for a bistro staple – the steak tartare.  It was unconventional, served on a base of avocado, mixed with pecans instead of capers, and topped with a parmesan cheese foam. If you are a tartare traditionalist, you will be disappointed, as it hasn’t the tartness or the heavier flavours of a traditional tartare. This one is light, with no discerning meaty taste as the favours of the avocado and parmesan overpowered it a bit. Still, the flavours went well together, and I enjoyed the lightness of it.

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63° egg, sauteed crab meat and Bellota ham HK$ 148

63° eggs are one of UMB’s signature components, and Chef Orrico uses them in his main dish of Mushroom Tagliatelle also.

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A bird’s eye view

KW’s starter of Chestnut Soup (no photo!) was dreamy, a rich, sweet cream of chestnut with complimentary shavings of white Alba truffle. Delicious. In fact, if you like creamy soups as I do, I would say that soup is definitely one of Upper Modern Bistro’s strong points!

For the main courses, BB ordered a delectable Quail and Foie Gras Pie. It is limited on the menu and yet it was still available for us to order. I suppose it may sound too heavy and rich for many, but I liked its traditionalism.  One bite brought me back to a meal that I had at Au Petit Riche, an old-school Parisian restaurant, where traditional recipes such as meat pies and tĂȘte de veau are predominant on the menu.  And hey, it comes with a salad!  With truffles shavings again, no less.

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Quail and Foie Gras Pie with Lentil Sauce, HK$ 328

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Accompanying salad with truffles!

My main course was the most mainstream of them all, but just as well executed. The pasta was wonderfully fresh and cooked perfectly al dente, and the 63° egg oozed its bright yellow yolk to create a smooth, creamy sauce.

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Mushroom Tagliatelle, 63° egg, cheese sauce and parma ham HK$ 168

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Oozing egg…

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Sole a la meuniere, butternut sauce and sauteed mushrooms HK$ 248

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Hungry Like the Wolf @ London’s Bocca di Lupo

Slowly but surely, after numerous trips to London, I am building up my “Must-Eat” list of places to dine when I am in this wonderful city. A melting pot of different cuisines, with a plethora of choice from cheap and cheerful to luxurious and extravagant, London’s food scene is tongue-titillatingly exciting! What I find lacking in Hong Kong are the mid-range priced restaurants that serve GOOD food, unlike so many establishments where a HK$400 spend will get you:

a) a glass of wine and a portion of two wonderfully delicious yet overly priced foie gras mini-burgers

or

b) a glass of wine, a plate of nachos and a superbly mediocre burger.

Okay, perhaps I exaggerate a little bit, and I don’t mean to knock my own city. You all know that I eat out a lot in Hong Kong, and that I enjoy a lot of what I eat. In fact, if you care to participate in this debate, I challenge and invite you to comment on this post!  Let me know your favorite meals in Hong Kong in the $400 per person range (and that’s including a glass of tipple), restaurants that surprised you the first time you went, and that consistently serve fresh, tasty and (most importantly) thoughtful food. I will one day write a post about this topic, but for now will keep my list to myself.

As always, I digress.

A warm and welcoming, and unassuming restaurant, located on a quiet street off the bustling Shaftsbury Avenue

A warm, welcoming, and unassuming restaurant, located on a quiet street off the bustling Shaftsbury Avenue

One of my new London favorites is now Bocca di Lupo (i.e. the mouth of the wolf), just a hop, skip and a jump away from Picadilly Station and Leicester Square Station. No need for Scottie to beam you up to Italy, you can just take the London Underground!

BDL was opened in 2008 by Jacob Kenedy, an academic turned chef who approaches his food in an informed way. The dishes can be sampled in small and large plates, allowing diners to design their dinner experience.  Each item on the menu is classified by the region in Italy that it originates from, and other dishes are creations of the chef.

At the time of my visit, their menu featured a B.Y.O TRUFFLES OPTION! Forget “V” for vegetarian, dishes marked with a “T” are recommended as ideal to have with truffles, which you can buy at Gelapo across the street.  Genius.

All of this technical stuff aside, the food is simple, honest, fresh and so gosh-darn tasty – your appetite becomes like that of the wolf. You want to devour everything. I went to BDL twice during my 2 weeks trip to London, and I am nowhere near satiated.

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Watching the chef’s at work in their small open kitchen, from our chef’s counter bar seats

From the Crudi e Salumi section, we ordered a selection of seafood carpaccio. I am a big fan of sashimi sweet prawns, and those Mediterranean red prawns are as sweet as you can find them. The burrata came next, a creamy ball of goodness, smothered in olive oil and bursting over a bed of grilled vegetables – adding fresh mint instead of basil was an interesting touch. After this came the rose veal tartare, a delicate and flavorful meat that wasn’t seasoned like a  normal tartare, and didn’t really need to be.

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CruditĂ  di mare – raw red prawns, sea bream & scallop carpaccio. GBP 14

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Burrata with marinated grilled aubergines, tomato, chilli & mint. GBP 9.50

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Battuto – rose veal tartare with a little oil & little else. GBP 9

We skipped the Fritti section and went straight onto Paste & Risotti. The venison and the wild boar ragĂșs were rich and filling, with clean and crips flavours. By this point in the meal, we were getting pretty stuffed. It was the first time I had tried gnudi – (pronounced “nu-dee”), a type of gnocci made with ricotta and flour which that hails from Tuscany. They were light and fluffy, and a great match with the ragĂș.

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(Uncertain) Chifferi with venison ragĂș GBP 8 – although the pasta isn’t ‘olive leaf shaped’

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Sheeps Ricotta Gnudi with Lamb Ragu GBP 10

The star of the show for me, the dish that really blew my mind, was the Lobster Spaghettini! This is the stuff of pasta wet dreams – a succulent Scottish lobster, teeming with roe and cholesterol-y goodness, with a punch of chili, a scent of ginger, and topped with fat mussels. The ginger was really the most interesting addition to this dish – it perfumed the pasta and gave a hint of ginger flavour that was just right.

Spaghettini with 1/2 lobster, mussels & ginger (Large) GBP 25

Spaghettini with 1/2 lobster, mussels & ginger (Large) GBP 25

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My first Lovebites Party :-))))))

I’m very excited about my first event with a  LoveBites logo, I’ve had many a dinner party at home before, but this one feels different. Whether it’s because it’s the first time I’ve booked out an entire restaurant, or because I’m choosing an exclusive provider for the wines, or just because it’s not just any dinner party…it has a name. I’m nervous, excited, and hungry. I really hope that for the sake all of my friends who are coming, that it will be a fabulous night!