Archive for February, 2010

Heatwave

It was raining all throughout Chinese New Year in Kuching. But how I loved the rain. And how I miss it.

Especially since Perth is going through this horrible heatwave!

It’s going to be 41 tomorrow, and 42 the day after. Yucks. And our broken office broke down again today, the air conditioning, the one most important thing, broke down.  T joked that we were only allowed to breathe every 10 seconds because there wasn’t enough oxygen to go around. Only it wasn’t really that funny because it was so stuffy and warm.

2 more working days to Saturday, slowly but surely we’re making it to the weekend. That’s if I don’t melt from the heat first.

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The Dego @ Jacksons

Degustation menus usually consist of multi- courses (around 7 to 9 courses) and can last from 2 – 4 hours during which you can pretend to be a culinary critic and sample each creation designed to showcase the head chef’s signature dishes.

The only degustation meal I’ve ever had was perhaps the most memorable meal of my life being our lunch at the 3 michelin starred Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at Royal Hospital Road in London. Hehe, yes, I start up high. It was a treat by my foodie sister and bro-in-law and it was an unforgettable experience. I remember being awed by the presentation of the dishes, the creativity and art of every bite, the wonderful service complete with food warmers and all. It was quite a few years ago, but I still remember how I felt then. Utter foodie paradise.

Having had the best of the best degustation experience under my belt, I’ve always been keen to try degustation meals in Perth. Unfortunately, the fact that degustations are usually exorbitantly expensive stopped me and the closest thing I came to having a degustation was a five course meal at Borsalino Ristorante in Nedlands which was really lovely.

Mention the best restaurant in Perth and Jacksons is almost always on the top the list. Neil Jackson’s ‘dego’ (self invented Aussie slang for degustation) is possibly ‘the’ foodie experience for Perth-ians. I’ve been talking about Jacksons since.. forever. But the crazy price of $120 per head (that’s minus the wine selection) always held me back, I was and am a penny pinching foodie after all.

R kept me guessing for weeks where we were going for my birthday dinner so I was in a sense of disbelief when we stepped into the buzzing restaurant(restaurant was fully booked and R just managed to squeeze in after being on the waiting list for a month), my feet felt lighter and I floated to the quieter candlelit ‘dego’ section of the lush restaurant. Ok, back to the food.

Since R was driving and there was a cocktail night planned afterwards, we skipped the wine list and went straight into the food. They served us complimentary bread with cheese twists, lavosh crispbreads, and bread rolls with some really nice butter (I think it was from France? I regret not bringing a notebook but I didn’t know we were going to Jacksons!). The bread wasn’t extraordinary but the butter was really nice.

Another freebie I love freebies, a pre appetizer appetizer? It was a canapé which looked like an ice cream cone with a tomato based gazpacho like sorbet ( I apologise for the bad description, I just like eating the food I don’t actually know how to write about food *epic fail* )that was topped with red onion.

It was really yummy, the ‘cone’ was crispy, salty, tasty, a bit like a really tasty nacho chip and the sorbet was cool, refreshing and delish. Fantastic palate cleanser.

Tea smoked duck breast, jellyfish, cherries . The first real dish on the menu. This dish was so familiar tasting and Asian that I turned to R and said ‘I know what it reminds me of! It’s the ‘len pan’ cold platter that we have as the first course during Chinese weddings’ and he agreed. The chewy cold jellyfish paired well with the jasmine tea smoked duck breast, and the cherry was marinated with something that reminded me of balsamic vinegar, the dressing was dotted with Asian cooking must-haves of soy, wasabi and sesame oil. It was heartwarmingly familiar and different at the same time. He took Chinese cooking and twisted it with the pickled cherry.

Shark bay crab, pork and asparagus. Another dish with an Asian influence. The spring asparagus were simple, young and beautiful. Matched so well with the hollandaise sauce, R loved this dish so much. The crabmeat was fresh and miniscule that had us wanting more and the pork dumpling was similar to what we would find in a wanton.

Another freebie, the duck leg soup which came with a half boiled quail egg, emm… the half boiled quail egg was yummy and the soup was so Chinese, flavourful and well done that R said ‘the chef knows how to cook Asian food really well’.

Crayfish and absinthe risotto. I was very interested to see what this crayfish and absinthe risotto would taste like, would the high alcoholic flavor of the risotto be similar to a good penne alla vodka? While there was definitely a distinctive alcoholic tang to the risotto, it wasn’t overpowering or zingy, at first I wasn’t impressed. There were little bits of celery on the risotto and I hate celery but I understood the crunchy texture that the chef wanted to give to the risotto, the crayfish was outstanding. After a few spoonfuls the risotto got better and better and by the end of it I thought ‘hey, celery’s not so bad after all’.

Floating pie. R and I were guessing what this dish would look like. A pie floating a sea of gravy was my guess. R’s guess was an open lid pie topped with gravy. Turns out we were both right, it was an open lid beef pie floating on sea of green bean based sauce topped with a profiterole filled with foie grais cream. The pie itself, the beef, the pastry was really yummy, the beef was sliced into little pieces and medium rare, tender and so easy to eat. But R and are were a bit puzzled with the foie gras, it was R’s first foie gras and he thought the taste was ‘unusual’ and not something he was used to. For some reason it reminded of durian! Pungent and creamy.

We had choice of roast partridge or venison for our mains and I went with the roast patridge while R had the venison. We had Margaret River venison in Goose café as well but Jackson’s way of serving venison was very different. The venison was already sliced up into beautiful medium rare slices which made it easy to eat, and the red wine sauce was just divine. In fact, R’s complaint was that there was not enough sauce. Instead of a side of vegetables, we had a springroll of porcini and shiitake mushrooms, another Asian twist to the classic meat dish.

Both R and I have never had partridge before, it felt very English and I was envisioning scenes from Roald Dahl’s Danny and the Champion of the World and Hongkong’s roasted pigeons. What came out was full of flavour, tender and delicate, the bread sauce was fantastic and the perfect companion to the bird, so yummy. There was a layer of foie gras on top of the partridge which for some reason tasted very different from the earlier dish, this creamy foie gras complemented the taste of the partridge and had R clamouring for more. I now know that bread sauce is made from breadcrumbs, milk, onions and butter, I must try this at home someday because it’s so delicious. But the star for me wasn’t even the partridge but the croquette. It was deliciously creamy with the contrasting crispy breadcrumbed outer layer, there was this gorgeous flavor to it , I now realised that it was a Stilton (a kind of English blue cheese) leek pear croquette which explains the lovely fragrance dancing in my mouth, must have been the added pear and cheese, oh what a croquette.

Another freebie, the beetroot icecream with chocolate cake which I wasn’t expecting to like but turned out not too sweet, really refreshing and lovely.

The raspberry pudding came with custard and cream was sweet and tart and reminded me of raspberry yoghurt, a bit too sweet for me but enjoyable and refreshing none the least.

Roast nectarine, amaretto cream, shortbread, burnt honey ice cream. I was pleasantly surprised when this dessert was brought out to me with a single candle and happy birthday written in chocolate sauce (R had discussed this before hand with the Jacksons staff). The burnt honey was deliciously cold and creamy in contrast to the warm roasted nectarine and yummy short bread, I preferred this dessert to the raspberry pudding but again, it was too sweet for me, R who loves honey really liked this one though. I don’t know why but I don’t think I can take really sweet desserts anymore.

We ended with my new favourite beverage, coffees and little cups of tiramisu which were lovely but just about topped it off for my bursting stomach. The service throughout the nice was exceptional, discreet and polite. We hardly noticed the waitstaff but yet our glasses were constantly topped up, utensils deftly removed without a sound or whisper, perhaps the best service is invisible service.

What a venue for special moments and occasions. The chef impressed us with his French technique, fantastic use of Asian ingredients and hints of his English heritage. Every dish was well thought out and executed. Since we were both Asian, the use of Asian ingredients was both nolstagic and yet surprising because he paired Western and Asian so well and creatively that we had a taste of both the old and new, the best of both worlds perhaps?

The dego, the sparklies, the handmade decorations, candlelit desserts, pink and creams etc. etc. completely bowled me over. But it was the funny and crazy forgotten wallet moments, rushing through the streets of Perth close to midnight, sharing and dissecting each Jackson creation that it all the more special. Thanks R (^_^).

Daitaoha ratings:

Disclaimer: I have to admit, not all Jackson’s dishes gave me a flower and stars moment, for example the desserts weren’t that spectacular, but overall, it was the best foodie experience I’ve ever had in Perth and I did have some flower and star moments, I would rate individual dishes a consistent 8 – 9 daitaohas for most of them.

Food: 9/10 daitaohas

Service: 8.5/10 daitaohas


Jacksons Restaurant
483 Beaufort St
Highgate, WA 6003
Tel: 9328 1177
http://www.jacksonsrestaurant.com.au/

Counting down the days …

till the weekend! So that’s one day down, four days to go. Ok, I have to admit, I’m feeling much better after going back to work. Perhaps it’s having something to do besides sulking mourning the end of my holidays at home, true, I still don’t like my new manager much, but she’s passable. And there’s T who was so happy to see me back that she squealed out loud ‘ YOU’RE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!‘ and proceeded to tell me how horrible the past two weeks have been without me.

Hehe, it’s nice to be missed.

I checked the clock and it was only 10.30 am, then I received an email in my inbox from Jo which started along the lines of ‘something must be wrong! It’s only 10.30am!!! How can?!!’ Hahahaha. Great minds think alike.

Guess what? I didn’t even have a Velvet flat white this morning! Actually the coffees that we had during the weekend made me kinda sick so I didn’t feel the urge. But I have a feeling the daily habit might come back in full force tomorrow. It’s my last week in the branch, people have been coming up to me and saying ‘I heard you’re moving’ , I have to stop myself from retorting ‘Heard from which kaypoh?!’ News travels fast in this agency. It’s funny to think that people actually discuss me at work, I must be the most boring, insignificant minion in this organisation, but I guess they’re running out of things to gossip about.

I lost my mojo to cook upon my return. Lunch bento for tomorrow is very easy unagi, sweet onion omelette, crabsticks and pan fried japanese tofu with rice. But I think I will recover by mid week and closer to Friday, already I’m thinking curry beef brisket?

So we’re slowly recovering from post Kuching blues, already I’m planning our Chap Goh Meh weekend. Who’s up for karaoke and chinese dinner? Ahhh if only Jan and Andy were here, I’m sure they would put their hands up for a spot of karaoke!

The dreaded Monday’s over. Now if only the rest of the week would zip by …

Holiday blues

I started cooking again today. As I washed the rice under the sink, I knew things had gone back to normal, I was back in Perth, due back at work tomorrow  and preparing our lunch bentos. Boy, did I feel depressed.

My fool proof dish of teriyaki chicken on a bed of stir fried cabbage.

At least something’s new. Our new pretty bowls from the new 100 yen shop in Kuching (^__^).

It has been the longest weekend ever. I predict that it will be a very very long working week ahead. The weather forecast predicts 38 to 41 degrees all week, summer’s going out in a bang (T___T).

I haven’t started work and I’m already feeling tired. I need to snap out of this.

CNY in Kuching : The food

I’m back in Perth. To say that I’m feeling pretty sad is an understatement. I didn’t feel that bad the last time because I knew I was returning in a month’s time, but the Chinese New Year festive season, having so much fun and spending so much time with the family and friends really spoilt me, I’m utterly miserable (T___T).

Anyway, R suggested that I might feel better if I blogged about Kuching. I don’t know, I think I just feel more hungry now (^__^). But it worked, a little bit.

This was one of my first meals in Kuching, salad chicken rice. I didn’t get to eat it last time but we lucked out this time and managed to dapao it back for lunch. Obviously it wasn’t as good as back in the old days when there was salad chicken rice fever, but still, it was tasty and nolstagic.

The original Kuching kolo mee. Curly noodles, minced pork, char siew and no red char siew sauce, just the way my father likes it.

Jaso from Gero left a comment on my blog saying eat bak kut teh on my behalf. So we did! We brought R and Lilian to our favourite bak kut teh haunt and they liked it too.

We always have pork leg rice at the bak kut teh place, this time they had yummy pork intestines which Jo really loves.

Evidence for Jaso that we ate bak kut teh on his behalf. Haha.

R and HC’s favourite Kampua Mee which ranks even higher than Kolo Mee in their must-eat list. The funny thing is when they both met up for breakfast together, they ended up eating Kueh Chap instead. ???

Our last breakfast in Kuching was kaya and toast at Kaya & Toast. I really like the traditional breakfast of kaya and butter toast, a hot cup of coffee and soft boiled eggs.

Unfortunately, Kaya and Toast serves bad kaya and toast, which is ridiculous if you consider that it’s their signature dishes. You would expect them to get at least the basics right.

But one of my soft boiled eggs was hard, the coffee was lukewarm and the toast not even hot enough to melt the butter within.  Like how my father puts it ‘aiyah, this one cannot lah‘.

I said I would I blog about my mum’s kitchen in Kuching. This is the surroundings of my mum’s kitchen. Very tropical kitchen right?

Ta-dah! On the third day of Chinese New Year, Ah Ma prepared a sumptious feast for my dad’s birthday lunch. As my father puts it, this is only a small sample of my mother’s cooking skills, a shake of her little finger.

Mixed vegetable dish, if only all mixed vegetable dishes were like this, I would be eating veggies a lot more. Crunchy lotus root slices, snow peas, abalone mushrooms, my favourite pacific clams, a bit of everything and so colourful to look at.

Deep fried prawns, the tiger prawns here are so huge that they put Australia’s so called tiger prawns to shame.

One of my mother’s famous dishes, her ngo hiang a.k.a. five spices roll, meat roll which is minced pork, prawns and a bit of everything ( I should ask my mother for recipe) wrapped in beancurd sheets and deep fried, correct or not Ah Ma? Very teochew dish.

Another famous Ah Ma dish, fried sharksfin which I always try to recreate in Perth with vermicilli subtitute, but after tasting her dish this year, I have to admit it doesn’t even come close. Aunties have asked my mum for her recipe and have tried cooking the same dish, I even tried an aunty’s version this year, but they’re always lacking in something, too much ginger, too little bamboo, I don’t know, the original is always the best.

A must have for Chinese New Year, pan fried nian gao (ti kueh) which my mum coats with a light batter of flour, eggs and seasoning. I really like nian gao and it’s gooey sweet texture so I ate most of these.

Jo and I are already mourning over the Kuching food that we didn’t get to eat while we were there, but now when I look back at the pictures, we still managed to eat a lot! I’m craving nian gao right now … sigh.. I miss Kuching and Ah Ma.

Last day in Kuching

Sigh. I’m leaving for Perth at 4pm today.

I will miss being so relaxed in Kuching. I sleep well every night, I wake up bright and bushy tailed every morning, the air is fresh from the rain, the surroundings lush, green and wet. The odd sound of firecrackers going off,  the distant drumming of lion dances, sleepy Kuching is waking up from Chinese New Year festivities and everyone is going back to work.

And I’m going back to work too. Back to the daily humdrum. St Georges Terrace. Daily Velvet flat whites. I just checked the Perth weather forecast, high 30s weather awaits again. Sigh.

No Ah Ma to chat to and gossip with in the mornings. No Ah Pa who waits up for us every nights. No poh piah. Daily kopis. Waking up to familiar sounds of my childhood. I will blog about cooking in Kuching, a different experiment but fun all the same.Especially fun to watch my mother in action.

Luckily  Jo and HC will be travelling  on the plane with me (^_^) . Only R won’t be waiting at the airport this time (-__-). It is difficult going back to Perth knowing Xinlong won’t be there any longer, our goodbye at R’s house was sad.  He is such a funny friend, I’ve so enjoyed hanging out with him throughout the years in Perth and will miss him dreadfully.

Chinese New Year was a blast. Hopefully I’ll be back again next year. Till then, goodbye Kuching.

Chinese New Year Eve

Kenyalang Chinese New Year decorations.

Boxes and boxes of ponkam and mandarin oranges. I like the expensive Taiwan ponkams (^__^).

Our cute little mandarin tree with hanging gold ornaments.

Decorations are ‘hu’ (tiger themed) this year.

Queen Anne silver tableware all laid out and ready for its annual show.

Ah Pa washing the cars again.

We visited the green house and came back with two pots of flowers.

Pretty fireworks, explosive bangs and firecrackers everywhere. It’s 15 minutes to Chinese New Year.

Happy Chinese  New Year everyone!! Here’s wishing you a happy, prosperous and lucky Tiger year ahead!


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