Sunday 26 December 2010

A Merry Christmas in Woking

I hope all my fellow friends, family and food bloggers had a wonderful Christmas filled with a stupendous amount of exquisite food and tipple!

This year my father went that little bit further with his lobster and king prawn cocktail; dusting it with cayenne pepper, dill, sesame seeds, rocket, beetroot and a drizzle of lime juice. Perfect with a glass of Champagne!

My father also creatively designed some Cognac and Coca Cola jellies to accompany our flaming Christmas pud. They were the most incredible-tasting jellies I have ever eaten! The Coca Cola was added for fizz, however, the fizz did not really set with the jelly. Instead, the flavour of the Coca Cola went overwhelmingly well with the Cognac, well done Daddy!

And here is one of our flaming pud! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

P.S. Someone let the cat in!

Wednesday 15 December 2010

21st Birthday High Tea at Ciocolat

The day of my 21st birthday finally arrived on Friday December 10th 2010. What better way was there to spend my birthday afternoon other than with a luxury mini tea party at my favourite cafe in Davis - Ciocolat?

We sat down to a beautifully laid table with floral gold-rimmed cups, plates and saucers. We were offered a selection of fine teas to choose from. We were also generously offered a complementary bottle of Champagne to make the afternoon that extra bit special!

The four courses included cranberry and white chocolate chip scones with raspberry preserve, savoury croissants and sandwiches, an assortment of miniature desserts and fresh berries with chantilly cream to finish.

The savoury croissants and sandwiches included wholemeal bread with tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil, sliced cucumber and herb cream cheese on white bread and warmed baby croissants with black forest ham and Provolone cheese. Delicious little bites!

The mini desserts included black decadence cake and mini tropical and milk chocolate mousses. The chocolate decadence cake was a definite favourite!

Thanks for a lovely day my beautiful American/International friends!


Wednesday 17 November 2010

Mikuni Sushi - Davis, CA

I am a complete novice when it comes to sushi. It is one food that I am not familiar with at all, yet very intrigued by. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I had only ever tried sushi in a plastic box from a supermarket shelf! So it's no surprise that I felt completely overwhelmed after my first sushi restaurant experience. It was at Mikuni in downtown Davis during my first week here in California.

In one of my lectures, I learnt that the Japanese use over 400 words to describe the texture of food, which is a staggering number compared with 78 words for the USA. Some of the most popular Japanese texture words included slippery, creamy and chewy (which can be related to sushi). This information can lead us to believe that the Japanese have a huge variety of textures in their foods that the rest of the world is afraid of or just not used to.

I started the meal with a miso soup...

...followed by sharing some flaming 'shrooms - mushrooms stuffed with crab mix, cream cheese, jalapeño, lightly fried, drizzled with a special sauce and topped with shaved bonito flakes. These were delicious and very different to anything I have ever had before.

I chose the Spicy Johnny Roll as I enjoyed it so much on my first visit - deep fried shrimp, spicy tuna, eel, avocado, masago (orange fish eggs) and onion. The tuna was raw and the eel was cooked which was the perfect balance for me - an explosion of gorgeous salty fishy flavours and an interesting variety of textures.

Our side of noodles had two pieces of cold crab on top... which seemed rather separated from the rest of the dish and perhaps a little lost...!

To complete the meal... a delicious (if a little small) lava cake for dessert.

My second visit to Mikuni did not live up to my first. This has happened to me a few times with restaurant experiences. I guess I must exaggerate the first visit in my head each time! It's still the best sushi I have ever had.... so far anyway!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

A Spot of Pudding at Ciocolat

So one afternoon I found myself with a powerful urge to eat something sugary and fattening. This was probably due to the fact that I'd spent a rather long time glued to my laptop browsing food blogs. What did I do about this strong feeling inside? Well, I went to Ciocolat of course! (I would like to clarify that I was not alone, although I'm sure that it wouldn't surprise many people if I was...)

Chocolate decadence cake with a touch of espresso... rich and seductive. $4.75

Chocolate mousse cake with candied pecans (I think!)... Smooth and creamy. $4.75
I think I would prefer this without the layers of chocolate cake in between, however, this would probably make it just a chocolate mousse which we also ordered....

A small milk chocolate mousse - because it looked cute! $2.50

And a white one - so we would get equally fat! $2.50

Again, I did not enjoy the layer of cake on the bottom. It felt like a slice of plastic bread, but the mousse was nice.

Overall, they were not the most perfect desserts and I think that my cappuccino cup felt a little lost without a saucer. Also, we were asked to collect our drinks from the counter instead of the staff delivering them to our table... but that's just me being snobby and particular I guess! My pudding craving was was definitely satisfied, so mission accomplished!

Saturday 6 November 2010

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Everything over here seems to be coated, flavoured or stuffed with peanut butter and, fortunately, I love the stuff! Whether these babies are white, milk or dark chocolate, they hit a certain spot on my palate like no other candy.

As a food "snob", it may seem absurd that I am addicted to something rather... inferior?! It is difficult to find good quality chocolate in America and I admit that Hershey's does have a texture that I can only compare with plastic. However, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups seem to have got the better of me and hey, a girl's gotta have her chocolate some way or another hasn't she?!

So Reese's, thank you for dominating American candy stores and feeding my chocolate obsession. Yum, indeed.

Monday 25 October 2010

Radish Sprouts

These edible pieces of botanic beauty can provide a spicy hit to many different dishes.

Sprinkled on top of a salad sat next to a baked portobello mushroom stuffed with ricotta, basil, bacon, gruyère and walnuts...

Or liven up a warm soup on a cold day... (I always add some extras such as gorgonzola, spinach, walnuts and sweetcorn for a bit of variety and a bit of bite!)

Sometimes I just crave that short burst of spiciness so munch on them as they are!

Monday 11 October 2010

Bacon + Chocolate

Bacon chocolate?! It sounded almost as strange as the Chocolate Curry. I am in love with bacon and maple syrup, as well as salted chocolate. I also really enjoyed the bacon and egg ice cream at The Fat Duck. I simply had to try this.

I found the exotic candy bar in the Co-op in downtown Davis, California. It comes with a rather hefty price tag of $6.75 for 85g, but it is in the name of research!

The smokey applewood aroma is revealed as the chocolate is unwrapped. Once a chunk melts on the tongue, crunchy pieces of bacon are unclothed from the decadent dark chocolate that surrounds them. This works, but I wanted more. So I had a little experiment myself.

I decided to create some chocolate bacon, instead of bacon chocolate...

I cooked some Applewood smoked bacon (to imitate the aromas from Mo's Dark Bacon Bar, and also because it was one of the cheapest packs in the supermarket!) and drizzled over some Green and Blacks dark chocolate followed by a sprinkle of finger-crushed walnuts.

Tasty? Tremendously! Fat free? Of course! ;-)

P.S. Did I mention the bacon was microwaved? Yes, it actually does work and produce normal bacon that browns and goes crispy, rather surprising! It's a very convenient and healthy way of cooking bacon - I cook it on kitchen towel to absorb the excess fat!

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Pink Pearl Apple Salad

Don't be deceived by the Pink Pearl's ordinary-looking skin... slice one open and you will unveil its flirtatious and aromatic pink flesh. Me-aow!

Not only are these apples highly attractive but the exotic pink flesh has a delicious sweet-tart taste and a delectable crunch. They originate from northern California where they were cultivated by the famous plant breeder Albert Etter in 1944. These apples are only around for a short time at the very end of summer and beginning of Fall, so I was lucky to catch one on October 1st at the San Francisco Ferry Market!

I teamed slices of my Pink Pearl with salad leaves, celery, crumbled gorgonzola, walnut pieces and a little drizzle of balsamic.

I could actually eat this all day long. Walnuts + gorgonzola = my current obsession. Yuh-hum!

Sunday 3 October 2010

San Francisco Ferry Market

Davis is quite a tiny place, so we couldn't help but feel a little claustrophobic after 3 weeks without leaving. It was definitely time to venture out. After much deliberation, we decided to pay the extortionate $50 return train fare to San Francisco and get a taste of the land of the hippies. We probably covered about 1% of San Francisco as all 3 of us were new to the city and we didn't have a very detailed plan... but we still had a great day!

The first place we went to was the San Francisco Ferry Market. The food ranged from multi-tonal tomatoes to smoked salmon sticks, lavender salt to pink pomegranate... goats cheese and molasses dip to watermelon radishes... oh the list goes on! It was the perfect place to play with my new toy (my brand new Canon, my baby!) and here is a preview of what we experienced...

Fresh dates - the first time I have ever seen them!

The sheer volume and variety of the fresh produce available was overwhelming. There were so many wonderful bright colours shouting out with freshness and deliciousness. We ate so many samples that we managed to keep our palates and appetite happy for the rest of the day (well, until we reached The Cheesecake Factory at 4pm...)!

The Peruvian guy selling the goats cheese dips

Goats cheese, molasses and brown sugar dip

After the market we strolled around Haight Street for a while then shopped 'til we dropped.

We were warned about the service at The Cheesecake Factory but decided that we had to check it out for ourselves. I went for the Carlton Salad - romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, feta cheese, avocado, dried cranberries, pears, fresh orange and pecans tossed with vinaigrette. It was good, but not amazing and the service was pretty horrific! We had a cheesecake too, of course. Again, it was average. But hey, we've tried it now!

Carlton Salad at The Cheesecake Factory