Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chinatown (牛车水)

Chinatown is always bustling with activities and my guess is that its quietest moment would have to be on the first two days of Chinese New Year. Most of the shops and even the hawker stalls in the nearby market operate almost everyday throughout the week and it is only on Chinese New Year that they decide to give themselves a well deserved break to start off the New Lunar Year.
On the 3rd day of Chinese New Year, I happened to pass by a coffee shop located along South Bridge Road between Temple Street and Sago Street. The shop is painted in red with posters advertising a Singapore Coffee Museum within the shop. It was hardly a museum but rather a small room with a tiny corner displaying a table, chairs, cups, saucers and typical coffeewares used in the olden days.
More interesting for me would have to be a framed up poster listing the local terms for the different types of coffee.
note: there is a typo error in the poster - Kopi Poh refers to coffee thin or thin coffee.

Year of the Roaring Tiger (虎虎生威)

In a blink of an eye, another year has passed and in place of the somewhat depressive Year of the Ox is the much anticipated Year of the Tiger.

Throughout the years, the custom of preparing the house to welcome the Chinese New Year has not changed a bit. There are the usual new year goodies laid out nicely to tempt the guests, the auspicious Yu Sheng (鱼生) which some believed to have originated from China but with it's contemporary version definitely created and popularised in Singapore and the two most important and popular vegetarian dishes in my family which have somehow became a family tradition for lunch just before noon on the first day of Chinese New Year (年初一)!

I am simply glad that my entire family is gathered on this very special occasion and with each progressing year, the dining table is getting more and more crowded with new additions to the family. :)

Happy New Year to All! 祝大家新年快乐!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dorayaki - 铜锣烧

Doraemon (小叮当) fans would be able to easily recognise this stack of Japanese pancakes at first glimpse! For those who still haven't got a clue, it's the favourite teatime snack for Doraemon.

Traditional dorayaki consist of a layer of anko filling (sweet azuki beans - a kind of red bean paste) sandwiched between two light and fluffy pancakes.

In my case, I prefer to simply munch on the plain pancakes. The choice of fillings is pretty much up to the individual's liking! :)


3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbs water
1 cup flour - sifted
filling of choice
vegetable oil for frying (optional if using non-stick skillets)

(1) Put eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk well

(2) Dissolve baking soda in water

(3) Add water in the egg mixture

(4) Add sifted flour in the egg mixture gradually

(5) Heat skillet and lightly pour oil on it

(6) Pour a scoop of batter into the skillet and make small pancakes (~ 4" in diameter)

(7) Turn over when bubbles appear on the surface

(8) Let the pancakes cool before adding the filling of your choice

(+) A light, butterless pancake that is done in half an hour!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter along River Drau

It took a week or so for the snow to finally melt only to have the town dusted white again after a day and night of snowing.

The snow accumulated along River Drau and atop barren trees are so white and fine that it looks just like a winter scene off a Hollywood romance movie.

duck asleep with it's head folded in it's wing

Monday, February 1, 2010

Winter in Wien

This is my second trip to the capital of Austria, the first being in summer and this time round, in winter.

The cold temperature would have been bearable if not for the harsh wind throughout the day with its relentless assault on our faces no matter where we turn.

Surface of Donau Canal frozen

Fortunately, the inner city (innere stadt) is lined with rows upon rows of shops, restaurants, cafés and historical landmarks where we were able to hop in from time to time and warm our pink-frosted cheeks and noses.

We managed to visit a couple of museums within a day but it was just a pity that photography was not allowed in all of them. Nevertheless, at the Kunst Haus Wien - Hundertwasser Museum, we managed to take some 'legal' photographs as well as to sneak a few discrete clicks here and there. This is a building designed by a famous Austrian artist - Friedensreich Hundertwasser - who has a somewhat unique style of utilising strong colours and contrasts. Straight lines are a definite big No-No to him! The norms are no longer the norms once you enter the building: floorings are uneven, stair steps are curved and trees grow out of windows! How nice would it be if he were to design schools where the creativities of children are allowed to flourish instead of being bounded by the so-called norms.

There was even a detailed plan to transform a big plot of land into what looked like TeleTubbies Land to me! Unfortunately, it was never realised and what remained today is a mini-scale version of the original plan.

Even on the streets, there are no lack of historical statues and landmarks everywhere.

A delightful sight in the midst of the busy pedestrain street would be the Maroni stands.

"Heisse maroni anyone!?!"

Inevitably, food is naturally at the top of my priority list. With the recommendation from Lonely Planet, we made our way through a small alley in search of La Crêperie - a restaurant that sells both sweet and savoury crêpes. Only when we were standing outside the restaurant, did we realised that it's a Georgian-themed restaurant. It used to be part of the former Soviet Union and to be honest, I never even thought that I'll get the chance to eat Georgian food until this chance encounter. So how cool is that! :)

Vegetarian savoury crêpe

Savoury crêpe with minced meat - taste alot like lasagne, only better and less cheesy

When in Wien, it is almost a sin if one doesn't patronize at least one of the numerous cafés for their famous Sacher Torte. Amongst these cafés, only two claimed to hold the original recipe for the Austrian speciality cake - Hotel Sacher and Demel.

Having had tasted the version from Hotel Sacher previously and not being "wowed" at all, we proceeded to taste the other version from Demel.

The cake tasted drier with no apricot jam in-between the chocolate sponge cake layer and the dark chocolate icing over the cake was less sweet too (which suits me perfectly fine). Similarly, I wasn't blown off by the cake and it doesn't taste that special either. Nevertheless, my vote would have to go to the Demel version should I have to choose one. However, after considering the prices charged at Demel, I guess I wouldn't mind going to just any café if ever the Sacher Torte craving kicks in.

Demel Sacher Torte

Dark chocolate cake with liquor @ Demel - tastes much better than the Demel Sacher Torte

Interesting for me would be the see-through baking kitchen which offers a view as to how the cakes were made. The other highlight for me would be the Demel shop where there are lots of chocolates as well as cakes on sale. However, for the exorbitant prices charged, I guess I'm equally happy to take off with just a few clicks of my camera where the images are permanently preserved for my viewing pleasure rather than temporary stored in my stomach.