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May, 2012

  1. Crumpets Are The Food of Gods

    May 27, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Crumpets are my favorite food.  In the whole world.  Hands down.  It’s no secret that I love food and there are countless edible things in the world that bring me to obscene states of joy, but I can say without a hint of doubt that crumpets are my favorite.

    Why?  You might ask.  And before that, you might even be wondering what exactly a crumpet is.

    What is a crumpet?

    Firstly, let me tell you that although a crumpet is a thing of simple joy, it cannot be described simply, nor can it be simply described.  They are things of true magnificence and beauty. You must try one firsthand to get it.  But I will attempt, in vain, to describe it to you.

    Usually I like to start off by having the crumpet virgin imagine an english muffin–a crumpet looks quite similar in shape, size and color.  But that’s where the likeness ends.  Though english muffins are wonderful entities in their own right, scientifically speaking, they haven’t got shit on crumpets.

    Crumpets, unlike english muffins, do not get cut in half.  On the top half, you have a series of holes covering the surface about 1mm in diameter and running almost all the way down to the bottom.  In its natural, un-toasted state, a crumpet is like a thick sponge.  Which sounds gross, and probably is, but chill out.. we haven’t gotten to the good part.

    Here’s Wikipedia’s puny attempt at explaining the glory:

    “A crumpet /ˈkrʌmpɨt/ is a savoury griddle cake made from flour and yeast. It is eaten mainly in the United Kingdom and other nations of the Commonwealth. Crumpets are somewhat similar in appearance, though not in flavour, to North American pancakes, where both have pores caused by expanding air bubbles.”

     

    The art of toasting a crumpet.

    A crumpet must be treated with respect.  He or she will know what a prize you hold in your hands, and will demand to be handled delicately and with consideration.

    1. First, insert your crumpet gently into the toaster, careful not to break, squish, or damage your food-jewel.

    2. Next, check the heat settings to ensure your crumpet’s safety.  Now turn that shit to the highest possible setting because your crumpet is a big, thick, squishy monster which needs to be taught who’s boss.

    3. Remove crumpet from toaster.  Observe that, even after a full intensity toasting, your crumpet is not yet ready to harvest.  Is the upper surface crusty?  Is your crumpet steaming?  Is the bottom golden brown?  No, I didn’t think so.

    4. Re-insert your crumpet into the toaster to ensure that your upper surface is crusty.  Remain alert: if you don’t watch carefully, the edges will burn.  This is the crucial moment.  This is where you and your crumpet either make it or break it.  BE VIGILANT!

    5. Remove crumpet.  Observe and quality check to ensure that your crumpet is finally toasted to perfection.

    6. Allow crumpet to cool for 30-60 seconds to allow hardening of upper crust.

    Now, you’re ready for the spread.

    Topping a crumpet

    Topping choice is an extremely important decision in the life of your crumpet eating experience.  What you choose says a lot about your inherent value as a person (or what mood you’re in).  A topping is a vital component to your breakfast of champions–even considering eating a dry crumpet gets you a life sentence in jail.

    The beauty of the topping-crumpet duo is the way they seep into the holes: filling the inner squishy bit with flavor and things that clog your arteries, providing the perfect balance to the crispy upper and lower exteriors.  The toppings burst out of the crevices with each bite, filling your mouth with pure bliss.

    Following are my list of top toppings.

    Butter: A wonderful solo topping, but also an absolutely necessary base layer to accompany any other topping.  Don’t mess with margarine, low-fat, canola oil, or any of that sissy stuff.  Slather it up and slather it on.  Your crumpet will thank you.

    Jam: For a sweet treat and cool, refreshing accompaniment of a steamy crumpet.  I prefer strawberry with bits.

    Cheese: Watch in amazement as it seeps into the crevices, filling them with gooey warm goodness.  Die and go to heaven.

    Honey: All-time favorite crumpet topping.  Sweet gooey honey with salty butter, oozing out the bottom and sides.

    Good options also include chocolate, smooth peanut butter, nutella, fruit, fried egg, chilli, cream cheese, vegemite.

    Deluxe crumpeteering options also exist, such as:

    Snickers Crumpet: Alternate 1 layer chocolate/nutella with 1 layer smooth peanut butter.  Repeat 4 times.

    French Crumpet: Dip crumpet in french toast batter and fry.

    Savoring and enjoying a crumpet

    Eating and enjoying the perfect crumpet is as individual and personal an experience as a first kiss.  You’ll remember it, always.  Don’t forget to pair it with a nice hot cup of english tea and enjoy!

     


  2. How To Pack for A Year Long Trip: Minimalism For Women

    May 22, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Since I started learning about minimalism almost two years ago, I’ve seen a handful of great videos, photos, or lists of how to pack (or live) light.  However, none of them were from women, and I always wanted to see what’s in a minimalist woman’s bag since we need at least a few different things than men. So, I thought I’d make my own video and share what’s in my bag during this long journey.

     

     

    Reposted from my personal blog www.melissarachelblack.com.

     

    P.S. Today’s our 3-month travel anniversary!  Here’s to being on the road :)


  3. Taste Testing Tasmania’s Only Sheep Cheesery

    May 20, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    80 sheep

    10 years

    9 organic sheep cheeses (along with a range of yoghurt, frozen yoghurt and cows milk cheeses)

     

    Grandvewe is a family run Sheep’s Cheesery, and it’s the only one here on Tasmania.  Diane Rae, along with children Nicole Gilliver and Ryan Hartsthorn keep the business operating as smoothly as their indulgent, creamy cheeses.

     

    Diane and her partner Alan took a holiday to Tasmania in 1999 and found that they had an immediate connection with the land. The family moved from Brisbane to the 16-odd hectare plot with dreams of creating an organic vineyard but the demand for sheep milk produce quickly became apparent. After researching the market they noticed a niche opportunity to launch a range of sheep milk products.

     

    “There’s only four of us in Australia with dairy sheep and only two that extend to tourism.”

     

    They bought the farm and established a flock of East Friesland sheep, a dutch variety bred for their high milk yield. Within two years of production, Diane won ‘Best Organic Product’ at the 2003 Tasmanian Fine Food Awards. More recently their chosen breed of sheep is Awassi as they are robust and drought-tolerant, ideally suited to the Tasmanian climate. Grandvewe is the only producer of its kind to be certified organic.

     

    We got the chance to taste several of their cheeses, and here’s what we thought:

     

    1. Friesland Fog – Soft cheese with a blue/grey rind. Smooth, creamy with a hint of blue cheese taste.
    2. La Mancha – Classic sheep cheese made in the Manchego style. Rubbed weekly with organic olive oil and aged for 20 months. This cheese won gold at the 2012 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show.
    3. Sapphire Blue – Named champion by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. This led to Grandvewe applying for the President’s Medal, the country’s highest produce accolade.
    4. Pinot Paste - Grandvewe’s equivalent of quince jelly. Perfect accompaniment to the tasty cheeses on offer here.
    5. Mutton Sausage – A cured meat sausage with a smoky rich flavor.

     

    Visiting Grandvewe was a treat in itself–an elegant, cozy cafe overlooking lush rolling hills covered in their sheep, with a stunning body of water shimmering in the background.  We bundled up in some fleece, browsed the huge collection of magazine and newspaper articles published about Grandvewe, and had a great chat with Diane’s daughter, who is also one of the owners of Grandvewe, Nicole Gilliver.

     

    Our favorite treat of the day (other than the sheep’s puns and jokes that lined the walls of the bathroom) was the Sheep Milk Ice Cream–intensely creamy and a perfect, rich chocolate flavour.

     

    High quality products, relentless commitment to their dream, and a great sense of humor to boot.. it’s just one killer combination for a business.  Grandvewe, you rock our woolen socks off.

    For more information on Grandvewe Sheep Cheesery, please visit their website or in person at:
    59 Devyns Road, Birchs Bay, South Hobart

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  4. Eat Meet: Chef Michael Elfwing at Hilton Kuala Lumpur

    May 14, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE MENU 
    Smoking Allowed, Seafood Soup, LERØY Salmon Trout, Chocolate Tart “Michel Chaudon”
    ON THE GLOBE
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    ON THE TEAM
    Master Chef Michael Elfwing

    I’m quite disciplined with myself and what I want, if there’s something that I want, I make it happen.  You just have to stay focused.

     


    Chef Elfwing is the head chef at Senses Restaurant at Hilton Kuala Lumpur. Originally from Sweden, he studied the culinary arts in Australia from age 16 after being inspired by his father, who was also an international chef.  He’s worked with the legendary Chiong Liew at Grange in Adelaide, and at the world-famous Fat Duck restaurant with Heston Blumenthal, among others.  He’s published his own cookbook, which features his gorgeous photography.  His Senses restaurant has won several awards including the prestigious 5-Star Diamond Awards as one of the Best Restaurants in the World and Hospitality Asia Award for Best Western Cuisine.

    But he’s so much more than a pile of fancy titles and accolades.  He’s warm, innovative, passionate, creative and inspiring to say the least.  He’s humble about his extraordinary feats and talents, and willing to admit there’s always more to learn.  He has an infectious energy and he continues to work hard to earn the fruits of his labor.  Tasting his culinary creations assured me of that.  He was kind enough to let me interview him, snap some photos, and prepare some of his classic dishes for me.

    Needless to say, I was blown away by Chef Eflwing’s food as well as his character.

     

    ~ What I Ate  ~

     

    Smoking Allowed………..  

    Table smoked Tasmanian ocean trout, Nordic deep sea shrimp with sour cream & chives

    Unbelievable texture, melt-in-your-mouth trout.  The presentation is so unique–watching the smoke seep out as the jar is opened, smelling the soft wood chip smoke as it makes its way towards you, and the unbeatable taste.. top-notch combination.  Truly delights your Senses. 

    Seafood Soup  

    Seared cod, slipper lobster, Scottish diver scallop, saffron potato & roast roma tomatoes

    Another brilliant presentation–first you’re served the cod, lobster, scallop and potato so you really see what’s in the soup.  Then they pour the soup over it all, piping hot, as the aroma fills your nose.  A perfect, hearty soup for winter.

    LERØY Salmon Trout

    Organic salmon trout from the pristine fjords of Norway served with a sea garnish of edible sand, fresh clams & Dutch grey shrimp, smoked potato purée

    Another fantastic presentation.  Bursting with fresh ocean flavor.  ”Edible sand” concoction unlike anything I’ve seen or tasted, paired perfectly with the potato purée.  A sophisticated harmony of delights from the sea.

     

    Chocolate Tart “Michel Chaudon”  

    Exclusive to Senses by Parisian chocolatier Michel Chaudon.

    This handmade chocolate simply transformed into a light & warm  chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream

    Extremely innovative dish inspired by a larger traditional tart.  Smooth, silken molten chocolate and creamy light ice cream.  A classic.

     

     

     

     

    How long have you been living in Malaysia and working at Senses inside Hilton Kuala Lumpur?

    Eight years, it was the 1st of July, 2004 that I started here.  I’m Swedish but I worked 7 years in Australia before coming here.  I worked in Adalaide before with Chiong Liew, and Kuala Lumpur wanted to “bring papa home” because he’s Malaysian, so they asked me and Kelly Brennan to open and run Senses, based on legendary KL chef Chiong Liew‘s themes.  It has changed a lot since opening, because of the clientele: people go to Chiong Liew’s personal restaurant to eat Chiong Liew’s food: he cooks about 20 dishes and it has been that way for 10 years.

    But here, the Malaysians request new meals.  You have to listen to your customers.  That was something I had to learn, I came from the very stubborn, determined Chiong Liew mentality because I learned from him, that “this is my dish, nothing can change.”  The Malaysians are very loyal in that they like coming back to a place, but they don’t want the same thing time and again–they want different dishes from the same chef.  We might think we know how things work based on previous experince, but its always changing.

     

    What are your favorite ways to integrate aspects of local Malaysian food or culture into your creations?

    I think I learned a lot about Malaysian food, and its integration of Malay, Chinese, Indian aspects while working with Chiong Liew in Australia.  We opened Senses with the concept to cook gourmet Malysian food, but the locals were saying, “I don’t need you to cook shark fin or bok choi for me here, I can go to the local Chinese restaruant for that.”  We had all these beautiful lychees and mangosteens, and they’re saying, “I’ll just get that at my corner market, can you please give me some rhubarb? Something special from your culture?”

    Smoking Allowed, my signature dish–the one served in a smoke-filled jar, is certainly Scandinavian, but it uses ocean trout from Australia.  I wouldn’t be allowed to use a Norwegian salmon for this because of the texture and fat content, I had to test and try to find the right fish.  So that’s why I integrate different foods from different places, to get the best ingredients from where they are in the world.  I buy local, but I don’t buy the typical Asian vegetables.  My fish is imported from Japan or Australia, but a lot of this is because of customer demand, because they want something special, something they cannot find on the streets.

    Cheong’s food is very modern Malaysian: if you’re Malaysian, you might understand where his food is coming from, but you might not like it because it’s not prepared in the traditional ways.  The locals are very protective about how a laksa should be, but every single person makes it a different way.

    My food is a bit more straightforward, it might be refined, but the flavors are very recognizable and familiar.

     

     

    What do you eat when you’re not at work?

    I tend to cook at home on my day off.. I lock myself in my home on my days off.  It’s taken me years to be this relaxed.  Some chefs are all over the place, every two years a new place.

     

    What will you do after you’re finished at Senses?

    Right now Senses and the Hilton here is my plan and my life.  We’re going to renovate, we’re actually going to have a new restaurant and new bar.. this is a hotel that doesn’t stand still.  We’re going to move more towards a western, European restaurant.  When I want to leave again, I will move back to Australia.  I have citizenship there as well.

     

     I never planned to stay this long but I like it and I’m happy so.. why move?

     

    We met an Executive Chef in Thailand, and he is in charge of managing the chefs but no longer cooks.  Are you cooking still?

    Yes,  we have 160 chefs and 8 outlets at this hotel, so we have an executive chef here too–but I said to myself.. I don’t want that job, I don’t want 220 headaches.  I am spoiled, lucky even, that I am just one head chef in one restauarant.  I never planned to stay this long but I like it and I’m happy so.. why move?

     

    Was it your dream to become a chef when you were younger?

    Yes, I would say.  I’ve always loved reptiles and fish, so I was interested in marine biology and the like, but cooking was more instantly gratifying and when I was 15, 16 it seemed like an easier choice to study cooking than marine biology.  Since I was young, my  father was an international chef, and I would visit him wherever he was and it was always a kind of holiday to see him cooking on those big cruise ships.  My dad was working as a chef at Carnival cruise ships company when Hurricane Katrina hit.  The company offered to house people for free but they had a huge problem with criminals on board, so he quit and moved to Australia.  I visited him there, just thinking it was a vacation, and I was wowed by all the sunshine.. endless sunshine!  So it made me think, maybe I should study here, so I studied at culinary school there from age 16.  Most of my inspiration came form seeing my dad, working all over the world, traveling.  It all started from there.

     

    I saw you featured on Molecular Gastronomy, can you explain what molecular gastronomy is and how you use it?

    Your basic french training is always in the background in your mind as a chef.  My food, in terms of molecular, is definitely.. well, I spent a month at the Fat Duck with the legendary Heston Blumenthal, and that showed a side of molecular gastronomy that really appealed to me.  Heston’s style is more about time and temperature, and he is very precise with this.  You’re not adding foreign ingredients for a texture that’s not there–the Spanish chefs change a lot of texture: you have a familiar flavor but the texture is strange.  I would love to go and eat it, but it’s not the kind that I enjoy cooking.  Smoking Allowed is vacuum cooking, which is old-fashioned already, but its very precise, and so very fool-proof, so you get a very consistent product every time you do it.  But we haven’t made a trout into a shaving foam texture, so it’s still a fish.  The edible sensibilities comes form my inspiration from Heston.

     

    Who are some of the coolest people you met here?

    Mel Gibson, Louis Hamiltion (he had two-well done tenderloins, french fries and heinz tomato ketchup) because we have the Formula 1 races.  Sebastian Vettel who won Formula 1 for the past two years, he comes every year, I was lucky enough to give him one of my books.

     

    Have you ever had any failures that you felt you could not overcome?

    What can I say.. cooking is very personal, because YOU are the one choosing the ingredients, serving the dish.  Sometimes you care if the guest doesn’t like it because you might believe in it so strongly and like it so much, but after 15 years in the kitchen, I think you learn to be humble.  Not everyone can like what you like.  You have a lot of failures testing recipes, but you test it–if its not good, you don’t serve it.  Testing is a different type of failure–it doesn’t hurt as much.  Being very much hands-on you eliminate a lot of that.  I haven’t had any serious failures I think.  I’m quite disciplined with myself and what I want, if there’s something that I want, I make it happen.  You just have to stay focused.

     

    For more information on Chef Elfwing and Senses Restuarant, please visit:

    Hilton Kuala Lumpur Hotel

    3 Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur

    Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    03-2264-2264

     

    Special thanks to Chef Elfwing, the Senses staff, and Sabrina Loh for making this happen.

    
    

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  5. Eat Meet: Dr. K Sato’s Architectural Landscapes in George Town

    May 13, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Architectural Paintings & Illustrations
    ON THE GLOBE
    George Town, Penang, Malaysia
    ON THE TEAM
    Dr. Sato Katshiro

    “Sato draws like no one else is the world, it’s very unique.”

    - Khoo Lye Huat

     

    Image courtesy of Dr. K Sato

     

    By profession, Dr. Sato is an architect and has worked in architectural design firms in Japan for 20 years.  After obtaining his PhD in Engineering, he was associated with various universities in Japan and Canada as a professor.  He is now a key member of the Penang Art Society.  Dr. Sato’s drawings are currently exhibited in the Heritage Hotel, Penang.

     

    I met Dr. Sato by pure chance, on a morning run in the fantastically historic and artistic city of George Town in Penang.  I spotted him sitting under a bridge, sketching the city scape.  A few meters later, I passed a woman doing the same.  I jogged on for a while with the two of them on my mind, and on my way back I worked up the courage to say hi.

    I’m so glad I did.  Dr. Sato turned out to be an extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced architect and artist–the woman sat a few meters away drawing was his wife.  Apparently they do that together every weekend.  I can hardly imagine a sweeter ritual.

    I told him about The Eat Team and asked if we could interview him.  He invited us to join him at Penang’s Cultural Street Fair, where we got to see several of his finished paintings, meet some of his family and friends, and chat to him about architecture, living in Malaysia after retirement from Japan, and being a teacher.

    I was mesmerized by the dreamy motion that Dr. Sato’s watercolour style gives off.  He has a truly brilliant way of capturing the vibrance and energy of the bustling creativity that makes up George Town.  Don’t you think?

    Take it away, Dr. K!

    Where are you from?
    I’m from Japan.

    How did you come to live here in Penang?
    Conditions in Japan aren’t ideal after the natural disasters so we decided to relocate. I moved here 4 years ago to retire.

    Why Penang?
    I was attracted the Georgetown because of the mix of buildings. The contrast between old and new structures is interesting. It’s a very multicultural place with a great atmosphere. I hope to stay here for the rest of my life.

    So do you still have family back in Japan?
    Oh yes, I have 4 children who still live there. They visit sometimes.

    Do you ever go back to see them?
    I hope to visit sometime soon to see my family and paint.

    How do you choose what to draw or paint?
    I used to be an architect so I like to draw buildings as I understand structures.

    How long does each painting take?
    They each take around 2-3 hours.

    What materials do you use to create them?
    I mainly use pencil, pen and watercolour.

    Do you know many other artists here?
    Yes. I sit and sketch with my Japanese friend every weekend in Georgetown.

     

    For more information on Dr. Sato, please visit his websites:

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  6. Eat Meet: FINDARS Founders in Kuala Lumpur

    May 9, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Comic Books, Illustration, Painting
    ON THE GLOBE
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    ON THE TEAM
    無限發掘 FINDARS

     

    In Kuala Lumpur, our couchsurfing hosts discovered a group of artists who established a gallery and studio, called 無限發掘 FINDARS, to work together, inspire one another, and showcase their creativity.  It’s a space that’s open to the community and to different types of art, as well as an independent music label and studio.

     

    It made me pretty damn nostalgic for days spent in the studios at art school, working late into the night with your best mates by your side.  We loved seeing the sketchbooks of painter Beng Tze, who, along with the other founders of FINDARS honed their crafts many moons ago at Malaysian Institute of Art.

     

    We were lucky to interview one of the founders Lim Keh Soon, who makes some of the freshest (and most twisted!) illustrations I’ve seen.

     

    How old are you?
    32.

     

    What brought you to KL?
    I grew up close to here and moved to the centre 10 years ago to study.

     

    What did you study?
    Illustration at the Malaysian Institute of Art.

     

    So, we are here in ‘Findars’ art space. How did the project start?
    I met Beng Tze and Min Lik, we work together with a few other artists and share the rent for the building. We put on shows when we can. The group started in February 2008. There’s 6 of us – Me, Wong Eng Leong, Wong Min Lik, Tey Beng Tze, Bannai Roo, and Rainf.

     

    Do a lot of people purchase your pieces?
    We had another space near the central market where people would come in and buy but not so many collectors come to this location because its a bit more off-the-beaten track.

     

    Have you been able to make money?
    Not so much. We all have other jobs too. I work a few days a week as a part-time teacher, teaching art to 19-and 20-year old students, the rest of the time I spend here as the studio is good for my concentration. I used to work alone at my house but it wasn’t good for inspiration. Around 3 years ago I made a comic book, inspired by Japanese Manga, and published 130 copies. I sold them by myself, mainly to friends.

     

    Would you say you were more of an illustrator than a painter?
    Yes, but I have always been interested in painting so I have been doing a lot of that recently.

     

    What’s the art scene like in KL?
    The most happening time is the show opening. They are ongoing but the audience is usually quite conservative.

     

    Are there lots of artists in the city?
    Not compared with Indonesia, that’s known as an art hub for South-East Asia.

     

    What is your favourite style of drawing, or thing to draw?
    Characters. Not the normal style of character drawing though. Something abnormal, cut-off or something.

     

    What’s the inspiration for your current piece?
    Moving here I find I have a proper space to work. I love to see the scenery and sometimes try to include local news. My most recent piece was inspired by the Prime Ministers slogan, “You help me, I help you” I named it “You eat me, I eat you”.

     

    Is this piece, your painting called “You Eat Me, I Eat You” for an upcoming show?
    No. I plan to do a solo show and possibly produce another comic book this year.

     

    What materials do you normally use?
    Acrylic paint. I don’t sketch or plan, just go straight in with paint. Most of them I imagine and then paint. For some I use real objects and then paint around it.

     

    How long do your large paintings usually take to complete?
    Around 2 months.

     

    How do you know when a piece is finished?
    Well, this one isn’t. I still need to refine. Sometimes it’s boring though looking at the same piece, so I do some drawing instead.

     

    FINDARS regularly hosts exhibitions and live music at their gallery in Kuala Lumpur.  Fore more information, check them out on the web at the following places.

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