Saturday, November 12, 2011

And I said, "What about Breakfast At Tiffany's?"

Lavenders are such sexy flowers. Their seductive perfume scent... feminine lilac hue... and feathery petite petals... all seem to marry beautifully. They carry with them an aura of sensuality and placidity that somehow makes us feel magically at ease. Some like them freshly bundled into a flower girl's bouquet, some prefer them dried in a porcelain vase, and others love them bottled into essential oils...

...But I? I want to eat them.

I've been having this peculiar urge to make something lavender for quite a while. Lavender honey, lavender sugar, lavender tea... But I've decided to go with a recipe that I've bookmarked for almost a month now because... procrastination got the better of me. (Not proud about it.) 

So. Lavender Shortbread Cookies.
They are sexy, sensual, feminine and elegant - all in a bite.

Have them with a flirty Cosmo. Or maybe some tea and honey. You can even pair them with milk. But not milk in a mug. Milk in a martini glass. Just like how Holly Golightly had hers in Breakfast At Tiffany's.
Such elegance and poise. Sigh.

So, back to the cookies. I started with an equal part ratio of dried lavender blossoms and granulated sugar, and ground them together with a pestle and mortar until it became a fine perfumed powder.

In a separate bowl, I creamed two sticks of unsalted butter with a cup of sugar, added 2 1/2 cups of AP flour and a pinch of salt. To that, I mixed in the lavender sugar until everything came together to form a moist, slightly crumbly dough.
Wrapped it in cling film and gave it some down time in the fridge. Once it's firm enough to work with, I rolled it out and cut mine into 1 1/2 inch circles before pricking them, brushing them with beaten eggs, and dusting just a tad of demerara sugar on these circular mounds.
 Pop these beauties into the oven at 180degC for 14 minutes until the sides are just turning golden.
While waiting, brew yourself a petite pot of fancy tea. Mine was called Paris, Mon Amour (or Paris, My Love) from Fouchon. I bought it during my Halloween weekend trip to Hong Kong... And no prizes for guessing who I dressed up as...
But I'll give you the answer anyway. xoxo.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Kaleidoscope of Dreams

So I've been leaving pleasure by the wayside. And I feel petrified by it.

But amidst the stiffness and restraint, I've still managed to find solace in my weekend escapades, my midweek sweet libations, and my wee-hour nightcaps. Wine has been my loyal therapist, and food a non-judgmental confidant.

2011 may have taken away the pure joy of baking at midnight with classes the next morning.
...But it has become my job to do the tasting.

2011 hasn't taken me on new travels and discoveries.
 ...But it has become my job to win the pitch and experience the journey.

 2011 has left me yearning to go back to college and be graded for drinking in class.
 ...but it has become my job to mingle and entertain.

2011 has made me forget to stop and smell the daisies. (Pink ones, of course.)
...but it has become my job to ask for flowers.

2011 may have flown by without me grasping it in its entirety.
...But it has become by job to witness the race.

2011 has clearly been a year sacrificed to the soulless world filled with soot and suits. But someone once told me: If you want to reach the castle, you have to swim through the moat.

And while doing so, I do realize that I'm learning to love the experience.

I still gather with old friends to relive good times.

New York City is always never far from my mind.

Weekends are life's pleasurable pit stops.

 You'll find your pot of gold at the end of a certain rainbow if you search for it hard enough.

There's always time to make magic happen

And if you stop to take a second look: You'll realize that She has grown to look mighty fine.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bright lights of the urban landscape

Why, hello.
Thought I haven’t see you for quite awhile. 

Honestly, I had every intention to blog about summer in New York, but…

And yes, so I guess I’ve been 12 months too slow.

In a nutshell, my summer of 2010 was absolutely amazing. New York gives you a tan that never seems to fade away. And 8 months after, the stories collected from the big city are still beautifully haunting, and I find myself flipping the pages over and over like an evergreen classic.

And I had every intention of relinquishing my self-appointed role of updating this blog ever since summer ended and work found itself as a replacement. But I think I made a mistake by doing so. So here I am – 365 days later – running back to my canvas where I can paint my idealistic world of sugar creations, smart people, and pretty things.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Day In The Life of An Uptown Girl

Despite the dream weekend trip to the city being just a fortnight ago, boy, were these last fourteen days a long, long journey till the end. Never have I in college pulled so many weekday all-nighters in a row, forced to embrace the pseudo ghastly role of a nocturnal cemetery caretaker on his graveyard shift - over and over again; the puffy eyes and slight disorientation of the mind are some unflattering evidence highlighting this accumulation of sleepless nights that just escalated out of control towards the end.

And so I finally submitted my proposal today. Fearful to admit, but I do feel oddly empty; an eerie revelation that something did consume me. And I have been purged.

Alright, that should be sufficient rambling for a blog that's supposed to be about Muscovado sugar, cinnamon spice and angel food cake batter.

So I promised updates on the weekend trip to Manhattan. And right now, I shall promptly deliver.

The Manhattanite high life begins at 10 in the morning at Gramercy Park Hotel. The stunningly chic boutique property by the ledengary Ian Scrhager. (The two doormen were outstandingly charming I have to add.) Well, Danny Meyer recently took over the Aoki Chinese restaurant to open his all new Roman trattoria, Maialino, in November last year.

We had a family-style lunch at the private dining room.

The menu featured simple, classic Roman dishes done superbly well. The bread, can I say, was marvelous.

A flaky, crisp crust just waiting for me to sink my teeth in to reveal the airily soft and moist insides. Mmmm.... And it can't be all that awful when they had a decent selection to choose from. I loved the focaccia.

Next came the Carciofini Fritti or fried artichokes. I do enjoy artichokes, often in my salad, but never had them fried before. So realizing how amazing these little nuggets of golden shards taste (dipped in anchovy sauce) was yet another enlightening gastronomy episode worthy of a diary entry. But then again, don't almost everything taste delish deep-fried...?

The Bombolotti all'Amatriciana were mouthfuls of spicy, savory al dante bliss. Thanks to that fresh homemade pasta (and hidden pork bacon...)

Finally - the entree du jour! Insalata di Spigola and Bistecca di Bue. Translation: Marinated sea bass with preserved lemons, and aged sirloin with radicchio and sunchokes. I am definitely a self-proclaimed red meat lover and these ever-so-moist tender hunks of charred beef illuminating with their crimson pink interior were (literally) a feast to my eyes and (of course) my palate.

Dolci, or desserts, were a simple but spectacular fare of fruity and chocolatey delights, of which I am not proud to admit that - ironically out of all things - my brain chooses to dismiss any signs of recollection for these divine sweet treats. And my only excuse? I blame it on the excessive food and wine that had thrown me out of focus... Right.

... But most certainly not lacking in too much focus to make it to our next culinary pit stop at the famous Four Seasons Restaurant owned by Mr. Alex Von Bidder. No seriously, we left Maialino's and all we did was to walk from Gramercy Park on 21st and Lex to The Four Seasons Restaurant on 52nd and Park. Twenty-one streets uptown but undoubtedly much needed after that midday feast fit for the Roman gods (and goddesses).

So whizzing past dinner, our next stop (yes, we did have another stop after Maialino and FS) was downtown Chelsea where I had a little evening champagne-sipping at Moet Hennessy.

How about some bubbly to round off the night? With compliments from the good people themselves.

And we tried some of their champagne-chocolate truffles specially created for the 2010 Oscars'. Again, need I speak further? If it's fit for Hollywood, I'm pretty darn sure it's more than fit for me too.

By the way - they're launching a new Belvedere flavor soon! Grapefruit - I eat, love and crave; Belvedere vodka - my ideal libation of choice at any party any time. Put them together? I trust I'll have a fabulously flirty time.

And when I thought the night was truly over, new episodes always happen to make me remember that I am, after all, in the city that never sleeps. So surprise or no surprise, I ended up in revelry at Del Posto next door. The chefs kept whipping up hors d'œuvre after hors d'œuvre, while the bartender showered us with more champagne yet again. I shall not even try to recount what I did after that fifth (or was it the sixth? maybe the seventh?) glass of sparkling... Ah, who's counting anyway?

How's that for an epic start to a great weekend in the Big Apple?

The official time now stands at 3:19AM. I think I'm getting accustomed to working on overdrive. No need for Redbull to give me wings. Neither do I need that disturbingly potent 5-hour energy drink to beat the 3PM (or in my case, 3AM) snooze time. But what I do need is some peace and shuteye. And definitely more than forty winks. So goodnight world, as I sign out from my deeply modest and humble abode along a nondescript street up in dear ol' Ithaca.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Living A Dream... With Compliments from Daniel Boulud

Last weekend was special. Very special.

I had the greatest honor of dining at
Daniel over the weekend. With compliments from the chef himself. Yes, Chef Boulud.

I shall not go into the nitty gritty of how I landed myself with that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I was definitely star-struck when I first had a phone conversation with Chef Boulud. He was in Florida that day for the Citymeals on Wheels charity event, but graciously offered to set up a dinner reservation that evening at his celebrated four-star restaurant on the Upper East Side... with his compliments.

I could not believe my ears.

It was by far the most spectacular dining experience I had ever had to date. Ever. The service was impeccable. Beyond outstanding, I dare say. Witnessing how guests were attended to was like watching a symphonic orchestra. From the dashing young man going around with the bread basket, to the charming maître d that greeted us warmly and ushered us to our table - everyone worked in harmony; every server moved in synchrony. I was in awe at how much passion each person had for their craft, no matter what it was.

And the food... the wine... Oh, where should I even start?

The maître d brought us a tasting menu and told us we could have anything from it.

Oh no, all of you are too gracious. Extremely gracious.

So then, we decided to leave our meal entirely up to the chefs. And I wondered if that was a mistake... but then again, who's complaining at all? If I have to say, it was a glorious mistake indeed.

(Some courses are accompanied with photos, but do pardon me for the unflattering lighting - the room was dimly lit)

Broccoli Mousseline, Ricotta Salata, Lemon-Pine Nut Gremolata, Harissa Coulis
Celery, Walnut Oil, Granny Smith Sauce

Eggplant Caviar, Garbanzo Beans, Sauce Diable

Leek Potato Parmentier, Roasted and
Tempura Celery

Cipollini Onion Marmalade, Glazed Salsify,
Dijon Mustard Chicken Jus

with Louisiana Crayfish
Roasted Tenderloin, Spring Garlic Confit
Crispy Sweetbreads, Artichoke Barigoule
Braised Cheeks, Young Turnips

Red Wine Braised Short Rib
Chanterelle Marmalade
Seared Tenderloin
Chestnut-Potato Gnocchi, Swiss Chard


Liquid Caramel, Fleur de Sel, Milk Sorbet
Candied Rose Petal, Crème Chantilly

Milk Chocolate Biscuit, Rwanda Coffee Ice Cream
Caramelized Macadamia,
Passion Fruit Banana Sorbet



I have to say that the photos don't do justice - though they'd have to suffice. The maître d and his team knew how much I simply adored the citrus madelines served with the tea. So much so...

...they surprised me with a box just before I left the restaurant.
How's that for four-star service? Let's not forget the absolutely beautiful wines that were paired with every course. Every dish worked in perfect synergy with the wines, and every mouthful was truly a mouthful of bliss. Complete. Utter. Bliss. Words can never describe how amazing that evening felt. I was living a dream.

And did I mentioned I had the chance to meet Chef Boulud when he returned from his charity event that weekend? I was almost speechless. Almost.

Pssst...! And I'm definitely looking forward to doing pastry at Daniel this summer!

P.S.- Will share more of my weekend gastronomic adventures in my upcoming posts... XOXO