My Favourite Things of the Fall

Just realise it’s the last week of October and it will be Halloween πŸŽƒ this weekend! But meanwhile I am going to enjoy my week off work and hopefully do some more baking in the meantime! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚ (Since work lately has made it near impossible for me to bake at all…)

From our visit to Brighton, we had some green apples 🍏🍏 left over from our hotel breakfast sets. So I decided to make some mini apple pies using them, depicting my favourite things from the fall season (mid autumn festival πŸŒ•, Halloween πŸ‘», autumn leaves πŸ‚ and, of course, squirrels! 🐿❀️) I used my normal recipe of shortcrust pastry which is 2:1 ratio of plain flour to butter. Warm, buttery and tart πŸ˜‹ πŸ˜‹ – perfect in this cold, rainy day!

What are your favourite things in the fall?

Two Foodies’ Trip to Brighton

So it’s finally half term, which means I will be taking off a week away from work! YAY! πŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ‘ It also just happened to coincide with with my mum’s work break, so we decided to travel together this time. πŸ‘΅Obviously, with the current pandemic, we had to think long and hard about which was the best place to visit, and we finally settled on visiting Brighton for a four-night stay! 🌊

I baked some egg tarts the night before to take with me on the travel πŸ˜‚

It wasn’t a long train ride to get to Brighton (and I took off immediately after work! πŸ˜‚) This time, we had to travel separately, so I ended meeting my mum at the hotel there. With her working as a chef for a hotel group, we were also very lucky to get a free stay in the city. πŸ˜πŸ‘Œ

Greetings from the hotel! How cute are these! ❀️

Since my mum and I were both enthusiastic foodies, we were so happy to get to enjoy so many great food on this trip! πŸ˜‹ One of the first places we visited was Riddle and Finns just by the Brighton Seafront. Nothing can really beat a luxurious seafood lunch by the sea! πŸ¦€πŸ™πŸ¦ͺ🐟 (And how can one possibly say no to seafood when you are in Brighton? πŸ˜‰)

The view from the restaurant (before it started raining heavily! β˜”οΈβ˜”οΈ) We were so lucky we chose to eat inside (not that my mum could stand the cold πŸ₯Ά anyway! πŸ˜‚) as the people eating outside were then ushered back in all soaking wet!
Complimentary bread basket with four different condiments (our favourite was the mackerel 🐟 I really enjoyed the horseradish too but my mum wasn’t a fan! πŸ˜‚ ) I thought it was really cute for them to serve the butter on a shell.
Starters: braised octopus with confit egg yolk and miso yoghurt (left), New England clam and bacon chowder (centre) and tempura monkfish cheeks with a jalapeΓ±o and basil dip (right)
Jersey oysters three ways: (From the left clockwise) Porthilly (deep fried with pickled vegetables), Oysters Rockefeller and creamy champagne sauce. πŸ¦ͺπŸ¦ͺπŸ¦ͺ
Malaysian style wok fried whole crab πŸ¦€
My mum is working hard to try to get all the crab meat out! 🀣

My favourite dishes there were the oysters (the Rockefeller style was the best of the three for me), octopus and the tempura monkfish cheeks (loved that dip!) The clam chowder was okay, but I personally would enjoy it less thick and the vegetables more cooked. My mum (who is even pickier than me with food) really enjoyed the oysters too, but she also liked the crab, though it was hard work and a messy job getting all the meat out! πŸ˜‚ πŸ’ͺ Actually felt like a proper workout after! 🀣 (I found the dish okay, but we both thought the Malaysian coconut sauce was slightly too sweet and I wasn’t a massive fan of crab to begin with… πŸ˜…)

Luckily the rain stopped pouring when we finished our lunch, so we got to enjoy a stroll around the seafront and the city, including visiting the famous Brighton Pavilion. We snapped many pics! πŸ˜†πŸ“Έ

Look at the waves! 🌊 🌊
Brighton Palace Pier
Brighton Seafront
Beautiful sky! ❀️❀️
Brighton Beach
Glorious sun above β˜€οΈ
Brighton Pavilion
Royal Pavilion Gardens
The Lanes
Mural in the Lanes
Love the market feel here with all the boutiques

Brighton is truly hidden gem with its ambient, relaxing atmosphere and a beautiful seaside. Over the new few days, it was such a delightful surprise to discover all these great food places within the city! 🀀🀀 Here are some of the best ones!

Delicious, healthy salad lunch in Foodilic πŸ₯— That mango and avocado salad was so yummy! It’s great value for money too – only Β£8.50 to sit in with one hot main and three side salads. Very generous portions too! We were so stuffed afterwards! 😬
Blue cheese pizza in Fatto a Mano. Simple and scrumptious! And I introduced Burrata to my mum – which she absolutely loved! πŸ˜‚ (We wandered into this restaurant as a shelter when the sky suddenly started pouring 🌧🌧 one day. Weather hadn’t really been on our side throughout this trip… πŸ˜…)
When I visited Salisbury last month, I found a Roly’s Fudge store and bought some of these back for my work colleagues. They absolutely loved it and devoured the whole box before I got to try any. πŸ˜› So I finally got to have some this times around, but I found them rather too sweet for my liking… πŸ˜–

Our last meal in Brighton was a French dinner in the Petit Pois Restaurant. πŸ‡«πŸ‡· And we managed to finish on a high as this was our favourite meal throughout the trip! πŸ‘

Complimentary appetiser: apricot and chestnut croquettes
Starters: pan fried scallops with artichoke purΓ©e, apple and hazelnut salad (top) and classic garlic and parsley snails (bottom)
Bouillabaisse- fish soup with sea bass, mussels, squid, king prawn, seaweed and potato
Duck breast with celeriac Dauphinoise, grilled spring onions and blood orange sauce

We absolutely loved the earthy nuttiness of the croquette appetiser! πŸ˜‹β€οΈ The dish of the night though was the scallops. The artichoke purΓ©e and the acidity of the apples marries perfectly with the lightness of the scallops. 🀀 My mum also really enjoyed her Bouillabaisse. For me, The duck breast was also very yummy with a medium-rare cook (which it’s how I always like my duck) and I wished they gave me more of that delicious blood orange sauce! πŸ˜‚ I couldn’t get enough of it!

Once we finished dinner, we ran back into the hotel passing through a storm β˜”οΈ β˜”οΈ as the rainy night marked the end of our trip. 😝

Chill Day 😎😴

Happy Sunday! Only a very short post today, but it’s nice to get back to some cooking/baking after some time. After several long weeks of work, it’s nice to be able to catch a break today, so I decided to make a classic brunch with a bit of a twist. These fluffy American pancakes πŸ₯ž are infused with nori (Japanese seaweed) and served with crispy bacons πŸ₯“ – one of my favourite things of all time! πŸ˜‹ Perfect and rich when served with a dab of butter!

What do you like to eat your pancakes with? What are you having for brunch/breakfast today? Let me know in the comments below! πŸ˜‰

Birthday Weekend Getaway: Salisbury and Stonehenge (Part 2)

I didn’t realise how tired I was last night until I was back in my hotel room and quickly fell fast asleep. 😴 Lately, I have been struggling with insomnia and intense dreams, so I was glad to wake up this morning feeling really refreshed. Guess this weekend away from London did do some good for me after all! ☺️

Breakfast at the hotel

After enjoying a Full English in the pub area of the hotel (I genuinely was quite surprised to see that there were a good handful of people staying in the hotel last night πŸ™‚) and another bath time πŸ›€ back in my room, I headed out to round off a few things in town and visited Salisbury Cathedral among a few other noticeable places in before hopping on the train back to London which was scheduled just after lunchtime. The weather was just as miserable as it was yesterday πŸ˜…πŸŒ§πŸŒ§, so it was a bit of a hassle at times juggling between the shoppings (mainly some sweets for my colleagues at work) and the umbrella in my hands. πŸ˜‚πŸ› β˜”οΈ (I was determined not to lose my umbrella again today! 🀣)

Salisbury Cathedral
Under the rain β˜”οΈβ˜”οΈ
Sculptures in the park surrounding the cathedral
Army museum (Didn’t go in, since I spent too much already yesterday and try to save money… πŸ˜›)
A bridge (?) over High Street
Market Square
Council building (I think… πŸ˜…)
Thought this was cute so took a picture lol… πŸ˜‚
A monument in town centre with the Haunch of Venison just right behind it

A friend of mine who originated from Salisbury recommended me to check out the Haunch of Venison, a gastropub in the area. I loved the old, historical interior look of the pub immediately which made me the more excited to try out their game menu! πŸ˜‹

The interior of the dining room
The staircase
Had a wander inside the pub πŸ‘€
The pigeon starter – loved the crispy kale it came with! πŸ˜‹
Venison Sunday roast with a trio of sauces – horseradish, mint and cranberry

Now I am ready to board the train πŸš‚ with a full stomach!

Birthday Weekend Getaway: Salisbury and Stonehenge (Part 1)

Happy weekend, everyone! Hope all of you had a good week. In my case, this week has certainly felt long, so I was glad I have finally made it to my β€œbirthday weekend”! πŸ˜› Despite my original plan of going away abroad is now thrown out of the window, I decided (at the very last minute) that maybe it was worth going away from London for a bit after all. Therefore, on Thursday, I decided to book a train away to Salisbury to see the famous Stonehenge. I appreciate that, for some people, the place is nothing more than a pile of rocks, but 10 years old me would have been so excited! (At that point in my life, I was obsessed with a lot of the mysterious locations in the world such as Loch Ness, the pyramids in Egypt and Machu Picchu among many places.)

The weather in London has been very rainy in the past days! β˜”οΈβ˜”οΈ As a precaution, I checked weather forecast (something I normally don’t do if I am honest! πŸ˜‚) and anticipated that it would also be raining in Salisbury. Before I stepped out of my house, I kept on reminding myself not to forget the umbrella (more on that later lol) since I have an awful habit of leaving it behind whenever I go!

Initially I was worried if it would be complicated to get to Stonehenge from Salisbury (since I don’t drive), but it turns out that there is a direct bus one can board from the city centre. I purchased the all included ticket (total to Β£32.50) that covers the bus and entry to both Stonehenge and Old Sarum Castle. The bus journey wasn’t very long (around 30 minutes from the city centre of Salisbury) and I quite enjoyed the scenery of all the open fields around the area – since I really needed a break from city life lately. 😝🌾🌾

Stonehenge Visitor Centre
A replicate of the apparent homes (?) for the builders of Stonehenge

To get to the Stonehenge from the visitor centre, there is a choice of either taking a shuttle bus (which arrives in less than 5 minutes) or walking (around 20 minutes). On a nicer day, I might choose to walk, but today I decided to take the shuttle bus. The foot path is designed to be a circuit around the Stonehenge, so I have taken lots of snaps 😝 and here is Stonehenge from all directions!

Before leaving, I also took a scroll in the exhibition area and sat down for the a small lunch in the cafΓ©.

Feels like this is the weather today πŸ˜‚
Inside the exhibition
Wish I can go to all these places one day! πŸ’ͺ
Steak Cornish pasty πŸ˜‹ plus an apple juice I bought from M&S before I boarded the bus πŸ˜†

Boarding the bus again, I then headed to Old Sarum Castle (which was about 20 minutes away from Stonehenge and only about 7 minutes away from city centre.) The castle was situated in a very peculiar spot (in my opinion at least πŸ˜‚) that required one to cross a long winding footpath through the fields and up the hill. And only when I was halfway gone, then I realised that I left my umbrella on the bus! πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ by the hill
Don’t know why it took me a long time to figure out how to open this lol…
Entrance to Old Sarum Castle
View from the top
360 view of the castle
Feels a bit like walking in a tight rope 😬 the slope on the side is very steep!
Very foggy day today

As the rain started to get heavier 🌧🌧, I tried to still go around the castle (without my umbrella of course…) but it did gradually get to a point when I had to retreat since I was soaked from top to bottom (if anything, my frustration was more with my own forgetfulness than the weather! πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ) So I finally settled down at a spot underneath a tree and patiently waited for the tour bus to come back. 🚌 (And luckily, since it was the same tour bus that kept going around in circle, I was thankful that I was able to get my umbrella back πŸ˜‚β˜‚, otherwise it would have been long gone!)

After checking in the hotel and soaking myself in a warm bath, I then headed out for dinner in Zizzi. (Tonight felt even busier than I imagined a Saturday night would be, so it took me some time before I finally found a place with spaces. And it was pouring rain as well, so I didn’t walk around looking too much.)

And the perks of staying above a pub means I got to take a pint to my room to enjoy! πŸ˜‰

Wasn’t feeling alcohol today, so went for a lemonade instead lol! πŸ˜‚ Just needed something to quench my thirst to be fair.

The End of September – and It’s Not Quite the Same

Time certainly flies, and before I knew it, it is already the end of the month. The past month has been marked by an intense work schedule which kept me away from blogging and posting stuff on social media πŸ˜…, though it actually feels quite fulfilling to be back at work at the same time and getting into a routine again. πŸ’ͺπŸ‘Œ

The end of the month also marks my birthday, but both of my celebration plans with friends and a weekend abroad have both been cancelled due to rising cases in London and travel restrictions in Europe. It’s a shame, but I definitely do feel it was the right thing to do. Nothing feels quite the same at the moment as it was back in the summer. And seemingly with a possible local/national lockdown looming over us, everything seems very uncertain for the future. Right now, I am just taking a day (if not an hour) at a time and trying to live in the moment as I always told myself. Sometimes it seems that life passes us by. An article I read a few days ago reminded me that at times we spent so much time mulling over things that had happened or worrying what will happen in the future, instead we should let go and experience the moments we have – immersing ourselves in the very now.

A birthday surprise at work! πŸ₯³πŸ₯³ LOL at the cover! πŸ˜‚

Happiness sometimes really lies around the corner. I was greeted with an unexpected surprise today when my colleagues signed and wrote messages on a birthday card for me! ❀️ Totally made my day at work! 😊 (Plus the café owners who kindly gave me a free feta cheese roll with my lunch! 😁)

After a long day at work and despite being by myself today (plus the miserable rainy British weather β˜”οΈ), I was determined to celebrate with a birthday meal to mark my 27th year. I decided to visit a Mexican restaurant called Mestizo when a conversation with a friend last week brought up about mole sauce. I heard of mole sauce before and was aware of what it is, but I never tasted one in any Mexican places in the UK before. So I was curious as to where I could find it here in London, and this place came up in my internet search.

Complimentary appetiser of nachos
Tamales CosteΓ±os with Pork
Quesadillas Marquez with Cheese and Cuitlacoche
Mole Poblano (Chicken breast in Mexican chocolate sauce)
Can’t finish the birthday meal without a cake of some sort! πŸŽ‚ I ordered the Tres Leches Cake on the menu – a Mexican cake composed of condensed milk, evaporated milk and double cream.

Tamales, cuitlacoche (or huitlacoche) and tres leches cake are all things I have come across when I was binge-watching MasterChef US at a time, but never experienced before today, so this really was an eye opener in a way! πŸ˜‹β€οΈ I absolutely loved the tamales (texture and flavour-wise it really reminds me of the Chinese zongzi we used to have during Dragon Boat Festival!) The quesadillas with the cuitlacoche tasted good and flavourful, but I was surprised how much the cuitlacoche tasted like ordinary mushrooms. I was most looking to trying the Mole Poblano, but I don’t think I am completely sold on mole sauce. πŸ˜‚ (It’s unlike anything I tasted before- it’s sort of tasted like a sweet gravy with a hint of chocolate and chilli…) Finally, to conclude my birthday meal, I really enjoyed the richness of the tres leches cake. It wasn’t too sweet and the sponge was also moist and delicious! πŸ’› (Though personally I can do without all the sauce around it! πŸ˜‚)

After dinner, I strolled through the Mexican store next door (also owned by the restaurant) and bought some sweets to take home with me! 🍬

What else will I be up to during my birthday week? Watch this space! πŸ˜‰

Looking for Alaska

It’s obviously no secret that I love baking. One of the greatest joys I get from baking is allowing myself to being in the moment and feel accomplished in my finished product. Of course, sometimes things don’t always go to plan. (And that’s when my perfectionist self can get really disheartened and frustrated…) But I always remind myself that, ultimately like many things, it is a process of learning. ☺️

As my visit to family in Scotland is almost coming to an end (time really does fly), I thought I will make another ice cream dessert before returning to London! πŸ˜‹πŸ¨ Yesterday, I had my second attempt at making at a baked Alaska (after the big mess that was the first go. πŸ˜…) I made some adjustments this time including using a bowl and cling film to set and shape the ice cream beforehand, before covering it in an Italian meringue (not sure what I was thinking when I used the less stable French meringue last time… πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ) The final result was a lot better than what I had last time! 😁

Tip the set ice cream from the bowl (this one is a strawberry flavoured ice cream) over the sponge cake
Cover and seal the ice cream completely inside the Italian meringue
Return to the oven briefly and use a torch to colour the meringue πŸ”₯
Ready to serve! πŸ“πŸ“

Hope everyone enjoy their final week of the holiday! πŸ˜‰β€οΈ

Bao

Have any of you guys seen the Pixar short film Bao? Obviously though, I am here to do my usual talk about food not movies! πŸ˜‚ β€˜Bao’ is the Chinese word for β€˜bun’ as in bread. I grew up eating bao regularly whilst living in Hong Kong, though mostly outside when we are eating dim sum during our weekly family Saturday brunch.

Growing in an Asian household, baking wasn’t something that came naturally to me as steaming was the more prominent cooking method my family used. Likewise, bao is a steamed bun rather than those being baked in the oven. Yesterday, I decided to use my mum’s giant wok to do some steaming.

The bao I made is officially known as β€˜Gua bao’ – a popular Taiwanese street food, though more well known simply as β€˜bao’ in the Western world in the recent years. The recipe I used for the buns is from BBC Good Food (LinkπŸ‘‰ https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/steamed-bao-buns) I adapted the recipe with a fairly traditional stewed pork belly and cucumber filling. It’s a very straight recipe to use, so give it a try! πŸ˜‰

What I Need This Summer

I think I have been quite lucky escaping the heatwave by being in Edinburgh from the start of the month (since I don’t take heat very well πŸ₯΅πŸ˜‚.) We had it all this week with sunshine, clouds, rains and even a thunderstorm in the middle of the night! ⚑️ However, it is still summer after all, and I am sure to make full use of my mum’s freezer while staying here. (The freezer I have in my London apartment is nowhere near cold enough to freeze things properly.)

When one thinks of summer, ice cream is a must, so making homemade ice creams have become a bit of a habit of mine lately. But today, I also made my first attempt at making tuiles – which I was surprised how super easy they were to make! (This is the recipe I followed: https://chefiso.com/p/tuiles-recipe/) Not enough only were they perfect for my homemade rocky road ice cream, but they were also beautiful to look at! πŸ˜πŸ˜‹

It’s Home Time πŸ 

Just a short post today – the first since I have been back at my family’s home in Scotland. In the past week, I have raided my mum’s kitchen a few times πŸ˜‚ but I am more grateful that I can avoid doing dishwashing for a bit! 🀣

The weather is much cooler here in Edinburgh than in London. (That last week there before I hopped onto the train was getting unbearable! πŸ₯΅πŸ”₯πŸ”₯) As a result, I have been really enjoying my mum’s hearty home cooking. It was my turn to cook tonight, and I decided to make a filo quiche using the scraps left in my mum’s fridge (we had some already sliced carrots and onions from the previous nights, plus some unused bacons and courgettes). πŸ˜‰

Homemade filo pastry – though my arms were tired after all the rolling I did πŸ˜ͺ
A lovely golden brown colour πŸ₯°
Time to eat! πŸ˜‹