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25 January 2009

Tokyo: Cafe-Creperie Le Bretagne at Omotesando


Taking a break from shopping around Harajuku (which by the way has the best children's store, Kiddyland) my godmother decided to bring me to a creperie located in the area. Seeing my confusion as to why we were going to a dessert shop for lunch, she excitedly explained to me that she discovered this specific creperie shortly after a trip through Europe where she was able to try a type of savory crepe called a gallete.

Crepes and Galletes are generally made with flour, eggs, milk and butter. But the difference between the two lie mainly in the flour and the filling. Crepes are made using a slightly sweeter dough and filled with fruit and/or topped with ice cream or a syrup of some sort. Meanwhile Galletes are made with buckwheat flour (the same flour used to make Japanese soba noodles, which contributes to their darker colour) and can be filled with meats, vegetables, and cheese.

While the possible origins of crepe is fairly varied, as many cultures have their own variation of this dish (the pancake being one of them), the region of Brittany (Bretagne) prides itself on being the masters of crepe, and when a Bretagne native came to Japan and decided to open Cafe-Creperie Le Bretagne, he insisted on bringing three French crepier to work at his restaurant.

With the exception of one or two foreign men sitting outside, most of the lunch time crowd consisted of young Japanese women (mental note to self: this place is perfect for a girl's day out). A waiter soon came with our menus and we each both ordered a gallete and a crepe. For drinks we opted to try their apple cider (which is the drink taken with crepe, as apples grow abundantly in northwestern France).

Hannah TofuHannah Tofu

We first began with a light and brightly coloured garden salad, followed by our galletes. I had the Tomato and Mushroom "Complete"(Scrambled egg, ham, cheese, organic tomato, and mushrooms) while my godmother ordered the Chorizo "Complete"(Sunny side up egg, Iberico chorizo, cheese). Mine had a more mellow flavor,a crisp and thin buckwheat layer that cracked under my knife to reveal vegetables and ham on a bed of cheese and egg. The gallete with the Iberico chorizo was more flavorful and was clearly the house favorite, from the many orders of the Iberico chorizo gallete coming out of the kitchen. After our galletes our crepes were brought out. We had the Concarnoise (Chestnut puree, vanilla ice cream) and the Vannetaise (Salted butter caramel with vanilla ice cream).While the usual dessert crepe is chock full of fruits and slathered with sauce and whipped cream, the crepes that were brought out were very unassuming, which I enjoyed immensely. The chestnuts were in season, and the salty caramel complemented the vanilla ice cream and the crepe.

Hannah TofuHannah Tofu

Overall it was a very light and refreshing lunch, after which we went back to sightseeing.

06 January 2009

Food Finds | Japanese Musk Melon


This for all intents and purposes is not a mere melon, nor a fruit for that matter. This for all intents and purposes is a gift. Or it starts being one when a humble fruit like the melon is swaddled in a padded blanket and gently placed in a easily carriable box complete with a pillow inside to help it avoid gentle to moderate jiggles.

But the story of this humble melon begins in a greenhouse, where it's mother plant is pruned to produce only three fruit, then of the three, only our melon will be left when the farmer cuts off the two less attractice candidates. In simple terms, all the nutrients from of the plant go to nourish the remaining melon. After it has reached a optimum size and perfect round shape, and checked to make sure that it's characteristic mesh pattern is as even as possible, it is given a certificate to prove its authenticity, placed in it's vessel of transport, and delivered the next day to a supermarket near you, at a price anywhere from $40-$200 based on the quality of the melon. These are hardly ever bought to be eaten at home, which stems from traditional gift giving culture, where the very best is always saved to be given as a gift.

One of these gifts happens to find its way to our home every Christmas, from an old friend of my father's, and it is always eaten first before breakfast, with the melon being cut into six equal wedges (with a bowl underneath to catch all the liberated juices) with one going to each of us five, and the final one being split into three for my brothers and I. The luscious green flesh yields to your spoon like a hot knife to butter, and there is not one word uttered at the table as we all take in the first bite. Unlike most melons where the sweetness falters nearer the rind, this melon is sweet all the way through. Digging through the flesh to free the juices is has similarities to a young child digging for water near the seashore. Before you know it, its gone, and there is a collective sigh around the table. But with all great things, it is always just enough to savor a small piece than to rush through several servings.

03 January 2009

Recipe | Bong's Flaming Phoenix

BongBong's Flaming Phoenix
Servings per batch: Good for 4 to 5 people
Preparation time: Around 10 minutes
| Marinade: 30 mins to 1 hr
Total preparation time: Around 1 hr and 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy! :)

Coming from the holiday season, I am sure that you have eaten a lot of food from your Noche Buena, a Spanish term for the usual family dinner on Christmas eve, your Christmas dinner, New Year, like your usual lechon, fried chicken, adobo, hamon, fruit cake, and your other Filipino dishes.

I'm sure that by now, you're tired of the usual "way of cooking" and the usual taste of your dishes. I am. So one morning, I just decided to experiment and create my own chicken dish. One thing is for sure, I want it pepper-y and hot. This explains why the name given to it by Stephanie Tan.

Flaming Phoenix

Flaming Phoenix (recipe good for 1/2 - 1 kilo boneless chicken)

Dry ingredients:
  • 1/2 - 1 kilo boneless chicken cut into strips
  • 4 cloves garlic diced into super small pieces (but I like to put more garlic)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
Liquid ingredients:
  • 1 juiced lemon (small)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon Kikoman soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 cap-full of white wine vinegar with herbs of provence (or without)
  • 3 cap-full of Ginebra San Miguel GSM Blue gin (or any gin substitute)
Combine the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients to the strips of boneless chicken. Mix and coat the chicken evenly with the ingredients. Let it sit so that the flavors marry well together and you'll end up with a yummy treat!

After 30 mins. to an hour, you're all ready to fry or grill them. This dish (photo above) was pan-fried with very little oil.

Preheat the pan, then add the oil. Saute some garlic, until they're golden brown, then remove them, and set aside. You can now add in your chicken strips. When you see that the sides have turned a little bit white to brown (or different from the normal color of raw chicken), you can now turn the strips over. Fry it for a minute or two, and you're good to go!

A new dish you should try this new year. Happy cooking! ^^
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