Thursday, October 30, 2008

Presents for a Paper Anniversary.

My 1st wedding anniversary is coming up. It is also known as the paper anniversary and traditionally the couple would exchange presents, paper related. I have officially 1 month more to figure what to get and to make sure it gets here in time for the special day. Meanwhile we are also deciding what sort of celebration would befitting of the occasion. 

Thought I would share with you some plausible options for the paper anniversary. 

Personalised Stationery from Crane's.
Or the most wonderful Smythson of Bond St. If it is good enough for Royalty, it is good enough for my Dearest.

A Passport Holder. This one is from Hermes. Love the colour and the details.

An Organiser. This is a Aligator leather organiser from Hermes as well.

A Painting. This is "A Bridge over Seine" by Marc Chagall. Love the surrealism in his work.

A First Edition of his favourite book. This is one of my favourites. Alice in Wonderland By Lewis Carroll and illustrated by Arthur Rackham. The book was gilted, had tissue guarded full page colour plates and with decorated initials. Splendid!

Look at the Gorgeous Illustrations.

More of Arthur Rackham's Illustrations.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bake me a Dream.

I always knew that I would love baking but I never thought this much. Been thinking a lot of sugar flowers these days. I don't want to bake plain old cupcakes with buttercream. I want to be creative, I want it to look as good as it taste, I want it to be my work of art.

Hunting for them isn't as easy as I would like to think. It's hard to find them in Singapore. I suspect we don't take as much pain in baking or decorating to even have our own supplier that sells these sugar flowers. However, there is always online shopping.

I recently acquired the "Crabapple Bakery's Cupcake Cookbook". I hear that the recipes were wonderful. Can't wait to try my hand at it.

A scene from the Sofia Coppola movie, "Marie Antoinette". Love this scene with the cakes baked by the famous Ladurée.

A cake from the Cupcake Company in Brisbane, picture is taken from Absolutely Beautiful Things.

Another View of the Cake.

A cookbook from the Once Famous and now defunct Crabapple Cupcake Bakery at Prahran Market, Victoria Australia.  

Love the way the cupcakes from Crabapple Cupcake Bakery look. I love their Sugar Daisies as well. Pretty.

These sugar Cherry Blossoms are from Wendy Kromer. Aren't they lovely?

This sugar Magnolia is also from Wendy Kromer.

Sylvia Weinstock makes the Haute Couture of cakes. Her cakes are usually very elaborate with hand made sugar flowers which looks exactly like the real thing.

Another of Sylvia Weinstock's work.

Our First Semi-Formal Dinner.

Last Sunday, we had another round of housewarmings, this time round with his ACS schoolmates. What made the difference was that it was an intimate crowd of 8 of us and it made it very manageable to cook up a simple 3 course dinner for everyone. It is such a pity that I was so busy that I forgot to take pictures of the dinner. Reuben did take a picture of the set up which I shall post. Everyone went home stuff full of goodness and I was happy to see clean plates and contented diners. 

Elaborated Menu for that Evening:
- Trio of Appetizers (Handmade Salt and Pepper Chocolate, Parmigiano-Reggiano with Truffle honey and Prosciutto over Nashi Pears)

- Roasted Angus Beef with Potatoes and Carrots served with Yorkshire Pudding and Red wine pan juices.

- Chocolate Fondant served with Cream and Raspberry Puree.
Menu Board written by Sean.
The dinner set up pictures taken by Reuben. 

Dinner at Home.

The two of us have been on leave since last Friday. Tomorrow, we shall return to work. As we have been eating out quite a fair bit recently (as he has been working late or we have had dinners with friends), he had missed our usual cosy dinners at home. Tonight, we had prosciutto over nashi pear (just like sunday, on special request from my husband) and pan grilled kurobuta with browned butter and pink peppercorn sauce. It was paired with a glass of iced monk pear tea (made by my husband). Simply Delicious!

Prosciutto over Nashi Pears.
Pan grilled Kurobuta with Browned Butter and Pink Peppercorn sauce.
Our tablescape.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ruby, My Dear

My mum was going away for the long weekend with her sisters and so I decided to take Ruby home with me. She is a Feb baby like me but she was born in 2004. I loved her when I saw her and knew that I wanted to take her home. I bought her with my 2nd month salary at my first job. A lot to money to part with then but I knew it would be worthwhile.

The sad thing is that since we took her home on Saturday, she has been having a little problem adapting to the new environment, to not having Robert (the other pomeranian, aka her best friend) and my mum around. She has not been eating well. Sean and I tried hand feeding her and she has been starting to eat very little (when we bug her to) from her bowl. She is under observation because we realised she is depressed. If it persists, we may be forced to take her home on Saturday to Robert and we will be without her again. We will miss her so much.... 

We are keeping our fingers crossed.
Ruby when she was a puppy.

Ruby with a plaster cast when she broke her leg. 
Ruby with her new boots.
Ruby demonstrating how to sit properly in the car.
Ruby on her new favourite rug.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Valrhona Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting.

Last Friday, Denise and I decided to bake up a batch of cupcakes. We managed to get our hands on some Valrhona chocolate for cooking or baking from Shermay's Cooking School. These were easy to bake and very yummy.  The only downside was that in every batch, there was only 10 cupcakes. Wished there were more...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thank You Cousin!!!

My dearest cousin decided to get us a coffee machine for our home, but the extent that she went to make sure that we get one which is perfect for our kitchen is so touching. She was sure that it had to be a blue machine and a Nespresso Magimix M100 just like hers (hers is in fizzy fushcia). She went to the Nespresso bar in Takashimaya and realised that they only had it in black or silver. She seached ebay but she couldn't get a seller that would ship to Singapore. The US power plugs are different as well. She finally got her London friend who hand carried it back with a child in tow. Her friend was well rewarded for her efforts with a nice lunch. How can anyone not be touched when so much thought and hard work was put in so that we can have a nice cup of coffee every morning? 

Moreover, it matches the Sunbeam ceramic  kettle and my kitchen tiles. Love it so much!
The exact coffee machine that we have in Artic blue.
The British coffee maker and Aussie kettle. they look great together.
The side profile of the coffee machine.
The Nespresso capsules that came with the machine.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Medium Format Photographs.

Before I go on and ramble about how great medium format is, this posting is inspired by a fabulous photographer friend, Kuang. Congrates on getting published in Brides Nov/Dec magazine. Read his blog to see more of his images.

Medium format cameras use 120 or 220 roll film, which is about 6 centimeters wide (2 and 1/4 inches). This size of roll film was introduced in 1898 by Kodak for its Folding Pocket KODAK Camera. It thus seems safe to say that the world has reached agreement on the proper height for a medium-format negative. On the other hand, nobody has ever agreed on the proper width. There are many standard widths for 120 camera frames: 645, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 6x12, and 6x17. These numbers are ostensibly in centimeters although in practice a 6x6 camera such as a Hasselblad will expose a 56 x 56 mm frame.

The pictures from medium format film has a higher quality than the common 35mm film. It used to be the common format from the 1890s to the 1950s. I love photographs taken with film. The images are somehow more beautiful. Now with the low cost medium format cameras like the Lomos, it does not mean that you have to pay thousands to be able to capture such beautiful images.

Looking through the view finder of a medium format camera.
A image of a tumbleweed in a desert.
Black and white photo of people in an airport waiting.
Portrait shot in medium format.
This is taken with a Holga (China made Lomo)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Alain Ducasse

I love food and that's almost an understatement. While most of world is charmed by Ferran Adria and molecular gastronomy, I believe that cooking in the most old fashioned terms; good technique, freshest ingredients and the know-how to mix and match flavours is more enjoyable. The best of molecular gastronomy cannot be eaten everyday like a staple, unlike haute cuisine. I respect Ferran Adria for his humble beginnings but I'll leave that for another posting.

Alain Ducasse was born in 1956 on a farm in Castel-Sarrazin in southwestern France. He recently gave up his French nationality for his Monaco nationality which was bestowed upon him. In 1972, when he was sixteen, Ducasse began an apprenticeship at the Pavillon Landais restaurant in Soustons and at the Bordeaux hotel school. After this apprenticeship, he began work at Michel Guérard’s restaurant in Eugénie-les-Bains while also working for Gaston Lenôtre during the summer months. In 1977, Ducasse started working as an assistant at Moulin de Mougins under legendary chef Roger Vergé, creator of Cuisine du Soleil, and learned the Provençal cooking methods for which he was later known.

Ducasse's first position as chef came in 1980 when he took over the kitchens at L’Amandier in Eugène Mougin. One year later, he assumed the position of head chef at La Terrasse in the Hôtel Juana in Juan-les-Pins. In 1984, he was awarded two stars in the Michelin Red Guide. In that same year, Ducasse was the only survivor of a Learjet crash that nearly took his life.  

What makes this man so special is while some chefs hold the honour of having a 3 star michelin restaurant, this man was the first to have 3, 3 star michelin restaurants in 3 different cities (Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Plaza Athénée in Paris and Alain Ducasse at Essex House (which was eventually closed in 2007 and reopened at the St Regis recently as Adour).

I've tried Spoon in HK which is almost like a 2nd line for him. It was good. Imagine how well the 3 michelin star restaurants would feed.

Alain Ducass in Essex House
Alain Ducasse in his kitchen at Paris.
Louis XV dining hall
Table settings at Louis XV
Dining Hall at Plaza Athénée
Seared Scallops with Green and White Swiss chard and Ponzu sauce.
Wild Scottish Patridge "Sur Canapé" It is served with a chicken liver mousse, foie gras and cognac "pie", chestnut purée, and roasted winter fruits.

Lobster poached with Salsifis, Spinach and Black Truffles.
Australian Barramundi with Chocolate Dolce Forte.
Bitter Chocolate Hedgehog with Caramelised Almonds.
Chocolate Truffle Cake.
Warm Apple Balls between Crispy Layers with quince gelée and Earl Grey ice cream.
Chocolate and Raspberry Star