Sunday, January 26, 2014

One week in Singapore

Sometimes the best ideas are born on the spur of the moment. In December I had been browsing travel sites as we wanted a little winter break but hadn't found anything we liked. Having our first coffee on New year's morning I was reading an online magazine and stumbled upon an article about Singapore. My husband had lived and worked there several years before we met. His commentary "I wouldn't mind going there again someday" got me moving - by afternoon I had booked flights and hotel and off we went two weeks later. 
Great timing actually as we got there just in time to catch all the wonderful decorations and preparations for Chinese New Year. And as 2014 is going to be the Year of the Horse and I am a horse according to my Chinese horoscope I felt very honored.
Singapore is fascinating - the architecture, the mix of nationalities, fabulos museums, breathtaking attractions and all the international shopping anybody might ever want to do .And, even better, all the international cuisines anybody might ever like to explore. And explore we did: Chinese, Malay, Thai cuisine - all those tastes we don't find in Provence. From Hawker Food Courts to beautiful restaurants - Singapore is a foodie's heaven! Have a look  - I am still dreaming!

 Street decorations for Chinese New Year

The little old Merlion and the gigantic new Singapore landmark - somewhat disrespectfully called "The Ironing Board"

Our "canteen" - Maxwell Hawker Food Centre

 Crispy outside, deliciously chewy inside: Oyster Cakes

 Even Anthony Bourdain recommends the Oyster Cakes from this hawker stall

 Green Mango Salad

 Spicy Thai Fish Soup at "Bali Thai" in Katong

 Grilled Cuttle Fish
 A German Food Chain "Brotzeit" specializes in Schnitzel and no, we did not eat there
preferring the local fare like this beautifully seasoned beef and seafood salad

 or another spicyly delicous soup
 Glass noodles and Chinese Greens

 Mango and Strawberry Pudding
 Dumplings that are handmade in front of you

 at Din Tai Fung,  the probably best Dim Sum Place in Singapore

Yu Sheng salad that you have to toss with your chopsticks and pile as high as you can shouting "Lo Hei" is a Singaporean Chinese New Year's speciality promising good luck and prosperity

Met this warrior in Orchard Road, Singapore's main shopping street

Monday, January 20, 2014

All the way from Spain...

Doesn't he look sad? I wonder whose idea it was that this poor Toro would make an appealing decoration for all those Spanish oranges, clementines and grapefruits that brighten up the local winterfare in our supermarkets?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Peasant food - so simple, so good

Remember the wonderful market lady who always sells the freshest, crispiest organic salads at Vaison's Tuesday's and Saturday's famer's market? Quite a few local chefs buy their salads at her stall and recently I was there when she gave a salad recipe to one of them. When I asked her about it, because I had misheard something she told me the recipe too and added "but this is very simple peasant food, you might not like it". Well, most of Provençal food is rather simple peasant food and very tasty, so when I found myself with some salad and just a nice little bowl of soup for lunch today, I tried Madame's recipe for "Salade Paysanne".
You prepare a simple vinaigrette (3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, a small dollop of mustard, pepper and salt) into which you mix two soft boiled egg yolks. I did this by vigorously shaking all ingredients in a screw top jar. You then finely chop the cooked eggwhites, sprinkle them into the salad et voilà - Salade Paysanne.  Nothing spectacular, but the egg yolks give a wonderful creaminess to the vinaigrette that makes you mop up every drop of the salad sauce.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A soup to chase the cold away

It is cold and miserable outside: rain, rain, nothing but rain! And as if this wouldn't be misery enough I am trying hard to shake off the mother of all colds. So what better remedy is there than a nice hot  soup and better even, one that is fast and easy to prepare. Best: I had all ingredients in the pantry - and even fresh sage as that is the only plant surviving all year round in my kitchen garden. Plus sage is supposed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties - perfect!

You start by finely slicing 3 garlic cloves, and also very finely chopping a handful of sage leaves. Wash and quarter 400g/two cups of cherry tomatoes, weigh 200g/1 1/2 cups of red lentils, open a medium (400g/14 oz) can of chopped tomatoes and prepare 1.5 l/ 6 cups of vegetable broth.
Sautée the garlic and cherry tomatoes for a few minutes in a splash of olive oil, add the chopped tomatoes, chopped sage and let bubble away for a few minutes. Add the lentils, the vegetable broth and let cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until the lentils are tender. Taste and season with black pepper and salt if necessary and serve with a sprinkling of either leftover sage or flat leaf parsley.
I really, really liked the very clean taste of the soup but next time will cook it with tiny little bits of pasta (orzo) as I didn't care too much about the texture of the red lentils. But best of all - my cold is much, much better!