Lo Hei

Yu Sheng or Lo Hei is popular in Malaysia and Singapore – as a Chinese New Year dish.

As many as 27 ingredients may be used – each symbolising something auspicious or gratifying

Raw fish for abundance; Pomelo for luck; Pepper to attract wealth and valuables; Oil for the flow of money from all directions; Carrots for good luck; Shredded green radish for eternal youth; Shredded white radish for prosperity in business and advancement at the workplace; Peanuts for longevity; Sesame seeds for a flourishing business; Crispy flour chips as a symbol of gold….

Strangely, I don’t recall any mention about good health….(I suppose youthfulness is healthfulness)

The wine to go with this dish is most certainly something lightly sweet, lightweight and bubbly, such as an Asti.

A toast is due then, as CNY is around the corner: Heres to youth, becoming wealthy and wise and most of all happiness.

Birthday Buns

If you’re wondering why we peel back the skin of the Chinese birthday buns (Sao Bao) before scarfing down these delicious morsels…..it’s because the original recipe has always called for the colour to be misted on by the ‘pâtissière’ with a deft sizz using his/her mouth – they didn’t have spray atomizers nor toothbrushes in those days when the bun was invented.  And yes, there are those times when I do shudder – before my wedge of  birthday cake – you would too; after witnessing the birthday boy/girl spluttering it whilst attempting to blow out the candles…..

Beaujolais 2009 – a Must Buy

Tasted recently – dozens of Georges Duboeuf 2009 Beaujolais with Franck Duboeuf at the Daniel Boulud Bistro last week. I have never come across beaujolais so dense, intense, rich yet smooth (and still retaining some delicacy that drinkers seek in Beaujolais) as the wines of the 2009 vintage. The crus are especially worth putting away and you will be surprised  – I dare say, tasted blind in the future, they may fool you into thinking they are burgundy reds made from Pinot. Why am I recommending these wines? They offer superior value for money. Compare the price of Beaujolais Cru with that of other crus – Beaujolais will cost a third or a quarter the price of other crus.

After the tasting, I enjoyed them with the DB Bistro Burger and must say, the supple smooth tannins and sweet luscious fruit in these wines will deem them very suitable for many Asian dishes.

2009 Vintage according to Georges Duboeuf – sunniest August in the last 60 years; perfect grapes and something which had not been seen by winegrowers in living memory; indeed, this is the best vintage of my life.

Steak Tartare

Was it the nomadic Tatars  of the Central Asian Steppes that gave us this dish? What is for sure is that it’s a French speciality (Mr. Bean couldn’t put it down so proceeded to stuff it into the vase, smear it underneath his plate and in other places).
Best wine to accompany this dish is a big red such as a Bordeaux or a southern red say, a Cahors. A Hermitage would do the dish justice too.
Available at the Hippopotamus Restaurant (chain restaurant with over 70 outlets in France) that’s now expanding overseas. The Singapore branch can be found at Marina Square. And whilst you are there, don’t forget to order the ‘tulang’ (grilled bone marrow)

At the newly opened Bar a Vin

Hmm, a very mature bottle of DRC

Most wines at this wine bar though, are quite affordable including Grand Cru Bordeaux available by the glass

Small bar but the ambiance is of a Parisian wine bar-club

Find the Bar a Vin at the Republic Plaza Tower II. #01-20 , 9 Raffles Place.

Ideal temperatures for enjoying your wine

A wine is more enjoyable at the optimum (cool) temperature  so I am not too fussed about  a little
dilution from the addition of an ice cube…..

That said, here are the ideal temperatures for enjoying your wine

18 – 16 C = Ideal for top red wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and similiar
styles from the New World

15-16 C = Best for mature Bordeaux; best Spanish/Italian wines; aged Cabernet
Sauvignons and Merlots Chianti, Zinfandel and Cotes du Rhone wines

14-15 C = Great white burgundy, Port and Madiera

11-12 C = Light red wines such as Beaujolais

10-11 C = Sherries

9-11 C = Alsace, Loire, German and Austrian wines, Sauvignon Blanc and
Chardonnay

9-10 C = Rose wine

8-9 C = Humble white wines, Lambrusco and sweet red wines

7-8 C = Champagne and other sparkling wines

4 – 7 C = Sweet dessert wines and other sparkling wines

Tip from Etienne Hugel visiting @ Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre : Fill your wine glass with ice and some water, swirl it around and toss it all out. Then pour your wine into the glass. The wine will keep cool for longer – especially when enjoying wine in the tropical heat.

Dry Aged Beef

Beef in various states of maturity, at the David Jones Food Hall, Perth, WA, Australia.

Only the best cuts of meat, usually with evenly distributed fat content are chosen for hanging (left to mature in a very cold room called a ‘hot box’

Two things happen – the meat looses moisture and so flavour is more concentrated (think of ice wine or noble rot); enzymes also break down the connective tissue in the meat leading to tenderisation.

Pair of Syrahs from 2007

Tasted recently a Cape Mentelle Shiraz and a Domaine Clape Cornas. From both ends of the world yet they showed an uncanny similarity – like brothers.

The West Australian version was exellently balanced, with a nice entry and lots of flavours including dark fruit and red peppers and hint of earth. The Rhone version was the bigger brother with just a little more of each – sexy tannins, refreshing floral nose with some almonds and flavours of soy, earth, chinese herbs, voilets and a minerally finish – though not much longer than the Australian Syrah.

Exotic Coffee

The Jacu Bird wants claim to the glory of the Palm Civet cat!  We tasted both coffees and yes, they are both worthy of the eminence. The Kopi Luwak (from the Palm Civet) was all fruity with bright berry flavours; the Jacu Bird coffee was
similar but with higher notes and was quite refined. In case you were wondering what we are blogging here… we are talking about cat- and bird- shit. The Asian Palm Civet in Indonesia consumes coffee beans and the enzymes in its
digestive tract changes the peptides and more amino acids are produced – the result, a less bitter and quite aromatic coffee.  It’s called Kopi Luwak. By now you will have surmised that the Luwak coffee is made from the beans defecated by
the cat. (This was the subject of a good joke in the movie ‘The Bucket List’.
As for the Jacu Bird of South America, I discovered that it is more discerning and consumes only the ripest Arabica beans (as opposed to the Robusta beans that the civet cat consumes). Its droppings , coffee connoisseurs claim, are more uniform and make for a smooth balanced coffee with some earthy overtones. Whilst Kopi Luwak commands very high prices (10 to twenty times the price of normal coffee), I think the Jacu Bird coffee is more affordable (four times the price of normal coffee) and is my preferred exotic coffee.
You can find Jacu Bird coffee in Paris.