25 March 2008

food reality versus food non-reality

came across this interesting post via metafilter -- what magic touch food stylists have to make your food look "tasty"!

i think this is one of the reasons why i try to avoid processed food like the plague (though as a kid, i used to think the fatty globules in the meat was macaroni for some reason). the cheeseburger a bit further than halfway down the page looks like was poured out of a blender onto bread found in a trash from your neighbour's labour day barbeque.

nonetheless, one day i might grow up and become a food stylist. or a zombie.

24 March 2008

a discussion on egg tarts

those who know me know that i am an egg tart fiend (the likely culprit behind my "extra luggage" from my expeditions in the far east).

["chieu-pei" or "flaky crust" egg tart. actually this one tasted kind of gross and lardy, like eating a spoonful of tenderflake.]

egg tarts ("dan-tat") abound in hong kong and macau, where they were popularized around WWII by "cha-chaan tengs" (tea and food restaurants). in north america, you can find egg tarts in chinese bakeries and also in "cha-laus" where dim sum is served.

story goes either the british brought custard pies to hong kong (from which the chinese eggier version was adapted), and/or they were influenced by the portuguese egg tarts (see below).

the basic ingredients are simple: a buttload of eggs, milk and sugar, and sometimes food colouring. ginger, chocolate, papaya or other stuff (like bird's nest) can be added, but make them weird-flavoured.

[milk tarts, weaklings of the egg tart family.]

there are two main types of tart crusts:
- shortcrust. butter-based, more flavourful, and slightly denser.
- puff-pastry. lard-based, flakier, considered more genuine ("chieu-pei").

portuguese egg tarts ("po-tat" as my chinese kinfolk call them) are by far my favourite. called pastel de nata in their native portugal, the macanese ones delicate eggy cups of heaven, topped with slightly burned deliciousness... best. thing. ever.

(you can even get them right here in montreal, on the plateau.)

[macanese po-tart: flaky, eggy, and slightly burned... just like the way i like my boys.]

[a half dozen of po-tarts (minus one) from macau that quickly disappeared as soon as they were boxed... and no, i did not share.]

in hong kong however, the best one i had was from kfc, i kid you not. and do not judge me lest ye be judged.

23 March 2008

let's begin with macanese almond cookies

i'm a little unsure as to how to start off this food blogging thing, but as i flipped through the 2000+ photos i took while in hong kong, i came across these ones of almond cookies in macau.

these macanese delectables are one of macau's more famous exports, along with eat jerky, and the best egg tarts i've ever had in the world (though i've never been to portugal so i might be mistaken... humour me for now).

the main street leading up to the remains of st. paul's church in macau are lined with shops that sell these cookies. barkers for the stores literally shove them in your hands to lure you into buying more. i think i got slightly ripped off ($100 MOP for 4 boxes) but i didn't really care cause this was the real deal. there are a few major competitors on that strip but the one i went to was pastelaria koi kei.

made of mung bean powder, sugar, almonds, vegetable oil, peanut butter, milk powder and water, they're slightly toasted on that big round toaster plate thing when they hand them to you.

[that's the ominous hand of mr. frawley who likes to ruin pictures i take].

imagine a light, slightly sweet, dry and crumbly biscuit, flavoured with almonds. and sometimes mixed with walnuts, coconuts, or whole almonds... and imagine sipping some hot tea or almond milk with one of these suckers and you're soaking in it!

though some liken these cookies to eating chalk, i say, to each his own... and i like chalk.