Martini Pau Nge-nge

A nice Martini over the weekend is always a good thing.

My version of a martini: A good quality gin with a tiny bit of vermouth. No olive/onion, but a pickled young mango. Our dear Mumakil pickled the mangoes from the garden back home in Kelantan. We call the pickled mango “pau nge-nge”. It’s a lovely refreshing aperitif.

Try it. Have a good weekend ;).

-M

MartiniNge

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Crabbing in Victoria

First of all, a happy belated new year! How has 2012 been treating you so far? I’ve started a new job, and thus the lack of updates. Sorry!

Pinkydoodles, Egg-tart and I had a good Christmas and New Year. Just lots of yummy food and drinks. We watched the fireworks from our apartment in KL. Wonderful.

Well, we are almost up to speed as to where I should be blogging soon. This will be the last post about Canada (for now).

Man, I’m longing for a quiet boating experience like how I did on Vancouver Island in Canada.

So, in the East of Canada, we stayed with my uncle and aunt on Victoria Island. This is the view from my uncle’s canoe. It was peaceful and not too cold for an autumn’s day. Super sunny means a great time to go crabbing!

Just plonk a crab cage with some chicken meat as bait into the ocean. Then canoe back to the shore and enjoy a cup of tea (yes, my aunt and uncle’s house is just by the seaside!). An hour later, my uncle and I took the boat out again to collect the cage. Voila! Dungeness crabs for dinner.

By the way, you need a license to fish crabs, and only of a certain size can you take them. Small ones we threw back.

So our first try was good. However, our luck ran out after that. The rest of the afternoon we got something else and it scared the crabs away.

Damn you, starfish! We caught so many of these big echinoderms.

No matter, the canoeing was so fun and the water was so clear I could see the bottom of the sea.

So come dinner time, we cooked up a crab feast. Well when I say we, I mean my uncle.

Man I wished I wrote down what was the recipe. All I know is it’s got a bit of curry powder, and things you’d put in for chilli crab. Hey uncle, if you are reading this, maybe you can tell me the recipe? ūüôā

The crabs were served in the wok. It was so yums!

To drink, Papa Salvatore selected:

Inniskillin Okanagan Chardonnay 2009. Yep, Inniskillin is also found in British Columbia. This chardonnay was good. Smooth, bit of oakyness and goes so well with the crab.

Since my aunt likes a more sweet wine, this was selected: Niersteiner Spatlese, late harvest. It was indeed sweet, but not sickeningly so and mildly floral. I really don’t like sweet wine, but this was quite drinkable.

We sat down and ate in silence for a while, savouring the juicy crabs. It was that good. Pair it with some lovely chilled wine, it became fantastic!

Crab fishing was so much fun. I wish I could go back there soon and do it again.

OK. Until next post. Adios!

-M.

Niagara winery: Inniskillin

Can you believe this view???

When in Canada, you should visit this wonderful place at least once. The scenery is breathtaking!

Since this is a food blog, I’m obviously ain’t gonna stop at showing you this natural wonder. Nearby, in a place called Niagara-on-the-lake, you will find lots of winery dotted around. We went to one of the most famous Canadian winery, called Inniskillin.

Inniskillin is most famous for its icewine. Apparently, they beat many of the European winery when competing in this category.

The tour of the winery costs only $5. Cheap if you compare that with wine tours in Europe. Here’s our guide showing us the grapes for icewine.

Apart from icewine, they also grow other grapes such as Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I was surprised that Pinot Noir was able to survive Canadian climate.

They let us try the Pinot Noir grape. Yums.

After the tour of the winery (this included the usual tour of cellar, where you see all the vats and barrels of wine being stored.) it was time for the wine tasting. Unfortunately, we found that with the exception of the icewine, the wine given were a real let down. So what was all the fuss about Inniskillin? (apart from the icewine).

Well of course we went on to try their other wines on offer inside their shop, for a small fee.

Here’s the pretty cosy interior of the shop.

The wine list on offer.

My, what a difference they were from the wine that was served. ¬†I’m sorry, but old world wine still trumps new world when it comes to blending good reds in general.¬†We all agreed that their whites were pretty good though. Here are the ones we think were worth buying:

1. Pinot Noir Rose. They may not have made the best red Pinot Noir, but their Rose was pretty smooth and fruity. Perfect for those who   are just starting on wines or those who like the sweeter, fruitier wines.

2. Three Vineyards Chardonnay. Crisp white that is blended just fine. A little oaky yet subtle sweetness. I’m not the biggest fan of chardonnay but this one is very drinkable.

3. The best of the whites I think is this 2010 Legacy Riesling. Dry yet mineral wine but easy on the acidity. I love this one. Of course, this had to be more expensive than the other two! LOL.

By the end of the day, a crate of rose and half a dozen of the Riesling were bought (Sugamama’s bf is the major buyer here, since we can’t be bringing so much wine with us.) A very good and tipsy day out. I have to say that the tour was only so-so, very basic talk on wine so is good for beginner wine buffs. Well, for a fiver I don’t think you get much better deal than this, though. If you are a big wine fan like Papa Salvatore, then go there, skip the tour, and give the wines a taste at their bar. Five bucks can get you several tasters!

-M.

 

UPDATE: I meant to put this up but I forgot. Here is a short and dizzy video of me on the boat going into the Horseshoe Fall in Niagara.

Wine finds: non-white wines that goes with meat and fish

I’ve caught the mother of all flus right now so bear with me if I don’t make complete sense in this post. I’ve just arrived in Canada to visit Sugamama so more things to come on this website. For now, let me just make a quick post about some wine that my family and I had tried over the past month that went well with our surf and turf dish. I do think that these wine will go with both fish and meat. Although when having something with seafood, people tend to say go for the white. I used to think that is how one should always do in order to not have a bad clashing taste of fish and wine in your mouth. But then, when you have a fine piece of red meat, you’ll always want to have it with a glass of red. There are wines that definitely go with both red meat and fish. Here’s what we had as selected by Papa Salvatore.

¬†If you can’t decide if red is the choice… how about a rose? This lightly sparkling Beaujolais-rose is a good one for those who are looking for something light and fruity. The cost is only 66 ringgit! Cheap and cheerful!

This is a vapolicella. A red that is medium bodied and works well with surf and turf themes. The tannin is not very pronounced in this so it’s very palatable for the people who are only just starting to drink wine. Again the price was not very steep and this bottle of San Pedro was very good.

Rioja. This is probably considered a heavy wine but this Vinas de Gain was surprisingly well suited with the meat and fish. This wine has a dark colour and more tannic so I would have though it would clash with fish. But no, since Rioja has a short time in the ageing barrel, it was fruity and crisp.

Finally, the most expensive one of all was this Burgundy. 2004 Chateau de la Tour Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru. Quite fruity like berries, yet a tone of minerals can be tasted. It is slightly tannic and light bodied. I like this wine because it is really mellow and I can have this all day and not feel sick.

So what is your opinion on wine that could go well with both fish and meat? Yes, we could just have BOTH white and red wines at the table but for argument’s sake what kind of wine would you choose?

Anyway, time for me to take more paracetamol and go to bed.

-M.

Anthocyanins: Butterfly Pea Flower and extraction

I mentioned in my previous post¬†about using a natural blue food colour for my cake decoration.¬†You may be familiar with this pea flower plant. Not only is this a source of natural food colour, there may be health benefits in taking this flower as it is a rich source of antioxidants.¬†It is used as a food ingredient especially in South East Asia. The juice of the flower is famous for making the Nyonya kuih called pulut tai tai in Malaysia. It is also used in making kerabu rice. This was recently featured in Gordon Ramsay’s programme where he travelled to Malaysia. I had such a laugh as the Malay lady in the programme non-chalantly called this vine ‘clitorial bush’, to much of Ramsay’s ‘surprise’. Well, the taxonomist is to blame really!¬†Anyway, unlike the rice featured in that programme, Kelantan’s nasi kerabu is very blue. Here’s my mum’s version of kerabu.

 Yums! Nasi Kerabu with dry beef rendang, fish crackers and a whole lot of condiments. Goes well with some beer, and of course, a bit of budu (not pictured, sorry).

The Mumakil has several vines growing in the garden, but for us living in a KL apartment, having our own ‘clitorial bush’ is not an easy one. So when I went back to Kelantan, I picked some of the flowers and tried to make an extraction. First, I did some¬†studying¬†on how best to extract the colour and keep it. Anthocyanins are the pigments in plants and are the reason that give this flower its distinctive blue colouration. ¬†They are also water-soluble, which meant they can be easily extracted from the plant cells with a solvent such as ethanol¬†(this part is removed because of error, see below for explanation). Here’s how I made my extraction:

  1. After rinsing and letting the petals dry a little, sterilise a small jar/bottle by heating it in hot water (I used a chicken essence bottle).
  2. Stuff all the flowers collected into the bottle and add a little alcohol such as vodka (You can use water if you don’t want alcohol, but you will have a little less pigment) (same error, see below).
  3. Using the handle of a clean spoon, squish the flowers until they are bruised and submerged in the liquid.
  4. (Optional step) Cover the bottle with some cling film and leave it in the fridge for a week to maximise extraction.
  5. Strain out the flower using a fine sieve (tea strainer is good).
To make a syrup, just add a whole lot of sugar to the extract. In Thailand, the flower is used to make a drink. Inspired by this, I made a cocktail out of it.
Butterfly Pea Blue Vodka Fizz
Add blue flower extract and two shots of flavoured vodka to a tall glass with ice. Add soda water or tonic. Stir. Simple.
I used a flavoured vodka because the butterly pea flower doesn’t really have much taste to it.
Now to play with the colours…
 As anthocyanin is pH sensitive. Not only pH plays a part in the colouration, it can also degrade the colour a little. You can read more about it in this paper or on wiki if you are biochemistry inclined. So to keep the blue colour, the liquid of the extract must be on the alkaline side. I decided to play around to see the range of colours I can make.
Erm, Pinkydoodles has a few (by a few, I meant 10) test tubes in the apartment. Perfect for my little experiment. The middle test tube in the picture above shows the colour after extraction. On the left is what happened when I added lemon juice to the extract to make it acidic. A nice reddish-purple colour. ¬†The right test tube shows what happened when I added sodium bicarbonate to make it neutral (I think? tell me if I’m wrong). It turned a greenish blue. I don’t have anything very alkaline in the house unfortunately, but the colour should still be blue.¬†Heh, talk about your very own litmus test.
Here’s another look. You can see that it is purple at the zone between alkaline and acidic.
So, if you are looking for a substitute for blue food colouring that is not artificial, you could try this. Won’t work obviously if your food is going to be sour, that is the disadvantage of natural food colours sometimes.
-M.
p.s: Today’s post is made to coincide with the anniversary of the formation of our country. Happy Malaysia Day!
An error: Thanks to a reader, who pointed out a flaw in my statement “They are also water-soluble, which meant they can be easily extracted from the plant cells with a solvent such as ethanol”. Much thanks and my apologies for the error. Ethanol IS NOT water so does not equate to water soluble. That means the solvent one should use here IS water. My bad.