Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Let there be cake


So another cake experiment. Not too shabby this time. I put a twist on Jonathan's childhood birthday cake made by his mother Janet every year. I turned it into a chocolate cake for my dad's 60th birthday cake. It was a chocolate cake mix with orange juice and zest, top with meringue and berries covered with chocolate whipped cream. I decorated the cake with Linden Chocolate thins, mixed berries and for the cake topper, I cut out big 60 with butter cookie and royal icing and added edible gold for glamor. The cake was so tall after all the decorations, I was pretty nervous holding on to it on the ride to the restaurant. It was only a 9inch cake but it was enough for 30+ people. I did had fun making the cake topper, butter cookie was a lot harder than I thought, the royal icing was a bitch to be clean, definitely need practice. The humidity and heat here make it hard to dry. Need to remember to work on it sooner next time. The taste of the cake was well received. I reduced the sugar in the recipe and also substitute with Equal for some of the sugar. Since it is a health conscious crowd, I want to make sure it is on the light side. That is also one of the difficulty in HK, people like light fluffy cakes, not the intense flavor that I am used to in the US. Lots of my favorite recipes had to be adjusted to HK taste. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it is just wrong. Always trial and error.

Then I also made some edible picture frames for name cards. It was so well received, I put some of my dad's best pics on it and made it look like a picture frame. When people found out it was edible, they were so excited about it. They most likely will not get eaten but it was the wow factor for the evening. I would definitely use it again for weddings or other events. I know Chinese thinks that its not such a good idea to have pics on a cake and be cut or eaten, but we don't have to put pictures, we can put logos, symbols, even fun clip arts. With some imagination, old tricks can be chic and different.

The waiting game

Today is not a good day, I had to deal with my least favorite, the waiting game. Waiting is definitely something that I am not good at. Why is it so difficult to wait for the right moment, why do I always jump into things. I guess sometimes I think if I don't do it right away, I will loose the moment or I chicken out and got lazy. I also hate waiting to open presents. It drives me crazy at Christmas when people send me gifts and I cannot open it right away. I also cannot wait for people to open the gift that I give them. I always get so anxious when they open my gift. Is impulse good? Impulse gets me up to do things and do something different. But impulse also got me into trouble before. So when is a good time to wait and when is a good time to jump into things, I guess, I still have to learn a lot more to find out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Out playing




July 23rd, hottest day of the year! Woke up early today but not sure what to do. I hate that feeling. So I signed myself up for some tough yoga at Yogalimbs. I had no choice but to take Vincent's class. He always end up killing me, today is no exception. 4 Chairs, 4 triangles, 4 bridge, wheel, countless intense sun salutation and abs work. That did me good! Sweating bullets, who said yoga is just relaxing. I do feel really good after that, actually feel more energized. Then I went to the slowest nail salon to get my nails done for the weekend. I usually do my own nails, but once a month I get it done so it looks and feel nicer.

What's next? I took Cayenne to the playground at Po Lum. It was a nice big new park with lots of slides and swings. Cayenne was not so sure about the swing at first but after much convincing, she was doing it by herself. Then we played with the slides, then her shoes fell off and then she got wild and start crawling every where, up and down the slides. Besides from getting black toe nails and a few mosquito bites, she had a ball! I was worn out after chasing her around. Good exercise for the both of us. I really like all these facility at TKO, we have awesome pools, playgrounds and new malls. That's something hard to find in the US. Especially in a public estate environment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Open rice or Throwing Rice?


It has been non stop eating since the beginning of July jam packed with dinner engagements and birthday parties. After being back to HK for a year now, I am getting back into the entertainment scene. Jonathan being a wine distributor definitely opens a lot of restaurant doors. Just for the past month or so, we have tried....ahaa........... Bo Innovation for people watching lunch and dinner; BLT Steak becomes our good steak for the buck; Roka which was ok, but feel sorry for them for not having much dinner business; Thai Basil, don't know why I keep going back there and getting pissed off; Top Deck, sucks when it rains and you are the only one table for the night; Vero Chocolate, too good to eat the chocolate, Cafe Deco, old but still remains; One Bar, endless oysters and not so noticiable New Zealand wine; Wooden Table, amazing cheese that took all the attention; The Pawn, to die for fish and chips and good drinks, not so much anything else; Morten's Steak House, The STEAK and The CARROT CAKE and The BILL; Classified Mozzarelle Bar, cheese is more expensive than meat. O my god, out of breath! Each of them deserve a page on their own...I will slowly work on it.

I have used openrice.com when I first came back to HK. Jonathan rely on me to read OR to see which restaurant to go to because he cannot read chinese. So at the beginning, I religiously check everytime I try some new place, I even wrote a couple comments myself, but then, it starts to disappoint me. It seems to me that the standard of people varies on openrice.com. Taste is so subjective, depends on age, ethicnicity and experience, I think it is wrong some people give such harsh and personal comments. Maybe I was once in the restaurant industry, I have an extra appreciation on what goes behind the scene. But I also have high expectation when it comes to service and price. If I am paying top dollars, I better get good service and a good piece of meat. But if it is a cheap joint, I won't complain if my utensils are chipped or the service is bad. Being realistic is very important when I dine. There are certain restaurants that should not make it and there are restaurant that simply is not your cup of tea. I think there is a difference. Openrice.com is a good place to find what is in your neighborhood, but don't take their word for it. Remember, they are not words of professional, use your own judgement!!!

Clean Slate






The day that I found out I was pregnant with Cayenne my whole world changed. I had a successful Catering business, I had employees, I had clients, I had respect and boom! I can care less. All I can think of is how I can take care of both babies. My business was my baby. I sleep and eat with my business. Always trying to find new top clients, try to introduce new things to the menu. Always busy on the go, one Christmas after another, one party bigger and more challenging than the other. Then the idea of Cayenne comes around and all the drama and hard work seems less important. I became lazy with work, I don't care as much and to the point, I am done with it. It is like I fell out of love with Y.Lo Epicure. How is that possible, something that I have worked so hard for all of a sudden felt unimportant. I was luck enough to have sold my business to a passionate young lady. She was perfect at it, if not even better than I was.

Fast forwarding to now, me sitting in my living room writing my blog, Cayenne taking a nap in the other room, me thinking of what to do in the afternoon with Cayenne, playroom or swimming? Why not do both! haha...I would have never guessed life would be so different from a year ago. I don't think the stay at home mode will last forever, but at least for now, I am taking a break from being the career women. I think when Cayenne is in grade school, then life will be different as well. I learn to never say never, there is always a time and place to everything, so long if you give yourself a chance and live it up with no regrets.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wooden Table at Fortress Hill


Under the threat of typhoon signal #8, Jonathan, Maggie and I tough it out to try out Wooden Table at Fortress Hill. Here is the invitation and details:

Wooden Table
French Wine, French Cheese & Ham
Buffet Evening
Sat, 18th July., 2009
13 French wines; 8 French cheeses
to taste!!

Cheese (air-flown from France , unpasteurized!!)
Iberico Bellota ham(24mths)
Canap├ęs salad
main course
cakes & desserts
$335HKD
6:30 – 10:00pm
reservation recommended.
Tel : 2570 3939
1/F., AT Tower, 180 Electric Rd. , Fortress Hill, H.K.

Living in the US for 15 years, I don't think I have tasted that many unpasteurized cheese all at the same time. It was truly amazing!!! The cheese were fragrant and sharp yet delicate. We tasted a settle blue, two super creamy brie, a strong goat cheese, a cows milk hard cheese and several others, I wish I know all their names, they were all in French. I need to remember next time to take the information instead of just chowing down. The cheese were flown in through a french distributor who collect different cheese and aged them on their own. She said if we like we can order directly from them. I have to get their info. We must have 4-5 rounds of cheese along with many tasty wines. My husband is the wine expert(check out his wine blog), but I just know when I taste a good one. One of the highlights of the night was the 24 months Iberico Ham, it was moist, rich and creamy. Serving in thin slices room temp, I really can taste the sweetness of the meat and the tenderness of the aging process. That totally brings me back to Spain in Valencia where we tasted all different kinds of Iberico ham. And all the ham sandwiches that we ate at road side gas stations. They were not your typical Subway sandwiches, these are Iberico ham with sharp local cheese served on a really thin and crisp French Bread sandwiches. Truly the best sandwiches, let along from a gas station. Europeans really have it down when it comes to enjoying life. In the US, you will find Twix and Diet coke in a gas station but in Europe, the gas station is equipped with chic restaurants, nice bathrooms and modern furniture. Just a different way of life.

Back to Wooden Table, the vibe was warm and inviting with friendly low key staff. Brick wall, wicker chairs and wooden table was the interior elements. Although we did not try their regular menu, we did see some good stuff coming out of the kitchen, from pasta to oysters. For our entrees, we tried the Sea bass with butter cream sauce and the 2 cut beef stew. Not sure where the sea bass was from, it was fresh but definitely no comparison to Chilean Sea bass. The dish overall was light and simple. Jonathan had the beef stew which consist of ox tail and chuck roast. Flavor was well balanced and layered. Oxtail was juicy and tender but I found it lack salt.

Dessert was Tirimisu cake, chocolate mousse, creme brulee, Oreo crusted NY style cheese cake and butter cookies. I thought that was the mute part of the evening. The taste was OK but we all felt that it was not worth the calories, we rather eat another plate of cheese. Well, maybe we were too into the cheese and it took the taste buds away from the dessert. Maybe serving more citrus or berries would be a better combination with the rest of the dinner.

I think we definitely picked the right place for a stormy night, cozy and lay back. Will definitely come back for somemore wine dinners, we all thought it was good bang for the buck. The manager said they have these wine dinners through out the months but this is the first for the cheese tasting. I hope they do it again!!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Truth Comes Out at Weddings

What is the real purpose of having a wedding? As a host, that is the first thing you have to think about. Do you care about your guest's well being? Do you care about the people who helped make this dream come true? I always say, a wedding brings out the true colors of people. I once lost a dear friend at my own wedding, and I think I am not the only one to have that experience.

Being slow roasted in the hot July sun and then rained on with Typhoon #8 on the way were the highlights of the day. Today I volunteered in a HK wedding where I was in charged of booking the music talent, video crew, taking pictures for the planner and the design of a golf ball chocolate gift. I worked on this event based on the idea of seeing what a professional Hong Kong wedding is all about.

We were lucky that the rain did not come until after the signing ceremony and magic show. Yes they have a tent with air con, but no, they don't have a back up plan in case of rain. I just really feel for the bride and groom that melted in the heat, volunteers who worked at the venue and people who brave out the wedding. To say the least, it was memorable. The venue was beautiful but the service did not live up to the view. With no anticipation of rain, knowing Typhoon # 8 is coming, guests ended up having hors d'oeuvres on bare bone banquet tables with no tablecloth indoor.

However, the most memorable part of the whole day was when I was trying to leave the venue. Venue had shuttle bus that drops guests off at the parking lot or nearby bus and taxi terminal. There were no taxi available at the club house because of heavy rain, so I took the shuttle bus with a few guest from the wedding. Hopping into the shuttle with me was a lady dressed in a very nice silk dress along with her exhausted cute little 6 years old daughter dressed in a pink chiffon dress. We took the shuttle to the parking lot to try to catch a taxi only to find out there were none available. Everyone from the neighboring theme park were just let out because of rain. The bus lane were jammed with frustrated sweaty tourists, trying to avoid the rain and climbing onto the already full bus. Without an umbrella, the pretty mom willfully picked the little girl up and covered her head with a tissue paper and cue in line with the rest of the crowd. Finally jammed into the bus, they managed to squeeze into a wet seat and finally left the venue.

As an event planner, I really learned something new today. What is your true task? Sounds like everything. To satisfy your client, keep things under budget, ensure events go according to schedule, think about all the unthinkable, predict all the unpredictable, satisfy your guests and make sure your event ends with a high note. Like the end of a meal, who cares about the juicy steak when your dessert sucks. For all the event planners out there, keep up the good work and remember there is always something new to learn.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Swimming


Just took Cayenne swimming at Silver Strand Beach. It was such a nice afternoon, water was clear and not that many people. I am so glad I took Cayenne for swim class at an early age. Now she enjoys swimming and she loves crawling on the sand. She learned how to dive in the water and do a small swim from A to B. I highly recommended Harry Wright Swim Class. Everyone saw her at the beach and thinks that she is so brave at a young age. I think every kid is capable of swimming and doing everything, you just need to expose them to all the possibilities. I am very conscious of not influencing her on my own fear.
Like Skiing, I would love to be good at it but my fear completely over power everything when I am on the ski slope. Therefore, after numerous tries, I made a conclusion that I am happier as a ski bunny having hot cocoa at the lodge. But I really hope Cayenne will take after her dad and will enjoy skiing.

New Beginning




This blog is my food for thoughts about family life, work, and most importantly food and restaurant experience.

To begin, lets talk a little bit about my life. My immediate family consist of Jonathan, my husband , Cayenne my 11 months old daughter, Molly my black lab and my nanny/housekeeper Lina. Watching Cbeebies with Caye while thinking how my life has changed since her birth, I cannot help but wonder, what is my next move. I have always been a career oriented person but ever since I found out I was pregnant with Cayenne, that button just got turned off! It is until recently that it has come back on and itching to be pushed again. Still, I am more confused than ever! I don't quite fit in to the full time motherly figure, yet I am not interested in the career woman idea. After living in the US for 15 years, Jonathan and I moved to Hong Kong( my home town) about a year ago. Very dramatic, I lost my beloved my french bull dog meimei, gave birth to Cayenne, helped Jonathan get through numerous job interviews and his EMBA admission, adjusting to HK lifestyle and attitude, the death of my Grandmother and on and on all in one year! Win or lose, give and take... lets begin!