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Archive for March, 2009

Hello, cholesterol.

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!! *cough cough*

Sorry, I had to start with letting out my frustration first. My new job have started, getting busy, my dishwasher broke down, all my lights except the sundeck suddenly decided not to work etc etc.. THEN, I’ve got a phone call from Westpac telling me that there’s been a suspicious account activity on my credit card. It’s a fraud…

What’s next? Death?

I would normally call up my gang and drag them out for some serious binge eating. Unfortunately I was too busy to do that over this weekend.

I was thinking, “OK, I need to eat something big – that I would keep on eating for hours.” And there, instantly the action was taken place. (I simply wonder where this enthusiasm comes from. Seriously.) Initially I was going for a huge Omurice (Omelet & Rice).

omurice

All the veggies are chopped and diced quickly and there I was almost done making chicken rice – which will be wrapped inside of a fried egg sheet.

Then. It happened again.

brain

Yes, the voice from my brain suggesting the last minute change like an indecisive client. Don’t you know that It’s very hard enough to cook for myself and two imaginary flatmates who just have to judge everything I cook?

Now, I had to come up with something that I can use this almost-ready chicken rice… The only solution I could think of was a Doria dish.

Do you know what Doria is?? I couldn’t even find enough information on this – apparently it’s originally a term meaning “dishes served for the old Italian Doria family of aristocrats.” or something. In Japan, Doria is a popular baked rice casserole – like a gratin. (Swiss chef Saly Weil first created the dish.)

doria

OH HI, CHOLESTEROL!
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I never learn.

Learning from the the successful professionals

Have you see Honda’s promotion for INTERNAVI? I’ve seen the banner ad everywhere these days.

INTERNAVI is a car navigation system developed by Honda. Unlike ordinary GPS navigation systems out there, this one collects various data from the GSP device such as location, traffic information, alternative routes, and share the data with other users. It’s like a social media for GPS navigation.

topjpg

And their promotion site visualizes these data with Flash – sort of like breadcrumbs of routes from users drawing a map. That’s ALL this site does. Nothing about the product or services – but simply showing the map being drawn in 3D perspective along with the ambient background music by Rei Harakami. Just like thousands of others, I was sucked into the screen and started at it.

When you work in advertising industry, it’s very common to hear people talking big about strategies, planning and all that. But to be completely honest, I hardly ever come across anything that are successfully executed. After all, they are not creating something consumers would want to see. What’s the point then?

Anyways.

I’ve just read this article about people behind this campaign. The creative & technical director from Dentsu answers “I thought it should be just fun to look at. We don’t have to tell consumers the characteristics and advantages of the product.” And he then continues to say “Majority of us live NOT thinking of the product in every day life. That’s why we only needed to do something that grabs attentions from these people.”

It’s like me hearing so much about how Kiwi fruits are great and being told that I should have them while I have absolutely no interest in eating. (I’m allergic to it!) But I don’t mind seeing something being done to/with Kiwi fruits. I guess that’s all it takes to tap into someone’s mind, eh?

Ok enough about that.

What impressed me the most is how it’s been built. I thought this had been done with Pepervision, but apparently not! (Oh and I’m excited about the next version of Papervision – PapervisionX!) It’s just the new 3D (well 2.5D to be precise) capability in Flash CS4. I agree that Papervision is great, but if you can archive what you want to in Flash CS4 alone, then why would you still need to use Papervision? Secondly, all these location data is provided as binary using ByteArray because XML or any other text based data would be too big to retrieve and parse.

Choosing the right method or thinking to grab others’ attention is important, but I also reassured that choosing the right tool to execute is just as important. (After all, technology part is the one to actually make it happen in digital world.)

UNIQLOCK, RecYou, those were great campaigns weren’t they? (I was so into how they were built!)

Oh great…

Look, another problem has arrived.
Microsoft has just officially released a new IE 8. Ah.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/default.aspx

Bad food trend in Japan.

“Uhm, These are for takeaway, right?”

so I have been asked quite some times by waiters. And all my Japanese friends know my usual order at Ichiban Boshi (Japanese noodle shop in CBD and Bondi Junction) will be Aburi Chashu Ramen (large size) + Hirekatsu (Deep fried Pork cutlet) Set + Yakisoba. Yes, I eat them all at once. I’m not kidding when I’m seriously hungry.

Something called “Oogui” (heavy eating) has been very popular on various Japanese TV programs. It’s basically a food eating competition, which I have some mixed feeling watching. My principle for food is to simply enjoy the food and satisfy my hungry stomach. But all I usually see on these stupid programs are people trying to “stuff” themselves with as much as food – food crumbles everywhere, food smeared mouths and contestants’ faces in agony.

As these TV programs have become ever popular, many restaurants had to take advantage of it. Now Oomori (supersized portion) has established to be another subculture in Japan. Look at these! (hmm, I might be able to eat a few of these..)

oomori

Oomori size would be 3-4 times the normal serving size, sometimes even way much more.

I’m not against the trend in Japan, but it just simply makes me disgusted seeing all these Japanese TV personals gobbling the food without manners (it’s just disgusting!) and leave the food not even half way through. Where the rest of food go? Into garbage, right?

Gal Sone – known to be a gluttonous Queen has been popular on TV. This 23 yo Japanese girl sure can eat, ALOT. When I first saw her on TV, I thought “oh not again.” But I see why she’s more popular than any others. She actually eats better with manners than the others and seems to be actually enjoying food – rather than showing how much food can go down her throat. (Just FYI, she has eaten 9kg Curry, 2008 sushi etc.)


(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGcVVFQ8-xE)


(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvtXxrGMHac)
And there she was in Bondi Junction. A Japanese TV production came to Australia to shoot their new food eating competition program. One of our friends was actually in a production team, and my friends and I just had to go see her in person.

gal_sone

My god, she’s sooooo TINY!! and it might not be obvious in the picture, but she’s skinny too. Where does all the food she eat go?!?! I want her stomach now.

I enjoy watching this kind of program once in a while, but I still think it’s such a bad trend that needs to be reconsidered.
:(

Oh, look at the clock, it's 5am.

I just HAD to make a perfect Bavarois. (Uhm, it’s basically a panna cotta, isn’t it?) No that I wanted to eat it particularly tonight. But my brain made me so. I must be neurotically challenged or something.

Dark roast espresso & chocolate bavarois.
bavarois

Firm enough to hold its shape, but smooth and it melts in your mouth! My attempts for a perfect coffee jelly has paid off.

Hmm.. I’ve posted way too many food related entries in a row, eh?

I need to be sedated.

How high? Sugar high.
My Monday started with a bunch of errands and quick coding works. Why do Mondays need to be always hateful?

Luckily I had a few things I needed to do in Balmain, finally a perfect excuse to drop by Adriano Zumbo that everyone is talking about. Previously I have been to the shop before, but only to be waiting for my friends in my car. I didn’t even get to see what products they have inside. What a shame.

Unfortunately they didn’t have much selection left when we arrived – but they certainly amused our eyes with good looking cakes and pastries!

zumbo1

The last two pictures are obviously not from the shop. Mitsu has just came back from his business trip to Japan, and brought us a box of Castella. It’s not just any Castella, THE Castella from a long-established Fukusaya in Nagasaki. It might look like an ordinary sponge cake or some sort, but you just have to have it and see it for yourself to know the “texture and consistency of Castella” – because I don’t think I have ever come across anything that I can refer to.

And the last picture is the ever controversial Konnyaku (Konjac) Jelly in a new package. It’s just a fruit jelly product made from Konnkyaku ingredients – known to be a healthy low-calorie product with lots of dietary fibre. What’s so controversial about it? In the past 2-3 years, alot of STUPID people have died chocking on it. I say stupid, because in the most recent incident an infant died after a mother gave him a FROZEN Konnyaku jelly. It’s just a lack of common sense and these konnyaku jelly products are in jeopardy.

I’m all in to enforce a stupidity tax.

Taste of Sydney!

That’s right, Taste of Sydney has started this Friday!
I was initially planning to go over the weekend (which I still got the ticket for.) but “Do you wanna come on Thursday?” with free extra ticket was certainly a good enough excuse!

Ok… This entry was supposed to be all about Taste of Sydney with a bunch of snapshots taken with my crappy camera. Stupidly I couldn’t find my camera in my bag, and I instantly gave up looking for it – it turned out that the camera was hidden between the bag compartment after all…

However, luckily I was with 3 enthusiastic well-known food bloggers – Helen from GrabYourFork, Susan from ChocolateSuze and Billy from ATableForTwo. There’s no doubt that they’ll blog about this event with great reviews and insights better than I could ever do, so I’ll just leave that part to them! (You know, I’m not a food blogger but I just simply like to eat. ;p )

Grab Your Fork – Taste of Sydney Festival by Helen
Chocolatesuze – Taste of Sydney Festival by Susan
A Table For Two – 10 things you must do at Taste of Sydney festival by Billy

I also ran into my friend Amanda who writes such a mouth-watering food blog. And she posted her entry on this event at her blog AmuseBouche as well.

After strolling through booths for nearly 3 hours, we were ready for more food. I must say, there wasn’t enough free samples to fill me up. ;p With Helen’s suggestion, we headed out to Wagaya in China town.

As previously posted, this place is yet another Izakaya style Japanese restaurant, but they are with that automated ordering system – no mistake, no confusion, and food will be served quickly.

wagaya2

I must admit that I previously tried to avoid – simply because I can’t handle “spicy” well. Wagaya has this evil food on the menu – Russian roulette Sushi. 1 of 6 tuna sushi is filled with a CHUNK of wasabi inside which “supposedly” makes you burst into tears.

Who’s busted with Wasabi? I guess the picture below speaks for itself.

wagaya3

Well I said “supposedly” because the wasabi they use isn’t really fresh enough and doesn’t really make you burst into tears unfortunately. I guess we should’ve opened my pure wasabi jar that I bought at the festival and asked them to fill the sushi with it instead. (which by the way I love this thing, it went really well with a beef tataki that I made tonight.)

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Taste of Sydney festival runs until this Sunday. We’re having this questionable weather over the weekend, but it’s worth checking out and see what Australia has to offer!

Taste of Sydney
Thursday 12th March – Sunday 15th.
Find out more at their official web site.

From grandma's recipes: Potato Mochi

My family currently live in Hokkaido – the northern south of Japan. One of the many well-known produce from Hokkaido is potato. Through out the year, we used to receive a boxful of fresh potato from neighbors as well as butter, cheese, salmon, crabs etc.

Potato Mochi is Hokkaido’s local food, and every household must have made this once in their lifetime for sure. It’s even on the menu at Izakaya restaurants in Hokkaido – it’s that popular. But I was very surprised that none of my Japanese friends know what that is. I decided to make one to show them what it tastes like. And Potato Mochi certainly reminds me of my grandma.

Potato Mochi
potato_mochi
(Picture from cookpad.)
3 large potato (Choose ones that you would make mashed potato)
6 table spoons potato starch. (don’t use corn starch!)
salt & peppers

1) Boil the peeled potato until it’s cooked.
2) Roughly mash the potato while it’s still hot.
3) Add potato starch, salt & pepper into the mashed potato and mix well until the texture becomes smooth & soft.
4) Rest and let the potato mixture cool in the room temperature.
5) Shape the mixture into a log and slice evenly (1-2 cm thick)
6) Add a table spoon butter & olive oil in a frying pan, and fry the potato slices over low heat until both sides are browned.

Potato mochi is tasty as is, but they are usually served with Mitarashi sauce (Soy sauce + sugar), butter and salt & pepper or simply soy sauce. It’s not as chewy as rice mochi but more like a mochi dumpling. Now I’m all grown up (I’d like to think so ;p ) and I found potato mochi to be great to go with a glass of chilled beer. Hmmmmm.

Dinner @ Blancharu

A birthday dinner for our beloved food supplier Mitsu was taken place at Blancharu. This relatively new French Japanese Bistro is owned and operated by chef Inukai, a former executive chef from Galileo at Observatory hotel. I’ve sort of heard reviews from my friends previously, and this was a great opportunity to try out.

We could’ve gone for a la carte of course, but they offer two degustation courses – $65 for 4 course and $75 for 8 course. Surprisingly affordable price isn’t it? I sort of guessed that the difference between the two is simply the number of dishes and the size of portions. No need to mention that we of course went with 8.

blancharu

My favorites are surprisingly the simplest dishes of 8 – Soup du jour (soup of the day) and hand made Fettuccine alla Carbonara. The soup was sort of like minestrone, but it’s got a really deep flavour that you just have to see (well eat) for yourself. And the Carbonara was sooo great – unlike ordinary carbonara with parmesan cheese and cream, the sauce for this was purely egg york based. I’d definitely love to have this for lunch in a big bowl!

We saw other people having a la carte dishes and I was quite surprised to see the portion – it’s a quite generous amount. (it might have looked so because we had degustation size.) I’d think that one entrée and main would fill you up alright.

As you can see in the pictures, we got not much “Wow!” or spectacular presentation that you would expect to see at high-end restaurants. However, the quality of each food was well worth for what you pay, and 8 course + beers and a bottle of wine + coffee only ended up around $100 p.p. Atmosphere of the restaurant is good and not too formal, and staff were well attentive.

Funny thing was, chef Inukai was running around the restaurant occasionally serving dishes himself and talking to his customers. He came over to our table toward the end of our course with fresh-out-of-oven Madeleine wearing oven mitten, and offered us to have some to go with our coffee. He seems to be enjoying the direct communication with his customers, and we sensed that the bistro and food carry his personality and passion.

They do brunch on weekend – 12 to 3pm. I’d definitely go back for that pasta dish and soup for my lazy weekend brunch soon.

Blancharu
21 Elizabeth Bay road, Elizabeth Bay NSW 2011
http://www.blancharu.com.au/