Lily’s Blog, Dragon Absconded!
Baking Until I Drop

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Saturday 31st, May 2008

Taste T & T 2008: The Review

We went! Yay!
Sorta.

This won’t be a full review. Somehow Taste T&T snuck up on us. Last couple years it was during the long holidays (July? August? maybe June?) and I didn’t realize it was in MAY! until Chennette mentioned it to me in the preceding week.

Of course, this is the week preceding the Main Event; not the Pot Spoon Throwdown (local food/cooks cook-off) which was about two weeks before the main event. So, although my parents say they saw ads (and suspiciously didn’t mention them to us…cost-fright?) I wonder how I missed them all this time. I’m just as in the know as I was last couple years (maybe more so…but still not much). Maybe their internet advertising campaign was lacking. Who knows. Maybe I was oblivious.

So we made it for the Main Event on Sunday.

Chennette and I decided that we would pay for parking like we did last year. We don’t mind paying money. The online pdfs we downloaded said there would be parking. Somehow we missed the memo every one else saw…no parking…so we just had to find a spot somewhere on the street (and if there was parking somewhere…they didn’t do a good job of making it noticeable once you reached). Last year they had parking. This year none. That was a serious negative step. I tried not to let it colour my perceptions. Everything sounded better than last year (except the parking) – the throwdown, the local booths selling food aside from the gourmet booths…last year other food seemed to be seriously lacking. And for a T&T Taste to not have Trini food…well that didn’t compute. We arrived about 7:15 pm knowing we would have to rush away looooong before 9 pm so…Chennette coined the phrase this year “Taste-on-the-run”.

Remembering last year (small portions at the Gourmet booths), Chennette and I bought two Gourmet tickets (price increase from TT$200 to TT$300) for Groups A and B (hmm…I don’t know any people who bought Group C) and thus were able to sample 8 chefs’ food. But…the portions were much bigger this year. We were full after four chefs (not each…four restaurants split between the two of us). This year, not only did the ticket include a free drink (which we didn’t use) but also dessert. Nice! I wonder if you could trade your drink for water?

Stir Fry Balti Shrimp served with Vegetable Biryani and Tamarind Chutney

Anywayz, we met up with TriniGourmet (and people I didn’t know) after many many phone calls. Thankfully she had a cell phone this year ;-) We really should work on meeting outside of Taste…you know, when you can actually have a conversation, hear yourself think and not be rushing back and forth, here and there etc etc.

Chennette and I started off the night by sampling from Marhaba – Chef Sharaz Mohammed (B4). Marhaba had Stir Fry Balti Shrimp served with Vegetable Biryani and Tamarind Chutney *plus* rice pudding with some flavouring or colouring (which Chennette spilled). The food tasted really good. The rice was very nice. And the piece of shrimp was also good. I would go to eat there. The dessert was liquidy but maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. But as you can see, it was the smallest portion! Chennette thinks they were going for style!

Sushi and Sashimi from Benihana Restaurant

While Chennette went to collect at Marhaba, I went to Benihana, for which I have been craving ;-) Benihana Restaurant’s Chef Joseph Hau (A2) provided us with Trincity Roll (Crab and Salmon Tempura served with a Wasabi and Lemon-Mayo sauce), Pierre’s Balls (Crab & Salmon Sashimi and Cream Cheese Tempura served with Mango-Passion Fruit sauce), California Roll (Crab and Cucumber roll), Vegetable Roll (Cucumber, Tomato, Purple Cabbage and Carrot) and Edamame and Wakame salad. There was two of each roll (but only one of the Sashimi). It split very nicely. Actually it was really good. We love cream cheese and crab and…well…we loved it all. I don’t have a very discriminating palate (you’ll see; thinks will taste very good or bad…binary)! I loved this. It was awesome. Down to the salad.

Yummy Sweet Potato from Mélange

After that, I collected at Mélange and Chennette from Boomerang.

Chef Moses Ruben of Mélange (B1) provided us with Chicken Bhagi Roulade complemented with a Spicy Roasted Sweet Potato, Curried Crab Bouchées Smoked Tomato and Bell Pepper Bouchées, Eggplant and Tomato Quesadillas and Garlic-scented Vegetable Kebab. I remember the kebabs. They were good. We got two…easy to split. The eggplant and tomato quesadilla wasn’t a quesadilla (I don’t think) but this round pastry thing with eggplant stuffed in it and such. That actually tasted very good. Even the squirmy looking eggplant was good. I’m not sure what the Bouchees were but no biggie. The chicken now…it looked really nice. It was too dry however. I was very sad.

On leaving Mélange we bounced up TriniFood who thought I didn’t recognize her. But that’s okay.

Boomerang!

Boomerang‘s Chefs Jimmy and Mona Hadeed (B2) provided us with arab food. They had Fillet of Fish with Tahini Sauce, Arabic style Chicken Breast, Channa and Rice (Vegetarian and a meat option) and Fried Kibbe (Beef and Vegetarian). As a plus they had this exceptionally moist and delicious piece of baklava. Mmmm. There was a lot of rice. The kibbe was good (my mom’s is still the best but she doesn’t make fried kibbe). And the chicken…was moist and not dry and good and tender and juicy. The stark difference between the dry Mélange chicken and the moist Boomerang chicken was completely obvious because we had these at the same time.

Then we looked at the time. It was late oh yes indeedy because we had to leave home at about 5am the next morning to COME BACK TO TOWN ALL BECAUSE OF CHENNETTE! GRRR. And we realized we were running late and we wouldn’t even get to see a booth. So we hoped that TriniGourmet would at least tell us about it. And then we started the mad dash to pick up all the food we were not going to eat.

Chaconia

So, we ran. I collected Chaconia’s Chef Christian Grini’s (B3) Chicken Breast filled with Spinach in a Coconut Cream Curry Reduction. It was on mashed potatoes? Coconut cream? We took it home. It was good. Good. Good. If only it had a touch of colour from something else for the picture ;-)

Chef Bernard Long's "A Triwee Barbeque"

Then I held plates while Chennette collected Chef Bernard Long’s A Triwee Barbeque (A1) (A combination of Shrimp, Chicken and Tenderloin of Beef served with Grilled Corn, Garlic Bread and a Fresh Caribbean Garden Salad). We skipped the beef. I can’t remember how the chicken tasted. The shrimp was good. I don’t know who had the corn. Chennette swiped the bread at the taste.

Chilli Pepper

Now off to Chilli Pepper and Chef Mario Hernandez (A3) and Mexican Blackened Breast of Chicken served with a Yellow Rice Pilaf scented with Cumin Black Beans and a Fire-roasted Chunky Tomato Relish. The rice was really good. The beans were really good. I love beans. The relish was really good. It was HOT! We told dad none for him. I loved this!

Aloha Caterers

We moved on to Aloha Caterers and Chef Johnny Chow (A4) to collect Polynesian Fried Rice, Grilled Tuna Fillet with a Pineapple and Guava Glaze and Coconut Infused Vegetables, Unfortunately when we reached there there was no more whole fillets. The chef was grilling them. So we got lots of pieces. It was good regardless. It just looked kinda bloody floating in the glaze. And the glaze tasted like a super sweet and sour sauce and we think we got a bit too much of it on everything. Everything tasted of the glaze…the tuna tasted great with glaze but everything else? Not everything needs to be soaked in sauce you know.

All the while we were trying to call the parents and of course not getting through.

And we still had to collect dessert. They had three cheese cake options or ice cream. She said only one of the cheese cakes had alcohol (Black forest) but the ponche de creme and … … other one (can’t remember? pineapple?) didn’t so we took those. They tasted nice. The ponche a creme was like a nice eggy custard cheese cake.

Of course these four plates of food and two desserts were carted back home and mom and dad got to share in our bounty. We were hungry again by the time we reached home so we sat down with our plates and saucers and divvied it all up.

It was fun :-)

All in all, what we experienced was good. The parking situation sucked. The food and portions seemed better than last year. Chennette thinks there was a bigger crowd but I think the open area was bigger last year (it seemed like half the complex was closed off). Yet again we didn’t go to a demo kitchen. This time we didn’t even get to walk around and see all the booths or even buy some of the other food. It seemed like it would’ve been more fun.

Next time we think one gourmet ticket and either more time or two days. One day for gourmet and one day to walk around and sample other things so we can get the full TASTE. Oh…and maybe paying attention for the throwdown?

Regardless it was fun. I hope it’s better next year and I get to go.

See the rest of the set here.

Sunday 25th, May 2008

Taste T&T 2008

went
dead tired
chennette called it taste on the run
saw sarina and TriniFood

didn’t spend long
had two gourmet tickets…ate half; collected half
didn’t get to see all the things we wanted to see
have somewhere to go tomorrow…very early

didn’t seem to have official parking like last time
at least nobody directing towards it and anybody we asked said people parking on the street
like one step forward (the event itself) and one step backward (no parking)
*sigh*

real sleepy
will talk later

didn’t see any coupons for discounts during restaurant week
hmph

Friday 23rd, May 2008

Bagels: The Verdict



Nicely risen bagels, originally uploaded by Lilandra.

Better late than never. Here is the bagel post as promised.

The bagel recipe, as did the english muffin recipe, came from mom’s Betty Crocker Breads.

I went with the egg bagel variation. I’m not sure why.

Anywayz, typical bread recipe, make dough, let it rise, separate it into balls, shape, let it rise.

There were two shaping options: shape into ball, punch hole and widen or roll into a 6 inch rope and wrap it into bagel form, dab ends with water to stick ’em together.

I had a feeling the rope version was better and would come out nicer (as you can see from the above risen picture) but I figured I would try both ways.

I was right!

Egg Bagel after simmering

Then I had to steam … no! no! no! simmer them in boiling water. And this is where everything went wrong or so it seemed. My bagels got all…crumply. And I got all worried. And I started having flashbacks to when mom made us bagels from this recipe when I was very young.

So, I made a note in my head to explore other recipes to see how else it is done; to see if this was wrong (even tho this cookbook has reall been quite good over the years). I searched online and you know what? They do simmer them. Most of the recipes do simmer! Exactly as this one. Some however say put in the pot of boiling water and they’ll sink and when they rise to the top, take them out. Mine never came out. I did find a few that said you could broil them. Mom thinks instead of simmering them in water maybe we should steam them over the boiling water. And I will try that next. That or the broiling anywayz.

And of course, because of this, they came out crumply.
Baked Egg Bagel

But…happily it still looks nice. And it tasted great. My parents wondered if they were croissants though when they came home. And they tasted eggy…well they were egg bagels :-)

The texture inside was super.

All in all, it was good. I was proud of myself for making bagels. I want them to look more traditional however. Or…less crumply. Maybe not egg bagels? Or steaming or broiling.

And, it passed the ultimate test.

It tasted great as a tuna sandwich!

Mmmm :-)

Bagel and Tuna, originally uploaded by Lilandra.

Here’s the rest of the set.

Tuesday 20th, May 2008

CLICK! Beans and Lentils



Mmm Red Beans, originally uploaded by Lilandra.

I took a picture of the red beans and rice mom made. I *love* red beans. Actually, I *love* beans. See how much I love them? My plate is swimming in beans :-)

I took this for the Click competition but still haven’t decided for sure which to submit. I have to the end of the month and will edit the post accordingly (link to click post etc etc).

So, which do you think? The first or…
Thanks muchly for your input! I still love the second too :-)



Mmm Red Beans, originally uploaded by Lilandra.

I’ll have to resize the second….

Sunday 18th, May 2008

The Shortbread: Verdict



DSC_3010_shortbread, originally uploaded by Lilandra.

I made the shortbread from the same cookbook as the cheddar biscuits.

And as I mentioned before, I had a flour problem.

At some point, the recipe said knead the dough lightly and so I added more flour to make it kneadable – it was liquid. But I didn’t want to add too much flour because I wanted it to be buttery and not floury. I mean it’s shortbread.

So, I think I need to review another recipe.

However…it came out great. I mean it tasted lovely…it could have been more buttery but it was quite good…very crumbly…and addictive (the problem with shortbread). It’s finishing quickly (and I had two 8″ rounds).

I loved it and will make it again.

Cheddar Biscuits: Verdict

The verdict is I need a scale.
And I need to remember to use it.
Remember how I kept having to add flour to the shortbread (although I still am not sure I had to…so a scale would have helped).

It’s a recipe from an English book I think (The Complete Biscuit and Cookie Book).
I don’t make refrigerator cookies alot. It’s the time involved…the delay you know?
But that day I started with them and made two logs and wrapped them up and stored them in the freezer because I didn’t know when I would actually bake them.

So last night, we took one out. I let it soften a bit and then cut it with my chef’s knife.
I put it on my silicon sheet on the tray.

And baked.

And it smelled nice. I didn’t check it until 8-10 minutes in.
It smelled like nice cheese pies.

It had all melted.
Melted.
And was bubbling.
And lacy.
And filled the entire tray.
Not cookies.

Not even really recoverable as crackers (maybe if I baked them longer to get hard).

*sigh*

I’m guessing not enough flour.
*sigh*
Baking is precise.
We have a scale. I just forgot to use it. (I mean, I used it to separate a cake mix into equal halves).

Argh.

And we still have one more log.

I think if we make a pastry we can put the slices in it and make nice cheese pies.

But.
I was looking forward to these “cheddar pennies”.

Gross Plants



Sweet Potato Plant, originally uploaded by Lilandra.

This is the lovely sweet potato plant that I mentioned before

Sim
We’re also planting peas and look at this little sim plant:
Only a couple days before it was *tiny*.
And about a week after, dad and them finally put stakes down for it and…lo! it twined itself around it overnight.
Plants are both freaky *and* amazing.

I mean…one day you have a bucket of soil in which you scattered zinnias
and the next day there are these green things poking up. It’s so gross!
Seriously! It’s weird to see things poking up in soil all by themselves.

Unfortunately some days later mom found a frog squatting in the pot and it damaged the zinnias :-( So must wait longer. One day I will tell you about frogs and this house.


Zinnias => Gross Growing Zinnias



Like worms and spaghetti and pencils standing with the pointy side up. They give me shivers…make me want to gag (I’ll post the sprouts when I upload).

Pimply Pineapple

Or my dwarf pineapple (yes! remember the dwarf ornamental pineapple from the orchid show? A couple days later we went to the place mom buys a lot of her plants and there was one! Just one! Waiting for me! To buy! Well. I bought! Okay mom bought it for me :-)

If you look at that picture you can see purple tips…barely.

But as it grew…white spikes with purple tips started poking out from the pineapple (must upload picture). I mean how gross is that? Things spiking. EW. To cap it all, it looked like the pineapple had acne…a pimple…ripe and discoloured on your face waiting to be burst!!!!

Doesn’t it look like it’s having a breakout??

Now the spikes are gone and there are little flowers or something in its place. See. the pimple spike burst into flowers…

This was a summary of my entry into gardening.
I have to repot stuff soon.

Well, at the orchid show we bought a bamboo orchid, a brassia rex, D Uraiwan x Lasianthera and a D Black Spider x Lisa Kanayama.

We didn’t just buy orchids but also lemon basil and rosemary.

Rosemary
Rosemary, originally uploaded by Lilandra.