“Life is not about the length of our time here but moments in time that give us inner peace.
By capturing these moments on this blog, it is my hope it will also help you to relive your moments in time that make life worth living.” ~ Chopinand
Today, 8 April 2012 marks the first blogiversary for ChopinandMysaucepan, the food blog which brings a delicious life of good food and music to our readers.
What started out a year ago with a few casual posts about music and some favourite family recipes have now become a culinary and musical journal of our daily lives.
Over the last twelve months, this blog has become our companion during our travels and a medium that has enabled us to meet so many new friends, fellow bloggers, chefs, food lovers, musicians as well as a legion of virtual friends that share our love for good food and music.
ChopinandMysaucepan has opened our eyes to become more aware of the food that sustains our daily lives. It has opened our minds to be more conscious about some of life’s trappings that we sometimes take for granted. Most importantly, it has opened up our hearts to appreciate that some of the best things in life are often little treats made up of simple things.
It has made us appreciate our loved ones all the more and reinforces our common love for simple and hearty food.
Our biggest privilege is being able to share our happy moments with you through this blog and the beautiful life that we see are reflected in all our photos.
So, it is our pleasure that on the first blogiversary of ChopinandMysaucepan, we bring you some memorable moments of the past year which make us appreciate life is not only short and precious, it is delicious too!
Chopinand & Mysaucepan
Favourite Dishes from 2011 and 2012
(Click on the images for a review / blogpost of the dish)
Since we started blogging, eating out at restaurants has taken on a whole new dimension.
“Camera?” I quip to Mysaucepan before heading out for dinner.
“In my bag”, she replies.
Halfway driving to the restaurant, I ask, “Is there an SD card in the camera?”
“Oh damn, I forgot to take it out from the laptop after loading the photos. And sushi is the most beautiful food for blogging!!” she cries out.
“It’s okay”, I say calmly. “I’ve got a spare in my wallet”, I add with a smile.
Blogging has heightened our senses of just how much effort and care that some chefs put into their food.
Presentation is just as important as how food tastes for a food business and I think many restaurateurs have become accustomed to the sheer number of food bloggers with all their sophisticated photography equipment and the power of social media in “spreading the word” about their food experiences. As a food blogger, I seriously take on the responsibility to be objective, independent and fair.
Over the last twelve months, we have tasted some awesome dishes around Australia and Asia. My only regret is we didn’t start blogging about our adventures a little earlier.
Though I am no expert in food trends and new restaurant openings, people often ask me for cafe and restaurant recommendations and my usual reply is “What do you fancy eating?”
I prefer to recommend a particular dish in a restaurant rather than the restaurant itself because everyone has different tastes and these change even with the change in weather and time of day. Also, some items will be better than others in most restaurants and it would be unfair to judge a restaurant if one orders the “wrong” item that does not suit one’s taste buds.
Therefore, I have singled out some of our favourite dishes over the last twelve months that has left me a little breathless albeit completely satisfied. The main take-away (no pun intended) from these experiences is that good food need not be expensive although some of the pricier options were also sensational.
I find the mid range restaurants in Australia to be of exceptional value brought about by healthy competition, sheer cooking skills, creative use of the freshest raw ingredients and also a vibrant and objective food media which rewards quality, innovation and value.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age‘s Good Food Guides are by far the most respected food guides for Australia’s top two food destinations. The reviews are becoming more informative, comprehensive and increasingly sophisticated with each new edition.
So here’s the rest of the dishes that gave us some outstanding flavours which we will recommend to any food lover.
(Click on the images for a review / blogpost of the dish)
L to R: Yam ring & vegetables, Yummy Yummy, Crows Nest; Catalan style white bait & egg yolk, Catalina, Rosebay; Deep-fried school prawns, HaNa-JuRin, Crows Nest
L to R: Jurusalem artichoke and pecan tart, Grilled squid salad, Bloodwood, Newtown; David Blackmore’s wagyu rump cap, artichoke, slow-cooked veal tongue and dutch cream potato, The Bridge Room, Sydney CBD
L to R: Bistecca del Giorno ~ Steak of the day: Ribeye on the bone with truffle mash, Amici Pizzeria Ristorante, Cammeray, Ameijoas ‘a Portugalia clams, Angelo’s Portugalia, Kensington, Seared scallop, pork lardo and corn, The Bridge Room, Sydney CBD
L to R: Spaghetti Carbonara, Cafe Sopra; Crispy duck with orange marmalade, Catalina, Rosebay; Lamb ragu, Pendolino, Strand Arcade, Sydney CBD
L to R: Daub of Cape Grim short-rib of beef with truffle mashed potato, Restaurant Atelier, Glebe; Salmon Wellington, Basalt, Millthorpe; Schweinshaxn or roasted pork knuckle, The Rocks, Sydney
L to R: Live prawns, The Eight, Haymarket, Crispy aromatic duck, Eastwood Garden Peking, Eastwood; Tea smoked duck, Fook Yuen Chinese restaurant, Chatswood
L to R: Salt and pepper flounder, Ginger & Shallots Chinese restaurant, Eastwood; Cantonese style stir-fried noodles or wan tan hor, Malaysian Chinese, Hunter street, Sydney CBD;Bihun goreng, Ratu Sari, Kingsford
L to R: Curry laksa, Malaysian Chinese, Sydney CBD, Roti canai and chicken satays, Mamak, Haymarket, Sydney
L to R: Ayam goreng pemudi, Ratu Sari, Kingsford; Malaysian loh bak, Sassy’s Red, Westfield Sydney, Hong Kong stir-fried rice noodles with beef, Cao Thang, Flemington
L to R: Char Kway Teow, Cambridge Food Court, Perth; Mud Crab with glass noodles, Yummy Yummy, Crows Nest; Mixed sashimi platter, Sushi Hon, Westfield Sydney
L to R: Mi bo kho, Hoang Gia, Flemington; Xiao Long Bao, and Braised beef in noodle soup, New Shanghai, Chatswood
L to R: Packet nasi lemak, Nasi lemak, Hotel Maya, Kuala Lumpur, Slow-braised abalone with black truffle and asparagus, Hai Tien Lo, Pan Pacific Hotel, Singapore
L to R: Twice baked porcini mushroom souffle, Must Winebar, Highgate, Perth; Oysters tempura, South Coast NSW; Broad beans, peas, pea puree and slow-cooked hen’s egg (61C), Racine restaurant, Orange
L to R: Trifle, Bloodwood, Newtown, Chocolate forest floor, Sepia restaurant, Sydney CBD; Durian pannacotta, pandan sago and nyonya kueh, Mood For Love, Westfield Sydney
L to R: Turkish Delight Lolli Redini, Orange; Peanut and caramelised chocolate parfait, Spice Temple, Sydney CBD, Churros and chocolate sauce, Glass, Hilton Hotel Sydney
L to R: Chocolate & olive oil delice, berries, sheep’ milk yoghurt ice cream, Restaurant Atelier, Glebe; Strawberry marshmellow meringue, The Bridge Room, Sydney CBD; Orange and peach cake, Racine Restaurant, Orange
(Click on each image for blogpost of the recipe)
Having lived in Sydney for many years, I have come to appreciate some of the fresh and wholesome produce that go into my cooking pot each day.
Fresh Asian greens that are fresher than those in Asia speak volumes about the dedication of our local food growers and farmers.
Living in Sydney makes me appreciate the abundance and variety of seafood that one can cook with. In contrast, I sympathize with fellow food bloggers in certain parts of Europe and the USA who have very limited access to fresh seafood at astronomical prices.
Australia is not short of some of the best quality red meats in the world. Together with a host of fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables and a growing appreciation for hearty food, Sydney’s cafes, restaurants and hospitality businesses boast some of the most innovative menus and cutting edge cuisines in the world.
Our close proximity to South East Asia has developed our taste buds for Asian recipes. Hot on the culinary list are Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian as well as an emerging blend of Chinese fusion to contrast against traditional Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine.
Chinese food is becoming more sophisticated with Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Xinjiang and Yunnan flavours jostling for kitchen honours among many new restaurants in town.
As much as we have so many good cafes and restaurants in town, these fresh foods and ingredients also mean that some of the best meals are often those cooked with lots of care and love at home.
And here is a sample of some of our favourite home-cooked recipes and we hope you will enjoy these recipes as much as we do.
(Click on each image for a review / blogpost of the dish)
L: Baked turmeric chicken wings with fresh curry leaves; R: Spaghetti Bolognaise
L: Barbeque prawns Asian and Western styles; R: Beef stock cubes and EVOO for marinating fresh red meats
L: Yong tow foo “sunflower”- chillies, eggplant & okra; R: Lemongrass brush to BBQ satays
L: Spaghetti oxtail bolognaise; R: Seafood paella
L: Ipoh hor fun or rice noodles with chicken and prawns R: Vietnamese pho with beef briskets
L: Lebanese bread sticks R: Home-made gourmet burger
The People in Food and Music
(Click on each image for a review / blogpost of each personality)
In the past twelve months, I have met a few people in the food industry and musicians where their talents are truly noteworthy.
The passion and dedication of professionals to their craft are unwavering. Today’s customer is different from yesteryear and the ultimate benchmark is quality and value.
Chui Lee Luk, a slight and demure chef has shown that talent in a top French restaurant need not be a Frenchman from the heart of Paris. Born in Singapore and grew up in Malaysia, she was trained as a lawyer before finding her calling in the kitchen.
Evgeny Kissin is considered as one of the most talented pianists of his generation.
I had the pleasure of meeting Kissin at the Sydney Opera House during his tour of Sydney in September 2011 where he was playing Liszt among other important works.
His interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and his native Russian composers like Prokofiev, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff are legendary.
Yet his humility and friendliness gave him time to chat with me about how he was immensely enjoying his trip to Australia.
Hideo Dekura is a sushi master chef based in Sydney.
He conducts cooking classes at the Sydney Fish Markets to aspiring Japanese cuisine and seafood lovers.
His recent book, Encyclopedia of Japanese Cuisine demystifies the difficulties associated with Japanese cooking in a friendly A to Z process.
One will learn from the subtle to the more complex of Japanese cooking and the use of its ingredients and utensils.
Ever so friendly and humble, Hideo Dekura is truly one of Australia’s most important Japanese food masters.
Hamish Ingham learnt the finer points of modern Chinese food with Kylie Kwong at her restaurant, Billy Kwong in Surry Hills. He has since opened Bar H and shared with me his passion for fresh ingredients and sustainability as well as offering Sydney diners with a modern take on Chinese cuisine.
L to R: Hamish Ingham, Owner and chef, Bar H, Surry Hills; Terry Nishiura, Owner HaNa-JuRin and Jurin Japanese restaurants; Simon Goh, Owner, Chinta Ria Temple of Love, Cockle Bay Wharf, Mood for Love and Sassy’s Red, Westfield Sydney
The affable Terry Nishiura operates HaNa-JuRin and Jurin Japanese restaurants in Crows Nest and he shared with me his methods of sourcing the freshest seafood in Sydney and transforming it into Japanese delicacies at his restaurants.
Simon Goh is the talented 30-year veteran Sydney restaurateur. Beginning with his Chinta Ria chain of restaurants in Melbourne, Simon took Sydney by storm back in 1998 where he opened Chinta Ria, Temple of Love in Cockle Bay Wharf primed for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. He has since tantalised Sydney foodies with Chinta Ria … Mood For Love and Sassy’s Red at Westfield Sydney which offers classic Malaysian cuisine with a modern edge.
“The best way to enjoy a great wine is to pair it with three important things – great food, great music and great company.” ~ Chopinand
Wine holds a very important role in Australian food culture and because of my love for cooking, I have come to appreciate how they transform and bring to live some of the dishes that I love. Can you imagine a hearty winter stew, coq au vin or ragu without a big splash of red? Or a spaghetti vongole or bouillabaisse without the complexity of a nice dry white?
Opening and decanting a bottle of 1996 Penfolds 389
I have been fortunate to have tasted quite a few bottles of beautiful wines over the last twelve months. Like a beautiful piece of music, these wine flow smoothly and always seem to be in tune with your senses. They give me a lasting memory of its aroma and flavour and I always fondly recall the time, place and whom I shared it with.
The best thing about drinking wine around Sydney is there are so many beautiful places that one can enjoy a chilled glass of wine, be it a sunny or gloomy day, with a group of friends or simply being in solitude and tranquility.
(Click on the images for a blogpost of each moment)
To me, one of the most important aspects of blogging is to capture the mood and the moments. Over the last twelve months, we managed to crystallize some of these moments on our blog which we hope will help us relive them in years to come.
(Click on the images for a blogpost of each moment)
L to R: Catamaran at Bateman’s Bay; Custom-made jewelery, South Coast; Autumn leaves, Southern Highlands
L to R: Magnolia blossom, Chinese Gardens, Darling Harbour; Cherry blossoms, Botanic Gardens, Sydney; My favourite Port Jackson fig bonsai
L to R: Sea shells, Chinaman’s beach, Sydney; Alistar picking sea slugs, Cremorne Point, Sydney; Sculptures by the Sea, Sydney
L to R: Our nephew Jack Kuan turns 16; Our friends Kristina Andersson turns 30 and Chris Hughes turns 60
L to R: Mini burgers at Sydney Food and Wine Festival; Tomatoes at Sydney Markets, Flemington; A table for lunch under magnolia blossoms, Lolli Redini, Orange
L to R: Sailing on Sydney habour; New Year’s Eve 2012 fireworks; Picnic at Cremorne Point, Sydney
L to R: Memories from Cameron Highlands in Malaysia – tea plantations, Darjeeling and scones, children feeding koi
L to R: Infinity pool atop Marina Bay Sands, Singapore; Salvador Dali exhibition, ArtScience Museum, Singapore; Singing for a living, Imbi markets, Kuala Lumpur
Royal Selangor’s Jellyriffic Competition – October 2011
In October 2011, we were one of ten bloggers from around the world to be chosen by Royal Selangor to take part in the 30-day Get Your Jelly On competition in an effort to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Our imagination and cooking skills were stretched and we manage to come up with 30 different creations that make up a 3-course meal representing 10 major cuisines of the world.
Here are 9 out of the 30 courses that we created:
(Click on the images for a full blogpost of the dish)
L to R: Antipasto pyramid and rocket salad; Blood orange jelly with strawberries and chocolate dust; Blueberry trifle
L to R: Edomae Chirashizushi – tobiko, omelette, salmon, avocado, tuna and sushi rice; Crispy duck with sweet potato mash; Shepherd’s pie with blowtorch mashed potatoes
L to R: Jellyfish and chicken jelly salad; Nasi lemak; Thai fish hor mok
ChopinandMysaucepan Blogiversary Giveaway
Last but not least, we would like to thank our dear readers for their support to our blog.
It is truly a labour of love from the first day and 152 blog posts later, I am finding just as much enjoyment bring delicious food to your taste buds and great music to your ears.
I enjoy cooking and sharing beautiful food tales with you as much as I love playing the piano. Therefore, I have specially made our very own ChopinandMysaucepan Garlic Chips and ChopinandMysaucepan Bacon Salt that will transform some of your cooking into gastronomical delights. You can also go here for a recipe of the bacon salt.
How to Win
In order to win the Garlic Chips and Bacon Salt, just like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or simply leave a comment below and tell us which is your favourite recipe and dish that has been featured above and the reasons why.
This giveaway is open to Australian residents only and entries will close at 12 noon on Sunday, 22 April 2012.