Category Archives: Food

Best Breakfast Around Orlando

I’m not usually a big fan of breakfast places. The idea of a bacon-loaded greasy eggs and hash browns, or syrup-overloaded empty-caloried pancakes just makes me kinda sick to my stomach. I know from personal experience that I will end up feeling lethargic all day, or for a lack of better words… feeling like crap.

There is a place right around my school that gets raves from every person who I’ve asked about it – Keke’s Breakfast Café. So prior to graduation, I decided to give it a shot.

I went on a Saturday morning and it was packed! This to me is always a telltale sign of a good eatery. The good first impressions didn’t stop there. Instead of the dim-litted, musty smell of a familiar Denny’s or IHOP, Keke’s had… a clean, fresh feel to its interior. I wish I had pictures of the interior to show you guys, but just think tall glass windows, smooth wooden furniture and lush floral decorations. It didn’t even feel like it would serve anything remotely disgustingly greasy.

The menu was impressive – everything you could ever really want for breakfast. Eggs, french toast, pancakes etc. etc. in every sort of combination you fancy and cooked any way you wished.

When trying out a new restaurant, I would make it point to order something more standard to judge how good the place is; so I ordered an omelet; the Greek Omelet, with fresh baby spinach, diced tomato and Athenos feta cheese, complete with a side of home potatoes and English muffin. Check it out:

Lets just say the whole thing went above and beyond my expectations. The omelet was in the perfect level of moistness and saltyness, and cheese just oozed and stretched when I cut a piece from the center. Even the potatoes and muffin was a perfect 10. The English muffin was perfectly toasted and the insides glistened with buttery goodness. The home potatoes was a healthy amount of greasy, with some pieces crunchy around the edges…. uh! Just writing about it is making my mouth melt.

One of my friends decided to go with something sweet, he had the Turtle Stuffed French Toast, pecans, milk chocolate, caramel cream cheese topped with caramel and powdered sugar. To be honest, the description of that on the menu just sounded saccharin, like most desserts and such in America (for my taste, anyway).

I had a couple bites from my friend, and it was decadent with just the right amount of crunch.[The ‘stuffed’ part of it really referred to it being ‘stuffed’ between two pieces of french toast, ie. a sandwich.] That being said, I do not know if I would be able to stomach the whole plate for breakfast. It was definitely a good closing to my omelet though.

I would love to go back again, but that is only if I return to Florida. I know it wouldn’t be soon – so for the while being, I’ll have to be on the lookout for a similar cafe in Hong Kong! (Any of you readers from around there and know of a place, please let me know!!!)

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Epic Breakfast Egg Toast & Pao de Queijo!

I love great food. Healthy foods that make you feel good. Foods that you prepare and cook yourself is always a little more enjoyable than something that you order or buy. This weekend, I had a beloved friend who came to visit me. She is quite a health nut – a devoted supporter of eating organic local, and a permaculture fanatic – needless to say, she can make some of the best hearty healthy home meals 🙂 Breakfast is her specialty: we made an epic omelet toast on the first day…

Prep: grape tomatoes & basil

Le Chef Emily

Ta-daa!: whole grain toast from local bakery w/ butter; lettuce; basil; grape tomatoes; scrambled eggs with peppers & red onion

And And the final product…. mega egg toast/sandwich:::

Garnished with sea salt & fresh ground black pepper

That night, we had a little soirée at home. We made little appetizers and Emily made her cheese bread a la Brazil, where she just spent a year abroad at.

tomatoes, mozzarella, basil; balsamic dip

aAnd the feature dish you’ve all been waiting for::: Pao de Queijo (aka Brazilian cheese puffs)

These were so deliciously chewy, cheesy, and buttery – it was a gluten lovers’ (aka me) heaven. The thing though, is that this bread is gluten free! – That’s right, it’s made with tapioca flour instead of wheat or other flours. Tapioca flour, also known as manioc starch or tapioca starch, is made with root starch derived from the cassava, or yuca plant. It is a staple in many Asian desserts to create that chewy, sticky texture – I love it!!!

This Pao de Queijo was actually extremely easy to make. Here is the recipe that we referred to. It was my first time ever eating this Brazilian delicacy, so I don’t know if it was anything close to what it’s supposed to taste like, but nonetheless, it was awesome 🙂

If any of you have ever tried this cheesy bread, let me know about your experience! Alternatively, if you have any great recipes for  easy hors d’oeuvres, post them in the comments below!

Happy munching!

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Portuguese Egg Tart Heaven

This south-east Asian dessert is found in all kinds of restaurants and street bakeries in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Mainland China, and many other Southeast Asian countries. Because it is called the Portuguese tart, I did a little bit of research and found that it’s origin is actually from Lisbon, Portugal. I believe it made it way to southeast Asia when Macau became colonized by the Portuguese. Hmmm, I wonder if we Asians have made this our own rendition of the yummy dessert from Europe…

The Portuguese egg tart (葡撻) is not to be confused with the Hong Kong/ Canton invention of egg tarts (蛋撻), which not only does not have the bruelee-ing on top, but the texture tastes a lot different too. The Portuguese egg tart has a heavy, creamy/ custard-y taste, which, when in your mouth, the eggy part melts together with the greasy crispness of the flaky shell. In contrast, the the Cantonese egg tart is less creamy, and has a texture more similar to steamed egg, or (燉蛋, another Asian egg dessert, but that is another post topic).

Just for fun, I researched the process of making these little yellow delights. Surprisingly, all the recipes I came across were quite simple. Here I’m including links to two recipes I found: Jamie Oliver’s Quick Portuguese Tarts Recipe, and a recipe from an Asian Recipe Website.

I haven’t had the chance to try these recipes yet (even though I’m having trouble keeping my mouth from watering just writing this blog), so if you you’ve made Portuguese tarts before, or if you are going to try one of these recipes, please share your experience in the comment box below!

Happy baking & eating!

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An Evening after the Wet Market

To those who have already read this post previously, I have updated this post wih a video footage that I found on my SD card as I was clearing it.. I think this video really helps bring to you the sense of actually being in a wet market; I hope you feel the same! 🙂

The best part about being in Hong Kong is the food. The best part about the food here is that you can always get it really fresh.  I mean, live-and-still-jumpy fresh. I love seafood, and Hong Kong, having a history of being a fisherman village, to this day still have access to fresh seafood everyday at outdoor “wet” markets.

Along with butchers and vegetables/ fruit stalls, it is a place where seafood from the day’s catch lay fresh on ice, or whole live fish swimming in tanks. Shrimps, lobsters, crabs, all kinds of shellfish – mostly live are available for purchase. I personally think it’s the seafoodie’s heaven. Depending on the season, different seafood will best to eat. I have never tasted clams so sweet and 鮮 (see meaning on my other post). I totally just swooned.

Anyway, whenever my mom goes to the wet market by nightfall, she buys a lot of goods deals for the night’s ‘seafood meal’. You get a lot of good deals by dusk/ evening because that’s when the day ends and everything fresh, must go. My last seafood dinner at home over break, consisted of lobster, clams, snails, and my favorite veggie – 菜心 (choi sum, literally meaning the vegetable heart).

Australian Lobster, raw. Seasoned with chopped garlic and salt.

Cooked by steaming

White wine clams

I just have to say, white wine clams are my absolute favorite. Plus, my mom’s cooking with the incredibly fresh catch, it’s heaven on Earth. The juices that come out of it is soooo yummy (I don’t even have words to describe it!) It would make a great sauce base for anything.
[My mom cooks with only garlic and white wine, without any salt at all, and it comes out quite salty actually.]

Choi sum, blanched with oil. Served with sesame oil and soy sauce.

These were in season during December. They were so crunchy, sweet and .. just delectable. You will have to try it yourself to even come close to understand my love for these.

Snails, blanched

These snails are my dad’s absolute favorite. The consistency is kind of like octopus, but has a completely different flavor. We usually dip it in chilli-ed soy sauce. Yum.

Unfortunately, nothing in America will come close to a meal like this one cook by my mom. Heck, you can’t even buy fresh clams, let alone clams this good. For the love of food, I may just have to move back home after my studies here in the US…

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It’s Bagel Day!

Every Sunday, my school does a bagel bar with bagels and cream cheese from by far the BEST bread/ sandwich place I’ve ever eaten (for it’s price), Panera Bread. I am a huge fan of their Asiago Bagel and Everything Bagel, and their Hazelnut and Honey Walnut cream cheese.

Because of the calorie content of the bagel and cream cheese, and the fact that I want EVERYTHING, I do a half-and-half of salty and sweet with my one bagel. The salty half that I always get (pictured) is the Asiago bagel, goat cheese, smoked salmon with lemon juice, tomatoes, red onions, and chives. Oh right, and they toast the bagel first so the asiago cheese bit of the bagel gets reaaal crunchy.

YUM.

I think this will be the one food that I will miss when I leave this country for good.

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A Bowl of Simple Locality

Everywhere on the streets of Hong Kong, you will find the Cantonese staple: noodle soup. These noodles are usually served with rice noodles, with toppings of meat balls, fish balls or fish cake, vegetables, served with fish broth base. Rice noodles can come in various forms (thin, flat, wide etc.), and vegetables can vary among local leafy greens and/ or seaweed.

At home, my mom made a variation of this local staple with the following ingredients:

  • Udon (oooh-don) noodles – Japanese noodles made of wheat-flour
  • baby Bak-Choi (白菜) – literally means ‘white veggie’
  • fish cake (魚片) – basically like meatloaf, but with fish
  • fish broth – homemade –> from stewing fresh fish from the market!

Usually, they do not serve these noodles at the restaurant with so much vegetables on the side (but my mom knows it’s my favorite!) Also, restaurants also do not use real or highly concentrated fish stew for the soup base. Therefore, I believe my mom truly makes the best bowl of noodle soup in town!

 

A Vibrant Refreshment

Copyright 2012

Peppermint & tonic, served in a blue Moser glass (Czech company)

Copyright 2012

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The Best Sushi is Not Far Away

…that is, when you live where I live 😉

I bought this at the local Japanese supermarket right in my neighborhood. The sushi in focus is tuna chunks topped with salmon roe. The one to the right of it is a crab meat salad (crab shredded and mixed with Japanese mayo), topped with crab roe. Crab roe is my favorite because it has a taste that is very distinct: sweet and 鮮 – in Chinese, a word to describe seafood that taste fresh.

The other sushi in the picture include (from front left) shrimp, tuna, salmon, yellow-tail, scallop, and ark shell.

It is quite amazing to think that for about US$12, you can get a 16-piece set of sushi that is fresh from Japan that day. That, my friend, cannot be found anywhere near where I go to school in Orlando!

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