Thursday, October 30, 2008

Of French Brioche & Traiteur

I checked the internet for the definition of brioche. This is one way of explaining it.

Brioche is a French bread, characterized by a rich, sweet flavor and flaky texture which almost makes it feel like a pastry, rather than a bread. A classic shape has a fluted bottom and an upper protruding knob, and is made in a special brioche pan. The bread can also be made like a regular loaf, or it can be braided or molded into a ring. It often takes the form of an individual bun, served warm. (

Now, I don't know if you got that, cos I definitely didn't get it. So it's supposed to be a bread that feels like a pastry, & can be made into a loaf or a bun? So it's something that's in-between all of the other things & yet it's not like anyone of them? You can clearly see why I am cullinarily challenged.

NEE: Really to put it simply, it is a very buttery roll like a bun. It looks like a bun with a knob on top. And it is a very French type of bread.

Anyway, we came across a Brioche Shop called Broiche Doree along St Michel-Boluevard St Germain.

Nee of coure immediately recognised it, while I was still trying to make sense of the world around me - if it's brioche, why is the word patisserie there?

This shop sells mainly sweets like tarts, cakes & pastries. And also pain chocolat and the sweet type of croissants, broiches and danishes.

We bought a chocolate chips broiche. Very buttery. The texture is really somewhat between a light bun and a flaky pastry.

Ok, here's another one. What is a Traiteur? The word immediately conjures up images of a person who betrays someone's trust. But of course it's not. This is a food & travel blog. There are no menacing plots happening in here. All you get is Greg & Nee going places & stuffing their faces.

You see, before the 18th century, there were no restaurants in France. Hard to imagine that doesn't it? So when people at that time wanted to dine out, they would approach their traiteur to setup a table & cook a meal for them at a price.

I don't know what happened in between, but strangely enough, today, the traiteur became not a full-fledge restaurant, but a take-out food business specialising in salads, cold meat & seafood dishes.

NEE: They also sell dried & fresh pastas and many varieties of sundried vegetables. I bought some arborio rice and orriechette there. So this is essentially a form of cooked food grocer. In Paris, there are also specialised shops that sell cheeses only, truffles only, balsamic vineger only and so on. We find that all the workers there know their stuff well and would be friendly enough to attempt certain things in English.

It's very much unlike in Kuching or anywhere else in Malaysia, whenever you ask for a certain product, the store workers' favourite response would be donno or out of stock or we don't have without even trying to find out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jardin des Tuileries

Oh my, I accidentally left this post out. Jardin des Tuileries is a garden adjoining the Louvre Museum. We were there on our first day in Paris.

The Tuileries Garden covers about 63 acres and is originally designed by landscape architect Andre Le Notre in 1664.

The building behind this garden is the Tuileries Palace which was built by Catherine de' Medicis, the widow of Henry II of France begining in 1564. Note that I said BEGINNING. Buildings in France never really get completed. It's a bit like Nee's kitchen. They keep expanding.

From this view, you could actually see the Eye of Paris in the background looking back at you.

Daylight is long during summer in Paris. This was now around 7pm but the sky was still blue.

This natural disorder of time was definitely a good thing for Malaysian tourists like us. It meant that we could squeeze as much as we could out of one day, as museums & other places tend to stay open late till about 10pm.

But it wasn't as good for people who wanted to pak toh (dating/ make out) at night cos the night just didn't seem to be coming.

I don't know why certain statues come with poses like this. Maybe it's something to do with what he sat on.

This one looked like a typical Malaysian who would always be under some kind of protective shade away from the sun & can only survive in air-conditioned malls.

These were defintiely NOT Malaysians. Uh-Uh.

If Malaysians were to sit out in the sun, people would just call them crazy. Cos the only time you'd be under the sun if when you're a labourer, or a supervisor, or an engineer working at a construction site.

The garden actually ended at this fountain, which was followed by the Place de la Concorde, which was one of the major squares in Paris.

Built in 1755, this square was THE place for chopping people's head off. And those weren't any ordinary heads. King Louis XVI lost his here. Queen Marie Antoinette also lost hers.

It's strange that whenever you have a public square in Paris, it's bound to end up as a place for chopping heads.

But thankfully, in place of the guillotine now stands an obelisk (a gift from the Egyptian government) at the centre of the whole square.

The obelisk is 3,300 years old, & it arrived in Paris in 1833. Ever since then, it has been subjected to all types of abuses. It's original cap was stolen in the 6th Century BC. A giant pink condom was rolled over the monument by the French AIDS society in 1992. And Alain Spiderman Robert climbed to the top with his bare hands in 2000.

The building on the left is the American Embassy (OOOOOOH) while the one on the right is the Hotel de Crillon, where Marie Antoinette once spent afternoons there relaxing & taking piano lessons (AAAAAAAHHH).

All this, starting from the Louvre Palace, to the Museum, to the Tuilleries, stretches onwards till it hits the Champs-Élysées & the Arc de Triomphe. But this was also the point where we started heading back to our hotel. Otherwise, we'd be walking till the next morning.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yam Rice

I saw this dish in the latest issue of the Food and Travel Magazine and it looks yum and pretty simple to cook. Also I was very inspired by the Teochew Peach Rice Dumpling's (Bee Pao Bee)way of making the rice filling. So I incorporated the same method here.

2 cup of jasmine rice
1 tbsp of garlic oil
1 teasp of salt and pepper

1) Cook the above in a normal rice cooker with enough water. Keep warm.

200 gm of good quality yam (weight after shaving), diced into cubes
35 gm of dried prawns, washed and chopped into smaller bits
30 gm of dried scallops, soaked and loosened
3-4 pieces of dried chinese mushrooms, soaked and diced into small cubes ( i forgot here)
1 piece of good quality chinese sausage (optional), cut to small cube (also forgotten)
1 1/2 cup of chicken stock
1 tbsp of sesame oil + 4 tbsp of cooking oil
2 tbsp of shallots, chopped finely
1 tbsp of garlic , chopped finely
1 tbsp of light soya
salt to taste (be careful as dried prawns & scallops can already be quite salty)

1) Heat up oil and pan fry dried prawns till fragrant. Add shallots and garlic and continue stir frying till garlic and shallots are soft and fragrant.

2) Add mushrooms, chinese sausages followed by scallops and yam. Stir till well mixed and fragrant. Add seasoning, soya and chicken stock and let the mixture simmer till yam is soft and stock is drying up.

3) Dish out into the rice pot and stir to evenly mix yam mixture with the rice.

4) Serve in bowls topped with garnishing (spring onion & fried shallots).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kek Lapis Factory Destroyed in Fire!

Don't worry. This is not about Nee. Contrary to what many people might believe, she does not have a cake factory.

Rabiah Amit, the sole person who single handedly promoted Sarawakian kek lapis (layered cake) to this region for the past 3 decades, was shocked to find that her factory burnt down, with the rest of her 500 recipes.

This powerhouse of a lady had sold more kek lapis than any living person in the world. Her kek lapis publication is selling as hot as her cakes, still, to this very moment, outselling every single English & Chinese cullinary book in Malaysia.

Looking at this photo, of course it's understandable that she needs as much support as possible now, seeing that she's actually the single largest producer of kek lapis as a Sarawakian cultural product (which was borrowed from the Indonesians apparently). But looking at the concerned politician, I can't help but to wonder if he's more concerned about this tragedy or his appearance in the newspaper.

Now West Malaysians coming to Sarawak have one thing less to bring back aside from the pottery & Ikan Terubok.

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