Archive for the 'Event' Category

ENTER THE DRAGON

My Dragon and me
Photo Credit: Once Upon a Table

Last year when I was randomly searching for information so I can design and bake a collection of spice route inspired cookies (just a random food-related business idea), I came across a group called Once Upon a Table, it’s a private supper club in Hong Kong that hosts themed dinners at a different home every time. To welcome the year of the Dragon, their first event of the year is named after Bruce Lee’s famous movie, “Enter the Dragon”. The invitation of the dinner couldn’t have come at a better time as I did have a dragon sneaking into my life at the time.

To top of it off, he was actually born in the year of the Dragon and a big fan of Bruce Lee’s movie. So, it was a great start for a secret date with me “dragoned out” with a Dragon date enjoying Dragon inspired food/drinks, decor and everything in between. This “dragon-coordination” thing was very random and it wouldn’t have happened if I actually tried to plan this all with timing, location and character wise.

It was one of those foggy spring nights in Hong Kong where it was rainy in the city and the road leading to our secret private supper club location was barely visible with the taxi driver driving at about 30 km/hr and the fog so thick that we could barely see 1 meter in front of us. I assured him that we are indeed attending a dinner at a secret location and not on our way to visit some sort of secret cult where I am offering him up for human sacrifice.

The journey to this private supper club dinner was an adventure on its own but when the “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” dish came with an amazingly tasting pickled lamb curry and a chicken with rice, I looked over and he said it tasted exactly like his dad’s lamb curry. How all this happened I have no idea, but all I can say that one of the organizer was born very close to his family home in India and somehow this recipe have circulated half way around the world and now in front of us. I love surprises but coincidences are even cooler because it’s not planned it just happens!

I am a big people watcher when I am eating at a dinner table, especially observing how others eat so one of the highlight points was when “Puff the Magic Dragon’s Egg” dessert got served. It was magical because everyone looked like a little kid as one of the organizers went around the room pouring spoonfuls of chocolate sauce on huge frozen chocolate eggs (the size of a ostrich’s egg). Guests were the chocolate eggs with the home-made/hand-churned mint ice cream with popping candy while smiling as it frizzed and popped away in people’s mouth. They were trying to not look overly excited about the sensory overload and trying not to be too greedy about getting more chocolate sauce but when prompted a second time said yes and you can secretly hear their taste buds saying “score!”. I can tell you the moaning sounds in that room was at all times high that night.

I might not have started off the year of the Dragon feeling the greatest but since this ceremonial “Enter the Dragon”, things have gotten a lot more smoother and serene even at the worse of times. Let’s just say that those Chinese horoscope readings do know what they are talking about when they say rats and dragons are compatible, okay well…what I really mean is that they both like to eat sea urchin or at least one of them tries to eat it to impress the other. :)

VERONICA’S EDIBLE FAMILY PORTRAIT

I spent some time with my cousin last year in Holland and he used to tease me all the time by saying that “I am a quarter of a century”. So, what exactly does a quarter of a century mean to me…

While gathering photos and organizing my thoughts for my “Edible Portrait” workshop, this workshop felt like a self-exploratory project. This workshop was a chance for me to reflect the journey I have taken so far in my life and to tell this story I have used home cooked meals with my family and friends. This is as much as a self-exploratory project for me, very personal, so personal that during the workshop I didn’t sound like my chirpy self but this deep reflective story telling voice came out…behind the colourful photos in the presentation and side stories, that’s my life. Stories and little observations of home cooked meals with family and friends that I might not have even shared with anyone but a few of my close friends, and now sharing my thoughts with in a workshop, the experience was so satisfying. I feel like there was a platform, a channel, a door for me to express my feelings about my migratory life, my thoughts on my family and more importantly what is home to me….a question I have pondered since my high school years and troubled my mom when I wrote a poem called “Migratory Bird” in Grade 12.

Talking about my Chinese roots, I felt like an extension of my family and culture like I belong to a bigger force/belonging to a culture from the way I cook or look at Chinese food, I have something to share with others through the medium of food.

My teacher Vjeko has always said that it’s important to position yourself whether you are designing or making other decisions in your life…and I feel that that while organizing my thoughts on my migratory life through home cooked foods, I have positioned myself on where home is and I feel that it’s important in order to move forward in my life. This experience has made me realized there is something special about using food to tell a story and being able to tell my own, I want to try to venture out and see if I can tell other people’s stories, whether it’s a company, someone’s celebration or their story…it’s always more memorable and enticing because your tummy is involved.

I want to thank everyone at Cafe Slobbie for making this workshop so much fun and enjoyable, as well as making me feel right at home in Korea with the ever changing, healthy and delicious Korean home cooked lunches and dinners. Special thanks to Zebby and Grace for inviting me to this workshop and curating the the project and letting me tie all these themes on food like memory, nostalgic, home cooked meals, family and migratory life, all themes I have been writing and talking about in the last year but letting me channel of these thoughts and topics in one workshop….I really feel lucky to be able to enjoy this special journey. Zebby, thank you so much I really feel like I can do anything and feel at ease whenever I working with you, hope to see you in Korea, Tokyo or Hong Kong soon!

Let’s end this post with Zebby making the little coaster for my “Home Sweet Home Essence” soup. If you want to see the rest of the workshop and the cooking demonstration of my grandma’s dishes like “Chop Chop Bye Bye Meat”, “Crunch Crunch Pancake” and “A Sticky Family” dessert, click here.

I AM A SALMON

In preparing for my workshop in Korea, I have decided I am very much like a salmon. I have always thought I was more like a migratory bird but salmon is more fitting. Yes, salmon because they always migrate back to their birth place (in my case it is not for spawning reasons) but nonetheless there is this “force” pulling me back to this city. The luxury of seeing my grandmas or family relatives a bus ride away, the Chinese New Years dinners, wedding dinners and family gatherings….these I would say are amongst the “forces”.

It dawned on me that all the items that I felt was “home cooking” were all Chinese. I love the smell and taste of apple pies, pasta, pizza, burgers, croissants…etc but it just doesn’t quite make the list for “home-cooking”. I have always ask friends and new people I meet at parties on what kind of food reminds them of home and their answers vary from apple pies to soy sauce chicken, fermented sweet soy bean paste stewed in chicken and potato, eggplant with minced meat filling, dumplings to curry chicken. All the answers I got were all reflections of the culture/country their parents/grandparents belong in or came from.

For someone like me who has always questioned whether I am Chinese or Canadian or a little bit of both, maybe all you have to do sometimes is ask yourself what kind of food reminds you of “home” and you know where “home” is? Or maybe ultimately home is wherever you decide to cook these nostalgic home recipes/foods for closed friends around you…

If you are in Korea on September 17th, I would love to see you at the workshop, I will be creating a culinary representation of my nostalgic family album through stories and family recipes!

Location: Cafe Slobbie, Seoul
Date: September 17th
Time: 16:00 – 19:00
Contact: RSVP through slobbie8@naver.com
Website: Cafe Slobbie Facebook Event Page

BE A FOOD TEXTURIST

“HIT + RUN” studio event featuring “EAT + RUN – A Food Texturist Night” is my first event. Thank you Vjeko, my teacher for “hitting” me with this event as soon as I came back from Holland so I can reflect and share and also test out what I have learned in Holland. Also, thank you for to those who were there at the event and those who were in spirit with your support!

SHARING
Questions that I came up with food and texture:

Can a meal plan/diet plan be planned with textures of the different food in mind?
Can a meal be planned with 10 different textures in mind?
Do animals like/eat their food because of the texture?

While preparing for this event, I found some cool things about food, texture and culture – for example the different words each culture use to describe food. Like the 20 different ways of saying “crispy” food in Japanese to “kusu” in describing the desirable quality of Korean noodles to using 3 different terms to describe bitterness in Malaysian.

The Latin root word for texture means to “to weave” which is also the same root word for textile. If people would who spend hours shopping for the right jacket by touching the fabric/textile of numerous jacket, trying it on in front of the mirror and then ask people for advice, how much time do people spend on thinking about the texture of their food?

TASTING
Picking 6 food items for people to sample was the last part of the event. Asian food played a big role, my Asian palette played a even bigger role. Going through aisles of Chinese food at a Taiwanese market and picking up potential food items into my basket and then putting them back – walking up and down the aisle like a mad woman examining any items that pop out at me, reading the labels, finding a connection with my event.

Food and texture was the theme, so my favourite texture of rubbery, chewy and sticky food came to mind. Inspirations came from the various items flowing in Asian beverages like coconut jelly to jackfruit to palm seeds to jelly made from Taiwanese jelly figs to water chestnuts to aloe vera.

sketches and drawings done by people after reflecting the different textures of food

EXPERIENCE
Discussing the various textures in a group of about 10 people was an amazing experience. Using my personal experience in food and texture as inspiration and encouraging everyone to smell, touch with their lips and fingers, listen to their chewing sound, play around with their tongues.

some of the tasting items: coconut jelly, aloe vera, palm seed and jackfruit and water chestnut

This is what people had to say about the textures of these food items…

1) Coconut Jelly
“reminds me damper or tampon, something spongy with liquid” (wow!), “old tires”, “plastic”, “it’s name should be bobo”, “chewy undercook pasta”, “a personality that refresh and redefine itself each time”

2) Water Chestnut
“like someone eating an apple”, “clean and crisp”, “crunchy”, “someone walking on dry snow”

3) Aloe vera
“Flesh of uncooked chicken”, “lychee fruit?”, “jelly fish”, “slippery”, “organic fibres”

4) Canned Jackfruit Preserved in Syrup
“old and stringy like overripen fruits/vegetables”, “disappointed that it wasn’t mango because the colour was deceiving”, “taste did not match the smell”, “reminds me of childhood memory and the dessert that my mom made when the weather is sticky and hot in Hong Kong”

5) Palm Seeds Preserved in Syrup
“beach grass”, “tropical sunset”, “onion looking in appearance”, “sugar cane”, “soft bone”, “vertical fibre”, “throwing rocks into the sea”

6) Jelly made from Taiwanese jelly figs
“agar agar”, “cooled chicken stock”, “fatty portion of meat”, “growing bacteria”, “reminds me of drinking sea water and not knowing what it is”, “alien”, “confusing”, “melting jelly bean”, “gelatinous”, “overwhelming taste like my first experience with jasmine tea”

Do you have a favourite texture that you crave sometimes? Is there a particular food item that you like its taste but hates its texture?

Warming up for…