Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chocolate (Tofu) Pudding.

In celebration of Halloween...(okay okay, fine, that's just an excuse), who am I kidding? I sneak some chocolate in everyday. I whipped up a batch of chocolate tofu pudding. "Whipped" sounds so effortless, doesn't it? Anyway, reasons being - I was told by my doctor to cut fresh animal milk from my diet entirely. Also, after a somewhat dreadful visit to the dentist's office, I am now more or less on a liquid diet. Yes, my life rocks!

The recipe is incredibly simple and there's really no room for mistakes. All you have to do is blend all ingredients in the blender and voila! Chocolate Tofu Pudding! Even my mom didn't believe it was made with tofu. Surprise, surprise! 

Next time, though, I will probably use milk chocolate chips instead of bittersweet. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Nothing Like Chocolate"

The 4th annual Carmel Art & Film Festival is set to take place October 10-14, 2012. 

While scrolling through the film list, I came across "Nothing Like Chocolate" and naturally, it caught my interest! Directed by Kum-Kum Bhavnani, the film delves into the social, economical, and historical truths of chocolate, much of which can really be a shocker to those not in the know. 

The Carmel Art & Film Festival:

Deep in the rain forests of Grenada, anarchist chocolate-maker, Mott Green operates an unusual chocolate factory that makes delicious creations unknown to a world saturated with industrially produced cocoa, much of it harvested by exploited child labor in West Africa. Mott utilizes solar power, employee shareholding and small-scale antique equipment to make delicious, organic, and socially conscious chocolate. Each step in the production process, from cocoa pod to candy bar, involves ethical and sustainable methods aimed at empowering the community of farmers involved. This is an intimate story of the relentless and headstrong Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company, as he pursues his unique vision to create the best chocolate in the world, ethically and taste-wise. Nothing Like Chocolate allows us to enter the world’s smallest chocolate factory, and we see how, by tackling the unsustainable and exploitative practices of the Goliaths of the industry, they are doing enormous things for cocoa communities, and the world’s sweet tooth.

"Nothing Like Chocolate" will be showing on Friday, October 12th at 4pm @ the Youth Center Upper Theater. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Hello! Hello! Hello!

I am finally back from my adventures in Asia. Three months seemed way too long in the beginning, but time flew by way too quickly! It has been such an emotional experience that, really, trying to describe everything is not without difficulty. 

Onwards, I finally put my new, made in France, madeleine pan I received to use. I made madeleines the other day with Bakeologie's Earl Grey recipe but that didn't go quite according to plan. First, I did not have Earl Grey, so I used a Chinese tea that I had on hand, which did not smell as though it really infused the melted butter. Also, I'm pretty sure I used too much lemon zest because after tasting the madeleines, one would think they're actually lemon. 

I also noticed that it's a matter of really watching over as the madeleines cook because different pans take different times to cook. I'm also trying to figure out why my madeleines didn't come out of the pan cleanly, as I buttered and floured as directed. 

Next time they shall come out as expected!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Extended MIAs.

When deciding to leave for Asia, I knew there would be many things I'd have to leave behind - an essential being decent speed internet access. 

Of course, as life would also have it, my laptop charger has been on the rocks for the past month and has now malfunctioned completely. 

I have more pictures than memory can hold but blogging will have to wait 'til early September at the earliest. Hopefully my memories won't be a blur. 

On another note, I will be leaving to Cambodia for a couple days!

Cheers to those of you who celebration all that summer has to offer! I am sad to be missing out on weekend barbecues and evening mojitos. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Can Tho and Kien Giang

It's been a few weeks since I've stepped foot out of the city, and surely, every place in Viet Nam has its own distinct delicacies. 

Our first stop was Can Tho and not the city, mind you. We visited my uncle in-law's family in Hau Giang Province, which is about 20-30 minutes from downtown. 
Local delicacies included snake and field mice. 

The snake was slow-cooked into a stew. I found it a bit difficult to eat since there wasn't much meat but a lot of small bones that one could easily choke on. The texture was chewier than chicken for sure and the color a kind of beige-grey. 
I skipped on the fried field mice. 

 Since Hau Giang is located so far off on its own, its people make do with fresh local produce. 
The main dish was hotpot. Instead of the usual greens, a different kind of watercress was used into combination with squash flowers and another (the name doesn't come to mind at the moment). I liked how the flowers still had a crunch to them, even after having been dipped into boiling soup. 

Being the late risers that we are, a good portion of the water market vendors had dispersed by the time we arrived in Downtown Can Tho. 

Each vendor hung their product on long sticks to indicate what they were selling. 

After the market, we stopped off onto an island for lunch. 

Candied kumquats, used to cure sore throats. 

Sea snails before preparation. 

Cooked with ginger, lemongrass, and fresh coconut milk. 

Banana tree. Nothing ever goes to waste, as almost every part of the tree is utilized in some way, whether in cooking or other purposes. The reddish/pink flower is sliced into thin strings as garnish in many Viet Namese dishes. Banana leaves are, as seen in many Asian cultures, used as wrapping for storing and cooking food. 


Onward to Kien Giang! 
It was the first time I'd done a homestay in a (very) rural area. It's simplicity was a refreshing break from city life. We showered with water pumped up from a well. Also, I slept under a mosquito net for the first time in my life. They say that without one, the mosquitoes would have sucked me dry (although Saigon mosquitoes have already done a pretty good job at that). 

This is my uncle chopping up sugarcane. As I've come to know, there are different types of sugarcane. Either because they are too old or just plain too hard, most sugar cane found in Saigon this month is just used for pressing. The sugar cane in Kien Giang, however, was young enough to be had as a snack. During my last trip to Viet Nam, sugar cane was more or less the only thing I was snacking on all and every day. 

Preparing fresh crab for boiling. 

Even rural areas have modernized (a bit). In these photo, you can see a partial water pump mechanism. For those who can afford it, a motor can be used to pump up water instead of the old hand-pump mechanism. It saves a lot of effort and is much more productive. 

Fresh shrimp caught in the backyard!

Our Kien Giang stay was short but truly eye-opening. The biggest problem that I saw was the amount of lead contamination in the local water. The only source of close to drinkable water that these people have are derived from wells, yet the grounds are seeped with lead. They do as much as they can to filter it, although it is evident by the locals' skin condition that the problem still remains. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Usuals.

It's been all too quiet on this blogging front. Yes, yes, I know...

Lately, most days are spent lazing away. Eat, sleep, repeat. Oftentimes, when I am not traveling, I feel as though this summer is just like any other, except I am residing on another continent. 

I have been filling the gaps between main meals with street food. There are so many options here (mostly savory), that it's ever-so difficult to make a decision as to what to eat. Lately, my usuals have been fried sweet potato wedges, xoi bap (sticky rice with corn, sugar, and fried onion slivers), and nuoc sam (tonic). 

Fried sweet potato wedges:

I've tried a couple different stalls and so far, the lady on a Ba Hat Street alley (by the Lawyer's office with the navy signage) does it best. Although there is usually a bit of a wait - the fact that she fries it according to orders really makes the fries hot and crispy. Also, the potatoes she uses are actually sweet. She does not, however, take orders over the phone, nor does she deliver. In this day in age, that is very much a set-back for her business. Luckily, she is stationed only a couple blocks from my house. My growing impatience and laziness does mean that I refuse to walk such a distance for fries. Hahah, do I sound like a stuck-up fat kid or what?!?

Xoi (sticky rice) bap (corn):
I had heard of some UH-MAZING xoi bap from across the grapevine. My cousin and aunt were raving about it. The problem was that the xoi bap lady could only be found once in a blue moon. Fear not, the people of Saigon! I hold, in my phone contacts list, the holy grail! (We figured out her daily location schedule anyway. Yes, we stalk food vendors, but not just any. Only the great ones of course.) I usually don't even touch xoi bap but heck, I ate a whole lotta xoi bap last night and am still craving for more. 

Nuoc sam:
There are tonic vendors on every damn street corner of this city, but of course, my lady makes it best. Hahah. Located right off the seven streets intersection, we usually just drive up onto the sidewalk and stop in front of her cart for some refreshing (and I use this term only because she keeps the tonic really chilled) nuoc sam. Mind you, we don't even need to get off our scooter! 
The water in Viet Nam tastes off to me for some reason. It just doesn't taste like...water. So it's always two tall glasses of tonic and two bottles for home. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Saigon temperatures were bearable before I left for Dalat...or so it seemed.

Dalat lies nestled in the valleys of the Central Highlands. Its weather is much like that of San Francisco and in Viet Nam, that's god-sent. 

The market had a lot to offer in terms of variety - quality, not so much. This is primarily a photo-post since I haven't done that in a while. 

Quail, rubbed with coloring for more "appeal".

Chao ga (Chicken porridge)

Fertilized quail egg and hot vit lon (Balut).
Does the texture of the babies (hair and tiny bones) freak you out as much as it does me?

Shellfish galore!

Nem nuong with fried rice paper. I could eat the fried rice paper all day!

Asian yogurt - tart. 

Grilled rice paper with an egg and chives. Apparently this is one of the new "it" snacks everyone has been craving. Dip it in a tarmarind or hot sauce. Viet Namese flat bread, anyone?

Stopped by Windmill Flower and Coffee because it reminded me of home. Macadamia latte. When in Viet Nam, drink Viet Namese iced coffee only!

Jackfruit spotted on roadside stands on the way home.