It has become something of an annual ritual. TK cooking for the birthday buds in May, even tho one of them is an April gal. The location: a mutual friend’s home near Katong Park.
This year saw a slight departure. The April gal got her own dinner at GOTO at Ann Siang Hill as written about here.
Another departure from tradition is that TK (whose birthday we celebrated at Gunthers last July) didn’t cook up the dishes he enjoyed from his last trip. In the past, when he’s just back from a trip, he would give his interpretation of the cuisine he tasted, for example as detailed here when he went to Syria.
Anyway, TK had just returned from a holiday in Korea (south of cos) and had initially wanted to reprise Korean flavours — but decided against that a few days be4 the cook-in, explaining that he couldn’t face the explosion of flavours that typified Korean food.
And I was so looking forward to bibimbap too! Tho on reflection, it’s probably not too big a loss since I like only bibimbap and kimchi and nothing else from the Korean menu. At any time I could have my fill with a visit to the ubiqbuitous Korean cuisine stalls in our food courts.
But for the fine, light but complex touch of TK’s cooking, it’s always a treat and not available on demand but by invitation only.
So on May 23, we started with chopped fresh raw tuna tossed in prawn roe, chives, seaweed strips, ginger, a Japanese plant that looks like a mini banana flower (chef can’t remember its name but since he shops mainly at Medeiya, a trip there should locate the veggie) and wasabe.
Oishi! Went down excellently with the Charles Heidsiek champagne courtesy of CK. Pity we were each limited to one portion of tuna, like they do in non-buffet restaurants.
We then proceeded to the dining room and were served diced grilled beet root similarly marinaded. TK said he remembered I like beetroot, a liking I couldn’t remember but I didn’t want to contradict him as that would be ungracious.
I was just thankful he didn’t remember that spell when I loved blue cheese and ate so much of it that I got turned off eventually. Nowdays, I can’t possibly face another nibble of blue cheese, not even if it’s only in dressing.
A third appetiser followed. Fat pan-fried scallop with argula leaves, bacon chips and prawn roe.
Flat owner CK provided a 13-year-old bottle of Shiraz! To go with the plump scallops. And followed that with an icy cold dish, as a sort of freshener for the palate. It was a soup of boiled nashi pears, slices of sour plum and osmanthus flowers. Added to it were potato vermecelli and daintily diced cooked nashi.
It was truly refreshing! And cleansed our mouths nicely for the bruchetta main course. As usual, I’m the odd one out– the others were given beef whereas I had grilled shredded spatchcock.
The reason for this? I’ve many taboo foods, not because of religion or allergy (which people might excused) but simply because I don’t like the taste of a fairly extensive list that extends to beef, lamb, goose and duck to name just a few.
Occasionally, others had to sacrifice for me as was the case when we went to GOTO. Everyone had fish and seafood courses throughout although there were a few grumbles that a meat course won’t have been out of place.
For a home-cooked meal, it meant that the host had to cater specially for me, if he didn’t want to deprive the others of beef, duck or lamb.
And so it was I had spatchcock meat bruchetta whereas the others had beef. The salsa however was the same: fresh blueberries and mango in a dressing of preserved lemons and avocado oil.
And how else would a birthday party for three buds of May end if not with a birthday cake — provided as always by the sweet n generous LW, who also brought pomelo beads in mango puree. (She’s the best resource person for locating the most delicious desserts in Singapore and some would say anywhere else in the world).
Actually when I heard that LW had brough Black Forest cake, I felt a bit disappointed as I had gone off Black Forest like I have blue cheese.
But after taking a sliver, I was converted again because the cake was dense and got bite, not like the mousse or sponge that masquerades nowadays under the name of Black Forest cake.
Shades of Mont D’or of my childhood came back and I went for a meaningful slice as my 2nd helping. Made all the better with a generous drizzle of Cointreau.