Thursday 6 May 2010

Arteastiq Tea Lounge by MARXX

Talking about Mother's Day which falls on this coming Sunday, 09 May. What's on your mind to celebrate or pamper your mum for the time and thoughts that she has spent on you. No matter what is your budget like, I am sure she will appreciate the thought that count. So why not taking this opportunity to pamper mum with some refreshing English Floral-Tea and unique tea-snacks while some time off during your shopping trip.

Arteastiq is a very new tea lounge located inside a furniture boutique called Marxx at the Mandarin Gallery. The place was furnished with colourful designer chairs and sofa that brighten up the area. You can also enjoy good view of orchard road from the tall glass window.

There are a wide range of Tea Menu from English floral teas such as French Rose or Earl Grey to Chinese and Japanese and fruit teas like Pomelo, Lychee or etc. Beside these they also served alcoholic teas such as Cointreau Menta Lemongrass or Choya Pear Tea which is only available after 5pm.

Since both mum and I love floral tea, we ordered both our set from the English Floral Tea menu. The one that I had above is the Earl Grey with Lavender Tea which black tea that is blend with a light scent of Lavender that smooth my mood of the day. Each set of tea served with a complementary snack that varies from set to set which could be dried cranberries or sweet wafer biscuits or etc. Both our floral tea set are comes with almond wafers which mum enjoy so much and yet at a reasonable price of S$6.90 each set.

Mum prefer something light so she order her favourite French Rose Tea which is light and refreshing. The romantic rose scent really add extra fragrance to the atmosphere too. Each tea set is served on a gold-handled wooden tray, with unique design tea pots and cups. Like eg. Mum's rose tea set was served with a rose print tea cup and plate which add extra presentation point to the set.

Along with the tea sets we also ordered one of the recommendation Teasers item known as "Trinity" which offers a taste of three items in smaller servings. Our picks are: Knight Without Armour (crab salad served with volvant), Lust (chilled drunken sakura chicken with wolfberries) and Hot Naked Top (spicy jumbo top shell with chilled mango achar) which cost S$8.90 for any three items. Out of the 3 items mum loves the spicy top shell because it taste great with it's Q texture and the combination of sweet and sour mango achar.

Overall this is a great afternoon tea session for everyone of us. Even my little boy who don't drink tea enjoy the atmosphere and cosy environment of this little cafe that located at a corner of this unique furniture boutique. Em... perhaps next round I shall try some of their cold tea and wagyu beef which we missed out today. So if your mum loves afternoon tea, why not give this a try and let her experience another way of tea-time rather than the usual normal "coffee-break". Posted by Picasa

Wednesday 5 May 2010

2010 Taiwan Trip - Day 3

After a long day of travelling and fun watching of fire-crackers, fireflies and etc we slept around 11pm yesterday night. This was our first time staying over at a village farm. Although the surrounding scenery was great but the room was kind of creepy crawling with flying insects........ But thank God we still managed to have some sleep and replenish our energy for another brand new day.

Breakfast was served in another restaurant near the gathering area. According to the tour guide daily breakfast was specially prepared using organic ingredients which is good for health. Normally Taiwanese love to have porridge, steam bun and side dishes for their morning breakfast. I also tried one of their signature braised minced pork that served with steam oat rice. Overall this is a good memories for us especially, Rey whom has never encounter country life and farm stay before.

After breakfast, we head off to the southern side of Su-ao Harbor known as Nanfangau - 南方澳, a major base for coastal fishing. The abundance of the fish catch here has made Nanfang-ao one of the three largest fishing towns on the island. There are actually three fishing harbors and markets at Nanfang-ao, each with its own unique character. At this harbour you can also visit the famous Nan Tian Gong - 南天宫 which the landmark of Nafangau, and also the center for the traditional religion (Ma Zu - 妈祖庙) of the local citizen.

Depart from the fish harbour, we head off along the beautiful "Suhua Highway - 苏花公路" which a portion was built alongside very steep cliffs high above the Pacific Ocean - 太平洋 that it is a dangerous but yet scenic drive. It's such a pity that I didn't managed to take any photos during the journey because the winding road has made me so giddy and nausea. If you have to cruise along the highway you will agreed with me it's breath taking scenery.

About 2 hours or so, we reached Hua Lian - 花莲 whereby we stop over at an Organic Restaurant that is at the foot of "Taroko National Park - 太鲁阁国家公园". All the dishes shown above are all organic including the pork and poultry. Although the food look and taste great, but I am too sick(suffer from motion sickness) to have my lunch.

"Taroko National Park - 太鲁阁国家公园" has a few stopover stations for tourist to take photos and enjoy it's natural beauty. Taroko Gorge and its surrounding area are well known for their abundant supply of marble, leading to its nickname, "The Marble Gorge". The rock now seen in Taroko began over 200 million years ago as sediment on the bottom of the ocean.

We visited two of the most-visited attractions at Taroko National Park which are Yantzukou - 燕子口 and the natural wonders along the Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail - 九曲洞步道. Since rockfall is extremely common in these parts, we had to put on safety helmets. In the photo above, you can see the Keelun river and the “Fish leaping across the dragon gate” natural structure. The rock formation is supposed to look like a fish trying to swim upstream.

After admiring all the mountains and cliffs and follow by another hour plus of travelling journey we reached "Rei Suei Leisure Farm - 瑞穗牧场". They also has a open air cafe that sell their very own homemade milk ice-cream, cheesecake and steam milk bun which is one of their signature item. A souvenir store that sell all kinds of products with cow prints or design. This farm is sure a great place for kids to roam around enjoying feeding or milking the cows.

Since we came all the way to this farm, we must ordered some of their famous items for our tea-break. Mum love their "Steam Milk Bun - 鲜奶馒头" which is so soft and fragrant to taste. Rey on the other hand love their homemade milk ice-cream.....em... this ice-cream really taste like "cold milk" no wonder Rey love it so much that he don't even want to share his share with us. For me, I took the hot milk with cheesecake whereby the milk is freshly cook upon serving and this taste so different from the usual fresh milk that we bought from the supermarket in Singapore.

Finishing our tea-snacks, we head off to Chipen - 知本 which is about 20 minute's ride southwest of Taitung - 台东. Passing the village towards the mountains, though, the road leads to one of the most popular tourist destinations in southeastern Taiwan: Chipen's hot springs and resort. Hot springs are extremely popular in Taiwan because of their reputed benefits to the skin and to general health.

For dinner today we will be having in the restaurant located in our hot spring resort. The dishes are more or less the same as the usual meal where they served steam chicken, prawns, stir-fry pork, steam clam and fish, green vegetables and herbal soup. After dinner, we went out for a walk along the streets not far from the resort where there are some souvenir stores, mini market, restaurant, karaoke bar and etc.

Upon returning to the resort, we have our hot spring bath to relax our body and soul before bedtime in order to have a good rest and prepared ourself for tomorrow's program. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Hearts ‘IN’ Hearts

This coming Sunday 9 of May - "Mother's Day", will be a great day for every mothers' or mum to be. I am sure no matter which categories you fall into you are bound to enjoy this wonder moment with your love one. So for this post, daddy and little one can help to prepare this hearty breakfast to reward mummy for all her handwork.

Western breakfast is always the most easier to prepare as most of the ingredients such as Ham, Cheese, Bread and Egg can be easily found in the supermarket. Since this is prepared to reward all the lovely mummies, we use assorted hearts shape cookie cutters to stamp out different sizes of hearts using bread and cheese.

2 Slices of Thick Bread
1 Egg
30g Shaved Ham
1 Slice of Sandwich Cheese, optional
Assorted Size Heart shape Cutters

1. Use a Medium heart shape cutter or knife to cut out a heart shape from the center of each slice of thick bread. (In this recipe, I use the thick bread with cranberry, which can be easily found in most local bakery)
2. Spread some butter on the surface of the cutout bread then pop them in the toaster oven together with the 2 heart-shaped cutout and toast for about 5 – 7 minutes till their slightly golden in colour.
3. Remove and set aside.
4. Heat up a small frying pan or saucepan with some oil, saute the shaved ham for a few second, removed and set aside.
5. With the same pan, add in 1 teaspoon of oil, swirl the oil around the pan, place one of the toast bread in the pan, slowly break the egg into the heart-shaped hole, cover the pan and cook the egg over low heat until the egg white turns opaque, about 3 minutes or so.
6. When done, slowly transfer the bread to the serving plate (careful not to break the egg) along with the heart-shaped pieces of cutout bread, which is prefect for dipping into the yolk.
7. Lastly, fill the 2nd piece of hollow heart-shaped bread with shaved ham and top with heart-shaped cheese cutout.

Serve this hearty breakfast with mum’s favourite beverage during this Mother's Day weekend to pamper her sight and taste bubs. I am sure she will be overwhelm by these Hearts...... Here I wish all the mothers and mother to be a Happy and heartwarming Mother's Day!!! Posted by Picasa

Black Chicken Porridge

Come and pamper mum with this healthy and nutritious porridge this coming Mother's Day that is falls on the 9 of May. I am sure most of us are more familiar on using “Black Chicken -乌骨鸡” to cook with herbal soup rather than porridge. The idea of this porridge comes from the similar concept of Korean Ginseng Chicken where they use glutinous rice as one of the ingredients. So I thought maybe I can turn the herbal soup into something light and yet nutritious for the whole family.

The ingredients used can be easily found in most Chinese Medical Hall and you can also get the black chicken from most of the supermarket too. The use of Lotus Seeds, Yu Zhu and Dried Longan can nourishes Ying and quenches thirst, benefits bloods and clams the spirit and as well for treating tensions and forgetfulness too. Whereas Black Chicken nourishes the Yin and strengthens the kidney.

Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 Black Chicken, 乌骨鸡
10g Dried Longan, 桂圆
10g Lotus Seeds, 莲子
5g Huai Shan, 淮山
5g Yu Zhu, 玉竹
5g Wolfberries, 枸杞
10g Dried Scallop, optional
3/4 Cup of Uncooked Rice
1.5 Litre Of Water

1. Trim the fats and unwanted parts of the black chicken, cut it into 4 parts. (you can ask the stall owner to help you to remove the skin, fats and cut it into quarter, according to my mum some supermarkets also provide this trimming & cutter services)
2. Place the chicken pieces in boiling water for about 3 – 5 minutes to remove the odors then rinse it with tap water and set aside for later use.
3. Rinse the uncooked rices for a few times and soak it in water for about 20 – 30 minutes so that it will soften easily and shorten the cooking time.
4. Using a medium or big soup pot (I used a big claypot), bring the water to boil, add in all the ingredients except lotus seeds, wolfberries and uncooked rice.
5. When the water comes to boil, reduce the heat; simmer the herbs and chicken for about 20 minutes.
6. Next add in the uncooked rice(without the water) and soft lotus seeds to the soup mixture, when the soup comes to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes.
7. Remember to stir the porridge on and off (to prevent burning), if the soup tends to dry out, you can add in some hot water to dilute it.
8. Adjust the cooking time to the porridge texture according to your mum’s liking, stirring in the wolfberries about 3 minutes before you turn off the heat.
9. You can serve this as lunch or dinner with some extra spring onion or coriander as garnish.

~ When using dried scallop, soaked it in hot water till soft, rinse and set aside before adding to the soup with the rest of the ingredients.
~ Soak lotus seeds without pre-washing in hot water till soft, removed the green bitter dried germ of the lotus seeds before adding to the soup.

With all these benefits of the ingredients used, why not list down your shopping list and start preparing something for your mum this coming Mother’s Day. I am sure she will be delighted even it is just a simple dish that is out from your hand and heart. Posted by Picasa