Char Bee Hoon: The Real Singapore Noodles

Char Bee HoonChoosing a favorite summer memory from my girlhood in Singapore can be difficult — since the country is right by the equator, it’s summer all year round.

Yes, that means all my childhood memories are summer ones.

But when Karen over at GeoFooding asked me to choose a favorite childhood food memory to write about for this month’s Let’s Lunch virtual lunchdate (which happens to be on Julia Childs’ birthday — happy birthday, Julia!), one dish instantly came to mind.

In fact the thought of it was so intense I almost felt I could taste it right there and then — my mother’s char bee hoon …

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Coltman’s Delicatessen & Kitchen (Scotland): The Pleasure of Peebles

IMG_0361There’s a charming story about a lord near the tiny town of Peebles, located in the rolling hills of Midlothian, Scotland, right by the beautiful River Tweed.

When the conversation turned to Paris once, this lord recounted how a local woman once sniffed: “I’ve been to Paris and I’ve been to Peebles — give me Peebles for pleasure anytime.”

Which may have been why Dorset Boy chose to take me to Peebles on our very first Sunday drive. I’ve been to Paris, after all. Peebles, on the other hand — now this was virgin territory.

What was in store? A cozy little cafe named Coltman’s

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Posted in Bacon, Breakfast, British, Brunch, Restaurants, Scotland, Scottish, Tales From the Road | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kampong Ah Lee (Edinburgh): A Malaysian “Village” in Scotland

photo 2 (5)Dorset Boy is a little particular about food, which I realize could be a problem.

As you may have guessed from this blog (and Tiger), I am a total food trollop. I will eat anything at least once — I constantly crave variety, the different, the new.

Potato – potahto, though. Plus, there seems to be some degree of curiosity about my food quirks. So when I learn that there is a Malaysian restaurant in Edinburgh — one that actually comes well-endorsed by the one Malaysian-Scot I’ve met in the city — he knows we have to go.

So one night, the ever-patient man allows me to drag him to Kampong Ah Lee …

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The Raeburn (Edinburgh): Quaint Scottish Locavore

Jacob's LadderI hadn’t been in Edinburgh for very long when I started to hear about Stockbridge.

This little neighborhood filled with quaint shops wedged together on narrow, cosy streets used to be a village — and still has that air about it.

It’s become recently fashionable, though — sort of the Greenwich Village of the city. And amid the buzzy cafes and shops popping up, I started to notice one in particular: The Raeburn.

Aside from reading about this new boutique hotel and restaurant, I knew there was something there when I happened to overhear a set of chic young Edinburgh professionals talking about it being the place to meet for after-work drinks these days.

So on a chilly spring evening, Dorset Boy and I bundled up and headed over …

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The Harbour Takeaway (Scotland): Fish, Chips, And a Vista

SetonDorset Boy knows I need to see the sea.

I can’t possibly consider living in any city that’s not near a massive body of water. I’ve been spoiled, you see, growing up in Singapore, where a short bus ride in just about any direction would land me on a shore, looking out at a vast expanse of blue — ever the perfect spot for a good sit and a hard think.

So, on the first clear day in Scotland that a visit to the water seems possible, we pack into the car and head north.

I wonder aloud if we’re headed to Musselburgh, where I’ve heard there’s a terrific fishmonger whose fresh lobster and local catches have earned him a staunch following among regional cooks. I wonder if we’re headed to the Forth Bridge, an 1890 architectural wonder stretching 8,296 feet across the scenic Firth of Forth.

Dorset Boy has other plans, however. He simply says, “Fish and chips” …

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The Zulu Lounge (Edinburgh): Finding Bacon Butty

Bacon buttyIt could be said that I’m something of a bacon butty obsessive.

I’m fairly new to this, mind you — in fact, I was a bacon butty virgin for many years. I’d been hearing and reading about British bacon sandwiches, a little frisson of excitement popping up whenever some hungry D.I. mentioned one in the British cop shows I adore. And yet in all that time, I’d never come across a place in New York or Singapore where I could find one. Sure, I could whip out some bacon and bread and make one — but what’s the fun in that?

One day, I thought, a bacon butty will cross my lips. (A girl can dream.)

Finally, on a sunny morning in Edinburgh, it happened …

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Vietnam House (Edinburgh): The Hunt For Pho

photo 2 (1)A few days into any visit to a city that’s not in Asia and the urge always strikes — I must have a bowl of noodles.

In Edinburgh, this proves slightly more challenging than in many other sizeable western cities — yes, the place is filled with cheap Chinese takeouts and Indian curry shops. But the Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese noodle craze that has a firm hold in several metropolises appears to have bypassed this one altogether.

When I text this dilemma to an Asian food-loving friend in Edinburgh — the sweet and adorable Lauren of Asian Cajuns — she immediately replies: Vietnam House for pho.

Well that’s that then — pho it is …

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Posted in Asian, Comfort Food, Noodles, Scotland, Soup, Tales From the Road, Vietnamese | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

James Cockburn & Son Family Butcher (Scotland): A Date With The Pie Man

James Cockburn & SonsI have great appreciation for any man who understands my massive love for meat.

In the U.K., meat pies, to be precise, have been my obsession for years. When this happens to slip out in conversation, Dorset boy merely says: “I have a man — a pie man.”

What follows then is weeks of (at first) gentle inquiring about this pie man, then outright pestering, and then a fair amount of wondering aloud if he actually exists. (A girl has to be careful, after all. I may not be the first to have been smitten by some mention of a fictitious pie man.)

Finally, one morning, it becomes clear that proof is in order. Which is how I find myself pulling up in front of a tiny butcher on a side road of wee Bonnyrigg, Scotland

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Fennel-Tomato Penne: Pantry Pasta

PastaThe best summer days are like delicious meandering daydreams.

The thing about being adrift, slipping from salty stroll to hours lost in rediscovering an old love of a book, is that supper hour suddenly nears and the reverie is interrupted.

“S***,” you think. “What will we eat?”

Dorset boy has a plan. The pantry is almost bare, but the few things can prove useful: Fennel, garlic, tomatoes and penne.

Out comes the chopping board, and away we go …

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Falko (Scotland): A Lovely Spot of Lunch

IMG_3248Sunny days in Scotland — about as hard to come by as you might imagine. (From my experience, anyway.)

So when a late July morning gives you the gift of sunshine and clear skies, the choice is clear — it’s time to get in the car and just go.

Where to? North of Edinburgh, to a little stretch of tranquil coast along the scenic Firth of Forth …

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