Chen Ji Wanton Noodles (Singapore): Getting In Line

Wanton MeeA truth about many Singaporeans: If they see a long line anywhere, they’ll get in it. The idea is that if there are that many people in a queue, there must be something good at the front of it.

As much as I think this is silly (and enjoy mocking it), this urge does strike me — but only when it comes to food lines. So when I spotted a long line snaking out from a Singapore hawker stall this morning, that was it. I stopped walking, turned around — and immediately joined the queue.

Peering around the bodies ahead of me, I figured out the breakfast that lay ahead of me: Wanton noodles, one of my favorite Singaporean dishes …

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Posted in Asian, Chinese, Hawkers, Noodles, Singaporean, Southeast Asian, Tales From the Road | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Clam (New York): Feasting in Fashion

Clam stuffiesThe early chilly days of fall always have me nostalgic for the summer feasts of very recent memory.

Which is how I found myself thinking about one of the most perfect lunches I’ve had this year — one that happened during New York fashion week, no less, a time that tends to be focused on fitting into clothes than eating any food.

On the last day of this season’s shows, my very dear friend Clifford Pugh, editor-in-chief of Houston’s CultureMap magazine, called, wanting to toast the end of the week after Ralph Lauren and said, Let’s eat.

Well, you don’t have to ask me twice, which is how we ended up having the loveliest lunch at a little place called The Clam …

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Singaporean Sardine Sandwiches: A Secret Food Love

Sardine Sandwich I recently found myself in a situation of looking at a small list of lunch sandwich choices and having a friend ask me what he should pick. The list featured the usual: Ham, cheese, tuna. And then: Sardine.

My very good-natured friend, the author Alek Popov (read his hilarious novel “Mission London” if you haven’t), listened to my advice — the sardine, of course. For Alek, this new sardine adventure turned out to be a lunch so horrid I wouldn’t hear the end of it at dinner that evening.

For those who didn’t grow up eating sardine sandwiches like I did, I suppose the experience could be a little jarring — it’s intensely fishy, mushy and well, those two sensory things may not be what many seek in a lunch. For me, however, sardines are heaven. I love eating them in sandwiches, in puff pastry buns, on their own. (Not that I broadcast this information — I’ve learned my lesson since my last public show of sardine love.)

So when my Let’s Lunch group decided on making a dish featuring a secret food love — an item you’re so ashamed of eating you don’t talk about it much — sardines came to mind. What to make with it? A Singaporean classic …

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Posted in Fish, Let's Lunch, Recipes, Singaporean, Snacks | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Polish Pickle Soup: Tart, Bright Warmth

IMG_6214I have a great fondness for pickles — in sandwiches, on their own, with charcuterie, you name it.

I have even, on occasion, found myself standing in front of the fridge having woken up hungry  at some ungodly hour of the night, snarfing down a fat dill pickle with slices of ham and cheese wrapped around it. (Yes, perhaps I have a problem.)

The topic had been on my mind recently, especially after a lovely chat I had with New York chef Wylie Dufresne on how to pickle just about everything.

The conversation made me think — what dishes would taste great with pickles in it? That’s when I thought about a tart Polish soup I came across a a while ago that had been on my mind.

So when Anne Marie over at Sandwich Surprise suggested pickles as the topic for our Let’s Lunch feast this month, it was a no-brainer. Polish pickle soup it was… Continue reading

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Jelberts (Cornwall, England): The Best Ice-Cream

photo (26)The noodging began the moment I mentioned traveling to Cornwall for work.

“You must go to Jelberts.”

“It’s really the best ice-cream.”

“You have to go.”

All this coming from a man who has given very few foods the slightest compliment in the short time I’ve known him.

I’m not a big cold sweets person myself, but two things swayed me — Dorset Boy simply adores ice-cream. And, he spent chunks of his childhood in Cornwall, a fairly short walk from Jelberts, in fact.

So when I finally set foot in Cornwall, on this southernmost bit of England, I decided I had to see what the fuss was all about. Or, never hear the end of it …

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Posted in Beach, British, England, Ice-Cream, So Good It Must Be Bad For You, Tales From the Road | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wilma Jean (Brooklyn): Fried Chicken, Down-Home

photo 1 (11)

It’s been a rough few weeks over here — between the stresses of packing up the lair for a move, wisdom teeth extractions and trying to squeeze in writing somewhere in there, I tell you, it’s all been enough to send a girl running out for fried chicken.

Which, it turned out, was not a bad idea.

Some chefs with rather tasty chops had just opened a new casual Southern restaurant near me in Brooklyn in July, after all. The specialty? Fried chicken …

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Posted in American, Brooklyn, New York, Poultry, Restaurants, So Good It Must Be Bad For You, Southern | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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Posted in Asian, Chinese, Let's Lunch, Noodles, Recipes, Singaporean | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

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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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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