Archives for category: Imperfect Eats

Swine and Dine

Hog Dog

Pork ‘n’ Roll

Memphis, Tennessee: Best hog barbecue in the US (BB King’s ribs are melt-in-your mouth delish), worst oysters (tastes like cardboard jello).

Pics when I get back.

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So I’ve been guilted into doing some tags. Shireen, you’re terriblelah.

But before yours, I’ve to do Vien’s food tag.

Thing is, even though I’ve been here almost 16 months (but who’s counting?), we’ve almost always cooked and ate at home (to save costlah, why else?).

Having said that, I really don’t think Seattle, or Western Washington, has just one signature dish because it’s so diverse here. Everytime someone from Malaysia visits, we are always a little lost as to where to bring them for a good Seattle meal. And herein, I think, lies a huge difference between Malaysians and Seattle-ites when it comes to eating out.

Back in Malaysia, we tend to home in on the tastiness of a meal as a factor paramount over things like atmosphere. The quality of the ingredients used, particularly for seafood, the skill in the preparation, the overall taste of the whole meal – these things are more important than the location of the place and sometimes, even the state of the restaurant. We will eat next to a dumpster if we deem the food worthy. Of course, following that closely is the price of the meal, but sometimes, even that is thrown out the window. Good food is what we care about. Sometimes, it’s all we care about.

Here in Seattle, more likely than not, locals will recommend places like the revolving restaurant up on what is perhaps most signature about Seattle: the Space Needle. Or a meal and a cruise upon the Victoria Clipper. Or a train ride to the vineyards, that sort of thing. It’s almost always the whole package: good food, great atmosphere, and most of the time, cut-throat expensive.

With that, allow me to apply our Malaysian mentality to recommending good eats here. These places are not necessarily good-looking or be the best places to exemplify Northwestern American cuisine, but I think they’re pretty darn good.

First off, in a mall called Crossroads in a city called Bellevue, there is a food court and in that food court, is a little Russian shop called Piroshky, which my friend Irina tells me literally means ‘baked goods’. Lokes and I love a dish called Lula Kebab there, a pork sausage combination without the skin, served with pasta or rice and Russian coleslaw. Yummy. Ironically, I’ve never tried any of the Piroshky there, although they always look very tempting.

As for Chinese, we have yet to find a good restaurant, or perhaps we are just too used to Malaysian Chinese food. The only Malaysian restaurant here, Malay Sate Hut, IMHO, sucks big time. It is a good place to bring your American friends, though, to introduce our country’s cuisine. We do like a dim sum place called Jeem’s, which serves fairly good dim sum and Cantonese dishes. 

Now Seattle has LOADS of good Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. I particularly enjoy Thai Ginger at Redmond Town Center and Saigon City in Bellevue. These are, to date, the best in their class.

Italian restaurants run rampant in Seattle, but they are mostly not traditional Italian, but more American bistro-like offerings, where the restaurant serves Italian plus other types of popular dishes, such as Southwestern fried chicken or even gumbo. Family chains like Red Robin or Applebee’s are a good example of this ‘fusion’ of something for everyone, and in this category, I vote Applebee’s.

I guess the best place to eat in the whole of Seattle, is still my house. And all the more so now when my mother-in-law is here. She cooks superb Nyonya cuisine and I’ve been gorging on sambal belacan, all the ingredients of which can be found right here in the great Northwest!

 

Coming up: What’s behind a name? Find out what went on in our crazy brains when we named our daughters Raeven and Skyler!

“Did he say bak choy, or siew bak choy?”

That question broke silence one sunny afternoon sitting at home at the dining table. There was no re-introduction, no recollection of a conversation dropped.

 And yet, he knew exactly to what she was referring.

Bak choy,” he answered in Hokkien.

“Oh, bak choy then it will taste very nice. If siew bak choy not so nice,” she responded, giving a curt nod.

I hadn’t the faintest idea of the dish being discussed, but knew enough Hokkien, a popular Malaysian Chinese dialect – and enough of their leisurely habits – to know that my in-laws were talking about a recipe they’d seen on the Food Channel, or perhaps on TVB (called Jade World, the equivalent of Astro’s Wa Lai Toi).

If food is a focus of life for many, it is perhaps the focus of life for the Chinese. It is second only to the purpose of life, which is the unabashed accumulation of wealth. This is a very old-fashioned opinion of my own people. However, like an old well, it still retains some truth. In some, it even overruns. 

The Chinese live to eat, a phrase so apt for our affliction that it could’ve been made just for us. And I challenge anyone to find another civilisation that places as much emphasis and delight on the soothing of one’s palate, the satisfaction of one’s (too) curious tastebuds and the filling of one’s stomach.

Here’s my observation: This craving becomes more arresting with age. The older we get, the more consumed we are about food. It is as if retirement itself was effected simply to give one more time to eat or to think about eating.

Cases in point: My parents and my in-laws. Once reunited, after the usual exchanges are made, including observations about one’s health deduced mainly from one’s ever-expanding waistline (so much so that if it does go the other way, alarm is the first emotion expressed instead of applause), the subject changes quickly to what to eat for lunch or dinner or whatever the next meal is, as though the only purpose for meeting is so that we can be fed.

Food is talked about everyday, at all times of the day. From breakfast to supper, from daybreak to sundown, from teeth brushing to teeth brushing, dish after dish, past, present and future, is discussed and relished and analysed and picked apart until every morsel is understood and digested and committed to memory.

The ultimate consumer and the ultimate consumption.

I wonder. Will we talk only about food when we’re old?

Probably, for I do so love to eat, even now.

And I imagine my husband’s reply would be, “That, and levelling and questing.”

The more I read, the more I’m convinced. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech killer, might’ve suffered from a very severe, untreated, never-diagnosed case of Selective Mutism?

What would happen if enough of the troops in Iraq refuse to fight in the war? Lokes and I discussed this on the drive home yesterday. This morning, we heard this on NPR. Coincidence?

Breastfeeding doesn’t halt obesity. Damn.

We have not watched a single episode of American Idol this season. I wonder why.

Life of Pi is a surprisingly interesting read. I’d thought it would be dry (as all Man Booker Prize winners go, *snort*) but I am enthralled.

My scabbed knee still hurts like a bitch but I am still up for more netball this Saturday (the Seattle women’s netball team is competing in LA this weekend – wish them luck!).

I found a library book I thought I’d lost. Woohoo!

Raeven has two boys ‘fighting’ over her in school. They’d literally pushed each other today over who got to stand next to her. Mortified as I am, am also a little amused.

Skyler will NOT sleep in her own bed and has been coming over every night. It’s exhausting.

I bought some beef for stewing. Any suggestions?

Karli, in case you didn’t know what those things we gave Babs and Zibbit are, here’s a demo:

As some of you may know, I keep a cooking blog as well.

I don’t update it unless I try something new, which means I don’t really check it as well.

So I was really alarmed to see how many comments THIS particular post about Egg in a Basket has garnered.

Don’t know if I should be sad or happy that that blog is more popular than this one! 

More than one person from home (one of which is my mother-in-law, who poses the question to me once everytime I call home to check on the old folks) has asked me this past week what my kids and I eat everyday here in the States.

It's as though the US is this big black hole where all manner of edible matter disappears. Or perhaps they don't think much of me as a cook, so keeping my kids and I from the verge of starvation without spending the family fortune on take-out can be quite real a possibility.

Whatever it is, relax guys. I can bang a skillet/wok and a spatula together when I set my mind to it. If you don't believe me, ask my hubby, although I must say his needs are pretty simple to fulfill, Thai Chicken Rice being his only request most of the time. And I don't see my kids complaining. Skyler is skinny not for lack of food, so don't go pinning that on me. She will eat pine chips and plastic tomatoes, so -…

*we interrupt this blog entry with a short message about how cute Jenn's kids are. Again.*

We'd gone to the beach and Rae, my four-year old (omg, she IS four years old!! sigh…) managed to wet her undies so she went up to change herself. Came down with her shorts on backwards.

Mommy: Babe, your panties are on backwards.
Rae: (looks down) Oh! (sheepish smile) Silly me!
Mommy: It's okay, we're at home. You can leave them like that if you want to.
Rae: (looks at me, and then outside through the glass doors, and then back at me again) Did you lock the doors?

*end message*

…she LOVES my cooking, although that doesn't really make me sound very good.

So what do I eat everyday? I call it kid cuisine.

For breakfast, they have some kind of fruit, usually bananas or oranges, and cheese and usually a sandwich. When Lokes is around, he makes breakfast so I can catch a few more Zs, and he makes eggs most of the time. I've managed to convince the girls cereal is yummy, so yay, since that involves not having to turn on the stove. As for me, I eat whatever is left over on their plates. And of course, coffee. Yes, you can EAT my coffee, yum yum.

For lunch, it's more sandwiches, more cheese, more fruit. Sometimes I'll make chicken nuggets or that egg snack they both love if I have leftover bacon from breakfast.

Dinner is the main event which I agonise over the night before. Usually we have one meat dish and peas/carrots and/or rice. I've discovered putting a four-cheese-blend on rice is yummy. I make them into little rice balls, sometimes with steamed chicken and veggies. Sometimes I make Chinese-style chicken and potatoes. These days, we have a lot of pasta, which is Rae's flavour of the month. So again, it's kid cuisine, so long as Lokes is travelling 'coz I can't be bothered to cook for me when the kids will no doubt have loads left over.

By the way, you do notice I have a recipes blog. Motivates me to be a bit more adventurous than just Thai-freakin'-Chicken rice.

Hmm. Wonder if I have some Napa cabbage in the fridge?

While having dinner (Jack in the Box):

Daddy: Why are the nuggets so crunchy?
Raeven: Because they're born like that, daddy.

Now we know.