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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kuala Lumpur!

What a long hazy trip it's been...
I don't want to overwhelm with all the pictures I've been taking, so you'll see plenty of collages along the way. Throw a comment my way if you have a question about any of them.
The Islamic Art Museum was filled with awe inspiring exhibits. These are just a few detail shots.
There are hawker stands all over the city, morning, noon and night. The triangle's in the lower left are filled with corn and peanuts, so easy to love.
This is Puti Piring- rice flour dough forming a cake around a filling of coconut. Here they've cooked it in Bamboo rings. Light and sweet, lovely.
The choices of eats and sweets are overwhelming!
A flower break.
The front steps of my residence here, via AirBnB.
It may seem as if I spend most of my time wandering hawker stalls because I am. The smog/smoke haze is too thick for me to safely run, so I'm hiking my ass to and fro to taste and see all that I can.
Kaya toast, which is egg, coconut and sugar mixture slathered on toast. #notvegan
I've even found a vegan sushi.
Visited the Batu Caves. There are over 270 steps to the top, and visually stunning.

These are some more random pics.
My new favorite breakfast, and its vegan, roti with dal. That and a cup of sweet tea will set you back $.78US!
New friends Helen and Mark (via old friends Denise and John) took me out for a wonderful afternoon High Tea. How fancy are we?!
Grabbing a train in the am to head north to Penang!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Singapore Dream!

I've been dreaming of getting to and eating my way around Singapore for about 15 years. And I made it! Fucking-a-right!!!
First thing I did after checking into my hostel was run out to find the nearest hawker stand to fill my gob with noodle soup. Well...I thought the soup I tried may have been pigs blood soup. And for those of you wanting to say "But you're Vegan!?" Don't get your knickers in a twist, I'm mostly vegan. I'm on this trip to have adventures after all. And that soup is an adventure I need never have again. The veg were great, but I was turned off by the metallic taste. Turns out it's "Spicy and Sour Soup", all vegetables after all. The spice was incredible! Schechuan peppercorns perhaps? My taste buds have yet to recover.

Most hawker centers, think mini malls for food stalls, have cut fruit and agar agar jelly (vegan jello). That purple is ridiculous!
My last name may not seem that unique but spelling Clarke with an e on the end isn't that popular. (A great uncle of mine actually removed the e so, according to him, it would cost less to paint his name on the door of any business he started...he never did start a business.) Not only Clarke St here in Singapore, but Clarke Quay (pronounced Key)!
Sometimes my hunger to try as much food as I could means some fish happens....
But mostly I ate vegan, like these tofu skin balls with veg.

These were the tiniest, tastiest pineapples I've ever had!
The city is a crazy mix of old and new architecture, temples and alleys. I prefer the old parts of town personally. 
Today the haze/smog is so thick you can almost chew it.  Also, sweating gallons in this humidity is the norm.
Had spontaneous dim sum lunch with brand new friends (one of them a Boulder native, but of course!) and now onto Kuala Lumpur!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Perth is Worth It!

Apparently, as it is on the far west of Australia, most folks don't head to Perth. And that's ridiculous!

I've had the best time with Denise and John. And hanging with Denise's crew of ladies for walks, bike rides, dim sum and cooking classes got me out, about and moving!

 The Mexico in Perth cooking class was a big success! Denise and I fell right into our rythym from when we worked together at acooking school in Colorado. We made Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, fresh Corn Tortillas, Refritos and a Zacatecas Lamb Mole. I truly believe that this is my best far.

Zacatecas Lamb Mole

Serves 8

4 each                Ancho Chiles
4 cloves         Garlic
¼ tsp.                 Cumin
½ tsp.                 Oregano
½ tsp.                 Marjoram
¼ tsp.                 Ground cloves
½ tsp.                 Ground Cinnamon
¼ cup                 Canola Oil
2 lbs.                 Lamb Shoulder, cut into ¾ inch pieces
½ cup                 Onion, minced
2 each                 Bay Leaves
2 tsp.                 Cider Vinegar
2 tsp.                 Sugar
                Salt and Pepper to taste
1 TBS                 Bittersweet Chocolate, cut into small pieces
3 tsp.                 Grated Orange zest

1. Toast the chiles on an ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat for 20 to 30 seconds on both sides, but do not allow them to burn. When the chiles are cool enough to handle, rinse them, and remove their stems, seeds and veins, tear them into small pieces, and place them in a blender. Add 3 cups of boiling water, cover the blender and allow the chiles to rehydrate for at least 20 minutes. Pour off the soaking water, but leave the chiles in the blender.
2. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, marjoram, cloves, cinnamon, and 1 ½ cups water to the blender and blend for at least 1 minute. Add ½ cup water and blend a few more seconds to mix thoroughly.
3. Heat a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium high to high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil, and when it just begins to smoke add ½ the meat. Allow the meat to sizzle and brown without touching it for 20 - 30 seconds, turn it and repeat the process, then stir fry it until the meat is just browned but not cooked through. Remove the meat to a bowl and reserve. Brown the other half of the meat in the same manner, adding a little more oil, if necessary, and remove it to the bowl with the first batch.
4. Turn the heat to medium, add a little more oil, if necessary, and sauté the onions until they are golden brown, but do not allow them to burn. Return the reserved meat to the pot, add the contents of the blender, bring it to a simmer, cover the pot and continue simmering, adjusting the heat as necessary, for 45 minutes. Remove the top of the pot, turn the heat up until the contents come to a fairly brisk simmer, and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of a thin milk shake and begins to glisten. This usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. 
5. Stir in the chocolate and orange peel, and serve with hot corn tortillas.

Did I mention we made Churros and Chile Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate for dessert? 'Cause we did!

There is a lot to love here.
  1. Great Public Transportation-bus, train or even ferry! Get just about everywhere easily.
  2. Caramel Slices-I've never seen them in the States, but damm they are good! A shortbread like base, caramel middle (made from sweetened condensed milk) and chocolate top.
  3. GST-the Sales Tax is included in the price of everuthing.  If the menu or price tag says $20, you pay $20. Genius!
  4. No Tipping-wait staff are paid a fare and decent wage.
  5. Cafe's-coffee/tea shops with toast, brekky and baked goods, like the Caramel Slice.
  6. Footy-I don't understand it all, but two West Coast teams are favored in the Grand Finals and athletic strong men play it. Yes please!
But...there are just a few things that just aren't right.
  1. Target-their version is tiny and doesn't carry everything anyone could possibly want ever! 
  2. Pharmacy (Chemist in Aussie)- same as Target
  3. Cafe's-close at 5pm and often aren't open on the weekend.
  4. Chocolate Chip Cookie-nope, nope, nope...just stop it now.
  5. Milkshakes- chocolate milk does not a milkshake make.
  6. Chips-they taste wonderful, but they're fries people!

    I've also been extremely lucky that I had Gavin to drag about for food adventures. He's brother to the crew of 4 kids I watched about 20 some years ago. He's doing a semester at Uni here and was open to trying new things. Like handmaid noodles at Noodle Forum. The noodle dough is kneaded the traditional way, via bamboo rod riding noodle chef. How cool is that?

    All in all, Perth is a great place to be! I'm on to Singapore and Malaysia on Monday!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

At Last Margaret River!

I've been hearing about how wonderful Margaret River, in Western Australia, is for years now from my good friends Ann and Gene. For almost 10 years they spent 4 months out of year here. As I was in WAU, I had to go see for myself.
This group of Roo's were hanging out in the paddock throughout my stay. They're like deer wandering about in your back yard.
I was lucky enough to stay at Karibu Cottage just outside of town. Libby and Robb were wonderful, gracious and very knowledgeable about where to go and what to do. 

Their twins, Alice and Sarah, lent a hand as we put together tortellini filled with roasted cauliflower and served topped with arugula pesto and a green veg filled salad.
Yeah that's avocado toast and a cuppa again. I have it often when I'm out and about, as I can.
I took a good long trek to Prevelly, a surfers paradise. The sea is such a blue! Here in the picture it was storming a bit. It was awe inspiring.
Libby had a recipe for Morrocan Fish, so we served it up with cous cous and on the side roasted potatoes and asparagus. Both of them were straight from the garden.
And here we have a very traditional Aussie and NZ dessert, Pavlova, that Libby whipped up. Served with cream and blueberries here.

Other friends, Lynn and Shirley hosted us for a morning tea and I took these flower and guinea fowl pics at their place.
And let's not forget Molly, Libby and Robb's poodle. She is a two time venemous snake bite survivor and very loving.
Now I'm back in Perth for a bit.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Auzzie, Auzzie, Auzzie!

Landed in Perth on Monday and its been go, go, go since then. Perfect for me as I hate sitting still!
Denise and I have known one another for about 16 years, where we met at a cooking school in Boulder. She and her husband John have been fantastic hosts/tour guides.
When I arrived we headed right over to a Monday market half a block from their house,! I had martabak, which is a flat bread filled with lentils and spinach, had to have some roasted corn as well.
After a morning run/walk along the Swan River with a bunch of ladies I had some more tea and toast. Vegemite accompanied it wonderfully.
Cooking with/for Denise is always a pleasure. Here we had Pan au Tomat, roasted asparagus and cauliflower potato soup.
More ladies on Wednesday, gathered for a bike ride along the coast. That's the Indian Ocean behind us. What a blue!
And more tea, with a caramel slice.
Made dinner that night, roasted chicken for them, tofu for me, on miso noodle bowls.
This here, tea and a book, thats a favorite way to spend an afternoon.
More ladies gathered for dim sum, yam cake with XO sauce here.
It's starting into spring here and I got to wander Kings Park with my buddy Gavin (from the US and going to university here) to explore the flowers. That is Kangaroo Paw there.

Saturday farmers markets had varieties of cooked food and fresh veg. Above is a middle eastern shashousk, eggs in spicy tomato sauce.
Denise knew of a secret garden that was weird and wonderful.

Today we ran/walked through The John Forrest National Park. There was red tailed black cockatoo eating a gum nut.
That beak really does a job on the super hard gum nut, which ssmell like limes.
Denise and John are always up for adventures!

I head south to Margaret River on Tuesday.