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Essence of CWTism

Essence of CWTism

By on Oct 22, 2014 in Asian, Commentary, Food, Khmer, Travel | 0 comments

As a food and travel writer I am often asked to specify my favourite national cuisine, which usually stumps me. I shift nervously, feeling an urge and obligation to cite a particular region, as though it would be a disappointment to the expectant quiz master should I fail to mention a cuisine that is at once both delicious and exotic. Is it perhaps Italian food, which has great seasonality and variety of produce? French? Whilst classic French cookery is the cornerstone of many a chef’s repertoire, it would almost be too obvious to offer in answer to such a question. Lately here in the UK, national cuisines that have taken off include Vietnamese, American (deep South), Chilean, Japanese and Korean. One hardly knows which way to point one’s precious culinary compass. So, I usually lie and say Khmer, or Cambodian as it’s otherwise known, perhaps in the hopes of appearing worldly, and stopping the quiz master in their tracks. When asked to describe Khmer cuisine, I tend to describe it as like a cross between Vietnamese, Thai and French, often featuring pork, freshwater fish, lotus root and fresh herbs, with an emphasis on rice. What the eating habits of Italians, Japanese and Cambodians have in common is the art of grazing. Lots of small dishes are eaten in slow succession, allowing for a more in-depth culinary experience. With the advent of global travel and the resultant cultural collisions, cuisines have fused and melded, and whilst the term fusion cuisine may be abhorrent to some, it is fair to say that you can often tell which nation has infiltrated another, by simple observance of their culinary influences. Culinary World Touring is a method of mapping geography and culture by cuisine, charting the gastronomic voyage with texts, image and any other means available. The truthful answer to the question of a favourite cuisine is that I don’t have one, and the beauty of being a Culinary World Tourist is having the ability to dip one’s chopsticks or cutlery into whichever regional speciality you see fit. Another question that comes up is that of a favourite destination to visit, which is equally as difficult to answer, as every destination has it’s own merits, and...

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Buddha drops the swag

Buddha drops the swag

By on Dec 2, 2013 in Asian, Food, Interior design, London, Luxury, Restaurants, Travel | 0 comments

It’s strangely ironic in a sense that Buddhism, which has been referred to as “the religion of choice” now has it’s very own bar / restaurant in the heart of Knightsbridge, one of London’s plushest districts. What would the Buddha himself have to say on the matter? Would he eat there? If so what would he order? Perhaps he would mooch about looking at the various statues of himself to establish which is most life like. Then again perhaps not. The first thing that struck me about Buddha Bar on entering was the darkness. It’s mesmerisingly dark. The tables and floor are dark wood, and lighting is moody, focussing on the sculptural objects. Ambient light as a result is dim by contrast, which they’ve fixed so to speak, with red lighting that creates a hue on your table top, causing food to glow dimly, with a sort of Satanic eeriness. As traditionalist as it may seem, I like to see my food in natural lighting, or something close to it at any rate. We commenced with bubbles then chose for starters Prawn “Rock Shrimp Style” served with a creamy spicy sauce, and squid, which was prepared similarly. I’m not sure whether to blame myself for ordering something deep fried instead of ordering sushi and sashimi, but I found the dishes both basically satisfactory, just nothing remarkable, although the creamy sauce had a pleasant melange of flavours, in spite of the overriding sensation of oiliness. Next, we shared English beef fillet with black garlic sauce and truffle mash, alongside steamed red Bream with lemongrass broth and Enoki mushrooms. The steak was pretty damn good, cooked to the perfect temperature and deliciously tender. Neither of us had tried black garlic sauce, and found it had a pleasing depth of flavour. Truffle mash was soft, creamy and easy on the palate. The bream dish was interesting and I felt that it would have been a good dish to eat on a mountainside after a long hike, breathing in fresh mountain air. Its a very delicate, light dish although there is a sourness in the broth that I wasn’t quite sure about. Where we went wrong was in sharing the two dishes between...

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Fishy in a dishy with a fat slab of beef

Fishy in a dishy with a fat slab of beef

By on May 23, 2013 in Asian, Food, Recipes | 0 comments

Or: “Le surf et la viande de bouef” Or, instead of “ave a banana!” “Heifer tsunami!” Bovine shipwreck? Admittedly, might need some work. I’m developing ways to say surf and turf without saying surf and turf, as the whole point of the blogger’s fraternity of culinary invention, is to provide a twist on classics. This is the most long overdue recipe I’ve ever posted, and for that I have my fellow food bloggers to beg for forgiveness. I cogitated over this dish for a while, not wanting to produce anything too mediocre, and I must say I’m fairly pleased with the resulting balance of flavours and textures. This is essentially a pan-Asian take on surf and turf, and features a slab of steak cooked with umami paste and smoked garlic, topped with sea trout tartare and served alongside dressed seaweed and porcini mushrooms. What it certainly achieves is the sensation of the ocean with the trout, nam pla and seaweed, combined with the earthiness of the garlic, mushroom and beef. Ingredients (serves two as a generous starter). For the steak: 1 fillet or sirloin steak, according to your preference (approx 8 oz / 220 grams) Toasted sesame oil Smoked garlic powder or pureed smoked garlic Umami paste For the sea trout tartare:  1 sea trout steak (approx 6 oz / 170 grams) 2 tsps peanut oil or toasted sesame oil 2 tsps lemon juice 2 tsps lime juice 2 tsps grapefruit juice 1 tbsp brown demerara sugar 1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce) 1 tsp pink peppercorns, crushed 1 tsp very finely diced / splintered ginger 1 tsp finely chopped lemongrass 5 cms wide chunk of cucumber, diced finely For the mushrooms: 1 tsp toasted sesame oil 4 Porcini mushrooms, quartered 1 tbsp dark soy sauce For  the seaweed:  A small handful of fresh seaweed (or dried if unavailable) 2 tsps of the dressing for the tartare Recipe:  Firstly ensure your seaweed is well washed and dried. To prepare the tartare, firstly create the dressing by combining all the ingredients except the cucumber in a bowl and whisking together. If the trout steak comes with skin on, cut it off, baste with a little of the dressing and grill the skin...

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