>When I posted “Foodtopia 1” I should’ve known that folks would be wanting more food porn. Surprisingly, no-one ever asks for more ranty, self-righteous posts. Funny, that.
Well, this post has been a long time coming. I started it back in November 2006 and never got it finished. Then I had a baby last Boxing Day and notions of time became speedy and elastic. Now, I’ve offloaded 9-week-old E. to my mother and have both hands free. Hurrah! I was going to continue in the vein of the last Foodtopia entry and post some pics from the food album with commentary BUT have decided that it’s much more interesting (and relevant) to write about Chinese New Year feasts that my family has had since we’ve set up in Melbourne.
Slight tangent first: For Xmas, one of my gifts was the Foodies’ Guide to Melbourne 2007 and it’s fantastic. One of the recommended Middle Eastern grocery shops is all of 5 mins away from where we live so we should never be without Turkish bread or pomegranate syrup or their home-made nougat. The shop has cafe and takeaway areas attached, and it’s a highly-stacked rabbit warren of shelves with great bins of nuts, dried fruit, various specialist flours and grains, and a section for crockery (including some beautiful tagines and glassware). We’re itching to try out the places the Guide recommends for best fish and chips, the myriad bakeries and the best vanilla slices…it’s tough, having so many foodie buttons.
Onto the Chinese NY extravaganzas:
This year, we had a bang-up Chinese NY feast on the night of 17 February (the ‘reunion’ dinner for Chinese families is usually held on Chinese NY’s Eve). It was also the ‘moon yuet’ celebration to welcome little E. – ‘moon yuet’ is the 1-month event held for new babies. Ours was sorta at the 2 month mark but never mind. The feeding took place at our house and there were 8 of us. Very auspicious.
The picture on the left is what we had: [from top of pic] home-made loh bak (spiced pork rolls – steamed then deep-fried and oh-so-more-ish); red eggs (hardboiled, for big birthday celebrations and suchlike); mixed stir-fried veg (token vegetable presence); roast duck; my mother’s famous beef rendang (with freshly made ‘santan’ – toasted shredded coconut); and the foreground is roast pork (which was particularly fantastic – exactly the kind of marbling that makes it melt in the mouth and the crackling came up beautifully in the oven).
For dessert, we had ‘ang koo’ – red glutinous flour dumplings that are filled with sweet mung bean paste. They’re steamed just before serving and, because E’s a girl, are shaped like peaches. They are ultra-delicious and ultra-fiddly to make (chalk up another recipe that I’ll probably never attempt).
Last year – Chinese NY 2006 – we were at my sister’s place in St Kilda and there were about 20 people. It was madness and the table groaned with food (click on photo for bigger pic of ridiculous amount of food). The stalwart dishes were there: rendang, loh bak, roast pork and roast duck.
But we also had: whole baked fish (there ain’t nothing to compare with a fresh baked fish – try it sometime), 2 magnificent lobsters that my cousin’s family had brought up from South Australia (they were HUGE and freshly caught and my cheffy brother made sure they were served with due aplomb), soya sauce chicken, token vegetables (you might have realised by now how meat-centric Chinese NY Eve feasting usually is…this is micro-compensated by the vegetarian breakfast the next morning on Chinese NY’s Day. We usually have broth with a huge dish of assorted fungi, seaweeds, fermented beancurd and vegetables – the way my mother makes it, it’s delicious), and a solitary tofu dish.
Being Chinese NY, everyone wore celebration colours. Many of us chose to interpret this as just plain loud:
So, it’s very late but it’s still within the Chinese NY period: Happy Chinese NY for the Year of the Pig!