Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Traditional Ethiopian Coffee

Not many people are aware that coffee drinking is originated from East Africa. Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia. There is a myth or legend on how it came about -
"Once a upon a time, there was a goat herder in the mountains of Ethiopia who noticed that his goats have been extra active after eating the beans from a bush. He took the beans back to the priests and explain what had happened. The priest was not very impressed and threw the beans in a hearth fire. The beans produced a nice fragrant (like in an Italian cafe?). Having been attracted to the fragrance, the priest took the roasted beans and boiled it like a spice and voila he just made the first cup of coffee"

Eventually the use of the beans as beverages were introduced to Arab cities (Mecca?) and then it made it way to Baghdad and Venice. So if you want to be part of the coffee history, try coffee in the traditional Ethiopian way.

The video shows the ambient and the warm hospitality of Harambe, an Ethiopian restaurant in Footscray, Melbourne.  The owner of the restaurant, Mrs Dershaye is preparing and serving the coffee after our meal there. It was a fantastic relaxing Saturday afternoon ( Easter weekend) well spent.

Background music: Medo Hane, by Jump to Addis from the Ethiopiques Vol 15 Album: Europe meet Ethiopia.

Durian Gâteaux

The cake is made in a French style, i.e. sponge cake layers, frosting and filling. The cake is inspired by Elin's recipe , which is simple and easy to follow. It is always good not to mix the fruit pulp (of tropical fruits) into the cake mixture and bake it, the huge flavour of the fruits is usually lost in the baking process. This is confirm in my recent attempt in baking a passion fruit cake. So for this recipe (thanks to Elin) , the raw pulp retains 100% of its flavour. The strong flavour of the durian blended perfectly (in fact subdued to a 'classy' level) with rich cream and the sponge cake.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Old Raffles Place - Melbourne

I came to know this restaurant many years ago when it was first introduced by my cousin. This little joint is tucked in the corner of busy Johnston Street, which is more known as the Spanish quarter of Melbourne.

While waiting for my food, I approached the owner, Mr. Alan Han, to let him know that I would like to do a blog on his restaurant . His candid response was "Are you going to write something controversial about my place?"  He told me how upset he was with some 'bad review' in the internet about his food. This guy must be quite passionate of what he does to get too upset over it.

When we finished our meals, I complimented him for the authenticity of food served and how yummy they were, especially the 'Hainanese Chicken Rice' (photo above).  This cuisine is originated from the Hainan island in Southern China. Where the folks from this island, the Hainanese, migrated to the South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, they brought with them this traditional cuisine.

The Hainanese Chicken Rice served here one of the best you can get in Melbourne. Every detail is looked into, i.e. the chili sauce that accompanied it and the intricate flavour of the rice (cooked with chicken stock with seasonings, hint of ginger, stock from the boiled chicken) and most important the chicken is tender and 'slippery' in texture. For those who are not familiar with this cuisine, they usually complained that the chicken is not well cooked.

The other favourite of mine is the Char Keow Teow (stir fried flat rice noodles with prawns, bean sprouts and eggs). The menu items have interesting names though they are common dishes . Each item is prefixed with a place name in Singapore where you can find a best stall or hawker centre that serves that particular dish. For example, the Racecourse Char Keow Teow served is in the 'style' that is found in Racecourse (a place in Singapore). Other items are: Lorong Melayu Nasi Goreng, Katong Chicken Laksa.

I have never asked Alan where he is originated from, as I assumed he must have come from Singapore. The restaurant proclaimed that the food served are authentic "Singaporean heritage cuisine". All menu items are street food (or hawker food) that are common in Singapore and Malaysia.

The restaurant from outside looks like an typical Asian takeway with banners shouting for attention, but when you stepped inside, it has an interesting decor, reminiscent of 70's with pink walls and photos of Singapore's colonial days. I quite like the ambient (have only dined here during the day).