Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Scandinavia - Yes, Fäviken and Frantzén, but so much more

Around Lakselvbukt, near Tromsø, Northern Norway
We had known for a while that our honeymoon was going to feature the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), but when we got to planning the wedding, we knew we wouldn't be able to make it that year (we were married in late March) - whether we went to Alaska or Norway - so we did it almost a year later, over Chinese New Year of 2014.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Shinji by Kanesaka, Macau (and what it feels like to have an anti-foodist husband)

Sushi counter at Shinji by Kanesaka, Macau
I was invited on a junket* by City of Dreams Macau to try out some of their signature restaurants. I'll be writing about all of them in due course, but out of the list I was offered, I was most excited about Shinji by Kanesaka, a sushi restaurant with two Michelin stars at its original branch in Ginza**.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Clever Dripper Is Exactly That. Clever.

The Clever Dripper is an awesome way to make a consistent cup of coffee at home
A lot of people make coffee at home, and as much as I drink it, I have to admit I didn't start brewing at home until a few years ago. Back in Melbourne, it was a no-brainer - I could go out and get a good cup almost wherever. In Hong Kong, somehow I managed by trekking out to different places to find decent coffee. That all changed when "third wave" hit Hong Kong and it became much easier to buy relatively cheap equipment to brew at home, and have access to locally roasted beans, or beans flown in regularly. (Previously, if you wanted to make coffee at home, it was either you buy a home espresso machine (which generally suck unless, well, you spend so much you might as well get a commercial one) and buy stale beans from the supermarket, or get a pod machine, neither of which appealed to me. (Re: pods - reliance on a single brand and company is just too dodgy for my taste, not to mention the environmental impact* of pods...).

As usual, I have a written an intro that's way too long before saying what I really want to say - I think I have found my coffee-at-home utopia. It's the Clever Dripper.

At home, I just want a decent cup that won't be much trouble nor take much skill. Sure, I've learned to do pourovers, but I'll never be as skilled and as well-trained as the baristas who make 50 a day. But I like the clean, expressive flavours that pourovers provide (I like espressos (okay, espressi, whatever, I need a bloody style guide for myself) but I kind of see them as a different drink - I guess an analogy might be juice vs nectar or something).

While away from home this past winter, I brought the current "standard" travel coffee kit with me - Aeropress and Porlex grinder. They're easy to pack and numerous Instagram flatlays have made it look so sexy. I'm not a huge Aeropress fan because of the grit, but I can live with it. But then on the same trip, I moved around a bit and sometimes only packed an overnight bag that wouldn't fit my coffee gear. I arrived at my sister-in-law's house and found something that most households have - a French press. Now, I'd never used a French press before because it'd had such bad, er, press, but I needed coffee so I asked Google god, and it gave me this. (In short: coarse grind, longer brew time, agitation.)

It's an amazing method for the flavours etc. but still, there was the problem of grit. When I got home, I even thought about using a French press then pouring it through a V60 - then I thought - wait a minute, didn't someone invent that already? Yep. It's the Clever Dripper. You get all the cupping-like soaking of the "new" French press method to which I linked above, and none of the grit because it has a paper filter*, thanks to the simple valve at the bottom of the dripper. GENIUUUUUUS.

*Although what would be more genius is if someone could invent a filter as good as paper, but was reusable. I've tried all sorts of metal disks, the ABLE cone etc. but none are as good as paper grit-wise. I'm sorry, world. Please, science, invent something and save me from my daily sinning.