Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chinese New Year!

ZOMG - we had a crazy freakin' weekend.  It was fun and very sociable, but exhausting.  

Friday night was chill, but the hectic nature of the day and the week preceding it meant that the Dotytron and I passed out at like, 9pm in pools of our own drool, laid out on our respective couches of choice.  It was pathetic.

Saturday we spent going buck, cleaning up a storm to get the house ready for Chinese New Year, which is technically just the lunar new year, celebrated by a lot of East Asians, not just Chinese people, even though we like to think we have exclusive purview over it.  False!  

We did get to start Saturday off with cheese blintzes with blueberry sauce and bacon though.  Which the Big Yam turned his nose up at, because he's a weirdo.

Then we went and grabbed our friends Paul & Sandra to take them to Paul and Sandy's Real BBQ out in the wilds of Etobicoke.  Just take a minute to appreciate that thematic unity.  We ate with a Paul and Sandra at Paul & Sandy's.  BEST.  We really like the food there.  The Dotytron and I split ribs, chicken, brisket and meatloaf.  The brisket at Paul & Sandy's is some of the best I've ever had.  So juicy and tender and flavourful - falling apart but with a nice, robust, even layer of fat melting across the top.  So freakin' good.  The Big Yam ate like a pig, because when it comes to barbecue - he's not a weirdo.

I had spent considerable effort procuring supplies to make the Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake for our dessert, but then was a total loser and forgot it at home.  Luckily for us, but unluckily for P & S, we got to have a slice.  They missed out.  The Momofuku cakes are frustrating and labour intensive, because they're all build in a 6" round cake mould.  So you make all the composite elements (in the case of the cake below, that's 4 - the cake itself, the birthday cake "crumb" - little crunchy bits of salty, sandy goodness, the frosting, and the milk soak), then stamp out the cake layers out of the sheet you've baked and layer it all together.  It's nuts.  Not only that, but of COURSE you have to go out and buy sheets of acetate to line your cake mould and so that you have something to support the finished height of the cake.  Then, you also have to go and buy speciality ingredients like glucose and 
citric acid.  Yes, that's right.  Glucose and CITRIC ACID (which you use like, a pinch of in the cake).  It's bonkers.  Needless to say, the Big Yam was over the moon happy about all the Kitchen Aid mixer use in the service of the Birthday Cake.

At the end of it though, I can safely say that this cake is FREAKIN' delicious.  It's mean to invoke the spirit of boxed cake mix (the funfetti variety, specifically) but it's a particularly delectable iteration.  The genius thing about Christina Tosi (the pastry chef at Milk Bar) is that she has one of those born and bred understandings of texture and flavour balance in a dessert.  The crunch of the crumbs against the tender cake, the tang of the frosting ameliorating the sweetness, the punch of salt crystals, they all work together to invoke and play to the elemental cravings of a person.  It's all about balance to the excess.  It's all about understanding the best part of a something - be it the awesomeness of the graham cracker crust, or doing a dessert shout out to those people who love the nutty, crumbly bits of crunchy streusel on top of a fruit crisp - the people who will eat the crisp and leave the fruit, or the ones who love the buttery, toasty taste of unadorned pie crust (she has a pie crust frosting that is mind-blowing).  It's clever, but also grounded in giving people what they want and not over-intellectualizing things.  It's pleasurable AND smart food.  This cake is divine:

Sunday was the most buck.  Big Yam slept in until 7pm (that's good!) - but that meant it was a MAD scramble to get out the door and up to the burbs to make parent & tot hours at our preferred pool (that's bad).  Do you have ANY idea how much we have to pack to go swimming in the burbs?  It's insane.  The prep to swimming time ratio is like, 95:1.  Then we went to T & T and Costco.  Then it was home, to sew my Poh Poh's pants (my mum made me), then taking Poh Poh out to lunch (at Phoenix, yum!), then it was back home to hang out with my mom and Poh Poh some more, then over to R & R's house so that the Dotytron could give R a guitar lesson, then picking up takeout and then home.  It was EXHAUSTING.  Also, our car almost exploded from all the crap we were carting around by the end of it.  It was also the best guitar lesson of the Dotytron's life, because R & R gave him beer, bought Babu samosas and mutton patties, made chocolate chip cookies, AND R gave me a pair of jeggings that didn't fit her (!!!!!!!!!!!!)  You know what I did?  Brought over HALF OF A CAKE (the cake pictured above, actually).  WHAT THE HECK?!?  So imbalanced an exchange!  

Yesterday I took a 1/2 day off work (even though I really should not have because of the volume of work I have to do) to attend to final preparations for our Chinese dinner.  We had Momma D and her friend/roomie R over for dinner.   Even though about half the dishes were bought from T & T - it ended up being a bit of work.  The dishes I was making aren't the kind you make in advance - you can't steam a fish in advance of boil dumplings in advance.  We had 8 dishes: fried turnip cake, steamed rice with Chinese sausage, Buddha's delight (vegetarian dish), steamed green bass, roasted pork & bbq duck, oyster omelet, and pork & chive dumplings.  I also got this coconut & red bean pudding that we ate cold slices of for dessert.  I obviously made a TONNE of food and now we have leftovers for days.

Warning: don't look at the photos below if you have issues with toddlers wearing hilarious (and possibly racist?!) cultural attire.  We bought the Big Yam this outfit at Pac Mall two weekends ago and I dressed him in it for dinner last night.  It was AMAZING.  He was so cute in it that we could barely stand it.  He was also very slippery because of the silk/polyester.  LOL!  Seriously, we could barely get a grip on him.  I keep looking at these photos because he's just so adorbs that it makes me happy.  We'll definitely have him sporting these threads more often.  


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