Mini Egg Custard Moon Cakes @ The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

Right when I thought I’ve eaten enough moon cakes for the year, another box arrived for me today.

This sturdy brown decagonal box had flown all the way into Borneo from The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, just in time for the Mid-Autumn festival tonight! Much to the chagrin of my waist, my lips were etched into a grin as wide as The Cheshire Cat’s with my tastebuds leaping for joy! How could I reject these tiny babes from the much lauded bakery?

No, No, No! Diet will have to wait another day…

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The Peninsula Hotel’s Mini Egg Custard Mooncakes

Inside the decagon box are 2 layers of 4 mini moon cakes on plastic trays. Alas! They didn’t travel well…

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Minis on plastic tray

Broken pastry. *face-palm*

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Squashed mini resting in my palm

Tiny at only 40 grams, these broken babies still packed a punch!

Stop!

Don’t tell me these angelic babies in soft buttery pastry shells have the caloric value equivalent of one bowl of rice!

Hush! Ssshh… Don’t make me feel guilty by colluding my mind!

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Total Disintegration

I normally cut my moon cakes into eighths to share but seeing this moon cake is SO tiny, I went for the whole hog. And boy-oh-boy! This is one mean, rich, mini baby moon cake, I felt so stuffed after eating it. Taste-wise, it was delectably sweet custard with a tinge of the salted duck egg yolk, made from rich butter, coconut milk, eggs and condensed milk among the listed sinful ingredients on the packaging.

And how do we celebrate Mid-Autumn festival in the Boo, you ask? Well, we knocked off an hour early today, and besides that, I have nothing planned… I will need my ear-plugs because the neighbourhood will be erupting into fire-works late into the night… driving me bonkers and keeping me awake…

So I am definitely missing the spectacular Tai Hang Fire-dragon Dance in Hong Kong tonight. This is a festival that started all the way back in 1880 when Tai Hang was still a tiny Hakka fishing village near where Causeway Bay is now. I am also reminiscing the good old times when I had the privilege of being the first female dragon dancers in the troupe of over 300 performers by holding the pole which held the 67m long dragon made of 72,000 incense sticks. We were tasked to make the dragon come alive by waving and running with it. It was tough, the pole was heavy but a job well done! And I got a spot on TV! 5-second stardom! *sigh*

How does the Tai Hang Fire- Dragon Dance came about? I hear you ask.

Well, according to folklore, a few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival over a century ago, a typhoon, then a plague wreaked havoc on the village. While the villagers were repairing the damage, a python entered the village and ate all their livestock. Enough was enough, the villagers consulted a soothsayer who decreed that the only way to stop the chaos was to stage a fire dance for three days and nights during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival. The villagers thus made a huge dragon of straw and covered it with incense sticks, which they then lit. Accompanied by drummers and erupting firecrackers, they danced for three days and three nights – and the plague disappeared.

If you are in Hong Kong (tonight or tomorrow night), do make an effort to see it. This smokey vibrant affair is China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage!

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Fire Dragon in Tai Hang.
(Source: HK Tourist Association)

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival Everyone! xx

A Nyonya Breakfast @ Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit: September 11 2013

Before my flight back to the Boo, my friend S insisted that I should sample what she claims to be the best Popiah in Kuching. The coffee shop is somewhere along the 3rd Mile – the name escapes me – but she was kind enough to give me the directions should I want to visit the place in the future: “Opposite KTS village apartments, behind ‘Rice n Noodles’ shop. Few doors away from Hainan Cafe”. Goobledygook to me, but perhaps might make some sense to the Kuchingites who are familiar with the landmarks.

Our vegetarian breakfast consisted of 2 popular Nyonya snacks – popiah and pie tie. By the way, Nyonyas are Chinese women married to Malay men. Their descendents of this mixed-racial marriage are called Peranakans. Nyonya delicacies often involves a lot of work – julienning, dicing and pounding the vegetables or herbs.

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My Nyonya Breakfast: Popiah, Pie Tie and 3-Layer Iced Tea

The vendor of the popiah store is Joseph, a man in his 60s. What made his popiahs special were that the thin flour pancakes are stuffed with the julienned wholesome goodness of jicama, long beans, bean sprouts, cabbages and chopped up dried bean curds given a dash of life with sweet crunchy peanut and chili sauces then tightly rolled into a tight package as big as a burrito roll with a hefty tag of RM3. Being purely vegetarian, they were packed with minerals, vitamins and fibres. the notable thing about Sarawakian popiahs are that the ingredients used are all dried. In this case, the jicamas have been been steamed then squeezed dried.

Now, you may be wondering what is ‘Jicama’. It is also referred as Mexican yam or Mexican turnip. It is a large brown bulbous root. Inside the rough and tough skin is the white crunchy flesh, similar to a raw potato but wetter and crunchier. The flavor is slightly sweet, a little nutty. It can be eaten both raw and cooked, although my own favorite is raw, (a key vegetable in rojaks) since its crispness and colour can be retained over time.

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X-section: Stuffed Vegetarian Popiah

Kuih Pie Tee or ‘Top Hat‘, thus called due to the thin crispy shell casings when inverted look like a lot like a top hat. This crispy shell is usually filled with the same mixture of thinly sliced vegetables that popiah uses. Considering that making the little top hats is tedious work, it commands a premium of RM1 each. This is a popular Peranakan tidbit, something to amuse the mouth.

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Pie Tie

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X-section: Pie Tie

I have been seeing advertorial posters of an interesting drink called ‘3 Layer Tea‘ adorning walls in nearly all the coffee shops I have eaten at but had never ordered. Today, I decided to order one too.

The 3 layers of my iced 3 layer tea consisted of black palm sugar syrup at the bottom, creamy evaporated milk in the middle and brown brewed tea on top. It is a distinctively coloured drink when carefully layered. The sweetness has a refreshing pandan leaves fragrance to it which I enjoyed.

It was a good wholesome breakfast which I appreciated. So, thanks again S!