Balut and a blogiversary

Today this blog is two years old. And to celebrate I tried something new to me. Something very, very new.

Balut. The sound of that word will either bring you great pleasure, true horror, or utter confusion.

First, a little education for you. What is balut, you may ask? Well, it is a fertilized duck or chicken egg with a nearly-developed embryo. You boil it, peel the shell, and gobble it down. This Filipino delicacy can also be found in Vietnam where it is called Hột vịt lộn. It is also considered to be an aphrodisiac and a high source of protein.

When I asked a friend of mine if she knew where I could track down some balut, she got very excited and said she’d find some for me. Ironically — or logically depending on your opinion of balut — each egg was stamped with the word “treat.”

Treat? Or trick!

Treat? Or trick!

They are already cooked, but need to be warmed prior to eating so the eggs were popped into some boiling water.

reheating the eggs

reheating the eggs

Once hot, the next step is to crack the bottom of the egg (the wide part), and carefully peel away part of the shell. Inside the egg is a lot of “soup” that you drink prior to peeling the remainder of the shell. The liquid, also known as embryonic fluid, made peeling the eggs a bit of a messy business as it was quite easy to spill some out of the shell. It tasted, surprisingly, like chicken broth. Slurp up that sucker (I downed it like a shot) and peel away the rest of the shell.

soup, a.k.a. the embryonic fluid

soup, a.k.a. the embryonic fluid

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Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery, Las Vegas

When we decided to take a trip to Las Vegas, I knew immediately that I wanted to put a stop at Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s French bistro, at the top of my to-do list. I’ve been dreaming of The French Laundry for years — way before I started this blog, and before Ratatouille (which used his kitchen and food as inspiration) — and this would be my first chance to try any food by Thomas Keller.

Both Bouchon and the Bouchon Bakery are located in the Venetian hotel, but are in two totally different locations.

Just getting to the restaurant is an adventure in itself. Instead of being located in the main part of the hotel itself, the restaurant is actually in the middle of the Venezia Tower and I had to get permission from a security guard to take the hotel guest tower up to the correct floor.

The decor inside the restaurant is amazing; as soon as you step inside you forget you are in a hotel tower and are transported to a French bistro. Tall windows let in plenty of light, the patterned floor draws your eye, and the wood warms the room. Menus are printed on brown paper and wrapped around your napkin.

Bouchon - table settings

Bouchon - table settings

Daily specials are written on a couple of chalkboards – one posted near the entrance and one near the windows.

Bouchon - daily specials

Bouchon - daily specials

Service was warm and efficient, and along with our server we had water service from someone else who I think was the sommelier (but I never asked). Continue reading

Chinese parties

A friend asked for ideas about Chinese food her family could order for her mom’s big birthday bash. My suggestions that are under consideration:

  • crispy roast pork, possibly a whole pig instead of just chopped pieces (siu yook)
  • bbq duck
  • from T&T – cold appetizers like pickled daikon radish and carrots, spicy deep fried tofu, jellyfish and jai (Buddha’s Delight)
  • spring rolls
  • Chicken and pineapple fried rice, fried noodles, and vegetable dishes from Double Greetings
  • a cake and red bean buns from Garden Bakery or Hong Kong Bakery
  • fresh made deep fried tofu and maybe some dessert tofu from Ying Fat
  • almond cookies

Dang it, now I’m hungry.

The Blue Pear, Edmonton

Ever so slowly, I am trying all the “good” restaurants around the city. It’s kind of an expensive hobby though, so most of the time these visits are regulated to special occasion events.

With this in mind, I made a special request to my mother. Instead of buying expensive Christmas presents that sit around and gather dust, I asked to be taken out for dinner at The Blue Pear. This is a somewhat unique restaurant in Edmonton. The menu is seasonal and changes every month or two. They have a small dining room and reservations fill up quickly. The menu is a five-course set dinner at $85 per person (not including tax, tip, or drinks), where you can choose your meal from a limited number of appetizers, entrees and desserts. You also order a side dish of Atlantic lobster tail or seared grade A foie gras for an extra charge.

Exterior of The Blue Pear, with snow covering the name and a fuzzy shot of the neon pear above the door.

Exterior of The Blue Pear, with snow covering the name and a fuzzy shot of the neon pear above the door.

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