Have you recovered from Christmas yet? Ready for New Year’s? I’ve had a pretty good holiday so far. Lots of eating, lots of visiting with family and friends, lots of sleeping. And I got some great food books too, which I’m looking forward to reading through.
Sometimes I amuse myself by picking up random things from Chinese grocery store shelves. There are some odd sounding things out there – some of which I grew up with, and some of which are relatively new to me. I’ve freaked out friends with dried squid (or as a friend who actually likes it calls it – squid jerky). I’ve sampled many varieties of Pocky. But there is always something new from Taiwan or Japan on the shelves, or even something old that just wasn’t available here before.
On one shopping trip to T & T Supermarket, I grabbed a bag of tamago kani (direct translation is “egg crabs” but they probably mean “baby crabs”). These are dried (possibly roasted or fried, I couldn’t tell) and seasoned mini-crabs.
Cute, but at the same time slightly horrifying to think about putting into your mouth, right?
I’m used to eating odd (well, at least to Western standards) Asian food, so I wasn’t too horrified. I mean, it’s just like eating soft-shell crab or some particularly deep fried shrimp that is so crispy that you can eat the tails. Each piece of tamago kani was very crunchy, slightly sweet, and incredibly salty. Way, way too salty for my taste. And no wonder – just take a look at the ingredients:
tamago kani ingredients
Crab, of course. Sugar – ah so that’s where the sweetness is from. Starch, ok. Soy sauce, sure. And wait, MSG too?? Oh those crazy Japanese. Soy sauce and MSG? That’s just way too much salt for me. This is a fun item to try (and would make a good Fear Factor-type food challenge), but I wouldn’t recommend it for constant snacking unless you want your sodium levels to shoot through the roof.
Better late than never, right? Sorry about the delay; I meant to post this on October 3, the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also sometimes known as the Moon Festival, is celebrated on the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar, and is the Asian version of a harvest celebration. Traditionally, families celebrate the moon by eating moon cakes – dense, high calorie pastries traditionally filled with a lotus seed paste and a bright yellow yolk from a salted duck egg that symbolizes the moon.
Lotus paste is the most common filling, but nowadays you can usually find red bean paste and taro fillings. I’ve even seen coconut paste and green tea fillings, among others, in recent years. You can also buy moon cakes without yolks, or with one to four yolks inside each piece. This year, I was excited to find two different brands selling low sugar and lower calorie moon cakes being sold at T & T Supermarket. One brand was from Hong Kong, and the other was from T & T’s own bakery.
T & T Supermarket Mini Low Sugar Moon Cakes
The package I picked up contained 6 mini moon cakes without yolks, and made up of three different flavours – two lotus seed moon cakes, two filled with red bean paste, and two taro moon cakes.
cross-section of taro and red bean moon cakes
How did they taste? Well I found them to be dry. Not sure if that was due to them sitting in the box for too long, or if it was because to reduce the amount of sugar and calories they had to cut back on some of the ingredients that usually make moon cakes somewhat moist and even a bit oily. And normally I don’t care about the yolk but for some reason this time I was craving a bit of the salty bite that usually comes with moon cakes.
I think next time I will either try the more expensive brand, or stick with the regular kind of moon cake and just eat less of them.
I’m slowly getting back into the groove. Too many things happened all at once – first I was recovering from my trip where I crammed way too many things in (as usual), and then some personal things came up that required my attention. But expect more here soon.
It took me 2 1/2 hours just to catch up on my blog reading. Either I’m following too many blogs or people write posts way too often!
- I was supposed to go to the 2nd Edmonton Foodie Meetup but I screwed up and got lost. After 20 minutes of driving around I gave up and went home. Other people managed to find their way though, and it looks like they had some fantastic eats. *wipes away a tear* See here, here, here and here for photos and memories.
- Nose to Tail At Home, a blogger working his way through the offally St. John cookbook, scored an interview with Fergus Henderson himself. (And another one with general manager Thomas Blythe.)
- Rasa Malaysia has some great photos of a soy sauce factory in Penang where they make it by hand.
- The Chicago Tribune searches for answers to food mysteries like how does Jell-O gel or popcorn pop.
- Whistler, B.C.’s Araxi will be where Gordon Ramsay’s next Hell’s Kitchen winner will get a chef’s job. This explains Ramsay’s praise of the restaurant in some interviews I’ve seen, and will be great promotion for the place prior to next year’s olympics.
- Edmonton and the Alberta Farm Writers’ Association will be host to the next Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation conference, from September 10 to 13, 2009. The social media session looks interesting but I’m not sure the rest of the sessions would be my cup of tea.
- These have to be the CUTEST food wedding favours ever.
- There is a great article on improving your food writing over at the Food Blog Alliance. It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently, so I found it helpful.
- And lastly, if you like Threadless.com you should check out Threadcakes – the cake contest based on Threadless t-shirts. There’s still time to submit entries! Or just look at all the pictures and marvel at people’s creativity.
And just to show you all that I truly have a boring life, tonight’s big plans are a trip to the newly opened 2nd location of T & T. Sad, I know. Maybe I’ll spend enough to get a free set of “Japanese multi-function bowls” or a clay pot….
Just saw a commercial – the new T & T in the north end will open July 2nd. Let the shopping begin!
Also, I’m taking a short hiatus from the blog due to lack of time. I hope to be back relatively soon though, and have some Fun Fridays scheduled for the next while. Vegas was a blast and I have tonnes of info to post. 🙂
There’s quite a bit of food-related construction happening in the north end of town. The biggest news is probably the T & T Supermarket that is being built in North Town Centre (97 St and 137 Ave). They recently put up a banner looking for employees, but when I took the photo they had taken it down for some reason. Gossip is rampant among the different Asian communities in this end of town; I first heard about this expansion probably about 1 1/2 to 2 years ago. Last summer a friend told me confidentially that there was going to be an expansion and I had to admit that I knew about it already. And apparently there’s going to be bubble tea too!
T & T construction
That whole shopping mall is going through a well deserved renovation, which meant the demolition of the inside of the mall itself and the conversion of the place into a strip mall power centre. The additions include a Starbucks, a Mucho Burrito, and as of yet unopened locations of an Indigo Books and a Bed, Bath and Beyond (which I think, based on their website, is the first Canadian location outside of Ontario).
Oxford strip mall
In Castledowns, the new Save-On-Foods grocery store in Oxford (corner of 127 St and 153 Ave) has been relatively busy. I can foresee that strip mall getting even busier as they finish construction there. The new Subway and Starbucks has been open for a little while now. I didn’t even know that the Original Joe’s restaurant was already open until I took the photo on May 5th. There will also be branches of Taco Del Mar, and more excitedly (at least for me) are the Marble Slab Creamery signs that I saw in one of the stores.
Bubble tea, ice cream and nachos, oh my! I can feel the calories adding up already.