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A Celebration of Chinese New Year Courtesy of Food Friedns, E&O and Chef Bob
By Janet Thomson

It's that time of the year again and to inspire us all, the room was dressed for the occasion by Jo Kirk and the E & O staff. Jo's tables set for a dinner party were an inspiration in the traditional red and gold, with long tassels on the chairs and prettily designed China, all purchased in Pulau Tikus. The tables set the scene perfectly and were admired by all.

There were no prizes for guessing which year it was as the Rabbit was there in its full glory in the form of a large ice sculpture of a rabbit surrounded by lettuce leaves. As usual, the E&O had gone the extra mile to make us all feel it was a celebration and not just a lecture.

So, to my favourite topic: food. Chef Bob's menu for his demonstration was designed to get us interested in going home and trying out his suggestions, consequently the menu was simple but delicious and inviting. He started the ball rolling with a creamy Pearl Corn Soup, discussing the merits of using potato flour rather than cornstarch or corn flour. Next came the Wok fried Hokkaido Scallops. I wondered what Nai Pak were and discovered it was the name for the tiny cabbages I had been in the habit of picking up in the wet market.

What menu for Chinese New Year would be complete without the addition of a crispy duck? Needless to say our crispy duck, with its addition of orange skin and star anise tasted far better than the average and the Hainanese Crab in its shell, made up the Ying Yang combination of Double Happiness. It looked good, it tasted good and left us all with a feeling of happiness - mission accomplished Chef Bob!

How about this for a very easy, but so attractive dessert. It looked good enough to serve at a dinner party. Based on instant jelly (of any flavour you care to use) the Mandarin Orange Truffle, with its beautiful layers of fruit, jelly, cream and finally more fruit as a decoration served in a champagne glass. It was common or garden jelly, given champagne treatment, and its presentation was beautiful.

We moved on from food to flowers and Rizal of Flower Serious gave us hints and a demonstration of how to use the petals of a rose, some crumpled cellophane and water to transform a very tall, elegant vase into a glittering artistic form. He then went on to introduce us to coloured oasis which he cut into cubes, scattered in the bottom of a circular bowl, added 3 tiered red roses and a few feathery pieces of fern and some grass to give it height.

Two completely different arrangements but such simple ideas, and costing next to nothing. Thank you Rizal, for allowing us to pick your brains and watch your nimble fingers.

Our Chinese New Year would not have been complete without the tossing of the yee sing and with a lot of laughter, including when someone tossed it so high it came down in my hair, we all ate our customary lucky mouthful and departed for lunch.

This was a memorable morning with Chef Bob at his wittiest and best. He even admitted to the worst kept secret in town - at Chinese New Year he wears red underpants, but he declined to give us a demonstration! We enjoy your company Chef Bob, we enjoy your cookery demonstrations, but we enjoy tasting them even more. Long may you reign!

Maggie, Jo and all the rest of the team, we wish you a Happy Chinese New Year, and may all your events in 2011 be as successful as this one was!

 

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