Hi everybody! Gong Xi Fa Chai! Keong Hee Huat Chye! Happy happy Chinese New Year! I hope the year of the Monkey is a fabulous and lucky year for you, with lots of fun times and good food! Just like this guy.
|Monkey, Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur 2012|
So! My Chinese New Year was relatively quiet, but lots of fun, and with lots of food! The weekend prior to New Year's was spent cleaning the flat (not so fun) and decorating (more fun!)
|Some of our CNY decorations|
And on Sunday evening, we had our family reunion dinner at my parents' house. They cooked all of our favourite New Year's food - loh bak (spiced chopped belly pork wrapped in beancurd skin and deep fried), curry chicken kapitan, and kiam chye th'ng (duck, pork, and mustard green soup). Yum! These dishes are traditional in Penang during the New Year's period - there are lots of other traditional dishes too, but these three are the ones that my family loves and eats every year. I love them so much!
|Chinese New Year reunion dinner|
My mum's loh bak is the best - just chunky chopped pieces of belly pork, mixed with some 5-spice, wrapped in bean curd skin and deep fried. The corner pieces are the best! She serves it with sliced cucumber and a mild chilli sauce.
|Chicken Curry Kapitan|
My dad made the chicken curry kapitan this year - apparently he was up late the night before, worried that the gravy would be too thin and watery, but as you can see, it was perfect. Sedap, man!
|Kiam Chye Th'ng|
Kiam chye th'ng (made by my dad!) doesn't look attractive, but is soooo good! Inside, you've got duck maryland and (I think) pork trotters, as well as Chinese mushrooms, tomato and mustard greens. It's really nourishing and delicious.
Sandra and I brought dessert - I'd seen LuxBite's Chinese New Year range on their Instagram, and just knew they'd be great! (N.B. the green tea cheesecake wasn't a Chinese New Year special, but I couldn't resist when we saw it at the store that morning). These were all excellent. I'll say what I always say when I have a LuxBite tart or cake - the flavours are always really well balanced, they're not overly sweet or rich, and the textures are awesome! (That coconut mousse in the Prosperity tart - wow). My parents loved the cakes, and were impressed that these enterprising Malaysian kids had created such a successful business. (Malaysians represent, amirite!) We are totes coming in for brunch as soon as possible!
There were, um, more sweets on the big day itself. This year, Chinese New Year fell on a Monday, so it was a regular work day. However, I had bought myself a new red dress (it's good luck to wear new clothes!) and wore my lucky Jubly-Umph pineapple earrings to get into the spirit!
I organised to have breakfast with my buddy Jimbo at Short Stop. They were doing a Chinese New Year flavour, with pork floss and black sesame! (N.B. this flavour was only available over the weekend before CNY and the day itself). We got a pork floss and a matcha donut.
|Left: Triple-Matcha Cake Donut, Right: Pork Floss and Black Sesame Raised Donut|
Short Stop started doing matcha donuts about a week ago, and I was so excited to try one! It was a triple-matcha donut, with a matcha cake donut base, white chocolate & matcha glaze, finished with matcha icing stripes. It was a little dry, but otherwise very nice, with a good prominent matcha flavour. (Side note: matcha is Japanese, and Japan doesn't celebrate lunar new year - they switched over to the Gregorian calendar back in 1872. So there you go). Apparently the matcha donuts have been super popular, and are on for all of February - woohoo!
|Left: Matcha, Right: Pork Floss and Black Sesame|
I was less excited at the prospect of the pork floss flavour, but I'm so glad we tried it - because it was delicious! If you haven't had pork floss before, it's a salty-sweet dried pork mixture that kinda looks and feels like fairy floss. I used to eat it on white bread with margarine when I was little. Anyhoo, the pork floss donut was great! It was a super light and fluffy raised donut, with a sweet sugar glaze and a savoury note from the black sesame and pork floss. It was a bit of a mind trip, and so tasty.
There was more indulgence at lunch! My friend Alaina and I have a CNY tradition of eating Hot Star Chicken and Gong Cha bubble tea, and this year we upgraded the experience by inviting Jimbo and his girlfriend Jenni along, and making it a combined Hot Star / Gong Cha / 8-Bit lunch! The three stores are located right next to each other at the corner of Little Bourke and Swanston streets - it's a Chinese New Year miracle!
We bought a selection of things from both stores, and took them up to the State Library lawn to eat.
Alaina and I each got my all time favourite, 8-Bit's peanut butter milkshake. It's so thick and rich and peanut buttery and amazing! Jimbo got the strawberry cheesecake milkshake, which he really liked. (I had a taste and found it a little sweet - but made the awesome discovery that if you have a sip of the strawberry cheesecake milkshake followed by the peanut butter milkshake, it tastes like PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!)
|Gong Cha, 8-Bit milkshakes, Double Dragon burger, Fully Loaded Potato Gems, 1-Up Mushroom Burger, Hot Star Chicken pieces|
Alaina got little chicken bites from Hot Star. Super tasty and much easier to eat than the original large Hot Star fried chicken. From 8-Bit, Jenni and Jimbo each got burgers (the 1-Up Mushroom burger for her, the Double Dragon with double beef, double bacon, double cheese for him), and I got fully loaded potato gems! The potato gems were topped with chilli beef, cheese sauce, bacon, pickle relish, grilled onions and jalapeños. I figured that potato gems kinda look like little gold bars, and "fully loaded" totally symbolises wealth and abundance for the new year. (And other excuses....) The potato gems got a little soggy under all that topping, but the flavours were really good.
Finally, I wanted to show you a pic of some kuih bangkit that I gave to Alaina as a CNY present. These were bought at an Asian grocer (no, I didn't bake them), and are a traditional sweet that Chinese Malaysian people eat during the festive period. They're little cookies made of tapioca - they're super crumbly and just melt in your mouth. I love these!
And that was our Chinese New Year! I love how Chinese New Year is becoming more mainstream now - when I was a kid, CNY was a small, fringe thing, here in Melbourne, but now it seems that more and more people know about it and join in the celebrations! Yay! Apart from the parades, fireworks and different festivals going on around town, I've seen lots of shops in the city with a CNY range or promotion. It feels so festive and I totally love it! (As we left lunch today, two of my non-Chinese friends said to each other: "See ya later, happy new year!" and I was all like: "OMG YAY!")
Speaking of happy things, I'll finish this post with this super cute picture of a baby monkey and its parent. Naaaaaw!
|Monkeys! Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur 2012|
All the best for an awesome and prosperous year of the monkey!