Sunday, 26 June 2011

Cook your way thin

So I've started cooking again. This has been driven mainly by the fact that I can't bear the thought of another butternut squash soup with steamed broccoli dinner. Food rut, anyone?

Also, in an attempt to move from being slim to becoming a waif (bride-in-a-bikini-mission), I've been dipping into the "French Women Don't Get Fat" book, which is the most pretentious piece of food writing I've ever read - how can she write that one of French women's greatest assets is they know how to laugh? Inaccurate at best. That said, it certainly motivated me to get my head around some on piste recipes aimed to shrink my bum while at the same time ticking off the pleasure value box.

My source? Idiot proof recipes which only use basic fresh ingredients (no running around looking for marjoram required) and reviewed by 100s of French women who spend their life cooking, eating and managing to stay inside their skinny jeans. P.s. Google translate will get you through this should you need it.

They have a section called "Get thin!" . None of this "be your best self" or "healthy living" BS you get in the States. I think this would go down rather well in Hong Kong, where people are more than a little frank about each other's size. Last week one of my Honkie colleagues saw a photo of another colleague who she hadn't actually ever met in person, and called her up to inform her that she hadn't expected her to be so fat, and how about laying off the sweeties?! Note that the other colleague is American. Global team building at its best.

Anyway, here's a dish I made this week, which went down rather well and which even a blindfolded monkey could pull off:

Ingredients per person:
2 pieces of filo pastry (go down to City Super and buy it)
1 tomato sliced
1 slice cooked ham roughly ripped
1 slice of goat's cheese
Chopped fresh parsley

Calories: 290 (if you're stingy on the cheese)
Prep and cooking time: 20 minutes (from walking in the door with bags to serving)

Here's the trick that changes this dish from being a blt samousa to being vraiment gourmande:

Get your two sheets of filo pastry and rummage around your kitchen for a ramekin or small bowl. Put the filo sheets (one at a time) inside the ramekin, so you've created a little pocket. Then put all the ingredients in the pocket and close the filo pastry around it. Seal it and then flip. So now it looks like a large round of camembert. So pretty and almost El Buli-ish in the art of disguise. Marmiton has a vid on this.

Stick in oven at 200c for 20 minutes. Serve with leaves and vinagrette.

Future wife ranking spikes upon serving.

Friday, 17 June 2011

La petite caravane

Children's fashion seems to have given up on trying to target children, and has decided it's quicker and easier just to make slutty adult clothes in smaller sizes. Everywhere you go in the world (especially the Anglo Saxon one), children are neatly tucked and folded in their school uniforms during the week, but then look like miniature Usher's and Britney Spears' on the weekend. Even little Suri Cruise, who everyone fawns over, wears miniature high heels.

I've looked around for children's clothes on a few occasions to buy presents, only to despair at the selection of "Juicy Couture" mini flannel tracksuits with matching gold purses. What ever happened to being allowed to be just children?! It's not surprising that they're all pregnant by 11.

Anyway, last week I found a ray of hope.

My friend Thuy-Tien has recently started up her own children's clothing company (La Petite Caravane), making clothes for 0 - 5 year olds, and they're the sweetest things ever. I went to one of her trunk shows the other day, and thought the vintage-inspired collection was such a welcome change to children's fashion.

Here are some pics.

Oh so cute little dresses for whimsical afternoons in the park

No you can't have the car or the push bike

More sweetness

In addition to saving your child from early teenage motherhood and an addiction to computer games - yes, dressing your child in sweeter clothes must make them sweeter, surely? - Thuy-Tien also donates 10% of the price of each item to Room to Read.

Win win all round I'd say.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

I love dog

People in Hong Kong are obsessed with fluffy dogs. It's really rather odd to see pom poms walking down the street in 30 degree weather, with 90% humidity. I honestly don't know how their owners can keep a straight face.

Today I spotted a few getting poofed up at the pet salon:

Trimming the frizz

Waiting our turn

Just another day in Dogotel (note the trademark) where they love dog

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Bouncy bouncy music

Justin Bieber - for you NYT readers

T is pretty much THE man when it comes to music around here. He plays more guitars than I care to mention and is an avid reader Les Inrockutibles, which I encourage by renewing his subscription every Christmas. Anyone who comes to our house would say that there's generally a pretty eclectic mix of music playing at all times - from Elliot Smith to Guns n Roses to Serge Gansbourg (who I still haven't quite figured out how he ever got so popular).

I, on the other hand, don't listen to anything. I don't own an ipod and I welcome silence at the best of times. I find music to be distracting, and it will often give me a headache if I'm trying to do anything other than focus all my attention on it.

So yesterday as T and I were watching a Justin Bieber documentary (as one does), I started absent mindedly singing along to all songs. Admittedly, the lyrics aren't rocket science - anyone heard "U Smile"?. But still. Afterwards I went onto YouTube and sung along to Rihanna (Only girl in the world), Lady Gaga (Poker face) and Beyonce (Put a ring on it).

T just sat there with his mouth hanging open. How on earth did I know all these songs when a) I don't listen to music. Ever. b) I don't hear them at home either - T's frame of reference doesn't encompass trashy chart hits. Much like a New York Times reader doesn't know anything about Jersey Shore.

After discarting the double life theory, the answer is simple: E Hollywood True Story in hotel rooms and Cathay Pacific Pop Documentaries. Turns out I'm a pop chart groupie. Tsk.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Paris in the spring time

T's one big achievement this week has been getting me to fall in love with Paris. Like all contrary people, I've never been a fan of Paris. I think New Yorkers put me off it, they always ooh and aah about it and gush about how romantic it is. Whatever.

Anyway, as I sit here in Hong Kong again, with my 3 extra kilos kindly donated by the French Gormande Face Stuffing Association and a sun tan from lying around in Place de Vosges and Luxembourg Gardens, I can safely say that I'm now Paris's biggest fan.

A year in Hong Kong has now made me appreciate those things about Paris that I'd always taken for granted:

- Politess - People saying "bonjour" when they get on the bus. Yes, believe it or not, Parisians all greet the bus driver. Hongkies...erm...not so much.

- La Bouffe - The food in Paris is good absolutely everywhere you go. From croissants to Nicoise salad, it's all delicious. In Hong Kong, although food is generally ok, I find the cheaper places a little too rough around the edges for my liking (chicken claw on dirty plate, anyone?).

-Beute - Without wanting to state the obvious, Parisian architecture, shop windows, people, food and exhibitions are brimming with jaw dropping aesthetic appeal. Note that I avoided the metro (no walking past weird men in leather jackets for me thank-you-very-much). Hong Kong is less about beauty and more about money and efficiency, with the most beautiful items probably being the Lamborghinis (love Lamborghini).

-L'amour - There's something about nobody having curtains, everyone getting undressed with them open, the handyman shaking your hand and giving you a twinkly smile and the neighbour saying a warm and cheery "bonjour" before grinning his way down the stairs, that's a little disconcerting. No wonder this place has a reputation... I suppose the Hong Kong handyman's gesture of taking off his shoes and padding around in his white socks also has its charm...

T breathed a sigh of relief when we landed and said "oh thank goodness you're not crying".