Archive for the ‘Pancakes’ Category

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Thai Me Down

In Food,Pancakes,Thailand,Updates,Vacation on June 27, 2011 by triotriotrio

To Infinity and Beyond

Perhaps it is part age, perhaps it is part laziness but nonetheless I have come to a conclusion: when it comes to going on vacation I no longer want to rise in the morning, fight the crowds and seek out all the local attractions. I am now in search of finding a secluded spot that allows me to sit in peace and do nothing if I please.

Jennifer and I recently had a brief getaway to Phuket, Thailand. And in many ways this recent getaway helped to reaffirm three points that make up the perfect do-nothing vacation:

Breakfast Buffet – I love a breakfast buffet. The key point to any buffet is the omelet station. Everything else is just gravy if the offering include an egg station. The best aspect of the Phuket buffet was the wide and delicious assortment of fruits. Asia has so many fruits offerings that are not available in the States. They also had pancakes, which is a major plus for me. They also had an assortment of Thai favorites. I enjoyed the breakfast fishcake especially. But another observation that I have made is that I tend to be culinary adventurous but when it comes to breakfast I still gravitate to the American fare as a default.

Beach Side or Poolside Service – The key to doing nothing is making sure one plans for it. Doing nothing can be great but one has to have support. Any proper resort needs to provide umbrellas (cabana preferred), towels, cool drinks and confortable sitting. Our resort had a full menu, beautiful pools and a beachside massage station that ran about $30 for one hour of attention. It was all pretty spectacular.

Mini Bar – I am not sure why tiny bottles and prepackage snacks have a greater allure when they are jacked up in price? But if a hotel offers anything beyond the norm than it is probably a sign that they have taken special attention to other things as well. The appearance of the mini bar is a micro-inspection of the hotel overall. So even if one doesn’t partake in the mini bar options a guest is rewarded if the offerings are better than the average place.

No surprise – many of my points are about food or food related options. If you plan a getaway nail down these points right away. I wish everyone a wonderful getaway. I don’t think I want to spend every vacation this way – but I would be willing to give it a try.

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Pancakes – A Study in Deception

In Food,Hong Kong,Pancakes,Updates on April 4, 2011 by triotriotrio

 

Looks can be deceiving

Pancakes – A Study in Deception

Let me begin by saying. I liked them – I really liked them. It was not that the pancakes failed me in any way – it was the fact that at every turn I was confused at the presentation, taste and ingredients.

The Setting – Along the Plaza at Stanley Beach there are numerous restaurants. They cater to the day visitor and then tend to be the typical Brit Pub fare. There is the standard fish and chips, pint of this or that and the boiled pudding in cream sauce among the daily menu offerings. Rocksalts is a causal restaurant that stands on the strip as a step above the rest. They have a seafood menu that is perhaps the best in Stanley. But on this day I was attracted to a sign that was advertising a “Fluffy Pancake Set.”

I know, I have been down this road before. “Fluffy Pancakes” appears to be a naming convention in Honk Kong that goes along with pancakes in the same way people may say, “Fresh Seafood.” The seafood may be three days old and starting to stink but nonetheless that’s how they will still advertise it.

Once again – let me reiterate, I really like these pancakes. But I was confused about several things.

Let’s go to the scorecard:

Temperature – the pancakes were somewhere between warm and hot. The thing that completely confused the issue is that these cakes were completely decked out. They were served with a lovely banana fosters and generous amounts of whipped cream. All these sides brought the overall temperature of the fork full down. But the cakes themselves were an acceptable temperature.

Maple Syrup – I was please to see a goodly portion of syrup to accompany this dish. I moved the bacon strip to the side and poured the golden goodness out. I was surprised to find out upon my first bite however that the syrup was in fact liquid caramel. Not bad but definitely not from the maple family. And that huge hunk of bacon turned out to be a fried plantain. Double drat!

Texture – The pancakes were definitely fried on a grill. They had a good sear mark on both sides. And there was a little lift to each cake. The thing that knocked it down was the wonderful side items. Cakes can’t stand up to all that whipped cream and sautéed bananas without getting a little soggy. That meant that I had to eat quickly. (Which I did)

I am going to give the Rocksalts Fluffy Pancake Set a Very Good mark. I liked the creative touches and the taste was outstanding. My main complaint was that it was too sweet. It tasted more like Banana Cream Pie than pancakes. And I like pie, but not for breakfast. Hands down – the best presentation of pancakes tired so far here in HK.

Until next time – keep on flipping!

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False Advertising

In Hong Kong,Pancakes on March 14, 2011 by triotriotrio

Caffè HABITU

8-10 Queen’s Rd East at Hennessy Road

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

852 2527 8999

@HabituHk

www.caffehabitu.com


Deep down inside I know that I set the bar too high. I get all excited about the possibilities to come. And then I am just disappointed.

Take this morning for an example: I have been taking two buses to work. The first bus drops me off on Queens Road East. While I am waiting for the second bus I notice that there is an Italian Café. Upon further inspection there are advertising a “Fluffy Pancake Set.” Now this place is making a statement. They are not saying just Pancakes or Pancake Set; they are going out of their way to advertise that their pancakes are fluffy. As a pancake connoisseur I can’t help but to take their challenge.

Caffè HABITU is a laid back place. It is a comfortable atmosphere with a nice mix of tables, chairs and upholstered furniture. It is designed for those on the go and those who are settling in for a while to soak up the free wifi. Daily newspaper and expensive magazines line the walls. This place has a lot of potential.

Let’s go to the Score Card:

Temperature – Not hot. I am still struggling with this idea of cold pancakes. The butter pat sat on top like a motionless monument. I like to see enough heat coming off the surface to cause the butter to do a little Scott Hamilton off the side. And the whipped cream (nice touch) was unfettered by the plate’s temperature. Disappointing.

Texture – The texture was tough. They were dense and had no spongy quality about them whatsoever. They had been grilled at some time in this product life but I conjecture that they are prepared before hand and then stored until ordered. Disappointing.

Maple Syrup – Nope. Pancakes served with light cane sugar syrup. Disappointing.

These pancakes fell into the Some Merit category. I give them some points for including butter and whipped cream but the overall texture and temperature make the cakes fall to the 2 star category.

In an effort to end on a high note I would like to point out that the coffee was excellent. The Americano was strong and full of flavor. So say yes to the coffee and the atmosphere, but say no to the pancakes.

Until next time – Keep on flipping!

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Waffling

In Chinese New Year,Food,Hong Kong,Pancakes on February 8, 2011 by triotriotrio

I often waffle between whether I like pancakes or waffles more. But is a silly argument because at the heart of it they are two completely different foods. Sure – there are similarities. People like them for breakfast, and butter and syrup are a perfect complement.

But consider the differences. First, waffles are crispy. Their texture is one to give the consumer a tactile delight in the mouth. But pancakes are essentially all about the spongy qualities, even though a crispy outer coating is a must. Let me put it this way, would you ever eat ice cream out of a pancake?

This is a round about way of telling you about a recent experience that I had concerning Hong Kong waffles. I won’t make the expense draw out – they were awesome! It makes me wonder why waffles have been perfected but my search for the illusive excellent pancake goes on?

During Chinese New Year a certain kind of waffle is often served. I discovered my example on the streets in Soho. Two ladies were pushing a handcart with a charcoal burning fire. The batter was poured directly into the sandwich griddle and placed directly over the coals. They were pulled out piping hot with some char on them.

The batter is made with coconut milk, which gave them a slight sweet taste. They were crispy and the smoke from the fire gave them a complex taste. No powered sugar or confection was on them. They were just served in a paper bag. And I couldn’t think of anything that would have made them better.

Last – the waffles griddle is separated into egg shaped portions. So it was so easy to pull off individual pieces. I think that is so people can share. But in the future Jennifer is going to have to get her own because they were that good.

Until next time – keep on flipping!

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Flying Pan

In Food,Hong Kong,Pancakes on January 24, 2011 by triotriotrio

Flying Pan

G/F, 9 Old Bailey Street, SOHO, Central

Hong Kong

Jennifer and I strolled along Old Baily Street in the Soho neighborhood of Hong Kong. Our eyes had been attracted to a large sign. It read, “The Flying Pan – Open 24 HRS Breakfast.” Well I thought – maybe this is an opportunity for Hong Kong to redeem itself in the pancake department? Jennifer peered through the window, “They have ketchup on the table.” she exclaimed. That’s a sign –maybe we are in business?

We walked inside. It was crowded – another good sign but we managed to find a table. It’s a cozy place. The setting is like any typical dinner that you would find in the states. The menu revealed a wide variety of choices. They served everything from the full English breakfast to Eggs Benedict and yes indeed, pancakes.

Our waitress, a young woman named Squirrel, took our order. She brought coffee to the table so we were now ready. I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive, what was the outcome going to be?

The plate arrived at the table and yes indeed they were pancakes. It was a beautiful site. I imagine it was like someone who was travelling through the desert in a caravan and all of sudden they get the first glimpse of an oasis. It looks like safety, but is it for real?

Let me set the scene: three pancakes served in a respectful stack, butter on top. I was pleased, but let’s go to the big three criteria:

Temperature: Once again, the product was warm, not hot. This really baffles me. Let me put it this way, if I were to put a pat of butter in-between the stack the heat would not be sufficient to melt it.

Texture: Houston, we have lift. These pancakes were clearly made on a grill. They were brown on the outside with a slight honeycomb of air bubbles.

Maple Syrup: Maple and blueberry syrup were on the table. It wasn’t the pure smack, but it did have good maple flavor. My only complaint concerning the syrup was the delivery system. The bottle had a very narrow spout and I had to shake and cajole the bottle repeatedly in order to get any product out. But with a little persistence I was able to get a sufficient amount out.

These pancakes fell into the good category. (Please see scoring sheet below) I liked a lot of the work that went into them. But overall they lacked in the temperature department and the taste department. There was no eggy undertone; that told me that that they were clearly from a box.

Let me clarify one point. I will return to the Flying Pan. They did serve a pancake that satisfied my breakfast urge.

Keep on flipping – see you next time around.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I like to think of pancakes on a Five Point Panel Scoring System:

  1. Do Not Eat – this is a score only reserved to a product that is so rancid that I would be unable to get two bites down. This score could also be given to a product that was not a pancake. Let’s say I order pancakes and I am served cream of wheat instead. No matter how good the cereal is, it can’t be judged in the pancake department. ★
  2. Some Merit – Here we have a product that may be working in the right direction but doesn’t quite make it. One may want to say, “Please go back in the kitchen and try again.” Please note, the main difference between a score of one and two is that one may want to eat at this place again. ★★
  3. Good – the vast majority of pancakes fall into this category. They are what I would classify as forgettable. If I had an icon for this score it would be a box. In other words, someone simply mixes a together some pre-measured flour out with water and then places it on the grill. ★★★
  4. Very Good – Here we have a product that really goes beyond the norm. Maybe it is a mix, but instead of water, milk and real eggs are used. There may be some type of compote or interesting side. Bananas, blueberries, walnuts or apples may be incorporated into the mixture. There may be an interesting type of flour in the mix. Think of buckwheat, whole-grain or sourdough. ★★★★
  5. Excellent – An excellent pancake has no mistakes. It would be suitable for a last meal if you were on death row. ★★★★★

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Cafe O Pancakes Fall Flat

In Food,Hong Kong,Pancakes on January 17, 2011 by triotriotrio

Imagine a steaming stack of fluffy pancakes. On top there is buttery goodness mixed with flowing golden maple syrup. As this monument settles all the components begin to mingle together to form a new concoction of flavors and textures.

Place this image in your mind, and the direct opposite is what I experienced this morning as I began my quest to find the best pancakes in Hong Kong.

Perhaps this is an example of lost in translation and my journey will only bring me disappointment? Every element of today’s stack tells me that emulation of the pancake without understanding the pancake is a recipe for disaster. I identify here three core elements that make the pancake experience:

Temperature: pancakes should be hot. This seems easy enough since some people refer to them as hotcakes. But instead I was served a product that was lukewarm.

Fluffy with a crispy outer coating: I am not positive but I believe these pancakes were prepared by steaming them. Thus there was no sear mark on either side. And instead of a slight rise that occurs when cakes sizzle on the grill these cakes were flat and dense. The texture was rubbery with no air pockets within the mixture.

Maple Syrup: There is no substitute. Instead these pancakes were served with clear simple syrup. I didn’t measure but the total volume was about three tablespoons. I don’t like pancakes overflowing with syrup but this amount was insufficient. The staff also tired to push some plain yogurt off on me. No thank you.

I would like to point out that there were several elements done well. First, the pancakes were made with rice flour. I liked the taste. It brought a new element that made me think beyond the norm. But the lack of glutton may have also been its undoing? Second, there was a blueberry compote served on the side that was excellent. It had a nice mix of blueberries and sauce and it was HOT.

Like many explorers that have come before me I am focused on one thing. But I do not search for gold or the Fountain of Youth, I am in search of the perfect pancake. Thus my journey must continue here. I will continue to search out for the elusive stack that fulfills my quest. I hope you will join me on this journey.