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Ever since my shitty main course at Bread Street Kitchen (to be fair: it was soft opening), I have been slowly shifting my home-chef loyalties from Ramsay to Jamie.  The way I’m starting to see it:  Jamie teaches you how to use leftover meat, and is a sweetheart to chickens, whilst Ramsay tells you that your gourmet meat is raw and throws it in the bin.  Now that’s just wasteful.

So I came across a recipe for panzanella by Jamie here:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/panzanella-tuscan-tomato-bread-salad

Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that uses tomatoes and leftover bread.  Not much, you say, but the dressing of vinegar, anchovies, and good extra virgin olive oil, gives this loaf something to get soaked about.  Wikipedia references the 16th-century artist and poet Bronzino, who actually calls the salad “another pleasure of this life” (“altro piacer di questa vita”) and I’m not one to disagree.

The red onions Jamie recommends in his recipe, are macerated till heavenly sweet and soft by the red wine vinegar.  This, combined with the strong saltiness of the anchovies, is something the poor Caprese would cry home to his mama about, basil leaves tucked between his mozzarella balls.

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I served this salad with a whole roasted chicken – crispy, but still moist because of a whole forked lemon that I stuff inside its cavity like no tomorrow.  You might’ve noticed the Aquarius in the corner of that photo – my go-to drink when I’m hungover.  If I can make a dinner like this when I’m hungover, there is no way anyone could screw this up.  Stale bread, tomatoes, and dressing – get it done!

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God love vinegar soaked carbs.

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Following from the crepe post, I give you more crepe.  Didn’t see that coming did you?  My friend Alison Cheng, who has written for Dear HK, has taken some lovely photos for bánh xèo that she’s let me use today.  Watch out for more of the Ms. Cheng’s contributions on the HK numb, or feel free to contact her on alisonc.cheng@gmail.com if you like what you see.

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Heavily influenced by French cuisine, Vietnamese food is full of French-inspired gems like the increasingly popular banh mi, and bo kho (similar to a French beef stew, even served with a chunk off a baguette!).

Banh xeo is another a favourite of mine.  This Vietnamese version of a savoury crepe is too darn delicious, especially when the shrimp is freshly caught and the beansprouts are only just-cooked, still maintaining that delicate crunch with the rest of the sizzling cake.  I felt so high on life the first time I had a banh xeo in Vietnam – I think I was in Hue – that I ended up getting inked like an idiot straight after.  Might have had something to do with the red wine too…

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My boyfriend’s parents celebrated their 35th anniversary last week.  So, in true filially pious foodie son and daughter fashion, the kids and their significant others planned a dinner worthy of a Michelin-starred table.  Not incredibly romantic when one of the SO’s is caught chewing on the lamb bone in the kitchen (I swear this was not me), but I think this amazing couple had an excellent time.

Having visited Lardo’s and fallen in love with their preemo lamb and beef, A and I went over to TCDeli, their flagship retail outlet – also in Hang Hau Village – to pick up 3kgs of the highest quality Australian lamb.  A special discount for purchases over $500 made this massive Tasmanian grain-fed beauty quite reasonably priced ($470~), and was more than enough for 7 people – contrary to the guy-behind-the-counter’s skepticism.  We opted to keep the bone in for the flavour, but if you’d rather stuff the lamb instead then they also offer butterflied portions.  If one cannot be assed to trek to Hang Hau, then the Meat Market is another option for these kinds of cuts, and more importantly: offers home delivery.  Lazy Hongkies, I know you all too well.

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