Cafe Flo, Sanlitun branch, Beijing

Cafe FLO is the new casual dining space from Groupe Flo, who also owns Brasserie Flo, Beijing longest standing French restaurant. There are two other branches located in Parkview Green Mall and World Trade Center mall. Each branch has a slightly different menu and different decor.

When I entered the cafe, I was taken with the decor of the restaurant. The whole interior was aesthetically pleasing. The dark wooden beam columns along with the different shades of blue accentuated the ambiance of a Parisian bistro.

I was at Cafe Flo on two different occasions. One was for brunch and the other dinner. I will share both experiences.

 

As stated on the menu, all brunch meals come with French imported butter, croissant, and Bonne Maman jam. The croissant was buttery and flaky. The baguette emanated a subtle sweet fragrance, the kind you get from a freshly baked bread.

Brunch du Chef C. 100g grilled beef tenderloin with truffled scrambled egg, bacon, pork sausage and sauteed baby potato 

150RMB

In my opinion, the price for this dish was a tad bit steep. It just had the usual ingredients for a full breakfast meal. It was good but there was nothing outstanding that would justify the price. I was not a fan of the scrambled egg. It was not because it did not taste good, but it was the way it was made. The French-style scrambled egg has a more creamy consistency with tiny curds. I prefer my eggs “dry”.

Saumon norvégien . Norwegian salmon topped with sauce vierge with a side of cauliflower puree accompanied by asparagus.

98RMB

The salmon was cooked just right. The sauce did not overpower the natural sweetness of the salmon. The cauliflower puree was a good companion to the salmon.

Red velvet chocolate

I did not know what to expect from this drink. It was my first-time hearing about it and I am a big fan of red velvet cake. In my mind, I thought maybe it would taste somewhat like a red velvet cake (plus it looked really pretty in the picture). The drink was a little too sweet for me, and it tasted like a hot strawberry candy drink with milk.  Some people may like it but it did not fancy my palate.

Vienna coffee

Two shots of strong espresso topped with whipped cream with a sprinkle of cocoa powder.

This was an enjoyable coffee. You take a sip of the coffee with the whipped cream and it gives the coffee a light creamy sweetness, and you get this lovely bittersweet flavor with each sip.

Soupe de champignons
Creamy mushroom soup with marinated mushrooms

48RMB

The mushroom soup was really good. This substantial warm-hued soup was a perfectly balanced blend of good quality fresh ingredients complemented by a dollop of cream.

Frites de patates douces 

Sweet potato fries with garlic aioli

25RMB

These sweet potato fries were fried to perfection.  The sweet potato used were pleasantly sweet – just a basket of deep-fried goodness!

Spaghetti au boeuf

Spaghetti with minced beef, Provençale sauce, Parisian mushroom, and Parmesan

79RMB

The spaghetti bolognese was somewhat different from the American or Italian style. It was light, creamier, and smoother in texture. There was not a lot of ground meat. I did enjoy the dish,  it was flavorful.

 

Overall, I enjoyed the food. However, unlike its more famous sister restaurant, Brasserie Flo, the service at Cafe Flo lacked professionalism. The waiters were all gathered at a counter, in the middle of the cafe, in some sort of discussion. I raised my hand to get the attention of one of the waiters for the bill, but no one saw me until I called out to one of them. Shouldn’t there be at least one waiter at different corners of the restaurant? That was my only disappointment.

Camembert with grapes and saltine crackers

I used to have a strong distaste to the thought of pairing cheeses or dry-cured ham with fruits such as Camembert and grapes, Parma ham and cantaloupe. I thought there is no way that could taste good until I had my first taste of Camembert paired with grapes and saltine crackers. I was blown away at how amazing it tasted. There could not be a more perfect matrimony of flavors! The contrast of the sweetness of the grapes along with the saltiness buttery flavor of the saltines and the slight milky creamy flavor of the cheese makes this pairing memorable.

Camembert is a soft, earthy, creamy cow’s milk cheese, with a hint of sweetness originating from France, more specifically Camembert in northern France. I personally like to have Camembert with crunchy red grapes such as the red globe or seedless flame because of it’s high level of sweetness and saltine crackers. Water crackers are also good.

Camembert with grapes and saltine crackers can be served as part of breakfast or as a snack.

These are my favorite saltine crackers

Summer red cabbage salad with Balsamic dressing

I enjoy experimenting and getting creative with salads. Today for lunch, I made a spontaneous red cabbage salad with a balsamic dressing. I looked in the fridge and picked out ingredients that would be suitable for a salad. Balsamic vinegar is one of my favorite vinegar to use for salad dressings because it has a good balance of sweet and sour.

This salad is bursting with natural sweetness and fresh flavor.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe!

This recipe serves 2

Ingredients:

1/4 of a red cabbage, shredded

3 iceberg lettuce leaves, shredded

1 avocado, cut into pieces

a hand full of salted almonds, lightly toasted

2 medium sized fresh button mushroom, thinly sliced

4 sprigs of curly parsley, chopped

6 red globe grapes from Chile, cut into 4 wedges

Balsamic vinaigrette: 

1/2 cup of Balsamic  vinegar (I use Balsamic Vinegar of Modena)

1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp of olive oil

2 tsp of sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Instructions:

  1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, put aside.
  2. Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the Balsamic vinaigrette over the salad and toss well.
  4. Enjoy!

Notes

This is a versatile salad recipe. You can play around with the ingredients, add what you like.

Roasted Lemon Chicken Thighs with Potatoes

I found this roasted lemon chicken thigh with potatoes recipe on http://thewoksoflife.com via Pinterest. I love cooking with chicken thighs because they are more tender and versatile, it does not toughen over long cooking periods. This recipe was really easy to make, requiring just a few simple ingredients.

The original recipe serves 6. As I was only cooking for two, I prepared half of each ingredient in the recipe. What I love about this dish was that the chicken and potatoes retained its natural sweetness and flavor. The parsley gave the dish a nice aromatic flavor. As Elise Bauer from simplyrecipes.com describes “It brightens flavors”.

Ingredients:

  • 6 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1½ pounds Eastern or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley leaves

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F, and season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a roasting pan set over two burners at medium-high heat.
  2. Sear the chicken skin-side down in the roasting pan. After the chicken thighs have been searing for about 5-7 minutes, flip them over. Add the potatoes and stir them in the oil. Add the lemon slices and garlic cloves, tossing everything together so the potatoes and garlic are well-coated in olive oil.
  3. Transfer the chicken to the oven and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. Remove from the oven and stir in the herbs. Serve.

Vai Milano

20170128_134516

20170128_134427

I love having ice cream in winter. There is something about having ice cream in the cold that makes it extra pleasurable and enjoyable. I was doing some shopping at the Indigo mall with my siblings and had a sudden craving for ice cream. I have passed by the Vai Milano store many times, and this time I decided to give it a try, it would be good to expand my choices of ice cream from the usual Baskin Robins, Cold Stone, and Häagen-Dazs. Other than gelato, they also serve cakes, sorbet, and coffee. Vai Milano’s gelatos are freshly made with natural ingredients.

We ordered a dark chocolate and pistachio gelato cone. The texture of the gelato is between traditional and soft ice cream. The dark chocolate was creamy, rich and decadent, one of the best I’ve had. The pistachio was an acquired taste for me. It had a strong pistachio flavor. It took a series of licks of the gelato for my taste bud to accept the flavor.

Gaz, Persian nougat

I received a box of Shervin Gaz from a friend who had just returned from Iran. Gaz is a popular Persian nougat made with the white milky sap found on the angebin plant along with egg white, sugar, rose water and pistachios. It’s sweet, milky, soft and chewy with a subtle hint of rose water. It is one of my favorite sweets!

 

My first meal in Kyoto

image via google maps
image via google maps

20161217_181924

 

My first meal in Kyoto was dinner at this small homey Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) restaurant on Sanjo-jingu-michi. The owners were two lovely elderly couple.  The menu was simple with a variety of Okonomiyaki, noodles, and stir fried dishes. There is no English menu available. Luckily, my sister could read and speak Japanese.

My sister and I were tired after a day of traveling, so we did not order too much. We ordered a stir-fry vegetable, fried kimchi udon noodle, and a seafood Okonomiyaki. The fried kimchi udon noodle was better than I expected.  It was a mixture of sweet, salty and sour (from the kimchi).  The pork slices in the fried udon were especially tender and savory, it had absorbed all the different flavors.

It was our first time having Okonomiyaki. It was intriguing watching the man make it. We were full of anticipation. When the Okonomiyaki was placed in front of us, we were as if two children who could not wait to dig into a bowl of cookies. 🙂

I could only taste the sweetness of the Okonomiyaki sauce on my first bite, but as I ate on, the other flavors (the vegetables, egg, shrimp, and squid) began to present itself. It was a savory pancake indeed and also very filling!

This is a good place to eat if you are in the area and looking for something less commercial.

 

 

Iced Coffee recipes

Hello, everyone! I recently stumbled upon this list by the folks over at Brit + Co & I’m so excited to share it with you today. Even though coffee rules everything around me, I’m always willing to experiment & try out ways to make it even better. The few that I picked out really seemed to stick […]

via Tasty Tuesday: Twenty-One Refreshing Iced Coffee Recipes — The Dainty Darlings

Al Safir, Middle Eastern Cuisine

Al Safir is my go-to place for middle eastern food  – good value for good food. The restaurant is not big, there are 6 tables inside. When the weather is warmer, there will be tables outside to accommodate more customers. Al Safir is not as fancy as the other middle eastern restaurants in Beijing but the food is one of the best. The menu has a good selection along with pictures which are very helpful when ordering especially for those who are not familiar with the dishes.

I always order the lentil soup when I’m here. It’s hearty and savory. The lemon juice adds a zing to the flavor. The vegetable soup was not too bad, nothing exceptional.

The fattoush is a great tangy palate-cleansing salad. It is a toasted pita bread salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, and cucumber. I love the crunchiness and juiciness of the salad.  The Moutabal (eggplant and tahini dip) on the other hand was too sour for me. So I did not have too much of it.

The Bamya bel lahmeh is popular Arabic okra with lamb stew. It is a strong tomato-based stew but not offsetting. You can have it with rice or on its own as a soup. The kebab platter consists of beef, lamb, and chicken. The meat was tasty and succulent. There are two dips for the meat, one is a tomato and onion dip, and the other is some kind of mayo dip which is absolutely delicious, it gives the meat an extra boost in flavor.

One of my favorite rice dishes is the Kabsa chicken. The chicken is tender and comes right off the bone. It is lightly seasoned so it still retains its natural chicken flavor. There are yogurt and a special sauce that you can add to the rice for more flavor. The saffron rice is just plain saffron rice ..haha.

 

I highly recommend this place!

 

Meijiken, Osaka

image via https://tabelog.com/osaka/A2701/A270201/27001834/dtlrvwlst/B208949884/
image via https://tabelog.com/osaka/A2701/A270201/27001834/dtlrvwlst/B208949884/

Meijiken is a Japanese Western restaurant located in Shinsaibashi. This restaurant serves omu rice (omelet rice), cutlets, curry rice, soups, and steak. There are English menus available but it does not consist all the dishes that is on the Japanese menu and they do not accept credit card. When we were there, there was a waiter that could speak sufficient English.

20161224_202301

 

My sister ordered the omu rice with a chicken cutlet. She enjoyed it, she thought it was delicious. For me, it just tasted like tomato rice and egg. It was decent but nothing special about it. That is just my personal opinion. The chicken cutlet was nice and crusty on the outside, the inside was pretty flavorful.

 

 

 

I ordered the steak set which came with a soup (of your choice), salad, and bread/rice. I ordered the creamy corn soup which was light and creamy. The salad came with a thousand island dressing. The bread was lightly toasted, fresh, and warm with a hint of sweetness. I ordered my steak well done, it came with a brown sauce which I was not too fond of, it did not agree with my taste bud. The steak, however, went really well with the two paste that was served on the plate – mustard and pepper (I think).

 

20161224_204046

Nearing the end of our meal, my sister was craving for something more. So she ordered the beef stew. The stew was hearty and delicious! It was full of flavor. The potato, carrot and beef pieces were tender. It would go lovely with rice.

The total was around 5300 yen. I would say this is a restaurant worth exploring.