11 March 2008

Waffles that truly kick ass

Search no further for the lightest, most crisp waffles you'll ever find. There are times when you want something dense, chewy and comforting - like a deep, dark chocolate cookie, or a thick slice of chunky apple pie. But if you, like me, are concerned about packing on the kilograms with a mostly sedentary lifestyle that is inevitable when the going gets tough at work, then the last thing you would want after a heavy meal is another super heavy dessert.

These waffles, which I have blogged about before, comes out high on the list of desserts I'd serve friends during dinner parties. They should be made ala minute, and even better if everyone could make and decorate their own waffles.

Not only are they super delicious with just a little maple syrup or chocolate sauce, my friends somehow get a kick out of being able to play with their own food - even those who just don't think cooking or baking is as fun as I make it out to be, and who probably won't ever hold a whisk till the cows come home.

These yeasted waffles have a way of bringing the little kid out in everyone. A waffle party sounds like a damn super good idea now.

06 March 2008

Hip Tastes

How many times have you picked up a book on wine, only to either get lost within the first few sentences, or get droopy-eyed and regret ever wanting to learn more about wines. No matter how thin the book, how big the font or how many illustrations there were in the countless books I'd picked up at the book store, I would always slot it back into the shelf.

So when I received 2 books last Christmas, 1 about food and the other about wines, it was a natural choice to get started on the food book first. But when I finally got down to the book about wine - Hip Tastes, I was blown away by how easy it was to digest the information and instantly felt silly for ignoring it for so long.

While I'm not saying that I am now able to tell you which vineyards in Australia produce great Rieslings, at the very least I know how wines are made and the various major varieties of wine as well as their typical characteristics. The greatest part of the book? It kept me engaged from page to page. I was always reluctant to put it down for the night, something that only happens to me when I'm reading a novel with a gripping plot.

This would be THE book I'd recommend to wine novices like me, not know where to start and apprehensive about going for wine appreciation classes because of the potential of looking like a fool among those with far more sensitive palates, who can sniff out notes of tobacco and vanilla.

Inspired and raring to start experiencing wines, I organised a late-afternoon wine-tasting session with a couple of friends. I prepared some scallops and tomatoes while my friends contributed cheeses, grapes and sausages, all great fodder so that the alcohol wouldn't go straight to our head.

Using information from the book, I wrote interesting facts and common descriptions of each wine we had. We used these descriptions to guide our sniffing and swirling, trying to pick out aromas and flavours from each wine. We then each had to guess whether wine number 1 was a Muscadet, Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc. It was really fun, and while we didn't emerge from the session as wine connoisseurs, it was a great way to spend the afternoon.

Or night, for that matter. We had a huge interlude after the reds and whites, played a couple of hours of Wii before carrying on with the dessert wine, ice cream and fresh strawberries. Oddly enough, you'd think that after all that wine I'd be smashed the next day. But I was more sore from the frantic punching movements for Wii than groggy from all the wines. Yet another great way to spend the weekend in. If you can't go out and join your friends, lure them to your home!