french Tag



Oh geez, in between life in general and an unexpectedly eventful visit to my OBGYN which involved an adorably named chocolate cyst, I’m going to quickly leave you with, nonetheless, a recipe for my favorite thing to eat these days.  This is a dish inspired by a restaurant called Neighborhood in Hong Kong’s central district, which serves predominantly French bistro-style dishes with a spritz of Japanese infusion, and in this case, classic beef tartare served with fresh sea urchin roe on top.  For the record, I have NOT had this particular dish at the restaurant.  It wasn’t offered on the menu by the time I visited, and so I created my own rendition at home.  The major difference is that their standard beef tartare is mixed with chopped raw oysters, which I omitted because fresh oysters just isn’t something that Hong Kong markets excel at, and for the many times that I’ve pushed my luck, I wish I hand’t, so.

But, having said that, you’ve got to try this.  I would want to sell you on how the creamy sweetness and foie gras-like richness of the sea urchin blend almost biblically beautiful with the irony savoriness of the beef tartare, and how the infusion of the two, including the cold and silky touches it feels on your taste buds, comes to a marvelous clash with the warm crunches of the toasted baguette. And I could go on.

But the truth is, if you’re my kinda people, it had us at hello.


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France Part II, and chicken w/ morels and rice pilaf




Lourmarin is what it promises, a picturesque village in the Luberon region in Provence, and more.

No matter what kind of cynicism you bring along, or distaste for anything that seems to fit too squarely into Martha Stewart magazines, you come here, you see it, and it’s hard not to surrender, even just for a moment, under Lourmarin’s somewhat curated but irresistible, undeniable charm. We arrived at 7 o’clock in a summer evening when this village draped with honeysuckle vines and buzzing bumble bees were casted under a slanted, pale blue light. With just one deep breath of its brisk, floral and light beige linen atmosphere, everything felt just right. May I even remind you that this was after 9 hours of driving from Lyon cutting through the gruesome, annual European migration to the south in the middle of August? If it weren’t for the highlight of us stopping midway at an orchard, and me may-or-may-not having stolen a bright red apple and ran, the day would’ve all seem to be in ruin.

That ain’t pretty. But Lourmarin made it worthwhile.



(may or may not have stolen an apple from here…)


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FRANCE PART I, and Lyonnaise sausage w/ warm beans and sage butter

All the best things in life are clichés.

Paris, is a cliché.

I’ve fought consciously throughout my adult life not to fall for it, or at the very least, say it out loud, fearing I’ll sound like a girl wanting to model or a guy in a sports car. It oozes unoriginality. But in the end, excuse mine if you will, as we sat predictably at an open cafe at 6:30 am, watching this city in beige and pastel grey slowly waking up in a wash of golden summer lights, acutely aware of its both corny and extraordinary allure. Paris, I succumbed, is Paris for a reason.

But I knew that four years ago, when I visited Paris for the time time. This time, I wanted more. And I didn’t mean a private jet from somewhere like to take me there (although a girl can dream, right?!).

I wanted more not from Paris, but from the country that it has instilled great bewilderment for inside my mind. If that was Paris, then what is France? An embarrassingly stupid question no doubt, for a pre-middle age woman to ask but frankly, I’m too old to pretend that I’m better. If I were destined with death-by-sugar then fuck it, bring out the ice cream-truck, and I want her every single available flavors including the weird ones against my best judgement. Not just to see her polished beauty but – almost out of both cynicism and total respect – I wanted to slowly cruise through her central veins, starting from Paris, then Burgundy, Lyon, Luberon, Marseille, then along her riviera that ends in Nice. What would I find on a road trip in France? Perhaps a side of her that looks no different than places just off of the New Jersey turnpike (and yes there are). Or perhaps more beautiful cliches? I will be able to travel through those perfectly imperfect ancient villages and chateaus freckling along her cheeks. Would I be able to have one? To find it unmistakably amidst all, to go back to it again and again? My favorite freckle of hers?

This isn’t the first road trip I’ve been on. I went on a big road trip in the US when I had just passed my driving test. I was very new to driving, I had only just learned how to buy car insurance, and I thought going on a huge road trip would be an amazing idea! Needless to say, it didn’t go entirely to plan, but I still had lots of fun. I remember one evening I pulled in for some food and ended up having a couple of glasses of wine. I didn’t even think that I was driving, which shows how knew I was to it! I had to use a blood alcohol concentration calculator and discovered I was over the limit. Thankfully there were some rooms at the place I stopped, so I just ended up staying the night there. It saved me a night in the car!


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Creamy Duck Rillette

duck rillette featured header

The other night during my thrill-less routine of midnight internet-surfing, I came across an article about the mysterious effect of mind has on physical wellness.  You know, happy people healthy life kind of thing.  (By the way Hello, my name is Mandy and I’m a hypochondriac.  Those who are just here thinking there’d be “better-than-Paris” duck, feel free to skip and scroll right to the bottom…).  So volunteers were gathered and tests were conducted.  In a nut shell, I was diagnosed by the article as the kind who are biologically doomed, incapable of being happy under meditation and will be a sag of meat dripping negativity for the rest of my life, which as far as effect-of-mind-on-health goes isn’t gonna be a long one.  It’s settled.  I will live short, and whimper.


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Not-a-Muffin Amaretto Financier

almond financier featured header


“My colleagues loved those mini muffins…”
“There are NOT muffins!  They are FINANCIER with a silent R, as in FRRRENCH!!”
“I know financiers.  They’re rectangular.  That’s not financier.”
“…. don’t comment before you GOOGLE!  I’m getting Jiaozi a new daddy.”

OK, that pretty much sums up my recent mental-stability.  But in my defense if I may, a word on why I go a bit nuts when my slightly-retarded-in-the-kitchen husband (but otherwise awesome) tries to give “input” to my cooking given that another (and so many others like it) conversation took place just the other day:

“Hey, can you do something with that tomato?”
“What tomato?”
“THAT tomato that’s being sitting on the counter for days!”
“You mean… the pumpkin?”
“…. oh…”

So you see?  How can I take cooking advice from a man like that?  PS: Jiaozi is my Maltese!


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