ASIAN hop SUGAR stop with FOODIE

 Our chariot awaited for an ASIAN 'hop'.....
all the way through to our SUGAR 'high' stop.

A few weeks ago, I had another date
with a Foodie blogger friend.

 Our day unfolded very leisurely as we set out from an Asian eatery...
to grocery stores...kitchenware boutiques as well as candy and baked goods shops.
This was another outing I was really looking forward to adventuring through.

Our very first meet up point was going to be one of Montreal's oldest district.
Here is where most immigrants from various ethnicities initially landed and formed what is today called Chinatown.

After all, who better than with a foodie to share these animated, colourful streets to hop around looking for reasonably priced oriental items: 
moon cake molds, dishware, tea pots and other tantalizing treats ;o)

Although she had planned to shop a little first...
our plans got deviated because I had an incredible need to use the wee room.
Being stuck in morning traffic longer than imagined can certainly create that desperate need.
All this road construction in our lovely city better lead to a much improved environment.

Therefore, Evelyne and I figured that lunch was to be eaten a little sooner.
I certainly didn't mind since my breakfast was cut short that morning.

Luckily, her restaurant selection was footsteps from the parking lot.
In we went and got quickly seated.

No sooner after ordering for one of their specialty duck meals...
she enthusiastically offered me a small Buddha figurine.
I somewhat interpreted this gift as a reminder of how far I'd come into my...
'awakening' and 'enlightenment' through my experimental culinary journey.

It's always nice when someone recognizes your qualities of 'generosity' and 'truthfulness'.
This will undoubtedly lead me to the greater and wiser path I baby-step towards ;o)
I haven't quite achieved the art of complete 'discipline' and 'endurance' as the Buddha
has accomplished...however, it's always something to strive for and look forward to.
Thank you Evelyne for this symbolic gesture.

After a meal, I do look forward to a yummy dessert.
It's very rare for me not to order something sweet to finish off my experience with a satisfying smile.
That day, things turned out slightly differently.  
Lucky for me, I got to sample a chunk of one of my favourite childhood pleasures:
‘Sugar Sponge’ (I call it Sponge Toffee Crunch).
This was a great treat which Evelyne had made during her preparations for the Food Buzz competition.
I can't begin to tell you how ecstatic I was!


After our bellies were fed a good base...
off we went shopping for some...
ordinary and some not so ordinary products and items.
I was in great need of a new Herbal / Tea pot...
and Chinatown was a perfect place to content me at a very reasonable price ;o)

As for myself...
the ordinary and known vegetables were...
Chinese Broccoli and baby Bok Choy...
which are greens I love to make dishes with.

Here's one vegetable I used with an estrogens supplying kick in mind:
' Curry Tofu Bok Choy with
Mung Bean noodles '
I had quickly put this together with the following loosely mentioned ingredients:
A base of caramelized onions, fennel, carrots, chickpeas and bok choy sautéed with some 'silken' tofu. 
All was enhanced with a sauce consisting of: pineapple juice, rice vinegar, curry paste, black bean garlic paste...
all creamed over by coconut milk!  
This dish turned out incredibly delicious.   A definite make over and a promise to properly record the recipe next time ;)

The not so ordinary foods which I was not familiar with were:
* Jujube fruit *
* Thai eggplants *
* Tamarind pods *
* purple Sweet potato *

First and foremost, I'll start with the Jujube fruit...
a game and small apologetic confession.
Here, I'll explain...
it all started when Evelyne was attracted to these mysterious Chinese fruits.
She had grabbed a big bag of them and insisted I bring some home and try them.

The next day, I cut into it, sniffed it and took a tiny hesitant bite.
Yes, that's how I get when something is unfamiliar to me...I trek carefully.

Only my travels are more adventurous than my palate...go figure!?! 
Anyhow, it turns out that I was going to be pleasantly surprised after all.
This small, elongated rounded fruit tasted somewhat like a cross between...
an apple and a pear with a stone interior similar to one of dates.

I for one am looking forward to what Evelyne dug up on her mystery fruit.
Why wait and not look it up myself you wonder?
It's really to respect the results from a very interesting
food game Evelyne engages in.
In short, she gets attracted to a food she's never tried...
takes note of the given name...
and later scopes out some info on the product.
Ultimately...she then creates a dish with it.

Upon hearing her view, I thought it was a fantastic idea!
After all, my 'Hubby' does always call me the 'Claudia Curiosa'...
and I think I'll start playing that game too once and a while.
Thanks for the small enlightenment Evelyne ;o)

Now...for the small apologetic confession part.
 That day...I did come close to ruining her fun.
As I was leaving the store, the grocer whispered to me what this Asian fruit was.
Then, in conversation, I had inadvertently passed on the info to Evelyne.
I was initially stumped about how this came out and...
believe it or not, it lingered until the next day.
It was only when she emailed me with great news that I felt a sense of relief.
She informed me that the grocer had somewhat misled me.
Phew...I was incredibly relieved because I had felt terrible...
 about ruining her amusing food scavenger hunt ;o)

The lesson here is to maintain the fun aspect to food.
Maybe, now, when you see a foreign looking food...
you'll be less intimidated because you'll be able to play the same guessing game.
You will not only inform yourself about something new...
you'll hopefully be able to incorporate a sure needed change in your menu ;o)

So, until I get the complete goods on Jujubes...
I went ahead and cooked up a very tasty...
Jujube, Pineapple and Berry compote sauce.
Some fresh pineapple, raspberries and squash, along with these Asian fruits...
and voila...another 'newness' in my kitchen that was put to great use at breakfast ;o)

Now, for my 'coup de coeur'...
which happened when my eyes landed on adorable mini pumpkin looking...
Thai (a.k.a. Makua) eggplants.
Of course...it was love at first sight.
How appropriate to have been able to find these around Halloween festivities.
As I bought them...I started having big plans for these small beauties!
Unfortunately my plans were short lived.
I had enthusiastically prepared ingredients to go with stuffing these eggplants.
I also made sure to steam the eggplants so that they could keep as much of their color integrity as possible.

I had sliced the tops to keep as decor and then started scooping the flesh.
I then remembered reading that the tiny seeds should be discarded. 
At about the fourth eggplant... I got curious about the taste!
Thank goodness I did because my meal would have been a major let down.
Is this what
 'love at first sight'
results in? 

Now...I don't want to discredit this variety of eggplant...
however, these were incredibly bitter and awful tasting!
Was this a rare event...bad seasonal timing or just a terrible batch?
Have any of you tried these?
Let me know what could have gone wrong.


Now, placing my attention to those surprisingly good Tamarind pods.
Evelyne had bought a big box of pods and insisted I try a few.
Truthfully, although I was intrigued, I wasn't quite sure if I'd really eat any part of it.
I had figured, at the very least they'd go well with my Autumnal table decor.

Since, she also lit an
extra spark of curiosity...
I went searching about this mysteriously, odd looking pod to find out what the heck I could use it for.

Afterwards, once, I had started dismantling the pod...
I got a better idea of what I was dealing with!
After a small taste of the paste surrounding the stone seeds...
I happily concluded that I could certainly adapt this in my Asian-Italian style meal creations ;o)
The flavours imparted by the Tamarind paste are somewhat like a blend of...
dried apricots, dates and prunes with a slightly added acidic zing.

Armed with that info...
I went right ahead and used the Tamarind paste in an
oriental dish lightly inspired by one of my very old recipe books. 
I also named this creation:
'Oriental Tamarind Coconut Chicken' on a bed of Chinese Broccoli.
It turned out so amazing that even 'Hubby' who usually turns...
his nose away from anything coconut, loved this dish. 
Imagine, he also extended his approval of adding...
more coconut milk next time around.
Wow, what a turn of events...
I'm slowly getting Hubby to see things my way ;o))
Yippee, because I love coconut!
*** Which brings me to the next successful blend of ingredients ***
The main ingredients that were used:
 Chinese Broccoli and Chicken thighs.
The sauce mix consisted of:
Tamarind paste, Tomato paste, Soya sauce, Coconut milk and a little water.
Note: Since I was eye-balling every ingredient...I only had the time to scribble notes.
It was so delicious that it's definitely a re-make and I promise to record this recipe at a later time.
Now, onto my small fascination with the solely purchased purple Sweet potato.
I had wondered if the color would come through properly after cooking it...
and YES it actually did!
It must have been my insistence on keeping the potato whole...
and steaming it instead of using any other cooking method.
I had managed to maintain the integrity of this gorgeous royal color.

Therefore, I decided to honour our highness with this delectable...seafood platter:
A blend of Matane shrimp, marinated oyster mushrooms,
pickled ginger, avocado and olive oil.
The bed of boston lettuce nestled the rest of the...
sliced royal purple sweet potato and rolls of smoked salmon...
all drizzled with homemade ginger syrup.
Our short time in China town was over for this leg of our day together.
It was now time to head over to our SUGAR stops on another side of town...
located on Monkland avenue in the N.D.G. district of Montreal.

Evelyne had found a candy shop named 'Sparkles' which ended up providing us with some goodies to bring back home but unfortunately lacked big time in appreciation towards their customers.  Although most of my favourite chocolate covered raisins, coffee beans and hazelnuts were found at this shop...I will not step foot in there ever again.   I know this may sound harsh, however, this is after all a candy shop...not a stuffy bank that turns their nose up when Food bloggers ask to take photos to share with others.   Enough said!  Oh, BTW, this is not to say that the sales girls were not pleasant.  They probably were the only reason that we didn't just walk out empty handed.

Alright...onto a more pleasant visit across the street to a cupcake shop called...
 'Petits Gateaux'.
They had a lovely lady who was incredibly sweet and generous with her time as well as offering us an adorable mini cupcake as a tasty sample of their colourful selections.
Since my palate was quite pleased with this small cake...I decided to grab half a dozen and bring them home to Hubby.
Unfortunately, at our further sampling of the cupcakes, Hubby and I remained slightly and surprisingly disappointed.

Therefore...sorry, here I go again...
although the one sample we ate at the shop was very tasty and fresh...
the others I brought home felt like two day old baked goods.
I truly feel that when in the business of selling cupcakes...
moist and tasty...is what is sought afterAm I asking too much?

I will however, give them another chance if I find myself
in the areas of one of their two locations again.
This might just have been one of those unfortunate days.

At this point we were almost ready to call it a day...
until we crossed the street to discover 'Cuisine Gourmet Monkland'.
This specialty shop was a real gem for seekers of...
dining ware and especially kitchen supplies.
The professionally run boutique was owned by an...
extremely charming and helpful person...how refreshing!
This is where Evelyne found her donut cutter for her upcoming...
 'Daring Bakers' challenge and where I finally...
found my forever sought after Madeleine pan...
more on this small obsession in a later post for sure ;o)

It was time to bring Evelyne back home.
We briefly spoke of another possible meet up.
It would either be a supper with other...
Montreal Food Bloggers or...
to the upcoming charitable...
Cupcake camp Montreal event.
I totally encourage you to get together...
with a Foodie near you.
Hop and go through fun stops and maybe...
get enlightened at the same time like I did ;o)
All in all...once again, 
our Foodie date was a real treat.

Flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com