Wednesday, 24 December 2014

christmas in taiwan & malaysia: schneeballe and other delights

Christmas decorations in Taiwan.

It's Christmas, and we are finally back in Australia after nearly 5 months in Asia!

We spent most of December in Taiwan and, subsequently, just a few days in Malaysia before our eventual return, so we caught more than a few glimpses of the Christmas festivities in both those countries. Here they are...

A gorgeous cute bear named ThanQ (pronounced "Thank You"), the mascot of Pacific Sogo department store. The story goes that ThanQ began his existence as a soft toy, but after lots of cuddles from many children, their love brought him to life, and now he wants to give back to the community.

ThanQ the Sogo bear. So adorable.

At Breeze Center (yet another shopping mall), we came across a stall, Bo Schneeballe Cafe, selling the most intriguing German "snowball biscuits".

The snowball pastries at Bo Scheeballe Cafe.

A schneeball is made from strips of dough layered into a round shape, and then deep fried. It is hard, crunchy, and generously sized.

For this reason, there is a mallet and a board available at the cafe, where we were invited to smash our schneeball into manageable pieces for consumption.

It was so much fun! I gleefully hammered away - perhaps almost a bit too enthusiastically...

Our schneeball safe and secure in a packet, ready to be hammered.

We opened the packet and sure enough, our almond chocolate shneeball was all in smithereens, bite-sized morsels ready to be eaten. It was quite delicious, and definitely worth it for the experience. Apparently smashing pastry is an exhilarating activity, one that I'm glad to have done at least once.

Smashed up schneeball!

On to something a little odder... at the Taipei City Hall station one night, I found myself sniffing the air. "Do you smell garlic bread?" I asked Simon.

Then, we saw it: outside a bakery, a Christmas tree made with sticks of garlic bread. Quirky!

A garlic bread Christmas tree outside Semeur bakery.

Eventually we said goodbye to Taiwan, and flew to Malaysia, where we somehow ended up visiting more shopping centres...

At Pavilion, there is a giant Santa-Claus-tree. (There were also some creepy elf-dolls, I couldn't bring myself to take pictures of them.)

Christmas at Pavilion shopping centre in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

We also visited Suria KLCC at the Petronas Twin Towers. There was great atmosphere the afternoon we visited, with a jazz band under the big centerpiece Christmas tree. I heard them playing a lovely rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", which compelled me to take a picture of the scene.

Indoor decorations at Suria KLCC.

 At night, the park and fountain area came alive with a water and light show.

Water and light show in front of Suria KLCC.

It was all quite majestic.

Christmas tree at Suria KLCC.

And now I'm back in Australia, looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Friday, 12 December 2014

honey rose cucumber limeade

Hello, everyone!

With all the travel that I've been doing, it's been a while since my last recipe post... so here's one, to mix things up a little.

This drink may seem quite unusual, but it is inspired by an Indonesian drink, "es timun", which is, in essence, a cucumber limeade. I made the original version a while ago, but have since played with the concept a little by using honey instead of sugar, and splashed in some rose water as well, just for touch of floral fancy.

Honey rose cucumber limeade.

honey rose cucumber limeade (serves 4)

4 limes, juiced
1 teaspoon rose water
3 tablespoons honey
4 cups water
1 Lebanese cucumber, grated
12 ice cubes

In a big pitcher, stir lime juice, rose water and honey together. Pour water in gradually, continuing to stir as you do, just to make sure all the honey is dissolved. You may chill this solution in the fridge, or use it immediately.
When you are ready to serve the drink, divide freshly grated cucumber and ice into 4 glasses, then pour in the lime-rose-honey solution. Serve immediately.

Honey rosewater cucumber limeade.

Click here to read the rest of the post!