I don’t love the New Year that falls at the end of December. It always seems to be disappointing reality over incredible expectation. I mean, how many dreadful, overpriced meals, followed by a triple rate taxi ride if you can get one have already paid the babysitter quadruple rates.
I’m sure if it’s a good restaurant, you’ll need to book for the weekend ahead, but I reckon it will still be a better deal than most places on New Year’s Eve. Alternatively, have a trip to a good Chinese supermarket ahead of time and get stocked up. I’m buying won ton wrappers and making pot stickers.
I’m sure if you live near a Chinatown then there’ll be plenty going on to enjoy. And you might not even need a babysitter, as most events happen in the daytime. Now, pass me some dim sum please!
I think it’s well documented on here that MGG and I love our Chinese food, particularly dim sum. And we don’t really need an excuse, but with Chinese New Year just around the corner, then a few extra things might sneak into the cupboards.
Wai Yee Hong is a fantastic source of good stuff for your feast, particularly if you are in the Bristol area, but they do online as well. You can get the red lanterns, the red envelopes, the firecrackers and also something like these crispy New Year cookies.
If you fancy something to snack on whilst you’re cooking up your favourite Chinese dish, then how about this Chinese snack taster box from Sous Chef? Certainly some unusual bits to keep your guests talking! Though I think I can leave the beancurd jerky.
Need a cuppa? How about Chinese Treasures from Bluebird Tea? This is their Ba Bao Cha, an ancient herbal medicine tea. Combining green tea and ginseng then this might just ward off winter bugs. Or just be a very nice cuppa.
In case you need a nice mug for the tea to go in, then how about a personalised lucky mug to celebrate the start of the Year of the Monkey? With the Chinese symbol for monkey on the front, and your choice of name on the back, then you can start the year off in style.
And to toast it in with something a little stronger, how about a Lucky Buddha beer? Probably worth it just for the bottle, but I hear the beer is pretty good too.
I wish you Gong Hei Fat Choi, may the year of the monkey be a good one for you!
Thursday sees the start of the Chinese New Year, and ushers in the year of the sheep. I’ve written before about how much we like our Chinese food in this house and even though MGG will be away, I’ll have others to entertain that night so definitely menu planning.
I had a great conversation on Twitter with Wai Yee Hong (brilliant Chinese supermarket if you’re in and around Bristol) about what I could cook, and trying to find a menu that will suit all attending. I would have loved to have done a whole steamed fish, apparently often on the menu at this time, but not sure everyone would be up for that. I think I’ve come down to making prawn and ginger dumplings, which got the thumbs up and then probably a more westernised main course.
If you want some ideas, there’s a great page on the Wai Yee Hong website with some ideas for each course. You can order online from them, including the fresh and frozen section if you’re in the Bristol area, and there’s a whole page of New Year products.
There’s also some great ideas over on the Sous Chef site, although more for gifts than dinner perhaps. The Great Hamper of China would be great for anyone who is really seriously into their Chinese food, or you could even give them something like the Tabletop Hotpot. I wish I’d got organised and ordered the New Year Cake Recipe Kit, although perhaps I could google a recipe and give it a go, just for fun.
If you can get out and see a dragon dance, it really is an experience. In the meantime, I’m off to make some red envelopes ready to hand out some cash and good wishes.
There are very vague signs of Spring: mornings are lighter, if I slink off sharpish it’s still light when I leave work, and there are some small green shoots in the garden.
And in the kitchen all sorts of things change for me. I know that it’s Spring when I start reaching for Bill Granger cookbooks and put away Delia’s Winter Collection. I start craving different things to eat, lots of South East Asian, lots of lighter stuff. What else might be going on?
1. The casserole might be heading back into the cupboard, and the wok might be heading out more permanently. Quick, easy and full of fresh flavours!
2. The grow your own foodies will be busy prepping their fruit and veg plots, as well as working out what seeds to order in. I am really keen on Seeds of Italy, and there are some really unusual varieties of tomatoes and basil, as well as things like spelt and garlic chives. I am told I should be chitting potatoes, but misheard that the first time. If you’re not great with seeds, then order in seedlings ready to go in the ground. I like Sarah Raven and Thompson and Morgan, and I won’t tell your more green fingered friends if you don’t!
3. The pancake loving foodie will be dusting off their crepe pan ready for Shrove Tuesday. The less well co-ordinated will be looking at their ceiling and worrying. The really inept amongst us might choose an electric crepe maker!
4. The globe trotting foodie will be lured around the world to track down a huge variety of flavours. They were probably in San Francisco yesterday at the Crab Festival, and next weekend they could be at Menton in the South of France for the Lemon Festival. And you could head anywhere with a Chinatown next weekend ready for Chinese New Year.