The magic of sitting at the bar

December. Whether you intentionally seek it or not, the end of the year is always a reflective time. What is often an occasion to get together might be a time of solitude for others…especially for those who are away from home. If you find yourself playing Love Actually or Bridget Jones’ Diary on repeat mode, I encourage you, instead, to find a local establishment and sit at the bar.

If available, I always choose to sit at the bar whenever I travel someplace new or just craved a wildcard of a night. Sitting at the bar enables two intimate interactions: one with self and one with strangers. And the bonus is, there is (usually) a seat at the bar.

I will admit, it is an uncomfortable thing to do. Yes, there is the initial awkwardness of sitting in your own thoughts or even asking to sit by yourself in a social setting. But think, how many times do you have such moments to yourself? Enjoy the pleasing contentment in appreciating your drink while being one with the place. With the bartender or strangers sitting at the bar, there is oftentimes a curiosity that feeds off each other. Whatever you choose to do with that interaction is up to you. And if you do, you might just uncover the magic of sitting at the bar. 

The following are five personal stories about my experience at the bar. You will find that I haven’t named the establishment that I was sitting in. That is intentional, as part of the magic is finding your own path in the most unintentional way. Each story comes with a dish / drink created as a result of those experiences – As a chef, my inspirations have always been driven by interactions with people. Enjoy the holidays and eat well!

Shimokitazawa, Tokyo Japan (2017)

A glimpse into the future. A small gastrobar in Shimokitazawa Tokyo frequented by neighbourhood locals. Something about the place made me feel at home. Perhaps it was the owners welcoming me like a local, or the slow pace of bar / dinner service. A small menu. A level of trust from customers – so as to give complete freedom to the owners to decide what they should eat. There was no rush, allowing for easy conversation – and an eventual invite to their New Years Eve party. I take up the offer. New Year’s Eve. I learn how to make Takoyaki balls as their DJ friend spins records next to me. We eat Toshikoshi soba, a Japanese dish and tradition to reflect upon the past year and cross over to the new year. We drink, we celebrate, we make new traditions as though we’ve been friends all along. Would I see them again? Perhaps, and perhaps not. But such encounters make an impact no matter big or small: An inspiration for my future restaurant and bar – small, local, quality rotating menu and most of all a place for community. 

The local inspiration in Shimokitazawa Tokyo.

Shrimp ochazuke, dill and okra.

Scallop ravioli, chicken broth infused with lapsang souchang tea, curry leaf

Small is indeed beautiful. The bathroom speaks.

Williamsburg, New York City (2022)

For chefs. It was after my shift when the inviting glow of the bar beckoned to me. As I sipped on a revitalising orange wine to the ethereal music in the background, four strangers sat at the U shaped bar next to me. After some telling eye contact, a conversation amongst us begun. I didn’t immediately introduce myself as one of the cooks from the kitchen but I listened intently to their praises of the unusual but wildly delicious food we make. Delivering at quality and speed can be physically and mentally brutal. And after my long day, sitting as a stranger with other strangers at the bar was freeing. I gaze at the permanent poster on the wall: “Note to self. Be kind, be kind, be kind.”

Fried skate with a persimmon, shaved fennel and chilli salad

Street 328, Phnom Penh Cambodia (2014)

She joked about her death. Terminal cancer she said, the chemotherapy hadn’t worked. What was she doing in Phnom Penh, >8,000 miles away from home? Fulfilling her final wishes, she said – to celebrate life with old friends, visit the orphanage she used to work with. She sips on her passion fruit martini, caring less about the antibiotics in her system. More jokes about her death. “Muay said I shouldn’t die here, it would create more work for her”.

Sourdough bombollini filled with mango and passion fruit custard cream.

A cocktail of passion fruit and pineapple mezcal.

Emily Hill, Singapore (2019)

How to make a good negroni. A world class bartender decides to come home to create a space for art and culture to thrive, centred around his philosophy of “bartistry”. Just like a negroni, such endeavours are incredibly nuanced. A negroni’s success is one part ingredients, one part ice and the last part is down to you. Yes you, whoever is drinking it. For if you drink it too quickly, the ice and ingredients will not have time to blend. You might not taste the combined brilliance of bitter and sweet on your palate. And if you neglect your negroni, the melted ice will dilute the rest of the ingredients.  That negroni was a meditative form of art, just like the bartender coming home to create this space and craft.

The sun sets at Emily hill in 2019

Add 70% of intended ice into a short glass. Pour in equal parts of campari, gin and martini rosso. Stir 2-3 times gently. Add remaining 30% of ice and stir once. Peel the zest of an orange and twist it on top of the drink to release its essence. Sip, at pace.

The classic negroni – my favourite bar drink of all time

Hanoi, Vietnam (2019)

The pleasure of enjoying your own company. Because the magic of sitting at the bar doesn’t necessarily mean you have to socialise. More often than not, it is to celebrate the joys of having that experience to yourself. To be able to order what your heart desires. To eat and drink at your own pace. That time is yours. 

Back when I was a management consultant, I sometimes found solace in the fantasy that my work was akin to CIA agents. There is a brief. You cancel your social plans and pack your bags lightly. You fly into said client location. The work ensues, your client’s staff looks at you weird, wondering why you are there. What are we fixing this time? And so, just like that, I was in Hanoi for a complex project. After two long days of healthcare strategy in a poorly lit room (interrogation?), I needed time to myself. Correction, I wanted to treat* myself. I walked into a casual French restaurant and sat at the only available spot in the crowded room. I sipped on my red wine and absorbed the surrounding energy. The pigeon arrives, medium rare with a demi glace – the first bite sends me into transcendental contemplation. I hadn’t liked pigeon before. But here, in Hanoi, that was changing. What a delightful and triumphant moment! I take my time to devour the plate of food before ordering profiteroles. Drenched in a dark chocolate sauce with flaky almonds on top, the profiteroles ignited a thought. I would take some time off in 2020 to cook and travel. To France to learn French cooking from friends’ grandparents. To Sri Lanka to take the 13 hour train again. And to Vietnam, because I fell in love with Hanoi. 

*Note: I paid this meal out of my own pocket and not the client’s.

My version of porc aux pruneaux (Pork with prunes) during the 2020 lockdown in Singapore. I did not make it to France due to COVID-19. 

Shrimps on Bingin Beach

Once in awhile, I miss Bali – not party central Seminyak or the “i’m trying to find myself” Ubud… but the cliffs down south. And don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for all that. But Bingin beach, is my respite when I need to get away from it all. Before 2015, only those willing to descend some steep unfinished steps to the beach will find Didi’s, a favourite escape of ours that could not be found on the internet back then. We slept with the sea breeze and shared bathrooms with surfers. The surf at Bingin beach is not for beginners. We would watch some surfers walk out of the ocean bruised by the massive swells that slammed their bodies on the surrounding coral reefs. And yet, they returned for more. For us, we simply enjoyed the show, drank Bintangs and waded in the shallow waters as we lived in the present…for we knew, from the specks of construction, that Bingin would not be the same in the future. 

Chatting to two surfers one evening, we got wind of a lady selling grilled shrimp on the beach. This was a IYKYK moment: “The shrimp is so good we ate it all, head to tail, shell included. Go early, she sells out”. With this tip, we set out to said location at 6pm to find said lady set up with a makeshift bbq and a cooler of shrimp by the beach. Probably through some rough form of agreement, she supplied the grilled shrimp and the restaurant supplied beers, rice, sanur and other delicacies. It took an hour – we took micro doses of rice with sambal matah (raw sambal of lemongrass, chilli, onion) to curb our hunger. The shrimp was worth the wait. Simply marinated in kecap manis and then grilled. The size of the shrimp allowed a quick, even cook amidst the the thick dark sauce. The result: charred, crispy and succulent shrimp. The acidic sambal matah balanced out every bite and kept us wanting more.

I wished I owned a grill of sorts at home, but I don’t. So this attempt was via the air fryer (our stove and oven broke down!). The marinated shrimp is slit in half to achieve a quick, even cook throughout. Of course, it is not the same. But it takes me back, to that sea breeze and that moment, for when I can return again. 

Satsuma on the M9

Mandarin oranges have long been a symbol of good luck. For this purpose, oranges are typically exchanged during Chinese New Year at house visits. Walking around Chinatown in NYC during Chinese New Year, the exuberance of the lion dance remind me of the gatherings we had back in Singapore: lo hei (tossing of yusheng) for prosperity and good luck, sweating as we consume copious helpings of hotpot in 30C / 86F heat and then battling the food coma with poker using our ang bao (red packets) money.

My first orange of late, however, came in the form of a good luck charm for my culinary school finals. It was a cold wintry morning on the M9, and all I had in my mind was the ambitious chicken dish I was to cook within 2 hours: butcher, brine, make egg noodles, make curry paste from scratch, garnish, plate. My thoughts were suddenly distracted by David, a regular commuter on the bus. “Here is a satsuma orange for your final exam”. Thanking him, I pondered hard. Was it rude to tell him I was zoned in and I can’t talk right now? Taking the satsuma orange as somewhat of an omen, I continued the conversation. We talked about my dish, and what happens after culinary school. I walked into the exam, relaxed and ready to go. Looking back, I realised I had it all in me and the bus revision was not necessary / probably anxiety inducing. I needed the satsuma distraction. And it worked.

I used to hate being Filipino until…

Food has always been a big part of my life. My earliest childhood memory was choking on fishbones. Perhaps I was curious. Perhaps I was greedy. I learnt later in life that it was abit of both.

Growing up in Singapore as a Filipino, I was in a constant identity crisis. While my parents are Filipino, I could never really identify with being one. Why? I am not going to lie. I was embarrassed to be labelled as one. The biggest export of the Philippines are its people, many of whom are women who migrate to neighbouring countries to become live-in helpers or maids. These women have days off on Sundays typically, and would picnic in Orchard Road while the air conditioned malls around them glowed with Louis Vuitton or Prada. Going to Orchard Road was at least a monthly ritual for my parents, typically to go to Lucky Plaza to send money back to relatives and at the same time eat at a Filipino restaurant. It was in Lucky Plaza that my parents felt like they were with kababayans (fellow countrymen) as we gnawed on crispy pata (deep fried pork knuckles), slurped kare kare (oxtail stewed in peanut sauce) with at least two helpings or rice. And yet, I walked with my head held low as I would hear murmurs of people commenting about how Filipinos were a disgrace to the “high class” streets of Orchard, eating rice on picnic mats while singing and dancing. 

Amongst many socio-economic issues faced by my parents and the peer pressures of striving to be successful (aka rich), being called “Maria” or “maid” as a “joke” in school infuriated my resentment towards being a Filipino. I vowed never to be like a Filipino, or show any Filipino traits. That is perhaps why I only had 1 Filipino friend in school (you know who you are). I rebelled against my parents’ ideologies; the only time I felt at peace was when I was watching Anthony Bourdain on the travel and living channel. And so, following the advice from a man I met via television, I left Singapore to run away from the box I was living in. 

Going to the UK, I was ill prepared to be a student. I had taken 2 gap years, working as an assistant at a healthcare company, so that I could pay for half of my tuition fees. I wasn’t ready for school but I knew I was savvy. A cringy letter led to a small university scholarship. And with a stroke of luck, the GBP was suffering against the SGD as I made my way to England in 2010. As the bus from Manchester drove through the Peak District on the way to Sheffield, I felt a sense of freedom similar to the sheep grazing in open pasture. I was ready to experience all that England was known for. It went by in a flash: party, party, party, almost failed first year, did not learn the lesson i.e. party some more. However, I did meet people from around the world, many of whom are still good friends today and one whom we lost to brain cancer. It was through those interactions, with food as the medium, that I got to know more than my friends’ cultures. I got to know their personal stories and what mattered to them. One night, we decided to have an international dinner. We would cook something from our country. I was suddenly homesick and thought immensely about my mother’s roast chicken, mainly because it was a dish we ate when we were celebrating something. She would bathe it in soya sauce and stuff it with lemongrass. My 3 sisters and I would always fight for the chicken wings. It was comforting. It was home. It took me a while to realise this following graduation but the roast chicken partnered me through every ebb and flow, as I weathered through the highs and lows of living in London as a graduate, paycheck to paycheck, a gloomy spring to summer. My mother, through her roast chicken, and me cooking it, was holding my hand. 

In full circle, I went back to Singapore. Family drama coupled with the prospect of working in one of those tall buildings in the financial district brought me back. Some part of me had changed, however. I had no longer aimed to achieve the famed Singapore 5Cs (Car, Credit Card, Cash, Condominium, Country Club Membership) to feed my ego or to prove to “them” that I could make it. With a newfound confidence and appreciation for what was important, I really just wanted to make money to travel and eat. And so I did. 

Amongst many experiences which I have a great deal of stories to laugh and cry about, my work as a consultant, ironically, brought me to travel to the Philippines often. Trust companies to throw a Filipino who didn’t grow up in the Philippines to a Philippines based project just because she is Filipino. But, as an adaptable consultant, you learn as you go. And so I did. Some of my best and worst projects happened in the Philippines. The best: Finding strategies to help call centre agents improve their diet and habits. Piloting a telehealth service aimed at supporting women through their pregnancy. The worst: Ending up in the hospital I was supposed to assess (my foot was infected following a hike). TLDR: The hospital sucked, first hand experience. Their business model was to take the ignorance of the patient and admit you for as long as possible. 

Through my travels to the Philippines, I started to experience the joys of being Filipino. Singing karaoke as a form of release, celebrating Christmas starting September because for better or worse we love Christmas, eating with my hands and eating like we mean it. When I finally brought my now husband, Paul, to my grandfather’s province, I knew he was for life when he ate more grasshoppers and dancing shrimp (live shrimp from the pond, eaten as they are literally jumping out of the bowl) than me. 

The biggest perk of working in consulting was getting to know my clients, colleagues and the locals outside of work. With food no less. The local food. My best times after work in a different country was drinking a beer while eating street food that I had no clue about. Or letting the magic of sitting somewhere local take you places. I attribute my success as a consultant to my curiosities around people and food. Because food was always the medium to break any form of boundaries between us. 

Despite the joys I experienced through my travels, I, like many, eventually got burnt out from working as a consultant. I had grown weary of the many flights to different countries, a different bed and the long hours. So in 2020, I pursued a sabbatical unbeknownst to the fact that the Coronavirus was to hit hard following my 1 month of travels in Sri Lanka. So my plans to travel to France to learn some French food from friends’ grandparents was cancelled, as with many around the world. I stayed home, reflected a tonne and decided to pursue a brand new direction; culinary school in New York. Fast forward to 2021, Paul and I made the move to the Lower East Side…to an apartment that was steps away from a Filipino cafe, Kabisera. It wasn’t my intention to move next to a Filipino cafe (we were very much drawn by LES and our apartment) but my Filipino parents were probably praying hard that I would be surrounded by my kind. So that they don’t need to worry about me in the way Asian parents do. It’s funny how things work sometimes in this world. Through Kabisera’s community parties and kitchen, I am able to embrace my Filipino-ness more and more.

What does being Filipino to me actually mean? To me, it is about community. From the Filipino women in Orchard road picnicking together on days off to decompress, to celebrating Christmas as early as September because we don’t want it to end and to my mother’s roasted chicken that my sisters and I lovingly fight about. Looking back, I’ve always had it in me. Community has always been at the core of why I cook. And that is how I’ve come to embrace my Filipino identity.

One may argue that food is just food, that you either eat to live or eat to live. I have a third argument, and that is: we eat to discover. Why? We all need to eat. And therefore, it is the easiest excuse one can make to burst your personal bubble, to walk in someone else’s shoes or even, to heal. Invite yourself to someone’s home and allow them to serve you what they want to cook. Go to a market where the produce makes you uncomfortable and speak to strangers about what they buy there. Walk into a restaurant or bar that is filled with the type of people or vibe you don’t usually hang out with. 

Through every food or meal, there is a story waiting to be told. And with that story, you and I can bridge that gap. 

An open invitation

I’ve been dreaming about dinner parties lately; how it would transpire and what we would eat. So here is a prediction of one of many dinners, serving as a reminder for when the time comes – to share the joys of eating with you.

My day would begin in meditation, as I set an intention to make this celebratory meal. I would be highly distracted in my morning practice, as I inhale thoughts of my menu and exhale thoughts of what that evening’s playlist would entail. The breeze and smell of burning incense reminds me to be present … as the sudden alarm from the oven awakens my awareness of baked sourdough!

I make my way to Tiong Bahru market and speak to David, for some pork loins. After a gentle inquire as to what they are for, he proceeds to prepare the meat in a way that is beneficial for my cooking. With a trusting smile, I move on to our vegetable store. There, I observe the family of 4 as they welcome and hurry customers, chanting rhythms of mental calculations tumbling from their mouths. Aunty comments “how early you are today,” as I pick and pay for my produce. As I leave, uncle nods to the miniature tree that is the broccoli, signaling “have you forgotten your dear husband’s favorite?”. With my already heavy bag, I take the broccoli and thank him for saving my marriage.

The afternoon passes quickly – Paul’s “healthy” brunch (with famed broccoli) is eaten, a discussion on mis en place and a loving prediction of how Paul might be bossed around in the kitchen ensues. He orders me to my afternoon nap with the offer that a stiff glass of negroni will be ready for when we begin the process of cooking.

I look out the window and immerse myself in the scene of birds and trees fluttering to the golden hour. The kitchen fills with a shade of amber, as I dry the prunes that had been soaking in hot water. Admiring the orchids on my window grills, I deseed the prunes as FIP radio serendipitously transitions a classical piece to an energetic beat as I move swiftly to subjecting the prunes to a mild heat, teasing out the sweetness and shocking it with a blast of red wine at the last minute to get to a reduction. I look over at Paul slicing salad and side dish ingredients as per instructions; I sip on my negroni and everything in the world is in order.

Hearing a knock on the door, I frantically take off the laundry of socks and underwear hanging above our heads in the kitchen, as Paul hurries to put on his white shirt and a big smile like a true maître de. We hug our guests tightly as yellow, dim lighting and tunes from a curated playlist obviously called “Dinner party” welcome them in.

We invite them to the kitchen as Paul makes an enticing invitation for an aperitif. The lychee martini lying dormant in the deepest corner of the fridge for X weeks also makes an appearance. We toast to the night as “Anonymous club” (by Courtney Barett) plays in the background and we pick on chilled melons wrapped carelessly in parma ham and dip pretzels in a beetroot hummus. Paul strategically moves the party to the sitting room so that I may panic about concentrate on the main event. Whistling to “La Vie En Rose”, I proceed with this delicate task.

Porc aux pruneaux, a delightful Loire classic inspired by my sabbatical travels to France where we sipped on wine with my friends’ families and grandparents as they bestowed upon me the art of French cooking. 3 months later, I would come home from my travels 5kg heavier having lived off butter, wine and at least 2 helpings of everything. Instead, the Coronavirus would keep me in Singapore as Renee tortures us with her YouTube HIIT exercises whilst I keep my French cooking “dreams alive” by reading “The Food of France” – so descriptive as to be insomnia inducing from hunger pangs. This would be further supplemented by the French recipe book gifted by our friends Fanny and Matthieu, as I hone my interpretation of the French language through keen application in the kitchen.

Back to my kitchen, I coat the pork loins in seasoned flour and sear this in salted browned butter until golden brown, setting it aside. On that same pan that is already glistening with pork fat and butter, garlic and shallots are sautéed. I splash the hot pan with a touch of white wine, gently stirring in the prunes, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks and a helping of heavy cream. As it simmers, I make a brief appearance to the sitting room with an ETA to dinner, winking to Paul to get the masses moving. I return to the kitchen, place the pork in the bubbling sauce and smile with contentment at the present sights and smells.

We sit down to dinner with warm sourdough accompanied by cold salted butter and a tomato confit in balsamic vinegar and oilve oil. A bottle of red wine is opened as the main events make their entrance. The Porc aux pruneaux, dressed with browned oyster mushrooms and garnished with fresh finely chopped parsley. Roasted butternut squash with goat cheese, rocket and sunflower seeds with a lemon/olive oil dressing. Roasted cauliflower, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Brussel sprouts in wok hei (the lingering taste and smell you get from a high heat flash fry). Side salads of tabbouleh and watercress for acidity and balance. We toast yet again to the ties that bind us together. We gossip, laugh, argue, cry tears of joy – this tug and pull that is the celebration of the human spirit.

Guests would be very welcome to lie cleopatra style in the sitting room to recover from the heavy meal or request a glass of espresso martini as “You enjoy myself” by Phish entertains. Knowing my circle of competency in the kitchen, we would be eating a guest’s dessert for this party – and I can only wish it would be Marion’s chocolate pear tart. Paul puts on “Zorba the Greek” and the night ensues in a wondrous blur of music, dancing and chatter.

Once we’ve had enough, we will send everyone packing home but not without some chicken broth paired with a hushed but enthusiastic chatter of the next dinner. And just before we enter into a deep slumber, I lay my head on Paul’s arm, turning to him to say “That was fun, but you’re washing the dishes tomorrow. Oh, and honey, please also get me a smoothie”

“For the place, that is history, tradition and culture
For the produce, if quality and sustainable, to cook simply
For the process, that is creative, dynamic but meditative
For the people, harvesting, cooking and sharing the joys of eating
Where conversations begin, relationships deepen, the ties that bind
All, with a plate full of wonde

-Yours truly

Chicken schnitzel with stale bread crumbs

If you did anything with bread crumbs, let it be a schnitzel. The crumbs create a protective layer over the meat when cooking, keeping it moist and tender on the inside with a crispy texture on the outside. If you’d like a healthy alternative to fried chicken, this one’s for you.

Ingredients (Makes 2)

6 tbsps of bread crumbs (see how this is done), 2 chicken breasts butterflied (i.e slice laterally through meat), 1 egg, 1 tbsp of plain flour, 2 wedges of lemon


Time: Prep – 15 mins, Cook – 20 mins

Preheat oven to 200C and create an assembly line of (see leftmost picture below) of 1) crumbs mixed with flour 2) beaten egg 3) oven tray with baking paper.

Dip chicken in egg wash and then coat with crumb and flour mixture. Heat a pan with olive oil at medium heat and cook the chicken for 3 minutes on each side, using a heavy object to flatten the meat , increasing the surface area for heat absorption.

Place on oven tray and finish cooking in the oven for the next 10 minutes at 200C. Plate with a wedge or two of lemon.

Adobo aka Filipino pork stew

Every Filipino household in the >7,000 islands of the Philippines has a different version of Adobo. Adobo is a well loved Filipino dish that transforms fatty meat, soy sauce and vinegar into a rich, dark caramel of sweet and acid through the cooking process. Adobo is traditionally made with pork belly but you can use chicken as a substitute. I would not try to make this vegetarian as it defeats (the fatty meat is a big contributor to the flavor of this dish) the purpose of why this dish was created in the first place.


400g of pork (200g lean pork, 200g pork belly or ribs), 3tbsp of dark soy sauce, 6tbsp of white vinegar, 2tbsp of coarse pepper, 5 bruised garlic cloves (keep it whole and just pound it down with knife to take off skin), bay leaves, spring onions

Optional: Star anise, cloves, rosemary, spring onions


Marinade pork in dark soy sauce, vinegar and 1 tbsp of coarse pepper at least an hour before cooking.

After the hour, heat a deep pot with some oil to medium heat and sear the pork (without the marinade jus) until golden brown. Add in the garlic and stir together with the pork until the garlic has slightly browned. Add in remaining pepper, bay leaves, herbs and the marinade jus + a small amount of water (roughly less than half a cup) into the pot. Turn down heat to low for an hour of cooking, stirring the pot every now and then. If the sauce looks too reduced, add more water and stir. You can also finish the last half hour of cooking in the oven if you’re using a claypot.

The adobo is ready if the sauce has thickened and pork is tender. Add salt to your taste. Serve on white rice and garnish with some spring onions if desired!

Negroni, with love

Negroni is one of those classic drinks that you order at a dimly lit bar at 1am down a dark alley with only less than 10 seats (I write this as I reminisce Christmas of 2017 in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo). I love a good Negroni. Other than good quality ingredients, there is definitely a science and quick action one must take to achieve a good Negroni. After a few discussions with some bar tenders, keen observation and lots of testing, here is our take on the classic Negroni.


40ml campari, 40ml gin, 40ml martini rosso (vermouth), 5 to 6 small ice cubes, orange peel


A good Negroni is determined by the ratio of ice, alcohol and…..your own actions! As the drinker, you have a responsibility to “keep up” with the Negroni i.e. to sip at a pace without neglecting or downing the drink. So respect your Negroni, play some light music in the background, sip and savour!

In your chosen glass, pour in campari, gin and martini rosso. Place 4 ice cubes into the glass, and gently stir 2 to 3 times. Add the 2 remaining ice cubes and stir once. Peel the zest of an orange and twist it on top of the drink to release its essence. Swipe it around the entire rim of your glass and place it in the Negroni.

Enjoy, and remember sip slowly!

Espresso martini

If you’re needing a perk me up for those early or late Zoom chats, an espresso martini is always a good choice. Paul and I made it our excuse for a fun day of cocktails which ended with a delightful homemade coq au vin (with some courage, I will post this after I’ve sought forgiveness from my French friends for using white vs red wine) for dinner.

Ingredients (Makes 1 drink)

40ml vodka, 20 ml espresso, 20ml kahlua, 4 ice cubes


In a shaker, pour all ingredients in. Top with a glass (if you don’t have a sophisticated shaker like me) and shake like there’s no tomorrow for roughly 20 seconds. You can absolutely dance to this as well, which arguably enhances the flavor 😉

Strain into favourite glass, pouring it just as you would with a beer – tilting to pour the martini against the glass before releasing it at the end to encourage the foam to build up. If you want to be cute, you might want to decorate with a bean or two – but not necessary. Cheers!

Jayne’s Christmas Cookies

Christmas might threaten to make a weekly appearance in your household once you know how fuss free these cookies are. Jayne (my mother in law) makes this for the Feldhausen Christmas annually, and I haven’t been able to hold back from a pre-dinner cheeky snack (even with all the cheesecurds, pretzels and cold cuts!). Above all, these cookies are stress free (no bake and no measuring) and fun to make with your kids. You might just want to keep them in a safe location in the fridge, for fear of having to make more when it runs out quickly.


Chocolate of choice, chow mien noodles (see picture below or any dried yellow noodles that can be eaten dry), nuts of choice, greaseproof/baking paper, sea salt

Some quick notes here regarding the noodles – If you can’t find them, don’t fret. Substitute with pretzels chips, granola/cornflakes, plain biscuits/crackers (graham crackers probably best)

I haven’t added any measurements to the ingredients as everyone has preferences on what they like more of but if you need an estimate. 500g of chocolate, 1 cup of noodles, 1 cup of peanuts will make you ~ 10 big cookies.


Time: Prep – 0, Make – 15 mins, Patience – 1 hour and 10 mins

Melt your chocolate. I find the most effective way of melting anything is by boiling water in a pot and then reducing heat to lowest, with a metal bowl covering the pot (see picture below). This allows you to control the melt and not burn any of your precious ingredients as what might happen with a microwave or direct heat from the stove.

Once chocolate is melted and smooth, take it off the pot and throw in the peanuts and noodles (lightly break this by hand before throwing it in). Mix until the chocolate is all over all the ingredients.

Roll out greaseproof/baking paper on the countertop or large plate and using a spoon, scoop the cookies and lay it out in whatever messy shape or form – let it be abstract (it is beautiful that way). Get your kids involved. Perhaps they’d like to make some faces with some leftover noodles on the top or place some marshmallows or gummy bears. Don’t forget to sprinkle the cookies with some sea salt at the top (you want to do this when it has slightly cooled otherwise it melts) – this allows the chocolate to be more pronounced and also balances the sweetness overall.

Allow it to rest on the countertop for ~10mins before placing in the fridge to harden for at least an hour (it comes off the paper easily after as well) before enjoying with a cup of tea or coffee, and best with a glass of red.