Yelly Eats

Eating at Yipin China

I first heard about Yipin China while browsing through Time Out London’s website and finding about it there. While the Time Out rating gave it a 3 of of a possible 5 stars, the user reviews were much more favourable. I did some more research and found a review by Jay Rayner on the Guardian website and he loved it! As we love finding new places to eat (especially Chinese food) we thought we would give it a try.

The website for Yipin China features their menu along with all the pictures of the dishes in glorious technicolour which enticed us even more us go along to eat. The restaurant serves traditional Hunanese, Sichuan and Cantonese dishes so there is plenty of choice for everyone. Be warned that some of the dishes are very spicy as they contain a lot of chilli. Do not let this put you off though as there are still plenty of dishes there that contain no chilli at all.

The restaurant is located in Islington, London and is about 10 minutes walk from Angel underground station. We went along on a Friday lunchtime and were the first ones there. This was not a problem for us as we had a choice of seats and it also meant that we didn’t have to wait long for our food to arrive. We looked through the menu and all the dishes had a photograph of the dish next to it. This was both a blessing and a curse as we know what dishes looked good but the problem was that everything looked great. We finally settled on the Deep Fried Beef With Cumin, The Chairman Mao’s Red Braised Pork, Stir Fried Broccoli in Garlic, boiled rice for two and Chinese tea for two.

The Deep Fried Beef With Cumin was delicious even though we found the chilli to be quite hot for our tastes. The texture wasn’t too chewy and even though it had a lot of chilli, the burn didn’t last long and you could still enjoy the flavours of the cumin and beef.

Deep Fried Beef with Cumin from Yipin China

The Chairman Mao’s Red Braised Pork was the star of the show. It is a slow cooked pork belly that has a subtle sweet aniseed taste and melts in the mouth. The colour of the pork is a glorious red that comes from caramelising rock sugar and then cooking the pork in it. It is one of the most tastiest dished I have ever eaten and I could quite easily eat this all day.

Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork from Yipin China

The portion sizes at Yipin China are quite generous so you would normally order one dish per person plus rice unless you are really hungry.

The service at Yipin China was friendly and not too obtrusive and our bill came to just under £40 including service charge. We will definitely be coming back for more of the Chairman Mao’s Pork and to sample some of their other mouth watering dishes.

Yelly Snaps

Depth of field

I’ve always loved taking snapshots.  It’s always a joy when you point and shoot a camera and you capture the nicest scenes.  Lately though, I’ve been trying to take photos properly.  I’ve been learning techniques on a bridge camera, not quite a DSLR but a good enough one to practice the photography techniques on.  Mind you, I’ve got a long way to go because I constantly confuse what the AV mode does (something about the aperture) and TV mode (which controls the shutter speed).

One of the exercises was depth of field.  Now I can’t, for the life of me, explain properly what depth of field is so I’ll use Cambridge In Colour’s definition: “[It] refers to the range of distance that appears acceptably sharp. It varies depending on camera type, aperture and focusing distance, although print size and viewing distance can also influence our perception of depth of field.”

I think I managed to show depth of field successfully on the rose and everything else in the distance is blurry.

The Rose and the Treadwheel Crane

I love photographing birds and I seem to have a gazillion photos of seagulls now, courtesy of Harwich Pier.  I do love this photo of this huge seagull with the Port of Felixstowe in the background.

Seagull

More snapshots to come though.  I’ve got a lot to learn!

Yelly Snaps

The ruins of St Botolph’s

It always amazes me how much history is around the corner.

I live in Harwich which is the town where the captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones, lived.  There are so many little corners that have little historic references that satisfies the history buff in me.

Quite nearby is the historic town of Colchester which is the oldest recorded town in England.  Colchester boasts a Norman keep and quite a chunk left of the Roman wall, the remains of a Roman chariot track and, my favourite, the ruins of the first Augustinian priory in England, St Botolph’s Priory.

The Ruins of St Botolph's Priory

I love where I live because I am literally living and breathing in history!

Yelly Snaps

Leake Street

I, like the rest of the human race, have a very active sense of self-preservation.  I’d like to think I’m street smart (you wouldn’t think so by the way I now seem to always have my smartphone in my hand though!) and aware of my space.  You wouldn’t see me walking down a dark alleyway…but that wasn’t what I did yesterday afternoon.

Leake Street, London

Alan and I have started paying attention to what we see on our London jaunts.  We’ve looked up and down (and probably around) at the buildings, watching out for street art.  But today, Alan convinced me to go down to the Leake Street Tunnel.  There are 2 ways into the Tunnel, one is via one end that comes out on the side of the Waterloo Station, and the other end opens to York Road.

It was dark, damp in patchy places, a little smelly (mostly from paint fumes, to be honest) and very daunting.  I had visions in my head of us being mugged by the shadowy figures moving in the tunnel.  But boy was I ever wrong!  Going down Leake Street was amazing.  The shadowy figures I was afraid of were actually a couple of street artists working on their latest masterpieces, wielding their spray paint cans!

Artists at work

I got a couple of snapshots of street art by the artist called Dopeismdesigns.

Dopeismdesign 1

Dopeismdesign 2

I also found another Space Invader at the York Road end of Leake Street.

Space Invader

It just goes to show that sometimes, dark tunnels aren’t so bad!  Leake Street is constantly changing because the street artists will inevitably have to paint over other artists’ work to create their canvas but I’m excited to go back to find out what new things have been created!

Creativethinkin

 

Yelly Eats

Hopia

I’ve always been proud of Filipino food.  I’ve always believed that if people tried the food that we Filipinos ate on a daily basis (ably prepared by our mothers and titas), people would be addicted too!  Filipino cuisine is influenced by the food cultures from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Spain.  We also have a very pronounced American influence.  These influences are due to the fact that the Malays an Indones were the early settlers on the Philippine islands and it has been historically proven that we traded with the Chinese very early on.  The Spanish (and largely Mexican food tradition) influences came because the Philippines was a Spanish colony for over 300 years (the Philippine islands were named after King Philip II of Spain).  Then after the Spanish, we had the Americans with us…for a while.

I am so thankful that there are enterprising individuals (who may or may not be Filipino) who have identified an opportunity to sell to Filipinos living overseas the food staples.  I’ve been able to cook Filipino food here in England and it helps the homesickness.

But nothing compares to the satisfaction when one is able to make something that isn’t always available in the Oriental or Filipino supermarkets.  A few days ago, whilst I was recuperating from a really bad migraine (I was signed off for a week), I told myself that I would make hopia. I had been watching various YouTube video how-to’s and I felt that I was ready to attempt the Filipino treat.  I even risked eating store-bought hopia in the name of research!  Mind you, it was a tad disappointing because the hopia I bought seemed to have shrunk!  For what I paid for, well, it was an exhorbitant amount of money for 4 minuscule hopia pieces – not at all what I remembered eating when I was growing up!

Hopia is also known as bakpia (in Chinese).  It is a bean paste-filled pastry that was apparently introduced by Fujianese immigrants in the Philippines.  It is usually filled with mung bean paste (either red mung bean or yellow mung bean), or purple yam and there is a variant that is filled with candied wintermelon (called kundol in the Philippines).  Apparently, in other countries (apparently this is a popular Indonesian treat as well!) the fillings can be pineapple, durian, cheese, chocolate, coffee and custard!  I’ve never had a cheese hopia, but it certainly sounds interesting!

I painstakingly wrote down the recipe from all the YouTube videos and translated it into metric measurements.  Then I set about making my hopia!

Hopia before baking

I was quite excited about how they looked like.  Even more excited when they came out of the oven.  I loved the smell that wafted out of the oven.  I was definitely in hopia heaven!

Hopia

I need to practice some more.  I think the pastry is nearly there.  A few more tweaks with the procedure and a few temperature adjustments will help.  But what I’ve been allowing myself to eat is hopia.  It’s not as sweet as the store-bought ones, but it is, already, hopia!

More hopia

Yelly Writes

Change required

I have been ill for a week now.  I’ve had a massively bad migraine attack and I stayed home properly from work on Thursday.  The migraine happened on Sunday (although I felt what was probably the beginnings of it on Saturday evening) and I was suffering through a very painful head for most of the week.  It didn’t help that I forced myself to do a full day at work on the Monday.  I did the smart thing on Tuesday and stayed home and went to the doctor’s surgery.  They prescribed migraine meds (thankfully!) and signed me off for a week.  What I did next was worthy of a face-slap though.  I went back to work.  Obviously, I wasn’t allowed to stay because I was signed off and declared not fit to work.  For insurance purposes, my company isn’t allowed to have me in the premises.  I went home with the intention of going to my doctor again and getting myself signed in.

I have, however, stayed home.  Despite the hiccup of Thursday when I sent an email to a client asking them to do something that was a requirement.  I call it a hiccup because I should have, really, laid off work.  Properly.  I did on Friday though.  I haven’t checked my emails since I looked on Thursday morning.

I went to the eye doctor yesterday to get my eyes checked (I was due a check up anyway) and found out that because of my diabetes there is a bleed in my left eye and the doctor has found the beginnings of cloudiness in the lens of my right eye – which in short is the beginnings of cataract.  It’s because I have had amazingly high blood sugar in the past few months.

So I’ve been thinking.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.  I’ve got to make a lot of changes.  In my diet, my lifestyle, my life, my environment and in the way I work.  I’ve got to make changes because my future depends on it.

And the good thing about this is that the inertia I’ve allowed myself to be surrounded by is suddenly not there because I have had a huge wake up call.  If I want my life to get better, I’ve got to make changes.

Yelly Eats

Ensaymada!

So because I have been at home, housebound because of illness and experiencing cabin fever, I once again cracked open the Goldilocks Bakebook and baked something familiar and comforting.  I made ensaymada.  It’s a sort of soft brioche-y type of bread that’s slathered with creamed butter, slightly sugared and smothered with cheese.

Ensaymada

And just like that I am comforted.  The recipe needs tweaking because the dough was unbelievably wet!  I’m going look up other ensaymada recipes and see where improvements can be made.  I am thankful for the ability to bring Manila to me…even if it was through several cheesy-buttery-bready mouthfuls!  What can I say – baking is like medicine!

Ensaymada bite