Frangelico and I have just returned from a trip to Singapore, where we were visiting my dad. We tried to fit in as much feasting as possible in the one week (all in the interests of the blog, of course). Here's the first course...
August in Singapore is the time when mooncakes start making an appearance. These treats are a staple of the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is a harvest festival celebrated on the 15th month of the Chinese Lunar calendar. The festival usually falls in September or October, but hotel delis and restaurants start stocking mooncakes well before that. Traditional fillings consist of red bean or lotus paste, but the offerings are getting more and more interesting by the year. A recent article in a Singaporean paper mentions, amongst other concoctions, purple potato with cranberry jelly, and champagne truffle with ganache.
Snowskin durian mooncakes
This year, our dear Uncle G gave us a gift of durian mooncakes. The durian, hailed as the King of Fruit in South East Asia, leaves no one indifferent - you either love it or you hate it. Happily, Frangelico (despite never having sighted this prickly green dinosaur of a fruit until a few years ago) loves it. Its aroma is strong (and that's putting it mildly), which means the fruit is banned in public transport on the island, and in the cabin of Singapore Airlines. To me, it's magnificent - with a heavy scent of forests and leaves, deep and sulphurous. The flesh of the fruit is a light yellow, and it's thick and gooey, like condensed milk would be if you concentrated it even further. The taste is rounded sweetness, with just a twinge of sharpness.
The Chinese characters on the top translate as 'bring it on'
When eating durian, one has to be careful. It falls into the category of 'heaty' fruit, or what's known as 'yang' in traditional Chinese medicine. Practically speaking, this can mean a sore throat and a break-out if you don't do something to balance it out! But nature provides the required balance, in the form of the mangosteen.
Mangosteen are 'yin' fruit, and they're believed to cool things down. Typically, durian and mangosteen are eaten together, and fruit stalls selling the former will often have a stock of the latter available. They want their customers to survive the experience, after all.