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Chinese Public Holidays and What We Celebrate

January 14, 2015

Yes, yes. It’s true that 2015 has arrived and we’ve waved goodbye to 2014 with a tear and a few too many glasses of champagne. But if, like us, you celebrate Chinese New Year, the festivities have barely started! Here’s a quick insight into some of our Chinese holidays and the meaning behind them. Any excuse to get festive, right?

Chinese Fireworks

1. Spring Festival Eve – 18 February

This is the New Year’s Eve of the Chinese calendar! New Year’s celebrations can go on for weeks and Spring Festival Eve kick starts the party-a-thon. It’s the beginning of what is known as a Golden Week, a seven-day string of national holidays beginning with the main day. Three out of the seven days are paid leave and the weekends surrounding the seven days are bumped forward or back to give Chinese workers seven whole days off in a row. Nice.

2. Chinese New Year – 19 February

Happy New Year! In China, people have a few weeks to celebrate the new year. They clean their homes to start the new year without clutter, hang poems written on red paper at their door, decorate with red lanterns and wear new clothes. In the evenings there are firecrackers and fireworks to watch, plus dragon and lion dances and plenty of gong-striking for good measure.

3. Qing Ming Jie – the 14th day of the Spring Equinox (either 4 or 5 April)

The name of this holiday literally translates to ‘Pure Brightness Festival’ but it’s also known as Tomb Sweeping Day in English. It’s a memorial day, established for families to reflect and pay respects to groups of people or national figures who died in a tragic way, as well as ancestors passed. The traditional meal for Qing Ming Jie is a glutinous green dumpling called qingtuan.

4. Dragon Boat Festival – 5th day of the 5th month (early June in the Chinese calendar)

This holiday commemorates the life and death of a famous Chinese scholar named Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was a minister to King of Chu in the third century BC, but his forward thinking was seen as a threat and the king falsely charged him with conspiracy and banished him. The emotional poems Qu Yuan’s wrote during his exile are cultural icons and paved the way for poets in China. At the age of 61, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River. The people of Chu jumped into their boats to save him, but they were too late. The Dragon Boat Festival is named after the rescue attempt and honours Qu Yuan.

5. National Day – 1 October

National Day celebrates the day the People’s Republic of China was founded – 1 October, 1949. It’s the first day of China’s second Golden Week, so it means seven days off work for Chinese workers. The government organises vibrant events to celebrate National Day, including fireworks, concerts and decorations in public spaces.

 

January 14, 2015 David's Restaurant Chinese New Year 0

Christmas Gifts for Foodies under $40

December 15, 2014

Foodies – they’re everywhere! Melbourne is known as Australia’s food capital and its residents are well-versed in all things gourmet. And nothing makes a gourmand happier than a gourmet gift! If you’re among the ranks of the Melbourne foodies, you probably have a brainful of designer kitchenware, obscure kitchen utensils and exotic ingredients. If you don’t, shopping for foodie friends can range from challenging to downright traumatising. Allow us to guide you with our list of foodie gifts for under $40.

1. Fine Grater Catcher with Measuring Cup – $21.95

Grater

This is an incredibly handy tool in the kitchen. It grates ginger, garlic, chilli, etc. into a perfect paste, which it catches in its transparent slip-on catcher. The catcher doubles as a measuring cup, holding up to one cup. If your foodie friend is using a regular grater, they don’t know what they’re missing!

2. ‘Prune’ by Gabrielle Hamilton – $27

Prune Square

This big pink book was called ‘a useful, irresistible cookbook’ by the New York Times. And they’re not the only ones raving about the first book from Gabrielle Hamilton, the owner and Head Chef of New York’s East Village bistro, Prune. She’s known for breaking ‘food rules’ at her restaurant and this book follows suit.

3. White Truffle Oil – $9.60 to $26.95

White Truffle Oil

White truffles are one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. White truffle oil has a unique flavour and an intriguing, earthy aroma – there’s nothing quite like it. Give your your ‘gourmate’ a bottle of this and you’ll go straight into the good books.

4. Food Print – $19.99

Food Print

This print from Aalejandro Diaz will be right at home on your foodie friend’s walls.

5. White Oak Serving Paddle – $39.95

Paddle

Serving paddles are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. Your foodie friend can use it to serve lavish cheese platters, antipasto, a dessert sampler and more. If you want to spend a bit more on someone special, double up or throw in a cheese knife.

6. Oriental Teahouse Gift Pack – $20

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 3.41.37 PM

Oriental Teahouse have put together a number of great Christmas packages that save you up to $30 on the original price. This Santa’s Helper gift pack is reduced from $31 down to $20 and includes a cute red drop tea strainer, a dain-tea glass cup and saucer and two sachets of tea.

7. Stocking Stuffer Bonus: Sriracha2Go – $7 

Sriracha

This is more of a stocking stuffer than a foodie gift, but it had to make the list. Sriracha isn’t known as a particularly gourmet condiment, but people swear by it. So it’s probably a good idea for your foodie friend to keep 35ml of it with them at all times.

December 15, 2014 David's Restaurant christmas 0

Foodie Christmas Gifts Under $40

December 15, 2014

Foodies – they’re everywhere! Melbourne is known as Australia’s food capital and its residents are well-versed in all things gourmet. And nothing makes a gourmand happier than a gourmet gift! If you’re among the ranks of the Melbourne foodies, you probably have a brainful of designer kitchenware, obscure kitchen utensils and exotic ingredients. If you don’t, shopping for foodie friends can range from challenging to downright traumatising. Allow us to guide you with our list of foodie gifts for under $40.

1. Fine Grater Catcher with Measuring Cup – $21.95

Grater

This is an incredibly handy tool in the kitchen. It grates ginger, garlic, chilli, etc. into a perfect paste, which it catches in its transparent slip-on catcher. The catcher doubles as a measuring cup, holding up to one cup. If your foodie friend is using a regular grater, they don’t know what they’re missing!

2. ‘Prune’ by Gabrielle Hamilton – $27

Prune Square

This big pink book was called ‘a useful, irresistible cookbook’ by the New York Times. And they’re not the only ones raving about the first book from Gabrielle Hamilton, the owner and Head Chef of New York’s East Village bistro, Prune. She’s known for breaking ‘food rules’ at her restaurant and this book follows suit.

3. White Truffle Oil – $9.60 to $26.95

White Truffle Oil

White truffles are one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. White truffle oil has a unique flavour and an intriguing, earthy aroma – there’s nothing quite like it. Give your your ‘gourmate’ a bottle of this and you’ll go straight into the good books.

4. Food Print – $19.99

Food Print

This print from Aalejandro Diaz will be right at home on your foodie friend’s walls.

5. White Oak Serving Paddle – $39.95

Paddle

Serving paddles are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. Your foodie friend can use it to serve lavish cheese platters, antipasto, a dessert sampler and more. If you want to spend a bit more on someone special, double up or throw in a cheese knife.

6. Oriental Teahouse Gift Pack – $20

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 3.41.37 PM

Oriental Teahouse have put together a number of great Christmas packages that save you up to $30 on the original price. This Santa’s Helper gift pack is reduced from $31 down to $20 and includes a cute red drop tea strainer, a dain-tea glass cup and saucer and two sachets of tea.

7. Stocking Stuffer Bonus: Sriracha2Go – $7 

Sriracha

This is more of a stocking stuffer than a foodie gift, but it had to make the list. Sriracha isn’t known as a particularly gourmet condiment, but people swear by it. So it’s probably a good idea for your foodie friend to keep 35ml of it with them at all times.

December 15, 2014 David's Restaurant christmas 0

How to Write Fortune Cookie Messages

November 20, 2014

fortune cookie

Whether or not you believe the little message tucked inside a fortune cookie, no one can deny how much fun they are to read. Sadly, you’ll never know who wrote the life-changing prediction or insightful advice on most fortunes. What you can do is take control of your friends’ destinies by whipping up your own batch of fortune cookies and writing original messages to tuck inside. Being a fount of wisdom can be hard, so we’ve created a list of ten DIY fortune cookie fortune templates to make your job easier. Just plug words in and a mind-blowing fortune comes out!

A meaningful (noun) will appear within (number) years
Eg. A meaningful lamp will appear within 249 years

A false friend is trying to steal (number) dollars from your (article of clothing)
Eg. A false friend is trying to steal 39 dollars from your sock.

You are (adjective) only when you accept (animal, plural)
Eg. You are intelligent only when you accept hyenas.

Someone knows of your secret love for (colour) (kitchen utensil, plural)
Eg. Someone knows of your secret love for orange spoons.

You cannot follow the path of (celebrity) without sacrificing your (type of dessert)
Eg. You cannot follow the path of Kim Kardashian without sacrificing your cake.

Life is a (planet) and you are a (type of insect)
Eg. Life is Mars and you are an ant.

Your paths will cross in (city) on a (day of the week)
Eg. Your paths will cross in Darwin on a Wednesday.

Offer a stranger your (article of clothing) and they will repay you with a (type of vegetable)
Eg. Offer a stranger your pants and they will repay you with a carrot.

The true meaning of (emotion) can only be found in your (body part)
Eg. The true meaning of joy can only be found in your thumb.

When (adjective) people look in the mirror, they see a (type of furniture)
Eg. When wise people look in the mirror, they see a table.

Check out a simple recipe for homemade fortune cookies here.

November 20, 2014 David's Restaurant News 0

Six Chinese Words with no English Equivalent

November 7, 2014

Untitled

1. chan

This one is relevant to you, our dear reader-eaters. It’s a special quality that’s somewhere between a glutton and a gourmand. People who are ‘chan’ always want to eat because they see food as entertainment, but rather than over-eating, they enjoy grazing as a fun activity. And it doesn’t have to be fancy food – they just love nibbling!

2. qizhi

This word is similar to the expression je ne sais quoi in French. It suggests a good upbringing, education, intelligence, charm and grace. It doesn’t specifically refer to beauty – people described as ‘quizhi’ are absolutely enchanting but no one can figure out why.

3.  yuanfen

This is a type of relationship. It’s not a blood relative, work mate or even regular romantic relationship. A  ‘yuanfen’ relationship is between two people who met by fate; meeting each other was part of their pre-written destiny. It can apply to friends and lovers, too.

4. meibanfa

The meaning of this word is a little depressing. It’s a deep, disappointing realisation that there’s no solution to a problem. It can apply to something trivial like fixing a household item, or something much more profound, like life in general.

5. xiao chi

Another food related Chinese word with no English translation. Xiao chi is a category of food that’s not inherently a part of Australian culture. It translates as ‘small eats’ but these items don’t fall under the category of snacks. They’re properly-prepared and served dishes, just a bit smaller than full-sized serves. Such dishes can be compared to Spain’s tapas, but these ones aren’t meant to be shared.

6. sa jiao

This one’s tricky because it’s a very ingrained part of Chinese culture that we don’t experience in Australia. A ‘sa jiao’ is a temper tantrum thrown by a grown woman – a full-blown fit with pouting, stomping and maybe even tears. It’s part of the dynamic in a relationship between a man and a woman in which the man gets to assert his masculinity by taking care of the woman.

November 7, 2014 David's Restaurant News 0

How to Spice Up Chinese Cooking

October 23, 2014

The Fab Five: Get Comfortable Using Spices in Chinese Cooking

The food at David’s tastes so good, you probably just assume it’s seasoned with pure magic. If you want to keep believing that, stop reading right now. If you want a little peek at the seasoning secrets that make Chinese food so special, read on. Chinese cooking requires a delicate balance of strong flavours, used in moderation so that each ingredient can shine through. You’ve probably heard of Chinese Five-Spice; this ultimate quintent includes star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and Szechuan pepper. Those are some seriously strong flavours, but use them correctly and you’re headed for a #culinarywin. To help you get there, here’s a quick guide for cooking with these top Chinese spices:

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is the most subtle of the Chinese spices, infusing dishes with a slightly sweet taste and scent. It adds a lovely dark colour and because it’s so subtle, it can add a hint of a mystery to a dish.

cinnamon(photo: Mind Body Green)

Cloves: Cloves have the most enticing smell and they’re ideal for complementing sweetness. Simmer them in sticky sauces for a fruity dessert or add them to marinades for savoury dishes that are on the sweeter side.

clove(photo: Mind Body Green)

Fennel: Fennel can easily overpower other flavours, so use wisely! Ground up fennel seeds are great for adding complexity to a hearty meat dish. Pay close attention next time you eat a dumpling; you might detect a bit of fennel in there.

fennel(photo: Flour Arrangements)

Star Anise: Star Anise is very aromatic, so it’s perfect for balancing pungent smells in a dish. If you’re cooking up fish, for instance, use star anise to mellow the fishy smell. As an added bonus, this star-shaped spice looks beautiful floating around in sauces.

anise(photo: The Perfect Pantry)

Szechuan Pepper: FLAVOUR ALERT! This bright red spice is uniquely tangy and has a particular sort of spice that’s less heat and more oral sensation. It’s beautiful with all kinds of meat, in sauces, marinades and broths. And as a bonus, it numbs your mouth ever so slightly to prepare you for the spicy Chinese dishes you might be dining on. If you had to choose one word to describe Szechuan pepper, it’d be ‘zing!’

pepper(photo: Serious Eats)

There are so many more spices used in Chinese cooking, but these five should get you started. Give them a go next time it’s your turn to cook… or say “stuff it” and get your fix at David’s Restaurant!

October 23, 2014 David's Restaurant tips 0

Reasons Why Melbourne is The Food Capital of the World

October 2, 2014

Sometimes we forget just how blessed we are to live in Melbourne, but if there’s one group that recognises our luck on a day-to-day basis, it’s food lovers. Here are just some of the reasons Melbourne is the best place in the world for culinarians.

Coffee culture. Melbourne is quickly becoming known as the best place in the world to drink coffee. It started with Australia’s first espresso machine on Lygon Street, and continues today with specialty beans brewed in some of the best cafes in the world.

Linea_doubleespresso

Would you like a beer with your haircut? Doctor Follicles in Fitzroy, St Kilda and Richmond is the perfect place for gentlemen to get short, back, sides… and a complementary brew!

Craft beer. On the topic of beer, Melbourne’s craft beer scene is in the middle of a boom, with local breweries opening all over town and suppling their backyard offerings to top eateries.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chefs respect us. International chefs come from all over the world to work for free beside top chefs in renowned Melbourne kitchens, such as Ben Shewry from Attica and Shannon Bennett from Vue de Monde. Many go on to stay, setting up their own establishments and further adding to our food culture.

No roots, utter freedom. As a city in a young country, Melbourne has no ‘traditional’ cuisine. Instead, immigrants from all over the globe have brought their own flavour to Melbourne. Now you can feel like you’re in Vietnam on Victoria Street, Italy on Lygon Street, Ethiopia in Footscray, and many more.

Ecologically_grown_vegetables

Our produce. Melburnians respect local produce and artisan producers. Everything from beef and pork to cheese and salt can be sourced within Victoria.

Alleyway bars and cafes. The way Melbourne was originally built with wide, gridded streets and connecting laneways means that there is a something worth sipping or snacking on around every corner. Generally the harder it is to find, the better it is!

Hosier_Lane,_Melbourne,_Victoria,_Australia

Free transport. The free, maroon city circle tram makes your CBD food crawl all the more fun, and your evening all the more open to booze.

To market. Whether it’s the classic Queen Victoria Market, South Melbourne Market or Prahran Market, shoppers can pick up beautiful produce at competitive prices, as well as trinkets to take home, while meeting some passionate characters along the way.

Melbourne_Skyline_and_Princes_Bridge_-_Dec_2008

Food events. Melbourne regularly celebrates our edible culture with a number of events, such as the much lauded Melbourne Food and Wine Festival at the start of the year; Taste of Melbourne, which is like a short course in Melbourne’s best restaurants and producers; and the more recent Good Food Month, where restaurants put on events and special dinners during November.

David’s is participating in Good Food Month this year with an exclusive dinner, ‘Old Shanghai, New Shanghai.’ For just $75, guests will be treated to a meal that highlights different cooking styles found in David’s home city. Matched wine is included in the price, but the dinner is on for one night only (November 18). Booking essential, details here: http://melbourne.goodfoodmonth.com/details?deal=462430

 

October 2, 2014 David's Restaurant Events 0

David’s Survival Guide to Dining Out with Kids

September 18, 2014

Here’s a thought – forget the babysitter. Bring the kids to dinner. Sure, your life changes when you have kids, but a bub or two – regardless of age – shouldn’t mean sacrificing dinner out every now and then. Besides, bringing the baby fosters all kinds of fond memories and strengthens family ties, something considered incredibly important in Chinese culture. We have a couple of tips to make sure your dining-with-kids experience goes smoothly and to make no one gives you the evil eye.

IMAG0025_406x540
Photo credit: Hot or Not Food Blog


Beverages Beyond Reach
– the moment a drink lands on your table, make sure it is as far away as possible from grabby little hands. No one likes to wear red wine.

Keep an Eye out for Danger – sizzling hot plates, cutlery, chilli. These are all considered weapons that will prematurely end your night out.

Assess the Kids – are they tired and grumpy or full of smiles and chirp? If it’s the former, regardless of how kid-friendly the restaurant is, it’s likely the meal will be a disaster.

Assess Yourself – do you have the energy to do this right now? Will a rise in blood pressure upon entering the restaurant result in a heart attack? Make sure you can handle the challenge ahead.

Eat with One Hand – order things you can pick up without cutlery while simultaneously holding a kid, there’s no way they’re going to stay on that booster seat.

Pack an Overnight Bag – alright, well at least a night bag. Fill it with snacks, books, toys, crayons and anything that works particularly well in moments of bribery.

Use Dinner as a Learning Experience – make it fun and teach your children how to socialize. Let them order with waitstaff and show them the proper way to use cutlery and chopsticks. Help them to feel like grown up for the evening, just make sure you don’t slow down staff in the process.

Pick your Cuisine – Chinese, Italian and Mexican restaurants tend to work best, there’s usually something kids will eat whether dumplings, spring rolls, pasta or something deep fried and covered in cheese.

Turn Down the Volume – on any electronics, whether iPads or toys. The idea is to distract the children, not disturb other diners.

Start and Finish Early – go when it’s not too busy, and when there are as few people around to disturb as possible. You also don’t want to stay too late in case the kids get tired and cranky. Make sure there’s something to nibble on as soon as you sit down, whether bread or a small side to keep them occupied.

September 18, 2014 David's Restaurant tips 0

5 of the Weirdest, Most Wonderful Asian Desserts

September 1, 2014

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love Asian desserts, and those who do not. Lumping such a broad category of sweet treats into “Asian desserts” is controversial in itself – each country and culture has a huge range of weird and wonderful delights to satisfy a sweet tooth. One of the reasons westerners don’t enjoy the end of their Asian meal so much is due to the fact that a lot of Asian cultures use textures and flavours that are quite foreign – and therefore challenging – to people who aren’t used to them.

Western palates are more familiar with dishes like chocolate mousse and ice cream for dessert, so when a bowl of sweetened red beans appears before them, sometimes they’re rejected. At David’s we blend the old with the new, introducing contemporary flavours into traditional dishes and intersecting the East with the West. Take the coconut dream for example, a coconut and rum sago pudding with vanilla ice cream, or our signature soft-centred white chocolate dumplings with peanut and coconut praline. Both of these deserts combine Asian textures and flavours with western tastes, whereas our traditional Chinese almond pudding sticks to its roots. But enough about us! Here are five of our favourite sweets from our favourite continent.

1. FLAVOURED KIT KATS from sweet corn to soy sauce. Image credit: BuzzFeed enhanced-buzz-8260-1285522221-57

2. IKA chocolate covered squid. Image credit: Mikes Blender chocolate squid opened

3. SAMANCO a red bean ice cream sandwich in the shape of a fish. Image credit: Rebloggy tumblr_m5bcptLVUq1rqx7a0o5_1280

 

4. DESSERT SOUPS containing everything from glutinous sesame rice balls and red beans to taro and walnuts. Image credit: Asian Food Grocer
mochi

5. MOONCAKES a round, Chinese bakery product with a thick red bean or lotus seed paste filling with salted egg yolks in the centre. Traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival of lunar worship. Image credit: Juz Today
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September 1, 2014 David's Restaurant Eat 0

A Local’s Guide to Prahran

August 7, 2014

There are plenty of reasons why people choose to live and work in Prahran, and it’s hard to narrow them down when the area has so much to offer. Close to the city, cinema, shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and more, Prahran has everything one needs in a compact area. Whether visiting from interstate or overseas, or setting up shop for good, this vibrant suburb has all bases covered. Here are some of our top picks.

Chapel_street_prahran_1906

Chapel Street, Prahran, in 1906

 

Best Coffee: Oscar Cooper, 160 Greville Street, 9529 5670 When the sun is out everyone flocks to this popular café for a seat outside, but regardless of the weather the boys at Oscar Cooper brew some of the best coffee in Prahran. With a focus on Victorian produce and small batch beans, once you sit down, it’s hard to leave.

oscar cooper

Best Watering Hole: The Prahran Hotel, 82 High Street, 9529 2168 The recently renovated Prahran Hotel is a sight for sore eyes. The incredible design comes courtesy of Techne Architects, who used 17 concrete pipes weighing up to seven tonnes each to give the 1940s façade it’s recognizable look. Book a booth ‘in’ one of the pipes.

prahran hotel

Top Restaurant: David’s, of course! 4 Cecil Place, 9529 5199 Hate to toot our own horn but we know how to appreciate our locals. If you are new to the area, can’t be bothered cooking, or just love eating at David’s we’ve started a Local’s Night every Monday. For $33pp (or $28 for vegetarian) you get to choose 2 courses and enjoy a glass of house wine. Finally, something to look forward to on a Monday! Check out the menu below.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.21.48 PM

Best for Groceries: Prahran Market, 163 Commercial Road Known as the ‘food lovers’ market’, Prahran Market seduces shoppers with its smells, sounds and fresh produce. It’s been around for over 125 years, selling hard-to-find specialties alongside everyday needs. Whether you’re after fine cheese, heirloom produce or organic fruit and veg, you’re sure to find it here.

prahran market

Best Furniture: fenton&fenton, 471 High Street, 9533 2323 Fancy some furniture and colourful decorations to add personality to your home? fenton&fenton is the place for you. Add some spark to your living room with everything from one-off pieces and antiques to treasures from all over the globe.

Fenton and Fenton

Best Pamper: Ella Baché, 158 Chapel Street, 9533 8992It’s all about vibrant skin here. The salon is an oasis on busy Chapel Street offering trusted and quality facial and body treatments, massages, waxing, tinting, tanning, manicures and pedicures.

ella bache

Best on Paper: Mag Nation,110-112 Greville Street, 9533 7087
Mag Nation is THE specialty magazine store in Melbourne. From old favourites to hard-to-find publications, Mag Nation stocks them from all over the world. It’s a top spot to pick up cool stationary and great gifts, too.

mag nation

Best Clothing: Gorman, 248 Little Chapel Street, 9510 1151 Many a credit card has been maxed out at Gorman, not because it’s expensive, but because the clothes by local designer and businesswoman Lisa Gorman are so damn good. The prints are original, the material high quality, and the brand iconic Australian. What’s not to love?

gorman

August 7, 2014 David's Restaurant tips 0