Saturday, 10 August 2013

Time To Say Goodbye

After exactly four years and three hundred blog posts, I'm calling time on Eat Noodles Love Noodles. Giving up blogging hasn't been an easy decision to make. After all, it's a hobby that's given me great joy, and one through which I've met some great friends, online and off, along the way. Big thanks to you all, especially to those of you who took the trouble to comment on the blog along the way.

Why now? The truth is I've been thinking about jacking it all in for the past year or so. The only reason why I continued was the proliferation of ramen shops in London and my travels abroad. But there's only so much I can blog about ramen, and my mad run of travel this year has come to a halt.

If there's one aspect of blogging I'll miss, it will be writing about food on my travels. I doubt I would ever have started blogging if I didn’t have the kick-start from a trip to China in 2009. And to the end, it's these posts that have given me most pleasure to write.

I won't miss writing about London restaurants so much, though. Despite all the new openings, I've not really blogged about too many places in the capital this year. It's not that I don't take an interest in all the big name chefs and restaurateurs. I do, and I even sometimes eat in their fancy gastrodomes. It's just that I feel the London restaurant scene is a bit like English Premier League football: an exciting and cosmopolitan spectacle, but one where the actuality does not match the hype.

Now I don't want to end my blog on a negative note (although I have been known to shake my fist at crap restaurants, awful food TV and incorrect food grammar), as I've always been passionate about promoting the food I love the most. So with that in mind, I thought I'd end my last post with my fantasy last supper. I've bent the rules a bit in that I've somehow ended up with a ten-course Asian seafood banquet.

My Last Supper
Sashimi selection
I love sashimi and it's the perfect start to my banquet. Of course it's going to be weapons-grade raw fish, with the only stipulation being the platter must include some of my favourite hamachi (yellowtail).

Steamed scallops topped with garlic & glass noodles
This classic epitomises all that is great about Cantonese cuisine: fresh ingredients, simply cooked. This is also the first appearance of noodles in the banquet.

'Chao Tom' - Grilled prawn paste on sugar cane
In this Vietnamese dish the sugar cane acts as a skewer and the prawn paste is eaten by wrapping it with herbs in lettuce and rice paper before dipping in nuoc cham.


Under the Typhoon Shelter pissing prawns
After a relatively healthy opening three courses, the banquet get dirty in the form of fried 'pissing prawns' aka mantis shrimp tossed in a violent mix of fried chilli and garlic. ('Under the Typhoon Shelter' is the poetic Chinese name of this Hong Kong dish more commonly cooked with crab.)

Singapore chilli crab with fried mantou
Things get dirtier still with this Singapore classic where the crab is almost an afterthought. I can foresee much dipping of fried mantou (Chinese buns) into the flavoursome eggy, tomatoey chilli sauce.

Clams in fish soup with rice vermicelli
Asian food is all about balance, which is why this course is a bit cleansing. Having said that, a big glug of rice wine should go into the soup. (Noodlewatch: noodles make a second appearance in the banquet.)

Shanghai-style river shrimp stir-fried with Longjing tea
The comedown continues with a delicate dish of river shrimp, coated with egg white and cornstarch, stir-fried with Dragon's Well aka longjing tea leaves.

'Pla Neung Ma Nao' - Steamed grouper with lime, chilli, garlic, lemongrass & fish sauce
I have to have a Thai dish in my top ten, and this whole steamed grouper (sea bass would do at a push) sat in an aromatic 'soup' is my choice.

Pak choi stir-fried with garlic
Although my last supper is being served banquet style, this simple vegetable dish will be brought out just after the fish. And for those carb lovers, now might be a good time to ask for some rice. Mind you, not too much though…

Lobster fried with ginger & spring onion on a bed of e-fu noodles
So this is it, the coup de grâce. Of course it was going to be Cantonese, of course it was going to have noodles, and of course it was going to be lobster cooked with ginger and spring onion! My apologies to dessert fans, there's no proper pudding but there will be slices of watermelon.

Now I know some of you may be surprised at my choices. For instance, neither dim sum nor Cantonese BBQ makes an appearance. But that's OK, as I had both at my penultimate meal at lunchtime. Being a critic of the concept of pan-Asian restaurants, some may be surprised the feast contains a mix of different cuisines. However, I don't think it's an issue, as all of the dishes are bona fide classics and they will be served 'banquet-style' rather than in a blurry family-style free-for-all. And being a bit of an obsessive, I've also given a lot of thought to the sequence in which the courses will be served.

So that's it. I am now a former blogger, although I will continue to post food photos on Instagram. Thanks again for reading.

PS: Thanks for the good wishes and messages on Twitter - I'm very touched. For clarification, I will be keeping the blog alive but there won't be any new posts. And I'll still be on Twitter.

33 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Shu Han - the noodle blog legacy is safe in your hands 面妹妹

      Delete
  2. I'm sad, but can totally understand where you are coming from. It's a decision I've also been mulling over. Bravo for takin the decision and definitively ending it rather than just letting it slide away.

    I am going to miss the blog though, it's one of the few I have kept up with and is one of the genuinely useful ones out there so please keep it live as long as you can. Please stay on Twitter for us non-Instagram people, how else would we keep in touch?!

    - The Grubworm (iPhone will only let me post anonymously)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grubworm - Aaron, thanks. Thinking back, you're one of the first mates I made through the blog, and that for me is the legacy of the blog. Don't worry, I'll be staying on Twitter and the blog will remain on the interweb.

      Delete
  3. Shall miss your posts, I love the way you write about places.

    If it's the London scene that bores you to write about, perhaps you might consider resuming sporadically when you travel... after all, with RSS feeds, it's not like you need to post to a schedule, those of us who subscribe will know about a new post whether it's in a month or not for several...

    Anyway, so long and thanks for all the noodles.

    See you on the twitter...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kavey - thanks! I'm not ruling anything out, but for now I'm happy to be an ex-blogger. But never say never...

      Delete
  4. A sad day, but when you're done, you're done. Thanks for the good times, and also for a couple of really great tips over the years.

    I will make scallops and garlic on glass noodles this week in your honour!

    ReplyDelete
  5. CodeFarmer - thanks! Enjoy the scallops & glass noodles!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for giving me tips these past years. Hope you're not going to give up the DTF in London campaign!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Olivia - thanks, the fight for DTF will carry on!

      Delete
  7. Good Luck.Noodles next week in your honour. Today is curry day, tomorrow someone else cooks (full on day of work for me).

    ReplyDelete
  8. Boo. Sucks. I like to think though that the London restaurant scene isn't all about the big names and new openings...

    And yes, would love if you would continue blogging about your travels!!! Oh well, at least there's Instagram!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Su-Lin - a good point. There is more to London's restaurant scene, but the noise of the big names/new openings/hype can sometimes drown out the more interesting places. Who knows what the future will bring but for now I am happy to take a breather!

      Delete
  9. Aiyah, what a shame. As a former Hong Kong person I have always looked to you for tips on wallet-friendly but good Chinese eats and for my noodle fix.

    Thank you for all your great posts in the past four years. I will miss your brilliant and incisive writing.

    Hope it's only au revoir and not good bye...or as the Cantonese say "joy geen".

    Anyway as the Chinese saying goes: "All great banquets under the heaven must come to an end",(lousy translation but hope you know what I mean).

    - Ma Por Por (the system will only allow me to post anonymously)



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ma Por Por - thanks for the kind words. I'm not ruling anything out, but I'm happy to be an ex-blogger for a while.

      Delete
  10. This is very sad as it's your blog that regained my faith in lots of Chinese and Asian restaurants and even dim sum, e.g., Gold mine, Princess Garden etc.

    Thank you for all the wonderful recs and I'm so glad at least I've got to meet you in real life before you 'retired'. I will eat more noodles on your behalf to continue your legacy.

    - your fellow Ramen Anonymous club member

    "EAT MORE NOODLES"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. J - thanks! Don't be sad! It's not as if I'm renouncing noodles and becoming a recluse! I will still be out and about eating as many noodles as before. I just won't be blogging about them anymore.

      Delete
  11. Noooo! Just when I started reading. Not fair! But thanks for a great back catalogue of restaurant reviews!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Annika B - thanks! I hope you enjoy the archives!

      Delete
  12. Ayyy yor! That's a shame, but I can understand the sentiment.

    You'll be missed, but am glad you'll still be on instagram.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lizzie - thanks! It's been a good old stint. My hats off to you, you were blogging before me, you're still blogging and to such a high standard. I don't know how you do it!

      Delete
  13. Mr Wine here wishing you well in your retirement from the blogging scene, and looking forward to catching up with you soon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Nooooo, I love your blog - it's funny, it's clever, it's informative!

    I understand why you want to give up though, but I hope you'll return to blogging in some form one day.

    Sure you don't want to be a consultant on my NOODLE! book? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. meemalee - thanks! A comeback is far from my mind right now, but never say never. I'm not sure about consultant, but I'd be more than happy to be a sounding board/taster/recipe tester for your book!

      Delete
  15. End of an era ......

    But understand totally as thinking the same myself .....

    It was great to meet you in Hongkers and hopefully meet up again in London for another foodie trawl, although next time more beer...

    Until Instagram ......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mzungu - thanks! It was great to meet up in HK! I think you still owe me a tour of Colombian food in London...

      Delete
    2. Excellent idea .... Give me a shout and we'll arrange a date .......

      Just remember not to eat a couple of days prior...

      Delete
  16. Don't do it! Keep blogging!

    In all seriousness I'll miss your blog. As an Asian food enthusiast with no heritage and little clue blogs are fantastic mines of information on the subject. This is one of the best. And it's funny.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dave - thanks! Maybe when I'm up for blogging again I'll tap into my Northern childhood: 'Eat Pies Love Pies'?

      Delete
  17. Ahhhhh i've loved reading your blogs. It's your recommendations that have taken me to places i would have never found. I have been thought of as weird when caught reading your blogs at work, i think it is cool. I'll miss them.

    A BBC. x

    ReplyDelete
  18. So sad to read this - but very much understand your decision. Have loved reading your book and getting to know you IRL. You are still the noodles and dumpling guru as far as I am concerned!

    ReplyDelete