contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

59 4th Ave
New York, NY, 10003

212-253-1343

Saffron 59 Catering is New York City's premier caterer and event planner specializing in Southeast Asian cuisine. For over 11 years, Saffron 59 has successfully orchestrated memorable affairs with attention to every detail.

Blog

Celebration: Seven-Course Dinner at MOCA NY

Irene Khin Wong

Here are some of the behind the scene pictures for the $888 plate dinner for Museum of Chinese in America in New  York this past Monday.

Irene K. Wong with  Pichet Ong

Irene K. Wong with Pichet Ong

Hey one of guests of honor is Ang Lee!

Hey one of guests of honor is Ang Lee!

MENU

  • Seared Chicken with Sesame and Jumbo Prawns in a taro basket (with caramelized walnuts and snow peas)  
  • Grilled Aged Rib Eye Steak — charred — topped with parsley garlic  pesto  
  • Shanghai Baby Bok Choy with  Xiao Sing Rice Wine and  How See — Dried Oyster (large Chinese mushroom)
  • Maine Lobster Laced with Ginger and Scallions (bedded with Fun See -glass noodle)
  • Steamed Stripe bass with sesame oil and Enoki Mushroom (wilted spring onion)
  • E-Fu Noodles with Black Mushroom burnt yellow chive (Longevity egg noodle with Choy Sum vegetable)
  • Double Happiness Fried Rice with baby corn and English peas (with Shallot Crisp)

Celebration: Chinese New Year 2014

Irene Khin Wong

As the Lunar New Year approaching, my family and friends are already anxious in planning for the feast.  Since I was a little girl, that means choosing and getting new outfits to wear and place sweet offerings to the "kitchen god" so that sweet reports get to heaven what my family has done throughout the year.

Since Chinese Americans came from different regions of China and other parts of Asia too such as Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, the traditional feast during Chinese New Year in America for most of us is unique and varied to each group.

Symbolic dishes such as longevity noodles and fresh whole fish represent long life and prosperity. Dumplings are served representing abundance of "golden nuggets".  For this year, the festivities will start on January 31st.  My circle of friends will mark the celebrating for 15 days, feasting with Asian Tapas style — inspired with ingredients such as Kalamansi, Xaoshing wine, Gojuchang  are just some of many treats which will be made to welcome the “year of the horse.”

Gift with Double Happiness envelopes with lucky money

Gift with Double Happiness envelopes with lucky money

Heritage: Memory of My Grand Father's Duck Noodle

Irene Khin Wong

An email from a good friend:

Irene,

What's so special about your dish, Street Market Noodles with Duck, is how it triggers so many memories-my own fondness for the dish, nostalgia for your restaurant, The Road to Mandalay. Our friendship which goes back to the days of the restaurant, and most touchingly, your memories of food and family in Myanmar. It's a trip down sense memory lane.

Larry

Recently a dear friend from the days of my first restaurant in New York, The Road to Mandalay, finally tied the knot after being together for 25 years. They asked me to make food for their wedding reception. Among the 7 dishes they requested was my grandfather's Street Market Noodles with Duck, a dish my grandfather cooked at the night market in Yangon, Myanmar.

It was sold as supper after 9pm. People would stroll into the market and either sit on wooden stools to eat it or have him tie the noodles up into a bundle like a tamale with  banana leaf as a take-out snack. I was only a few years old when I first tasted the dish. A garlicky noodle dish as simple as could be, it is seared with duck fat, garlic oil, fresh egg noodles, sliced duck, minced spring onion and crispy fried garlic.

Growing up I remember how my family and friends would rave about these noodles. It was always a special treat on the day when the aroma of garlic would permeate the house, and you could hear noodles sauteing on the wok. When I opened my restaurant, Road to Mandalay, I introduced the dish to New York. I got the same reaction from my customers, people like the rocker, Lenny Kravits and the Persian filmmaker and artist, Shirin Neshat, as I did from my family in Myanmar.

When I closed Road to Mandalay I took a sabbatical in Asia, and then came back and launched Saffron 59. As part of my comprehensive menu I offered an array of noodle dishes but never Street Market Noodles with Duck — until a few days ago. After receiving rave reviews from the wedding party guests, I realized it was time to consider adding my grandfather's celebrated noodle dish to the menu.

Ingredients for my grandfather's famous duck noodle, a photo by Saffron 59 on Flickr.

Duck Noodle

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb Duck Breast scored strips (or from your local butcher)
  • 4 bulbs of garlic, peeled and minced
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 3 lb fresh egg noodles
  • 8 bunches of spring onions, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups of oil

Method:

  1. Fry the garlic in 1 1/2 cups of oil til the garlic get medium brown and separate on paper towel, save the oil.
  2. Sear the duck, skin down til medium rare and sliced into strips, reserved the oil.
  3. Fill up wok with water and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes til the pasta surfaced.
  5. Drain well and toss with a drizzle of garlic oil.
  6. Heat the wok and add garlic oil, duck fat, add the spring onions and toss in the noodle and duck meat.
  7. Toss some soy sauce, salt and black pepper to taste.
  8. Stir fry for a minute or two til all the ingredients are incorporated and add the fried garlic chips.
  9. Garnish with some more fried garlic and spring onions.

Yield: 30 guests
*we recommend to wok seared the noodle in batches

Have a happy holiday to you and to your loved ones!

Ingredients for Food and Health: Therapeutic Turmeric

Peter C

Since the beginning of Fall, I have been cooking lots of warm food using herbs from what's left of my garden and spices that work well with the changing weather. Signature autumn dishes that win high praise from our clients include Melange of Curried Root Vegetables, Chili Chicken, and Roasted Cauliflower Florets. A key ingredient in these signature dishes is turmeric, which in medieval times came to be knows as Indian Saffron, since it was widely used as a substitute for that far more expensive spice.

Scallop w/ Quinoa and Turmeric Infused Oil

What got me thinking about turmeric is a video I recently saw about how certain foods have important therapeutic functions, and of course one of those is turmeric. In addition to the above dishes, turmeric marries well with omelets, seafood and roasted vegetables.

With the onset of cold weather, it's important to boost the body's defenses, and one of the best ways to do that is through diet. According to traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory. And in Vietnam, where I spent four years, new mothers are massaged with fresh turmeric paste to lessen the pain and often eat dishes containing turmeric to replenish nutrient loss.

Behind The Scenes: 3 Days, 13 Guests and 13 Dishes in 3 hours

Irene Khin Wong

november+2013+blog+planning+party4.jpg

One might think that a small party would be less work than a large one, but the required amount of preparation is similar, whether there are 13 guests or 130. A recent event was a party for an executive of a world-famous high-fashion brand, 13 guests only, and many tasting dishes were selected. So, needless to say, we planned and executed this complex meal to suit clients with exceptional taste.

Packing the right ware at our studio

Packing the right ware at our studio

Menu planning and selection is a priority, as well as choosing exotic drinks to match. This is done in collaboration with the clients by email and phone and involves a lot of work to get things just right. Choose the right color napkins for the silverware. Create bite-size Asian snacks. Figure out the main courses, which in this case included Charred Argentinian Steak Chimicurri (with Korean Red Paste) and Pan-Seared Fatty Black Cod glazed with miso tamari, always a huge hit.

When the menu is finalized, one of our crew pays a visit to the site; evaluating the kitchen and facilities is necessary so that we can prepare a schematic to help us execute the dinner in a timely fashion. Then we begin our foraging phase, heading to the greenmarket and our rooftop garden for hand-picked fresh sprigs of holy basil and ripened Roma tomatoes for roasting. Lines of communication are opened with our purveyors, using our 10-year strong relationships to garner the freshest seafood, be it Louisiana shrimp or Maine lobsters.

After three days of non-stop work, the party went off without a hitch.

Food Talk: Rijsttafel

Irene Khin Wong

This year, I am featuring Rijsttafel for the holiday season for my friends and family gatherings and I hope for you too. It is the Dutch interpretation of exotic Indonesian cuisine eaten in a communal dinning.  Laced with unique, distinctive flavors including Asian herbs and spices, with beautiful presentation.

I spent a significant portion of a four year sabbatical in Asia searching Indonesia for old textiles with my Dutch godmother. Many times over the course of that search I sat down to delicious Rijsttafel meals in Java and one of the most memorable experiences was having multiple dishes in Bali and cooking with ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, candle nuts, and palm sugar.

When I returned from my sabbatical I was asked to cater a big 50th birthday bash in Holland, where I discovered that Rijsttafel is found everywhere, from the smallest hamlet to the largest city. Since my Indonesian Rijsttafel experiences were fresh in my mind, I was able to create a wonderful, authentic feast for the celebration.

Various Dishes from our Rijsttafel "Rice Table" Holiday Party

From our kitchen to your table:

  • Heirloom Squash / Pumpkin Ravioli with Coconut Kashmiri red curry dip
  • Lump Crabmeat Slaw with Mint Chutney and Mustard Seeds
  • Mekong Style Meatballs with coriander roots and minced spring onion
  • Indonesian origin Beef Rendang with spicy slow cooked beef stew
  • Roast Lemongrass Chicken with Caramelized Onion
  • Vegetable Ratatouille as featured on The Occasional Vegetarian
  • Our Signature Panthay Noodle with Vegetables  and red onion relish

Holiday: Diwali, a Festival of Lights

Irene Khin Wong

Happy (almost) Diwali! Our Saffron 59 kitchen is busy with our own Diwali-fest with Indian inspired bites like Chicken Pakora with Bengali Style Chatni (Tender fritters served with coriander and green chili dip). So, meet our guest writer of the week; the fabulous Jay Dehejia!

The five-day festival of lights will be celebrated in early November this year. This celebration takes different forms in different parts of India.  In my community of Gujaratis, we would spend evenings getting dressed up in colorful clothes and organize folk dances.  This year, we will celebrate Diwali with friends and family on November 3rd. This autumn festival brings back such wonderful childhood memories for me.

Diwali, for me started with ‘Dhanteras’, the 13th day of the waning moon. The day is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi to provide for the well being and prosperity for the family. That is the day we would light hundreds of oil lamps all around the house and the garden.

Diwali Festival of Lights, Christchurch New Zealand . Photo by Geof Wilson ( October 17, 2010)

Diwali Festival of Lights, Christchurch New Zealand. Photo by Geof Wilson (October 17, 2010)

As a young boy, during the week leading up to Diwali day, my mother would help my brother and me draw a new ‘rangoli’ each day in front of our house. “Rangoli’ is a form of folk art made from rice flour, colored sand, and flower petals.  Each day, we would come up with a different design and make it as colorful as we could. My mother would also bring flowers, mostly marigolds, which we would string together and make garlands. These would then be strung along the front door.

I always enjoyed the anticipation of the big day leading up to Diwali.  I would save the noisiest and the biggest firecrackers (crackles; bottle rockets; ‘flower pots’; and lots of sparklers) for the evening of Diwali.  All of our family would take turns lighting the oil lamps and sparklers to light the firecrackers.  What fun and so much excitement!

No Indian festival is complete without exotic food; with lots of different types of sweets on the table with abundance of dishes from aromatic Chicken Masala to marinated BBQ Stuffed Lamb with fresh roasted spices. Diwali comes only once a year and the excitement and delicious foods is just irresistible.

For Gujaratis, November 4th is the start of Vikram Samvat year 2070. Let us take time to enjoy being with our family and friends, and wish for a festive and successful year.

Jay Dehejia is a “FOS” (Fan of Saffron 59). Jay and his wife, Vidya, splits their time between Goa, India and the UWS, New York.

East Meets West: From BBQ Short Ribs to Mohinga

Irene Khin Wong

From time to time, I invite others to write guest posts on my blog.  Here's one from my brother, Ron, about our annual Pre-Labor Day BBQ celebration.

Marinated Charred Short Ribs

Thanks to Po's afternoon milk tea, I find myself still awake at 3am, so I decided to write about our fantastic backyard family and friends summer gathering that was inspired by Burmese food vendors serving traditional dishes at a Nibban Zay fundraising event held at a Burmese Temple in Manalapan, N.J. Back in early August, friends of mine, Mark Pochaw and Jenny Chin, forwarded a menu of Burmese foods that were going to be offered at the temple. It sounded delicious, so we decided to attend. After having eaten traditional Burmese foods, I decided to serve traditional Mohinga (Burmese Lemongrass Fish Soup), fried fritters, Lat Thoke vegetarian noodles paired with BBQ ribs, flank steak and curry yogurt chicken at our family event.

Mark's cousin Vera, one of the temple vendors, was kind enough to prepare the Mohinga fish soup, which we decided to pair with Pae Kyaw fritters from another vendor. Aunty Vera and Mark threw themselves into gathering and preparing the Mohinga ingredients, an endeavor that took on a life of its own. They used as many of the traditional Mohinga ingredients as possible including lemongrass, catfish, and rare young banana stem bark which is not available in New York. It was flown from Florida to Albany on Wednesday, transported to Queens, cooked all day Saturday, and on Sunday found itself in the stomachs of friends and family in Short Hills, NJ, people with backgrounds from the US, Brazil, China, Great Britain, Saint-Tropez, France, Thailand and Vietnam, among others.

Banana Bark for Cooking Mohinga (Burmese Lemongrass Fish Soup)

We truly enjoyed Vera's Mohinga, which was amazingly, soulfully delicious and brought back memories of sitting on wooden stools eating the fish soup on street corners in Yangon, Burma. With a full stomach and a touch of insomnia, I'd like to thank my friends and family for coming to this memorable summer backyard gathering. Also again, thanks to Mark, Aunty Vera, Jenny Chin, my sister-in-law Yin Yin,  Pae Kyaw Fritter vendor Daw Si Si Cho and U Michael.

Best, Ron


What food adventures have you had lately? Send us your pics or recipes!

Food Talk: Holy Basil!

Irene Khin Wong

Private VIP Lounge of Q Bar

I often get my brain picked on for my expertise with exotic drinks from various Asian regions; whether with modern-global touches or with traditional roots. This time, I asked two renowned bars and their mixologists for their favorite herbal concoctions.

One of my favorite spots when I am in Bangkok is the Q Bar. This recipe is courtesy of “Travelin Matt”.

Thai Basil by Travelin Matt

Ingredients:

  • 4 lime wedges
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 oz vodka
  • Fresh watermelon
  • Fresh Basil (4-5 Leaves)
  • Ice Cubes
  • Sprite to top off

Instructions:

  1. Muddle Brown Sugar and lime first
  2. Muddle watermelon
  3. Add basil leaves (no muddle)
  4. Add vodka
  5. Add ice cubes
  6. Top off with sprite or 7-up
  7. Stir strongly (Mojito Style)
  8. Garnish with basil leaf and watermelon wedge
  9. ENJOY!


Green with envy, the Green Delilah

Here is another recipe using Thai Basil recommended by our friend, Pauline Nguyen hailed from her much celebrated Lily Cocktail Bar, in New South Wales, Australia. 

Green Delilah by Dee Stewart of Lily Cocktail Bar

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce apple liqueur
  • small bar spoon of lime marmalade
  • 8-10 basil leaves
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce pineapple juice

Instructions:

  1. Muddle leaves in marmies (marmalade)
  2. Add everything else
  3. Shake it like a polaroid
  4. Strain into a martini glass
  5. Garnish with a spring of Thai basil

For an art benefit of 250 guests in the Hamptons,  we made one of our simple signature drinks, the Rangoon Cooler.

Rangoon Cooler

Ingredients:

  • 5 holy basil or thai basil leaves 
  • Juice of medium lime
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 2-1/2 ounces vodka

Instructions:

  1. Place five basil leaves in a mixing glass.
  2. Squeeze the lime into the glass.
  3. Press down on the leaves with a muddler and twist 4 to 5 times.
  4. Fill glass three-quarters of the way with ice cubes.
  5. Add the simple syrup and vodka.
  6. Give the glass a good shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
  7. Float a piece of the muddled basil leaf on the top as a garnish.

How do you like to use basil or your favorite herb? Let us know!

Food Talk: Away from the Big Apple; From Farm to Table

Irene Khin Wong

When my friend Alan Adelson invited me to his house in the Catskills for dinner to talk about his new documentary film project, we didn't hesitate.    

Gallery and Art Studio of  Turquoise barn

Gallery and Art Studio of Turquoise barn

Thursday night after work on MTA train to Poughkeepsie takes me and my partner to the heart of the Hudson Valley, where we picked up a rental car. 

For the next three days, we had enjoyed very much being vegan with the abundance of fresh farm grown vegetables to varieties of melons in the rolling hills by the Hudson Valley. 

We stayed at an organic vegan B&B in the western Catskills.  Early morning breakfast consists of tofu "scrambled eggs" with corn and freshly picked berries and a glass of kale smoothie, with granola and blueberries.  One morning our aromatic tea concoction was a blend of purple sage, mint and calendula

Fresh picked August plums and peaches

Fresh picked August plums and peaches

More in the area:

Graham and Co 
Organic and vegan dish with thin crust pizza on weekends.

Table Onten
Newly opened this year with 20 rooms and swimming pool to cool off.

Fieldstone Farm (4236 County Highway 18, Delhi, N.Y.)
The Rama family operated The Cattle Exchange-breeding, buying and selling cattle. Fieldstone Farm Black Angus beef brings their expertise and love of great-tasting beef together. 

Autumn Cafe (244 Main St, Oneonta, N.Y. 13820)

Rich Farm (13075 County Highway 18, Hobart, N.Y.)
Fresh, Cage-Free eggs available year round. 

On The Left Bank (4845 County Highway 18, Delhi, N.Y.)
Seasonal varieties of produce for your table, nurtured riverside on the Delaware's West Branch. 

Maplewood Farm (5700 County Highway 18, Bloomville, N.Y.)

Pure Maple Products
Share with us! What are your weekend trips and tips? 

Entertainment: Summer Outdoor Fun

Peter C

Summertime begins in the month of March for me every year, as I've been planning outdoor celebrations from weddings to a child's first birthday. Why not celebrate your special occasions with gatherings at a farm or on your own roof top. The beautiful weather will make it easier and merrier to create a simple, yet smart party planning.

Coming up with a fun ideal menu, like BBQ Striped Bass with Refreshing Tomato Vinaigrette or aromatic grilled Balinese Chicken Satay. And you can always make outdoor meals ahead of time so you can enjoy the wonderful company and setting.  Make simple rustic arrangements where your guests can participate with the setting by helping themselves to some Hibiscus Lemonade.  That's a party that can't be beat! 

 Wedding at Dudley Farm, Guilford, Conn.

 Wedding at Dudley Farm, Guilford, Conn.

Setting up chilled refreshing hibiscus lemonade

Setting up chilled refreshing hibiscus lemonade

En Route to Ceremony at Farm Wedding

En Route to Ceremony at Farm Wedding

Travel: Top 5 Favorite Hotels From My Traveling Years

Irene Khin Wong

Haggling at a market in Baños, Equador

Luna Runtun (Ecuador)

Located at the entrance to the Amazon. The rooms are on a bluff seemingly floating in the cloud banks. Waking up to the sounds of Toucans and parrots in misty rainforest surroundings. After a 10-hour bus ride from Quito, this is a real treat.

Gorgeous view from the top

Gorgeous view from the top

In Le Princess (Myanmar)

The magical serene surrounding here is one that you must be present to fully experience the charm and beauty of this place.  With magnificent views of the blue mountain ranges, stunning swathes of floating vegetation and awakening up to the sound of fish fluttering was not a bad place to spend my 40th birthday.

Hotel Maya (Malaysia)

The best breakfast ever! It simply blew me away.  The buffet selection had Eastern and Western treats; offering most of my favorite snacks such as mini curry puffs, pancake rolls with coconut palm filings and kayan with Pandan layer cakes.  They were all bite-sized so I can still watch my girlie figure.  The hotel spa’s hydrotherapy pools with water jets were a blessing after 22-hour flight.  The rooms were great and comfortable with views over looking the Petronas Towers and the vibrant skyline of the city.

Lush welcoming at the Hotel Maya

Lush welcoming at the Hotel Maya

Uma by COMO Hotel (Paro, Bhutan)

No wonder they call Bhutan “The Small Kingdom Country”.  It is the Switzerland if the east with impeccable service that you wouldn’t want to leave.  The private villas offer spectacular breathtaking 360-degree views of the Himalayas.  The villas themselves are built with handmade wooden carving and textiles from local artisans mix in the traditional with the modern.

Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) — Taktsang Trail, Paro, Bhutan

Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) — Taktsang Trail, Paro, Bhutan

Mas de Torrent (Costa Brava, Spain)

A leisurely drive from the Northeast of Barcelona; Girona is one of most gastronomical city in the Catalan region; tastings of wild guinea fowl with chestnut and bacon to morsels of local mushrooms with garlic octopus, marinated sardines with olive oil and fresh anchovy montaditos. Mas de Torrent is a fully restored 18th century property with spacious room over looking the gorgeous beautiful gardens.

Recipe: Pickle Time!

Irene Khin Wong

From beets to okras, summer is the time to pickle your vegetables. Simply slice the vegetables paper thin, in shoe string sizes or in wedges which works well with cucumbers. Just add kosher salt, spices to any of these abundant vegetables – caraway to beets; and to carrots, chili; and cumin to cauliflower marries well. Within a few hours, the pickling process benefited from time in the brine - especially vegetables such as radishes, cucumbers and daikons. 

These pickled vegetables are a great treat on a hot summer after noon or served as hors d’oeuvres. They are delicious on a porchetta sandwich or with a sardine salad; it's a quick and easy way to make vegetables part of your lunch.  Not to mentioned bringing summer to your table on a cold winter day.

Calvin's Mustard Green Pickle

Calvin's Mustard Green Pickle

On a Burmese Lacquer Tray

On a Burmese Lacquer Tray

One of my all time favorite is the easy green mango chutney recipe that my friend the late Copeland Marks wrote from his book on the Himalayan Rim. 

One of my childhood pickled recipes hail from Shan State in Myanmar is the Mustard Green Pickle that my cousin Calvin recently posted it on Facebook.  It is common in that part of the country to use pickle mustard greens to enhance hot noodle soup with pork broth and stir fry dishes. 

First, wash the mustard greens, approximately 2 lbs (the one with yellow flowers). Drain then chop to about 2-inch pieces. Then add half a cup of coarse sea salt. Mix well and let it sit for an hour. Then squeeze all the liquid out. Then mix half a cup of vinegar, mustard seeds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds and chili peppers. Stored in a glass jar or airtight container, it's good for a few months.

My good friend Eugenia Bone has a great recipe below from her new book, The Kitchen Ecosystem (Clarkson Potter 2014) coming soon!

Pickled Radishes

Makes 1 half-pint

Ingredients:

  • 6 radishes, sliced very thin (1 heaping cup)
  • 1 large shallot cut into eighths
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Place the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small pot and heat over a medium low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the radishes and shallots.
  3. Heat until the vinegar just begins to boil, and then remove from heat to cool.
  4. Pack the radishes into the jar and refrigerate.
  5. Allow the radishes to cure one week before serving. They hold for a few months in the fridge.

What's your favorite pickling recipe? Send us some of your favorites!

Travel: My Top 5 Restaurants from Around the World

Irene Khin Wong

I have been traveling since I was 21 and I have always enjoyed eating the local cuisine wherever I visited.  I've had a lot of delightful and memorable meals; I only wish they were not always a continent away!

Chilean King Crab Ceviche Salad with Andes Corn

Chilean King Crab Ceviche Salad with Andes Corn

Here are my five favorite restaurants from the 50+ countries I have traveled to:

Aldea (Puerto Natales, Chile)

After traveling for 3 weeks and eating various fish stews (Chile’s National Dish); this unique restaurant blends the delicious flavors of the Mediterranean spices with great Chilean wine to pairs with.  You won’t easily find a place like this anywhere in the world.

Irene at Aldea Restuarant in Chile

Irene at Aldea Restuarant in Chile

L'Auberge de l'Ill (Illhaeusern, France)

Start with an aperitif in the garden with a peak abundance of roses and lilies then onto the dining room with its beautiful setting where dinner is best paired with Alsatian wine.  Their foie gras was orgasmic!  It’s a definitely like a 3-Michelin star restaurant to me.

Nyonyan and Baba (Singapore)

This restaurant was up the block from where I used to live for a few months in an old restored colonial house on the Emerald Hill Road and is full of ambiance with a real fusion of Asian cuisine.  Now in a new location.

Harmonique (Bangkok, Thailand)

This is one of my all time favorite restaurants, even though I have been to Bangkok a dozen times.  It is a traditional home restaurant situated near the river and is owned by three sisters.  My favorite dish is the steamed striped bass with chili and lime juice.  It’s fresh and deliciously simple amongst other Thai curries.

Yung Kee Restaurant (Central, Hong Kong)

The most amazing Roast Goose you will ever have that has been around for generations.  Don’t be surprised if you bump into your friends there; I do so every time I have lunch there.

King of Flowers

Irene Khin Wong

What I love about the month of May, besides it being the month of my birthday; are all the blooming plants and flowers.There are lots of exciting cheerful blossoms starting to show, as April showers bring May flowers!  My favorite May flowers are Peonies.  As spring approaches, I love watching the shoots sprout in my garden and always it amazes me when their delicate petals are in full bloom.


Orchids and Peonies
Orchid and Peony Bouquet by Saffron59

Just a hop on the subway or a train ride can put you in the feeling of a country side as the Brooklyn Botanical Garden or another outing favorite of mine that we do annually is to go to the Chanticleer Garden in Pa.  Our weekend trips to the Berkshires is botanical garden with full of different shapes and shades of peonies - from striking velvety burgundy to soft petal pink blossoms that just lift everyone’s spirits.  I love to create bridal bouquets with peonies, since this exquisite flower is a
symbol for nobility; and widely known in the imperial palaces of China as the “King of Flowers”.  I learned to know the name “Mao Dhan”, rather than Peony as a child growing up with my paternal grandmother, who is very traditional Chinese and shares the love of this gem of a flower with me.

Here are other great places to visit:

Duke Farms (Hillsborough, NJ) With free admission, this living habitat is privately owned by the Duke family who felt that New Jersey was too industrial and sought to build a refuge for nature by purchasing land and creating Duke Farms.

Hollister House Garden (Washington, CT) This beautiful garden will transport you to the English country-side, complete with Ivy-adorned cottages and hedges.  They also host events such as Rare Plant Sales.



Garden Statue at Duke Farm
Lovely Statue at Duke Farm







Holiday: Water Festival, Biggest Water Fight of the Year!

Irene Khin Wong

Did you know that every year around April, there’s a different New Year’s celebration known as The Water Festival?  Southeast Asian countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos, India, Thailand as well as Yunnan, China celebrate this multi-day holiday.  In Burma, (where I’m from) the New Year’s celebration is called Thingyan; for Thailand, Songkran; for Cambodia, Chaul Chnam Thmey.  Depending on which country they’re from the festival dates vary, but they all have one thing in common-The Water Festival.


water festival with Saveur Magazine in April
  Irene Being Doused with Water in Her Home Town

Everyone take part in the festivities with traditional water-throwing activities; going to pagodas or temples for worship and blessings; and sharing communal meals. Water is a symbol of not only cleanliness but also auspiciousness.  A belief that the celebration of the
water festival will wash away evils and sins accumulated in the old one and prepare for the new one, bringing the people into a happy and peaceful new year.


Burmese Water Festival
   Water Festival - Yangon, Myanmar

No one is safe from a good drenching since this occurs during one of the hottest time of the year!  In their celebratory moods, strangers will splash or pour water at each other.  Also, during this time of the year, one of the activities will be the cooking of vast amounts of sticky rice with roasted coconut and toasted sesame over an open fire.  It is a strenuous task where the sticky rice must be soaked over night and the ingredients has to be stirred continuously.  It is a community affair; where all the people in the village will get pitch in and make offerings to monks and visitors alike. 

Travel: Patagonia - A Gastronomical Trip Via Ruta Pan-Am Hwy

Irene Khin Wong

On route to the Glacier Serrano, Torres del Paine

On route to the Glacier Serrano, Torres del Paine

After touring through the rolling vineyards of wine valleys and endless picturesque lakes in Chile; my next adventure starts on a flight to “the end of the world”, Last Hope Sound, where Magellanic penguin colonies thrive and then on to Puerto Natales; the home of breath taking,

stunning national park

. It is an experience like no other, that will get under your skin and never leave you.

Salto Grande, The Big Leap Waterfall

Salto Grande,

pic by Irene K. Wong

With the help of

Fransisco

we had an excellent itinerary full of adventures with mountain treks, horseback riding across the Ultima Esperanza Province and lunch in between breaks that include

parrillada

in Torres del Paine National Park.

Torres Del Paine, Chile

Glacier by Serrano River,

pic by Irene K. Wong

Standing at the tip of the unspoiled frontier of South America, Patagonia stretches from the tip of South America to the ice capped mountains of the Andes. The experience affords one with breathtaking views of not only majestic fjords and brilliant azure lakes and channels of Patagonia, but also offers unique gastronomical treats like my favorite national dish of Chiloe, Chile, the curanto seafood stew during our stay.  And of course, there were endless snacks with variations of empanadas, all guzzled down with

herb-infused pisco sours

.

Fishing village of Chiloe, Chile

National Dish of Chiloe, La Curanto, 

pic by Irene K. Wong

Here are some great places to stay (prices are approximate and the season):

-

Weskar Lodge

~$250

-

Aqua Terra

~$100

-

Erractic Rock

~$40 - $90

-

The Singular

~$400-$600

-

Indigo

~$350

Great shopping spot:

- Origenses Artesanias- Chiloe

Dining:

- Afrigonia

- Aldea Restaurant

Reading list before and after your trip:

- In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (Penguin Classics)

- Chilean Patagonia’s Peaks, Up Close

(NYT)

- A Torres del Paine walking

guidebook

Sweet Pine berries

Local Sweet Pine Berries are great for marmalades!

Travel: Chile: From Deserts to the Roaring Seas

Irene Khin Wong

Mont Gras Winery

Month Gras Winery

After learning that they were planning on building 5 dams in the Southern part of Chile; this winter, we traveled to the country that has the driest desert in the world as well as dramatic fjords and serene channels. Chile, is a country with an endless bounty of colorful citrus fruits and fresh vegetables.

Viña del Mar (vineyard by the sea). There, we spent most of our time in one of the most fun city in Chile, unique in all of Latin America, Valparaíso.

From the flat city center riding up an incline elevator takes you to a to a very different city above.  Filled with tiny stores, talented artisans and quaint cafes. We could not take enough pictures of this city. No wonder it is named the Top 10 cities for artistic inspiration.

We took a 5 hour leisurely drive toward the south to Colchagua Valley beginning at the foothills of the Andes Mountains and reaching west to the Pacific Ocean. It looks much like Napa Valley with its ubiquitous vineyards, valley floor river and tree-studded foothills vs Alsace, France where I have also spent one summer with historic quaint towns. 

Overall, Colchagua is an oasis of rural calm with just enough sophistication to whet the wine traveler’s appetite. Thanks to our GPS, which lead us to drive unpaved rocky hilly roads and left us with a tenth of gas tank through a dense fog and storm, we finally arrived in Pucón. There we trekked to Huerquehue National Park.  The volcano's crater spends most of its day billowing smoke - and on clear nights it gives off an eerie red glow.

Passing  through the "lake district" with picturesque the towns of Valdivia, Puerto Varas and Osorno.  This fertile region is rich for Mapuche culture, existed before the Conquistadors arrival that now make up only 4% of Chilean population.

As we drove down further south, the greener it gets. It's so perfectly laid-back, you’ll start to feel a little sueño (sleepy) with all the adventures  from rafting to climbing, from hiking to hot-springs hopping, visiting neighboring colonial towns to sipping mate. Crossing half hour ride with a ferry-end of Pan American Highway (Ruta 5), we reached archipelago of Chiloe.

For the nature lover, this opens up opportunities to see the multitude of wildlife found in these waters including penguins, dolphins, seabirds and sea lions.  

Can't beat these fresh scallops w garlic and permesan

Fresh Scallops (Marcado Pescaderia of Santiago)

As for my next blog, part II of Chile, I will be boasting of some of the most dramatic landscapes and its unique cuisines from the "end of Earth", Patagonia. The region comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains to the southwest towards the Pacific ocean.

Places to stay  

Valparaíso:

Hotel Palacio

CiriloArmstrong

Colchagua Wine Valley:

Hotel Casa de Campo

Hotel TerraViña

in Pucón;

Hotel Antumalal

where the loyalties like Queen Elizabeth to Cary Grant had stayed

Chiloe:

Palafito Hostel

Please check out our

flickr.com/saffron59

for more beautiful panoramas of Chile

Charity: Time for Giving, Nurturing and Celebration!

Irene Khin Wong


In this season of giving and celebration, I am grateful for all the blessings I have in my life and entering our 12 years with Saffron59 Catering & Event Planning. I am especially aware of the plight of others who are less than fortunate.   



That’s why I am so proud of the children from the orphanage in Myanmar that I have been supporting all these years.  Every time they get a cup of water they are deeply grateful for the new water purification system installed just last year.


I was especially pleased to hear from them from a recent phone call, that some of the girls (out of around 74 girls) who have blossomed under their care - are about to enter college.  Education is something that I have always supported for these children and it is truly a great feat to be able to obtain a better way of life.

This holiday season, please consider your good fortune in life and make every day a celebration.  Have a happy and joyous holiday!


Recipe: Cauliflower Tater Tots

Irene Khin Wong

As the Fall is approaching, pumpkins and cauliflowers are plentiful in the markets.
Here are a few easy recipes from our kitchen's crew. Simple, delicious  morsels for your next gatherings as hors d'oeuvres!




Crisp Baked Cauliflower with Cheddar Cheese and Birds Eye Chile 

Ingredients:

1  medium size cauliflower
1/2 t sp turmeric
1/2 t sp paprika 
1 bird eye chile (seeded) or serrano pepper (minced)
2 T milk or heavy cream
2 T butter
1/3 cup shredded cheddar
4 egg whites
salt and pepper 
vegetable or peanut oil

Directions:


Mix the trimmed cauliflower, butter, heavy cream/milk, steam till softened or microwave  for 5 minutes.
Using food processors pressing pause button, add the cauliflower, cheese, paprika, turmeric, blend until chuncky.Put aside for half hour.

Take the egg whites and whip to a stiff peak.
Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the cauliflower mixture, then fold the rest of the mixture and mix until combined.
Roll in a sushi mat and cut into small pieces, use a fork to flatten gently.
For best results, chill for another half hour.
(sprinkle some bread crumbs before baking is another option to retain the crispy top).
Bake in a 375degree oven for 12/15 minutes until it gets crispy and slightly brown.
Remove  from the oven and serve immediately.


Pumpkin Spice Latte with Cardamoms

Ingredients:
2 cups milk  
2 tb sp fresh pureed pumpkin  
1 tb sp pure vanilla extract 
2 tb sp raw sugar or condense milk to taste 
1 cinnamon stick 
3 bruised cardamoms 2 shots of espresso (about 1/4 cup) or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee

Directions:

Stir milk and pumpkin on medium heat until steaming
Put aside
Stir in vanilla and cinnamon stick, then transfer to a blender and whirl for 15 seconds until foamy, then stir in espresso
Serve best with light whipped cream.
Use 2 1/2 oz shot glasses to serve for an elegant twist.