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jackal10

eG Foodblog: Jackal10 III - Smoking Bacon and a May Week picnic

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Good morning! Greetings from Cambridge UK.

Here is the view from my study window, over the herb garden:

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The bright yellow you can just see in the distance under the rose arch is oil seed rape in the field next door.

Thanks to Soba for dropping me in it - its going to be really hard to follow such a wonderful blog, actually such a wonder run of the recent blogs. I'm not sure what I can tell you or what more there is to say after my previous two blogs http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=33730&hl= and http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=51320&st=0

Nor am I sure about his advance billing of "spend a week in the countryside and get reacquainted with the glories of English cuisine amidst summer's bounty". Where we are is not really proper countryside. We are about 5 miles outside Cambridge on the edge of a village, in the soft south of the country - more suburban than real countryside. My cooking is a mixed metaphor, and rather plain rather than a glory of English or any Cuisine. As for the promise of "Strawberries and clotted cream", Strawberries will certainly feature, but its the wrong side of the country for clotted cream. That is more like Devon or Cornwall. Here we eat Strawberries plain, or with pouring or whipped cream, or as Eton Mess (strawberries, meringue and whipped cream all mushed together).

Let me explain where we are in the academic year to give some context to the week. This week the undergraduates are taking exams. Traditionally the weather is hot, but its unusually rather cool today. In Cambridge your degree depends mostly on the final examinations, assuming the other requirements, such as residence have been satisfied. Very few subjects use continuous assessment. There is a nice tradition that examiners can ask any question they feel appropriate, regardless on whether it has been taught or not. It's therefore quite a tense and stressful time for the students, and towards the end of the week I will have piles of exam scripts to mark. Then all hell breaks loose, and May Week begins. May week is, of course, a fortnight in June. It used to be in May, way back when, but then the University term got longer. Many garden and other parties are held, outdoor concerts and play, much Pimms and other summer drinks are drunk, culminating, in two weeks time in the May Balls. These are lavish affairs given by the colleges (some every other year), Black tie, and champagne all night.

My college's May Ball menu: http://www.emmamayball.com/menu.php

Clare May Ball: http://www.srcf.ucam.org/claremayball/2005/?taste

Trinity: http://www.trinityball.co.uk/menu.html

Fortunately that will be after the end of this blog, and the weather will traditionally turn cold and wet to dampen their ardour. I used to supply fireworks for the Balls. I can't resist this snap. I apologise for the quality. Its a copy of one that hangs in my study The building is the Wren Library, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, at Trinity:

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I lit that one. I don't do fireworks for the Balls anymore, as its a young persons game, and the budgets aren't enough anymore to get me out of bed. After the Balls, term is over, and the undergraduates go on their way. Its a bitter-sweet time, as student friendships romances come to an end or are fulfilled, and the students go out into the big wide world, or at least until next academic year. Left behind are the residents, the graduate students and those of us who have to teach them - I'm teaching an MBA elective in Entrepreneurship for the next few weeks. They have brutal 3 hour classes, instead of one hour lectures. Let me mention my book that is the basis for the course "The High Tech Entrepreneurs Handbook", Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-273-65615-5. Its very good.

Back to the subject of the blog. On the first Sunday of May Week (called Suicide Sunday), in the evening, Trinty College Choir takes to punts on the river and sings sweet Madrigals (and a little babershop). If it doesn't rain, which it normally doesn't, God being a Trinty man, it a beautiful and romantic occaision. If you are there (8pm) come and say "hi". I help punt the choir with some friends and wine stewards of the some of the colleges (some wine will be taken), and we arrange a serious picnic. In a way this blog is a slow build up to the Madrigal picnic. Your suggestions please for what we should eat. Finger food, cold for a dozen or so people, easily transported and eaten on the river. So far I've planned a surprise loaf filled with smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches.

Others will supply Asparagus, Anne's famous Brownies (very gooey and slightly coffee flavoured), and of course, strawberries. What else should we have, especially for the protein component? Tea Eggs? Fishy balls? Chicken legs? Ideas please.

Now comes the complication. To make the smoked salmon sandwiches I intend to bake the bread (naturally), and smoke the salmon (lox). I've recently discovered how to use my brick oven as a smoker. While I'm smoking I'll make bacon.More about that later. What else should I smoke? This is cold smoking - not above about 90F, so not chicken or the like which is hot smoked.

Also this week I hope to potter in the garden, and with luck persuade Daniel Clifford, the chef at Midsummer House (which I started, now Michelin 2*) to share some time. That might not happen, as he is frantically busy this week, so may get tagged on the end.

Fat squirrel has just come to vist to see if we have left any bird food out, and I mut prepare for my lecture, and this afternoon's discussion on how the University should treat IPR, currently a hot political topic.

Are these pix too big? This will probably be an image intensive blog, and I don't know how good people's abndwidth is out there..

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Edited by jackal10 (log)

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I love it already, Jack. I can't wait to see the smoking brick oven in action. Thank you for doing this! :biggrin:

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I am supposed to be writing right now, but all i can think of is: what should you smoke when you get your brick oven smokin!

oh and fat squirrel is looking particularly fetching right now......

looking forward to your blog....

marlena

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Smoked salmon stage 1 Brining.

Put the salmon to brine in an 80% brine (150g salt to 600cl water) for an hour. This is for a mild, London type cure.

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Next I'll take it out without washing and let it dry for 24 hours in the fridge, to form what is called a "pellicule" or skin on the surface to take the smoke better.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Jack,

great to be back in Cambridgeshire if only through your blog, especially at this time of the year! I'm really looking forward to the next week.

What about smoking some cheese together with the bacon?

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We're having return performances by some of the all-time best food bloggers lately. This is great!

Jack, when you mention English-language madrigals, I think Elizabethan England. Would it be worth including some Elizabethan finger food, or is that a sort of silly idea? As a classical musician and lover of madrigals, I think it's wonderful and so civilized that college (I mean university) students would celebrate by singing madrigals. I can't imagine too many colleges in the U.S. where that would be possible. I'm also thinking, in the context of the Best food/music pairings thread, what food would go best with madrigals? Based on their texts, I suppose it should include things that are delightful, verdant, celebratory, erotic, earthy, fragrant, and from the hunt. Artichoke hearts? Savory tarts with game birds and mushrooms inside? Things with chocolate? Something with a delicious spice mixture (a tart with raisins, cloves, cinammon, nutmeg?). And, of course, plenty of wine. :biggrin: Those are things that come to mind.

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The bacon back-story

I'm amazed more people don't make their own. Its very easy, and gives a much higher quality product. Cheaper too.

Disclaimer: This has not been checked by the health police, nor is it intended for resale, so it probably breaks all sorts of health regulations.

Our bacon started out as a piece of free-range organic belly pork from a local farn shop. They said it had been raised on the Croxton Park Estate, about 10 miles from here. I filleted out the ribs as a sheet.

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That left something like 2Kg (5lb) of belly, and the ribs. gallery_7620_3_5276.jpg

No problem with the ribs, marinade in apple juice, garlic and spices, and 24 hours in a low oven..mmmm...

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Meantime prepare the dry salt rub. It always surprises me how littel you need. Others add spice, but I prefer not. In the US more suagr is used, but you have a sweet tooth over ther thanks to the influence od big sugar and the corn farmers.

This makes a fairly mild bacon, designed for modern conditions to be kept under refrigeration, rather than a hard salty monster that will hang out all winter, but needs to be soaked before using. Saltpeter from http://www.sausagemaking.co.uk/

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Rub all over, but mostly on the meat side - the skin side doesn't adsorb much. Leave covered in the fridge for about a week, turning and rubbing each day.. A little brine will come out, the amount depending how good your pork is. Daily pix.

Then dry and leave uncovered in the fridge for 24-48 hours for the surface to dry and "pellicule" to form

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which brings us to today. Smoke tomorrow.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Thanks Pan, that is a good direction to think.

However its not the season for game, and the spicings you mention are more winter ones. I'll consult the books though..what did the Elizabethens eat in summer?

Here is the salmon after an hour's brining, about to dry off in the fridge until smoking tomorrow.

gallery_7620_135_14563.jpg


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Thanks Pan, that is a good direction to think.

However its not the season for game, and the spicings you mention are more winter ones. I'll consult the books though..what did the Elizabethens eat in summer?

Beats me. Adam, what do you know about summertime Elizabethan finger food?

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I don't think finger foods became all that popular in England until the Victorian age, but during the Elizabethan period, lemon and raspberry curds, marzipan and puddings were popular.

Oh and the Elizabethans considered garlic to be an aphrodisiac. :biggrin:

Looking forward to this, Jack.

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Oh my! Jackal10, I am so looking forward to this blog!

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I, too, am looking forward to this blog. The view of the herb garden is lovely.

Madrigals on the river! Wonderful!

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Interesting thatyou don't sweeten your salmon brine at all. I'm just getting a new smoker, and am looking forward to trying your technique.

Picture size is just fine for me, by the way.

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Jack I am so happy to see you blogging again! The picnic sounds fantastic and waking up this morning to see you making bacon is the best way to start any day!!

You have such an in depth knowledge of wine can I request that you discuss any and all wines you drink this week? And of course lots of pictures of baking and your oven!

Happy Blogging!!!

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Thanks Pan, that is a good direction to think.

However its not the season for game, and the spicings you mention are more winter ones. I'll consult the books though..what did the Elizabethens eat in summer?

Beats me. Adam, what do you know about summertime Elizabethan finger food?

Not much, too early for me. But this might help:

King Henry IV, part 1, I, 2:

POINS Good morrow, sweet Hal. What says Monsieur Remorse? what says Sir John Sack and Sugar? Jack! how agrees the devil and thee about thy soul, that thou soldest him on Good-Friday last for a cup of Madeira and a cold capon's leg?

Romeo and Juliet, IV, 4:

LADY CAPULET: Hold, take these keys, and fetch more spices, nurse.

NURSE: They call for dates and quinces in the pastry.

The Merry Wives of Windsor, V, 5:

FALSTAFF: My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Green Sleeves, hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes; let there come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here.

Strawberries were most likely of the small wood/wild type as modern strawberries are a hybrid of these and a South American type.

I think that Elizabethan food my be a bridge too far, but you could do period booze, which is easier (and less face it, more likely to be popular with students). Is a wassail a Cambridge thing? That is a bit to Xmassy maybe.

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...

Are these pix too big? This will probably be an image intensive blog, and I don't know how good people's abndwidth is out there..

...

Thanks for asking. I log in at a screaming 46K or so, but I'm not having any problems so far!

Thank you for blogging again, jackal10. For Yankees like me that were weaned, in part, on British literature, it is very evocative to see your little slice of life in England with a beautiful garden and tales of Cambridge traditions. And the food is pretty good too... :smile: I adore picnics and am looking forward to yours at the end of the blog; I'll have to see if I can come up with any ideas to add.


Edited by ludja (log)

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Pics are just fine by me, as well. I'm on DSL.

I'm so excited to see you doing another blog! What a grand, romantic notion of punting on the river and singing madrigals! Here we get drunk people riding jet skis. :sigh: Save me some of that bacon and a big hunk of your wonderful bread.

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[...]this might help:

King Henry IV, part 1, I, 2:

POINS Good morrow, sweet Hal. What says Monsieur Remorse? what says Sir John Sack and Sugar? Jack! how agrees the devil and thee about thy soul, that thou soldest him on Good-Friday last for a cup of Madeira and a cold capon's leg?

Romeo and Juliet, IV, 4:

LADY CAPULET: Hold, take these keys, and fetch more spices, nurse.

NURSE: They call for dates and quinces in the pastry.

The Merry Wives of Windsor, V, 5:

FALSTAFF: My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Green Sleeves, hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes; let there come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here.[...]

Adam, your quoting of Shakespeare inspired me to do some research. I came up with this interesting website:

http://historicfood.com/

This is the website of Ivan Day, who is evidently an authority on historical British food. Perhaps some of you know him or know about him; I don't, but his website is pretty interesting. Here is a list of courses he is teaching:

   

    *  LATE MEDIEVAL ENGLISH COOKERY

    *  TUDOR AND EARLY STUART COOKERY

    *  LATE STUART COOKERY

    *  EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY COOKERY

    *  LATER EIGHTEENTH CENTURY COOKERY

    *  REGENCY COOKERY

    *  VICTORIAN COOKERY

There are also recipes on the site.

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Thanks for sharing jackal10,

May i suggest throwing a little dampened Summer Savory into the smoker aswell(if you have it of course!). Gives the pig a nice floral/herb character. You could consider brining/salting either Goose or Duck breast then smoke, nice with a fresh compote of berries/currants(whatever is in season) Look forward to more pics

Sean

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Glorious pictures, food, *and* Madrigal singing? Swoon.

Back in college our Music department put on Madrigal Dinners. I sang and served flaming pudding and generally had far more fun than the audience :biggrin:

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Why not smoke the ribs? I am anxiously awaiting the blow by blow of bacon smoking. I think learning to smoke bacon may be in my future...

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Thanks for all the encouraging comments.

Can't smoke the ribs because they have already been eaten, and ribs need hot smoking, arond 175F to allow the collagen to transform to gelatin and become tender.

After posting this mornings stuff and doing some desk work, went to have lunch in college. (Do you need an explanation of a Collegiate University? Colleges provide living, dining and social functions. They also provide small group teaching(supervisions), tutorial care etc. Lectures, examinations and labs etc are done by the Department/faculty in the University. You belong to both a college and a faculty)

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I had the leek and potato soup (ok, but a little salty), then a salmon mousse and salad from the cold table, then cheese. The Summer Fruit Roly Poly looked good but I'm too fat. I've been roped into talking to prospective entrance candidates about the computer science degree course next month, so I discussed with the Senior Tutor what he wanted me to say. Its very hard to get in. You need to have top marks in school exams (A2 levels), and then be good at something else as well, like sport or music, or drama or organise an expedition, to show flair and initiative. At the moment there are about three qualified candidates for every place. The college is one of the better ones - it has a good reputation for social life, an excellent student bar, good sports results and perhaps because of that has come top of the Tompkins table for the last two years, the academic league table of colleges based on exam results. Unashamedly elitist, looking for the best of the best. However, once in, its also hard to fail - there is lots of support.

While we're on College menus, here is the one from the Guest Night last week. These happen about once a term, for fellows and their guests; as a Fellow I can invite guests at the college expense, so long as they are not my spouse, family or partner. The object is to network and influence. Where else can one drink such mature wine on a regular basis? The Anjou Moulin Touchais 1985 was particularly fine, just begining to dry off. The Rabaud Promis 1988 is as delicious as ever. I'm a real sucker for the soft stickies...

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Then walked to the Judge Institute passing on the way Fitzbillies, bakers of the finest Chelsea buns in the known universe. More soft stickies...I only just resisted temptation. If it had been before lunch I would not have been able to. http://www.fitzbillies.com/

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Lectured and taught for 3 hours, with a 10 minute coffee break. Didn't get through all the material as usual, but the students seemed attentive and interested.

Then to a wine tasting. Cambridge is fortunate in that the merchants come to sell to the Colleges. This was Charles Taylor Wines tasting 2004 German wines. Six producers, 5 wines each. Sorry, Wendy, not sure I can descibed all 30 wines...

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2004 is a good year, full, and unlike 2003 has enough acidity to give structure and the wine some longevity. For good producers the concentration is high - Kabinetts more like Spatleses, Spatleses more like Ausleses to my palate. Think floral lemon sherbert.

Christian Ebert of Schloss Saarstein - Serrig, Saar ; Christoph Tyrell Karthauserhof Trier-Eitelsbach, Ruwer. Gault Miliau wine producer of the year

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Dr. Dirk Max Ferd.Richter of Weingut Max Ferd.Richter, founded in 1680. I bought ome of his delicious Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2004, a perfect summer wine but made to keep and improve (£78/case) , and his Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2004, somewhat sweeter and fuller for laying down (£92/case). Incidently he said the Sonnenuhr (sundial), which is in the middle of the vinyards usually indicated the vinyard was on a southern slope.

Daniela and Steffen Christmann of Weingut A.Christmann Pfalz. Mostly trocken (dry) wines.

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Also there were wines from Emrich Schonleber - Monzingen, Nahe and Peter Jakob Kuhn Oestrich, Rheingau. The latter very floral, but not cheap, twice the price of similar ausleses.

Back home. Pre-dinner snack of home made smoked dried sausage (saucisson menager fume) and radishes from the garden. For the story of making the sausage, and the last try at smoking see http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=63347&st=30. Good flavour but a bit fatty. I should have chopped the fat finer and minced more of it. House wine is a 2002 Ch. Morges du Gres, Les Galet Rouges, Costiers du Nimes from Alex Riley Wines. Good fruity southern red.

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Supper was fairly light: Kidneys in a sherry and mustard pan sauce. Soak the kidneys in milk first.

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Now I'm heading for bed. Tomorrow I need to take my car in for service first thing, then exam marking, start the smoking, and some garden stuff.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Yeah!!! A wine tasting! Thanks Jack! I'd love to know a bit more about the 2 that you purchased. What types of food will you be likely to pair with these. If you lay them down how long might you let them sit?

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Glorious pictures, food, *and* Madrigal singing? Swoon.

Back in college our Music department put on Madrigal Dinners. I sang and served flaming pudding and generally had far more fun than the audience  :biggrin:

I love madrigals, and madrigal singing. Tejon, I don't suppose you went to Scripps?

Jackal10, I'm on a slow connection, but your squirrel is so fetching, and the other photos so glorious, how could I cavil? I'm looking forward to this week, photos and all. If I have to take a stroll while they're downloading, then it's just an excuse to go for more wine. I visited Cambridge briefly, long ago. I'll enjoy the vicarious visit.


Edited by Smithy (log)

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Good morning. Another bright but cool day.

I've been running around doing boring things like getting the cars (a Range Rover and an MGB GT V8 that I've had restored) serviced and MOT'd (roadworthiness certificate).

Also picked up the first batch of exam scriots to mark. I find marking exams very depressing. I try and lecture clearly, but the exams show how little sinks into the student mind...

Compulsory animal pictures:

The pheasants come to the kitchen door to feed. This year one of the hens has managed to hatch 13 chicks, but alas day by day there are fewer of them. Everything tries to eat them, magpies especially, and I saw a fox about this morning. Also when so young in the wild they are very sensitive to cold wet weather, get pneumonia and die. She will be lucky to end up with one or two.

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The kitchen is the jusntion of two terratories for two alpha males, about eawually matched, so they fight.

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The garden is over run with rabbits, so we have to erect wire netting around the plants we want to keep. Baby, and mother in relaxed mood.

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    • By KennethT
      Recently, there was a thread about stir frying over charcoal, which immediately brought to mind memories of eating in Bangkok in July 2013.  At that time, I hadn't gotten into the habit of writing food blogs, and considering that I had some spare time this weekend (a rarity) I figured I would put some of those memories down on paper, so to speak.  Back then, neither my wife nor I were in the habit of taking tons of photos like we do nowadays, but I think I can cobble something together that would be interesting to folks reading it.
       
      In the spirit of memories, I'll first go back to 2006 when my wife and I took our honeymoon to Thailand (Krabi, Bangkok and Chiang Mai), Singapore and Hanoi.  That was our first time to Asia, and to be honest, I was a little nervous about it.  I was worried the language barrier would be too difficult to transcend, or that we'd have no idea where we were going.  So, to help mitigate my slight anxiety, I decided to book some guides for a few of the locations.  Our guides were great, but we realized that they really aren't necessary, and nowadays with internet access so much more prevalent, even less necessary.
       
      Prior to the trip, when emailing with our guide in Bangkok to finalize plans, I mentioned that we wanted to be continuously eating (local food, I thought was implied!)  When we got there, I realized the misunderstanding when she opened her trunk to show us many bags of chips and other snack foods.. whoops...  Anyway, once the misconception was cleared up, she took us to a noodle soup vendor:


      On the right is our guide, Tong, who is now a very famous and highly sought after guide in BKK.... at the time, we were among here first customers.  I had a chicken broth based noodle soup with fish ball, fish cake and pork meatball, and my wife had yen ta fo, which is odd because it is bright pink with seafood.  I have a lime juice, and my wife had a longan juice.
       
      This is what a lot of local food places look like:

       
       
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