Sunday, 22 April 2018

Hokkaido Travelogue: Day 9 - Takinoue & Yubetsu

Well, day 9 of our Hokkaido trip started off pretty early once again with an almost 2 hours' drive to Shibazakura Takinoue Park!

There should be a 500 yen entrance fee, but since it was already off-peak (no more festival) when we visited during early June, it was FREE, as we couldn't find anyone/anywhere to pay the admission fee to. 

The back of snow capped Daisetsuzan Mountain Range should be clearly visible from the park, and there's ALOT of walkways snaking all over the park for visitors to explore the scenic views. There's one humble looking eatery located at the rightmost corner of the park, and also stalls selling Shibazakura Soft Serve and a souvenir shop located at the right side of the car park. 

As it's already the start of their off-peak season, bare patches of green are already beginning to show. 

But that shouldn't stop you from taking tons and tons of #ootd shots!

Taking a mandatory shot with the shibazakura-milk mix soft serve. I guess the shibazakura flavour is a must-try, only because you're already at a shibazakura park. Similar to lavender, there's this distinctive floral scent to it, paired with a sharp sourish taste that didn't really go too well with my palate. I'll highly recommend to go for the mix flavour so that the milk will kind of neutralise it. 

If you wish to be fully immerse in the purplish pink of shibazakura, do check out the dates of their shibazakura festival (usually starting early to mid May and last for 1 month) before you drop by, whereby there will also be stage performances and a 5-6 minutes helicopter ride for about 5000 yen per adult. There's no illumination as the park, hence opening hours will more or less depend on natural daylight (7am - 6pm daily). 

For more information, visit their official website HERE

And as the small eatery at the park doesn't look that appealing to us (plus we weren't all that hungry, yet), we headed off the Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park, which is another 1 hour and 15 minutes drive away, and found a random standalone eatery by the road enroute for lunch!

The owners here (an elderly couple) doesn't speak English at all, but they do have Chinese Menu (instead of English, I don't know why either) if you can understand them. Prices here are extremely affordable, mostly around SGD $10-ish with food quality way better than the restaurants here in SG charging you at least $18 and up for the same dish. 

BF went for their Tempura Udon.

While I had their Katsudon. <3

So with our full and satisfied tummies, we continued our journey down to Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park.

Admission fee during the Tulip Fair will be 500 yen per adult, but since we've visited after the festival is over, it was free admission for us again! But I would highly recommend that you check out the dates of the festival and DO NOT visit during off-peak seasons. We were only late by 1 or 2 days for the tulip fair and they're already in the process of cutting away all the tulips. About 50% of the area was already bare when we're there. 

And so we just gotta make the best out of what we're left with. HAHA!

I'm very sure the park look damn awesome when full of all these brightly coloured (and not miserably half-wilting) tulips. Apparently, the tulips at the southeastern fields are for sale during the fair, and you can dig the flowers up by yourself for 100 yen per tulip! How fun would that be! There will also be live performace of street organ. custom ordered all the way from Netherlands right in front of the windmill. During the fair, there will also be a 12 minute tour bus (Tupit Bus) available at 300 yen per pax. 

Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park is opened daily (during Tulip Fair) from 8am to 6pm. For more information, visit HERE

At the car park of the tulip park is a huge signboard pinpointing out the major tourist attractions of Yubetsu Town. And since we still have tons of time left for the day, we decided to just check out a few of the places that's marked out on the guide. 

And now, just let the picture do the talking. First stop of our super impromptu itinerary for the day, Ryugudai Scenic Park.

Over here, you'll get to see the infinite line whereby the sea meets the sky. There's absolutely nothing else but sand, the sea, the sky and us (and a hell lot of crazily chilly wind too). Definitely an experience you simply cannot get in Singapore. 

Next up, it was Ai Land Yubetsu.
Which, actually wasn't open... Or perhaps, isn't even in operation anymore?

And Kerochi Traffic Park is actually right beside it, which is also seemingly abandoned and has nobody in sight. 

Hence, we decided to steal a Rombus 2000 and try to catch up with Harry Potter and gang. HAHA!

And on the way over to Lake Saroma, we decided to our luck at the Skunk Cabbage Colony, after stumbling upon a travel blog raving about it. But of course, their season is in April and it's already early June when we're there. So absolutely nothing was growing. 

So after a few more random shots with the lush greenery, we hopped onto the car again and headed for our last destination in Yubetsu, Lake Saroma! 

And let's just let the pictures do the talking, shall we? 

Viewing the sunset here is absolutely breathtaking, as NOTHING will block your view of watching the sun disappearing down the horizon over the sea lake. But you really have to watch the time, as there is no illumination over here, once the sun has set, you'll probably be engulfed in darkness while literally in the middle of nowhere. 

Well, initially the plan was to return to Asahikawa and find Jiyuuken for dinner, but having overstayed our time (for the sunset) in Yubetsu and with a 2 hours' drive back to our hotel, we decided to shelf Jiyuuken for the next day and just randomly found an eatery along the road in Asahikawa that's still open for business at 9 plus, almost 10pm. 

And guess what's for dinner?

KIMCHI CHAHAN (fried rice)! 
I must be that weirdo who keeps eating non-Japanese food while in Japan. 

Day 10 of my Hokkaido Travelogue, in Biei and Furano, shall be up real soon. So do stick around!

Till then,
Mia Foo

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Mia Bakes: Matcha Mochi Roll Bread

While the whole world is all about going dirty (#dirtybuns), I still prefer to stay clean! And after stumbling upon Amanda's youtube video recipe on her soft European bread, I decided to give it a try! 

So to get 6 buns, you'll need:

For the bread dough
50g wholemeal flour
180g all purpose flour
15g vital wheat gluten
5g green tea powder
15g sugar
25g unsalted butter (soften)
1 egg
130ml water (room temperature)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast (about 3g)

For the mochi
80g glutinous rice flour
20g corn flour
40g sugar
2 tsp vegetable oil
170ml milk

Filling (Optional)
Pitted and chopped dates 
(I used kurma dates)
Or any other fillings of your choice
I also made just 1 special bun with my leftover dark chocolate chips & salted caramel chips. 

I made the bread dough in my Mayer BM, but you can always do it by hand or in a standing mixer with a dough hook. 

Add all the ingredients (except for butter) into the machine, making sure that the yeast and salt do not come into direct contact with each other. Start the machine on mix dough function and let the machine do its work. When the dough starts to come together to form a ball, add in the soften butter and mix until the cycle is completed. 

The dough may be extremely wet and sticky (though still able to form up a shape) but that's okay. Turn the dough out into a greased bowl and cover with a clingwrap and set it into the fridge overnight (about 12 hours) for bulk fermentation. The dough should at least double in size when it's done fermenting. 

The next morning, let's start off with making the mochi! In a clean bowl, add in all the ingredients (both wet and dry) and stir to combine into a watery flour mixture. You can either microwave it (if you have one) for a few minutes or steam it for 20 minutes. When the watery mixture has solidified into a soft and sticky dough, the mochi is cooked. While it's still steaming hot, use your spatula or a wooden spoon to give it a few mix/kneads before setting it aside to cool down. 

While the mochi is cooling down, remove your overnight bread dough from the fridge and punch it down before turning it over a well floured surface. The dough should be extremely sticky (sticks ALL over your hand) so add more flour and continue kneading the dough until it warms up to room temperature comes together into a smooth dough ball. Cut the dough ball up into 6 equal pieces and set it aside for about 10 to 15 minutes to rest while you prepare your fillings. When the mochi has cooled down enough for you to handle, cut it up into 6 equal portions and set aside. You may dust your work surface with some glutinous rice flour if the mochi gets too sticky to work with. 

After the bread dough has rested, take 1 of the balls and rolled it out on a slightly floured surface to your preferred size. We're going to roll it up eventually, so the bigger you roll, the more layers you'll end up with in your bun, so just play around with the size according to your own liking. Then, take a piece of the mochi and roll it out to match the size of your rolled out bread dough. The mochi should be slightly smaller than your bread dough, with about 1/2 cm gap around the perimeter. I find it much easier to just give the mochi a few rolls with the rolling pin to roughly flatten it out, then you place the mochi over the bread dough and stretch it out to size with your hands. 

Then, sprinkle your choice of filling on top of the mochi and then starting from the end that's closer to you, roll it up into a bun. Pinch the ends together tightly to seal and set them on a baking paper lined tray for 2nd proofing in a warm place (or in your oven if yours have a proofing function) until it doubles in size. Mine took about 25 minutes in my own with a proofing setting. 

Then, send your buns to bake in an oven pre-heated to 190 degree Celsius for 25 minutes. Check that the bread is done by tapping on the top. If it sounds hollow, it's done!

You may use a sharp knife to slice out patterns on the surface of your bread after 2nd proofing before baking, but I just didn't bother to. 

And because today is Sunday and Sunday is my cheatday, I've specially made just ONE with a mixture of chocolate chips and salted caramel chips as the filling, and it's so good! The bread is soft and fluffy, mochi chewy and gooey and the chocolate filling molten and oozing. 

Do let me know if you've tried out this recipe and tell me what fillings did you use for your versions!

Till then,
Mia Foo

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Mia Bakes: Calico Butter Chiffon Cake

Yes, when I said "Calico", I meant this cat. 

You know, I've been wanting to bake this cake ever since I watched kafemaru's video recipe of her calico cat inspired chiffon cake. And finally after finding a packet of extra dark (black) cocoa powder at Phoon Huat, I decided that it's time to do it!

Do note that I'm not following Kafemaru's recipe, but using the Roux Method Marbled Butter Sponge Cake recipe to re-create this recipe. So to get a small 5"4 chiffon cake, you'll need:

60g unsalted butter
40g all purpose flour
5g black cocoa powder
5g cocoa powder
50g castor sugar
30ml cold milk
3 eggs (whites & yolks separated)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp butter oil extract (optional)

First up, melt the butter in a pot over the hob and stir in 35g of all purpose flour until well combined. Then, take the pot off the heat and stir in cold milk (to bring down the temperature) until well combined before mixing in the egg yolks, salt and extracts. Divide the yolk mixture into 3 equal portions and set them aside.

In a clean bowl, add the egg whites and cream of tartar and beat on high until the mixture turns frothy. Then, add the sugar in 3 additions while beating on high until stiff peaks form. Likewise, divide the meringue into 3 equal portions. 

Combine each divided portion of the yolk mixture and meringue with 5g of all purpose flour, black cocoa powder and cocoa powder respectively. First, add the dry ingredient into the yolk mixture and mix well, before adding a small portion of the meringue in to loosen the yolk mixture up before folding in the rest of the meringue until just combined. The addition of cream of tartar should help to stabilise the meringue greatly, but still you should take note to not deflate your meringue while you fold the mixture. 

Then, it's time to assemble! Spoon each colour of the mixture randomly into your prepared chiffon tin (ungreased and unlined) until all the 3 colours of the mixture are used up and give the tin a few knocks against the counter to ease out any air pockets before baking in an oven that's pre-heated to 160 degree Celsius for about 25 minutes (but do start checking at the 20th minute) or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Then, invert your chiffon tin over a bottle (or anything else that can help to balance your tin at the centre tip) and let it cool down completely to minimise shrinkage before de-molding it. 

Tadaa~ Isn't it cute and really resembles a calico cat? 

Till then,
Mia Foo

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Hokkaido Travelogue: Day 8 - Asahikawa

And of course we started day 8 with more driving! We picked up the car back at the Budget kiosk located at APA Hotel at around 10am and then it was another 2 hours plus drive up to Asahikawa Court Hotel from Sapporo. Really thankful to the BF for all the ridiculous amount of early driving. :)

Due to a slip up on my reservations, we're actually supposed to have checked in on Day 7 (we overstayed our time in Sapporo) and hence the concierge allowed us to check in "earlier" before the official check in time of 3pm. There's also parking available for our car in the hotel premise itself (it is in the form of a rotating "lift" at the back of the hotel building) at just $1000 yen a day. 
The hotel, although pretty small and basic, and nothing too fanciful, also comes well equipped with all the basic necessities and yukata. 

So after leaving all our barang barang (belongings) in the hotel room, we hopped back onto the car and headed for the 1st (and only) destination for the day, Ueno Farm!

Ueno Farm (上野ファーム) is a popular farm garden in Nagayama-cho, Asahikawa city and has been a farmer since 1906. Ms. Sayuki Ueno (上野砂由紀), a gardener, made a Hokkaido-style garden suited for climate and natural features of Hokkaido as the foundation for an English-style garden at their site and the garden has been opened to public since 2001. More than 2000 kinds of flowering plants are planted at 1 ha of the site, and visitors can enjoy different flowers from a spring to an autumn. Admission fee is JPY 800 with free parking available. 
The farm garden is divided into 10 segments such as Garden of Gnome (ノームの庭), Pathway of White Birch (白樺の小道), Mirror Border (ミラーボーダー), Purple Walk (パープルウォーク), Circle Border (サークルボーダー), Long Border (ロングボーダー), Mother's Garden (マザーズガーデン), Garden with Hearing Voice of Tree (木の声が聞こえる庭), Mt. Shatekiyama (射的山) with 171 m in Height and Pathway of Gnome (ノームの散歩道), and there are the west entrance, east entrance, rest rooms, parking lots, and a restraunt, a variety goods shop, a soft serve ice cream shop and a young plant shop are provided at the west entrance. In addition, it is a special feature that chickens grazing freely run around. It takes about 60 minutes to go round and takes about 3 hours to go round seriously.
-excerpt from

Towards the right of the premise is Naya Cafe, which apparenylu specialises in soft serve ice cream.

But sadly, they were out of soft serves when we're there, and so we settled for a parfait instead, which is also rich and creamy!
And so after warming ourselves up with a cuppa coffee, we headed back out to the rainy chilly weather for a walk in the garden. I was expecting animals, since they're called a farm (and I seriously read some travel blogs that posted pictures of animals too) and hence was just a little bit disappointed to find out that it's actually a garden, with no animals whatsoever. 
Plus, since we visited during an off-peak season, we're pretty much greeted by a sea of green. 
But I can imagine how beautiful it would be when all the different flowers are in full bloom and this place would be the perfect spot for some serious #ootd camwhoring.

Seriously, the BF loves taking pictures of me, where you cannot see my face. 
Is this some kind of hint?

 Yes, finally some FLOWERS!

Saw this "bear family" on a large patch of empty land that's probably not part of the farm's premise. But we went down despite of the crazy cold wind (there's absolutely nothing, not any form of building or structures anywhere to block out the wind) to snap a picture with the "animals". I swear my smile looks exactly the same in all pictures by now because it's literally FROZEN onto my face. 

And I held the hand of a gnome too, isn't it cute? :)

Ueno Farm is located at 16 Chome-186 Nagayamacho, Asahikawa and is open daily from 
10am to 5pm.

And while on our way back to the hotel, we came across this frigging long and empty stretch of airport runway lookalike road, we just had to stop the car by the side of the road and take an #ootd shot. 
I mean, where else can we take such a shot, right?

And guess what's right across the road from our hotel?

It's Santouka Ramen, OMG! It's my favourite ramen franchise in Singapore, and it so happens that this is their first ever flagship store in Hokkaido. 
This is where it all started. 

Other than the aji-tamago, which surprisingly didn't have a runny yolk, everything else just tasted so delicious and it's also cheaper compared to the Santouka Ramen we have in Singapore. 

ps. we had this for dinner again on Day 9, because the BF insisted. 

After filling our tummies, we took a turn around the corner and headed for Heiwa Street Shopping Park. Opened on 1st June 1972, they're the first pedestrian only street in Japan, with more than 100 shops and restaurants occupying this shopping street. There's also not one, but TWO 100 yen shops (that's not Daiso!) along the street, one being Seria in Feeeal and the other is called Silk in EXC!

But the only disappointing thing was, they're mostly closed by latest 7pm, so we ended up not being able to do much shopping while we're there. 

And so, what's up for the night? Just more snacking and drinking in the hotel room!

Well, don't be put off by the idea of a matcha cup noodle, it's actually real good!

Can't say the same for these "interesting-looking" beers and ciders though.

Read up about my Day 7 HERE

Till then,
Mia Foo

Mia Bakes: Biscoff Stuffed Birthday Cake Muffin

Recently, we planned a surprise birthday celebration for CL by surprise-whisking her to The Clifford Pier for a high tea buffet while telling her we're headed to Phoon Huat to pick up some missing ingredients for our bake-date. 
And well, since a birthday celebration is already on the way, I thought, "when's a better time than now to try out something I've always wanted to?"
And it's sprinkles! Loads and loads of them! And that's how you inject all the joy and happiness into a birthday cake, right?

So, for 6 servings of the birthday cake muffin, you'll need:

For streusels/crumbs toppings:
25g all purpose flour
15g castor sugar
18g COLD unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

For muffins
125g all purpose flour
80ml buttermilk
80ml vegetable oil (or any other flavourless oil)
1 egg
60g castor sugar 
(this is already a reduced sugar recipe)
40g sprinkles
(I used multi-coloured chocolate rice)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 heaping teaspoons of biscoff spread
(I used crunchy, but you can use smooth)

recipe adapted from confessionsofacookbookqueen

First up, spoon 6 heaping teaspoons of biscoff spread onto a baking sheet and freeze them in the freezer until fully harden.
Next, prepare the streusels. First, add all the dry ingredients into a bowl and give it a whisk to mix well. Then, using either a pastry cutter or the simple fork-and-knife combination, cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients until it turns sandy and lumpy. Set it aside in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

In a clean bowl, add in the egg, buttermilk and oil. Mix until well combined. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract until well combined before mixing in the flour, salt and baking powder until just combined. Lasting stir in the sprinkles until the batter turns all colourful and cheery!

Prepare your muffin tin by spraying them down with non-sticking cooking spray or simply coating it with some butter. Fill up each well with about 1 1/2 tablespoon of the batter before popping a frozen teaspoon of the biscoff spread into the centre. Then, top up each well with the rest of the batter. 
Sprinkle the streusels over the top of each well and then finishing off with as much (or as little of) sprinkles you fancy. 

Send the muffins to bake in an oven pre-heated to 200 degree Celsius for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted (to the sides, else you'll just get the molten biscoff centre) comes out clean.

As you can see, the cinnamon gave the streusels a not very appealing colour, so if you prefer a prettier looking muffin, you might want to omit the cinnamon. 

And look at that molten biscoff centre! It is so so so yummy!

Till then,
Mia Foo
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