During those olden days, maybe about 8-10 years ago when grandma was still much healthier and stronger (and when we were still living in Ipoh), my sisters and I would be anticipating for CNY Reunion Dinner. Every year, we would be looking forward for the Chinese festive season as we would get to meet and play with our cousins from KL (though things change when you get older, like now) and CNY would also mean Good Food. Grandma would head the kitchen section and whip up awesome CNY dishes such as the obligatory Steamed Chicken, Braised Sea Cucumber, Mushrooms, Prawns, Roasted Pork Belly etc. But as years passed, so did her age and her health, we started eating out.
This year was a little special though as grandma didn't join us for Reunion Dinner as she headed back to Ipoh much earlier and those residing in KL didn't want to join the CNY Traffic Jam Frenzy and decided to stay on till Chor 1 to go back. Mom took on the position of Head of Kitchen this year, a position I suppose noone wants to assume given the stressful nature of the job eventhough it comes by only once a year.
My aunty took on the task to prepare a homemade Yee Sang. I know it's nothing big to shout about since every household probably is doing the same (Read: Recession, Global Economic Downturn, Gloomy 2009, Unemployment, No Money) but 2 thumbs up for the effort as every ingredient is grated so finely it is almost as good as bought. I love the abundance of crackers and the vibrant color! It makes all the gloominess of the economy fade away even if it's just for a moment...
In total, we had about 10 courses. All at one sitting. Or rather all at once in a Big Pot. Yes, you're right, Mom made Pun Choy this year. I don't think there's a suitable translation for this in English but literally translated, it means Big Bowl of Goodies. It was quite a blood and sweat painstaking effort to prepare this as evidenced by my mom taking 2 days to prepare all these. There were the obligatory Steamed Chicken, Prawns, Vege, Roasted Pork Belly, Sea Cucumber, Pig Skin with Fish Paste, Mushrooms, Abalone and Scallops. Most of the ingredients were braised and then topped it off with the steamed items. The gravy at the bottom was excellent and bursting with flavours to go with the rice. Everyone loved the Pun Choy and it was done at a good budget too.
Two big pots of this were polished and we even had another pot to spare which was prepared to be taken back to Ipoh for grandma to savour. Finally we have someone to takeover the Head of Kitchen position for CNY though I am doubtful Mom will assume the post next year as it is really taxing and tiring to prepare a feast for 14 mouths.
We had 2 bottles of French red wine to go with the dinner- Chateau Haut-Carmaillet (Haut-Médoc 2000) and Vosne Romanée 1999. Red Wine is the new Chinese Tea for Chinese meals now :D After the feast, my dad led the older kids to a new experience of smoking cigar-illos. These kids (actually it's just my 2 cousin brothers who's in college now) were asked to give smoking a try right in front of their mother's face. My dad, who was quite a smoker back then quit smoking in 1999 proudly breaking his 10 year 'no-smoking policy' and had his first cigar puff. My cousin brothers followed suit (much to the disappointment of their mother who said, "No wonder you all like to come here. Every year got new things to try out.") Back then when colored hair was the in-thing but we weren't allow to dye our hair in school, we taught them about it by buying brushed on hair color and that CNY all of us had pink, blue, blonde and red hair- it was quite a traumatizing LaLa sight.
Now with a feast and a puff, what's next? A drink and a friendly pre-CNY card game of course! ;-) We had the Macallan 12 Yrs which I got free from my liquor supplier at work. Truth to be told, the 12 Yrs wasn't that awesome- we found it not too smooth and palatable due to it's rather spicy note. But well, beggers can't be choosers.
We also opened a bottle of Absolut Citron and Absolut Blue from the Absolut Dream Team collection. Eiling made us some cocktails using lemon, 7 up, Ribena and shaking them up with the Absolut Shaker. Drinks were on the house that night. We should have charged RM30 per drink, on par with Skybar haha.
While the kids were busy indulging in some money-making activities, Mothers United (MU) were busy decorating cupcakes for somebody's Quarter of a Century Old Birthday.
Yes, she is OLD. It wasn't even her actual birthday but fortunate for her, she claims to be born on the First Day of Lunar New Year (Chinese birthday I think?) and always demand for extra ang pao, hence our ang pao collection can never match hers eventhough we have the same number of relatives! Such is the unfairness of the world...
Anyway, mom made these cupcakes for her and I quite like the martini glass candle! Just perfect for an alcoholic like her on her birthday ;-D
The party ended just before 12am and we headed back to Ipoh the next day while also playing host to a special guest. More on how the first 3 days of CNY is spent on my next posts! For now, I am going to savour the remaining 4 days of holidays before crawling back to work.