A New Year’s Checklist

Last weekend, I got started on my to do list for Chinese New Year.

1. Get haircut. Check!

2. Buy new shoes. Check!

So happy about my new Alexander McQueen for Puma shoes!! Oops, am I not supposed to wear them yet?


3. Let off some fireworks to scare away all the bad spirits….

What about visiting the Museum of Anthropology’s special exhibit, (In)visible: The Spiritual World of Taiwan Through Contemporary Art, instead?



It’s a beautiful exhibit featuring 7 contemporary Taiwanese artists who explore the coexistence of modernity and tradition, while showcasing the significance of the spiritual world in Taiwan’s culture.

I particularly loved artist Chiu Yu Wen’s, “Water Fairies,” a stunning installation made of delicate paper cut outs and fabric.  Playing with light, layers, and transparencies, she creates an interactive exhibit that shines on the pretty and ethereal aspect of the mystical world, while celebrating the paper cutting tradition used for decorating doors and windows during various Chinese festivals.



In contrast, artist Li Jiun Yang’s work is a visually engaging exhibit that uses charcoal and graphite drawings, and hundreds of carved and decorated puppet heads, to explore the human side of the spirit culture in Taiwan.



Reminiscent of a Buddhist temple, I loved the clever design of wood and red strings to display the puppet heads while subtly safe guarding them from the visitors.


The red strings, an element stringing through the whole exhibit, is used here to suspend drawings from the ceiling, allowing them to hang like modern day scrolls.


In “Convolution of Life,” half Chinese half Atayal artist Yuma Taru showcases Atayal textiles and their traditional weaving techniques.  She blurs the lines between folkloric and contemporary art through a giant, sculptural, textile installation suspended from the ceiling.


4. Eat!  Check!

Everyone knows that the best part about Chinese New Year is the food!  Although it’s not Chinese New Year just yet, I celebrated the weekend with my favourite meal of the day, Sunday brunch!  At Top Chef Trevor Bird’s Fable, my favourite brunch place of late.




I’m in love with their olive oil hollandaise sauce that comes with all their egg bennies. I’ve been lucky that the last 2 times I’ve been, their eggs benny fish special has been the tuna confit. It’s sooooo good that smoked salmon eggs benny, my all time fav, doesn’t get missed at all.


My second favourite dish on the menu is the French toast which naturally was sold out by the time we got there at 12.  That’s the perfect time to go by the way.  There was no line when we arrived but 5 minutes after we sat down a line had quickly formed out the door and down the storefront. The line up here is worth it, food is great and service is so efficient you’ll be seated in no time.

5. Eat more!  Because when it comes to food in Chinese New Year, it’s all about abundance.  I know, it’s not quite the big day yet but I wanted to share a delicious chicken recipe that capped off my weekend.  Thanks to my brother Mark for discovering the recipe and sharing it with me.  If you don’t already know it, you’ll realise after making this that anchovies makes everything taste better.

Now all I have left to do on my Chinese New Year list is:

6. Clean the house.  

7. Purge my closet and belongings.

8. Buy a new piece of clothing to wear for Chinese New Year. 

9. Buy fresh flowers. 

10. Celebrate with family.

11. Live (more like eat) vicariously through my Dad and Karla who will be spending it in Tokyo.

Am I missing anything else?

– SSIMG_1872.JPGGarlicky Chicken With Lemon-Anchovy Sauce
Adapted from Melissa Clark

What you need:
4 to 5 bone in chicken thighs with skin
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons drained capers, patted dry
1 large pinch chile flakes
1 lemon, halved
Fresh chopped parsley, for serving

What to do:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and let rest while you prepare the anchovy-garlic oil. Mince one of the garlic cloves and set it aside for later. In a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the 5 smashed whole garlic cloves, the anchovies, capers and chile. Let cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the anchovies, until the garlic browns around the edges and the anchovies dissolve, 3 to 5 minutes.


2. Add the chicken thighs and cook skin down until nicely browned on one side, 7 minutes, then flip the thighs and cook for another 5 minutes to brown the other side. Place the pan in the oven and cook another 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.


3. When chicken is done, transfer thighs to a plate (be careful, as the pan handle will be hot). Place skillet back on the heat and add minced garlic and the juice of one lemon half. Cook for about 30 seconds, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return chicken to the pan and cook it in the sauce for another 15 to 30 seconds.


4. Squeeze the remaining lemon half over the chicken and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve.




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