The January brief

The January brief

As January draws to an end, it is timely to reflect on what has been a busy month for the sad pig. So with a small batch distillery bourbon in hand (it’s peach season somewhere in the world) here is the best of January.

The culinary companion of January is:

Pictures of Asians taking pictures of food. As restaurants become increasingly camera shy, reproving foodies are now taking pictures of people taking pictures of food, largely thanks to the noted Korean-American chef, David Chang of Momofuku fame, who tweeted that it was one of his favorite hobbies (following the lead of a regular contributor to this site, Phil, from As well as having the most replicated recipe of the decade with his steamed pork buns, David Chang now has the most replicated hobby.

If you have any pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of food, please leave a comment below, or tweet me and I’ll publish them on this site. The best photo will win last month’s must-have item: the Opinel mushroom knife.

The flavor of January is:

Basil, as pedestrian as this herb may be, I love the pungent, spicy-clove, and somewhat minty aroma. Recently, I have been enjoying basil steeped in a lemon and basil cooler. A drink I now take warm each morning to stay regular. Basil also reminds me of my time spent in Thailand where I enjoyed the Thai cultiva – with its darker green leaf and purple stem – this delicious herb imparts a licorice note in many dishes of the region. Like licorice, it also colors things dark green.

The beverage of January is:

Vietnamese iced coffee, or cà phê sữa đá.

The must-have item of January is:

Using Damascus steel knives, has long impressed dinner guests, but are hardly an authentic utensil for most dishes. In my quest for authenticity, and as this month had a street food theme, the must-have item of January is this Vietnamese multi-tool. Perfect for shredding daikon for a flavorful pork banh mi.

Vietnamese knife

Vietnamese multi-tool, I don’t know anyone who has left Hanoi without one.

The top stories of January are:

  • Vietnamese iced coffee, cà phê sữa đá – In this article, I recall being plagued by constipation for a fortnight in Hanoi, until I discovered I needed coffee to go.
  • Food resolutions for 2013 – In recovering from a hangover after drinking with Australian friends, I discovered that only shopping from independent retailers is thirsty work.

Thank-you for all the comments, re-tweets and likes.

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