When I go out, I always see young beautiful people. She is gorgeous. There, she sat on the next table with a martini in her hands. Perfectly manicured. Chili hot red lipstick and the just-out-of-salon hairdo. Sophisticated in stilettos and a smart casual bazeer. The elegant package. The confident aura. Boys hovering over her. Sometimes, it’s hard not to envy.
Everything is happening at lightning speed. That’s how I remembered my 20-year-old self, she would barely have had any tolerance of wearing an outfit more than once for any social be-seen outings. The minimum is 2 inches so she doesn’t own a pair of flat. She walks with an air of arrogance with every click clack of her heels. Contradicting, she was also crushingly confused and cripplingly naive. So naïve that she couldn’t possibly have imagined the decisions and events that have brought me to my present. I’m sure that she imagined my life might be, on the surface, glamorously fabulous—with designer outfits and money. Never would she imagine her older self working choosing the kitchen as her workplace .
Today marks my 34th year of life. A number of people have told me that their thirties were a very peaceful time, mellow and forgiving. When I stop for a moment and considered my life, I do see how true it is. The familiarity with the “real” me brought me closer to the “real” values of life. It must be that extra number every year that I thank for clarity that brought me closer to this tremendous joy and peace.
I wade around in mostly flats nowadays, swaying my “dim sum” bag (my friends nicknamed that!) across my shoulders. I am always seen with a shopping bagful of groceries. My happiest nights are cooking for friends or out for a nice dinner over some great wines and laughters. Shopping at the wet markets gleed me as much as Prada. My calendar weekend dates spells dinner parties. Cookouts. Baking. Birthdays parties. Weddings. Is this what 30s should be? I can’t wait to find out how my future 40s self sees the current me.
If there’s a metaphor, I will want to be like this deep dark chocolate cake: subtle, a little bittersweet, not blowsy and extrovert. Delicately made up, not highly rouged. Holding back, not exposing everything and, of course, with a flavor that lasts; intensely divine and satisfying. Doesn’t requires any pretty butter creams or fru-fru decorations.
Happy birthday to me. After all, life is just a slice of cake.
This is the cake I use to serve at my restaurant. An accidental recipe that one of my chef messed up but turned out so well. Cloud 9 chocolate cake.
225g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
225g bittersweet chocolate, chopped( I use 70% valrhona chocolate)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
30g plain flour
100 mL cream
A splash of brandy or rum
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce for serving
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 150C. Butter an 8-inch round pan and line it with aluminum foil. Have a larger pan that can hold the cake pan and water.
Put the butter in a heavy medium saucepan, then add the chocolate and the sugar. Place the pan over medium-low heat and, stirring almost constantly, heat until the ingredients are melted and well blended. Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest on the counter till slightly cooled (5mins).
One by one, stir the eggs into the chocolate mixture with a whisk. Sift the flour over the mixture and stir it in as well. Tap the mixture bowl on the counter to deflate any bubbles and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Put the cake pan into the larger pan, fill the larger pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan, and slip the setup into the oven.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is set on top and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out streaky but not wet. Lift the cake pan out of the water bath and place it on a rack to cool to room temperature. Chill the cake for at least 1 hour before unfolding.
When the cake is cold, transfer over onto a serving platter, lift off the pan and carefully remove the cake.
The cake can be served cold or at room temperature with a scoop of whipped cream or ice cream drizzle with raspberry sauce.
Storing: Wrapped tightly, the cake will keep for about 3 days at room temperature or for up to 2 months in the freezer.