11 December 2020, by Gideon Loh
H.U.G.E as in HIGH UPPERFLOOR GASTRONOMIC EXPERIENCE!
If you ask your children what they would like to do on their birthday, what kind of replies would you get? A trip to universal studios? A staycation? A party with lots of friends, ice-cream cake and lots of presents?
Well, mine said without any hesitation, “I wanna do a cookout!”
During this pandemic, we can’t schedule our usual big parties to host all our family and friends. We aren’t able to go out for a nice sumptuous buffet dinner for a family pig-out.
So, a cookout sounds like a fantastic and novel idea.
Ever tried dining in one of those fancy rooftop restaurants in some expensive and exquisite establishments? Well, we happen to be living on the highest floor of our apartment building and YES, we did some gastronomical cooking, right in the comfort and luxury of our very own BALCONY! Seriously, no meal can go wrong when you pair it with an amazing view.
Celebrating the birthday of my older boy involved a casual laidback outdoor cookout of a simple yet tasty Japanese ‘cuisine’ also known as cook-your-own-Nissin’s Chu Qian Yi Ding-sesame oil instant noodles!
After a quick re-cap on the ground rules and how to handle hot utensils and cooking equipment safely, the birthday boy got started on his very own cookout experience.
The setup was swift and easy. A prior visit to the army market at Beach Road and NTUC would provide you with all the necessary cookout supplies.
1. Arrange the lightweight, aluminum, collapsible stoves in precise order
2. Ready the ‘solid fuel’ for lighting up
3. Prepare the condiments (water/ instant noodles/ egg) for cooking
4. And most importantly… have the birthday boy cook the meal himself!
(Tip: Do protect your flooring with a heat-withstanding placeholder. Safety first!)
This, I think, is one of the most treasured life experiences for my newly turned 8-year-old son – Cooking a simple and delicious meal all by himself. Strangely enough, it tasted much better than mummy’s cooking! (hope mum is not reading this!!)
You might think that having instant noodles for a birthday party is too simple for your liking. Ahh… But here’s where all the daddies can shine! If you are the occasional ‘chef’ like myself, this is the time to show off your hidden culinary talents honed from the old days in the army, during outfield training, or campfire cookouts! Look, your wife may reign in the kitchen but you are the king of improvisation! Why not use mass-tins to deliver some masterful wok-hei dishes?
I’ve completed our rooftop dining experience with additional culinary sophistry, dishes of ‘Sardines en Oignons et des œufs’ and ‘Frit Porc Spam’, also known as sardines marinated with onions and eggs plus crispy pan-fried ‘Ma Ling’ brand Spam! Paired with a generous serving of sparkling bubbles (aka soft drinks!), that complemented this perfect night of elegant finesse.
Mamma Mia! Just when the boys thought it was time to pack up, we ended our scrumptious birthday dinner cookout with 2 pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream! No need for cake or candles. Just a lovely dinner experience with the family, making memories, great conversations (of adventures!) and also enjoying a spectacular view under the stars.
For dads (and mums!) out there who are thinking of doing something simple and memorable with their kids, try this outdoor cookout! This can be such an experience for your children for the school holidays!
If you have in mind to prepare your children for that camping trip in the future, well, this offers a safe, ‘entry-level’ platform for you to introduce outdoor living and perhaps plant the seeds of adventure in the hearts of our children. Happy cookout!