Food is always best enjoyed with good company and it tastes delicious when it’s home cooked! When I first started Coffee & Cravings meetup group, it was nothing but a cry for some company to eat out with. But it’s grown far beyond my expectations and I’ve met some awesome friends through Coffee & Cravings who have opened up my life to many experiences I wouldn’t have had the chance to encounter first hand. Especially in a place like Singapore where I’m still adjusting to after 8 years—it’s very different growing up as a Brisbane kid even if Singapore is where I was born.

A quick shoutout to Meetup.com. If you’ve ever wondered “why doesn’t any one else like doing [insert hobby]” or “it would be great to find someone who’s interested in [this] too…”— try out Meetup! There’s tonnes of interest groups out there and it’s great to meet people in the same fields/interests. Plus it’s FREE for members! Organisers like me have to pay to maintain a group. But I’m fine with that—I feel it’s a way to sort of ensure organisers are sincere about their groups. It may take some time to find a group that fits you, as each group has different group dynamics, but they’re definitely out there and in many countries! Even when you’re travelling abroad, look up a Meetup in the country you’re travelling to and I’m sure you’ll connect to some locals quickly as I’ve come to realise Meetup members are open to meeting people, so they’re very friendly. But more about that in another post. Back to the pork belly.

This is our second private Coffee & Cravings cook up, kindly hosted by our lovely member Phil who’s a great friend too. He’s always offering us drool-worthy slabs of meat and sausages he brings back from Australia on his trips. This time round is a knock out slab of pork belly and some lamb shanks he prepared and made into shepard’s pie. We roughly followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe for this delicious pork belly with crackling.

 Cookup: The raw slab of Aussie pork belly.
Cookup: The raw slab of Aussie pork belly.
 Cookup: The pork belly over a bed of vegetables rubbed over with ground sea salt and fennel seeds.
Cookup: The pork belly over a bed of vegetables rubbed over with ground sea salt and fennel seeds.

We found out that the cuts in the skin weren’t deep enough so we tried to make some deeper slits. Make life easier and get the butcher to do this for you as it can be quite tough to pierce the skin.

 Cookup: Deepening slits in the pork belly skin.
Cookup: Deepening slits in the pork belly skin.

Fast forward after putting the pork belly into the oven…

Cookup: Pork belly basking in the oven.
Cookup: Pork belly basking in the oven.
 Cookup: Meanwhile the lamb is ready for Phil’s shepherd's pie.
Cookup: Meanwhile the lamb is ready for Phil’s shepherd’s pie.
 Cookup: Mashed potato (and sweet potato) added to the top of the shepherd’s pie.
Cookup: Mashed potato (and sweet potato) added to the top of the shepherd’s pie.

We get serious about our food’s presentation too—Phil got these Dean & Deluca boards to present the food. But we didn’t manage to use them this time around.

Cookup: Presentation matters—boards from Dean & Deluca

Whilst the pork belly was in the oven, we snuck out for a cup of coffee at the nearby Artisan Boulangerie Co. (I.e. ABC cafe).

Artisan Boulangerie Co.: Latte
Artisan Boulangerie Co.: Latte
Artisan Boulangerie Co.: Cappuccino.
Artisan Boulangerie Co.: Cappuccino.

We then headed back to make sure the food was on track, plus it’s never wise to leave a hot oven unattended. We finished off the recipe by pouring (a lot) of wine into the tray with veges and pork belly. This is when we modify the recipe! More wine!!!

Cookup: Adding the wine the Pork Belly tray.
Cookup: Adding the wine to the Pork Belly tray.

And whilst the food is cooking, it’s great to have games to keep occupied with, like extreme join the dots that outlines cityscapes! Thousands of dots! I don’t think I have the patience for it myself it looks… tedious.

Cookup: Waiting games—Join the dots.
Cookup: Waiting games—Join the dots.

Next it was Jon’s turn to cook it up. Raw tuna, mixed in a secret recipe of sauces then wrapped in avocado! He made it all look too easy, but I’m pretty sure it takes some skill. Leave a comment if you’d like him to expand on the recipe.

Cookup: Tuna & Avocado

Cookup: Tuna & Avocado

Cookup: Tuna & Avocado

Cookup: Tuna & Avocado

Cookup: Our table setting for a small group of 6. 
Cookup: Our table setting for a small group of 6.
Cookup: Time for more join-the-dots as we await the food to cook.
Cookup: Time for more join-the-dots as we await the food to cook.

Whilst the guys were busy joining the dots, I got some shots in of the cityscape from the 34th floor. Oversees everything! Can even see MBS!

 Cityscape from the 34th floor. Oversees everything! Can even see MBS!

 Cookup: And finally after hours, the pork belly emerges from the oven.
Cookup: And finally after hours, the pork belly emerges from the oven.
 Cookup: Reducing the sauce…
Cookup: Reducing the sauce…
 Cookup: Tuna Avocado thingys are ready!
Cookup: Tuna Avocado thingys are ready!

And more pictures to drool over…

Cookup: Pork Belly
Cookup: Pork Belly
Cookup: Beef Shepard's Pie
Cookup: Beef Shepard’s Pie

Cookup: Pork Belly

Cookup: Pork Belly

 

Cookup: Pork Belly, Shepard's Pie & Frittata.
Cookup: Pork Belly, Shepard’s Pie & Frittata.

It was yet another filling and fulfilling dinner with the Coffee & Cravings gang. Between 6 of us we had pork belly, a lamb Shepard’s pie, a beef Shepard’s pie and our other lovely member Eileen made a tray of frittata. Then we capped it off with desserts from De Zien.

Cookup: Shepard's Pie.
Cookup: Shepard’s Pie.
Bakerzin: Cakes for dessert.
Bakerzin: Cakes for dessert.

Next up, we’re going to attempt a Thanks Giving turkey!!! I’ve always wanted to celebrate Thanks Giving, so I’m looking forward to the cook up.

Unlike Coffee & Cravings meetups where all members have a chance to RSVP and attend, our cookups are for much smaller groups and this limitation means I can only invite members/friends who we know quite well. So if you’d like to attend one of our future cookups, do join us for some Coffee & Cravings meetups to get to know the gang better. 😉

If you have any recipe suggestions or anything you’d like to see us cook and post about, drop me a comment below.

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