Good luck Fillmore! Attempting a mini durian plantation

Fillmore wrote to me some time ago asking if I could send him some durian seeds for his garden. It took a while due to my own dry spell of good durians. Either the seeds had been frozen before (and therefore no longer reliable), or they just didn’t look like good seeds to grow (see this previous post if you need to know what this means).

Anyway on a recent trip back to durian motherland, I managed nothing short of a heist to bring this back for personal enjoyment. It was only one box but soooo delightful. It was a Mao Shan Wang (Musang king), which had large and little seeds. I selected six of the largest, packaged them and sent them off to Fillmore in the Philippines by registered parcel post.

The durians. MSW's from Malaysia.

The durians. MSW’s from Malaysia.

Here’s what Fillmore had to say…..

Hi Stinky Spikes!. . . . I am so happy to let you know that just received yesterday afternoon September 9, 2014 all six (6) durian seeds you sent me via Hong Kong. At that time i just recovered from a fever and colds, but upon seeing the durian seeds, the fever just disappeared. I now planted it in some pots filled with top soil to grow. Are those seeds of the precious Musang King variety? Again, a million thanks to you for those seeds, I will pray that you will always have good health and more blessings to come. Again, thank you.

He got them on the day of the mid Autumn festival, how auspicious! I hope that you’ll invite me for fruit if they grow into trees 🙂

Advertisements

The size of Malaysian durians vs Japanese watermelons

We went in to Sogo Causeway Bay on the weekend (yeah, crazy idea right), to look for some outdoor gear. Well, that was what I intended anyway. SW led me into the basement.

“Err… Shouldn’t we be heading upstairs?”

“No,” he said “it’s all downstairs”.

Not wanting to argue on the escalator, we proceeded down two floors.

“Surely the sports attire isn’t in the supermarket?” I inquired.

“Oh, oh I thought we were going to look for noodles.”

Different planets? Definitely.

Anyway, a meander around the fruit section yielded some useful information on where Japanese people go for their durian fix.

Here’s one guy getting the assistant to open it for him. I noticed that he bought two. Does it seem a lot?

Not if you consider the size of each fruit. Positively teeny weeny from a Malaysian perspective. It was a kilo or less I reckon. At 150 HKD a fruit that probably yields no more than 5 seeds, it’s pricey but knowing Sogo, they probably select the better quality stuff.

They also sell it pre-packed if you’re risk averse. At least those clear windows let you see what you’re buying but those plastic shells prevent the compulsive “finger-pressing” that afflicts all fruit wrapped in simple pliable “Glad” wrap.

So, the price of the ones in the pack are pretty similar to each whole fruit. I would hesitate a guess that each whole fruit yields one and a half of these boxes.

The stems look good and the fruit looks fresh and fungus free. If you are in Causeway Bay and urgently need to bring a Malaysian/Singaporean durian fanatic friend a fruity gift, this might be the one to get.

Beside the durians, they had this fantastically huge watermelon. It could be a prize winner in fruit competitions. I remember at Ocean Park they sold King Watermelons, perfectly round, they are cut in half and sold as a cooling treat. I didn’t note where they are from.

What’s selling at the supermarket in Tanglin Mall?

At the Marketplace in Tanglin Mall, the luscious D-D-D-Durian was spotted for sale:

Durian for sale at the Markerplace

Durian for sale at the Markerplace

The color looked good but there was absolutely no smell despite the basic looking packaging. Price wise, I guess it’s more or less the same as what you can find in most other supermarkets like Paragon for a Mao Shan Wang (unless they have a one for one offer). It looks like each box contains roughly half a durian fruit, it doesn’t look like they bothered weighing it, more like what they could pack into each box.

 

Durian Mobilization 2013

10th August 2013

Dr. Leslie Tay of ieat.ishoot.ipost couldn’t have chosen a better weekend. The Muslim celebration of Hari Raya Eidulfitri coincided with Singapore’s National Day weekend and gave everyone within 2 hours flight a nice 4-day vacation. So the 10th of August 2013 was the day that was chosen for the Durian Degustation XII, which became a more ambitious project and evolved into a “Durian Mobilization” (borrowing terms from the national service here!). At 35 SGD per person, a donation towards a charitable cause and a promise to appreciate different cultivars, we couldn’t think of a better way to spend an evening.

Durian Mobilization Activity Board

Durian Mobilization Activity Board

Under the large canopy of the Telok Ayer Community Center, everyone began to take their places by 6.30pm (even though the event was due to start only at 7.30pm). Since it was a free seating event with everyone bringing their own picnic mats and other paraphernalia, it was a good idea to get there reasonably early. The event was well organized and controlled, numbers marked out assigned “spaces” where groups of 6-12 people would sit together. I was to meet up with Jessica and sit with her group. “Meet me at the back of the community center at 7” she said, “that’s where they’ll be unloading the durians”.

PRE-EVENT

We parked the car a block away and took a nice stroll via the park at the back of the community center. As we approached the car park for the community center, we saw lots of people milling around…. the durians!

Baby checking out the durians

Baby checking out the durians

All the durians were looking fresh and prickly with long stems on (a very good indication of freshness) and neatly stacked in baskets. Each basket was labelled clearly with the cultivar.

The Durians are a-waiting

The Durians are a-waiting

Was there any intention in the order of the baskets?

Eating from left to right

Eating from left to right

Well, I think if you read chinese script, the direction is always top to bottom and left to right. If you look at the photo above, I think you can deduce which durians were thought to be popular with the crowd. The small stacks are for “appreciation” while the larger stacks are for “consumption”. The higher the stack, the more to go around. I’d say the D13’s and the MSW’s win hands down. There were some tables parallel to the baskets and the supplier had left his name card out for anyone who still maintains a rolodex.

Ah Seng's Durian Contact Card

Ah Seng’s Durian Contact Card

“Come come” motioned Jessica ” we need to get you guys registered. The registration is over at the end here and we’ll be sitting at placemat number 9.”

We left our various mats and bags with Jessica’s family and the friendly group and headed over to the registration table.

Pay your money and get your tag here

Pay your money and get your tag here

Everyone came casually dressed, prepared for warm weather and a rather breezeless evening. Despite the lack of any fans, I am pleased to report that there were no mosquitoes in sight and it was quite cool due to the overcast day. The registration counter took our details and issued us wrist tags (ala disco clubs or F1).

Maybe the only participant who didn't get tagged...

Am I the only one without a tag here?

Walking past the event billboards, we noticed a table strategically placed in the middle by the stage. This was the real advertisement and menu for the event and the press. Each fruit was placed in eating sequence with a little descriptive notecard.

The table of ANTICIPATION: durians on display

The table of ANTICIPATION: durians on display

THE EVENT

Durians at dusk under the Hong Lim Telok Ayer CC Canopy

Durians at dusk under the Hong Lim Telok Ayer CC Canopy

After rounds of introductions and getting comfortable on our little picnic mat, we realized that after a while, none of us could really hear each other that well anymore. The loud pumping music in the background (yes, there was a live DJ and loudspeakers) matched the din of everyone trying to have a conversation. It was getting dark and if it had been quiet, we would have probably heard some stomachs growling. The seating area probably reached almost full capacity. In his opening speech, Dr. Leslie Tay welcomed all 300+ participants and shared the program for the evening. He mentioned that some participants had probably starved themselves all day for this durian buffet, but it was in fact not a buffet but more of a tasting session. he said that Ah Seng -the durian supplier partner he worked with- had imported 900Kg of durian for the event. So that would be approximately less than 3Kg of durian per person. (Well, durians are weighed with the husks which effectively make it heavier. One durian can weigh between 2-3 Kg, so effectively each person would be consuming one durian each :)).

Eagerly awaiting the announcement

Eagerly awaiting the announcement

Dr. Leslie organized this event with the Singapore Kindness Movement, so the Chairman got to tell everyone to be nice to one another. Everyone was nice there but I think it would have been an interesting test to put all the durians out and see what happens in a free-for-all. The durians were served to each group, to prevent fights and general chaos I suppose (note that the Genting event was also supposed to be organized like this).

Dr. Leslie Tay and the Singapore Kindness Movement Chairman

Dr. Leslie Tay and the Singapore Kindness Movement Chairman

Then Dr. Leslie introduced the star of the show, Ah Seng the durian man. Everyone was much more interested in him!

Ah Seng and his brother at the opening speech

Ah Seng and his brother at the opening speech

Once all the introductions were done, it was time to get on with the show. Dr. Leslie gave the nod and Ah Seng went on stage to tell everyone about the first durian we were about to experience…. the Black Pearl (not from the Pirates of the Caribbean, that’s a different Black Pearl). So drumroll….. dum dum dum dee dum…… and like the start of a chinese wedding dinner, out marched the volunteers carrying a basket with a fruit to be delivered to each group of durian fanatics. Now for the durian photos…..

The first 2 durians on the menu

The first 2 durians on the menu

Everyone in my group was very courteous, no snatching, no hoarding and no fingering (excuse the lingo) of the fruit. The fruit laden husks were proffered around and each person picked their piece. Next up the Ang Hae…

Here you go... this is is a nice looking ang hae durian...

Here you go… this is is a nice looking ang hae durian…

Then the XO….

IMG_0162

And then everything in between and then the Mao Shan Wang

Delicious Mau Shan Wang

Delicious Mau Shan Wang

What was that about the durian shell enzymes again?

What was that about the durian shell enzymes again?

Photogenic durians all of them. Check out this tiny seed.

Seeds so small you have to pick it out of your mouth

Seeds so small you have to pick it out of your mouth

IMG_0150

Mao Shan Wang Durian

The thing about eating durian slowly in courses is that it fills you up. People wonder why the mediterranean and french people are slim, that’s because it’s not just what they eat but how they eat it. A french lunch is typically taken seriously and slowly, savoring every bite. So you eat less over a longer period of time. All of us could definitely have eaten more if the durian was placed in front of us all at once in boxes (hands up those who can easily finish a box of durians from the fridge). Being served just ensures that the timing was well spaced out (I guess also to let your palate recharge) and that you eat at a slower pace. Hence eating less but feeling full by the time we got to the end. I have mixed feelings about whether there should have been quite as many durian types served. When we got to the MSW, everyone was pretty full and some already had quite enough of durian. So the appreciation was less in a way.

While all the durian lovers were chowing down and listening to the interesting narratives by Dr. Leslie (quips like “Durian husks contain enzymes so wash your hands in it after eating”; “i should invent a durian detergent”; “Is it a myth that you shouldn’t eat durian and drink” etc), there was a lot going on behind the scenes. Check it out in my next post.

A Durian Invite in the Post from Genting Resorts World (Sentosa)

My mum who lives in Singapore receives tons of mailers, and her technique of “glance and destroy” is quite indiscriminate. Knowing my fascination and obsession with durians, she saved this one for me. Thanks Mum!

A Durian in the Post

A Durian in the Post

Mum said she received it more than a week ago. I asked her if it smelled when it arrived as the sticker says “Warning! I Smell.” Hilarious. She said “yes it did actually”, she didn’t open the plastic and she could smell the durian aroma when she picked up the mailer. I guess the fragrance didn’t last long.

Free Smells but Expensive Durian Buffets

Free Smells but Expensive Durian Buffets

When I read the back, I realized it was an invitation to a durian buffet at the Resorts World Genting Casino Hotel. It’s a but unclear whether I am considered a RWS invites member or a non-member. I have never been to the casino and am not a member of the Genting Group.

I asked Mum if she wanted to go but she thought it was pretty pricey for a one hour forty-five minute session (not inclusive of parking which is notoriously expensive unless you spend the day), and there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t be flooded with thousands of jostling people who would trample your toes just to get to the best fruit. They have promised Zhu Jiao, D13, D24, Ang Kar and Mao Shan Wang. I wonder if there is a queue and a quota for each type. We’re not going but if you decide to, let us know what its like.

If you’d like to go, reserve your tickets here.

Durians at GrandLucky (Update)

I can’t help surveying durians offered in the usual haunts, I think many of us durian fans are probably the same in that way ;).

At the GrandLucky Supermarket in Jakarta, they were offering both Thai and Medan Durians.

Medan Durians for Sale

Medan Durians for Sale

Medan durians featured in my last post, but in this post I’m just keeping a record of what was available and at what price (doesn’t the price fluctuate like crazy!). As you can see in the above sign, the Medan Durians were marked down 40% from their original price per kilo. It really doesn’t keep. On closer inspection of the fruits, you can see why.

Close up of the Medan Durians

Close up of the Medan Durians

Some of the fruits were already split open – which is an indicator of ripeness (or of drop damage)- and the fruit inside are exposed. The fruit guys have put rubber bands around the base of the fruit to prevent the skins from opening up completely, but this means that the fruit has to be eaten on that day otherwise it can’t be displayed for sale any longer. I noted the lack of durian fragrance from these Medan Durians as well. Perhaps this tree is related to the non-smelling trees in Chantanaburi.

While strolling the aisles, something else caught my eye.

Make Your Own Durian Ice Cream

Make Your Own Durian Ice Cream

A rather baffling and strangely unfortunate brand name, Pondan ( I’m not sure why they chose this. In Berhasa it is a derogatory adjective, you can google it). It is an Indonesian product from a company that makes mixes for puddings, cakes and ice cream. One of their flavors is the Durian flavored ice cream, each box for Rp. 14,900 (equivalent to USD1.50). I can’t imagine how this would compete with the various Durian Es sellers who peddle their carts on the street using fresh durian. Hmm. Or maybe they display the fresh durian and use this pre-mix instead. It would certainly be a lot cheaper but somehow doesn’t seem as appetizing.

Durian Fest & Food Fair in Penang 2012

Announcement to all Durian Fans – The latest Durian Fest in Penang is on again. Details are as in the picture below. Penang durians are great in variety and full in flavor, if you haven’t been to Penang for durians before, I do recommend a trip to try.

(happened across it in this month’s Jetstar magazine – they seem to advertise specifically to Singaporeans to plan their trip there)

Durian Food Fair in Penang