Tag Archives: condensed milk

Wanderlust: Yangon, first impressions, pomelo salad


My taxi wound its way through an endless arterial road. We were heading towards Yangon downtown. Whenever the car stopped, which was often, I fanned myself – in vain – with the city walking map I found at the airport.

It felt like 90% humidity and close to 40C (100F). This is not Sydney winter anymore.

I was travelling alone, going into a country that I knew almost nothing about. When we were flying into the airport, I looked out the window and saw rice paddies, with golden stupas (pagodas) that stood out for miles around. If I were a child, I would have held my breath from sheer excitement. I whispered to myself, I am looking at a Burmese stupa. I am in Myanmar. I am a traveller in Myanmar. Exotic, humid, colourful, unknown Myanmar.

The taxi wound its way past concrete walls inscribed with the curly, circular Burmese script. Past men and women wearing longyis. Past a school where girls and boys wore white shirts and green longyis. Past more people, fruit stalls, durians, traffic, and there was my hotel.


That afternoon was a jumble of noise and wires and food stalls and people and more moments of holding my breath – as I walk between street stalls, past more durians, into the traffic to cross the road. Streets of British colonial-era buildings, decaying before my eyes, fern and moss reclaiming them for the swamp that Yangon was built on. Footpaths covered by street stalls, pedestrians walking, fearless, slow and longyi-clad, on the road.


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Yam (no churn) ice cream–yes, yam!


“What’s this?”
“Yam ice cream”
“You mean, like, yam?”
“As in, real yam?”

“What’s in it?”
“Well, there’s yam…”

This was the conversation at dinner last night with Mr Gander’s cousin. Thankfully the conversation for the rest of the evening was more erudite.

It was an evening of mildly experimental dishes – being cousin-in-law and a good friend, I could expose him to my wilder flights of fancy without (too much) repercussion. Other close friends have come to expect a menu of surprises whenever they come around. As in, ‘miso surprise!’, ‘stuff with plums’, or, ‘so I wondered what would happen if I did this…’


The evening started with a gorgeous savoury plum tart, with mascarpone, mille-feuille puff pastry, and a plum-Chinkiang*-coconut-sugar drizzle (because we ran out of balsamic vinegar, but actually was so good I want to make it again). Then, gnudi – made with a mixture of ricotta and goats milk fetta – in a parmesan-enriched broth and a swirl of fresh pesto.

* Chinkiang vinegar: a black vinegar made from glutinous rice. Good quality mature Chingkiang has a complex flavour somewhat like balsamic vinegar.

And then, yam ice cream.

Some time in late January, I got the ice cream making bug. I saw ice creams with goat cheese and honey and pear swirls, popcorn and salted caramel, lamington (on Australia Day). I looked for pure, creamy, black-flecked vanilla, and gelato that was like pure dark chocolate except colder and more ephemeral. Australia was going through a heat wave, people were flocking to the beach, and my mind was buzzing with ice creamy possibilities.

There was a slight snag: we don’t have an ice cream maker. This was a kitchen gadget I never could justify buying. So I began to look for no-churn ice cream recipes.

Many of the no-churn recipes use condensed milk: I think the idea is with enough sugar and fat, the mixture would freeze without forming large ice crystals. But condensed milk has quite a strong flavour, so I needed equally strong or distinctive flavours to counter it. (I also found other varieties of no churn ice cream using different ingredients, some of them are at the end of the post after the recipe)


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