Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cantaloupe In The Sky

I have been waiting for about a year now. At long last, the boys from Frangipani have opened their first of three restaurants at Troika. Cantaloupe is a fine dining restaurant that is long overdue but well worth the wait. The menu is a natural progression from Frangipani's. Its more refined, more complex and mature, its grown up. And pretty high up on the 24th floor. Its currently running a small soft opening menu so if you like options, many options, then maybe you should wait until the full menu is ready. I quite like this small menu of 4-5 options at each category, it makes decision making a lot quicker. On the night that I went, there were only two options for main course and they were both beef. I didn't quite feel like beef so I had 3 smaller courses instead. The amuse bouche was a delicious smoked duck wafer with maple syrup foam and raspberry coulis. Doesn't sound like it would gel but the flavours actually work really well. The salty smokiness of the duck with the tangy raspberry and hint of sweetness from the maple syrup. Sigh, wish there was more of it.

My first was was a croquette of sorts. It sounds a little odd on paper with peekytoe crab and oat carbonara but its actually a lovely golden nugget of creamy crab croquette that looks a little like a muesli bar when it arrives. Accompanied with some truffle shavings and brussel sprout leaves. I'm not kidding you when I say leaves. It was delicious. Light, creamy, crisp, salty, sweet... Hunky had oysters which he did not share so I'm guessing they must've been good. Second course was slow-cooked pigeon but I think I must not have read the menu properly as I did not recognize it when it arrived. I was expecting a bird or part of a bird but what arrived was a terrine of bird, foie gras and chicken. It was to be my least favourite dish of the night. I think the flavours for me got somewhat lost in translation. The highlight of the evening for me was probably the lobster with crisp fried beef tendon. Surf and turf gets the atas treatment at Cantaloupe! I love the sweet clean flavours of the lobster against the rich crispy salty beef tendon. I cannot stress enough how delicious this was. The little cubes of globe artichoke and carrots were a delicate touch and added to my source of veg. Three courses down and barely a mouthful of vegetables. 

And finally dessert. I see a reincarnation of Frangipani's signature chocolate ganache meringue sandwich. I didn't think this dessert could be improved on but clearly I was wrong. Its bolder, punchier, its got attitude. I think this dessert sums up the menu at Cantaloupe. The only thing I would gripe about is the foam overkill. I don't want my food frothing at the mouth. Apart from that, it was superb fine dining!

Expect to pay between RM300-500++ per person. 

Cantaloupe. Level 23A, Tower B, The Troika, Jalan Binjai, Kuala Lumpur. Tel 0321620886

Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

Its the last day of 2012. Feels like just a few weeks ago that I was ringing in the new year and here I am again at the cusp of another year. Its been a short year, theres no denying that. To sum it up, its been a year of survival. Surviving stage fright, my mother, the end of the world! I did my first ever amateur pole competition which was exciting and frightening at the same time. If you had told me last year that I would be on stage in my skivvies, pole dancing in front of 400 people on a competitive level, I would've laughed and replied I was more likely to grow a beard. Well, I am beardless and still pole dancing.

My mother has finally moved from our family home into a safer, more manageable apartment. We have talked about this for quite a while and when the move actually happened, it was done in two weeks! We spent our last Christmas together in our family home and it only hit me when I took a photo of the children together by the Christmas tree. I did feel a little sad but amazingly, there was also a sense of relief. It was like as if the chapter could finally end. There has been many, many amazing memories in the house but as with all old houses, these memories sometimes haunt with regret and sadness too. I feel like we can finally move on and brave the new year and new challenges ahead.

And of course, there was the rather uneventful end of the world. As my sister's contractor very wisely put it (in cantonese), "Do you think it would be that easy? When the police comes to catch you, do you think they let you know first?". In short, live your life and do what you want to do. Nobody knows what the future holds so they should never be able to tell you what and what not to do.

So heres what I hope for in the new year. Peace. Understanding. Love. Freedom. Agree to disagree and keep and open mind. Happy new year!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

I Want to Win an Awesome Tropical Island Holiday with Cikipedia!

I’m participating in Cikipedia’s Healthy Getaway Weekend!

How could I resist the lovely Ciki tempting me with a chance to win a lovely holiday at the gorgeous Pangkor Laut resort. Flashes of Ciki running slow motion on the beach in her bikini come to mind. A poster child for hotness and health rolled into one. Funnily enough, Hunky and I were just talking about taking Her Madesty to Pangkor Laut for a holiday. Neither of us have ever been so this is meant to be!

If you've been following my last few posts then you will know I've been doing the Atkins thing while exercising to shed the post baby weight. But seriously, if you ever need to lose baby weight fast, don't hire a maid. Have no help at all and you will see the lbs melt away faster than butter on a hot pan. I was only 3kg away from my pre-baby body when ch-ch-chang! I got a maid. Fast forward 9 months later, I was back to my full-term pregnancy weight!

So HM is now 1.5 years old and I am back to my original weight. Kinda fat but fit, thats how I see myself. Hey, not every skinny person is fit. I'm nowhere near slim but I bet I can out jog, out box and out pole your flabby, skinny ass. Yes, thats my weekly excrcise regime. I kickbox, TRX or do various isometric exercises with my trainer once or twice a week. In between, I pole dance 2-3 times a week. Pole dancing is amazing for your core muscles and overall fitness. I see so much improvement in my core compared to when I was only doing the usual sit ups and plank. Oh, and everyday I repeatedly lift and carry a 12.5kg weight called HM. Man, my arms and upper back have never been so firm! :-) 

Friday, July 06, 2012

Life post Atkins

10 months ago I stared at the mirror and hated what I saw. Its not like I've ever been thin but I HAVE been very overweight and anyone struggling with weight issues will know how easy it is to slip back into a comfortable, elasticated pants kinda of lifestyle. I'm not sure what it was that finally made me get off my butt. I think starting pole dancing classes may have played a small part in tipping the scales so to speak. Watching the more advanced girls defy gravity with such grace and form was inspiring. I'm not saying you have to be thin to pole dance but as I have discovered, a lighter body sure does help. After all, imagine hauling a 70kg body up the pole instead of a 50kg one. Anyway, I'm still pole-ing and loving it. Its very liberating and amazing to compare myself from day 1 to now. Kind of like my weight loss. I'm happy to say I have maintained the shedding of baby weight. And as promised, albeit a tad late, a blood test to study the short term effects of Atkins.

In total, nothing had changed. My liver and kidney function test came back normal as before and my LDL cholesterol improved! Amazing because I was convinced eating 2 eggs everyday was going to increase my cholesterol levels. This only goes to show, do your own research if you are going on a diet. There will be heaps of people saying its bad for you. But why is it bad? In every situation there is going to be some pretty bad scenarios and IF you choose to eat sausages and bacon for breakfast, snack on artificial sugar-free snacks, steak with cream sauce every night, then YES, Atkins will be very bad for you. I can honestly say I actually ate MORE vegetables on Atkins than I usually do. When you are only allowed 20g of carbohydrates (during induction phase) containing vegetables, you really make it count. I have stir-fried vegetables and copious amounts of salad leaves everyday on Atkins. When I'm not on Atkins, my typical day would be toast for breakfast, fried mee hoon/pasta for lunch and dinner would be rice with vegetables and a meat dish. Lets not mention the milo and biscuits I love to have in between. 

I'm not pushing Atkins for everyone, just trying to give my personal experience with Atkins. Unfortunately I can't really curb my love for sugar. It really is EVIL. Just ask my cellulite. They seem to have shrunk in the absence of sugar. So for me, it really is a roller coaster ride. I'm currently doing another bout of Atkins and this time it really doesn't seem so difficult. I'm hoping that maybe, just maybe I'm finally kicking the sugar habit. Or at least keeping it under control. I'll keep you posted :-)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Konichiwa Niseko!

Its been 12 years since my family and I went on a vacation together. Its been far too long and we should definitely not wait another 12 years before the next one! We always have so much fun as we have a common interest ie. food! I think our love for food came from my late father. He definitely loved to eat and when he was alive, he would always drag us out to obscure places for specific dishes he had discovered. Sotong bakar here, drunken prawns there,... Anyway, he would have loved this trip as we had some seriously amazing food. I haven't been back to Japan since I was 8 years old. We were in Tokyo then and funnily enough, most of my memories involve the food I had eaten back then. Chocolate ice cream cubes, beautifully laid out steam boat dinner, hot steaming roasted sweet chestnuts eaten on the bullet train, being carried by my brother so I could reach the bowl of ramen we had at a street stall. Hmmm, so I guess I've always loved food!

Top left: Lovely simple breakfast of rice, veg, seaweed and pickles at Kansai Washington Hotel. Superb! Creamiest tamago I've ever had but not sweet at all. Top right: Just your average regular beef. Look at that marbling! Bottom: Pigging out at ramen shop in Kuchan. 

Fast forward to 2012. We flew into Osaka for one night. Upon arrival, it was quite late in the evening already and we grabbed a bite to eat at McDonalds! I know, sacrilegious having McD's in Japan! But you know what. Its the best ever McD's I have ever had! The patty, cheese and bun taste very different. Who knows, maybe we were just really hungry. We continued our journey the following day to Chitose on Japan's new domestic airline called Peach. Its fairly cheap but they are pretty disorganised as they only started operations a couple of months ago. Kinda like Air Asia back then. Gasp! The horror! Yes, even the Japanese can be disorganised. But in a very calm manner. Oh but the food on board is way better of course. Once we got to Chitose, we had to take a coach to Niseko resort. It was a long and tiring 2.5 hour bus ride as I was feeling quite ill and Her Madesty was just full of beans! Despite being nauseous and looking after bouncy HM, I could still enjoy the landscape. It was really quite beautiful. Its a small place so the roads are extremely quiet and everything was covered in a blanket of snow. We stayed at Yutaka townhouse via SkiJapan which was just enough to house the entire family. Lovely townhouse with fully equipped kitchen, laundry, etc... All the things you would need for a longish vacation. The food in Niseko is delicious and being on the island of Hokkaido, all things dairy are to die for! I'm not kidding you when I say that you can get really decent food at their version of 7Eleven called Lawson. Lovely yogurt, milk and Hokkaido butter. Nyum! And this is not even the gourmet stuff. Wow, who can blame the Japanese for having such high standards? Their idea of junk is like gourmet for us. Guffaw. Prepackaged katsu sandwiches, onigiri, ice cream, they all taste amazing. HM was a great traveller and ate all that was presented to her, from shabu-shabu to onigiri to grilled tofu. Such a good little girl.

We had a lovely meal in a ramen shop in Kutchan (town near Niseko). We ordered gyozas and minced pork mayo sushi to the two bowls of ramen and fried rice. Yes, there were only three people eating. Well, four if you count HM. Loved the shoyu based soup. Didn't much care for the salt based soup as they put so much raw bean sprouts in there that it was just overpowering. We took away 3 portions of katsu rice for the kids dinner and the entire bill came up to less than RM140. Surely it would've cost more in KL? At Niseko we had a fabulous meal at Izakaya. Loved the raw squid marinated in uni, aromatic chargrilled squid and scallop sashimi. I have never tasted scallop sashimi like this. It actually has texture to it. Firm and sweet. Delicious! We had some nice dishes at A-Bu-Chan 2 the following night. Melt-in-the-mouth beef and scallops cooked in butter. Its a little bit pretentious and I much preferred the food at Izakaya.
Top: View from the gondola. So serene, all that powdery snow! Bottom left: raw squid with uni as a marinade, waaah! Bottom right: the biggest mother ebi sashimi we've ever had. Deliciously sweet & springy in texture.

We were sad to leave Niseko but Kyoto was calling. OMG! Chitose airport! The mecca of good food! You can get all kinds of Hokkaido goodies here. If you are flying out of Chitose airport, go very, very early to enjoy all the samples and eat till your hearts content! I am embarassed to admit that we did not see much of Kyoto. Apart from visiting Kyomizu Temple on our first day, we spend most of the time just wandering around the market (food) and looking for more food! So much to eat, so little time. Sigh. The Japanese diet must agree with me because I managed to lose weight despite eating so much. Speaking of weight, there really isn't any overweight people in Japan. Seriously, theres no one even vaguely chubby here. It was so obvious we were tourists. Big-sized, loud tourists from Mainland China. Choi!

We had some amazing meals in Kyoto. Akaneya Junshinken was some superb izakaya dining. I particularly enjoyed the marinated baby squid sashimi and stuffed and deep fried lotus "patty". Oh and the amazing stuffed yam dish which tasted like dim sum woo kok but so much more delicate in texture but full on in taste. Looking back, some of the meals have merged into one. Thats the problem when snack carries onto lunch and spills over to tea and melds with dinner! Sigh, blogging about all this food has made me miss the food again. I don't know how the Japanese do it because if I lived there, I'd be as fat as f%$@.

Top left: marinated raw baby squid. Bit squeamish at first but glad I ate it. Yum! Top right: one of the many things we ate going up to Kyomizu Temple and all the way down too! Bottom: HM's" tapow". I thought it was tamago but its actually sushi wrapped in swiss roll?!?! Very strange...

Love you Niseko-Kyoto, hopefully will see you again soon!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Over It - Atkins Phase 2,3,4, I'm Out The Door!

I regret to announce that I'm over this whole Atkins diet. I have not lost a single pound for over 3 weeks despite following the program religiously and upping my exercise. Patience is not my forte! BUT, its not like I've completely given up and having buffets everyday. I've just decided that being on such a strict regime with no results for three weeks was just too stressful. So now that I have relaxed and started introducing a bit more fruit and veg portions, I've lost 1lb. I know I'm too focused on the lbs but I'm still inches away from fitting back into my old jeans. I don't know how else to monitor the weight loss. Sigh... Meanwhile, i've outgrown my recent pair of fat jeans. Woohoo! They are too loose to wear now! Yay! 

My friend P was inspired by my Atkins regime and she recently dropped 5kg in 3 weeks. She didn't even follow it religiously. She ate lots of meat and way much more than recommended limit for cheese. And zero exercise. So there you go, everyone is different and what works for me might not work for you. The important thing is, we try. I have tried and yes it does give results super fast and that is great for boosting morale. The other thing is, my skin texture improved. Amazing. Sugar really is bad for the skin. The drawbacks of this diet for me is that it has screwed up my menstrual cycle and I have trouble going to the toilet. Seriously I really need to eat LOTS of veg to keep myself regular. Perhaps that was over-sharing a little but you need to know that so take some psyllium husk every morning. It kinda helps but nothing beats fresh vegetables. 

Pan-fried fish with avocado & tomato salsa and salad - super satisfying!

So my last two weeks of Atkins, and then blood test to find out if/how Atkins has affected my insides.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Atkins; Phase Two minus One, Week 4

I'm not sure what happened but the weight loss stalled. Perhaps I moved too quickly onto O.W.L. My weight just wasn't shifting despite following the diet exactly. I still exercised 3-4 times a week and ate my 20g of carbs + 5g of new foods from O.W.L. I decided maybe it was the melon? So I've stopped eating that and I cut back on the strawberries too. Instead of having it everyday as a snack, I'm having it every other day. In the last 3 days, I'm finally back on track with a 2lb weight loss. Weight loss to date is 14lbs. I guess I need to stick on Induction a bit longer as this weight loss is more stubborn than my mother. 

On Wednesday I had severe sugar cravings. I haven't felt this way at all throughout the pass 3 weeks. I very nearly caved. I even contemplated diabetic chocolate! I must've stood at the aisle staring and reading all the labels for a good 10 minutes. Finally, Hunky came to the rescue and reminded me that 1) diabetic chocolate sucks and 2) I'd only be cheating myself. Such a supportive husband! The next morning, the feeling was gone. Wow, I came so close to giving up. Sigh, I really, really do miss my sugar. Last night, I did have one chocolate covered almond. It came all the way from Spain! I felt incredibly guilty but Hunky (again) reminded me that this is a long term thing and I shouldn't be so hard on myself for eating one miserable chocolate almond. So instead of feeling bad, I went for a jog this morning. 

Lunch - grilled chicken salad with avocado, ham & balsamic dressing

Thanks everybody for the encouragement. Its a constant battle with my inner sugar demon. Its only been 4 weeks but it feels more like 4 months. 4 more weeks to go! I think I'm going to have to up my exercise too. Will keep you posted!