Thursday, August 31, 2006

Merdeka Feast



I often wonder why people visit shopping malls on public holidays. Is the Malaysian lifestyle really so limited? Don't we have other things to do that doesn't involve eating and walking around shopping malls? I was in 1 Utama this afternoon with Lian to rock climb. I was dreading the parking situation but I was itching to climb. Managed to find a spot after 10 minutes but only after I exited the upper levels when I couldn't even get up the ramp! Basement was mucccch better although I witnessed a near-fight over a parking spot. I don't know who the spot really belonged to as I only just turned the corner to see a man shout and kick the door of the other car that pulled into the spot. It was a little scary as the man was really angry. There were rude words exchanged but luckily nobody got hurt. People, its Merdeka Day. Surely there wouldn't be more appropriate day to practise a little patience and racial harmony? And you really should be prepared for parking woes when you visit a mall on a public holiday. If you are going to lose it, stay home and chill.

After two hours of rock climbing, what better way to relax than to indulge in a little afternoon tea. See pictures of the massacre! I was the last person to get there. Fortunately, there were still loads left over. I made a pavlova (again) as requested by the hostess. It was even more fab than the last one but I'm really not a big fan. She bought some scones from Delicious which were surprisingly good considering how sucky their cupcakes are. We aslo had some sausage rolls and pies from Strudels, profiteroles, quiche (made by sis), cheese, butter cake and more! I skipped dinner. Couldn't possible fit anything else in!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

flash floods disintegrates pie

It was Pussycat and Mayakin's joint birthday celebration on Thursday. I volunteered to bake the cake as Pussycat is allergic to wheat. I made a pavlova for her and for Mayakins, a banoffee pie made with rice flour. I didn't boil the condensed milk to death and it was a little runnier than I hoped but it was too late to boil another tin by then. I have noticed that when I use to make it in London, the condensed milk was really, really thick! Like a spreadable paste almost. Must be the fat in the milk. I was pretty upset when I was stuck in a 2 hour jam, not because I was in a jam but because the banoffe pie was disintegrating! It was such a disaster. The runny toffee had made the whipped cream soft and the whole thing was melting before my eyes. I just felt bad about giving Mayakins such a ugleee cake. Fortunately, they tasted good so it was all good!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Up Your Creek

On Wednesday sis and I attended a Jacob's Creek wine dinner at Frangipani. I know, I know, Jacob's Creek is synonymous with cheap supermarket wine. These are their new, well maybe new in Malaysia I think, premium wines that is their Heritage range. Where better to start promoting these new expensive wines than in Frangipani right? Still one of my favourite restaurants because Chris is just pure genius. I am a loyal fan as you can see.

The night started off with sparkling rose and canapes on the platform set over the pond. A member of a chinese press still manage to fall in despite the edges of the water being lit by candles. Fortunately, it was merely one soaked foot as she was very quickly grabbed by the man she was talking to. When we sat down to dinner, we were slightly intimidated by the amount of fork and knives set on the table. 5 courses! Even though they are fairly small, it amounts to a very large plate really! We started off with a paired with a riesling. The gorgonzola mousse was so light and creamy. I was pleasantly surprised how the butterscotch cider sauce just picked up the dish while the roasted apple added a touch of sweetness. Oh and the nut brioche! Yummy! This is a man who served buttered toast with foie gras pate! The next dish was a St.Pierre fillet with macadamia crust and served with roasted tomatoes and artichoke puree. We had a 2004 Reeve's Point Chardonnay which went very well with the dish. I think I am beginning to understand marrying wine a little bit. Its like how burgers have be washed down with a coke. Ah, if the JC people could hear me now, they would be horrified!

The third course was rare salmon tournedos with pan seared foie gras on a bed of stewed oxtail. The oxtail was really quite fabulous. I would've liked a big bowl with some crusty white bread on the side. Mmmm. As for the salmon, I really am over this fish. To compliment the dish, we were served a 2002 Centenary Hill Shiraz. Rarely have I tasted such a mellow shiraz. It was a pleasant change to the usual spicy, throat-searing stuff. By this time I was starting to feel quite happy from the wine! We started making rude jokes with the word "creek". We were saved from ourselves when the grilled braised wagyu rump with pumpkin croquette and mole arrived. The wagyu was so moist, tender and flavourful. Actually the mole just distracted from the chargrilled smokeyness of the meat. Fabulous. We had it with 2003 St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon.

Finally when my pants were starting to feel a little snug, the venison tenderloin arrived. Chris was telling us how much the meat cost. It was crazy but it really was amazing. I haven't tasted venison like that before. It was subtle and dense at the same time. Not overpowering. Still, I couldn't finish it as it was just a too rare for my liking. Also I wanted to save room for dessert! We had Jacob's Creek Limited Release 2001 Shiraz Cabernet with the venison. It was a nice end to the meal. I ordered a pear and strawberry charlotte with balsamic strawberries. It looked terrible large but you know what, I finished it all! The texture was so light and creamy at the same time. The strawberries added a hint of tartness. Delicious! Money well spent.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

saucy salads & failed foldovers


After injesting more calories than I've been expelling the past week, I made it a point to have salad for lunch everyday. Check out my salad. The dressing was made out of low-fat yogurt. I wanted the creaminess without the guilt. Add some capers, wholegrain mustard, flat-leaf parsley, sea salt and a dash of olive oil and you forget its just boring old low fat yogurt. I also added some grated reduced fat cheddar for flavour. The half-boiled eggs made the whole salad feel even more creamy and satisfying. The oyster mushrooms were there to add bulk and texture. Doesn't taste of very much anyway. What salad shall I make next? I think one with smoked chicken perhaps. Hmmm...

I had to grab a quick dinner on saturday before work. Was walking past McD's and grabbed a foldover. The picture at the counter looked promising, there were slices of beef and tomatoes spilling out of the pita bread. Hah! Check out my picture. I swear there was only a tablespoon of meat. RM7.30 for this? What a rip-off. I much prefer rot john which is what I'm guessing the foldover aspired to be. Chilli and mayo in bread. Choi!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Junk Inside My Trunk

I had some serious cravings today which is a sure sign of the impending arrival of dreaded aunt crimson. I tend to load up on junk food like cheezels, super rings and tomato twisties before she arrives. I discovered super rings by chance with an ex-colleague years ago. There was a man who would come on his motorbike carting junk, sweets and cigarettes. He didn't have any cheezels so we had to pick the closest thing. I remember opening the packet in her room. The bright, gharish, neon orange colour of the faux cheese rings was crazy! After we got over the initial shock, we haven't looked back since. Hmmm, I haven't had it in awhile. I think the last time I had a bag was during a road trip to Penang with my friends. Thats another time I eat junk, on long drives out of KL. On the way back, I am normally too pigged out to eat anything.
Today when I was walking past kedai makanan salai Lim Meng Kee on Imbi, I was hit by a craving for deep-fried mini prawn rolls. The description says it all doesn't it? First of all, they are deep-fried. Secondly, they are so small that you just can't stop popping them into your mouth. Evil! Pure evil! I also wanted to get the pork floss and chee yoke kon too but decided against it when I thought of my gym sesh with my trainer tomorrow. Instead I bought 2 egg tarts (got to have something sweet after the prawn rolls right?) from the coffee shop on the corner. The egg tarts were good. They were still warm which made them frustratingly moreish. Frustrating because I had already jumped into the car and drove off so I couldn't buy more! That was my lunch. Healthy huh? For tea, I had some durian from the durian stall across TMC. I thought I was delirious from hunger when I caught a whiff of durian from my room. I could smell them through the cling wrap, in the kitchen, from my room upstairs with the door closed. Impressive or wot? Quite uncanny really, I think I must've been a bloodhound in my past life (but not slobbery, I think).
It would've been the perfect end to the day if I had eaten KFC for dinner. Oh well, I reckon I saved myself half an hour on the treadmill tomorrow. Oh yea, why is KFC in Malaysia so hard bent on not letting customers combine original and hot n spicy when making an order? Why? There is no logic. They cost the bloody same! They do it overseas so I don't see why the same cannot be applied here. Since I am on the subject of annoying things, I'd like to share my two pet peeves relating to food:
1) People who chew with their mouths open. Chomp chomp, smack, slurp, spit. Argh!
2) People who use "take" instead of "eat". Do you take chilli? Did you take your lunch? Where the hell did I take my lunch to?!!
And finally, a photo which has nothing to do with food. I just thought it was really funny! This was taken at the Sungai Besi toll on the way back from a session with my tormentor and saviour (I'm talking about acupuncture!).

Lunch at Larisata

Its been awhile since my last post, not because I haven't eating. As if! I've just been busy and have not had time to blog, also because they weren't anything worth mentioning. On Tuesday, my sister whisked me away for lunch at Larisata Ampang. They have an Italian chef consulting at the moment and he has been churning out plates and plates of food. I must say that everytime I've been, the specials have been very different and delicious each time. On that day we had beef ravioli with bacon and mushroom sauce, baked garoupa with herb crust and panacotta with orange sauce. I liked the garoupa best, it was fresh, just cooked and light. Perfect for lunch. I didn't like the beef ravioli much. This particular cut of meat has a very strong meat taste which I don't particularly enjoy. As for beef bacon, what a waste of time. I'm not a big fan of pannacotta but as far as sweet, wobbly cream puddings go, it was pretty good.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Frothy Cakes

After lunch I suddenly had a craving for sweet fluffy pastel coloured fatt gow/apom. After scouring several recipes on the net, I decided to make the rice flour version. After all, that was the original ingredient. It seemed fairly simple enough although I am not sure why the mixture had to rest. It didn't have anything in there which required "resting". Also, I accidentally used lime flavoured Eno. I didn't even know Eno came in different flavours! The taste was quite... Interesting?* The recipe said to mix in the Eno at the last minute and to steam immediately. Nevermind the freaking batter was bubbling over like a witch's cauldron, I poured the bubbling mixture into the moulds as instructed. So the first batch was basically steamed froth. Well, it was definitely light and fluffy! The second batch which were sitting patiently on the side turned out perfect because all the fizz had gone flat by then. Now, to tweak the taste...

*Just got home and ate one of the perfect ones. It tasted pretty good! I realise that it tasted weird previously because I was basically eating Eno froth. Ahhh....Duh...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Once Upon A Time

First there came a Kingfisher. He lived and prospered in his tree on the star hill for a few years. At first he brought fresh catch everyday and people came to marvel at his dedication. Then he became complacent and one by one, people stopped coming. Soon after, he had to leave his nest. Two others came but they were weak and could not survive the sometimes harsh conditions on the hill. Years later, the Bull came along. He was passionate and determined. The others who lived on the hill predicted he and his clan would stay for awhile but he and his clan argued. Soon they divided and went their separate ways. The nest was quiet once more. Such is life on Lot Z on Changkat Bukit Bintang.

Restaurants have come and gone on this street faster than you can say “Cheque please!” This business is unpredictable. The ones that seem to have the right combination for success don’t make it. And sometimes the one that seems wishy-washy end up being the front runner. The latest restaurant to take on the dreaded Lot Z is Sancho's. They are a tapas-type steak house thingy. Wishy-washy? Hmmm possible recipe for success?

Last night was my brother’s 40th and Sancho's has become his latest watering hole so it was the obvious choice for the venue. It was a beautiful evening, it was cool and the skies were crystal clear. We had drinks and tapas on the balcony for what seemed like eternity because they took forever to start our meal. Finally at 9:20pm we sat down to zucchini salad with pickled shallots, sultanas, pinenuts and cumin. Fortunately I do like cumin so I didn’t mind that my mouth smelt like an Indian curry house after. The next course took forever! Almost an hour later we got the second course. I had ordered the garlic soup because the other option was roasted tomato soup. If you like canned soup, you’ll like the garlic soup. Enough said surely. Another half hour later, the third course came. I had tenderloin with red wine reduction and caramelised onions. It was pretty tasty but it may have been I was so hungry by then. The other choice on the set was house-smoked salmon fillet with pea aioli. I didn’t try it but apparently it was very tasty. I’m just sick of seeing salmon on the menu. I mean, there are a lot of other fish available so enough with the shocking vermillion-dyed salmon.

It was another 30 minutes before we finally got our squid ink seafood paella. Thankfully, everybody was so tipsy by then they didn’t even notice. And it was already 11:30 by then, too late to eat. Good thing too because the paella was quite ghastly. First of all, it was tinged-green and secondly, it was tasted like dried up porridge with a squeeze of lemon. What a waste of carbs! It gets worse. They brought out dessert which was birthday cake and I swear I could smell the essence three feet away. I didn’t want to try it. My sister was brave enough to give it a go and she couldn’t figure out what it was suppose to be except that it was meant to be banana-flavoured! I would give it a few months to iron out their operational issues before trying it again.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'll Buy It



Its been awhile since I’ve had middle eastern food. I don’t know very much about it and my experience with it is limited to a few visits to Tarbush, Ranoush and Maroush. You see a pattern here? The latter two were during my years as a student in London. And even then, it was limited to chicken kebabs with extra garlic sauce please!

After Le Bernardin closed down, the lot on that corner was vacant for almost a year before Al Bait Lebanese restaurant came along. All the shop lots on the road have the same layout so it can be quite confusing telling them apart! Quite funny really. I thought I was walking into Copper Chimney. We were ushered upstairs because Boo wanted to smoke. We were the only two people up there. There was a tv screen and powder blue sofas set up in one corner. After we ordered, we realised it was tuned to AEC for our benefit. Er… It was thoughtful but if I wanted to watch tragic Chinese serials whilst eating dinner, I would’ve stayed home to have dinner with mum. The waitress was sweet, enthusiastic and helpful.

We ordered the mixed grill plate which had beef, lamb and chicken kebabs, fatoush (salad with herbs and toasted bread), mohamara (pomegranate and walnut spread) and grilled kibbeh (bulgar wheat pastry stuffed with minced lamb). The meal came with flat bread and assorted chilli sauces. The salad was crisp with a subtle hint of lime and mint. We both liked the mohamara and kibbeh. The mohamara had a nice smokey flavour with a hint of chilli. The kibbeh was tasty but did not look very appealing as it was soaked in olive oil. So much for the healthier grilled version! The mixed grill, although tasty, was not “wow”. I think it may have something to do with the meat. It was overcooked and therefore not terribly juicy. The meal came up to be about RM93 which included a large bottle of mineral water. Bit pricey considering the mohamara and kibbeh were side dishes.

We finished just in time to witness a rather obnoxious man, who had just sat down next to us with two others, give our sweet waitress an earful about wine. Not only did he make a sweeping untrue statement which was “They don’t know how to serve red wine in this country because they don’t drink it”. He also went on to say “I am Armenian and he is English you know” as if that would bear some weight to his point because these two countries are such big producers of fine wine! I’m no sommelier but even I know that “How can you chill this wine?! You must serve it at room temperature!” in this country would make red wine turn into vinegar. Ok not quite vinegar but you know what I mean. Eejit!

Inspired




Inspired from my trip, I decided to cook a meal for my friends last Saturday which turned out more to be a banquet from the sheer effort. I don’t know what made me think I could make 3 relishes, 1 soup and 5 mains in one day! It’s the darn cookbook I tell you. Ironically, it was written and compiled by a farang - a brilliant Australian chef by the name of David Thompson (no relation to Jim). It has the most impressive and extensive compilation of recipes after searching through many books in Bangkok. It truly is inspiring. I like reading the history of where the recipes came from and on the person whose version it was.

Being the Virgo that I am, I thought it best to start preparing all the pastes. Frankly, I am still not convinced about pounding vs blending. Yes its all very earth mother but does it really make that much of difference? I don't think so lor. Still, I did enjoy getting lost in concentration. It was very therapeutic. I started on Thursday, first thing on the list was a coconut relish which had a lot of lemongrass, chilli and coconut, obviously. I quite liked it but wasn't sure it was going to go all that well with chopped vegetables. On Friday I had to pick up the paste, oops pace I mean. Har har. I made chiang mai pork relish amongst others. I even made my own dried shrimp. The traditional way sounded rather unhygienic considering I live in the city and have dogs. There was no way I was going to “dry it in the sun” for 2 days. Instead, 4 hours in the oven was just as good! I was a bit disappointed by the relish. It just tasted like sambal belacan with minced pork. Hmmm. Late that night, I marinated the pandan chicken and lovingly wrapped them in pandan leaves whilst watching Making The Band 3 on MTV. Hey, Friday night tv sucks! On some nervous energy high, I found myself restless yet I couldn’t bring myself to cook anymore so I baked instead! Deliciously decadent chocolate chip cookies. Nuts? Yes, I am.

On Saturday morning, I woke up panicking. There was still so much to be done! The damn beef panaeng was worrying. At 4pm, it was rock hard. At 6pm, it was rubbery at best. Thank god everyone was a little late because at 8pm, it was finally tender! Phew. The pandan chicken turned out to be really moist and tasty. I only fried it for a couple of minutes and left it to cook slowly in the oven because I needed stove space for frying the fish, braising another fish and heating up the pork ribs with jackfruit! The braised fish with caramel, celery and coriander was interesting. It was sweet, salty and herbaceous. Everyone liked the fried fish with the coconut relish. The pork ribs were not what I expected. It sounded a lot more intense and piquant, instead it was quite mild and subtle. The prawn salad with kaffir lime dressing was quite yummy but I didn’t realise how punchy the ginger was. I put in quite a bit without tasting it first. It was fast track to a sore throat! I enjoyed the beef and mangosteen soup the most. It was a startlingly delicious combination. Tender beef rump with a sweet and tangy hit of mangosteen.

Plucky Duck and Bruce brought apom and jackfruit for dessert because I had told them earlier that I wasn’t going to make any. However, I am kiasu (and crazy) and tried out a recipe for steamed soy milk curd from Babe In The City. I omitted the vanilla and used palm sugar instead to make it more local. It was pretty good and I loved the wobbly consistency. Easy peasy! All in all it was a great night. I was happy that my mum and friends enjoyed themselves. Although I am sure even if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t have dared said anything for fear that I might just burst into tears from the 3 days of chopping, pounding and cooking!