Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Secret

Everyone has a secret. Some are more explosive than others. Mine is a secret so sacred and wonderful that I feel the need to share it. I belong in a cult. Every year a small number of chosen elite meet with our leader, simply known as Mrs H. It is the highest honour a member can hope to achieve. To be hand picked, oh, the joy at the golden promises that awaits! This year was no different. The newly refurbished HQ was even more intimate than the previous location. The three of us who were chosen knew that it was going to be a very special occasion indeed. The skies were grey at noon when we arrived. Ms O came to greet us. I had brought a sacrificial durian cheesecake for Mrs H. The creamy beast appeases Mrs H and I knew I would be well looked after.

So this is my big secret, gathering to eat the best nasi lemak in town. This photo does not do it justice as it was taken in great haste, I feared my rival Mr C was about to finish all the sardine sambal before I could try it! The fluffy coconut rice is perfectly cook with just a hint of pandan. I love eating it with the sweet and spicy anchovy sambal, crunchy peanuts and crispy anchovies. And who knew sardine could taste so lovely in a sambal? This particular one is more tomato based with barely any chilli in it. Mrs H also made her signature mini pegedil. That picture may look like a small serving but I had three helpings. I only stopped because everyone had stopped. I didn't want to look like the biggest glutton at the table! I could've kept eating and eating. I guess what makes this nasi lemak special for me is because Mrs H only makes it once a year and I feel very lucky to be invited.

Thank you Mrs H for the lovely meal!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Hunky

I've been waiting for a nice cool day to attempt my portugese egg tarts. Yesterday afternoon was perfect. Didn't it feel like London? It was all grey by 2pm. Anyway, I had made the egg mixture the night before with cream, eggs and vanilla pod. It was so delicious I wanted to just eat it on its own. I restrained and left the mixture to cool. Today, I watched the oven in horror. I think I made a grave error with the puff pastry as the oil from the pastry bubbled away, "deep-frying" my custard filling in the process! What the?! The recipe said I had to roll it up and flatten it out but I was told by a friend that you aren't suppose to roll out puff pastry. Sigh. Anyway, the result was soggy, oily pastry filled with delicious custard. What a shame. I tried to crisp up the pastry by putting them back into the oven again. It was a little better but I am too put off by the oil to eat the rest. Will definitely try it again rolling up the pastry this time.

I also baked a chocolate pavlova for Hunky's birthday. Sigh, if only sponge cakes were as easy to bake! I'd rather bake 10 pavlovas at one go than to make a sponge cake again. Click here for the recipe from The Domestic Goddess herself. I would advice for anyone attempting the recipe to reduce the sugar a little. It was just a little too sweet despite the cream and tart strawberries. I also only baked it for 40 minutes so the centre was like gooey marshmallow. Simply divine! I just had a slice for breakfast!

We had a small dinner at home for Hunky. Sis made beef wellington. She has made a vow to keep making it until she gets it as perfect as Gordon Ramsay's, much to Hunky's delight. I made my usual fabulous roast potatoes baked with bacon fat instead of the usual duck fat and buttered brussel sprouts with crispy bacon. We were all so full and happy that by 10:30, we were all ready to pass out. Ah, I had the best sleep ever!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sesame + Soy = Fusion at G Hotel

I have so many entries to catch up on but I can hardly spare the time. Right now, I'm taking a break as I to retreat to my happy place. No, I'm not at Overseas devouring char siu. Okay, second happy place, reminiscing about food. I just realised I've only posted one entry from my Penang trip. When I read about the G Hotel in a design magazine, I was impressed by the contemporary design of the lobby with its sleek designer furniture decorating a long rectangular space. I had also heard many good things about their fusion restaurant Sesame + Soy. If the hotel itself was anything to go by, I should've lowered my expectations for the restaurant. The picture is beautiful from far, up close you notice the details are missing. I for one, have a problem swimming in a pool that overlooks a construction site. Correction, where a constuction site overlooks the swimming pool. My first impression was already tainted when they couldn't find my reservation and then the room wasn't ready. It took almost 3/4 of an hour to check-in. We checked out the next day and moved to a less styled, more substance kind of hotel. However, if your idea of a holiday is shopping then by all means, G Hotel would be perfect. Its located right next to Gurney Plaza and you can have your Starbucks, McD's, cinema, F.O.S, Chilli's and other things you might be missing from Kuala Lumpur. Before we left, we dined at Sesame + Soy. Sesame offers a Chinese fusion menu while Soy (dinner only) is a fine dining Chinese restaurant.

Hunky ordered a fresh spring rolls with duck and mango chilli chutney which was a little on the bland side. We only ordered it because of the chutney but guess what? Its not a chutney when you have chopped mango swimming in bottled Thai chilli sauce. I supposedly had corn chowder with sesame crusted chicken. If I wanted Campbell's can soup, I would've bought one from the supermarket next door. Where is the corn? It was more like cream of cream soup. However, the sesame crusted chicken was fragrant and tasty. Hah, its all coming back to me now.

My grilled coffee and cocoa pork ribs sounded a lot more interesting than it tasted. First of all, it ain't grilled. It was definitely fried. Secondly, the sauce was too subtle and undefined. I think they should've gone all out with a strong and bittersweet sauce instead of an apologetic version which ended up tasting like mild kicap pekat. It was tender and tasty but not what I expected. The garlic fried rice was superb tho. Hunky's roasted belly pork spaghetti is the most popular item on the menu. I can see why. Siew yoke low meen instead of siew yoke fahn. Simple dish guaranteed to sell. The belly pork was very good. Warm and tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. After the slightly disappointing starter and main course, we had hoped dessert save the meal. It wasn't wow enough to save the say but it was pretty good. Gula melaka creme brulee with coconut ice cream. The creme brulee was lovely and smooth with a hint of gula melaka. Very nice. The coconut ice cream was a little overwhelming for me.

Would I go again? There are so many other fantastic things to eat and if I wanted fine dining, I would stay in KL so I doubt I would. Having said that, do try their set lunch at RM22++. The friends who recommended the restuarant both had their set menu on separate occasions. So, maybe the magic lies in the set. Also, you get a 15% discount with HSBC card. We paid RM78 for our meal with the discount.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Feasting Festival

What a night! I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival gala launch. And if you think the event's name is a mouthful, it was nothing compared to what was hidden behind the ballroom doors at One Hotel in Bandar Utama. Over 2000 people turned up for the event, 30 restaurants participated with over 90 courses in one glorious night. I was incredibly tempted to wear elasticated pants but the dress code stated "Evening Gown". Good thing I ignored it as I would've been hideously overdressed. People sure have a strange idea of what an evening gown should be. We were kept waiting for over an hour as the guest of honour was late as usual. People were puffing on cigars and chugging down the free booze.

Finally the doors to the ballroom were open and all the kiasu people rushed forward to get in. Shameless! It was certainly festive as all the chefs from the participating restaurants danced to the beat of beating saucepans and pots up on stage. My friend and I made our way to the far side of the ballroom where there wasn't as many people. Turned out to be Senses, Chynna and Iketeru from Hilton. The first thing I picked up from the dozens of canapes before me was chocolate mousse from Senses (bottom left). It had an incredibly light and velvety texture but the taste was out of this world. Intense without being overpowering. Served with a mound of what looked like chocolatey gravel which added a lovely crunch to the soft mousse. (bottom right, chilled scallops with mayonaise)We then went over to Lafite and sampled a foie gras and... Well, I'm not sure what it was! It was like eating foie gras sandwiched between two delicately crisp gingerbread cookies. Interesting. The cheese flavoured marshmallow bordered on being a little nauseating. Thankfully, it was a very small piece. It was like eating Japanese cheesecake but sweeter. I also tried a pearl oyster which was actually a small bead of oyster essence placed in an oyster shell. It may have looked interesting but it tasted like salty fishy water. The rest of the night was a bit of a blur as we sampled, slurped, tasted and gorged on canape after canape. There were quite a few Chinese restaurants and they all offered almost the same thing, prawns and scallops. Boring. Funnily enough, what really stood out was Novotel's Chinese Muslim restaurant. I loved their cold chicken with jellyfish. Very tasty! We also fell in love with Qba's chocolate and jalapeno truffles. Absolutely sinful! The jalapeno added a really nice kick to the dark velvety chocolate.Above left, one of the many Chinese restaurants. Right, lovely mouth-wateringly tender lamb from Sagar

While everyone tried to out do each other with their fancy booths and food presentation, the clear winner for the evening for me and my friend was Chalet, Hotel Equatorial. They were the only people who served warm food in miniature portion. They served hot soup in a mini bun bowl but the roast beef! Ah the roast beef... It was perfectly cooked, rare in the middle, and served with caramelised shallots and mushroom gravy. Divine! I hope I get invited again next year and I'll remember to wear sensible shoes and a dress with pockets so I don't need to carry my handbag!