Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

Foie gras mousse on toasted poilane bread
I dream a lot. Awake or asleep but especially when I'm asleep. I have had some seriously bizarre dreams which cause me to wonder if there is some deep, dark, twisted individual hidden underneath. Oh well, maybe not so hidden really. Sometimes I have epic dreams that seem to go on and on. Even after I wake up and fall back asleep the dream continues. And then there are some which are plain obvious. Last night I dreamt that Sabs and I went to the Frangipani Lazy Sunday lunch and I was too full to eat! I felt so full and bloated, what a nightmare! And they served us a whole roast chicken each. Needless to say, when I woke up this morning, I headed straight to the gym to make sure I worked up an appetite. Its the final Lazy Sunday lunch for the year and it was a Christmas-themed one. Mmmm my favourite! There isn't anything fancy, just really good, simple and gorgeous food.

For the amuse bouche we had foie gras mousse on poilane bread. Followed by a deliciously moreish jerusalem artichoke soup with noisette poached scallops and sage butter. Our starter consisted of sauteed girolle mushrooms with a wobbly, perfectly poached egg. The beauty is in the simplicity of the dish. I loved the chewy texture of the aromatic girolles against the soft, liquidy egg. It just really hit the spot! The mains consisted of roast chicken, prime rib and roast lamb shoulder. On the sides were all my favourite Christmassy things like pea and "ham" in cream, sauteed brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, parsnips and butternut squash and pan-fried stuffing (from the chicken). The roast chicken was just perfect. And the stuffing! My god, I could eat buckets of it. It was a chestnut, morel mushroom and foie gras stuffing. Y-U-M! The prime rib was deeevine! So flavourful and juicy. And the black truffle gravy that went along with it just brought tears to my eyes. It was almost sticky and with that unmistakable hint of truffle perfume. The roast lamb was pretty good too but the prime rib won hands down.

We were bursting at the seams by the end of the meal. Still we managed to fit in dessert. After all, how can one eat at Frangipani without eating their sickeningly decadent and brilliant desserts. I helped myself to the yule log which was like a lovely Victoria sponge cake in a roll. And I also had the egg nog ice cream with egg liquer. Heavenly! The fruit cake was way too alcoholic for me! It was like a shot of alcohol with texture. Whoah! I only wished that more of our friends could've joined us. Nothing like sharing a fantastic meal with friends. Oh well, their loss! Sigh. This is what Sundays should be like. Lazy and scrumptious!

Prime rib with black truffle gravy, roast potatoes, pasnips and brussel sprouts
Frangipani - click here for contact details and upcoming events.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Monday Flues

The strangest thing happened between 10pm Sunday and 6pm Monday. I had the full blown flu-like symptoms and then it was gone! Poof! Just like that. I guess it must've been allergies or something. Anyway, while stewing in self-pity I tried to figure out what to cook for dinner to make myself feel better. I didn't want to make porridge because my porridge is terrible! Its either rice floating in water or starchy paste you can use to put up wallpaper with. Soup? No, I wanted something heartier so I decided on a beef and barley stew. I know, there are at least 3 people I know who will run away screaming at the sound of barley followed by stew. Somehow that sounded very lovely and healthy in my head. And what could be easier right? I love chucking everything in a dish and just leaving it on the stove. I couldn't find any brisket so I bought shin instead. Dang, I needed to sharpen my knives! The damn thing was so muscular and tough! I thought to myself, "Shit, not going to be able to eat this thing for at least four hours!" Two and a half hours later, voila! It was tender and bouncy like a baby's bottom. Patting myself on the back here but it really was quite good and just what I needed. The barley was a nice change to the usual spuds. Plus, it made me feel all nice and healthy eating it! Two days later, it tasted even better. Stew and curries are the same, they definitely taste better the following day.

If you want to be brave and try the recipe, here it is. Portioned for 2-3 people.

300g beef shin, biggish cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into sizeable chunks
1/2 cup barley, rinsed
1 cup button mushroom, halved
1 can stout
1 onion, halved and quartered
3 cloves garlic
sprig thyme & 1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a casserole dish and stir-fry onions and garlic on medium heat until fragrant. Add beef and make sure its not sticking to the bottom of the dish. Pour in stout, herbs and 150ml water. Cover and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer for 1 hour.

Then add in carrots followed by barley 15 minutes later. I like my barley with some texture left. The barley will soak up most of the liquids leaving you a lovely rich stout gravy. Mmmm! About 10-15 minutes before the dish is done, throw in the mushrooms. Season liberally. I found this stew needed quite a bit of salt. And depending on your brand of stout, there may be a slight bittersweet after taste of stout left. I think next time I might add some tinned tomatoes to it to balance the bittersweet taste. Anyway, happy cooking!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Duck Rice at Four Seasons


A short post on an old favourite. Roast duck is about steaming hot plate of rice, token pieces of chinese lettuce and gravy as much as it is about the duck. English ducks are big, robust, meaty creatures unlike the wiry ones back home. Yet, the skin ain't any crispier. In fact, it ain't all that if you think about it. The reason why I always go back to it is because it reminds me of what once was and its the familiarity that provides me endless comfort. I have so many good memories of roast duck rice at Four Seasons. Running to the restaurant in the rain, feeding Bubur roast duck skin (RIP Bubur), farewell dinner, countless lunches with friends and family, ta-pauing on those cold nights and waiting in the car with heating on,... And who doesn't like those freshly cut oranges to clean your palate at the end of the meal eh? This trip I figured out the difference between Four Seasons and Gold Mine. All it really comes down to is a few more pieces of lettuce and one gravy is sweeter than the other. I kid you not. So don't fret if you can't get a table at Four Seasons because Gold Mine is only a few shop lots away!

Four Seasons is at 84 Queensway, London W2. Tel +44 20 7229 4320
Gold Mine is at 102 Queensway, London W2. Tel +44 20 7792 8331

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gastropubs: The Garrison VS Anchor & Hope

Clockwise from top left: mussels in saffron; pan-fried seabass with white beetroot; apple sorbet and hazelnut ice cream; seabream fillet with cornish crab and squid ink taglierine.

Ahhhh, walk into pubs these day and you can breathe in fresh, clean air. Well relatively speaking anyway. London is now a smoke-free zone. Yaaaaay! Happy days! It is so nice that I can sit in a pub and not smell like ashtray and greatly reduce my risk of cancer from second-hand smoke. I wonder when Malaysia will adopt this policy? In the last ten years, people have really begun to eat well and be more aware of where their food comes from. I'm sure a great part of it is due to the popularity of celebrity chefs and their tv shows. Even pubs have elevated their usual stodgy grub to gastronomic feasts. They are so popular that supermarket chains have gastropub meals. So it was definitely on my list of must-eats. After doing some research on the web, we narrowed it down to Anchor & Hope and The Garrison. We chose them because they had positive reviews and they were easy to get to from where we were. The Garrison surprisingly looks nothing like a pub. Or rather, it looks like a pub that I, and probably most other women, would design. It definitely has a more feminine touch compared to the rest. We met up with my cousins for dinner one night. It was completely full despite it being a weekday. Eventhough they had made a reservation there were only had bar seats left.

Clockwise from top left: my lovely and succulent barbary duck; the view into the kitchen; Hunky's surprisingly delicous sardine and scallops on toast; the packed tables at The Garrison

The menu is certainly seasonal. They must change it very regularly as I tried to look up the menu online and it is totally different to what we had. There are also many daily specials written on the board. We ordered a few starters to share. Hunky's sardines and scallops on toast was really good! Like a fancy bruschetta but with a lot more bite to it. Al’s mussels cooked in saffron was disappointing. The combination of saffron with the not so fresh mussels was quite stifling. I ordered deep-fried marrow with bacon, girolles and spinach. Need I say more really? The outer crust was crispy and golden giving way to an almost liquid centre. It’s a good thing we were sharing it. It was incredibly rich. The main courses were even better. I thoroughly enjoyed my roasted barbary duck with savoy cabbage and pink peppercorn sauce. It was subtle, succulent and divine. Surprisingly, Hunky did not order pork. Instead he had the venison saddle with puy lentils. There were a lot of lentils and not much else. I think he was disappointed because he kept eyeing the braised pork with stewed apple and sweet potato mash. The pork was gorgeously moreish! The venison was really tasty and when paired with the lentils it made the dish rustic and simply gorgeous. He of course regretted he did not go with the pork which happened to be really good! It was comfort on a plate. The kind of dish you want to be eating curled up infront of the telly and its raining outside. Bliss. All in all, I would definitely go back again on my next visit. The only thing I have to gripe about is probably the lackluster desserts. Wow, the apple sorbet was really coarse. It was like eating cold coarsely blended apples. Not quite my idea of sorbet. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

Amazing pot roast of grouse served with a side of lentils and buttered kale

A couple of days later we met up with Hoots and Sam at Anchor & Hope. Its been awhile since I last saw them and now I remember why I don’t see them very much. I love them to bits but boy do they zap all the energy out of me! Anchor & Hope is pretty well known from what I gather. Perhaps the fact that they don’t take reservations is an indication of how well they are doing. All the websites warn of long waits but obviously people don’t mind waiting. We got there fairly early and the dining room was already full. We managed to get a table outside after standing round stalking people who looked like they were leaving. After 45 minutes of Hoots, Sam and drinks, we got seated for dinner.

The menu here changes daily and features lovely rustic pub grub. Stews, roasts and all the other gloriously comforting food. I normally avoid mackerel like the plague. A combination of early childhood culinary trauma and fishy fillets at Japanese restaurants. But Sam’s smoked mackerel with beetroot and horseradish was really quite superb! It was moist, flavourful and delicate at the same time. Hoots roast grouse was amazing! I’ve never had grouse before. For me was like a big pigeon. It was served rare which sounds a little scary but its not bloody like beef or lamb. Who knew? Sam had rabbit stew which was mediocre in a sense that it could have been any meat that had been cooked with tomatoes. Not very exciting. My roast pork loin which was the most popular dish that evening (mine was the last serving left) wasn't great. The meat was on the dry side and frankly lacking in taste. In hindsight, we should have ordered the roast lamb shoulder. It sounded daunting at the time as it was meant for 5 people. The problem was also that not everyone wanted to eat lamb. The table next to us ordered it and all of us salivated with regret. It was a robust atmosphere at the pub and that makes for great eating. I would definitely recommend either of these restaurants if you happen to be in the area.


Clockwise from top left: smoked mackerel with beetroot and horseradish; chopped Dorset crab on toast; lemon delicious pudding; roast pork loin with prune, celeriac and lentils

Anchor & Hope, 36 The Cut, London SE1 8LP.

Opening hours: Tues-Sat 12N-2:30pm / Mon-Sat 6-10:30pm / Sun 12:30-5pm

No reservations taken.

The Garrison, 99 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XB. Tel +44 20 7089 9355

Saturday, October 31, 2009

København

Clockwise from top left: Hunky's favourite smørrebrød with shrimp; my roast beef smørrebrød with crunchy deep fried onions and boiled eggs; homemade roast pork by Hunky's old friend; the poor old half fish-half human; Tivoli Garden comes alive in the evening.

Copenhagen. Land of lego, herrings, sexy furniture, mermaids and pastries. Not necessarily in that order. It was my first time visiting Copenhagen and it was wonderful to see the Scandinavian side of my new husband. Husband. I will need some time before I can say it without giggling. Anyway, on the morning that we arrived it was wet, cold and gloomy. Fortunately we were blessed with blue skies from the following day onwards. Still, it was miserably cold. 7C during the day with icy blasts of wind coming in from the sea. Brrrrr. And yet, walking the streets you wouldn't think any one else was cold. I love watching the well dressed women on their bicycles. How do they stay so composed despite the chill? And such great posture! I told Hunky I want to get a bicycle when we get home so I can er...cycle to the supermarket. This was met with a hug and a "You're going get run over lah". Possibly true since they don't have allocated bicycle lanes like in Copenhagen. And of course there is that small problem called Malaysian drivers. Oh well!

Clockwise from top left: I'm a happy power point; delicious, mouthwatering smørrebrød at Ida Davidsen - wheres the bread??; rush hour in Copenhagen; pastries at Reinh Van Hauen; assorted herrings on rye

Hunky had already made a list in his head of all the things he wanted me to try. On the top of his list was smørrebrød. And we had a lot of smørrebrød (I stopped trying to pronounce it after the twentieth attempt) which are open face sandwiches that people eat for lunch. One things for sure, they sure do like their mayo here. Everything has mayo or a sauce that has mayo in it. Hunky's favourite is the shrimp one. Not just any shrimp but cold, deep-sea Scandinavian shrimp (don't quote me on this!). Kind of like having really nice prawn cocktail on dense rye. I like mine with herrings. Admittedly, after staring them for a while I do feel kind of squeamish but eating them is a different matter entirely. I like the sweet and sharp tangy flavour together on that dense rye bread. Mmmm. I like it with red onions and capers, with dill, in curry, I like them all. I also really enjoyed my roast beef smørrebrød at Ida Davidsen that was topped with deep fried onions. I think they started off as onion rings that were deep fried beyond oblivion. So crunchy and sweet! I did crave warm food by the second day. After all, all these cold sandwiches are hardly a comfort when its cold outside. I want hot, cockle-warming soups and stews. Instead we had two rounds of roast pork for dinner. We actually never made to any of the restaurants for dinner on the three nights that we had to ourselves. Mostly because it was so darn cold. And expensive too. Everything is so expensive! I thought London was bad but London is cheap compared to CPH. Those tiny smørrebrød cost on average Kr65 (RM46) and you really need to eat two before you are full! No wonder people in CPH are so slim! They bike around and can only afford to eat one smørrebrød! If I moved here I would be soooooo thin! Oh but then there are the pastries. Danish pastries! No, the ones back home are a travesty! Flakey, crisp pastry filled with all kinds of delicious fillings, mainly cream. They sure do love their cream. Speaking of cream, Hunky and I went to La Glace which is apparently the oldest patisserie in Copenhagen. Its a quaint little cafe located on a side street in the shopping district. The shop front has a big window display with all kinds of pastries and cakes to tease you into submission. The first two times we went it was so busy that we couldn't even get into the cafe. On our third attempt, we went in the morning. I know! Cake for breakfast- how fantastic is that?! I was immediately attracted to the pink icing-topped eclair. I guess I'm just a girl at heart. Hunky had his favourite "potato" cake. It is so adorable! It really looks like a potato. Its a choux pastry that is filled with creme patisserie and cream and wrapped in marzipan and dusted with cocoa powder. It is as rich as it sounds. Thank God for the industrial strength coffee that we had. Mine was lovely and light but the icing tasted odd and Hunky told me it was laced with rum. Huh, who would've thought! Yum!

Clockwise from top: The view from the top at Marble Church, thats Sweden in the distance; to-die-for pastries at La Glace (this is only 1/4 of displayed items!); moreish fish cakes with remoulade at Tivoli Hallen- the consistency is light and souffle-like. Definitely not like the stodgy potato ones. Gorgeous!

I was told that I must try a hot dog when in Copenhagen. I asked if it was really good and I was told that it wasn't. Eh? Its just one of those junky things that people ate I guess. Sure enough there were hot dog vans everywhere and they did not look appetising at all. I was meant to have a hot dog after all. One very cold evening at the famed Tivoli Gardens. We were lucky to have arrived when we did because Tivoli had just reopened for that week to coincide with school break. The place was decorated in a Halloween theme. It was so festive and vibrant. I think most people go for the rides but Hunky and I were happy to just feel the fear from ground level. All the rides I wanted to go on were for pre-schoolers. Oh well. Anyway we had got there around 5pm and watched everything come alive as night fell. So did the temperature! We debated going to Herman at Nimb which is a Michelin restaurant serving up the best of Danish fare had to offer. However after looking at the prices (from RM500 for 4 course), I decided I would rather bring home a tangible piece of Denmark with me. After all, how can I leave without owning something from Poul Heningsen/George Jensen/Arne Jacobsen/something with a -sen in it. We did eat at Nimb - at a hot dog stand serving up "gourmet" hot dogs. It tasted really good but I think we may have just been cold and hungry. It was so cold that I couldn't feel hot the dog was and burnt my tongue. I must be getting old. The cold never use to make me feel so miserable. Blah.

Clockwise from top left: Hunky's favourite "potato" cake; go green! Cycle!; sexy furniture everywhere!; beautiful, delicious and organic pastries at Cascabel; one lonely bicycle, very unusual to see just by itself!

We were supposed to go to Malmö, Sweden on a day trip but we ran out of time as there was still so many things and people to see in Copenhagen. I did get to see Sweden across the sea. We had a fantastic view from the top of the Marble Church on one beautiful day. Access to the roof is only at 1pm and 3pm sharp. We so happened to be there at the time so we decided to go up. I forgot how steep and narrow the stairs can be in old churches. Thank god it wasn't for very long as I was starting to feel really claustrophobic. Shudder. The view was phenomenal and made our knees weak. We also went up to Louisiana, the art gallery not the state, which is located in Humlebæk north of Copenhagen. Its a 30 - 45 minute train ride depending on which train you hop on to. It well worth it because the museum is sprawled over a huge space with amazing views of the sea. It was freezing that day so as much as we wanted to enjoy the outdoor space, it was far too cold to sit for more than a minute. And of course we went to see the Little Mermaid. She is a tiny little thing. I don't know why I always thought she was on a beach but really the view behind her is quite industrial and not too pretty. Anyway, that story is so darn heartbreaking anyway. That Mr Andersen is one twisted individual.

I would like to go back and see the rest of Denmark and maybe some other parts Scandinavia. Still so much to see, taste and feel! First, have to save money! And pray that the ringgit strengthens. Heres hoping!

Tivoli Hallen - Vester Volgade 91, tel +3311 0160
Great place for lunch featuring typical Danish dishes and a small selection of smørrebrød. Delicious fish cakes with consistency of or jien!

Cascabel - St. Kongensgade 80-82, tel +45 3393 7797
Fine eco-friendly cakes and pastries

Ida Davidsen - St. Kongensgade 70, tel +45 3391 3655
A smorgasbord of smørrebrød! Call ahead for reservations.

Reinh Van Hauen - a small chain of bakery that has delicious fresh pastries. Perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea. There is one on St. Kongensgade and another at Magasin food hall.

La Glace - Skoubade 3, 1158 København.
Forget the diet! Make sure to try the "sports cake" and let me know what it tastes like. It looks
like a giant ball of cream!

One thing to remember is that most of these places only open for breakfast, lunch afternoon tea.
Check the website for opening hours to avoid disappointment.

Clockwise from top: Henry Moore sculpture at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; haute dog from Nimb at Tivoli Gardens; our favourite brand of Luncheon Meat - TULIP!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Food To Go & Macaroons

Delicate treasures that melt in the mouth
If you think you've tasted macaroons, then think again. I love macaroons but I understand why people don't see the point of this tiny, overpriced piece of sweet pastry. But thats because they haven't tasted the ones at Ladurée! I've always thought I had tasted some pretty good macaroons but these are phenomenal! I know its hard to imagine getting excited over something so small and airy but these are truly exquisite. The crispy shell is barely there and just breaks into a creamy, oozy filling. I especially love the blackcurrant & violet flavour. Although you can't really taste the violet, the blackcurrant is amazing! Its pure fruity goodness held together by an almond veil. Amazing and freaking expensive at £6.95 per 100g. Thank god they are light. Definitely worth a frequent indulgence I reckon!
We've also been to Hunky's old haunts for lunch. God knows he has been dying for a BLT! So of course we had to go visit Pret and EAT. I remember the large Pret in between Covent Garden and Leicester Square. There weren't that many outlets then, now they are everywhere! Several years after Pret there was EAT. I've always prefered EAT simply because I like their soups and pies more. Having said that, this trip I had a junky but delicious swedish pork meatball wrap at Pret. YUM! We had a garden vegetable soup, lovely when all cold outside, and a chicken and leek pie. The pie was a tad salty for me but was tasty and full of leeks. I'm sure there are many more equally as successful chains in London but these are two are by far the most prominent from a tourist point of view. This trip while weaving through some of the backroads between Bond Street and Green Park, we chanced upon Napket. If you think the website looks snooty, lets just say they pride themselves on it. After all their tagline does say "Snob Food". I can only assume they are taking the piss. I like it because its cheeky and it just looks do different from all the other sandwich bars I've seen so far. The bloody chiller has oak panelling for God's sake! Say what you will, I like details. For a £ or 2 more than the other two places, you can dine with Tatler's best. Snort. Hey maybe if I sit there long enough Daniel Craig might come along to buy a goat's cheese & parma ham ciabatta?...

The interior of Napket. Love the stamped napkin holders, faux bookshelves and oak-panelled chillers. LCLY!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

1 for 1 to One O One

Canadian Burger at Hache, check out the "side" greens
Pan seared scallops at One O One. Deeevine! 
During my last trip I blogged about some delicious pork chops I had at Randall & Aubin. Hunky and I decided to revisit the place in Fulham Road only to find that it had closed and Hache has opened in its place. I had read about Hache, known as the burger connoiseurs, and their steak-cut burgers. We figured it must've been a sign to dine there as they were having 1 for 1 deal for lunch. Unheard of just a couple of years ago but you'll find that most restaurants are doing great deals to beat the credit crunch. I recognised the interior immediately. Apart from some lights and chairs, I think it looks a lot like the previous restaurant. I ordered the Sicilan which comes with parma ham and mozarella while Hunky zoomed in on the Canadian, honey cured bacon and cheddar. The presentation is less than impressive. I had asked for the breadless option so when the burger arrived it was sitting rather messily on a bed of roughly chopped greens. A much needed input of fibre after all our carb-laden meals! On first bite, it was very flavoursome. A good chargrilled taste. The "patty" is roughly chopped by hand so you get to really experience the full flavour of the beef. Hunky's Canadian tasted a lot like mine. I was disappointed that as a "burger connoiseur" they served us Heinz ketchup. I guess their focus is solely on the patty as it really is no-frills kind of dining. The burgers cost £8.95 each and a side order of chips was £2.95. Would I go again? Nope. After all there is one in KL that is heaps better, seriously!
Red mullet bouillabase
We walked up to Kings Road after that. I love looking at lighting and furniture. I was in wallpaper heaven at Designers Guild. To-die-for! I was also checking out all the kitchen gadgets at Peter Lewis. Swoon! Kitchen Aids and multiple attachments! Cookie cutters and aluminium cast cake moulds. Phwaaah. We also walked up to Knightsbridge and visited Harrods. I like walking around and looking at all these overpriced, archaic and over-the-top items which just make me wonder "Who the hell buy these things?" Still, it was fun looking at the beautiful things and visiting my favourite section of Harrods - the chocolate and pattiserie hall! Palpitations! Excitement or heart attack, not sure. The cupcakes at Lola's (hmmm the website looks strangely familiar eh?) looked promising although we didn't get to try any as we had to go meet my best friend Tank-o for dinner at One O One. Unfortunately we had to dine like geriatrics to enjoy the 50% discount on food bill which meant we had to be seated at 6:30pm. We were the first ones at the restaurant! Ordinarily I wouldn't dine in hotel restaurants in London simply because they are so stuffy and expensive. I read up on the restaurant and it had many good reviews. So expectations were high. One O One is located on the ground floor of Sheraton Tower (right next to the casino, very handy for you gamblers). I went for the "petit plats" option which allows you to sample the best from the ala carte menu. You can choose between 3 to 6 petit plats. I was advised by our waitress that 4 is usually more than enough. And it was. I struggled with my last plate. We started with a really delicious amuse bouche of crab blini and a potato and endive cappuccino. Okay the blini was too stodgy for the crab but the soup was delicious! I could had had a large bowl for dinner and be completely satisfied! 

Warm foccacia served with unusual and tasty seaweed infused butter (pictured in background)
First up, native lobster with fennel macedoine salad, king crab pastilla, apple jelly and sorbet. In layman terms, coleslaw-like salad with fennel and flaky samosa filled with king crab. It arrived looking so abstract as everything was miniaturised; from the tiny square of green jelly to the bite size samosa. Everything in parts was delicious but I'm not sure how they came together. Maybe this plate doesn't work when its miniaturised. Still, it was fresh on the palate and great start to the meal. Next up was my seared norwegian scallops with truffle foam and duck foie gras. The scallops were perfectly cooked and so freaking good! The duck liver was good too but again I didn't quite feel the flavours coming together for me. The following dish was red mullet bouillabase with small brittany shellfish ragout and seaweed mouillete. I know its seafood but it smelt unpleasantly fishy. I think it was the actual mullet itself. The dish came with seafood piled under a seared red mullet. The creamy bouillabase is then poured over it. The soup was nice but I wasn't quite expecting so many sea snails in my soup. Overall it was good but nothing to write home about. My final dish was a pan roasted Norwegian white halibut and lobster dumpling, paimpol cocobeans truffle cassoulet and sauce Américaine.  This was really, really good. The fish was flaky with a firm texture and the lobster dumpling was the best wanton ever! For dessert Tanko and Hunky ordered chocolate souffle and white chocolate mousse respectively. The souffle was densely packed with chocolatey flavour while Hunky's white chocolate mousse was thick and chunky. I loved the lemon sorbet that came with it. Overall it was a pretty good dinner. I think its definitely worthwhile coming while the 50% discount is still on. 
Petit fours with our coffees
One O One - Sheraton Park Tower, 101 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RN
Hache - 329-331 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London SW10 9QL

Friday, October 02, 2009

KUL-DBX-LHR

The view of Hyde Park Corner from the bus
When I boarded the Emirates plane to Dubai from KL I realised that it had been quite some time since I flew long haul. I felt so jakun as I oohed and aahed about the Boeing 777. Leg room! Seats that recline, touch screen entertainment with enough movies to fly back and forth twice! Man, I've been flying Air Asia too much! I think this was also the first time I've ever flown Emirates and the service is top notch. The food, so I was told by Hunky because he loves airplane food, was good too. I think I will be flying Emirates more often. The only annoying thing is the 4 hour layover in Dubai  which doesn't seem very long except when you take into the account the time difference and we were struggling to stay awake from 2am-6am. The moment I sat down in the plane, no kidding, I passed out. Damm I'm sounding old! Anyway here I am! Back in London after three years. We've been blessed with very good weather so far. About 18C with blue skies and sunshine. So not London. So much has changed and so much hasn't. The tube is still remarkably unreliable. The streets are still full of litter. Oxford Street is still full of tourists (us included!). Then there is the construction. Old buildings are gone, in its place, semi sky scrapers that really stand out in the London skyline. I love the new statue at Marble Arch. Took me a while to figure out what it was. In my defense, I couldn't move away from the part of the statue that resembled a very fine Rubenesque arse.

Mighty fine salt beef sandwich from the Brass Grill at Selfridges
See those posters hanging from the ceiling? Its a Singapore food promotion! I know! We were surrounded by Singaporeans trying to get us to try Tiger beer, Yeo's, some instant noodle thing as well as moon cake! Choi! 
Attack of the killer meringues at the Selfridges Food Court. 
We paid homage to Selfridges and its salt beef sandwiches at the Brass Grill. They've moved into the food area and have a bigger seating capacity. The sandwich is a good as ever. That beef is so tender that it just falls apart in the mouth. Mmmm! And that scary turd-like pickled gherkin. So darn good with the beef! Hunky was tempted to have another one but decided to save his stomach for Krispy Kreme instead. Its not a big variety at Selfridges but I was eager to try the Key Lime Pie and Rocky Road. I've had Krispy Kreme in KL and I was convinced that residual oil taste was a result of the oil we used back home. You know what, it tastes the same here! The only difference is the one here has a firmer traditional doughnut texture unlike the soft fluffy ones in KL. The Key Lime Pie was yummy and surprisingly not too sweet. Rocky Road was crap. The chocolate doughnut was dry and the toppin was a lame attempt at rocky road. Well, I'm officially KK'd out. We're off to the gastropub next!

O' Krispy Kreme you be the death of me!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Post Climb Makan in KK

I know its been many weeks since my last post. I've been busy getting married! Not sure whether I'll be blogging about that. I will say that it was a wonderful wedding that went by too quickly. If only we could stretch time. Sigh... Anyway, found these pictures in my phone so thought I ought to blog about it before I start my London posts. 

After our climb we checked into Le Meridien where my other two hens were waiting. We had a very fresh seafood dinner near the waterfront. I think what stayed in my mind more was the breakfast we had on our last day at a coffeeshop nearby. After two days of canteen-buffet-type thing on the mountain, it was nice to see other a different variety of dishes that didn't include sweet sour fish, fried rice and fried mee hoon. Between the four us we tried the house special fried noodles, beef and offal soup noodles and waht tahn mee. Everything was incredible tasty and not too heavy handed on the msg. I especially liked the beef and offal soup noodle. The broth was aromatic, light and full of flavour. The fried noodles were very good too. If I had any complains about it, it would have to be that it was a tad oily for breakfast. The waht tan was probably the best I've had since Ipoh many, many years ago. A proper egg sauce as opposed to starch! And so much "wok's breath"! Very good! Unfortunately I can't remember what the coffeeshop is called but I will post details up later. I'm off, have pubs to visit, sausages to eat and kitcheny gadget things to buy!                                                                   

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sage - FINALLY!



Picture top, left to right: amuse buche; mushroom consomme with a heady aroma; foie gras with avocado and fine bean tempura - sick! So sickeningly good! Liquid butter of foie gras exploding in the mouth.

When Sage first opened I couldn't wait to blog about it. I guess it must have been a case of over expectations. I absolutely adore its sister restaurant Cilantro's and Hunky and I were both suffered mild gastricitis upon hearing they would be closed for renovations. Its been more than a year now and Cilantro's is rumoured to reopen end of the year. And still, I have not blogged about this place. Up until now it just hasn't wow'd me. There were a couple of good dishes but to sum the first 5 experiences - underwhelming. Well, you know what they say - sixth time lucky! Or was that third time lucky? Oh well, nevertheless, LL and Boolicious celebrated my birthday at Sage with me. It has been well over 9 months since I last visited. Infact it was FBB's surprise birthday when I last visited. This one meal, was the best I ever had at Sage. Maybe it was a weekday and the service staff are not so swamped with orders. Or maybe the dust has finally settled and Chef' Takashi Kimura's true colours shine. I'm pleased to see that they are still doing their 3-course and Chef's Menu menus. I must remember to come here for lunch.


All of us ordered foie gras with avocado and fine bean tempura. Great minds think alike after all. We were curious about the avocado and foie gras pairing. Fat upon fat? Surely not but surely it would be divine! And it was. It was a weird sensation as both fats are merely separated by a thin crispy layer or batter. Thank goodness there was only a small piece of avocado. I might've had a heart attack at the table. The foie gras was perfectly cooked. A little wobbly in the middle. Its like liquid butter on the tongue. Mmmm...

In between courses we were presented with a complimentary cup of mushroom consomme. This was because our main course was taking a little longer than expected. Honestly, we hadn't noticed so it couldn't have been that long a wait. Well, if you're going to give me a freebie I'm certainly not going to refuse. I am so happy that they did because I would not have realised how deliciously aromatic this soup is. The smell! It was woody, perfumey and earthy all at the same time. We felt so nourished and virtuous drinking it and convinced ourselves that the bad foie gras had been cancelled out by all this mushroomy goodness.

The clear winner of the evening- Boolicious' wild rice risotto with scallops and prawn.

I loved my main course! Tender herb crusted lamb rack with a hint of wasabi. I could've eaten the whole lamb! Having said that, the clear winner of the evening was Boo's mind blowing risotto. Yes, I never thought I would ever describe risotto that way. This was just an oxymoron of flavours. It was light and delicate yet rich and creamy. The seafood broth used to cook this must've been from Neptune himself as it was so incredible aromatic. I think I should have left it at that because my Jivara chocolate dessert just tipped me over the edge. It was so dense and rich. Oh man, I just wanted to lie down there and then and go to sleep! LL and Boo chose their desserts better. LL's almond tau fu fah was lovely and refreshing. Okay it was actually a blancmange but it really is a lot like tau fu fah! Boo's light pastry with fresh cherries was lovely to end the meal with. I was also presented with a small cake compliments of Sage. How thoughtful! Thank you Sage for converting me into a believer! I will be back soon!

Thank you Boolicious and Lyrical Lemongrass for a wonderful dinner and restoring
my faith in Sage!

Sage at The Gardens, Midvalley. 6th Floor, The Gardens, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur. For reservations 03 2268 1188

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hen's Weekend Mount Kinabalu


When my BFFs asked me what I wanted to do for my Hen's Night, I don't think they were expecting me to say "Climb Mount Kinabalu!" There were some long pauses, a couple of ahems and then a chorus of "Okay!" Getting drunk, strippers and complete debauchery is just an average night out for me so climbing a mountain seemed more fitting! There were 6 of us altogether and only 4 were climbing. The two lians waited for us in KK while we went to Kinabalu Park. We spent one night at Nepenthes Lodge before starting our ascend the following morning. I would have liked to have spent another day at the park because it really was very pretty and there were lots of trails that were less harrowing than the climb up. So at 8:30am we arrived at Timpohon Gate with our guide Jeremin. The first two kilometres were fine. It was lovely cool morning and we met many hikers and porters along the way. Some of these porters were carrying gas tanks up! How do they make it look so easy? There we were puffing and panting. There were seven stops before Laban Rata and we stopped at each one to catch our breath and to take sip of the untreated water provided in large green tanks. It looks kinda dodgy but really, it was very cool, refreshing and safe to drink (maybe not if you are mat salleh). After Layang-Layang, the final 2km was really gruelling. The air gets thinner and the foliage becomes more sparse. Theres no protection from the strong wind. It didn't feel that cold as we were constantly moving. Once we got to Laban Rata at 3pm, we realised it was 6C! We were definitely not prepared for the cold. Its a nice atmosphere in the guest house as you watch more people appear, you genuinely feel happy that they made it too. The lowest point of the entire trip for me was that one night we spent at Laban Rata in an unheated dormitory at Gunting Lagadan. There was no hot water so none of us took a bath and we tried to sleep around 7pm which was difficult as there were a lot of giggling and banging of doors as the groups of gap-year-mat salls were flirting with one another. None of us got any real sleep and there was one point in the night when the temperature must have dropped below 0C as I could not stop shaking from the cold. 1am the alarm clock rings and we struggle to get out of bed. Deng and Dween decided they could not join Rafs and I up the summit. Deng was still feeling the effects of the altitude and Dween was hurting from the day before. I will admit I half hoped Rafs didn't want to climb. I was, we were all so tired, sleep deprived and cold. Once we got our gear on I think adrenalin from the anticipation began to kick in. Infact, it was not as cold outside as it was in the room! At 2:30am, after a small supper of tea and fried rice, Jeremin came to get us to guide us up our cold and dark ascend to the summit. The first quarter was mainly steps and it help us get warm real fast. Once we cleared the trees however, it was a different story. Suddenly all you see is rock, rope and darkness all around you. It was a very slow climb as your body just screams "Nooooooo!" It was also hard to breathe as it was really quite cold as the wind whips around you. In the darkness, everything seemed intimidating. There is one part where the rope is on one side of you and you are walking along a thin ledge and to your right, is just blackness. After that bit I started freaking out a little bit as it only dawned on me then that I would have to climb back down! Rafs was very good and made me get a grip and focus on the task at hand. Once we reached Sayat-Sayat check point I felt a little better. We didn't rest for too long and continued by ourselves as Jeremin was still chatting with the other guides and he said he would catch up with us. He never did! So Rafs and I stumbled along by ourselves and met up with another group going up. Then we lost them because we kept having to catch our breath. Then for a long time it was just the two of us. It was hard because we had no idea where we were, how far we had to go and it was just so cold. It was a little surreal but we kept each other going. Then the sky started to brighten and we didn't need our headlamp anymore. We still couldn't see up nor down as the mist was so thick. And then finally we heard voices and we realised we had reached Low's Peak! The chilly wind was brutal! And my camera died on me because it was so cold! We managed to take one shot of each other at the peak. And then we just waited for the mist to part. It was like a peep show. The sun would appear and then it would be gone. And then the clouds would part and you see a peak right in front of you. Once the clouds finally parted the view was breathtaking. I've never been up a mountain before so for me, this was really spectacular. It was just so peaceful and beautiful. I'm really happy I did it and that I had my friends with me. I don't think I could've done it otherwise. Thank you guys! Sorry for the pain!

Now, coming down was a different story all together! The descend for me was far more difficult as fatigued set in and the wobbly knees disintegrate altogether! I'm going to be sore for a very long time!

For accommodation, visit Sutera Sanctuary Lodges and I found this website to be incredibly helpful. Do book ahead to secure the lodgings and I would advise everyone to climb in March/April when its not so cold!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Birthday Cupcakes

Happy birthday to meeeee!

What to do with leftover caramel chocolate ganache frosting? Make some chocolate cupcakes to ice it with of course. I also have a bottle of creme de cacao given to me by my friend who was dating a bartender. Handy! I decided to douse the cupcakes with it. Was tempted to used Hunky's Baileys but he is a little possessive about it. Can't wait to eat them later! My birthday wish - for the earth and its people to heal and become one and at peace with each other.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Merdeka - Long Weekend Baking

A quickie post. Merdeka Day for me means peace and quiet in more ways than one. Its also a good time to catch up on untried recipes and cleaning out the closet. This long weekend for me involved a lot of cooking. We had some friends over on Saturday and I managed to make a simple Chinese meal of lotus root soup, cold beancurd with sweet and sour pickled vegetable, steam fish with ginger spring onion and soy dressing and a mildly spiced chicken curry. Mum would be proud! The lotus root soup tasted just as good as Mum's. Unfortunately the cold beancurd was a bit of an acquired taste I think! I love it! The following evening Ducky came over for a belated birthday/buka puasa dinner. We had beef fried rice and leftover soup followed by Hunky's tarty lemon tart for dessert.

There is nothing more lovely than the aroma of freshly baked goodies. So I made a banana loaf although I should have let the bananas ripen more. Also I think it needs a little more butter but overall its a pretty healthy banana loaf. Heres the recipe if you would like to try it.

150g brown sugar (you can add more, original recipe calls for 250g)
140g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
250g ripe bananas, mashed (I used pisang raja)
280g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda bicarbonate
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Grease a 23 x 13cm loaf tin
  2. Beat butter and sugar in mixer until well incorporated, add the eggs.
  3. Then add mashed bananas.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate, cinnamon and ginger into the mixture.
  5. Pour into prepared tin and bake for about 45 mins - 1 hour depending if you have a fan assisted oven. Mine is the latter and took only 45 mins.
  6. Leave to cool in tin slightly before turning out onto rack to cool completely.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dish-turbingly Good

Above: Roast bone marrow with parsley and capers salad; Boo's pan seared foie gras
Below: Charred to perfection, our US Prime Rib; potatoes roasted in duck fat, it was alright
I rarely venture into Delicious unless I am meeting Crispy for coffee as he happens to live in Dua. I'm still upset that they took away the only dish that I like which was the agedashi tofu with mushrooms. They used to be good about three restaurants ago. When it was just Bangsar and 1 Utama. I spent quite a lot of my weekends there, hanging out with friends and indulging in shoestring fries, decadent death by iced chocolates and abundantly fresh and crisp seafood salad. Now the food quality is too inconsistent to risk when hungry. After many, many months of curiously wondering what they were going to do with the space that occupied the ground floor of Dua Annex, Dish was finally revealed. Dish is the new fine dining concept by Delicious group. It occupies the other half of the delicatessen of Delicious Ingredients. The layout implies casual dining but the menu prices suggest much more. After studying the menu one day with Crispy, I was eager to get the girls to dine here with me. So one Thursday evening, Boolicious, Lyrical Lemongrass, Ciki and I found ourselves sharing a bottle of Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc over a surprisingly good meal.

Lobster omelette in a pool of buttery lobster bisque RM58
If there is one common complaint about Delicious, it would be the bad service. At Dish however, service is excellent! Shockingly so that I nearly fell off my chair. The staff are knowledgeable, attentive and quite sweet really. Even when they insulted me, I'll come to that later. To start, roasted bone marrow, foie gras and foie gras parfait. The bone marrow arrived looking rather impressive, like 3 mini silos filled with buttery goodness. And after you're done eating them, they make great fashion cuff bangles! Only if you are built like a tiny ah lian of course. The marrow was paired with a parsley capers salad which was a delicious contrast of flavours and textures. I was told that it needed a little more salt by LL and Ciki. Meanwhile I was busy tucking into my foie gras parfait on melba toasts and raspberry jam. It was smooth and delicately flavoured. Of course it paled in comparison with Boolicious' pan-seared foie gras which was to die for! But then again, I don't believe I've met a foie gras I didn't like. For mains Ciki had grilled tiger prawns while the rest of us shared a 1.3kg US prime rib with rocket, roast potatoes in duck fat and portobello mushrooms (all RM12) on the side. The tiger prawns were lackluster and the texture was soft which meant that they were not very fresh. We fared better with our prime rib. It was beautifully charred but a little rare for me. LL and Boo like it like that so I ate the bits around the edges which was covered in fat. If you like fat, you've like this. It came with a couple sauces which wasn't necessary because there was already so much flavour in the meat. I did like the truffle butter but the chimichuri sauce was too piquant.

Above: black forrest pavlova with fresh cherries; gorgeous crepe suzette. Below: my crunchy in the middle orecchiette, my only gripe - little more oxtail please.
For dessert we had crepe suzette and black forrest pavlova. Both desserts were equally as good and were devoured very quickly. The crepes were just the right thickness and orange cognac sauce was buttery and gorgeous. The black forrest pavlova was a chocolate meringue topped with bailey's cream and fresh cherries. Light as a feather but full bodied with flavour. We were also offered some petit fours in the form of a dark chocolate truffle and a lemony marshmallow-like candy. The following week I was back again with Danish Pastry & GF. I had told him about how wonderful it was and he insisted on going there for dinner. I wasn't going to turn it down especially when he was buying dinner! This time I ordered the lobster omelette for starters and orecchiette with oxtail stew for mains. The lobster omelette was served in a pool of lobster bisque. The lobster was sweet and springy in the egg. And even more sublime eaten with the flavourful bisque. The only thing was that it was also incredibly rich. When my main course I arrived, I just ate one fifth of it. I basically picked out all the oxtail bits as the pasta was slightly undercooked. One more minute would have been perfect. This was crunchy in the middle. I was told later that "this type of pasta is cooked this way". If I wasn't so full and delirious from the good food I would have felt indignant but I just let it slide. The chef is obviously talented with an ego of a diva to match. Firm with a bit of bite is good but not when it hurts my teeth Mr Chef. Apart from that, I couldn't really fault my second experience at Dish. The menu would be best described as Australian. Its not huge but offer good variety. Expect to pay RM150 per person on average for three courses. The good thing is that wine is very reasonably priced here.

Danish Pastry's pan roasted duck breast with foie gras and some sort of fruit reduction thing. It was nicely done but the flavours did not come together.


Dish - Dua Annex, Jalan Tun Razak. Open for lunch and dinner. Other reviews - Masak-Masak

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bangsar Seafood Garden

From left to right: deep fried boneless chicken with fruit sauce; deep fried snapper with bean sauce; stir-fried prawns with special curry

Last Thursday I was lucky to be invited to a food tasting at Bangsar Seafood Garden. Its been a while since I've been to one of these. For me it was as much to do with eating as it was meeting some of the other bloggers. I've only been to BSG one other time and I was not impressed. I was eager to see if the second time would be better. After all, this restaurant is clearly successful. Its been in Bangsar for as long as I can remember and everytime I drive past, the restaurant is always nearly full. There were just over 20 of us, 17 cameras, 10 courses and bottles of alcohol on stand by. Actually what am I talking about. Frat Mustard was already drunk when I arrived!

The evening had its hits and misses for me. It started off with the three dishes pictured above. The boneless chicken was reminiscent of a good lemon chicken without the lemony-ess. I love lemon chicken so this dish was definitely a hit for me. Can't go wrong with chicken and mango. The next dish was a fried red snapper with bean sauce. This was mediocre for me. The sauce overpowered the fish which was what happened with the prawns as well. I really appreciated how fresh the prawns were and found the strong curry far too distracting. Others found this to be delicious just the way it is. To each his own right? My two favourite dishes of the night were the stewed chinese cabbage and cream crab. The stewed cabbage was full of flavour from the dried scallops and mushrooms. The cream crab was so fresh it was practically doing the breast stroke in the creamy sauce. I could have eaten the two crabs by myself. Alas, damn the other 9 people on the table. I think we were on a budget that night as we only got 12 miniscule but very pretty butterfly-shaped buns to eat with the crab. 6 steamed and 6 fried. I was lucky to be able to grab a fried one. The salted egg yolk crab was pretty good too. We already had 7 courses by this time so I only managed half a leg and shared the other half with one part of Le Couple Toy.

There was also fried rice with crab claws that had been stir fried with salted egg yolk. I love the crispy bits with the fried rice. The three dishes I liked least were the egg omelet with crab meat - it was a little on the dry side and a waste off crab meat if you ask me; "braised beancurd combinations" which was beancurd drenched in a strange yellow coloured starchy sauce that offered a mild taste of chicken stock and topped with water chestnuts, potatoes and carrots; mango and sago pudding - I'm just not a fan of gloopy Chinese desserts. Overall I preferred the simpler dishes that wasn't overtly creative. The seafood is superbly fresh so I would recommend cooking styles that are lighter on the palate to really taste the sweet flesh of seafood. What I like about this place is that it doesn't have the usual crazy hectic-ness of a Chinese restaurant. Service is attentive and its a great place to bring our Muslim friends for fresh seafood.

For the month of Ramadan, Bangsar Seafood Garden have several promotional set menus to choose from, the price ranges from RM498++ to RM898++ for tables of 10. The great thing is they are throwing in 1kg of crab for free (valued at around RM60 plus). Promotion period is from Aug 20 to Sept 21. See below for details on the menu.

RM 498+: Appetizer, Shark’s Fin Soup, Chicken with Ginger, Spicy Fried Fish, Lychee Prawns, Signature Beancurd, ‘Kampung’ fried rice, Custard Buns, Dessert

RM 598+: Appetizer, Sharks Fin Soup, Chicken with Plum Sauce, Pomfret with Bean Sauce, Prawns with Sweet Corn Sauce, Steamed “Sang Gan”, Tom Yam Noodles, Banana with “Gula Melaka”, Dessert

RM 698+: Appetizer, Double boiled soup, Roast chicken, Red snapper, Otak Otak Fried Prawns, Braised Sea Cucumber, Oyster Fried Rice, Chinese Pastries, Dessert

RM 898+: Homemade appetizers, Sharks Fin Soup with Pumpkin, Boneless Duck, Curried Garoupa, Braised Seafood, Mango Prawns, Garlic Fried Rice, Banana & ‘Gula Melaka’, Dessert

Bangsar Seafood Garden Restaurant, 63 One Bangsar, Jalan Ara, Bangsar Baru 59100. Call 03 22822555 for reservations.

"Give me a hug"
"Nooo you give me a hug"
"You're so lovely"
"No, you da lovely one!"
*smooch*
"I love you"

Monday, August 10, 2009

About Cakes, Curry & A Salad for A Chiki Monkey

Its time for baking cakes again. I love trying out recipes. The triumphs, the failures, I love it all. I enjoy the learning curve and Hunky and colleagues get to reap the benefits of my spoils. When I do finally figure out a recipe I get incredibly excited (partly from the sugar high) and then I don't want to eat cake for at least a month after. As much as I love the Hummingbird Cake, I think that whole week of eating nothing but has put me off it for now. Who knew you could be traumatised by too much cake! Now I know why they call it Death By Chocolate.

Here is a picture of my attempt at black and white cake. The cake was too dense for the buttercream. The recipe actually called for a different frosting but it involved too many tools and measurements for someone like me. Easy peasy please. However, the buttercream is to die for! Super smooth and incredibly light and buttery. Gives the Red Velvet cake icing a run for its money. Today I tried another cake which uses caramel. I'm very inspired to replicate a Snickers bar in a cake form but less junky, more posh. So far so good. I don't know if anyone would eat it since most people I know don't like peanuts. The peanut has been treated unkindly. Tossed aside as its posher cousins take over the shelves. The humble peanut is relegated to stalls, wakes and red table-clothed restaurants. Peanut my friend, I will bring you to justice!

Lately I've been getting reacquainted with Asian cooking. I've almost forgotten how to stir fry vegetables and make simple curry. Its just so much easier to make a salad or pasta. I made some nam yue pai guat the other day and it turned out surprisingly well! I marinated the ribs with fermented bean paste, ginger, garlic, rice wine, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, ketchup (yes), dark soy, salt and honey and then simmered the ribs for about an hour before frying them. Mum would be so proud of me. Frying, with oil! It was tender and moist. Lovely! However don't think I will be cooking them often. I can't stand how oily the floor gets. Did I mention I like my floor squeaky? The other night I made a quick curry with the little ingredients that I had in my fridge. Chili padi, lemongrass, dried shrimp, shallots and garlic were blended coarsely. The paste was then fried in hot oil until I started choking from the fumes of the chili! Toss in the chicken pieces, couple of kaffir lime leaves and a little water. Finally salt, some leftover fine beans and freshly squeezed coconut milk. Doesn't look very pretty but it was tasty and light on the palate.

Moving on, I was honoured to be invited to Nigel and Allan's Pot Luck dinner for fellow flogger from afar, Msiagirl. I decided to bring pomelo salad after reading all about Rama V. Except that their version is a lot fancier with abalone. Mine was just humble chicken and shrimp. I don't know why it never occurred to me to make it before as it is incredibly easy and wonderfully refreshing given the hot and humid nights we're having lately. Ciki text me today with compliments about the salad. So here it is Ciki monkey! You will need juice and zest of 2 limes, 1 tablespoon palm sugar/brown sugar, 1 chili padi, 1 stalk lemongrass sliced very finely and 3 tablespoons of fish sauce. First muddle the juice, zest, sugar and lemongrass like you would a mojito. Ah, I sense I have piqued your interest! Then add the rest of the ingredients and adjust according to taste. This measurement is for 1/3 - 1/2 pomelo segments and enough for two monkeys! Don't forget the coriander and toasted peanuts. The nuts are a must!

Seasoned one chicken breast fillet with salt and pepper. Pan fry on non-stick skillet for about 3 minutes on each side. If you butterfly the breast it will cook much faster. Clean, shell and devein 6 medium prawns. Bring some water to gentle simmer with some salt added. Poach prawns for 30s to 1 min. Until it turns opaque. To assemble just throw everything together and toss in the dressing. Crushed peanuts right at the end. Voila. So easy right? Now, your turn to make for me!