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!