2012
12.15

 Sunday Brunch @ La Vie En Rose

*Puppy Friendly! (at their discretion, call ahead to ask first)

I write this in the middle of the night, missing my puppies who are not far away at their little hotel. We’re leaving for Paris in 6 hours, and I can’t sleep, so I’m looking through my favourite photos of them. That’s when I stumbled across our recent brunch at a lovely French restaurant called La Vie En Rose. I still remember calling up and asking if dogs were allowed, when a booming voice in the background (Jean Michel Fraisse, owner) bellowed, “Dogs YES. Children, NO.”

La Vie en Rose is also one of the few places that serves brunch from 9.30am. By 10.30am, we’d made the tricky U-turn from the main road and chugged up the hill to park. Dogs and all bounded out of the car, entangling themselves in their own leashes in excitement, and we plonked ourselves down in a corner on the deck and let our famished tummies do the ordering.

There was a lot to choose from on the menu, even with the ala carte menu not available until 11.30am. We opted for the two brunch sets that offered variety as well as delicious sounding dishes.

La Vie en Rose Brunch Menu

Country Style Brunch (RM80)

House made yoghurt & granola, poached egg in red wine, country style chicken pate, mini duck confit, house made bean stew, Danish pastries, bread, butter and jam

House made yoghurt & granola

Danish, bread, butter & jam

country style chicken pate, mini duck confit, house made bean stew

Poached egg in red wine

La Vie en Rose Brunch Special (RM50)

Eggs Benedict, truffled scrambled eggs, house sausage, roasted potatoes & Tomato Provencale, with free flow Danish, bread, butter & jam

Eggs Benedict, house sausage, roasted potatoes & Tomato Provencale

Truffled scrambled eggs

Everything hit the spot, and getting there early enough meant that we had plenty of time to sip on our coffees and tear away at the buttery pastries and sweet breads.

A chat with Jean Michel, a chat with the Chef, who even grows his own herbs in the garden!

 

All of us, especially the puppies, really enjoyed themselves.

We even had a little playtime and fun in the sun too…

Looking out from the top of the hill across the normally traffic congested street, at the old and weathered, decaying colonial shop houses, there was an indescribable serenity about La Vie en Rose.

 

You could almost put your feet up (almost!). The perfect way to spend a Sunday morning.

CONTACT

39, Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur

T: 03 2078 3883

W: www.cuisine-studio.net

2012
12.15

 3 hour lunches at BSC are … Just Heavenly!

When having a girly, catch-up lunch, the location choice becomes crucial to the difference between a “Hi, it was great seeing you,” and a “Oh my God! I can’t believe we haven’t seen each other for so long! I miss you!!”

Dilly and I hadn’t seen each other for months, almost a year. We were in touch via modern technology, and always ended our mobile chats with “Let’s have lunch soon.” Finally, we set a date, and headed for my friends Nigel & Allan (and Caroline’s) Just Heavenly Cafe in BSC.

The two of us have a mutual understanding. Order as many things possible on the menu without any care for the dubious looks from wait staff and patrons alike.  I have to say, that this was even more possible here because everything tastes just a little bit healthy! From salads to soups to pastas to omelettes to burgers, all the savoury dishes offered are faultless combination of local and imported ingredients, with just the right amount of everything at a very reasonable price.

CHRISTMAS MENU

Any 2 Courses @ RM40+

Any 3 Courses @ RM50+

 Dilly’s Choice

 Tea Smoked Salmon with Watermelon & Feta Salad (RM16)

Subtly scented black tea imparts a distinctive flavour to responsibly farmed Scottish Salmon. Suitably paired with a dash of dill dressing.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Couscous (RM28)

Made using our homemade Moroccan lemons and slow cooked to perfection, this fragrant dish is pure Middle Eastern perfection.

 

Hot & Naked

Swoon over our molten lava chocolate cake, dark, divine, dangerous.

 

A LA CARTE MENU

My Choice

 Coconut Chicken Salad (RM20)

Tender chunks of chicken poached in coconut milk served on ulam and ginger flower salad enhanced with homemade chilli jam

 

Caesar Salad (served on its own – RM18)

An all time favourite done the Just Heavenly way

 

The Tiger (RM25)

Hearty chunks of beef in a rich sauce along with its sidekicks; mash, mushy peas and gravy

 

Satisfied with our choices so far but feeling greedy for more mild yet stimulating flavours, we decide to work our way backwards through the menu and after a heated debate on if the Crab Tart would satisfy as much as a cheesy omelete, we decided to go back to the basics of breakfast.

Ultimate Omelete (RM14)

3 eggs with beef bacon strips and cheese!

 

DESSERT

Carrot Cake

Dilly and I finally looked at our watches and realized it was almost 5pm! So much for present shopping! As we strolled through the mall walking off our satisfying feast, we recounted every morsel of food that we ate and decided they were all exceptional.

Yes, every single bite felt like it wouldn’t make it to our waists… Just Heavenly.

Serving Pleasure indeed!

CONTACT

Just Heavenly Cafe

(HALAL)

2nd Floor, West Wing (Opposite A Cut Above Hair Salon)
Bangsar Shopping Centre,
285 Jalan Maarof,
59000 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: +603 2011 4866

W: www.justheavenly.biz

Opening hours: Daily 930am – 10pm

2012
12.12

 Worth the wait… 

A couple of days ago, I went to renew my passport at the new Immigration office off Jalan Duta. I had an hour to kill for lunch so I pestered my old friend Frat Mustard to sneak in a quick, slurpy lunch with me. He suggested the EAT Food Village, the food court at Publika, for a quick, tasty and affordable meal.

It’s only affordable if you order one dish and a drink, unlike me, who always needs variety. I blame it on my mother and the fact she always had four or five dishes on the table for lunch and dinner.

After a quick browse around the stalls, I settled Hoong Kee Wan Tan Mee.

A: because I haven’t had Wan Tan Mee in years, and B: because the hanging slab of Char Siew glistened so brightly it was like looking at diamonds that sparkled at Tiffany’s or Cartier. Only here, I could afford to have it!

I finished my cup of Hot Chinese Tea while waiting for the guy to take my order. It gives you an idea of the wait time at this stall, but it was worth it.

The Char Siew (BBQ Pork) had a lovely caramelized outer layer coated in an unusual thick red sauce that was sweet, sticky with a hint of nuttiness. The noodles were thin, extra long and cooked perfectly so they held together but were still individual strands.

Again, the dark secret soya sauce and more roast pork on top provided the perfect balance of sweet and savoury.

There were 12 little bite sized dumplings in my soup, tasty minced pork wrapped in a delicate wonton skin. The broth itself was very peppery, with a smattering of greens, just the way I like it.

All I have to say is thank goodness I had such a scrumptious lunch – the five hour wait sitting on cold, hard metal chairs for a one hour passport service (I still haven’t picked it up)…well, it’s enough to crumple even the strongest of people with cushioning in their butts.

I’d definitely go back.  To Hoong Kee that is, not to the passport office. Those Wan Tan noodles and Char Siew were well worth the wait!

CONTACT

Hoong Kee Wan Tan Mee (NON-HALAL)

FC9, Level UG1, Publika Shopping Gallery,

No 1, Jalan Dutamas 1,

 50480 Kuala Lumpur,

Malaysia

2012
12.08

 A Curious Twist on Christmas Tradition @ Cameron Highlands Resort

“Cameron Highlands Resort celebrated its annual Christmas Tree Lighting tradition for the sixth year running over the weekend of November 16, 2012. Staying true to the resort’s tagline of ‘Trails, Tales & Traditions’, the tree lighting heralds the festivities of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, revealing the resort in full celebratory splendour as well as previewing the year’s Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner menus”.

Christmas came a little early this year… on the weekend of the 16th November, along with some of the country’s top editors, local celebrities, entrepreneurs and theatre folk and we were part of 46 people invited up to YTL’s Cameron Highlands Resort for a weekend of fun, relaxing, indulgence and pure decadence. The resort holds a special place in my heart, as it was where we held our intimate Swedish Crayfish Wedding Reception. It would be our fifth time up the mountain in less than a year, after having been up once before as a child.

It was odd really, to arrive at the beautiful, nostalgic and almost romantic resort, and not really know anyone. Out of the group we probably knew three or four very well, while the rest were either acquaintances through work or perfect strangers. I guess that was the beauty of the weekend and the spirit of Christmas. By the end of it, we had made some new good friends and gotten to know the old ones even better.

Whatever happens in Cameron Highlands, stays in Cameron Highlands…

FRIDAY 16th NOVEMBER 2012

 The Jim Thompson Tea Room Luncheon

After the long drive up, we were spoilt rotten with a hearty lunch reminiscent of olden day British cooking. A delicious Cream of Cameron Highlands Cauliflower Soup was served to start, and a homestyle Grilled Boneless Chicken Thigh with Sauteed Summer Vegetables was presented for our main. Dessert was a Decadent Kahlua Tiramisu Layered with caramel. I couldn’t see the caramel nor could I taste the Kahlua but the Tiramisu itself was layered beautifully with a light cream and fluffy sponge.

On to the Spa Village for a pampering session after that, where the spa treatments are based on the healing properties of tea. It was the perfect soothing remedy after the harrowing drive up. To complete the ‘zombified’ state of relaxation we were in after our Cameron’s Mint Treatment, we lay in the spa relaxation area and sipped on Honey Lime tea, with lip-smacking Oatmeal cookies and homemade Strawberry Jam.

Murder Mystery Dinner

This delicious set will be available on Christmas Eve at RM200+.

The legend behind Jim Thompson’s, The American businessman and Thai Silk King who went missing in the hill resort on March 26, 1967, was brought to life. We were all mailed character cards before the event, and received more information and ‘play’ money upon arrival. Everyone was urged to come in character and stay in character throughout the evening.

Some were rude, some were French, some were slutty and some were downright insane!

It was impossible to tell the real people from their characters as roles were assumed and identities lost amongst the sea of budding actors, some deserving of an Emmy or Oscar nomination.

Of course, the potent Saketini cocktails served at Gonbei bar might have had something to do with that…

As the evening went on and everyone got more and more into character, it became all a bit confusing, yet exciting, with no one really knowing what would happen, until…. a murder was committed.

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

And then another!

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

Of course, in between the running around and the mystery solving, we did manage to sit down to an delicious dinner in the Dining Room.

DINNER MENU

Tian of Jumbo Ocean Crab with
 Sakura 
Cress 
and 
Alphonso 
Mango 
Salsa

DoubleBoiledChickenConsommé with 
Mushroom,
Bamboo
Pith,
Infused
with
Chinese
Herbs

PanSearedCodwithCauliflowerMousse, Shiitake
 Mushrooms 
and
 Cameron’s
 Vegetable
Emulsion

Mustard HerbCrustedLambLoin with 
Basil 
Scented 
Ratatouille, 
Onion 
and 
Rosemary 
Sauce

 Coconut Pandan Panna Cotta with
Passion
Fruit
Sauce

CoffeeorTea

All too soon the mystery was solved, the killer apprehended and Best Performer, Super Sleuth, Best Costume and Wealthiest Player were announced.

After all the mayhem, we adjourned to the Highlands Bar and indulged in a civilized tasting of Bowmore single malt whisky tasting, with variations of 10, 12, 15 and 18 years flowing freely, a guarantee of a good night’s sleep in the resorts ridiculously comfortable beds.

SATURDAY, 17th NOVEMBER 2012

Breakfast, Lunch and High Tea

Rising early from a deep sleep, we stumbled out of our rooms for breakfast at Gonbei, where a choice full English, waffles, eggs, fruits, cereals and noodles fresh cooked to our liking were served.

Juice, coffee, a little wander around the resort and some idle chit-chat ensued before it was lunchtime and guests were returning from spa treatments or a trail walk through the jungle. Out came the food for lunch, a fresh seared prawn salad, delicious pan-fried fish with buerre blanc sauce, and dessert of strawberries and chocolate dips.

The afternoon was spent glued to the comfy chairs, recuperating to the gentle splish-splash of carps in the koi pond, nursing hangovers with extra spicy Bloody Mary’s. Lunch soon turned into high Tea, which lead to a few unnecessary bottles of bubbly being popped.

The best part of the day was the calming atmosphere of the resort, the serene sounds and soft chirps of birds and whispers of nature, which was the perfect backdrop for old and new friends alike to bond. Truly a (bloody-bubbly) afternoon I will never forget!

Christmas Tree Lighting Dinner

A frantic clean up and one hour later, it was Frizz champagne cocktails and Virgin Pimm’s in the Highlands Bar. This time there were no costumes, and everyone came as themselves, dressed to the nines.

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

More merriment followed as Lauurent Myter, YTL Hotels’ Executive Vice  President of Resorts officiated, inviting the previous night’s Best Performer winners, actress and singer Ms. Chelsia Ng, music producer Mr. Yuri Wong and Microsoft Sales Lead Mr. Raphael Couzet to turn on the Christmas lights together.

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

Dinner was a sumptuous affair of Pumpkin Soup topped with Seared Scallops, Prawn & Porcini Ravioli with Charred Fennel and Shellfish Nage,  and Demerara Glazed Ocean Trout with Asparagus and Shellfish Beurre Blanc.

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

For mains, a choice of Bronze Roast Duck Leg with Cranberry Citrus Sauce served with Roast Spuds on Green Beans Almondine, or Roast Fillet of Beef Wellington on Wilted Spinach with Seared Goose Liver, Madeira Jus and Black Truffle was served.

There was more singing, laughter and caroling as the night came to a sweet end…

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

What a beautiful weekend it was. Thank you YTL for having us!

Photo courtesy of YTL Hotels

Sitting on a verdant plateau amidst tea plantations and rolling hills, the tranquil boutique hideaway of Cameron Highland’s Resort offers an experience infused with the splendour, romance and nostalgia of Cameron Highland’s grand colonial heritage. The Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner menus are priced at MYR200++ per person, for bookings please ask for The Dining Room at +605 491 1100. For accommodation bookings, please contact YTL Travel Centre at +603 2783 1000 or email travelcentre.my@ytlhotels.com.

2012
11.21

COGNAC & CUISINE: MARTELL DISHES UP ANOTHER UNIQUE INGREDIENT-LED GASTRONOMIC EXPERIENCE

The invitation arrived, and it was unlike any other I have ever received!

A spice rack containing ingredients used in classical French cooking. Juniper Berries, Vadouvan and Fleur de Sel, housed in a box that contained information about the event. Terribly clever, and it smelt so good my pooch couldn’t resist taking a sniff!

The fourth edition of the Martell Pure Gourmet signature dinner series happened last week at the House of Bufori in Kepong. What an unusual location to host a dinner – in a luxury car warehouse and workshop where those handcrafted, elite cars were assembled. The bare, industrial room had been transformed into a haven of luxury, showcasing the fine ingredients to be used in the meal, strewn across our tables and hanging delicately from the makeshift racks.

To add to that already impressive venue, Martell further lured me in with famous names like Chef Emmanuel Stroobant and Chef Antoine Rodriguez who teamed up to create and cook the menu for the night.

Mr CK Tan, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Malaysia, which markets Martell among other wine and spirit brands, commented: “The Martell Pure Gourmet philosophy is one of origins.  Just as it is impossible to make a good cognac without a good grape, the Pure Gourmet recipes stem back to its origins – the ingredients.  Essentially, Martell Pure Gourmet focuses on pure, real food with quality ingredients as the star. ”

- extract from Press release

Pure indulgence paired with the exquisite Martell blends, Martell VSOP, Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell XO and Martell Creation Grand Extra. The actual physical menu itself was a little notebook that contained sketches of the dishes scribbled down by both Award Winning Chefs and they were very hands on at making sure each plate was impeccable.

Amuse Bouche

Ratte Potato Espuma with White Truffle and Ikura

It was like eating a cloud. Or creamy cotton candy. The texture of the Potato Espuma was so light it almost floated off the little spoons.

The infusion of shaved white truffle brought out the natural earthiness of the potato, while the second version with salty salmon roe complemented the creaminess.

First Course

Bay Scallop Mousse with Radishes, Persimmon, Crystallised Plum, Toasted Almond and Lobster Oil

Paired with Martell Cordon Bleu

This was an incredibly clever dish, where not only the mousse was fashioned to look like a scallop, but also the radish. I was constantly surprised at the delicate shellfish flavour that was enhanced by the fragrant lobster oil. The Persimmon was vacuum packed and pickled so it had a lovely sticky-crunchiness, while the crystallized plum was sweetish, and the toasted almonds smoky and brittle.

The more I continued eating the more the flavour of the bronze coloured Martell Cordon Blue evolved, going first from sweet spicy, to fruity with hints of vanilla, and finally to a bold chestnut finish.

Second Course

Slow-cooked Chicken Ballotine, Foie Gras and Duck Confit, Fig chutney, Walnut Crumble

Paired with Martell XO

It was a beautiful, moist roll of chicken stuffed with rich and buttery foie gras and duck. Again, the balance of flavours was impeccable, exuding a rich earthiness from the decadent ingredients. The tiny little Chanterelle Mushrooms were such a cute touch and together with the drops of fig chutney, really lifted up the visual appeal of the plate.

I loved how the fruity Martell XO gave the dish a very wholesome flavour and was smooth to taste, warming up my throat like liquid gold. A true luxury item, you can tell just by looking at the iconic bottle.

Third Course

Roasted Quail with Orange Peel-scented Endive, Date and Juniper Berry-Chocolate Reduction

Paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra

The progression from seafood to a lighter meat like chicken, then on to a heavier, robust quail was very well thought out. I love quail. It reminds me of the lovely dark meat you find on turkey, or even a rabbit, richer in flavour than chicken but less so than duck. It’s very tender if cooked right, and that it was. This dish blew me away, for its creativity and sheer flavour.

I mean, who thinks of scenting your Endives with Orange Peel? Who thinks of making a Date an Juniper Berry-Chocolate reduction? These chefs do, and just the aroma that wafted up as soon as the waited put the plate down was intoxicating – a heady scent of meat juices, bittersweet chocolate and fresh, zesty fruits. I was so focused on eating that I forgot to sip my Martell Creation Grand Extra, which I’ve read is created using some of the oldest and most delicious eaux-de-vie.

Dessert

Caramelised Sarawak Pineapple with Candied Lemon Zest, Ginger Bread Ice Cream, Almond Custard and Passion Fruit

Paired with Martell Chanteloup Perspective

Ah, dessert. In ze words of ze French, Magnifique! The sweetest pineapple cooked to sticky perfection, with fun, childlike candied lemon zest. Cooled down by the creamy ginger bread ice cream and light as air almond custard, with tangy passion fruit. Sweet, sour, savoury… I loved it! And it tasted even better with the hints of honey and tropical fruits that I found in the Martell Chanteloup Perspective.

 Chef and cellar master are craftsmen at the core as they carefully select ingredients to create a masterful blend of tastes in cuisine and cognac respectively.  The perfect pairing of both these two elements is what made the Martell Pure Gourmet dinner an evening of pure indulgence.

- extract from Press Release

There was a Tea Master in the house, and he made his rounds with his trolley and our meal was rounded off with a lovely hot Cuppa.

The entertainment for the evening, Karen Nunis and her awesome band playing soothing sounds of Jazz and Blues.

We got a taste of the luxurious life as we got more familiar with the Bufori cars, or should I say, works of art. Blink and it was over, but the memory of that decadent meal still remains.

Yes, indeed, both Martell and the two talented chefs, Emmanuel Stroobant and Antoine Rodriguez, had outdone themselves to spoil us that evening and I’m fine to forego the car for more of Martell’s Pure Gourmet evenings!

Thank you very much for having me and for my delicious ‘goody bag’! I’ll certainly be experimenting with these delicious ingredients soon.

MORE ABOUT MARTELL PURE GOURMET AND THE  CHEFS

-Extract from Press Release

Martell Pure Gourmet

From the day that Martell was founded in 1715, it has always had close links to gastronomy, and hence decided to further develop its culture of flavour and define the bases of the perfect Martell gastronomy. Out of this culture and passion, Pure Gourmet was born, derived from Martell’s philosophy in creating its cognac by the purest means – from its precise choice of crus (vineyard), eaux de vie filtered of lees (the process), distillation of clear wines only, then the ageing process in fine-grain oak barrels.

Martell Pure Gourmet emphasises on quality ingredients as the principal characteristic that defines its unique gastronomic experience. Three pure ingredients are chosen from renowned terroirs worldwide and are then prepared in a skillful and unpretentious manner masterfully crafted in symphony with the internationally versatile and luxurious range of Martell cognac including Martell VSOP, Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell XO and Martell Creation Grand Extra.

Martell cognac has long been linked with the French sense of refinement, and every bottle embodies the experience of unrivalled craftsmen: cellar masters, growers, distillers and coopers all, who have handed down their expertise from generation to generation.  It is the skill and vision of these craftsmen that has made the House of Martell an icon of French excellence and resulted in Martell’s latest incarnation of pure luxury.

Chef Emmanuel Stroobant

Emmanuel Stroobant started his career at a tender age of 16 – cleaning dishes in one of the best restaurants in Belgium.  At 23, he opened his first restaurant in his hometown, Liege. It was an overnight success and after three summers, Stroobant wanted another adventure. He travelled to various places, and finally settling in Australia for a period of five years before moving to Asia.

Stroobant has written two cook books, ‘Cuisine Unplugged’ and ‘Vine Dining – White’ which has won the Gourmand World Media Award for “Best in the World Matching Food and Wine”. Plus, he also has his own TV series titled, ‘Chef in Black’ and subsequently ‘Chef in Black II’.  Other than authoring books, filming for TV shows and consulting for food and beverage establishments, Stroobant also owns a series of restaurants.

Chef Antoine Rodriguez

Antoine Rodriguez is the Executive Chef of Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur.  Born in Bordeaux, France, Rodriguez has a wealth of 30 years of experience in culinary knowledge.   As the hotel’s Executive Chef, Rodriguez is responsible for the overall culinary operations, food conceptualization, promotions, menu planning and ensuring high quality service delivery standards of 110 kitchen professionals.

He recently won the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards 2011-2013 Regional Series for the ‘Executive Chef of the Year’ and ‘King of the Kitchen’ when he defeated 16 other nominees. He also won the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 for the ‘Best Executive Chef’ in a row and a first for an Executive Chef.

Be in control. If you drink, don’t drive.”

2012
11.19

Rain, rain, go away.

Monday blues, turn into red hues.

Let’s have some colour today!

I’m no poet, and I do know it, but on days like today when the constant downpour and gloomy grey sky out-shadow the happy sunshine on our Cameron Highlands Resort weekend just gone, I look for colour.

I dig through my photos in search of a happy meal, not the McDonalds kind, and I find it.

One of my closest friends from London just left, after a month long stay here in KL. As busy as she was, we managed to have some quality time to catch up, and I’ll always remember our lovely long lunch at La Boca Latino Bar in Pavilion.

That’s her there, my Peeps. She doesn’t like to be photographed.

It was one of those weekdays disguised as a Sunday, and La Boca was certainly disguised as anything from a cozy, small shack in Rio to a cozy small pub off Fulham Road in London. It had that insanely good feeling about it the moment you stepped in and it brought back memories of both London and Brazil for me. Maybe that’s why I’m getting so emotional – whoever did the deco certainly did a great job evoking emotion.

Crazy colours, paint smears on the walls that form images of shantytowns in South America. Bright green, red, yellow and blue chairs that screamed out, “Hey, I’m mismatched but so what? It works.”

 I was trying to ignore the prettiness of the colours and the grottyness of the scenes portrayed on the wall, but it wasn’t long before the camera came out and I was snapping away, especially impressed with the “cut-and-paste” look of the menu, loving the newspaper size and sheer variety of food from countries all across South America – Mexico, Peru, Cuba, Brazil & Argentina. What to choose?

Peeps ordered a Mexican Favourite – Fajitas (RM27)

Choose from Pollo Brassa (Chicken Breast Strips), Carne de Vaca (Marinated Tender Beef Steak) or Cetas (Marinated Mushrooms and Cheese). She had the Chicken, and it was so amazing she refused to share it!

I managed to steal a few pieces of the tender, heavily spiced chicken. Coriander, cumin, paprika, lime gave it a deep red colour and spicy sour flavour that despite the heavy powdered seasoning, remained light and fresh because all the spices were cooked properly.  I did a quick dip-dip into the accompanying sour cream, guacamole and salsa side dishes and decided it was the best Guacamole I’ve had in KL. Those authentically South American Chefs that La Boca boasts, well, they certainly bring the authenticity to the cuisine.

I started off with a tapas dish that I often have in other establishments, the Gambas Bravas (RM28)

Fat, fresh prawns soaked in olive oil, garlic and dried chilli, with a hint of fresh coriander and some freshly baked bread. Like the Fajitas, there was no sizzle, but I didn’t care as it meant I could get started without having to wait for it to cool down. There was so much flavour infused  in the olive oil from both the prawns and the herbs and spices that I wished the sold it in a bottle ready for me to take home. Delicious.

All the way from Uruguay,  the Ensalada La Casa (RM17)

House Salad with  avocado, boiled egg and Pomegranate dressing. Fantastic contrast in textures between the mixed greens, smooth and creamy avocado and popping, crunchy pink pomegranates.

Lil’ Chef arrived slightly later when we were almost done and despite my protest (I wanted him to try something different so I would have more to show) he decided to also have the Chicken Fajita, but added on some Empanadas (RM17).

I would have gladly traded that for my Bolinho de Quieja (RM22), which were a tad stodgy and not very cheesy for cheese balls.

It was salvaged washed down with a refreshing Margherita, and a hard to find fizzy San Pellegrino, Sparkling Citrus Flavoured Drink.

I will definitely have to go back because I want to try the more familiar items on the menu like Tamales (Homemade Corncakes) and Nachos Rancheros. I was intrigued by the Inca Cod wrapped in Plantain Leaf with Saffron Rice, the Argentinian Pizzas, the La Boca Burger, and the tempting Friday night Churrasco BBQ, All You Can Eat Brasiliano.

Unfortunately, we didn’t follow the instructions on the menu that said simply, “Life is short, Eat Dessert first.” We had it last, but it was still very good.

Churros served with Argentinean dulce de leche, and Brazilian Brigadeiro chocolate cream. Sweet, savoury, crispy, spongy…

If you’re in the Pavilion area, grab the chance to do a quick stop by KL’s very own South America.  Excuse the pun, but on a day like today, it’s the closest I’ll get to Livin’ la Vida (B)oca.

CONTACT

(PORK-FREE)

Level 3, Pavilion KL

168, Jalan Bukit Bintang,

Kuala Lumpur

T: 03-2148 9977

E: info@urbanbarconcepts.com

W: www.laboca.com.my

FB: www.facebook.com/LaBocaMalaysia

2012
11.16

Fridays are for extra long lunches…

 It’s been holiday mode this week, with two Public Holidays on Tuesday and Thursday. Did you get any work done? No? So why start now?

“Although inspired by French cuisine, Cilantro forms a unique identity with a touch of exotic Asian ingredients. All ingredients are carefully selected and measured to perfection. Also seasonal, they are served only when the time is right.”

The finest contemporary French-Japanese cuisine in town? Definitely! We were privileged to be invited for a post-wedding-good-luck-with-our-marriage lunch by Chef Takashi Kimora. What a sweetie.

As Cilantro only opens for lunch on Fridays, days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and we finally found a free Friday exactly two months after our wedding. Perfect celebratory lunch!

You can view today’s menu here.

Friday, 9th November 2012

Lunch Menu – Normal Price @ RM150 nett per person inclusive of glass of Mimosa

Cilantro’s friendly manager Puji explained to us that instead of choosing a main course each, we would be all items on the menu. The restaurants sommelier then proceeded to bring a steady stream of wine pairings for each dish, and this was after the initial glass of orange juice and bubbly.

The iconic truffle butter, a signature at Cilantro. I only had one slice of the warm, freshly baked bread, but my little tub of butter was squeaky clean before our soups were served. Too shy to ask for another, I resorted to casually leaning across the table and stealing from my darling.

Carpaccio of Blue Fin Tuna with Aori-Ika and Colatura

We were told to mix up this beautifully presented plate, and it was heartbreaking. I soon got over it, as the tuna was sliced so thin it melted at the warmth of my tongue.

The cuttlefish was chopped into little crunchy squares and had a lovely sweet aftertaste. Teamed with the savoury Colatura (apparently, it’s an Italian style anchovy essence) and Avaruga, a caviar product made from herring, the flavour was impeccably balanced, incredibly fresh without even the slightest hint of fishiness.

Hokkaido Lily Bulb Potage with Confit Scallops and Grated Foie Gras

The smell of the soup was divine, and it tasted even better. The perfect blend of creaminess and frothiness. Two gleaming seared scallops and lily bulb petals were camouflaged by this warming soup, its richness enhanced by the dusting of grated truffle.

French Omble Chevalier with Cray Fish and Water Cress

Three beautifully cooked Yabbies cuddled a semi-cooked fillet of fish.

It was my first time trying Omble Chevalier, a fish whose texture was a cross between salmon and monkfish. Slightly oily, shiny not flaky. The delicate seafood-based white sauce brought out the sweetness of the crayfish and the crunch and bite of the watercress finished off the dish perfectly.

Roasted Grain Fed Angus with Wild Mushrooms

The beef was tender but still had bite. The jus was refined, a beautiful coopery brown than tasted of red wine and meat. Chanterelle mushrooms completed the ensemble, adding a superb earthy undertone while the lighter-than-air potato puree provided a neutral fluffiness to lighten the dish.

Chestnut Stuffed Meringue with Ice Cream and Ganache          

          

How very French! Charming in look and rustic in taste, the nutty chestnuts crumbled and dissolved along with sweet and crunchy meringue. It was an unusual combination of mushy-meets-crisp, and went down a treat with a much needed cappuccino.


Coffee or Tea

Yes, forget work today. Keep the holiday mood going by indulging and an extra long Friday lunch at Cilantro. I guarantee it will be a superb start to your weekend!

Thank you Chef Takashi and the team at Cilantro for an unforgettable meal!

CONTACT

Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar

MiCasa All Suite Hotel,
368-B, Jalan Tun Razak,
50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

 

Tel: +603 2179 8082
Fax: +603 2164 3730
Email: cilantrosvr@micasahotel.com

Website: www.cilantrokl.com

Lunch – Fridays only (12.00pm-2.00pm)
Dinner – Monday-Saturday (6.00pm-10.30pm)
Closed on Sundays

 

 

 

2012
11.11

 Cooking Demos, Competitions and lots of good food! 

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen officiated the launch of the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia – 4th Asean Heritage Food Trail with Datuk Chef Wan, the first Food Tourism Ambassador 2010/2012.

Giving a lively and entertaining opening ramble, she recapped previous years dishes like Nasi Lemak, Char Koay Teow, Roti Canai, and revealed the three dishes for this year. Rojak, Yong Tau Foo and Mee Rebus, representing the different cultures and races across the country.

This is huge initiative to boost tourism in Malaysia, especially with our country being synonymous with fantastic street food. The Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan 2020 aims to get 36 mln tourists and with an estimated tourist spend of RM20bln on food!

That’s an insane number, but this initiative is proving that the ministry is certainly committed to take on the challenge. Among some of the local celebrity chefs that will be doing cooking demos at the two week event at Lot 10, are the well-known Chef Riz (Mastechef Malaysia Judge), Florence Tan (Cookbook Author, Secrets of Nyonya Cooking) and Celine Marbeck (Cookbook Author, Cuzinhia Cristang and chef for Kristang cuisine on KLM flights from KL to Amsterdam).


It’s free and open to the public, and will be running from 9th November to 22nd November.

Of course, I was just there to buat sibuk/ kepochi (translates to busybody in English!) because along with Chef’s from all over South East Asia, my Swedish Chef Michael Elfwing will also be giving a couple of cooking demos next week, showing you his interpretation of our fabulous local cuisine.

So don’t miss out on it! Tell your friends and head on down to Lot 10 for an Asean Heritage Food Trail to remember!

VENUE

Lot 10 Shopping Centre

50, Jalan Sultan Ismail

Kuala Lumpur

4th Asean Heritage Food Trail

 

2012
11.07

Shopping, Cooking and Lunching with Sharone Hakman @ B.I.G.

B.I.G. (Ben’s Independent Grocers, Publika)

I woke up that Monday morning before the alarm clock. In fact, way before. Jumped out of bed, changed my outfit three times, and finally shook Lil’ Chef out of a deep sleep and bustled him out the door.

Why was I so excited? Thanks to the well-connected Fatboybakes, our dear friend who so kindly thought of us, via an invitation from Sailena Yeop PR, we were on our way to take the ‘blues’ out of Monday and get shopping, cooking and eating with Masterchef Season One contestant, Sharone Hakman.

First impression upon seeing him: WOW. Tounge tied. Starstruck.

First impression upon hearing him speak: WOW. Tongue tied. Starstruck.

There was such a presence about him, an aura of calm and authority that exuded knowledge and experience with every word that escaped his mouth and every movement he made.

It didn’t help that he was (to quote Ben Stiller from the movie Zoolander) “REALLY REALLY GOOD LOOKING”. And very tall. It was if the entire package was, well, to underplay it just a bit, all there. Don’t worry, Lil’ Chef (hubby) was with me and I didn’t make too much of an ass of myself.

Shopping

Grocery shopping at B.I.G. is like putting a Weight Watchers member in the middle of a fast food court and saying, “Here, go nuts.” I myself have exercised great restraint in shopping there. It’s not only the fantastic and elusive products that are available from all over the world, I think it’s that ambience, the cozy, European market feel that you get about it.

I love that all of the group’s restaurants line the edges of the supermarket, serving up anything from coffee to pizzas to burgers to deli-style salads, even a rotisserie. I guess if you ever got bored of shopping there (unlikely!) you could always have a pit stop and tuck into… well, take your pick.

The morning began, and we began our stroll through the store. I thought it was a refreshing change to have a Sharone ask us for ideas on what ingredients to use for the dishes he would cook. We didn’t know what to expect, and I’m not sure if he did either! There were some very knowledgeable attendees who enthusiastically gave him suggestions and explanations.

He was familiar with some local produce like Bunga Kantan (ginger flower), but intrigued when he picked up a bulb of smoked garlic. He smelt it and added it to the basket. We walked around the impressive grocery store, with elusive items from every corner of the world. After swiftly adding local herbs & greens, and some coconut milk, Sharone had the base for an aromatic sauce and we soon found ourselves oogling some big eyed fish.

Moving on to the meat, he picked out a hunk of Wagyu that if I remember correctly, cost  RM650 a kilo.

What a beautiful, marbled piece of meat it was. Satisfies with his purchases, all courtesy of B.I.G. of course, we headed to the back of the store to get cooking.

Cooking with Sharone Hakman

I didn’t actually cook with him, but he did have a volunteer and interacted really well with the group. There’s just something about Americans. They just know how to (I don’t know why I keep quoting from Zoolander) “TALK REALLY REALLY GOOD”.

So there we were, witnessing a delicious meal in progress. Once he started cooking, the smells wafting our way of frying ginger, garlic, ginger flower, lime leaves… heavenly. Drizzle in some coconut milk, let it simmer and move on to the fish.

Like a magician waving his wand, Sharone filleted that Snapper in a matter of seconds. Again, I was in awe at how he could REALLY cook, on the spot, improvising and making it up as he went along. The mark of a true chef.

The dish itself was simple, attractive, and incredibly tasty. He seasoned the snapper with salt, pepper and some lemon zest, pan-fried the skin side down and let it sizzle away for no more than two minutes on each side. Every ingredient was carefully placed with the precision of a surgeon cutting open a person.  The result – Stunning.

I loved the contrasting colours and textures. Beautiful.

Moving on to the beef, I thought that slab of Wagyu could feed either four to six skinny chicks on a diet or one very hungry man who loves meat. Actually, once he introduced us to his all natural, no artificial preservatives BBQ sauce, ingeniously named HAK’s BBQ SAUCE, I think all of us wanted that piece of meat to ourselves.

I don’t normally like BBQ sauce (please don’t shoot me) but Sharone’s was different. It was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, using only the finest blend of fresh ingredients, and of course, bourbon. We were the first to try it and it’s soon going to be available at B.I.G. If you can’t wait you can bribe a friend who lives in the US to send you a bottle. Check out his website

It was delicious. Tangy without hitting those nodes at the back of your throat. Dark, thick and gooey, each dollop holding its shape on the cutting board as he plated the steak. A good steak needs little seasoning, he tells us. Just enough salt and pepper to encourage a nice, crispy crust.

I was shameless and I asked for a picture of him feeding me some of that magnificent steak. It’s okay, Lil’ Chef (hubby) took the picture. That makes it all ok.

We adjourned for lunch at BEN’s and were privileged to have the actual Ben dine with us. First time meeting him, what a charming chap! Lunch was indulgent, and we were treated to a light and fresh starter of Prawn & Pucuk Paku (wild fern), a thick and creamy Nyonya Laksa, and a colourful plate of Nasi Kerabu. For dessert, the chef’s own creation, a cross between a Melaka Sago Biji dessert and the Thai waterchestnut dessert, Thab Thim Krob. With Ben himself present at the table, the conversation was endlessly entertaining.

What a morning! Shame it ended so early (well, I’m lying. We left just after 3pm!). Thank you Ben for having us, and Carole for the invitation.

And of course, Sharone for a fantastic insight into your life, your cooking and your food. Hope to catch you next time you’re in town!

If you’re feeling inspired and feel like dishing out the dosh on some fancy groceries, head over to B.I.G. at Publika!

CONTACT

B.I.G. Ben’s Independent Grocer

PUBLIKA 

Solaris Dutamas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur

T: +603 -6209 1700

2012
11.05

An “All-You-Can-Eat” Saturday!

PART TWO: FANTABULOUS! Weddings at Hilton Kuala Lumpur

After a very satisfying meal at Chynna, (click here for previous post) we dragged ourselves up the escalator to the exclusive bridal affair, “Fantabulous! Weddings at Hilton Kuala Lumpur!

With one of us being pregnant (NOT ME!) and the other recently wed (ME!) I think it was clear that neither of us were there for serious wedding stuff.

Instead, we marvelled at the spread of creatively displayed sweets, desserts, chocolate fountains and designer wedding cakes by the talented Chef Benoit (formerly known as Benoit the Pastry Chef but now brandishing the esteemed title of Executive Chef!).

The Dessert Buffet Line was stunning, and for any future bride would have given an indication of the level of detail and care that goes into a wedding at Hilton KL.

There was no room for any more food for us, but we managed to fit in a few delicious mocktails and cocktails, presented in a very unusual and creative manner.

Smoking Cocktail, anyone?

I was really excited to find out that Carven Ong, one of the most established bridal designers is KL, was showcasing his latest collection. He was a true gem in designing my wedding dress!

Elegant and feminine designs by Carven Ong

Divine dinner gowns galore and beautiful, intricate white wedding dresses…

Celeste Thoi was also showcasing her latest bridal collection, and she’s been pegged as one of Malaysia fastest rising bridal gown designers.

Wishful and Whimsical designs by Celeste Thoi…

And the star of the show – Chef Michael Elfwing in a dashing, bespoke suit by Lord’s Tailor!

Snapped a quick pic of the Model before he turned back into a Chef.

Tiffany & Co was there, so was Shiseido, The Photoz and numerous renowned wedding planners were on hand for one-on-one discussions. It was a ‘FANTABULOUS’ afternoon indeed, and don’t worry, if you missed out on it you can always get in touch with Hilton KL directly to plan your dream wedding!

Email weddings.kualalumpur@hilton.com or call 03-2264 2277.

CONTACT

HILTON KUALA LUMPUR

3, Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603 2264 2264
Fax: +603 2264 2266
e: kuala-lumpur@hilton.com
w: www.life.hiltonkl.com