Dec 29, 2011

Aunt Ann's : Roast pork is on my way!

It is a relief that I simply could not contain, that I was not born to be a vegetarian, or Muslim. To some, it is not a choice that they have to forgo the luxury of knowing how meat (perhaps certain meat) tastes like. It is like "Oh my gosh, you have no idea what you are missing!".

For the past twenty three years, meat has been part and parcel of my life. I think I could live without meat for a day (or two?) but for the rest of my life, chances are, it is not even close to 0.01%! The idea of barbecued chicken wings, grilled lamb, roast pork, or grilled lamb would always make my saliva drooling. Perhaps yours too?

Porkity pork as I might be, the texture and taste of pork has never fail to intrigue me. My idea of a perfect roast pork was simple : crispy skin, juicy meat and a thin layer of fat. Subsequently it was refined to those from Kuala Lipis Noodle. Fat, nevertheless, but the moment it landed in my mouth, it just dissolved in mere seconds!

My conventional idea of roast pork is generally what most of us perceive to be, but Aunt Ann begs to differ. Instead of the usual cut, she uses pork shoulder, which is comparatively less oily and meaty. Don't you think it sounds less sinful to indulge in roast pork now?

The skin was roasted to golden crispiness as it should be, and the ratio of meat to fat was promising. Despite the mild saltiness, it was well compensated with a complex flavor from the herbs she used. The choice of cut did not fail to impress, in contrary, it is a healthier way of preparing roast pork - less oily, juicy and flavorful nevertheless.

Besides the roast pork, I found Aunt Ann's version of roast lamb was rather unusual too. One of her differentiation factor was, again, the choice of cut. Look at the roasted lamb leg, what do you think?

The roast lamb leg was gloriously coated with rosemary, garlic and different types of herbs, which gave the meat a distinct flavor and aroma which was nothing close to the usual lamb I have. The choice of cut was  lean and nearly fat-less but surprisingly it was nothing close to dry.

I am not a big fan of lamb as it usually has the gamey taste which I find it annoying. However, there was not even a slight hint of gaminess of which I found it pretty impressive. When paired with her homemade sauce, it kicked in further moisture and enhanced the overall flavor of roast lamb. Overall, it was satisfactory.

Interested to try some homemade roast pork or lamb? I am sure Aunt Ann would be more than happy to take your orders.

Dec 22, 2011

Cafe Barbera : Table for two

He is the man who knows what to do and how to do it right, and that I never doubt what he is capable of. Those who know him well will unanimously agree that he is a good ambassador, as if he is born to be one.

Looking at his exuberant face and mesmerizing eyes as he recounted details after details on how marvelous the desserts and coffee were, I felt the sudden pang of regret for rejecting the review invitation few weeks back. That is the ambassador side of him; he does not hold back.

However, it was by fate and chance that I was here at Cafe Barbera and this was very much attributable to my lovely boyfriend. Oh maybe you don't know him but he is cool and sweet that way :)

Perhaps you might shrug it off saying "let's share an affogato and chocolate fondant for dessert", don't say I never warn you, you better off training your agility and strength if you plan to do so.

What greeted us warmly was this petite glass of ice cream with a shot of espresso, looking ever dainty over its shoulder. A sniff of the espresso was promising, further testified by the smooth foam floating effortlessly above the dark brown espresso.

 "Quick! Eat it before it melts!" was his first statement.
We fumbled with composition, light, and finally we got our pictures!

Our rejoice on the reunion of Mr Espresso and Ms Gelato was beyond overwhelming as we squealed at the spill of precious espresso. Talking about hands on experience, you will definitely get it here :D

I started off with a gingerly sip of affogato, lest the espresso would be overpowering. However, a subtle note was what welcomed my intrusion. Delighted I was, I started scooping into the precious vanilla gelato that was wobbling in the tiny little glass. Vividly I can still feel the exhilarating sensation of the mixture of cold and hot that I just couldn't get enough with it.

Can I have another one please? *pleading eyes*

It was a long wait for our next most promising dessert ever, chocolate fondant. I was told by my ever lovely boyfriend that Cafe Barbera only prepares their desserts and breads upon order. So now, you might set your expectation a little higher than usual, just like how I did and it did not disappoint.

It might not be decorated at its best, but the effort was apparent. What I love most was the cute gelato, mimicking the shape of an apple. Oh well, I wish it was bigger!

The chocolate fondant was comparatively less attractive but put that aside, please dig in to testify!
I dug into the core ever slowly but was taken by surprise by the gushing molten chocolate. Split by the needs to save the tongue scorching and the melting gelato, my plate was ended up messing but my tummy had no objection against the heavenly made chocolate fondant.

In fact, this chocolate fondant was the best dessert I have ever had in my entire life!
If I had to choose between affogato or chocolate fondant, my answer will definitely be the latter.
So what are you waiting for?

Dec 7, 2011

Frontera : Christmas Done in the Mexican Way

Arrival of the month of December has never fail to excite me.
Despite the difference in religions, my exuberance toward Christmas is apparent and unpretentious. 
I love singing Christmas carols and it never fail to carve a big smile on my face at its very end.

Of big stuffed turkey and heart warming feast, this is how my Christmas would be like.
Perhaps we shall do it in the Mexican way this time, but wait, the bigger question is where?
Located in Jaya One, Petaling Jaya, Frontera Sol de Mexico is definitely the place to go as they claim that they are the ONLY restaurant that serves authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex.

Their Christmas set was indeed unusual.
You could have expected something typical, but what greeted us warmly was this watermelon agua fresca.

I know you must be thinking "It is just watermelon juice, what is so special about this?"
The secret lied in the piece of lime and it made whole lot of difference.
The taste of sugar was nowhere to be found. What dominated this drink was the natural sweetness of watermelon, intertwined by the sourish presence of lime.

Our dinner kicked off with a subtle entreé.
This traditional tamales was indeed a temptress. There she was, waiting silently, for the right moment to reveal its beauty and the moment had came.

Its resemblance to Chinese dumpling was evident but it tasted totally different.
The chicken fillings was cooked in a very different style; the masa, a corn based starchy dough, gave tamale a flaky texture, yet sufficiently hold them in piece.

Optionally, you could go for this roasted butternut squash soup, drizzled with sage pesto.
It might not looked impressive but it was good. If I were to choose between this or traditional tamales, I would definitely go for this!

At the first glance, it reminded me of pumpkin soup, just that it was much diluted, less sweet and not as creamy.
The flavor of butternut was crisp and fragrant, which very much depends on how well it was roasted.
However what made this dish perfect was the sage pesto as it balanced out the overall flavor.

Here came the mains.
There are four options for mains in the Christmas menu, of which they are home-made Pucbla-style turkey mole,Veracruz-style baked fish, BBQ beef ribs, and mesquite smoked turkey.
And this was my mesquite smoked turkey which came with cranberry chipotle relish, jalapeno corn bread dressing, candied sweet potatoes, broccoli florets topped with chili con quesco.

I was totally tricked by the chunks of sweet potatoes. Thinking it was grilled carrot, I decided to start with the least favorite of mine. It melted instantaneously the moment I popped it into my mouth. Gosh, it was orgasm!
The jalapeno corn bread was good too. As expected, it tasted more or less like tamales, but its texture was closer to cake.
What about the turkey? Perhaps this was the softest and smoothest turkey I have ever had in my life!
It was so well done that you could have thought that this was chicken.

Soon after we were done with our mains, Ramesh, the restaurant manager, brought us some of his sangria.
Instead of brandy, he decided to make his with rum and red wine.

The kick of alcohol was so intense that I found it hard for me to finish.
You could choose this over watermelon agua fresca but for those who are adventurous, this would definitely be the right choice for you.

I was already struggling to finish the last chunks of my turkey, then Ramesh brought more food.
Fat Die Me!

My boyfriend has been telling me how lovely is the key lime pie served in Frontera, and guess what, finally I had the chance to try!
And the good news is it is included in the Christmas.

I wanted to try so badly that I couldn't wait any longer for my bf to finish shooting. Look at the burn, don't you think it was so sexy?
My spoon dug in effortlessly as I drooled over it. It was so light, silky and smooth, almost like tofu. The flavor was like concentrated lime juice mixed with cream.
It was good but I would prefer it to be denser and firmer than it was.  Nevertheless, my taste buds clamored in agreement of my brilliant choice

Not fancy of sourish dessert, fret no more, as you could just order yourself this peach tres leches cake.

For the first time I did not feel disgusted over the overly colorful sprinkles.
The peach was very fresh, and cake was fine but not chokingly dry.
It was decent but you were to ask me this or key lime pie, you know what my choice would be.

If you ask me, RM55 for Frontera's 3-course Christmas menu will be the most worthwhile deal ever.
Yes, you would get yourself bloated with good food, and to experience Christmas in a different style.
Got a party to throw this Christmas, no worries, Ramesh will go all out to cater for your needs.

Oct 24, 2011

Song Kheng Hai : One of the perfect chilling places in Kuching

Living in Malaysia has taught me well, as hot and humid is no longer something unfamiliar, from the day I was born. I believe it is the same reason that tropical countries are blessed to be the right climate for coconut and sugarcane cultivation.

Coconut and sugarcane are the options on a hot afternoon in a typical kopitiam in Kuala Lumpur. But nothing seems to strike me more than this glass of Cococane that I had in Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre at Jalan Padungan, Kuching.

You must be wondering, "What on earth is this Cococane?"
It is a rather simple drink, I would say. Freshly crushed sugarcane, newly extracted coconut water, mixed with generous amount of peeled coconut meat, and topped with generous amount of ice cubes or crushed ice.
It is so common in Kuching that not only one stall, but almost every drink stall serves Cococane.

The unmistakable natural sweetness of sugarcane and fragrance of coconut water was concentrated in  this glass of Cococane. Seriously, it is quenching and healthily good! Why can't we find some in Kuala Lumpur?

Oh well, let's not dwell on it. Let's have some of this famous Kuching snack named Kong Piah!
According to a local friend of ours, Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre serves the best Kong Piah in Kuching and that pretty much explains why we were here.

I loved how sesame seeds enhanced the aroma. It was a powerful temptress that a long whiff was the price I paid before I started to devour these evil buns!
Despite the butter fried to crispiness outer layer, it retained slightly soft texture inside, which I believe it served a greater purpose. And yes, I was right!

The meat gravy moistened the inner bun with much enthusiasm, leaving only the slightest hint of crispiness. It was not a hard task to find the sweet note in this savory Kong Piah. The taste was well balanced, and guess what, I plopped the first and downed the second!

What else was on the table? It was no other than the famous local delicacy, Tomato Kuey Tiew.

I believe it was hailed in the same family as Wat Tan Ho. Instead of the usual starchy egg soup base, this was replaced by the tomato soup.

Spectacularity was not quite the term here. Apart from the sourish flavor from the tomato sauce, I found it rather bland and one dimensional. Perhaps I am biased, but if you would prefer a flavorful dish, you might want to reserve your quota for other dishes you have in mind.

According to my boyfriend, this Pork Leg Rice was good too and so, we gave it another try this time in Kuching.

At the first glance, the meat was dry. The brownish layer indicated some sort of marination had taken place, which was most likely be Herbs. I took a tentative bite and I was right. The pork leg meat was far from tender and moist, even though it was chunky and easily fallen from bones.

Dipped into the sauce, it was neither enhancing nor complementing. It was similar to Bak Kut Teh soup, sans the intensity of herbs concentration. Overall, it was bland. Appalled we was that it was not as good as he claimed. Maybe the chef was not in the good mood that day.

No doubt, we were very satisfied with Cococane and Kong Piah and definitely we would come to Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre just for these!

Oct 12, 2011

Chong Choon : Here comes the Kuching Prawn Star

If you were to ask me,  "Would you travel for food?", few months ago, I would most probably say "NO". However things changed and this is very much to do with my foodie boyfriend. He is the reason why we landed on this land of Borneo, in quest of Chong Choon's Sarawak laksa.

Thick gravy, bold taste and pungent smell of spiced coconut milk would be my perception of how Laksa should be and I like it that way. However, Chong Choon's begs to differ. Infused with the local influence, it is distinctively different from any Laksa I have had.

Crowning on the bowl of steaming hot Sarawak laksa is the star of this dish. Demurely it poses itself on top of its crown made of rice vermicelli, accompanied by its faithful servants : Mr Shredded chicken, Mrs Bean sprouts and Ms Coriander.

Served with extra sambal belacan and lime, it definitely made my day.

Donned in brownish soup base, the Sarawak laksa does not look as intimidating as the usual laksa, mainly because the soup is curry-free. I dumped in the extra sambal belacan and squeezed the lime to the last drop.

My first contact with the laksa soup was well registered. The sourish character in the laksa soup lingered around my taste buds for the longest time. It was bold but not overpowering. Slowly the spiced flavor started to seep in. It was subtle yet complex.

Chewing every bite of rice vermicelli with the sourish spiced soup, paired with its sides, was heavenly. The crispiness of bean sprout, the bounciness of the prawn, the tenderness of shredded chicken, further accentuated by the note of coriander, kept me digging in more and more until the bowl was cleaned to the last drop.

Nope, it is not as spicy as you think.

My worry that rice vermicelli would soak up most of the laksa soup was proved unnecessary. The slightly ragged texture of rice vermicelli complemented the watery soup well. Though my boyfriend would very much prefer kolo mee in Sarawak laksa, I found this combination is perfect.

Waking up in late morning, served with a bowl of Chong Choon's Sarawak laksa by my lovingly cute boyfriend would be the ideal morning to me. Somehow it does not happen, at least not here, in Kuala Lumpur.

Location : 
Chong Choon Cafe
Jalan Abell, Kuching, Malaysia

Operating Hours :
Every single day from 6.30am to 12pm
(Note : It's better to be early than late!)

Sep 24, 2011

Ristretto Cafe : Every drizzle matters

I believe it was the similar feeling of emptiness that most would encounter on a burning hot afternoon during holiday while all the planning turned out to no avail. The pressing heat labored its way to irritate. It wasn't a question whether it would eventually got on my nerves.

Waking up in an empty house did not help, for sure. Hollowness grew exponentially. I heaved a deep sigh and thought to myself "I need food and cold air. Time to get myself out of this oven."

It had never occurred to me that it was such a difficult decision. I asked myself, "What shall I have?", again and again. It was a laborious process involving identification of options, evaluation of the distance, time and cost, and in seek of what would strike the mood best.

Somehow, a cup of good coffee sounded ideal.

It begs to differ from the glorified Starbucks. It upholds the principle of simplicity. It believes the hail of a cup of good coffee is attributable to the finest details in making quality espresso.

From the selection of coffee beans

To intricacy of espresso machine

And skillfulness of the Barista

On top of all, it believes Only a hearty Barista is capable of unveiling the soul of coffee.

Donned on the simplest décor of black and white, it is serenely nestled in 10 Mont Kiara condominium, where only the usuals would know. It is homely and unpretentious where the unmistakable aroma fills the air with much enthusiasm.

Warmth was all I felt. Nothing is better than spending some time here with my MacBook Air and a cup of good coffee, sans the bustle of crowds, and humidity.

Every drizzle matters.

Ristretto has definitely done it right :)

Sep 15, 2011

Gone were those days (Pasar Seni & Petaling Street)

Daily hecticness has never failed to suffocate me. On and off, I take a little breather, recollect every tiny little pieces of things in life, and move on. Nothing comes easy, this I know. I just have to keep fighting to keep me sane, and make me a better person.

I wouldn't deny the fact that sometimes I do wish that time traveling was made possible. I wish I was back to those days when worries and troubles were foreign objects. I wish I could be a little child once again.

I still remembered how I used to play with the small figurines and imitate every single character that I know about or imagine as.

*Holding my nose and speak "I am your faaaatherrrr...."*
This was how naivety played its part in my life. I was merely self entertaining :)

Despite the fact that I did like role playing, the same sense of disconcertation flushed me every time I attempted to read those black and white character drawing and the "glorified" sound effects.
No, I was not a big fan of comics, Manga, or anything similar. "No, thanks!" had been and still be my answer but Jeremy loves it no less.

Did you still remember the very first time you ride on a bike? Oh yea, I remembered that well.
"Daddy daddy, I am scared..I don't waaaaaa..." *the voice trailed off, followed by a big bimblangbompiang* LOL, that was me, falling off from my first bike.
I was jumping in joy the moment my eyes landed on a new bright red bike standing right in front of me and my dad offered to teach me how to ride it.
My heart was beating faster as the exhiliration charged into every single cell of my body. Enthusiastically, I padded as my dad stablized the bike. Little did I know that he released his grip way earlier before I thought so.

Getting excited that I finally know how to ride a bike, I fell terribly in split second.

Stabilizing a bike, FAIL; Falling badly, PASS!
Nevertheless, it was fun learning how to ride a bike despite the painful fall.

Oh well, this life that we left behind has only to be stored as memories. Time waits for no man and we have to move on.

Eventually, I am addicted to this new toy, Photography and writing blog has been the prime motivating factor for me to be able to shoot like a professional. It is no longer new to me now but yes, nothing comes easy. It takes time and of course, money, to be able to shoot like one.

Guess I have a much longer way to go. A little adventurous self is needed!

Sep 8, 2011

Perhentian Island : A long awaited breakaway

Living in the terrain of concrete, looking at the bustle of cities, anticipating the arrival of month ends, it goes on and on. For a split second, the sudden realisation hit you hard on the face, "What have I been missing all these while?"

The seamless land that we leave untreaded, the nature of beauty that we have yet to explore, and so much more in life to discover.

It wasn't an impulse that we jumped into. A break from the usual chaotic life was timely as we enjoyed the sheer gloat of leaving everything else behind as we stepped onto this cradled beach of Perhentian.

The warm embrace of showering sunshine, the soft lapping of waves along the beach, the playful dance of coconut trees, and the smooth sandy beach under my bare feet.
It is a gift to mankind, to be able to feel its lovely tenderness, and to witness the purity of love.

Right inside of me, there was this burning desire to try something different this time. I could feel the charge of adrenaline all over my body as the idea struck me. Without a slight hesitation,  I told myself, "Let's do this!"

While it is an bizarre choice to most, the promise of a lifetime license, the idea of swimming with fishes, getting close up to the enchantingly colorful corals and listening to the Symphonie des Meeres leave me with little choice but to dive head first into it.

The feeling of anxiety never left me as I put on my equipments, got into the boat, stared into the blue sky while we headed to our destinations. Often I found myself being disoriented while finding my mask and fins. Seated at the brink of boat, my heart skipped a beat. I gathered myself into position, holding my mask and regulator while anticipating the splash of water the moment my head landed first into the sea.

The saltiness of sea water was predictable but I could not help but wince as I accidentally gulped on some. The waves kept coming in and we were bopping up and down, waiting for the rest to get into the sea.
A simple gesture from the instructor was shown and all of us started to descend. It was slow and easy. The tough part was making sure you didn't touch the coral and establish buoyancy (stabilise your body so that it will not ascend or descend while you swim) in the sea.

Four dives were done but the last was the most memorable one. We swam along the mountains after mountains of coral, played with the fishes (of course we failed as the fishes were gone before we could touch them). It was a close up aquarium, but there was no enclosure. You could feel water surrounding your body, breath in water like usual, and touch (not on corals because my touch is venomous :p)

The hollow space, eaten away by anxiety, was filled with exhilaration. I wished I could have lingered longer as instructor signaled for ascend. I waved goodbye to the fishes and coral, and silently I made a promise.

They will see me again soon enough!

The fear of water escaping into lungs, the accidental suffocation in sea, and the 4-5kgs of equipments failed to dampen the spirit in each and every one of us as we strode and stood with pride.
We are officially the Open Water Divers.

Me, Agent 005, hereby officially announces that my mission is accomplished!

Aug 19, 2011

Meatworks : You and I, Just Us Two

It was a boring Sunday.
There I was, lying cozily in the feathery soft hammock, enjoying the breeze as it brushed on my cheek.
The favorite book of mine rested right beside me.
It was untouched. Guess the mood wasn't right.

Staring at the dancing leaves and waving branches and squinting at the sunshine that penetrated through the layers of green right above me.
There was no sign of hostility.
In fact, it was a warm embrace that sent me peace and tranquility.

My mind was drifting away to a faraway land, unknown by others.
Slowly I was drifted away until a warm touch caressed my blushing cheek.
It wasn't hard to figure whose hand was it.
I couldn't help, I smiled from the bottom of my heart.

No one else gives me the same sensation like how he does.
Just like how he had persisted.
It wasn't an easy path from the very beginning, but we made it.

My eyes closed shut, trying my very best to put on a disguise that he would have intelligently uncover.
Despite the weak attempt, I remained still, savoring every second of the moment.
As seconds ticked by, heat seemed to grow.
A peck landed on my lips, and I thought to myself, "Ah shuts, should have put on my lip balm."

A peck is all he needs to melt me away.
I returned the favor, throwing my facade away subconsciously.
A big smile carved on his face, and he chuckled, "I just knew it. You naughty girl."
I giggled.

He took a few seconds to poise himself and asked in a deep yet casual set tone, "Hey Misssssay, are you interested to go on a date with me at Meatworks?"
What is more that I can say?
I nodded in agreement without oblige.

We were well greeted by the friendliness of staffs, coziness of the cottage-like interior, and tempting Sunday Roast.

Judging by the healthy pink shade and reflection of light, one word is suffice : Yumss!
Despite the leanness, it bounced in delight as the fork worked its way through.
Naked or dressed, it works well.
I would say, this Sunday Roast has got personality!

It is not the best, but it outruns the one we had in Las Vacas.
If only we had some red wine to go with it, sadly, Meatworks don't serve alcohol (halal).

The sweetest thing of all, we were served with homemade tiramisu and vanilla pannacotta.
No, we didn't pay for these. It was on the house.

It was my first Pannacotta.
Tentatively I dug in, it did not feel like gelatin, but more like yoghurt.
Sweet? It isn't. Subtle, and more to the sourish end.
Made of cream, milk, and sugar, it would never give the sinful impression you might have in mind.
*Continued to dig it more till the very last scoop*

Tiramisu sans alcohol never make it qualify as the classic tiramisu, this is what He quoted.
I heard the faint shout for alcohol to quench its thirst but its request would never be fulfilled.
Well, at least, not here.

It was a casual Sunday with much love.
Just like how the title says : You and I, Just Us Two.

Jul 24, 2011

The beauty behind the scary facade

It is not an absolute deniable statement if one says Black is not an attractive color.
Appeal, as it might be perceived to have, is only be seen by the rare.

Possessed by insatiable greed, it swears to engulf every single spectrum which threatens its existence.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? is all that it clings onto.
Failure is not the answer.

Fear less by the cruelty it exhibits, Black reminds me of an old friend of mine, Beast.
At times we see only the facade but in the deepest corner Beast, there is presence of beauty.

In fact, Black is never born to be ugly.
It was the Swan who has decided to sacrifice for the greater sake of mankind.

Bakau is Black's real name.

Sprouting from a petite looking seed, Black grows taller, and stronger as time passes.
Many would wince at its countless feet, but little do they know, its capability is beyond challenge by the greatest Tsunami.

It burns itself down to the core, dedicating itself to provide heat to human kind in the ancient ice age.
It withstands the agony of breaking every single cell structure, for the sake of transforming into a Black.
It is a Saint.

And this tale shan't fade, for we have, the greatest story teller in the world.

Mr Chuah, the successor of this decades-old Charcoal factory.

He embraces the beauty of Black, despite there are many fail to appreciate.
He eases us into open minds, enlightens us on this great act on this unsung hero.
It was a success, for he made an invisible impact in every single one of us there.

The sacrificial act of Bakau will forever be remembered and told.

Black is never ugly.
It chose to be ugly.

I guess a little stretch now is all I need now.

Signing off now by Messenger Black.

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