Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fabulous Favola, Le Meridien

This the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la FA-VO-lA. For some reason, that ditty got stuck in my head, so I thought I should purge it by posting about this wonderful dinner we had recently at the newest outlet at LeMeridien. Favola.... sounds like an exotic name of a dancer, or maybe I'm confusing that with Pavlova, or a gipsy fortune teller. It could even be Malaysian, Favo-LAH!

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a little ravenous rabbit introduced us to her cousin, one of the other rabbits that had multiplied like rabbits in a fertile faraway land, who had invited a group of motley hungry floggers*, to sample the new treats they had to offer. Unlike the Witch who beckoned Hansel and Gretel to her gingerbread house, and subsequently ate them, our wonderful hostess, Cheryl Lum of Meridien, just fattened us up without eating us while we aspired to live happily ever after.

*Us comprising the Famousest Flogger of All, KY Speaks, The Queen of the DSLR Kingdom, AWhiffoffart (oops, I mean awhiffoflemongrass), The Queen of the Flogging Kingdom, Masak Masak, The Flying Winged Monkeys, Ciki and A LilFatMonkey (the penguin equivalent of Flying monkeys, ie, flightless), and The Baker who made the gingerbread man....

Favola means "FABLE" in Italian.

What was previously the Middle Eastern Al Nafourah no longer has belly dancers, but murals and frescos made to resemble some casual alfresco dining place in Italy. Check out the man in the mask groping the lady's chest.

The lovely breads. Actually if you are on a low budget, just come here and eat lots of bread, with the lovely potato truffle flavoured dip, and order a small starter. Sure full one! (don't kill me please, Cheryl).

Cold Antipasti (RM35 for a selection of 5) from the Crudo Bar which includes the following:

i. Octopus tossed with chopped garlic, chili flakes, sea salt & olive oil. The octopus was surprisingly tender, and not like something from the Michellin (tyre) factory.

ii. Seafood Salad in a dressing of garlic, chili-olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkled with Italian parsley

iii. Bresaola, shaved dried beef topped with aragula, fresh fig, pink peppercorn, drizzled with lemon juice and extra virgin oil.

iv. Bruschetta with cured salmon, portobello mushrooms and buffalo mozzarella topping

v. Caprese, a unique salad of buffalo mozzarella layered between slices of tomato, basil, anchovies, garlic confit, and oregano.

(Note: Food titles and some descriptions have been shamelessly plagiarised from Alilfatmonkey's blog, since my memory is failing me)

The platter of Warm Caldo Antipasti (which could lead to an angioplasty) included crispy sardines, which were my favourite, coz I don't think I've had them before, breaded cod fritters, with a duo of dipping sauces, of which the garlic sauce was sublime, and Panzerotti. (the curry puff shaped ones). I loved them, because I thought the pastry tasted delightfully buttery. But apparently, its pizza dough, ....perhaps it was fried in butter. Perfect finger foods.

Another starter, crispy pizza dough with olives kinda thing.

While the rest of the table was sitting down in civilised conversation, the two monkeys were roaming the restaurant, trying out the most amazing fruity balsamic, and err....making monkeys of themselves. In an adorable way, of course.

The lobster risotto. Usually not a risotto fan, I found this one quite palatable, perhaps it has been made to cater to our uncultured palate. Not too aldente, but not soggy either.

The Wagyu Cheek Lasagna. Actually it was great, but I felt it would have been just as good with any normal beef. Lovely layers of freshly made lasagna. Eat your heart out, Garfield.

The Conchiglioni Marinara al Cartoccio
Shell shaped pasta, served in parchment paper. Must be inspired by Seri Kembangan chi pau kai. Nicely al dente, and not overpowered by sauces, you could taste the tastiness of the pasta itself, complemented by the subtle tomatoey clammy sauce.

Veal Escalope Duo Mondi, one seared, one breaded. With a generous serving of truffle mashed potatoes. I prefer the seared veal.

The veal osso bucco in rich jus. I love sucking the marrow.

Seared scallops on a bed of mashed cauliflower doused with truffle oil. How can you possibly go wrong with such a divine combination. Hmmm, I feel like having this for lunch.

The honored cast for the fable that night. We had to get home before we turned into pumpkins, before midnight.

The two monkeys. "Let's send our pics with our resumes to Elphaba"

Say Chis Everyone. Let's grope the grappa.

Thamby: Shall I snip off his name tag?

KY: Blink blink, pinch me, am I dreaming, surrounded by such HAWT HAWT CHICKS!!!! I must be in a fable....

One of the house specialties, Mussels err....in a tomato sauce. Although we were bursting at the seams by this time, Cheryl insisted we had a mussel each.

Monkey moans that he has more Mussels!!!

The jolly Chef Antoine and the lovely Paprika aka Ravenous Rabbit.

That blurry thing is actually the empty bone which had its marrow sucked out. (No no no, not the bones in focus. The unfocused one)

Note: How does one pass the meat dishes to CIKI? "Here please pass the meat to those bones"

Their signature Tiramisu. Yummy layers of sponge, soaked in Illy Coffee and slathered with mascarpone and chocolate. This is why the rabbit lost to the tortoise in the race. Too much tiramisu.

A ricotta thingie with summer fruits. Very light, almost yoghurty, and resembles a very healthy breakfast.

My personal favourite for the night, the Panna Cotta with a summer fruit coulis. The texture of the panna cotta was amazing, and the sweetness was balanced by the tangy coulis. Yum.

At the end of it all, the hostess with the mostest tosses her hair back in satisfaction, knowing that her harem* was well fed and contented.

What a feast. And some VERY POTENT GRAPPA at the end to finish us off. Heaps of thanks to Ravenous Rabbit for securing us the invite, and to Cheryl for having us.

Prices are very reasonable. Considering the location and 5 star venue, the prices are comparable with your normal Changkat BB kinda outlets. A casual happy atmosphere, (not the quiet quiet prim proper fine dining atmosphere), a great place to hang out with friends.

And so, we lived happily ever after.

*Special Acknowledgement to Kenny Mah for helping me with my vocabulary.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Congratulations Julian And Louise

A few months ago, in a moment of weakness, and I was not even under the influence of any Scots person named Macallan or Johnny, these newly made friends asked me to make their wedding cake. Cough cough, choke choke. Those of you who know my decoration skills, or lack thereof, would ROFLYAO. Haven't we had enough disasters, in the decor department.

Instinctively I said NOOOOOOOOOO, I DONT MAKE WEDDING CAKES, and it's absolutely true, I DON'T. Ever since the first one, done for a very special friend (that was even before I started "selling" stuff"), I swore, never again. I'm not sure what I swore on. Anyway, there are a few times when you can get me to say, when I would normally say no. 1. when I'm err....happily high. 2. when I am in a hurry 3. when I intend to have an escape plan B. I cannot for my life remember HOW or WHY I said yes. And you know how quickly time flies these days. It's like Rapunzel's father promising his firstborn to the neighbour.... only to find, lo and behold, the dateline has arrived.

DAY 1 - Anyway, it was with great trepidation that I set out with this task. First were the dimensions. My first attempt was very ambitious, with the base at 14" diameter, which used up enough electricity to power a small village. This time, I was wiser, and used a 10" for the base, and baking time wasn't too bad.

DAY 2 - Another lesson I had learnt from the previous attempt, was don't bother making your own fondant. Sure, it's cheaper, but the massage bill after that kinda equalises the cost. Ready made fondant is SOOOO much easier to roll out. Tah dah. Rolled out in less than 5 minutes.

Okay, it's covered. Well, at least the base is. Now what? Argh, where are the masters when you need them?!!!! Oh well, time for dinner at Favola. Cake would have to wait.

DAY 3 - less than 36 hours to the event. Argh, panic panic. How to decorate? Frantic sms to the bride revealed, 1. theme was lavender and cream, 2. they did not have any figurines to put on top. Deep breaths.

Went to Bangsar Village florist. Yikes, how much ribbon do I need? Where is unkaleong when you need him? Circumference for 10" dia, 8" dia and 6" dia please.... let's see, 10"circumference is 2 PI R. 2 x 3.1413x 5 = 32 inches la, let's say. Okay, 2 meters please lady.

[Roll eyes in disbelief]. Petite assistant uses the arm method to measure a metre. Is it a JENGKAL? DEPA? Another reason why they should teach Math and Science in English. Google it, and you can't get any info. You gotta be kidding me lady. I ask the lady boss, "you measure laidat ah"? She grabs the roll from the assistant, and uses HER ARMS instead. Fine. I get back to the office and use the measuring tape, and the blardy ribbon is 180cm only!!!! 20cm short. That's TEN PERCENT!!!! And not enough for the cakes.

ARGGHHHHHHH, rush back to the shop, WITH MEASURING TAPE in pocket. Actually, 2meters is JUST about enough to circumnavigate the three cylindrical shapes. No room for error. Wife help me cut off the fraying edges, but I say, ARRRRGH, careful careful, we have no extra to spare. After much fiddling around, and rushing to go off for birthday dinner at Cuisine Studio, tah dah............

Cannot take near near shots, or you'd see the pimples, the wrinkles etc. Can only take pics far far.

Then, THE JOURNEY to Ambang Botanic, in Klang. With no one to help me, I had to leave the cake in the boot, (4WD boot la, not the sedan car type), and stop after every bump to inspect if it had toppled. Fortunately, it arrived intact.

Now, you see the cake (from afar), looks okay la. But on the way, those pesky pollen from the stamen kinda fertilized the whole cake, and when it arrived, the cake was covered with flower sperm. Fortunately, I think the people in charge did a good job of cleaning it up.

(Cake Cutting Photos courtesy of Hoong Jyn)

And awwwwwwww, this is the sight that makes it all worthwhile. Although I was not there to witness it.

So, congratulations my dears, Julian and Louise. The cake might not have been perfect, but is representative of real life, with all its flaws and dents, but made and given with affection and as a token of friendship.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

God bless you both as you journey on this life of matrimony together.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cuisine Studio

Recently, our Queen of the DSLR, soon to be Queen of the P&S, was featured in the recent issue of FLAVOURS, (if you're a celebrity, I guess its normal to appear everywhere), at a queue leenary (culinary) class at Cuisine Studio. Where she goes, I must follow, as the humble acolyte. So, I was rather delighted when group of old friends, comprising those from the Carrington-Colby era, and the spinoffs, decided to buy me birthday dinner at Cuisine Studio, Tropicana.

I've always been meaning to come try it out, but somehow never made it. From the sketchy details from memory, the place is run by the same people who run HTC, (the french culinary school) in IMC building, and also the gourmet supplies people, Gourmandines. Hence, chefs Jean Michel, Bruno, etc are all involved. They also hold cooking classes here.

Exceedingly stressed, from attempting to make a wedding cake, (will post this in a separate post), I arrived slightly late, but not the latest. Bottles of wines were already flowing. This group still loves their reds, ....me, personally, more a white drinker these days. But then again, they all more high class la. One couple had just returned from Barcelona. The other from Perth. Yet another from Whistler. And another was on the way to Dubai, and Iran. If I got all the frequent flyer points from trips from that table alone in the last one month, I can probably reach Uranus.

We started off with a variety of entrees to whet the palate. Lovely pates, salads, and duck sausage and "waxed duck" to begin with....

Pate Platter

Duck Sampler

Then I decided, heck, I am not gonna share THIS, the pan seared foie gras on caramelized apple. A bit pricy, at RM69, but oh soooooo gooooodddddddd. Seared to perfection, the blend of subtle sauces, (balsamic reductions I think) and the lovely caramelized apple....oooooooh....salivating.

While the idea of eating a diseased liver of a force fed duck may be grounds for boycotting this dish, I personally, [hiding from all the animal lovers out there], am of the opinion, if its not endangered, it should be eaten. Hmmm, what animal wont I eat? Okay, the thought of eating cat (CAT, not Pussy), is repulsive. Crow, vultures, ravens, and other predatorial birds....also somehow seem rather no no. But a duck, awwwwww, that's just calling out for the chopping board.

The duck confit cassoulet. More like a duck stew. The duck meat was falling off the bone, but a bit too soft for my liking. It was basically, err...stewed. I remember having the duck confit during one of the culinary classes, and it seemed different then.

Lamb Shank Confit With Rosemary, Olive Oil and Lemon Confit. Tender lamb meat, falling off the bone, tender enough to be eaten without a knife.

Alce nero organic pasta with basil and escargots. This seemed to be a hit, and we even ordered an extra plate for sharing. Which in the end, was a bit overkill, coz it wasn't finished.

I think this was the Beef Bourgignon. A lovely beefy stew, rendering the beef wonderfully tender, but still flavourful. Real comfort food this one. Wouldn't mind eating this with a bowl of rice. Being the perennial chinaman that I am.

Finally, we decided to celebrate the birthdays of all those born in the plus minus 30 days or so of the dinner, incldg the november and december born. Judging by the percentage, I'd say there is definitely some trend, ....perhaps it was Chinese New Year, that gave people more time to procreate.

My first attempt at a yule log, which I am practising for a very important function. Of course someone commented it looked like turd. Show me a turd in that shape, and I'll show you a strand of Marilyn Monroe's armpit hair.

Thank you dear friends for the very lavish dinner. Love you all very very much.

Now, Cuisine Studio is by no means cheap, nor even bordering on "reasonable" by our average standards. However, they do give a good gourmet spread, in a nice casual laid back atmosphere. Nestled in the affluent Tropicana neighbourhood, and located in the Tropicana club itself, I guess it must have its own share of regular wealthy clientele. They also sell a range of gourmet stuff. Can't wait to try my cherry jam. (RM15).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mezze On Kasah

A lazy Sunday afternoon, spent overeating, and overeating..... how decadent is that. Ooops, that was the opening line of my previous post as well, except that was Saturday.

A quick check on the net told me that Mezze is not an English word, but is a mixture of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern to mean "selection of appetizers or small dishes often served with beverage, like anise-flavored liqueurs such as arak, ouzo, raki or different wines, similar to the tapas of Spain or finger food." (Wikipedia)

Fratmustard very graciously invited Thamby and Me to a Bellini Brunch at Mezze on a fine Sunday morning. He broached the question by a very serious msn, "err, would you skip church on sunday for a food review?".... and I replied, "what do YOU think?". Anyway, the rest is history. Actually, I don't mean to sound flippant, but I had intended to go for the earlier service, and not skip church altogether. Ah well, good intentions remain good intentions.

So, it was with delight that I found myself at Mezze on Sunday morning, greeted by the vivacious owners, Perin and Shantini Petrus (who are apparently no less that related to the famous Nigel Skelchy), and promptly started with a glass of delightful bellini. (Bubbly with peach puree). Happy happy.

Come To Ah Pa, you sexy thang.

Mezze has a comprehensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. On separate sheets. Like brainless bimbos, we left the ordering to the hosts, with our minds completely switched off.

French Toast with Maple Syrup. Lovely crusty baguettes turned into french toast. I wouldn't have minded a bit more eggy flavour, and butter. But, it was a good start.

Home made muesli, comprising oats, cream, (there goes the healthy star), yoghurt, fruit. Actually apart from the cream, it was rather healthy, and apparently a lot like Fratmustard's normal breakfast. Lucky him. I have a glass of bitter gourd juice and a cup of plain oat bran in the morning.

Doesn't that look like a smiley face to you? Bright eyes and all. The Mezze Benedict. I wonder if eggs benedict came from the benedictine monks, who also invented Dom Benedict. With crispy bits of bacon, and a side salad, it seems like a rather complete meal. Carbs, Protein and Fibre. Very good for breakfast. I like the hollandaise sauce which wasn't too sour, as some can be.

The Spanish Tartin, which is kind of like a slim fritata. Basically an omelette, with bits of potato, bacon, and again, that salubrious salad at the side. I could easily eat this.

English Breakfast from three different angles. I think I am getting a bit tired of the prime lens of the DSLR, and the blurry effects....very hard to photograph multi faceted dishes in one go. The baked beans are not from a can, and are made by the chef himself. Scrambled eggs (I prefer mine runnier), sausage, bacon, portobello mushroom, tomato. With a bellini. How fabulous is that! And mingling with good friends.

English Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. Hmm, the cow must've have just jogged and forgotten to rehydrate, as the roast was a tad dry. But I think the owners knew, and apparently its usually rather juicy. Well, we must return again and check it out.

Blueberry Pancakes With Maple Syrup. I'm not really a pancake person, especially when there are so many other goodies out there. In fact, I can't remember if I had any. Very naughty of me, considering I am supposed to blog about it.

Their best selling sticky toffee date pudding, which uses molasses and treacle and other fancy stuff. Lovely texture, served warm with a dollop of ice cream.

Brownies, which were very moist, but a bit too sweet for my palate.

I finally got to meet the FAMOUS FAY KHOO, WOO HOO, and what a bundle of energy she is!!!! The chef is from Britain, no less.

So, Mezze is located on Jalan Kasah, next to Vintry. Would love to try the dinner menu one of these days. The Bellini's are available at RM20++ for Sunday brunch. Yummy stuff. Left the place with quite a buzz. Thanks Fratmustard for the invite.