Monday, September 21, 2009

My Nourishment, Issue 4

Am pleased to announce that Issue 4 of My Nourishment is now out in print. This time round, our very own Queen of the DSLR, Awhiffoflemongrass, has showcased her brilliant photographs, and is featured as FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER.

Kinda like a festive issue, covering Raya and Deepavali, this issue has an array of DELICIOUS recipes. Chef Devagi, the Spice Queen of Singapore, gave us a sample of her apricot chutney, (recipe in the magazine) which was ABSSSSOLUTELY DIVINE. Chef Ismail shares his childhood raya memories, ahem, interviewed by yours truly.

Chef Esa, handsome celebrity chef, features his recipes, including delectable nasi tomato, nasi dagang, etc.

SELAMAT HARI RAYA to all Muslim readers.

Announcement: Fatboybakes will be away from 22nd Sept to 2nd October. However, I have bought a new phone with WIFI capabilities, so I shall only be a click away.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lunch With Michael Elfwing, Senses, KL Hilton

As at the time of writing, I can safely say that this meal I'm gonna blog about is the BEST meal I've had this year. It was already thrilling enough to get an invite, courtesy of MY NOURISHMENT magazine, (thanks, Chief Editor Ryan Khang) to have lunch at Senses, with Chef de Cuisine of Senses, Chef Michael Elfwing. (who is Swedish).

Are all celebrity Chefs good looking, or do they become celebrity chefs BECAUSE they are good looking? And how the heck do they remain so slim? I guess life in the kitchen can be quite gruelling, on your feet all day, in a perpetual sauna, ..... but oh, when you see the chef at work, like an artist brandishing his paint brush to create a masterpiece, you can't help but develop a certain awe and newfound admiration for these gurus who bring so much joy to our palates.

Today's meal was indeed an attack on ALL the senses. Sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Oh, and a bit of the sixth sense too, as I had a premonition that I would be sinfully full after that meal. As the Director of Markeing Communications, Sally, very kindly briefed us on what to expect, by the sheer variety, we were expecting bite size morsels of every dish, ..... kinda like those portions in degustation menus that leave you wondering if you need Hokkien Mee later on.

Boy were we wrong!

The original guests were supposed to comprise A Whiff of Lemongrass, A Lil Fat Monkey, Frat Mustard, Ryan and me. [Ciki was invited too but was off to Singapore] But as the event was postponed, Lemongrass had already arrived in London, Monkey had a working lunch, leaving Frat and Me, together with the two lovely sisters of THE COOKING HOUSE, photographer Ah Po, and Ryan, for this decadent lunchtime soiree.

I am sure most readers by now have met Frat.

I like this place already. They serve REAL butter with their buns, which were incidentally, excellent. My rye bread was yummy. But in retrospect, I should have laid off the bread completely!!!!

Excuse me while I hide behind these cards, I need to loosen my belt.


.......that's the name of the dish. Sous vide Tasmanian Ocean trout smoked at the table, new season potato salad, cucumber cress and sweet mustard dressing. Those little leaves that look like weeds, taste like cucumber skin. The trout was amazing. Look at that glorious color, which bears testimony to the excellent farming methods in Tasmania. Chef said that ideally, of course, he would prefer WILD, but WILD being WILD, isn't always available. The slight hint of smokiness on the trout, which wasn't too salty, was delicious. As assailing of Sight, Smell, and Taste.

Beetroot & Scallop Salad....The scallop on the right, is the MUKI HOTATO, while the other two on the left, Hokkaido scallops. Chef had given us both to taste to contrast the texture of the two types. Indeed, one was chewier, but so very flavourful, and sweet. The Hokkaido ones were more normal, but also seared to perfection. Who'd have thought the beetroot mash could be so delicious.

Organic Butternut Pumpkin & Perrier Soup. Oh, did I mention the main purpose of the meal was to showcase organic stuff as well? Of course, organic in my mind equates to healthy and bland. Hence, the GENIUS of Chef Michael. How is it possible that pumpkin and perrier can taste so good????!!! Superb!

Chicken Terrine, with Beurre Bosc Pear Chutney and Rock Melon Salad, Summer Truffles. And yes, those thin slices ARE truffles. The terrine has some foie gras in it, as a replacement for fat. How decadent is that?!!! My limited culinary vocabulary can't even think of adjectives to describe the kaleidoscope of flavours.

Frat and his Truffle.

Queensland Goldband Snapper with minute cooked coz lettuce, Boston Bay mussels, tomato basil beurre blanc. As you can imagine, by now, we were getting pretty full. The snapper, though it looks ordinary, was super fresh, and cooked just right. Nothing like the taste of fresh, good fish, cooked well, to almost convince you that you can give up meat.

As the Photographer was vegetarian, .... hmmm, did he say vegetarian? I am sure fish is not a vegetable.... Chef served him this delicious looking Loch Fyne Scottish Salmon, pan roasted, with grilled razor clam and garlic butter. Apparently he's a pescitarian, ie, can eat things that don't move, like scallops, razor clams. Anyway, whatever his culinary beliefs were, that dish looked good.

At this point, we nearly keeled over when Chef Michael brought out these platters of meat, a mixture of Kagoshima, Wagyu, Mayura Station Platinum Wagyu, Angus cross Wagyu, with marbling scores from five to TWELVE!!!! TWELVEEEEE!!!!!! The highest I've ever had was nine, and that already made me ahem.....

Our accompanying vegetables to go with the beef.

Without a doubt the Wagyu Rib Eye, from Darling Downs Australia, with marble score 12, full blood wagyu, AND the Mayura from Limestone Coast, South Australia, Marble score 12, 600 days grain fed, ...WITHOUT A DOUBT, has KILLED it for me. HOWW, I ask, HOWWWWW will I ever eat normal beef again??!!!! It was sheeeeeer heaven. I salivate at the very thought of it. It's almost obscene. I daren't even ask the price.

Melt in the mouth took on another meaning. Every single sense was assailed. The sight of that marble, the tongue tingling taste, the glorrrious texture (touch), the aroma that makes you want to live in a kitchen forever, and the SOUNDS of everyone going ooh and ahhhh..... and FRAT muttering incoherently as if he had just "arrived".

Thank Goodness for the "there's always room for dessert" theory, which by and large, is true.

Manjari Emulson, ...need I say more. Valrhona, 56% I think, not too bitter, not sweet, AMAZING texture, made only from Manjari and....water, apparently. I am soooo going to order this the next time I visit KL Hilton.

Lime & Gooseberries, lime curd with hazelnut and sable crumbs, Valrhona Ivoire Chocolate Emulsion, Physalis Compote and sorbet. Not a white chocolate fan, I didn't prioritize to try the white chocolate emulsion, and it was gone by the time I did want to try. The physalis sorbet was refreshing.

Mango Parfait Cannelloni....perfect for a hot summer day, which is every day in KL, except we were blissfully unaware all the heavens had opened outside, and it was pouring! Lovely texture, and strong definitive mango taste.

Pink Kiss Apple, orangic apple variation with crepes, vanilla espuma, fresh donuts & cinnamon sugar. At a glance it looked like some local dessert. Well, with all the other sinful offerings, this one, being organic and all, seemed rather tame, although the apple crumble was delicious.

Twisted Ganache, pink guava & passionfruit sponge, orange creme and toffee ice cream. The ganache was splendid, and eaten all together, really creates whole new sensations!

Grand Marnier souffle. I usually don't like airy desserts.... I mean, if you're gonna indulge, it should be solid right. Not eating air. But this souffle was sooo yummy.

Bread and Butter Pudding, for those who want something familiar and homely. Delicious, but not something I'd order especially with SOOO MANY OTHER FASCINATING CHOICES!!!!

TRUFFLE ICE CREAM. The height of decadence!!!! Eggs that had been sitting together with truffles, so that the truffle aroma permeated into the eggs.... wow!!!! This finished in a jiffy.

And at the end, Frat pengsan-ed.

Thank you Chef Michael for the real treat. It really was a memorable fantastic lunch. Oh, and thank you Sally too for your hospitality. Of course, thanks to Ryan and team for securing us an invite. (Sounds like an Oscar acceptance speech).

Reminds me of the song, A LOVE SO BEAUTIFUL...Michael Bolton...except, this was A LUNCH SO BEAUTIFUL...Michael Elfwing.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Maria, I Just Met A Girl Named Maria

I've just met a girl named Maria,
And suddenly that name
Will never be the same
To me.... -

From The Bernstein Musical - Westside Story

When I got a call from Mae Ho, the Lady Boss of the Berjaya University College of Hospitality, (why didn't they have such interesting tertiary education places when I was growing up?! I might have been a local celebrity chef by now, ahem!) inviting me to a food demo by Maria Cordero, I was thrilled. Again, the invitation was thanks to Eu Hooi Khaw..... that dear lady who has been so very nice to us group of food bloggers, as she had given my name to Mae. Thanks so much Mae, if you are reading this. It was a fabulous event.

Yeah, so anyway, as it was a Selangor holiday, I thought I should not risk being late, ....I take these appointments with celebrities, ahem, very seriously, so I braved the masses and the threat of H1N1 and took the MONORAIL. Very convenient.

I had NO idea that Berjaya had such a grand set up in Times Square. After meandering to and fro in a maze, I finally found the venue for the event. Very la di dah, the press, very important looking people, the AFC rep, the Hong Kong Tourism Director, the Berjaya who's who....

I didn't get the name of the local emcee fella, but I have to say he did a fantastic job. Articulate, witty, and speaks well. With the local standards of English plummeting faster than the new depths our politicians sink, its heartening to see eloquent and grammatically correct emcees. The suave director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, David Liu (I think) certainly made us want to hop onto the next flight to Hong Kong. And the affable AFC rep, Simon, must have one of the best jobs in the world. When I mentioned this to him, he said, "nooo, not at all, it makes you hungry all the time". Or something to that effect.

The cooking island was laid out, like a concert stage awaiting the arrival of the Diva.

The event organisers. AFC, Hong Kong Tourism Board,


Star Quality. Some people obviously have an abundance of it. Be it when they sing, or act, or cook, and this lady here is one such person. She radiates such a charming persona, it is impossible not to be taken by her. And her recipes make you feel that yes, I want to make that, it looks so easy.

Her tip for wives out there, don't call your husband and say, "oi, where are you ah? what time you coming home?". Instead, lovingly coo, "dahling ah, I am cooking your favourite dish tonight, are you coming home for dinner?". I would pay heed to this wise woman's words of wisdom. She runs a large household, with 4 generations under one roof and cooks for her grandchildren even. She is a SUPERWOMAN.

One of the things about Maria that struck me is how friendly and affable she is. I've seen some celebrities who are so up themselves, their a** is almost coming out of their mouths, but Maria is a people's person. Not an air of pretentiousness. She is seen here feeding her assitant the mushroom cappucino she just whipped up in a jiffy.

While waiting for the Rice Cooker Chicken to cook, she obliges us with her really powerful voice.

The chicken is ready. No need for formalities. She pierces it with a fork, lifts it and plunges the cooked chook into a waiting tub of ice water, to make the skin nice and firm. I shall try that in the shower too, after a hot shower, run myself under cold water to keep my skin nice and firm.

This innovative Diva made these Bitter Gourd Pickle in her hotel room last night. Apparently you just chop up the bitter gourd, boil a rock sugar solution with some sour plum, cool the solution, and chuck in the gourd, and voila, SWEET gourd the next day. The gourd was nice and crunchy, and not a hint of bitterness. Well, I personally like my bitter gourd to be ...well, BITTER, but hey, a lot of people don't like it bitter, so what better way to eat Foo Gwa.

She obliges to take pictures with individuals. Featured here is The Nomad Gourmand. Food bloggers also present were Boolicious, my blogging idol, Superwilson and Sid of Big Boys Oven. Oh, and Jason Mumbles was the photographer for the event.

After the cooking demo, we were treated to lunch at SAMPLINGS ON THE 14th. I am not sure if it is a restaurant or a simulated restaurant for the culinary school.

The yam puff was yummy and yammy.

Very healthy Maria Cordero Styled food. Steamed chicken, stir fried vegetables, a more watery version of her mushroom cappucino, and the mushroom rice.

Red Bean Soup for dessert. Blended smoothly. Not heavy, not sweet.

The organisers of the event, watching Maria perform. David tries to scuttle away as Maria invites him to join her in a song.

That's the boss of the University. What an elegant looking lady! I think I want to enrol in a course here.

The AFC fella.

The many faces and talents of Maria Cordero.

Well, the objective of the event was to promote Hong Kong as a tourist destination, but really, do they need to promote Hong Kong? Food is excellent there, the nightlife pulsating, shopping a paradise to the shoppers... and air asia flies there too!!!! Now, if only I can find some cheap accommation, I am soooo there!!!!!