Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Electrolux Launch of the New RM10K Inspiro Oven

Of course, when fame eludes someone the way weight loss eludes Oprah, any opportunity for even 20 seconds of exposure is not to be sneered at. I was delighted when dear Adly of Fried Chillies asked me if I would be interested in doing a demo for the launch of the new electrolux oven. Considering that I myself have been an avid electrolux fan (as in a human fan, not a stand fan) for years, I thought why not. Although initially the job specs included DECORATING CUPCAKES!!!! SHUDDDDEEERRRR! You know how decoration and me go together like BN and Pakatan.

Anyway, upon further exploration, to my great relief, there was no need for cake decoration, as the very capable Saw Leng of Electrolux, who also happened to be an old friend of mine, was taking care of that aspect of the launch, and would make the cupcakes and icing and conduct the icing and decoration workshops. So, all I had to do was bake some cupcakes, and pizza.

The new Inspiro is a highly intelligent oven, that requires no preheating, and with one touch of the button, you can select from an array of baking options, from cake, to bread, to bagels, to pizza. And under the sub heading of pizza, there's thick crust, thin crust, frozen, etc. Really, quite amazing. So canggih so much so there had to be a dry run, lest the oven was TOO intelligent.

So, ahead of time, I made my way to the Electrolux office in Jaya 33, and conducted an impromptu demo on how to make Banana Cupcakes, and Pizza from scratch. Quite nice to have all these chicks hovering around with great fascination. If I wasn't married yet, I probably can find a bride quite easily with all these cooking demos. While not much to behold aesthetically, and though women try to hide it, the way to their hearts is through their stomach. Contrary to men.... the way to their hearts is ...errr, below their stomach. Oh dear, I hope the Electrolux organisers arent reading this.

The Electrolux flagship store is located in Solaris Dutamas, and you really CANNOT miss it. Decked up with three functional kitchens, and rows of Electrolux appliances, it really is quite a treat to be able to conduct a class there.

The who's who of Electrolux(M) were there for the launch, I guess. Also present was the lady who had designed the Inspiro, who gave us a very interesting talk on the rationale behind the designs etc. Indeed, a lot of thought had gone into creating a highly intelligent oven.

After the unveiling for the oven, I was then tasked with making a few quips...and proceeded to demonstrate how to make pizza in that oven. True to my undecorated form, the pizza took on a free form, not your usual round pizza, mainly because we had to use back the original electrolux tray that came with the oven. The crust was nicely cooked, thankfully, and the demo went without a hitch. I could get used to the camera rolling in front of me I think. Offers anyone? HALLLO, AFC, are you listening??? Chef Wan-nabe in the making.

Anyway, I had a fun time, and special thanks again to the Fried Chillies Team, for giving me the lead, and for the Electrolux team for having the faith in me to pull it off.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wow, Mrs Frat Can Bake Really Well! Macarons Mama!

I was pleasantly surprised when Fratmustard dropped by to collect his order of cakes today, and gave me THESE babies, made by his wife, who incidentally is a mother of twins. How a mother of twins can find time to bake time consuming things like macarons is really one of those mysteries, like how do Pygmy seahorses make babies.....

Texture is fabulous, almost if not on par with the french lady's, Natalie Arberfuille, who's class I attended.

Mrs Frat, can sub-contract mac orders to you ah? ;)

Thanks muchly...... my waist line thanks you too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bukit Tinggi BBQ Restaurant, And Happy Deepavali

I love to go a wandering, along the mountain track, and as I go I lub to sing, my Ciki on my back. Valerie, Valeroo, Valle hahahhahahppy diwali, valeri, valeri, my Ciki on my back.

It's Deepavali, and what better way to celebrate, in true Malaysian style, but to go out and stuff our faces, although we were not invited to any open houses. Well, if no house is open to you, then we open our own.....

All the way from Bolehwood.......

Yeah, so, further to my previous post, and wishing for a woodfire oven, and wondering where to get supply of firewood, well, apparently even in this equatorial heat, people do stock up firewood. Perhaps for those cold monsoon nights, when TNB grids blackout.

Alilfatmonkey, with his surprisingly impressive knowledge of High Hill and its surrounds, (the one in Pahang, not Klang), brought us, ie, me, the ahpa, Cumi & Ciki, the fellow monkeys, to a delightful little getaway, nestled in the luscious verdant virgin tropical rainforests, in the sleepy town of Bukit Tinggi for a delightful lunch.

A rather odd name, for what is basically a Chinese restaurant. I've learnt that these days, a name doesn't belie the contents. Hakka Republic is anything BUT hakka, and KFC is anything BUT chicken. As in real chicken.

The first thing that hits you is the LARVERLLY interior decor of the place. Upside down umbrellas line the ceiling of the place, rows and rows of used wine bottles, ....all lend a certain rustic charm. The surrounding gardens are all well vegetated, with passion fruit, vegetables, ....land as fertile as a roman catholic woman not allowed to use contraception.

OOOh, competition time. Guess who's silhouette this is???? The prize, well, a clap from me. (A clap, not "THE clap")

Lately, we have been rediscovering our chinaman roots, and have been taking to drinking beer with ice cubes. JC Jacobsen would turn in his grave.

This snapshot is of particular significance, coz apparently it is the basis of an upcoming competition on Ciki's blog.

Monkey had forewarned us that food will take forever to arrive, and that the chef, his uncle, was exceedingly grumpy. So we brought along our monopoly sets, knitting needles and wool, expecting to kill time, but LO AND BEHOLD, within 10 minutes, voila, nourishment time.

Wu Li Wu Li something something rice. Now, I tell you, if I never believed in the old adage, don't judge a book by its cover, I am a believer now, yeah, hallelujah. AMAZING!!!! So simple, but SOOOO GOOOD. Bits of crispy pork, in a lovely broth that is both tasty and healthy. Vegetables galore, peppers, pumpkin, like a chinese paella so to speak. I could eat this very often. Such comfort food. And only RM12.

Their signature salt baked tilapia, from both angles. Tilapia is kinda hit and miss sometimes, with that muddy taste, though I notice that quality all around seems to be getting better, as I think restaurants these days let the tilapias have a spa holiday in clean waters for about a week before doing them in. Lovely firm sweet flesh, falling off the bone. And stuffed in the fish is a lot of other goodies too, like onions, garlic, etc, which the very stern manager "instructed" us to eat.

This is another amazing dish. Hoi Sin pou. Seafood pot. Trust the Chinks to be so ingenious. A multi layered steamer, whcih collects the juices from the steamed seafood, which is made into a FABULOUS vegetable and mushroom soup. The seafood was amazingly fresh, although there was no sea in sight. Hallo, we're in the middle of the hinterland, .....did they have a secret wardrobe like in Narnia, that opened out to the blue ocean for fresh seafood? The prawns were sweet, and springy, cooked perfectly. The crabs, though a bit of a pain to eat, were also very sweet and fresh. AND THE LALAS!, oooh lala. Plump (monkey spelt his PLUM) and succulent...
RM80 for that pot of goodness. Well, not cheap, but worth it.

Fantastic Rack of Lamb!!!! Who'd have thought. Previously the purview of the mat sallehs, this fler in the jungles of Malaysia can do it so well, and with homemade fresh mint sauce too. It was seriously good. Tender, not lamby, and the skin, caramelised and crispy. Almost as good as pig. RM80 .... a bit steep la.

Ah, the Peking Duck of Seafood. Ie, they use the soup for another dish, just like they use the duck meat for another dish. Aren't my analogies brilliant. The vegetables were fresh, but I think they added too much salt to the soup. Natural flavour would have been perfect.

After stuffing ourselves stupid at lunch, Monkey brought us to this secret hideaway that he discovered. Isn't it gorgeous. I had to restrain myself from breaking out into song....specifically, THE HEEELLLS ARE ALIVE, WITH THE SOUND OF MUZZZZZIKKKK.....

Our secret holiday home. Want to know where it is, ask monkey.

The garden of eden is dotted with all kinds of strange foliage. Can anyone identify this fruit? Is it HAW?

Monkeys on their pseudo holiday. Bad enough we were trespassing, go and soak feet into people's pool some more.

Cumi was trying to make his own rainbows.

He even walks on water! Wow, this is paradise.

An amazing range of flora and fauna. Check out the Rouge Dragonfly.

Ah, nothing warms the entrails of an AhPa than to see such happy children, leaping with joy!

After the stopover at the Good Widow, we adjourned to the quaint hamlet of Bukit Tinggie which is hustling and bustling with activity. I am sure I used to traverse this road in my distant youth, when I followed my dad to Kuantan for Ching Ming on the old road, in the days before touch and go and PLUS concessionaires. It's amazing that it is still such a hive of activity.

Roselle fruit. Supposed to make good jams, and extract. Bought a kilo. Must try to make.

Thick FAT bananas, in such glorious hues of red.

As if we hadn't eaten enough, we decided to have the famous thinly sliced sweet and sour pork for dessert.

Well, FINALLY I had been included in those epic Cumi&Ciki ronda ronda Malaysia food trails. I have finally lived. What a fun day it was, and I cant wait to do it again!!!! Where to next!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dubrovnik, Solaris Mont Kiara

I am sure if we had a "ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A FORM FIVE KID" game show, and the category was GEOGRAFI, and the question was, "DI NEGARA MANAKAH ITU BANDAR DUBROVNIK?", (In which country is Dubrovnik), some culinary fellas might say, "OOOH, SOLARIS MONT KIARA", for RM50,000! I can imagine the game show host rolling his eyes till the sockets pop out.

But well, honestly, before I myself went to Dubrovnik in 2005, (YES YES, THIS TIME I CAN ACTUALLY SAY FBB HAS BEEN SOMEWHERE, unlike the previous Norway post where I can only salivate at where Thamby (Awhiffoflemongrass) has been...oh, Happy Deepavali by the way, AWOL), I also did NOT know where Dubrovnik was, nor had I any clue where Croatia was either. All we ever heard of these Balkan states, which were previously part of Yugoslavia, were the atrocities in Bosnia Herzegovenia, (just a tip to those intending to form your own country, ....try not to have more that three syllables la. Tongue can cramp you know), and Croatia was as foreign to me as Fortnum and Mason was to a farmer in Yunan.

Little did I know what a GORGEOUS place it was, located right on the Adriatic Sea, which is bluer than an A grade adult movie. Oops, maybe not such a good analogy. Bluer than Paul Newman's eyes. And what a quaint little city Dubrovnik is.

So, you can IMAGINE my excitement when I heard a group of floggers had been invited to sample Croatian Cuisine at DUBROVNIK, in Solaris Mont Kiara, organised by Fratmustard and Lisa of QGUIDES. Except, ahem, as I wasn't on the original guest list, I had to throw away all dignity and grovel like dog on heat, .... to get on the list.

There's nothing worse than appearing for a food tasting thingie, only to discover, ARGH, your camera's battery was deader than Moussolini. And I didn't have my Lumix on me either. Sigh, so what choice did I have but to use the camera in the mobile phone. So please don't laugh at the pics.

Nestled in a row of myriad culinary outlets, Dubrovnik has a prominent frontage, that you CANNOT miss as you enter the Solaris complex. It also has a nice outdoor area for diners and presumably, smokers. The downstairs boasts a well stocked bar.

I wouldn't mind one of these woodfire ovens in my kitchen. It must be a pain to start the fire though. And where does one get firewood in Malaysia?

To start with, we were offered an array of Mocktails, such a Macha Soy Shakes, Virgin Mojitos, Blueberry Shakes, ....but well, a mocktail is a MOCKtail, and to me personally, if it doesn't contain alcohol, its just a waste of calories. Very communal, as each drink was passed around for sampling, through a straw.

The PR agency boss, Alice George, giving some preamble. The hot babe, Dina, is the owner, and the chef's daughter.

First impression, RISOTTO. But nope, couldn't be further from the truth. Its not even rice. It is pasta, shaped like rice, and is called ORZO. (not ouzo). In a lovely tomato-ey sauce, with loads of fresh prawns. I liked the texture of the orzo. I am not a risotto fan, so was actually pleased that it wasn't. I wonder if they have a million tiny elves shaping the pasta into rice grain shapes in the kitchen at the back.

Spaghetti ala Buzara. Basically similar to an aglio olio concept, very minimalist, with garlic, prawns, parsley, dash of white wine. Could have been a bit more al dente, but taste wise, was good. Apparently the chef goes to the Kajang market every morning for fresh seafood.

Is Frat licking The Nomad Gourmand's ear?

Mmm, lamb peka. A traditional Croatian way of preparing meats, it is seasoned with salt and pepper together with a special Croatian spice mix called Vegeta. It is cooked in a wood fired oven in a cast iron pan. Not something you can replicate at home, obviously. The lamb was tender and moist, falling off the bone, and the spices had worked in erasing the lamby smell. Highly recommended, though I do not know if it's always available.

Gratinated Jacket Potatoes, with a crispy layer of cheese, presumably parmesan mixed with cheddar. The potato itself was hot and fluffy, very nice.

Sauteed Button Mushrooms. Ordinary, but familiar, and I never complain with mushrooms, as I love them as a sidedish.

The Croatian version of Palak Paneer. Spinach in a thick creamy sauce. (milk, apparently). Very rich, and definitely not a substitute for Salads, for those contemplating this as their main green dish.

Another version of sauteed mushrooms with some greens. Very generic, and again, familiar. Could have been any cuisine.

Lamb burgers. (no, not lamp berger). I thought they were good, with some feta cheese embedded within, but Ciki found hers a tad salty. Perhaps the salt wasn't evenly distributed in the tossing. Loved the bread too.

Croatian version of a goulash. Main difference is that it is gratinated, so it was like a cross between lasagne and a rich lamb stew. Or was it beef? Very rich, so one spoonful at this point was sufficient, just for taste.

The chef himself appears to prepare dessert at the table, good old Crepe Suzettes. Generous amounts of Cointreau and Brandy were splashed onto the sauce, imparting a lovely alcoholic zing to the sauce. Sometimes, I find crepe suzettes taste like cough mixture, or haliborange, but this one was good, probably because of the generous doses of booze.

Dinner in the presence of Hawt Babes like these!

Well, it was a rather pleasant experience, and the ambience of the place is rather inviting. The place they seated us looked perfect for a private function for about 20 people. Parking at Solaris is easy and cheap, if you are prepared to park in the basement. Rm1 only.

Address: J-0G-14, Solaris Mont Kiara
Tel: 6203-6780
Wesite : Here

On a separate note, we were each given a QGUIDES tent, and were told to submit an entry where we'd place the tent with the most publicity or prominence. Here's my entry.

Thanks Frat & the Qguides team for the invite to Dubrovnik, and thanks to the gracious Dina for having us.