Friday, November 26, 2010

Sweet Secrets With Anna Olson

Years ago, I posted about MY FIRST DATE.... who was square... inspired by the series SUGAR, hosted by the inimitable Anna Olson. Little did I dream that some day, I'd get to MEET the Queen of Sugar herself in person...with front row seats too. Sigh...[faraway glazed look].

Since Sugar, Ms Olson has moved on to the new series, Fresh With Anna Olson, but I have to admit I haven't really had to chance to watch many of the episodes. I blame those DVD boxsets that have kept me glued to frivolous tv serials and the like, and keeping me away from one of my culinary idols. When opportunity knocks, as it sometimes does, and presents you with an invitation to attend a demonstration by the lady herself, one can only let go a resounding YES, and lift hands into the air in thanks to Providence...and Alice George PR company.

I distinctly remember the invite said 2-5pm, but when I appeared at 2 sharp, I saw the poster saying that it began at 2.30pm. Must be the PR agency's way of ensuring tardy Malaysians show up on time, but even that failed, because at 2.30pm, people were still trickling in. We didn't have to wait long though, before she was introduced.
She actually looks a lot slimmer than her Sugar days, and has absolutely gorgeous eyes, and such a likeable disposition. Not diva-ish at all, as one might expect of a celebrity chef.

What WOULD we do without AFC? I have to say, they have been very good in bringing in celebrity chefs, Laura Calder, Bob Blumer, Bobby Chinn, etc.

The venue for the event, Le Meridien, in a function room next to Favola.

All laid out for the lady to perform, the ingredients for all the 3 items shown. If only our kitchens were so organised and everything laid out so nicely for us. I reckon I can do 8 cakes in an hour.

The AFC compere. I think he's Malaysian. I've seen him before. But he didn't introduce himself.

The many faces of Anna, demonstrating how to make the tart pastry. She really makes it look so simple. Now, she did share with us that of course, on TV, it looks even simpler, because of all the editing, takes 10 hours to produce a 6 minute clip kinda thing. (I don't think I have the patience to be a celebrity chef, amongst the whole list other things that I lack to become one). But even in real life, she manages to simplify it, while multitasking, and giving a running commentary all at the same time.

She is also not one to hog the limelight, and allows the Le Meridien pastry chef, MiFong to assist.

Of course, when you're a celebrity, any little mundane task even, is lapped up by the Paparazzi, even a simple task of breaking an egg. Cameras and flashes in a cacophony of sound and light, capturing that precious moment when the egg tumbles out of its cosy shell. She also pointed out why its better to crack the egg on the table, and not on the side of the bowl. Why? To avoid splinters of egg shell in your bowl, that's why. But of course, I knew that ages ago.

We get to sample, after each demo, the particular item, in this case, the Butter Raisin Tart. Apparently it is a Canadian favourite. The pastry is delicious and buttery, while the filling is on the sweet side. For those with a sweet tooth (or is it "For those with sweet teeth"?), this dessert would be a boon. Most importantly, they're really easy to make, and I reckon you can cut down the sugar content. It does remind me somewhat of our egg tarts, but a denser version.

The second item, Maple Walnut Icecream, took her all of 10 minutes to whip up, but as Murphy's Law would dictate, the ice cream maker decided it was going on a sabbatical that afternoon, and decided it was just not going to work putting the poor Le meridien pastry chef under a lot of stress no doubt. Fortunately for US, these things are all premade for tasting, so we still did get to sample a finished product. Which was yummy. The crunch of the walnut with that glorious maple syrup taste, that isnt sickeningly sweet.



The last item which she jokes is ZERO calorie, because of its healthy ingredients, like wholemeal flour, bran, etc, and ONLY 60ml of oil, which divided by 12 muffins, is only 5ml of oil per muffin....the apple cheddar date muffins. The savouriness of the cheddar complement the wholesomeness of the muffin, and the sweetness of the fruit.

Another recipe that took less than 10 minutes to whip up. (okay, everything WAS premeasured and cut up so yeah, add another 10 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how fast or slow you are in preparing those things).


The demo was extremely educational. She regaled us with bloopers, tales of glutes and gluten, answered questions from the floor, revealed to us her favourite comfort foods are ROAST CHICKEN in winter, and a nice steak, seared on a special cast iron pan, with a side helping of fresh summer tomatoes, explained to me when you need to prebake a pastry crust and when you don't. Some lucky peeps won the lucky draw which included her new book, Fresh With Anna.

The good news is, her demos ARE open to the public, at LeMeridien, on 27 & 28th of November, 11-3pm, with lunch and FREE FLOW MUMM CHAMPAGNE, at RM330++ per head. Check it out HERE. Definitely worth it, if you ask me.

Anyway, thanks to Alice George PR for the invite.


qwazymonkey said...

nice! Can't wait to meet her on Monday.

Ciki said...

excellent post ahpa! How come your shots look like TNG's photos ar?

Kenny Mah said...

You and Anna go together like peanut butter and chocolate lah. Perfect. (As in you writing about her. But I am fantasizing about you doing a demo with her one day. Now that would be fab beyond fab!) :)

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fatboybakes said...

kennymah, trust me, if i ever had a chance to do a demo with her, i'd almost sell my soul...

ciki, pbbbth...

qwazymonkey, sunday, you mean.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

She certainly has a lot of cute expressions! I was following Le Meridien's tweets from the office, and salivating at their descriptions. They also tweeted lots of pictures, and you were in one of them...sitting at the front row somemore! You go girl!