Departure Lounge, Aman Suria

Another short quick post since the weekend is here ;)

Come Friday, my thoughts will be on weekend morning runs & gym sessions followed by my favorite, American style brekkie, a far cry from the 5 days week of 2 slices of bread and soya, gobbled down while navigating traffic.

My favourite is still The Pink Sage followed closely by Betty’s MidWest Kitchen and then The Departure Lounge.


Sadly though, the outlet at Aman Suria is re-locating to Uptown.
It won’t be as convenient anymore for me hence future visits are more likely to be limited as weekend treats.

But I’m hooked on their bagels & that made it worth the extra effort/drive.

Turkey Bacon Butty, RM7.90.

Two hearty large slices of bacon, tomato, lettuce with HP sauce and mayo.
The bagel is nicely chewy, hence the satisfaction of having it longer in my mouth as I slowly savour the softness and slight resistance of the dough before it disintegrates into nothingness. Hmmmmm……
Shit, I’m such a bread-whore!

The next round, I put the beef bacon to test.


Suffice to say that the bagel stayed consistent, and the beef bacon aint bad either. Not as juicy as the turkey’s which was more of the soft “ham” texture, this was more of the “dried” kind, yet not crisp.


Of course, for those who know me; a bagel like probably filled all of a 10% of my bottomless pit, especially if its daytime. Hence the next order.

Chicken Puebla, RM13.90.
Grilled chicken breast, roasted peppers, sauteed onions, cheese and salsa in tortilla.


Mistake, mistake, mistake. *smacks oneself on the head*

So, yeah, I got this thick slab of bland chicken breast with a scarce layer of sauce and cheese.
Heck, I take that back…what cheese??
By the way, are those tortillas?? Humrphh.. Of course not, it’s focaccia. So I had mexican salsa with mexican chips on I-don’t taste-no-rosemary-or any herb-for-that-matter Mediterranean bread. Plliithhh…..

The Breakfast Set is customizable, and priced accordingly of course. Pretty decent scrambled eggs and white sausages I would say.

But this outlet is just so comfy and peaceful. Parking’s a breeze and there aren’t many people competing with you for the WIFI bandwidth!
Sigh, that’s probably the reason why they are locating anyways.

departure lounge



STROOPWAFELS in Malaysia!!

I first heard of “Stroopwafels” from wmw’s post and being a dessert-holic, as expected I got curious and did a little research on the internet.
Apparently the closest place to Malaysia for your stash of this diabetic-inducing, glucose – high snack is in Hollandse Club, Singapore.

Alas, my last trip to Singapore was somewhat rushed, and I didn’t manage to buy it then.
So that ended my short -term curiosity with Stroopwafels. Or so I thought.

daelsmans

Stroopwafels originated from Netherlands and each waffle is made up of two thin layers of batter with caramel like syrup filling in the middle.

The technique to eat them is to put one over a cup of steaming hot unsweetened coffee/tea so the gooey caramel within liquidize slightly from the heat whilst absorbing the fragrance from coffee steam.

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Thick goo-ey caramel...

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My liaison with Stroopwafels was revived recently when I got to know Mandy, who enjoyed them so much that now she imports them in so that she could continue to indulge in them.
Not a fan of over-sweet stuffs, I didn’t buy a pack for my own consumption, but as close friend’s birthday pressie (& yea, I was hoping for a trial piece from b’day girl’s pack but I think she finished ‘em already!).

Then came a sudden invite from Mandy herself, for an Afternoon TÊte-À-TÊte, & a chance to appraise the other varieties that she had bought in as well.

So here I am at Coffee Ritual, in section 14 on a Saturday afternoon.
Relaxed, a cup of steaming hot green tea on the table.

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We started with the below since I love digestives biscuits and the crumb does look as if they were digestives.
Due to its thicker crumb, it counters the sweetness better compared the rest that followed.

JUMBO – Caramel Syrup filled Cookies.

stroopwafels1

Koeken – with passion fruit, apricot & peach.
This provides a different aftertaste, as it is more marmalade – like, for the lack of a better word.
Good for those bored of plain ‘ole caramel syrup.

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The Minis (25 pieces x 1.5inch rounds) – 1 Pkt at RM32.00, 3 Pkts at RM86.00.
This scores points in my books for it’s rich buttery aroma.
Sweet yes, but that’s Stroopwafels for you.

minis-1

Kanjers, comes in individual packs of 3, 12 packs per box.
I liked this the least. It is akin eating a butter cake & then discovering that it is actually made with planta.
The caramel within is overwhelmingly fake – saccharine sweetness and the wafer itself lacks the buttery aroma that I expect of Stroopwafels.

stroopwafels

BakkerJoop
The Original (10pcs x 3inch diameter rounds) – 1 roll at RM30.00, 3 Rolls at RM78.00.

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This is the least “spiced“.. just sweet unadulterated caramel. Well balanced with the buttery wafer. To me this was the best of the lot. Not that I am a fan of stroopwafels.

Daelmans, with comes with the “prettiest” packaging. Great as a Christmas pressie right?

the rest
daelmans

A cross in between Kanjers & BakkerJoop in terms of taste.
Ah well, I’m tired of describing so that will be my verdict!
(hey..its the same thing ok, imagine being asked to describe 5 butter cakes from 5 different bakers…how many different adjectives can i use???)

Generally, the caramel within is all melted and gooey after a short stint with the coffee/tea cup. Due to its thick caramel filling, the thin wafer didn’t remain crisp.
Somehow, I detected a bit of “spiced” aftertaste with each stroopwafel but I’m not sure if its just me.
But look at this, perhaps there was spice after all?

closeup

And yeah, we had this as well; Speculaas which are also known as spiced biscuits.
The moment Mandy said “spiced”, my immediate reaction was “It’s ok, no need to try“. ;p
Sorry, a personal preference really, I dislike biscuits with spices of any sort.

spiced

I am done with stroopwafels for now and for those of you who would like to buy or have been looking high and low for stroopwafels, Mandy’s contact is as below.
She will advise you on the pricing. The Stroopwafles are flown in using air freight as they have a short shelf life of 2 to 3 months in room temperature and up to 1 year in the freezer.


Mandy Leong
016 357 9333
[email protected]

An Italian Evening of Food & Linguistics


I had a scrumptious Italian buffet at the weirdest place last week…

Flaky apple tarts. I love these as the filling was not the jam-my & sticky kind, but purely stewed green apples; nicely moist and naturally sweet.

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My favourite, the Tiramisu, though a bit lacking in the coffee liqueur department while the shortcrust apple pie (on the right) were alright.

Below: The amazing repertoire of Italian food.
Grilled Zucchini, eggplants, capsicum and mushrooms in Olive oil and Garlic, Baked Layered Eggplant with Mushrooms, gorgeous Tender Chunks of Lamb in Rosemary Sauce, Lasagna of Mushrooms & Eggplant and Ciabatta Pizzas.

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And more….

Crumbed rice balls. ( is this French??)

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Ravioli of chicken in Mushroom sauce.

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And nothing beats delectable, juicy rawish red meatCarpaccio of Beef with Tuna Dressing.
I think I polished off half the platter!

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The feast, prepared by CIPOLLA Ristorante Pizzeria, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar, which under its umbrella runs ciccio in Changkat Bukit Bintang as well as the lesser – known CIAO Caffe Ristorante on Jalan Tun Razak, was indeed a feast, with extensive myriad of dishes and abundance in portions.

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All for the 9th Week of the Italian Language in the World, 2009, jointly hosted by Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University Malaya and the Italian Embassy here in Kuala Lumpur.

The theme “The Italian between Science, Art and Technology“, takes place from 19th t0 25th Oct ’09, with exhibitions, Italian films reviews and screenings throughout the week.

Yup, the buffet was in Universiti Malaya on Jalan University.

My lucky self was invited to attend the academic talk by Dacia Maraini, one of the most renowned Italian writers in the world, by Marian Eu (thank you! thank you!) .
Throughout the evening, Marian kindly shared with me tips on creative writing, patiently explained the speech given by Dacia, introduced me to some of her friends & also ensured that I was well fed ;)


The ambassador of the Italian Embassy giving his welcoming speech for Dacia Maraini.


Ms Dacia herself, with her speech focusing on the history, culture and evolvement of the Italian language.

ciccio

While her speech was detailed, the gist of it was pretty much the struggle of the Italian language,
since the early centuries in Italy.
Italian was the languages of the masses, a unified form of communication for the various parts of the country, where each region has their own languages, but with Italian, it was an easy & direct instrument of unity, in various regions & among social classes.

The Church on the other hand, imposed Latin as a common language.

Scholars, poets, inventors and scientists are all told to use Latin, for it was considered “plebeian” and undignified to use the common Italian in their research and written articles.

Fast forward a few centuries later, to now…and the Italian language is facing another form of servility, which was the focus of debate in Dacia’s speech.

She laments, that “instead of making an effort in coining new words, we conform to words already in use in a language that doesn’t belong to us, & which a larger percentage of Italians wasn’t even aware of“.

While I can relate, in the sense that even our national language BM has been caught in the onslaught of English terms and jargons (even in Malay publications, how often do writers uses the term ” ” elegant” instead of “anggun”, “jam” instead of “sesak” ??), or in everyday conversations; “Boleh pinjam tetikus (mouse) kamu?” , “sudah sedia untuk meeting (mesyuarat) nanti?”
Also the mindless direct translation of “collection” to “koleksi”, “ceiling” to “siling” and “vocal” to “vokal”, etc…

A mind opening speech indeed, especially when the audience started to voice their opinions, and topics that went around was on Dacia’s published books (she has written numerous novels and plays, translated to over 12 langauges all over the world), the tainting the purity of the language due to the “borrowed” usage of words in English and what are a writer’s responsibilities in preserving the authenticity of the language. Should you allow the use of foreign words and jargons in your published works?

One of the sentence in her speech that got imprinted in my memory was this;
How do we behave with a dominant language, which forces on us their literature, their cinema, their business, and also their culture and even their bombs?”

Food for thought indeed.




Brekkie at Betty’s Midwest Kitchen

A quick and fast post this time ;) since tomorrow is the weekend already.

brekkie platter

Also cos we only had one dish before I got distracted by the Sun paper and dragged Unka to hunt for the next location as featured in METRO ;p
(this one is next next post ok!)

Back to our brekkie; the picture above pretty much sums up the breakfast platter, with one fat pork sausage, crispy slightly charred bacon and fluffy buttermilk pancakes.

Let’s start with the bacon.
Smoky, charred and crispy. Nice streaky layers of fat and meat. This is good, really good.

The sausage, now that’s another level of “good” altogether. I am still salivating thinking and looking at this pic now.

sausage

Should I say awesome? Lip smacking delicious?
I don’t know.
It’s just so so good!!

Look at the sausage above..

& imagine this..

Taut, crisp casing.
One bite.
Resistance….then………… the skin cracks.
Moist, sweet lava of meat juices burst into your mouth cavity.
Proceed to chew.
More juices, coupled with hot cheese and gritty smoky meat floods the sensory palate.
Savour & swallow with absolute satisfaction.

Hmmmm…
Note to oneself: I really need to know where they got their sausages from!

Having said all that, the rest of the platter wasn’t that drool-worthy. I find the scrambled eggs a bit overdone.

eggs

The coffee was generic.

coffee

And lastly, the pancakes failed to impress, it was a bit burnt at the sides and ain’t fluffy enough. I would say The Pink Sage does a better version.
Anyhow, Eve says the pancakes are meant to be that way. So I guess I will have to make a special request the next time I order their pancakes! No burnt edges for me please!


Betty’s MidWest Kitchen, Aman Suria

Aman Suria, an area alien to me until recent months, is suddenly such a delightful place.
Less parking woes, decent pricing for food (with the exception of Kayu) and lotsa new outlets to try (at least for me) makes this area my current favourite food haunt.

The Departure Lounge here is great for chilling out with a laptop, for the human traffic is considerable less compared to the Mt Kiara outlet. Likewise for JM Briyani which serves pretty decent nasi briyani.

Along this same row, Betty’s Midwest Kitchen finally opened several weeks ago.
Eve, whom I had acquainted from my Bellygood review outing, had told me of her plan to open her own restaurant when I met her at Food and Hotel Malaysia (FHM) 2009 earlier this year.

Not entirely familiar with “Midwest” food, I dragged 2 friends along as soon as I could once I saw the place was in business.

Yes yes..the food’s all porky goodness too.

cute!

I love these cute wall boards below.

midwest kitchen

The menu explains of the outlet’s concept..

concept

Sitting area both inside with air conditioning and alfresco, with free WIFI. Yea!!

inside

The open kitchen, the bar and the cashier counter.

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A family run restaurant; Betty, the chef, mans the kitchen with her son, while Dad and Eve is in charge of front- line service.
All the recipes are originally midwest, as proclaimed by Betty, who had traveled & lived in the midwest of America for years with her daughter.

We didn’t order much that night since there were only 3 of us. Plus, we had a late 5pm lunch hence we settled for just 2 mains and 2 beers. Quiet and comfortable, it was a perfect place for a dinner meeting.

The Classical MidWest style Meatloaf, RM15.00, served with mash, peas and onions relish is their signature dish and highly recommended by Eve herself.

meatloaf

This was a really GOOD hearty dish!
Soft & moist, with the pork and beef juices oozing into my mouth with every bite, hhmmmm…I instantly regretted sharing..
Boy, if there’s a better meatloaf in town, please do tell me!

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The mash is splendid, buttery smooth (though I do generally prefer the ones with bits of roasted skin swirled in) I don’t see a reason to complain about this version, especially with the bits of fragrant bacon on top.

mash

We even polished off every single pea, for they are soft, fresh & sweet!!
Marvelous with the gravy, palatable even on its own really.
I wonder if these are Watties’? Sure aint those generic cheapo supermarkets brands.

It came with this beer sauce, which still reminisce strongly of alcohol, though the meatloaf is undeniably wonderful just on its own.

beersauce

They have pork burgers on the menu, and never one to resist burgers, I forced my other dining partner to order it ;p

Pulled Pork Burger.
Shredded or ‘pulled’ pork, slow – roasted and braised in special sauce. Served in a bun with coleslaw and fries. RM12.

burger

This somewhat reminded us of Chinese cuisine and my dining partner actually wondered aloud if he could ask for a bowl of rice to eat with this! LOL. That’s a chinese man for you!

pork

Having said that, the flaky pork is flavourful, and the coleslaw was perfect in my books.
Lightly dressed, slightly tangy, fresh and crunchy, it’s just LOVELY really.

coleslaw

The way Midwestern-ers take their chilli sauce is with a dollop of mustard, I was told.

mustardchilli

Personal attention from Betty herself. She enjoys going around and speaking to the guests whenever she could get herself out from the kitchen.
Yup, she personally sees to every dish that comes out from the kitchen. With such strict quality control, I certainly hope that the food remains consistent cos I definitely liked my meatloaf that night!

betty

Dessert of the week was the apple crumble with ice cream that was again highly recommended by Eve herself.
Alas, my lack of exercise for the past month didn’t allow much room for indulgence, hence was duly turned down.
TS, however, who was neither concerned on his weight nor the time of the day, ordered a Frutti Ice Cream, RM6.50.
I stole a bite and concluded that the ice cream was nice and creamy, again not those cheapo brand ones.

fruiti-icecream

2 Budweiser at RM24.00.
Eve said theirs is the only outlet that is allowed to display the Budweiser logo.

budweiser

They do breakfast as well, but it is only available from 10am to 1pm on Sat and Suns.
I was told their pancakes are heavenly and their breakfast sets huge, “just like how an American breakfast should be” said Betty and eyeing me, added “You need someone to share it with you”.

Hurmphh.
She has no idea what a pig I am ;p

brekkie

Betty’s Midwest Kitchen definitely got the thumbs up from me on my first visit.
I was keen for a re-visit and dragged Unka with me for their brekkie sets just last Sunday.
(Will post that review next!)

Meanwhile, you can check them out on their website – www.midwestkitchen.com.my, follow their tweets (My, more and more dining outlets have twitter accounts!) and join them on Facebook.

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Dubrovnik – Solaris, Mont Kiara – AGAIN!

Many thanks to Alice George Communications, I was part of a fun & large group of bloggers for a night of scrumptious Croatian food and stellar company, barely 2 weeks after my virginal visit.

dubrovnik

It was a gathering of old and new friends I would say, having the opportunity to make new acquittances with some food bloggers and meeting up again with the usual suspects ie cumianciki, FBB, Frat, babe_kl, etc.
The bunch of us were seated upstairs, on one long table & we pretty much had the whole area to ourselves.

dining area

For more about Croatia and its beautiful country, including some breathtaking pics, hop over to FBB’s post, since the man himself has actually been there!

Dinner progressed in good time, starting with Dina, and Alice giving an intro speech of the restaurant, the food and yeah, thanking us for our attendance. Hmm, shouldn’t it be the other way round??

dina


dina & alice


A round of 10 mocktails to get the appetite going..

drink

Of course, Dubrovnik being a country in Europe & Dubrovnik in Solaris an European restaurant, one can expect nothing less than an impressive wine list, all carefully selected to go with the Croatian fare.
Alas though, there was no free flowing alcoholic drinks of any sort that night, much to the chagrin of the Alcoholics & Brothers ie FBB, Frat and etc, and the mocktails above were passed around and shared with a straw.

I didn’t staple most of them, but from the general feedback around the table, most were great thirst quenchers, while others were so-so.

The ORZO with prawns garnered the most interest that night.

orzo w prawns

The shape of the pasta alone got everyone at the table abuzz.. “Is it rice? Is it risotto? No, it’s ORZO!”
For the pasta illiterate; ie myself, Orzo is actually Italian for barley, but here, it is a term used to describe rice shaped pasta.

orzo

A bit out of the norm shape-wise, but a very delicious dish. Slightly chewy in texture, each “grain” wonderfully coated in lovely tomato-based sauce, this was immediately met with un-contested “approval”, when Dina asked whether it should be included in their upcoming revamped menu in Dubrovnik.

Spaghetti ala Buzara, is a typical Croatian way of serving their pasta, Chef Zoran has said, whereas the tomato based version leans more towards Greek- Mediterranean.
This is simplicity at its best really, much alike aglio olio, but seriously awesome! Fresh prawns & quality virgin olive oil heightens the overall flavours.

buzara

The food arrived in a constant stream after that.
We were introduced to some popular sides dishes, and their signature LAMB PEKA..

but 1st, the sides…

Gratinated Jacket Potatoes, with a crispy layer of parmesan & cheddar cheese.

baked potato

Rather than just plain baked potatoes, which would have been just ordinary, the potato was 1st mashed, mixed with herbs & butter/cream and then stuffed back into the skin, much alike your potato salad. Super comfort carbs really.

stuffed potato

Sauteed Mushrooms.. light in taste and meaty in texture.

sauted mushrooms

Some blended spinach in milk..

milk-ed spinach

Stir fried kai lan… ok ok, I kid. But err..yeah…stir fried vegetables of some sort..

veg

All to be eaten with this tender, wood fired, roasted under an iron bell lamb dish.

momre lamb

Absolutely delish, meat, tendon, skin and all.

lamb

I love the meat nearest to the bone.

my lamb

More lamb.. in the form of burgers. My heart rate must have accelerated when I saw this. Heck, put anything between 2 slices of bread and you got my interest anyway.

lamb burgers

Alas, my luck shitted on me on this one. While FBB munched away happily, ciki&cumi and I gave up after a few bites. A quick check around the table concluded that some patties were not ‘made” equal. Ours were overly salty while the rest enjoyed moist, juicy slabs of patties with ricotta cheese embedded within.
Darn, I had had half a mind to take another from the plate, but that will risk having another “one bite bitten” burger on my plate which will look really bad. Even worse if I somewhat deprived a fellow foodie from his share of the burgers …

Imagine..
“Eh..how come you don’t have a burger..?”
“Well, there wasn’t enough to go around..”
Then everyone looked at my plate, with 2 half bitten burgers sitting on it.
EEkks!
Sigh, where’s DBKL when you need one. (Unka, u heard me??)

Next dish, a form of goulash, the Croatian kind so to speak. Came looking rather like lasagne doesn’t it?
Dig your spoon in and unearth chunks of lamb in ricotta cheese. The thick gravy underneath all that cheese can be classified as thick stew I guess.

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lamb goulash1

Frat chatting with Alice.

frat & alice

The chef cum owner himself then made an appearance. ……..

chef zoran

………and demonstrated the art of making Crepe Suzette.

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Our dessert on fire. Literally.

flame
Doused in generous amount of Cointreau and brandy, this was lip smacking good, especially eaten when its hot. Yup, like FBB advised, BEFORE the alcohol evaporates!
crepe suzette


I honestly felt the food was good that night. Especially the lamb peka & the ORZO!

However, I had a few gripes on their food on my last visit, ie; the pizza, hence I took the opportunity to query Dina, daughter of the Head Chef/Owner Zoran Djumic cum GM of Dubrovnik about it. Well, her explanations for that were satisfactory enough, and she did elucidate that the food is authentically Croatian (in the case of the lamb & chicken), not modified to Asean taste-buds & its best to appreciate it without prior expectations.

So I guess it’s the case of ordering the right dishes or keep in mind the most quoted statement of all time “Taste is very subjective…”

So there you go, do pay Dubrovnik a visit if you haven’t had Croatian food before, or if your bank account doesn’t look as if a trip there is possible anytime soon ;p
A meal here in a group is wise, especially since the tab can then be divided.

Ciki’s post is up too. Read it here!