The Hundred-Foot Journey

michelin star

We have increasingly become a nation of foodies. Just look at the TV shows on offer – MasterChef, The Taste, My Kitchen Rules, Top Chef, The Great British Bake Off are all cooking shows that are extremely popular now. There are also food related programs like the now defunct No Reservations, Parts Unknown, Kitchen Nightmares, Man vs Food (Nation) and even odes to excess like Epic Meal Empire.

michelin star chef

That’s not even counting the craft beer movement which has spawned shows like Dark Horse Nation and Brew Dogs. All this has made Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain (he was a chef at Les Halles before he became a host), Graham Elliot, Heston Blumenthal and other Michelin Star chefs becoming household names. Hollywood has also increasingly come up with movies featuring food as the primary theme – starting from Chocolat (which was the first movie that caught my attention) to documentaries like Jiro Dreams of Sushi (about the 3 Michelin Star Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo).

france michelin star

I admit that most of the programming I watch nowadays are food-related shows. I’ve also eaten at Michelin-starred establishments from Hong Kong to France and I pre-order The Red Guide from Amazon every year.

france

I went to Paris with my better half earlier this year and the primary reason for our trip was to eat at Michelin-starred (and Bib Gourmand) restaurants. We’re both very interested in food, I even do a little cooking myself. I was amazed at the variety and freshness of produce in France – a lot of which we can’t get here.

joel robuchon

We also cooked during our trip and one of the interesting things we saw in Paris was a line of ready-to-eat meals by the 28 Michelin Star chef Joel Robuchon. This isn’t your average TV dinner but gourmet meals that you can just heat up and eat. There’s even one called Les St Jacques au Noilly & Riz Basmati cuisine. It’s a fusion of Indian and French food and that’s what a really intriguing upcoming film is all about.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey is a film produced by Stephen Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey with Lasse Hallström as the director. It’s based on a novel about the Kadam family, who came from India to settle in a picturesque quaint village in France to open an Indian restaurant called Maison Mumbai.

oprah hundred foot journey

They run into the chilly chef owner of Le Saule Pleureur (The Weeping Willow), a Michelin-starred classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Academy Award winning actress Helen Mirren) just a hundred feet away and the her protests against the new Indian restaurant threatens to escalate until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine (and also the beautiful sous chef, Marguerite – played by Charlotte Le Bon) combines to weave magic between their two cultures and imbue the small town with flavors of life that even Madame Mallory can’t ignore.

hundred foot journey scenes

At first Madame Mallory’s culinary rival, she eventually recognizes Hassan’s gift as a chef and takes him under her wing.

hundred foot journey stills

The Hundred-Foot Journey abounds with flavors that burst across the tongue. A stimulating triumph over exile, blossoming with passion and heart, it is a portrayal of two worlds colliding and one young man’s drive to find the comfort of home, in every pot, wherever he may be.

hundred foot journey exclusive

It sounds like a wonderful movie, and it’s from the award-winning director of Chocolat! I’ve read stories about the “back of the house” like Kitchen Confidential and this production is something I’m really looking forward to! It has all the elements that makes for a great food related movie, and if you’re interested in cuisine, eating, and theater, you’ll love this production.

Watch the trailer here! Life’s greatest journey begins with the first step. #The100FootJourneyMY

hundred foot journey photos

The Hundred-Foot Journey will be released in theaters on August 28, 2014. For more information, visit http://100footjourneymovie.com. Like the official Facebook page and follow their official Twitter account to interact!

Contest:
Why do you want to watch The Hundred-Foot Journey? Comment on the blog post below and the best answer will win a pair of tickets in season pass to the movie! Please include your email address in your comment (make sure you fill in the Email bit) so I can get in touch with you! :)

Borneo Cultural Festival 2014

borneo cultural festival

The Borneo Cultural Festival is back! BCF 2014 is the latest iteration of this Sibu festival celebrating local Dayak/Iban and other native cultures. It’s our version of Kuching Festival and there’s a similar emphasis on food! The last time I went was when I was working here, during Borneo Cultural Festival 2008.

sellers

I went with my dad for the last two days and the layout is similar, with sections for Dayak cuisine, Malay cooking and Chinese food. I first wrote about Borneo Cultural Festival in 2003 when my blog was just over a year old (they had a beauty pageant for Miss Malaysian Chinese that year) and went again for BCF 2006 – check out the Borneo Cultural Festival category for full coverage!

bcf2014

Here is my photoblog for BCF 2014:

ayam pansoh

Ayam Pansuh is a Sarawakian dish that uses bamboo to cook chicken. The meat is stuffed into the tube with tapioca leaves and some water before being cooked over a charcoal fire. The bamboo is then cracked open and the water becomes the stock of this chicken dish. You can eat the tapioca leaves too!

beancurd sheet

This is a piece of tofu skin that’s been dipped in *real fish batter* before being deep fried. I’ve never quite had something like this before. It’s made of soybeans – basically a bean curd sheet that’s rehydrated and coated with fish. My dad loved it.

satay

12 different types of satay! There’s chicken skin, chicken heart, chicken liver, rabbit, beef, lamb, cockles, ostrich, and many other unusual proteins on skewers. No pork satay here though coz this is a halal stall. However, my favorite guilty pleasure is here in abundance – grilled chicken skin actually tastes wonderful, but you can’t eat too much of it or you’ll get sick of the ultra rich fat.

wife biscuits

Wife Cake comes in many different variants here. Besides the traditional lao por peng, there’s also “Husband Biscuits” (Biskut Suami) which uses star anise as a filling.

pulut panggang

Pulut Panggang makes an authentic appearance too! It’s glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves that’s been grilled over a charcoal BBQ, giving it the distinctive smoked flavor. I bought several of the beef and chicken filled ones and it was good.

potato twisters

I got potato twisters as well – a staple fair food. It’s a whole potato that’s been cut into spirals and this version uses a sweet batter to coat it before it’s deep fried and slathered with mayo and chilli sauce.

bcf2014 me

Awesome stuff.

ice cream cone

This is a very diluted soft serve ice cream cone. It’s a mix of chocolate and vanilla but it tastes horrible – akin to a penny pinching coffee shop being miserly with the cocoa powder. smirk

chess competition

Chinese chess competition that’s open to the public. It was played on one of the smaller stages in a tournament format.

best pavilion

This particular booth got Best of Show. The Chinese pavilions are usually very well decorated compared to the sparse Malay booths.

pavilions

Here’s another example.

chinese culture art

These pavilions are usually made by clan associations e.g. Heng Hua, Foochow etc but some of them are owned by more general groups like the Chinese Culture & Art Appreciation societies…

gula melaka puffs

…and they have the manpower from clan membership working inside too!

clan pavilions

The Chinese pavilions line the side facing the main road so it’s beautiful when you look in that way – the lights, the glitter, the jazz! (or rather, er-hu ;))

taiwanese food

There’s also a huge Taiwanese food trend in the stalls this year.

bcf

Music, dance and cultural performances are constantly done on the main stage – it’s also a major attraction besides the food.

sugar machine

Sugar twill machine that makes candy on a stick with CAD printing that you can choose – anything from your Chinese Zodiac (Rooster, Dragon, Snake etc) to intellectual property (Doraemon, Hello Kitty and the Disney character lineup). It’s very popular with kids.

sugar twill

(and the young-at-heart)

sibu pasar malam

The Sibu Pasar Malam Association also has a booth selling traditional night market fare.

UniqBun

Gardenia, Massimo and other commercial large-scale baking and distribution operations in KL don’t sell their RM 0.80 ready-to-eat cream filled buns here, so people often buy them in bulk at LCCT/KLIA2 before flying back. There’s now a Sibu company doing it – UniqBun.

cook-to-order

This is my favorite food of the Borneo Cultural Festival 2014. I award it my personal blue ribbon. ;) I even went back the next day with my dad to get some more. It’s cooked-to-order palm sugar balls filled with glutinous rice (pulut). It puffs into a ball when it’s deep fried and it’s a sweet treat at RM 1 each.

palm sugar balls

You just can’t argue with piping hot, deep-fried sweet balls of caramelized airy dough.

dabai sarawak

Oh, and it’s dabai season again! I like how this stall had samplers that has been blanched and marinated in soy sauce and sugar (the traditional way of preparing it). You can only get these in Sarawak. It’s called okana (black olives) but it’s not technically in the olive family. A delicious, seasonal local delicacy.

cultural performance

I quite enjoyed going to this year’s Borneo Cultural Festival with my dad. It didn’t run for a while due to politics but now that it’s back, I hope it’ll be an annual event. It wasn’t very packed on the last day due to the rain and some of the food items sells out fast since it starts at 5 pm but it’s a lot of fun!

food stalls

More importantly, BCF 2014 is a festival we can call our own! :)

Fatt Bakery – best kompia in Sibu!

fatt bakery

Well, or so my dad says. Haha! Everyone has their favorite kompia stall. The humble kompia is a bagel-like pastry that supposedly was strung around the neck of soldiers back in China (coz they have a tiny hole in each of them, like a donut) and eaten for sustenance in the battlefield.

flavoured kompia

I don’t know about that but people in Sibu have been snacking on them for ages. Fatt Bakery still does their kompia the old school way – slapped around a brick oven. It’s cooked by the ambient heat from the brick/stone oven – a lot of places uses a regular, modern oven now and it tastes totally different.

buttermilk kompia

Fatt Bakery does have one tasty new innovation though – buttermilk kompia! The sweet filling is placed inside the regular kompia and it sells for about 30 cents each (RM 2 for 6 pieces). Look at how it’s made to the left of the photo above! They also have pandan, custard and coconut flavors.

making kompia

Kompia actually only refers to the sesame seed covered, slightly salty variant. The larger and sweeter version is called chu nu piang. I loved this as a kid while my sister preferred the chewy kompia.

kompia sibu

Fatt Bakery does a brisk business though. There were people waiting in line to get the kompia while the husband and wife team prepares them in the open bakery. I had to walk around a bit to find it but it’s *opposite* the Sibu market, near the pork section. My better half loved the buttermilk kompia too!

I should have gotten more – we got a whole bunch back for her parents too! :)

10 weird and wonderful things from last month

1. Kiwano (Horned Melon)

kiwano

This is a RM 15 fruit we found at the grocery. The kiwano is also called a horned melon. It’s about the size of a kiwi – quite expensive for its size – and you’re supposed to eat it like one. I’ve never seen it in any other import specialty grocers so we got one to share.

horned melon

The kiwano fruit has lots of segments inside with seeds coated with jelly-like fruit and it tastes like cucumbers!

kiwano seeds

One of the most interesting fruits I’ve had to pleasure to eat – it’s like a refreshing *explosion* of clean, thirst quenching flavors in your mouth!

2. Huge 5kg Nutella

nutella 5kg

I eat a lot of Nutella and when I saw this in Langkawi (was there a couple of weeks ago and bought quite a bit of duty free goods) I couldn’t resist buying it. It’s 5,000 grams worth of Nutella in a huge plastic iconic container for just RM 145!

nutella traveler edition

However, we decided we couldn’t lug that beast back and settled for the Traveler’s Edition of Nutella – which is made in Italy and not Australia!

3. Klonut

klonut

Yup, it’s a clone of the cronut. We actually had it way back in July at Dessert Storm. There was a RM 7 promo with three flavors – Peanut Butter and Caramel Klonut, Kaya & Coconut Klonut and Boysenberry Jam and Chocolate Klonut.

dessert storm

It’s pretty good but it’s not the beautiful offspring of a croissant and a donut. The recipe for the pastry is slightly different here.

4. Chocolate coated Oreos

oreo travelers edition

This is a travel exclusive that we opened up last month. It’s only sold in airports (and such places) and it’s basically an Oreo covered in chocolate!

chocolate covered oreos

It’s made in Spain and delicious! I wish I had this when I did my own battered and deep fried Mars and other candy bars.

5. Snickers Ice Cream

snickers ice cream

Got a pint of Snickers Ice Cream (from France) and finished it on the same day while watching movies at home. A pint isn’t really enough for us, and thus over the weekend…

6. 31% off hand packed Baskin Robbins ice cream

br 31

I got two pints during the weekend coz we eat a lot of ice cream. My better half chose Chocolate Mousse Royale and I chose Sweet & Salty. I don’t know what happened but the batch that day didn’t have *any* salty pretzel pieces (which is why I like the flavor).

baskin robbins

There’s only caramel in the ice cream – probably coz the outlet topped the newly opened box with some leftovers (which was also contaminated with the neighbouring Blueberry Pabba Cotta). I should have asked the servers to just get me the ones from the new box instead of that but they were too busy – the 31% discount days always seems to be a hectic mess for the staff.

7. Cognac filled chocolate sticks

chocolate cognac

I bought this during our trip to Langkawi. I thought it was rather expensive at RM 34.50 for 15 chocolate sticks. This GOLDKENN product is certainly priced higher than the usual Anthon Berg bottle-shaped liquor chocolates…

cognac sticks

…but it tastes absolutely fabulous! The cocoa dusted chocolate sticks were filled with tangible cognac and it’s well worth the RM 2+ per bite price…and that’s duty free prices! :)

8. Absolut Hibiskus

absolut unique

I also got this really awesome and cool looking Absolut Unique display plaque. I’ve seen the Absolut Unique bottles around for a while now – each time I travel, I saw quite a lot of different bottles with different serial numbers…and now I have a unique mounted one!

absolut hibiskus

I also got a bottle of Absolut Hibiskus – it’s the first floral flavored vodka and it was launched in conjunction with Merdeka (Independence Day). The hibiscus is our national flower, geddit? :D

It tastes good – am planning to make some cocktails with these, aptly with edible flowers (which you’re going to hear and see a lot more of).

9. Self-heating soup can

hot soup

We had this for dinner last night! I got this earlier this year during one of our grocery shopping trips. I think there was a promotion for RM 14 for two cans. Each “can” of soup is the same size and shape as a regular soda can!

self heating soup

The interesting bit about this is the self-heating part – there’s chemicals at the bottom of the can which heats the can when pressed and activated. You have to shake it for 30 seconds and steam actually comes out of the unopened can (along with a distasteful chemical smell).

heating soup

There’s a strip of indicator on the side which *changes color* according to temperature and you just open the can like a regular soft drink and drink it when it cools down. I thought it’s quite cool, just like the MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat – a military food rations kit) I got when I was in the Boy’s Brigade. Haha!

10. Pig teats

pig teats

Yup, those are exactly what it looks like! It just came in a package for a super awesome secret cooking project that I did over the weekend!

pig nipples

It’s going to be…er, revealed next week! :D

A trip to the SS2 wet market (pasar pagi)

wet market

I woke up really, really early during this long weekend coz I had always wanted to go to the wet market to shop for fresh produce with my dear but never could get myself to wake up in time. I’m glad I did coz going to the pasar pagi (morning market – don’t know why people here call it this) is fun! :)

fresh vegetables

The SS2 wet market is located at an intersecting lane and you’ll see a fair amount of vendors selling all sorts of stuff from chicken to vegetables (and everything in between). Pork butchers, fish mongers, they have it all!

fresh flower car

There’s even a car that’s filled with flowers – for sale!
(the fresh flowers, not the car, I presume)

fried dough

We got some piping hot yu tiaw (fried dough) to munch on while doing our weekly grocery shopping at the equivalent of the local market (instead of the supermarkets we usually go to).

yu tiaw

The deep fried dough is awesome when eaten straight out of the boiling oil! :)

bak chang

I also got two bak chang (glutinous rice dumplings) – the Dried Oyster Rice Dumpling has dried oysters, mushrooms, pork, salted egg, dried shrimp and chestnuts for RM 5.50 while the Salted Egg Rice Dumpling has all the above except for the dried oysters and with the addition of lintel / green bean for RM 4.50.

rice dumpling

It’s really good when we ate it later in the day. However, there is only 1 small oyster about the size of my index fingernail so I thought a RM 1 premium isn’t really justifiable. I wanted to try their Pillow Rice Dumpling too but it’s a 3 day order wait. This stall has been featured in the papers and for once it’s worth the hype! Highly recommended! :)

soy milk

My dear also bought this huge take away bag of soy milk for just RM 1. There’s about 1 liter of soy bean milk inside and the queue for this is insane – not because it’s good (it’s rather diluted) but coz you get a lot of bang for your buck.

live fish

We also looked at the fresh fish stalls – some of them had specimens that are still alive and kickin’ (or rather, swimming). smirk

fresh fish

I was interested in this huge eel that we later found out was called yellow conger eel. It’s RM 8 / kg.

eel

I bought two generously long slices for RM 9. We later cooked them three (3) ways and it was really good! I didn’t know it was an eel at first, I thought it was a fish. Ling insisted it was an eel and I still thought it was a fish so we Googled it and discovered my better half was *right* – it’s a seasonal eel!

kampong chicken

We also bought two chicken legs for RM 16.50 which I thought was a total rip off! It’s kampung chicken (free range chicken) and I was appalled that just one (1) chicken leg costs RM 8+. My dear told me the price range is about right. I’m used to supermarket chicken prices (the ones reared in stacked cages PETA types are always honking on about). Hot damn, that’s expensive!

I also found a vegetable which I thought was rather interesting so I got that and lotus root, which we haven’t cooked before. It made for a nice meal with the eel done 3 ways.

pork butcher

We also bought some pork ribs (to be cooked tonight!) before we headed to one of the food stalls located right inside SS2 wet market.

hakka curry mee

I had the Hakka Mee (RM 4) while she had the Curry Mee (RM 4). Mine had a bucket-load of MSG, which made it taste really nice. The owner/cook manning the stall is one grumpy lady though. I could tell she was slightly irritated when I ordered but for some reason or other, she didn’t take the piss out of me.

food stall

The woman who ordered after me was half of a middle-aged couple that just finished jogging and the owner raised her voice and was so rude to her that I wondered why they didn’t just walk away. We didn’t get the nasty treatment so I was thinking that this must be real good food for the other couple to take the abuse. The food wasn’t anything to write home about but it’s decent and cheap.

fresh coffee

It’s the coffee that really takes home the cake though – home brewed old style with muslin cloth sieves blackened after ages of filtering the coffee grounds and with a sheen of grease (from the frying of the coffee beans with butter, lard, margarine or ghee). It’s a perfect cuppa hot strong brewed coffee that kick started an awesome day of fun in the kitchen and quality time spent together during the long weekend.

us wet market

I’ll go to the local wet market again! The prices aren’t necessarily cheaper but the produce certainly is a lot fresher! :D

Pasar Ramadan Shah Alam – briyani gam, Roti John and enforcement officers!

pasar ramadan shah alam

The Pasar Ramadan in Stadium Shah Alam is reportedly the biggest food bazaar in Malaysia. It opens once a year during the holy month (for Muslims) of Ramadan with various vendors from established shops to home cooks offering all sorts of delicious fare for people to buy and eat when they break their fast.

honey spice chicken

There’s a big stall with lots of BBQ chicken on spits turning over a charcoal fire offering just one item – ayam golek.

ayam golek

Ayam golek basically translates to “spun chicken” (I think) – and this particular stall sells it for RM 19 per chicken or RM 10 for half. The chicken is marinated in madu (honey) and rempah (spices) and it’s one of the most popular stalls there. It tastes really good!

john bread

Roti John stalls are also very popular. It’s basically a long loaf of bread stuffed with various ingredients – anything from beef to seafood.

making roti john

I found one called Papa John with a fearsome queue – the Roti John is done up like an assembly line with a cook at the back and the French loaf sized sandwiches were flying off the table as soon as they got there.

roti john

We got the aptly named Extravaganza for RM 8. The regular ones are half the price but this contains generous slices of oblong burgers in addition to the minced meat (you can choose chicken or beef) that comes with the normal ones. It’s made a lot like a large Ramly burger.

briyani gam batu pahat

Nasi Briyani Gam are also very popular with lots of stalls selling this special that hails from Batu Pahat, Johor. It’s a type of spiced rice that’s strained with a muslin cloth and served with chicken, lamb or beef. The kambing (lamb) is the best and goes for RM 8.

pasar ramadan saman

Funny thing about this stall is that it has no licence and *enforcement officers* were there giving them the good news. smirk

enforcement officers

These enforcement officers roam around the bazaar to look for infractions – you need a special monthly (Ramadan lasts for a month) license in order to set up shop. This one didn’t have the proper license and I heard them negotiating with the enforcement officers, who fined them. It’s still one of the most popular ones though so I bought mine there…while the enforcement officers were writing the ticket. I reckon they’ll need the additional business. ;)

murtabak singapore

There’s also a stall selling durian crepes and Murtabak Singapore (a type of filled roti canai). It’s RM 10 for 6 pillows and it tasted really good. It’s supposed to be made with D24 durians.

durian crepes

It didn’t even last the trip home, we ate the last ones in the car. It’s supposed to be kept cold and it’s yummy when eaten chilled.

fresh dates

I also bought some fresh dates on a branch (quite expensive though) on a specialty date store that also sells various Iranian dates.

smoked duck

There’s also a stall that sells smoked duck – lots of the birds were hanging from a hook.

chicken percik

Ayam percik is another seasonal must have and my dear got a skewer for RM 3.50.

ayam percik

It’s marinated and chicken grilled over a charcoal fire with a unique sauce but it tasted horrible coz one side was burnt. I chose that one coz I thought it’ll impart some nice caramelization (like our honey spiced chicken) but it ended up being tough and bitter instead.

burung goreng

I did like the deep fried quail though.

fried quail

The deep fried quail is simply called called burung goreng (fried bird) and just cost RM 4.50 for an *entire quail*! It’s small but delicious, if you like quail meat and it’s served with spices too.

itek mandi minkak panas

The other good buy we made was at the stall that sells itik mandi minyak panas (duck bathing in hot oil). It’s apparently very famous – they had a bunch of articles in papers featuring the duck. The duck cost RM 38 each, which is about right (ducks cost about twice that of chicken) but we had bought so much stuff that we couldn’t even manage half. The man was kind enough to sell us a quarter (chose the duck leg portion) for RM 10.

oil bathed duck

I thought duck bathing in hot oil is a really funny and quirky name too and the guy manning the counter was very educated and spoke English with an Oxford accent!

egg chicken

There are ready made meals too but we didn’t buy those coz we already had a nasi briyani gam kambing.

sea coconut

Of course, being Ramadan, drinks are big at the bazaar too (since the fasting Muslims do this month includes not drinking during daylight hours). Sea coconut drinks are popular as well as the ubiquitous cendol.

cendol tapai

I couldn’t resist this cendol stall that sells the shaved ice with palm sugar concoctions by the jug. There’s various toppings you can make too – tapai (fermented rice), pulut (glutinous rice) and durian.

cendol jugs

One jug of ice cold cendol costs RM 6 with a topping (went with glutinous rice coz they ran out of fermented rice). I loved it! We got it in a huge plastic bag to go and I drank it for the next 24 hours. :D

my john

There was a massive traffic jam going back coz of all the people rushing back to break fast so we ended up eating the Roti John in the car in anticipation of the long drive.

feast

We had a veritable feast when we got back! My dear promptly got food poisoning though and had to sit on the toilet a couple of hours after that. I was fine though, it’s the luck of the draw I guess, some of the food has been sitting there for hours.

huge cendol

Pasar Ramadan Stadium Shah Alam is very congested starting from 6 pm onwards and it opens at 3-4 pm. I still love going there though – it’s always very interesting to get different dishes to go at the food bazaar to eat at home. I spent a lot there coz I didn’t realize how the little things would all add up!

whole grilled lamb

There are no seating arrangements and people don’t eat there coz it’s still fasting time but there’s such a lot of delicious things on offer that you’re bound to get more than you can eat. :)

The Star, free chicken and my FMIL

star interview

I was interviewed in The Star on Monday. It’s in News on page S10 in the Sarawak Edition done by Calvin Yeo. You can also view the entire interview in the link. Cheers mate! :)

Anyway, some updates about today:

Free chicken!!!

free chicken

We just got back from grocery shopping at TCM. She wanted to eat the oyster mee sua at Shihlin. I ordered two bowls and two bottles of mineral water. The person asked if I ordered chicken. I didn’t and told him so.

Nevertheless, he asked me *again* while we were eating and finally put two pieces of takeaway chicken on my table. I was rather puzzled by this since I already have home cooked food from her but well, since they were so insisting… ;)

My FMIL

It sounds remarkably like something rude but the acronym stands for “future mother-in-law”. I hadn’t dared hope to use that moniker but since she called it, I’m happy. :)

tiffin dinner

The soup is from the FMIL. The rice with home made fish cake in the tiffin is done by her and she also baked her trademark lemon cupcakes (hesitate to call them muffins coz a muffin means something entirely different to me smirk).

I jokingly told her that the previous rice box she packed me had a kid-sized portion of rice and she gave me a lot this time. Haha.

I love the lemony cupcakes dear! There’s no spoon this time around though. T_T

Neither do I condemn you: Go, and sin no more

weekend

I just had a great weekend with her! :D

room

It’s like a mini vacation of sorts where we mostly chilled in the room.

thai green curry

I think the only thing we ate was this Thai Green Curry Chicken with Rice Vermicelli that you dip into the creamy curry.

mango sticky rice

…and mango with sticky rice. The mango was unripe and has practically no taste at all though.

gloria jean beef lasagne

I did eat again later last night though – noticed I was getting really tired with low blood sugar so walked out and went to the closest place to get something to eat. Beef lasagna of all things. She doesn’t eat beef so I reckon I’ll eat as much of it when I’m alone. smirk

She did leave some the clothes she was wearing yesterday though.

clothes

I noticed that only one side has been slept on. Haha! That was where we were and when she left I slept on that side too. You smell nice. :)

Spoon included

spoon

There is no a spoon! smirk

This is a pleasant surprise, albeit a rather funny one. I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw the spoon.

She actually packed a home-cooked dinner for me – complete with prawns, beans, and a fried egg at the bottom of the rice. It’s very nicely done, packaged and delivered.

I opened the paper bag and saw the Tupperware containing the dinner.

…with a spoon.

Me: You even packed a spoon!
Her: Haha! Used to it dy.

I do have spoons at home, contrary to popular belief. I do appreciate the effort though and seeing the spoon made me laugh.

homecooked rice box

I love you dear. <3

Christmas Eve Dinner @ Senja, Saujana Hotel

christmas eve dinner

Senja is an Italian restaurant despite it’s Malay sounding name. The food is prepared by Chef Filippo Giunta, a friendly Sicilian which I got to meet later. It is best known for it’s homemade pasta and pizzas (they even have a firewood oven) and the ambiance – it’s built on stilts above a man-made lake and the view is quite pleasing.

senja saujana

I was there to check out their Christmas Eve Dinner. I haven’t been here for a while and I thought I’ll come and check out their new pasta machine. Thanks for the invite Azimy and Azirah and it’s a pleasure to meet you Karen!

bread

The five course meal was preceded by their wonderful home-made bread, which I absolutely loved. It came with four different types of dip – the whole olives and sun-dried tomatoes being two of my favorite.

Schiuma di Papate con Capesante ed Aneto
Potato Mousse with Scallop and Dill Oil

scallops

This is the first course proper – the amouse-bouche. It’s a nicely cooked piece of scallop topped with black caviar with potato mousse and dill oil. I thought it’s a nice start for the Christmas Eve course.

Capaccio di Manzo con Rucola e Dressing al Parmigiano
Carpaccio of Black Angus with Rocket and Parmesan Dressing

black angus carpaccio

I really, really liked this. The circular tissue-thin Black Angus is aged well so you can taste the intense flavors in this apt appetizer. I wish I could have more of this. Perfectly dry-aged (I think, forgot to ask) beef.

chef filippa giunta

There are three main courses you can choose from:

Linguine con Funghi Selvatici e Tartufo
Homemade Linguine Pasta with Wild Mushrooms and Black Truffle

linguini black truffle

This would be my recommendation for the main course if you’re not one of those people who must have turkey on Christmas Eve. I’ve seen how they make their pasta in-house and the linguine is cooked to perfection – dictionary definition of “al dente”. I enjoyed the simplicity of the dish, spruced up by generous shavings of black truffle.

Salmone in Padella Sevito con Spinaci, Salsa Prosecco e Caviale Nero
Tasmanian Salmon served with Butter Spinach, Prosecco Sauce and Black Caviar

salmon

There’s nothing wrong with this dish, but it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. It’s a generous slice of salmon on top of spinach and it was the first main dish that I ate but I felt that the salmon overpowered all the other flavors in the dish and it was a tad overcooked but then again I won’t pretend to be a food critic. Heh. I just felt that the other two dishes were much better.

Petto di Tacchino con Mele Verdi, Funghi in Padella e Riduzione al Vino Porto
Stuffed Turkey Breast with Poached Granny Smith Apple, Cepes Mushroom and Port Wine Sauce

turkey

I really liked the crisp turkey skin and the juicy turkey meat. I loved the stuffing. It’s a classic Christmas dish that has everything done right including the apple cubes beneath the turkey that gives it a sweet dimension. Highly recommended, I would go for this or the pasta for the main course. Come to think of it, I’ll recommend this, coz you can have pasta any other time. ;)

Panettone Tradizionale con Crema di Mascarpone e Caffe
Traditional Panettone “Tiramisu” with Mascarpone and Coffee Cream

panettone tiramisu

This is hands down the best dessert I’ve had this month, or maybe even this quarter. I might even hazard to go “this year” due to this wonderful creation from Chef Filippo Giunta. It’s not a regular tiramisu made with Savoiardi – that has been made passé with this “tiramisu” made from Panettone. Just think of Savoiardi being substituted with Panettone Antica Ricetta and you’ll have an inkling of what this marvelous dessert tastes like.

It’s awesome – there’s no other word to describe it. The Mascarpone and coffee cream dominates the Panettone that has been rendered soft and yielding and the burst of fruitcake combined with the thick, cloying cream resulted in a truly fearsome dessert. It’s delicious! :D

panettone

This is the Panettone used for the Christmas Eve Dinner dessert at Senja. It’s the specialty Christmas cake of Milan which traces its roots to an ancient Franciscan cloister in Saronno. It’s orgasmic – there’s a bit of fruitcake to remind you of the festive season and I was very impressed by this dessert. The Mascarpone and coffee cream slathered on top of this Panettone “tiramisu” takes the cake (haha). I’ll go just for this dessert again!

christmas cookies

We also had mince pies, biscuits and gingerbread cookies after the meal and I was so enamored by the Panettone “tiramisu” that Chef Filippo Giunta came out with what the dome-shaped Christmas cake. The Christmas Eve Dinner at Senja, Saujana Hotel is priced from RM 160++ to RM 280++ with optional wine pairing.

wine

They also have a New Year’s Eve set dinner priced at the same range where you can watch fireworks by the lake. Senja Restaurant is also starting a new tradition of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day brunches with buffet style antipasto and desserts from RM 90++. They can be reached at 03 7843 1234 for reservations. Oh, and they also sell that Panettone cake by itself but it won’t nearly be as good as the one made into “tiramisu”. Heh.

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