Tuesday, July 22, 2014

GASTRONOMIC WEEKEND ESCAPADE

It was an invitation too good to resist…not only were we invited to revel in the lap of luxury at Pangkor Laut Resort (PLR) for a weekend but also to dine with the Perak Chapter of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, an international association of gourmands and culinary professionals.
After meeting up with Felicia and Jie Ling of YTL Hotels & Resorts at The Majestic KL, we were soon whisked off to PLR in a comfy MPV. Time passed in a blink of an eye since we stayed glued to our smartphones and tablets all the way with WiFi connection provided by the YES hubble.
Excitement grew as the private island, with its white sandy beaches and two-million year old rainforest came into view. VIP treatment in the form of chilled mocktails and towels, to refresh us in the tropical heat.
After a late lunch at the Royal Bay Beach Club, we retreated to our sumptuously appointed room for a brief respite from the scorching afternoon. 
(top) The breezy interior of Royal Bay Beach Club (bottom) the outdoor pool adjacent to the outlet
Light lunch of sushi to satisfy growling tums

Fish tacos that are easy to eat...delicate flavours and textures abound
Seafood laden fried meehoon

The rustic air-cond villa was sheer bliss for us to hide from the sweltering afternoon and lulled us to snooze the afternoon away.
All too soon we had to adjourn to the pristine Emerald Bay for champagne and cocktails, just in time to catch the sunset. Meanwhile newly appointed Executive Chef Stevie Jones and his team were hard at work preparing a lavish barbecue dinner by the beach.
The PLR team certainly outdid themselves, laying out a majestic feast menu that included ultra-fresh Prawn Tikka Skewers sourced from the nearby Pangkor Island, and the Spit-Roasted Whole Lamb inspired by the Chaine des Rotisseurs’ origins in 1248 as an association of roasters. 


Known for his philosophy of using fresh, sustainably-sourced and simple ingredients to produce delicious dishes, Welsh-Australian Chef Stevie also proffered lobsters, prime steaks, lamb cutlets, satay, squid and prawns.
Besides Mediterranean-style salads, appetisers and starters, we supped on soup while a dessert sampler completed the extravagant affair. The battalion of attentive staff who fulfilled our every whim and fancy even managed to meet some last-minute requests for freshly sliced fruits.
The resident colony of flying foxes aka fruit bats
A thundery rainstorm the following morning washed away plans for the intended jungle walk by the resident naturalist. After a long, languid breakfast at the Feast Village, we spent a restful morning at The Library, a serene haven where cushy sofas and four-poster day beds on raised platforms are available for guests to lounge around on. It is also the only place at the luxe resort with WiFi connectivity.
For lunch, we hitched a ride on the resort's shuttle van to Chapman's Bar which is sited next to Emerald Bay. Lulled by fully satiated tummies and idyllic surrounds, we slumbered the afternoon away and woke just in time for the sunset cruise.
Our no-so-rich and not-so-famous lifestyle got slightly upscale when we were invited to board PLR's teakwood junk for a sunset cruise. The hour-long expedition took us around the island, giving us fab glimpses of the private villas nestled atop the hills from the sea, bathed in the golden hues of dusk. The crew also had us in stitches with their recollections of Pavarotti's visit and tales of monkeys' business that wreaked havoc with unsuspecting PLR guests.
The Chaine's Amical Dinner was handled by youthful 25-year-old Chef de Partie, Jérémy Blanchot at Fisherman's Cove which had stunning night views of the Straits of Malacca. He acquitted himself with great panache at the open-air kitchen despite having half the experience of other veteran chefs, drawing inspirations from his culinary forays to Penang and putting his head together with his local team.
 
Yellow fin tuna with scallop complemented by beef reduction, mango chutney & papaya
Pangkor lobster bisque with laksa 'infusion' & prawn dumpling
Sous vide North Pacific sable fish with lala in coconut curry, chilli & watermelon
 Grain-fed beef with fondant potato, olive tapenade & red wine reduction
Mascarpone mousse with Kahlua cream & cocoa
 Each course was paired with fine wines selected by Ms Ming Ho, Senior Executive Director of Sunway University & Sunway Education Group.
Chaine members present at the dinner included Ms Elizabeth Lee (2nd from left), Bailli Regional de Perak (President of the Perak Chapter); Vice-Conseiller Gastronomique and General Manager of Le Cordon Bleu, Malaysia, Ms Wendy Lewis; Vice-Charge de Presse, Baillage de Perak, Dato’ Steve Day and Datin Su Day from the Baillage de Kuala Lumpur.
I couldn't have asked for a better wrap-up to my maiden sojourn at PLR - a heavenly spa experience at the award-winning Spa Village Pangkor Laut. Despite my initial apprehension, the Signature Pre-treatment Ritual at the Bath House soon left me floating on cloud nine.  


The trademark Campur-Campur treatment which blends Malay and Thai massage techniques coupled with Asian-style scrubs, baths and aromatherapy is guaranteed to banish all the aches and pains of everyday life. Heady scents of lemongrass and pandan leaves permeate the air as a traditional pouch of steamed herbs are pressed along the body prior to the soothing massage.
We savoured a light lunch at the Jamu Bar before heading off to the jetty for departure. It was a heartening sight when a group of PLR ever-smiling staff stood in line to bid us farewell, their warm hospitality dulling the painful return to reality as our speedboat took us back to the Marina. The only thing on our mind as we headed back to KL is our silent vow to return someday to the idyllic paradise.

Plan your own holiday at Pangkor Laut Resort by calling the YTL Travel Centre at +603 2783 1000 or email: travelcentre@ytlhotels.com.my.