Thursday, December 30, 2010

PIECE OF CAKE!

A colourful mural of at19 Culinary Studio


Each attendee is given their own name tag & apron ...which are on loan of course!

Couldn't recall the last time I actually won anything...so I was pleasantly surprised when at19 Culinary Studio called to inform I was one of their December Facebook contest winners!
The well-equipped kitchen is designed for small groups of cooking enthusiasts

My prize was a cooking session - or more accurately, cupcake making and decorating class. It was a timely invitation that I simply couldn't refuse - the past 3 months have been most trying on the personal front so the free class was a rare chance to forget my troubles for a while.

at19 Culinary Studio is just several months old; located in the posh enclave of Damansara Heights, the place is actually a converted bungalow. Its two kitchens are well-equipped but modelled in the guise of most home kitchens so cooking enthusiasts can easily replicate whatever they've learn in class once they're back on home turf.
Ingredients for the basic vanilla cupcakes

Now I've made cupcakes and muffins at home loads of time but I've never bothered decorating them. The basic vanilla cupcakes were made in a jiffy with the help of KitchenAid (my dream machine!). While they were baking in the oven, we sat down to prepare our New Year themed cupcake decorations.

Much to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed colouring, rolling and fashioning the fondant into whimsical adornments as taught to us by our instructor, Chef Han on that day. I felt as if I was back in kindergarten, playing with smelly plasticine (in those days, we don't even know PlayDoh exists!).Yours truly with her handiwork

Sweet colours rule my fondant decorations

The whole process was therapeutic although one really has to pay full attention, be quick with one's fingers and have an eye for colours in order to create pleasant looking decorations. For the wordings, we use royal icing to add the finishing touches and festive greetings.
Voila! The finished cupcakes with their festive finery

All in all, it was a fun-filled session! Thanks to at19 Culinary Studio team for the kind invitation.

For more information, visit at19 Culinary Studio's website http://www.at19culinary.com/ or blog http://at19culinary.blogspot.com/

Saturday, December 25, 2010

FESTIVE FEAST

Eggnog adds to the festive cheer

Thanks to Top Hat restaurant's proprietress Maria Danker, I had my share of a slap-up Christmas feast recently.

It had been a trying and stressful few months so the classic Christmas offerings prepared by executive chef Richard Moreira and his team were a most welcome respite and repast for yours truly. Cocooned in the homey confines of Top Hat, I found myself warming up to the frothy and soothing glasses of liquor-spiked Eggnog and bosom friends.

Hats off to these dainty & luxurious morsels

We were treated to the restaurant's renowned Peranakan (Straits Chinese) appetiser of Pie Tee - those crispy, frilled top hat-shaped batter cases that come filled with shredded yam bean, carrot and black mushroom. In this instance, the dainty morsels were adorned with slivers of foie gras for an unexpectedly luxurious touch.

From the festive Christmas menu, we sampled a summery Prawn and Mango Salad Mesclun with Basil and Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing that seems quite apt for our tropical Yuletide weather.

Tropical flavours abound in this salad

The Caesar Salad with Lemony Dressing and Shaved Parmesan was tantalisingly light on the palate with just the right degree of richness while the Deep-fried Egmont Cheese with Avocado and Plum Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing proved to be an intriguing combination of buttery smooth, softly succulent and crisp textures intermingled with refreshing, sweet and briny accents.

It's a toss between a timeless classic and a new creation

Three main courses in one sitting sounded absolutely indulgent but shared between our party of five, the Roast Beef, Roast Turkey, Grilled Rack of Lamb worked out to be just nice.


Here's the beef!

The melt-in-the-mouth tender Roast Beef (Ribeye) accompanied by puffy mini Yorkshire puddings, roasted parsnips and Brussels sprouts with lashings of rich black pepper sauce were something to write home about.

Taking centrestage next was the golden brown and scrumptiously juicy Roast Turkey...accentuated with aromatic sage, rosemary and other fragrant herbs, and complemented by sweet roasted parsnips and Brussels sprouts for textural contrast. Cranberry sauce and turkey gravy completed the flavour palette.


Tasty turkey & all its trimmings

Simpler but no less hearty is the medium Grilled Rack of Lamb with a fresh and subtly tangy mint and kiwi sauce. For takeaway, Chef Moreira proffers Boneless Roast Leg of Lamb.

Science of the grilled and roast lamb...

Rounding off our lavish meal is the decadent Christmas Sampler: mini Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, mince pie, mini Grand Marnier fruit cake and a wedge of Christmas ice-cream cake.

Sweet surrender

My heartfelt appreciation to Maria Danker and the Top Hat team for bringing Joy to my World! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all my followers too!


Top Hat restaurant

3 Jalan Stonor

Kuala Lumpur

Tel: (03) 2142 8611/2144 1963

Fax: (03) 2141 3611

Email: info@top-hat-restaurants.com

Monday, December 20, 2010

Charming Chinoz

Sleek...the new Chinoz in Bangsar

Chinoz - one of Kuala Lumpur’s earliest modern cuisine restaurants is back in Bangsar. Having started out as a modest bistro-style outlet in Bangsar Baru in 1993, Chinoz hit the big time when it opened at a prime spot within Suria KLCC.

For a while, the trendy eatery made The Gardens mall its second home. Now it has returned 'home' to roost at the posh Bangsar Shopping Centre. With spacious patio seating and a full bar, Chinoz's new, streamlined premises also includes what owner Teng Wee Jeh proudly calls a ‘raw bar’ that dishes up raw, ultra-fresh but uncooked delicacies. Naturally, there's an extensive wine cellar filled with choice tipples handpicked by the man himself.

Assorted Sashimi from Chinoz's Raw Bar

True to its non-conformist style, Chinoz continues to proffer cross-cultural offerings; drawing inspirations from the Italians, Japanese, Mediterranean, etc. Two young chefs who have honed their skills in London and Dubai are in charge of serving up a tantalising assortment of specialities that range from Southern Italian-style crudos and Japanese-style sashimi to South American ceviche for you to savour.

Inventive crudo offerings

Naturally, Chinoz's famed wood-fired pizzas, pastas and simple but well-cooked specialities are all there. The Spaghetti with Prawns and Pea Shoots lightly tossed in olive oil and a light sprinkling of chilli flakes are perfectly al dente and flavourful without being cloying.

Pasta perfect...Spaghetti with Prawns & Pea Shoots

Jumbo Asparagus with Poached Egg sounds like a no-brainer but trust me, when such tender, crunchy spears are paired with silky egg white and rich, runny yolk, the result is nothing short of a sublime gustatory experience.

Jumbo Asparagus with Poached Egg

Occasionally, the kitchen team surprises with some ingenious dishes such as the addictive Prawn Pop Corn which we had on our recent visit. A delightful creation that’s inspired by the world-renown Nobu restaurant, the plump, bite-size morsels of shelled prawns in crisp, light-as-air tempura batter are served with a flavourful mayo dip.

Crispy Morsels of Prawn Pop Corn

Kudos to Teng and his Chinoz team for their consistent standards and uncompromising food quality. I have yet to be disappointed with a bad meal here...and hopefully it'd stay that way.

Chinoz

G108 Ground Floor

Bangsar Shopping Centre

Kuala Lumpur

Tel:03-2284 3390





Wednesday, December 08, 2010

TGIF...Thank Goodness il Lido's Fabulous!


Bruschetta with Cod and Potato Mousse

Whether it's for pre-dinner drinks, post-work pleasure or pre-club get-togethers, any time's a good time at il Lido's new European-style lounge bar.

Yes, folks. Hot on the heels of its spanking new sister il Lido restaurant just a floor below comes the il Lido Lounge Bar where you and the gang at work or play can 'chillax' over trendy music that's comfortably audible but not ear-shattering, drown out those rat race sorrows over creative cocktails, mocktails and wines of the world, and even assuage expectant hunger pangs that are bound to arise.

Touting itself as a “sanctuary” for discerning KL-lites: yuppies, nearby embassy crowd, tourists, et al, il Lido's stylish and sleek semi-al fresco setting boasts loads of grey-black-earth tones with long, boxy padded seats and Starck stools in pop art colours. A stretched white canopy provides ample shade and come dusk, nothing beats the sweeping vistas of the city's towering concrete jungle and lush old raintrees that soar majestically around the vicinity.

Drink to each other's health with a glass or two of Bellini – Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) with peach puree or ilLidotini – a mixture of martini, Smirnoff orange and red vermouth. For oenologists, check out the notable wine selection that naturally includes quite a few Italian labels.

Parma Ham with Rucola Pizza

Aahh...feeling peckish? No need to fret as the bar snacks here are way better than those half-baked, run-of-the-mill offerings found elsewhere. After all, few bar lounges can lay claim to a full-fledged Italian sister outlet downstairs.


BBQ Chicken Skewers

Hence you'd be tempted with an array of delectable Euro-Italian offerings: Crisp Fried Calamari with a piquant Arrabbiata Sauce, Bruschetta with Cod and Potato Mousse, BBQ Chicken Skewers and Parma Ham with Rucola (rocket leaves) Pizza among others. Everything was scrumptious; familiar yet each dish we sampled bear subtle, novel twists that enhance and delight.


Crisp Fried Calamari

ilLido Lounge Bar

Level 2 Lot 183 Jalan Mayang

Off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

Kuala Lumpur

Tel: (03) 2161 2291

Fax: (03) 2161 2295

www.il-lido.com.my