Saturday, January 19, 2013

SPICY ARTISTRY

 
The Ambassador of the United States of America
Paul W. Jones & Catherine Jones
 
request the pleasure of
Ms. Alice Yong & Guest
 
at “The Artistry of Spices” Program
on Thursday, January 3, 2013
at 6:30 p.m.
(Program starts at 7:00 p.m.)

Dress: Smart Casual
Venue: The Residence, 9 Jalan Langgak Golf, Kuala Lumpur


Imagine my surprise when I received an invitation from the US Ambassador to attend a special event at His Excellency's residence! What a fab way to open a brand new year...

His Excellency Paul Jones delivering his welcome remarks
I felt the butterflies playing havoc in my tummy as we walked into the compound of the Ambassador's residence. But the ladies who greeted us at the door soon put us at ease. We even managed to catch the last few minutes of the official press conference...

One for the album...HE Paul Jones and his wife Catherine Jones with guest artist Brookie Maxwell and the celeb chefs: Amy Beh, Manju Saigal and Rohani Jelani
A US State Department project, The Artistry of Spices merges food and art; to showcase the significant role of spices in shaping the history and culture of our world. Wars were fought, empires rose and fell, and daring explorers crossed the seven seas just for this precious commodity.
Creative use of fresh and dried spices for the table centerpiece
Guest artist Brookie Maxwell who is a curator and founding director of Gallery 138 in New York city travelled to Penang and Melaka for this project; to paint, photography and collect myriad spices for her artistic works which were showcased that evening.

To complement this visual arts feast, three celebrity chefs: Amy Beh, Manju Saigal and Rohani Jelani were roped in to spice up the evening with their culinary masterpieces.

Each chef also conducted a brief demo of their recipes that incorporated spices. Best of all, we all were treated to their handiwork whilst they cooked up a storm on stage.

 
Chef Manju - a Punjab native who has been teaching Indian cooking and running her own catering venture for over a decade and a half - shared with us how to prepare Achari Sabzi (pickled vege), Lemon Rice, Seekh Kebab (grilled minced lamb cutlets) and Kesari Murgh (saffron chicken). Prior to dinner, we were treated to Nimbu Pani, her concoction of lime cooler that was both refreshing and tantalising.

Pungently aromatic, subtly spicy but delectably rich and robust on the palate, we polished everything that came within minutes. This should tell you how good the food was!

Chef Amy Beh brought an unexpected twist to Bak Kut Teh when she rustled up a vegetarian version...should we call it Chai Kut Teh? Purists would be outraged but the resultant broth actually tasted surprisingly agreeable!

Assorted mushroom, beancurd puffs and mock meat (gluten chunks) make unexpectedly tasty Chai Kut Teh

She also showed invitees how to cook Kiam Chye Ark (duck with salted mustard greens soup), Bee Koh (traditional white glutinous cake) and Otak-otak (spicy steamed fish custard). We almost missed sampling the homely, evergreen soup but all was well in the end once the service team realised our table weren't served earlier.

 
Having attended several cooking classes at Bayan Indah and as a long time fan of Rohani, I was more than eager to savour her delicious creations and the Malay cuisine guru certainly didn't disappoint.

Her signature Nasi Kunyit (turmeric rice), Chicken Rendang (dry chicken curry), Masak Lemak Udang Nenas (pineapple and prawn curry) and Onde-Onde (grated coconut-covered glutinous rice balls with palm sugar filling) left us amply replete and happily satisfied.

 
Dinner closed with a sumptuous dessert selection courtesy of Catherine Jones, the Ambassador's wife who is a trained chef in her own right. The rather Christmassy Apple Mincemeat Crisp was sublime and left us wanting more.

We felt so spoilt and pampered when dainty glasses of Curry Ice Cream complemented by Five Spice, Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Cookies and Coconut Macaroons appeared; inducing us further into a sweet and slightly spicy stupour! 

Just as we thought nothing could top that, out came gold-rimmed cups of velvety smooth and ultra-decadent Chocolate Pots with Garam Masala! Digging into the luxuriant death by chocolate treat, I was elevated to heavenly chocolatey bliss...

One of the art pieces by Brookie Maxwell

By the time we left, all of us were literally floating on cloud nine...thanks to the surfeit of conviviality and sumptuous food and drinks lavished on us throughout the event. This was one spiced-up evening we're unlikely to forget in a hurry!

3 comments:

Quay Po Cooks said...

Alice, I enjoyed reading this aromatic spicy post of yours. Looks like a wonderful experience:D

Alice Yong said...

@Quay Po Cooks - it was quite an experience as one doesn't rub shoulders with foreign envoys that often ;D

Food Dreams said...

wow... what a glorious invitation! The meal looked absolutely Fab with all the infamous chefs and cooks there.... :)