Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wine Chat at Vintry Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Vintry Ampang Wine Chat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Wine Chat @Vintry Ampang
Vintry Ampang Wine Chat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Domaine de la Roquette Chateaueneuf du Paper 2009 

Vintry Ampang Wine Chat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Vintry Ampang Wine Chat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Mystery Wine
Warm and articulate, Yin How Wong is a gracious guide. Owner of Vintry, he is brimming with knowledge but able to communicate so that even newbies to the intricacies of wine feel able. He introduced us to our first Wine Chat at the Ampang outlet, which saw six wines swirled, sniffed, sipped and studied. All were chosen for the facts that the organizer finds them interesting and they’re not available on regular retail shelves. A seventh wine was kept secret to the end, but more about that later.

Rows of wine bottles were the backdrop to enormous barrel based tables set with fine glasses and tasting notes. Vintry has a rustic appeal and one of the joys of dining/ imbibing there is the wine cellar ambience.

Vintry Ampang Wine Chat, Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaBrowsing the list for the Wine Chat, I was pleased to see some bottles that I’d never tasted, happy to see both new and old world wines and intrigued to try Greek wine from one of their most famous producers. Here’s what I tasted and learned:

Saint Clair Gruner Veltliner 2011 (Marlborough, New Zealand) RM98
Described as a drop with lots of personality, this indigenous Austrian grape grown in New Zealand, was rich, had more body and handles slightly heavier dishes than the usual NZ white wine varietals.
Nose: nectarines, peaches, aromatic, New Zealand in character
Palate: crisp and taut with stone fruit and hints of sweet spice and musk, pineapple, citrus, guava, lemony, less New Zealand and more ‘old world’ in palate
Pair with: chicken, pork, mushroom sauce
Out of the two whites we tried, both girls at our table LOVED this one naming it a party drink exuding a similar mood as champagne.

Vintry Ampang Wine Chat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Alpha Estate Malagouzia 2011 
Next up was an unusual selection, Alpha Estate Malagouzia 2011 (Amyndeon, Greece) RM85
Not common in Malaysia, it was a fantastic opportunity to try this Greek wine.  
Nose: peach, grass, nutty
Palate: fleshy, fresh, stone fruit, notes of honeysuckle, minerals, dry,
Pair with: salad, grilled seafood such as octopus or calamari

Hauts de Poujeaux 2007 (Moulis, France) RM120
Not your typical rich Beaudeaux cabernet, sauvignon, merlot blend but lighter, so very palatable and fairly open so you can enjoy it reasonably young.
Nose: cedar, currants, cherry
Palate: moderate soft tannins provide structure
Pair with: grilled meats such as steak, lamb
Vintry Ampang Wine Chat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Alpha Estate Red 2008 &
Hauts de Poujeaux 2007 

Alpha Estate Red 2008 (Amyndeon, Greece) RM149
This round, a red from Greece, a syrah, merlot, xinomavro blend sourced from vineyards 620-690 metres above sea level.
Nose: earthy, leather
Palate: long finish, dry
Pair with: red meats

Domaine de la Roquette Chateaueneuf du Paper 2009 (Rhone, France) RM190
There are 13 permitted grape varieties that can be used to make this wine. The most common blends use five or six. This one uses four.
Nose: red berry, dusty floral, mineral
Palate: strawberry, raspberry, Mediterranean herbs
Pair with: grilled and herb based dishes

Vintry Ampang Wine Chat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Massena Epsilon Shiraz 2009 
Massena Epsilon Shiraz 2009 (Barossa Valley, Australia) RM108
There’s no hiding I have taste buds for Aussie wines, so it’s not a surprise that I found this red from the Barossa Valley the most likeable.
Nose: blackberries, black currant, black cherries, Indian spices, red blossoms
Palate: crisp acid, grainy tannins, long fruity finish, easy drinking, well balanced
Pair with: hearty grilled steak, osso bucco, braised lamb

Finishing with a game, we were sufficiently lubricated to forget inhibitions and participate without reservations. Guests were furnished with a tasting portion of a Mystery Wine and a number of multiple choice questions were put forward. A winner was identified through a process of elimination – if you got a round wrong you’re out of the game. The last person left standing (me!) won a bottle of something we had tasted during the Wine Chat. It was quite an impelling way to put what you had learned into application.

Vintry Ampang Wine Chat, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Mystery Wine - Italian Sangiovese
Wine Chats by Vintry cost RM30 per person for a two hour wine journey.  For wines purchased on the day you receive an additional 20% discount and the RM30 participation fee is discounted off any purchases you make. Email to get yourself on the invite list for the next tasting.

Reason to visit:  a palatial education for a value price by a certified wine expert in a very pleasant environment

Vintry Ampang
24 Persiaran Ampang
55000 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 4252 8262

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Five Sen5es, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Five Sen5es, Five Senses, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Cantonese, Chinese, non-halal
Taste - Secret Double Boiled Tau Fu Fa - RM45
Five Sen5es, Five Senses, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Cantonese, Chinese, non-halal
Smell - Pan Seared Fragrant Bean Stuffed Giant Fresh Scallops RM68
Five Sen5es, Five Senses, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Cantonese, Chinese, non-halal
Touch – Signature Thousand Threaded Lion Head Prawn RM68
Five Sen5es, Five Senses, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Cantonese, Chinese, non-halal
Hearing - House Fried Crispy Pork Intestines Hong Kong Style RM28
House Fried Crispy Pork Intestines Hong Kong Style in a Music Box!

Five Sen5es, Five Senses, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Cantonese, Chinese, non-halal
Home Made Silken Tau Fu F Golden Corn Oat Glaze RM12

Five Sens5es, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Five Sen5es, Five Senses, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Cantonese, Chinese, non-halal
Stir Fried Vegetables with Pine Nuts
Round tables, natural colours trimmed with multiple shades of grey, dim lighting, oriental music, and an open steaming kitchen make up the contemporary Chinese setting of Five Sen5es at The Westin Kuala Lumpur. Authentic Cantonese cuisine and some sense inspiring creative menus are what entice repeat visitors.

Now serving pork, and aside from a comprehensive a la carte menu, Five Sen5es features a different bill of fare every season specifically designed to stimulate each of our senses.

Our Autumn sensory excursion took us on a voyage of Taste with Secret Double Boiled Tau Fu Fa. Chef’s secret clear broth steaming with soft bean curd carved in the shape of a chrysanthemum flower arrived with three types of mushrooms on the side. Morel, shimeji and enoki mushrooms, each added a spoon at a time, provided a central theme escorted by an elevation in intensity with the inclusion of each.

Five Sen5es, Five Senses, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Cantonese, Chinese, non-halal
Torching the petai beans for the
 sense of smell
Our sense of Smell was kindled with Pan Seared Fragrant Bean Stuffed Giant Fresh Scallops. A torching of the petai beans on top of the sea creatures caused the pungent aroma of the bean to waft up and tickle our noses. Layered with asparagus and mushrooms this was an unsurpassed plate.

A bountiful basket of Signature Thousand Threaded Lion Head Prawns stimulated the sense of Touch. Taken with special cold metal chopsticks, the hot succulent prawns were a direct contrast to the cool steel, eating utensils. A wasabi mayonnaise contributed further invigoration with its sinus clearing strength.

We heard the next dish before we saw it. Featuring the sense of Hearing, House Fried Crispy Pork Intestines Hong Kong Style came inside a wind up music box! The impact of teeth biting into the crunchy fried rolls also sent a crackle up to our ears. Chef’s secret recipe plum sauce and shredded salad leaves were afterthoughts on the side. Although this dish was the least appealing to my taste buds, it was the most intriguing generating childhood nostalgia of a less hurried life and the wonder that such simple things as a music box could bring.

Dessert, Home Made Silken Tau Fu Fa Golden Corn Oat Glaze, engaged the sense of Sight and was presented in numerous stages. First a creamy sauce was poured over an oat glaze into a martini glass forming a snow white cone. A colour and shape dimension slid in with a spoon of round yellow corn kernels and black dots of basil seeds. Finally the vase was crossed with a stick threaded with mint and a blueberry.

Five Sen5es, Five Senses, The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, Cantonese, Chinese, non-halal
Honey Cod Teriyaki
In reality all dishes were an awakening of the senses - not just a meal, but a perceptual expedition provoking an expanded awareness causing us to slow down and appreciate the ingenuity of each dish and our sensory reactions to it.

Reason to visit: trendy Asian ambience with excellent service and sense–ational menu, Secret Double Boiled Tau Fu Fa, Pan Seared Fragrant Bean Stuffed Giant Fresh Scallops, Signature Thousand Threaded Lion Head Prawns

Five Sen5es
The Westin Kuala Lumpur
199 Jalan Bukit Bintang
+6 03 2773 8338
Open daily for lunch from 11:30am to 2:30pm and dinner from 5:30pm to 10:30pm
Starwood Preferred Guests receive a 15% discount when dining at Five Sen5es.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Jim Thompson Tea Room, Cameron Highlands Resort, Malaysia

Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Jim Thompson Dining Room - Cameron Highlands Resort
Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Classic American Wagyu Burger RM55
Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Farmhouse Style Pie RM42
Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Home Cured Salmon Gravlax RM45
Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Afternoon Tea RM60 for two persons
Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Afternoon Tea RM60 for two persons
Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Jim Thompson Tea Room
Jim Thompson Tea Room, Cameron Highlands Resort, Malaysia

Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Latte and Cappuccino
The Jim Thompson Tea Room looks over the verdant fairways and giant pines of the Cameron Highlands golf course. Glaucous hill peaks protruding through the mist provide the backdrop, while soft celestial music streaming from surround sound speakers hints at the mystery encircling the heights.

Sharing the kitchen with The Dining Room of Cameron Highlands Resort, the menu contains a selection of the lighter items seen at dinner, with the addition of lunchier options too in the form of pies and burgers.

Taking advantage of the gorgeous produce grown in the region you can’t go wrong with orders of salads, vegetables and anything berry. Our Caesar Salad was a simple mix of gloriously crisp romaine lettuce leaves with traditional condiments topped with Cajun spiced chicken. As is often the case in Malaysian restaurants, chefs are not stingy with their dressings, so if you lean towards liking a little less rather than more, do ask for it on the side.

Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Lobster Bisque RM30
The Home Cured Salmon Gravlax was another example of garden fresh leaves. Sprightly lettuce and frisee sided the pink rectangle of fish and a honey mustard and walnut dressing delivered tangy vigor. For a location in the mountains, the Lobster Bisque topped with Bulla cream was an intense brew of richness, tasting as good as any found on the coast.

Eating our mains and gazing out the window we could have believed we were in the English countryside. With parsley mashed potatoes, peas, Vichy style carrots, mushroom gravy and flaky pastry, the Farmhouse Style Pie filled with chicken, leek and mushrooms looked as good as it tasted.

Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Caesar Salad RM30
The Classic American Wagyu Burger starred 250gms of wagyu beef patty in a double decker stack. Cheesy fries, homemade slaw, pineapple fritters and highland chutney were supporting actors. Of course hubby demolished the mound without leaving a trace and mumbled something about wondering if another order would last until we got back to KL. (My thoughts – definitely not if in the same car as him!)

Jim Thompson Tea Room is also an elegant spot for an afternoon high tea.  A tiered tray displays: savoury sandwiches including tuna, smoked salmon, egg and cress, cream cheese and cucumber; an assortment of delicate cakes and pastries; house baked English scones with home made strawberry jam and Devon clotted cream; and bulging Highland strawberries and chocolate sauce. Choose from seven teas including black and flavoured teas to complement the set. This sweet pick-me-up was seen enjoyed by both hotel and walk-in guests. I hear it’s one of the best valued on the hill.
Cameron Highlands Resort, YTL, 5 star, boutique hotel, Cameron Highlands,
Cameron Highlands Tea

Afternoon High Tea is served daily from 3-6pm. It costs RM35 for one person of RM60 for two. Lunch is chosen from an a la carte menu.

Reason to visit:  Caesar Salad, Classic American Wagyu Burger, Farmhouse Style Pie, Afternoon High Tea, charming colonial setting overlooking pines and golf greens, signature YTL service

Jim Thompson Tea Room
Cameron Highlands Resort
By the Golf Course
39000 Tanah Rata
Cameron Highlands
Pahang, Malaysia

YTL Travel Centre
+6 03 2783 1000
Fax: +603 2148 7397

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sundays with Chef Peter... From Gidleigh Park to Phukets Vegetarian Festival

Sundays with Chef Peter!

Back Home at Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon, United Kingdom

As promised in last week’s post my review on Afternoon Tea at Gidleigh Park though I must apologize for the lack of pictures on the actual tea which for some reason disappeared from my camera.

Award winning Gidleigh Park is situated in the heart of Dartmoor near Chagford, Devon (not far from where I spent the first few years of my life), not the easiest place to find but when you get to Chagford it is well sign posted and the locals are friendly enough to point you in the right direction.

The day was a wonderful summer’s day and this made our drive though the narrow country lanes lined with moss covered granite, bowing trees and moor ferns even more fabulous with the sun glistening through and giving that magical “middle earth” feel. Devon on a glorious summer’s day is heaven on earth dahlings!
Then you arrive at Gidleigh Park a fabulous Tudor country house set in perfectly manicured grounds with the River Teign running through it, playing in the background.

As the day was so perfect I kicked myself for not making this a special treat and spending a night here with delicious dinner by Chef Michael Caines who worked hard for Gidleigh Park to gain 2 Michelin Stars, not bad for a Devon boy! Alas dahlings I had not budgeted for such an extravaganza this visit.

We arrived a little early for tea so took a walk around the beautiful grounds and when ready for tea, made our way to the drawing room greeted by a pleasant old butler who fits the place perfectly.
The drawing room is large and spacious with period furniture and we chose a table next to the fireplace which disappointingly was no longer an open fire but an enclosed wood burner which was a bit of a shame and spoilt our “Downtown Abbey” moment with the crackle of the fire but respect the "green" world we live in today.
Our waiter, not a local but very polite and efficient took care of our tea order but we thought a martini would be a good start on such a lovely occassion, mine a Classic and Alison an Appletini, both delicious!

The tea selection was excellent and our waiter always made sure the cups were full and pots replenished without having to ask. Then came the 3 tier tea stand full of traditional tea goodies, a selection of sandwiches on the first tier including salmon, cucumber and chicken, delicious fillings but for me the bread too thick (door stoppers as mother calls them), on the second tier was a selection of tea cakes, chocolate, fruit and a lemon which was topped with a nice lemon fondant. The top tier plated some chocolates and berry laden tartlets with a lovely thin sweet paste crust and lemon cream filling. There was also a generous plate of cookies and petit fours served which all go well with a nice cuppa!

Of course no afternoon tea is complete without scones and clotted cream and this was the highlight for me. I love my clotted cream as you know dahlings and when eating with scones I put a good dollop on followed by a good smearing of jam (have you heard the debate in England on which should come first, the jam or the cream?). The scones at Gidleigh I must admit are the best I have had (other than mine that is…), with the perfect split on the sides from baking and light, not usual for scones but excellent dahlings eventhough they would not share their secret with me as I will with you! There was also plenty of clotted cream which I like as I find most places serve the cream as if its butter and you don’t get your good dollop! 

An unhurried and very enjoyable feast but I must say that unless you really are hungry and did not eat lunch or have just run the Ten Tors, I suggest one afternoon tea shared with an extra pot of tea is more than enough for two.

After such lovely ambience, service and too many delicious cakes and scones we 2 little piggies thought another stroll around the grounds would be a good idea but daylight was fading and as much as I love this part of the world, being lost on Dartmoor for a night with its legendary ghost is not my idea of fun!
Till next time Gidleigh Park.....

Reason to visit: Beautiful Hotel and grounds with excellent food and service.
Downside: Getting there but it’s worth it!

Food Prices: High Range

Afternoon Tea at 25 English Pounds per person
Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon, United Kingdom

Gidleigh Park,
TQ13 8HH,
Telephone: +441647 43236
Fax: +441647 432574

And to the Vegetarian Festival, Phuket, Thailand

The vegetarian festival in Phuket has just come to an end and I wanted to give it a mention, a nine day event normally held in early October celebrating the Chinese community’s belief that abstinence from meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and various stimulants during this time will help them have good health and peace of mind. As I cycle in Phuket it is the best way to get around seeing the festival as the streets do get busy and there are a lot of diversions due to the parades.

I am unsure where the festival originates from but it is also celebrated in Malaysia and other Asian countries. In Thailand the festival is called Tesagan Gin Je and is celebrated throughout the country but at its height in Phuket where a large percentage of the population is Chinese.

During the festival the participants will all wear white and Phuket becomes a flurry of white everywhere you go as well as the bright yellow flags with bright red Thai wording.

Streets are lined with stalls selling vegetarian food prepared and cooked in the sacred kitchens of the Chinese temples for the occasion.  Restaurants also prepare vegetarian food, a lot of which is shaped to look like actual fish or meat products, which to be honest I never really understood!

Everyday day during the festival there are parades and different events going on at the temples all around the island and it is fascinating. The festivities in Phuket include the procession of mah song (mah song are the people who invite the spirits of gods to possess their bodies) wearing elaborate costumes who pierce their cheeks and tongues with all manner of things, including swords, banners, table lamps, umbrellas, flags and flowers. Others self mutilation is also done such as cutting and self flogging. Supporters accompany the mah song to keep their wounds clean and help to support the larger pieces and simply to keep people out of the way!

It is believed that while possessed the mah song will not feel any pain and I know from my staff that have taken part that it’s true and have seen how amazingly quickly the scars heal. Whilst in possession the mah song seem unaware of their surroundings and shake their heads continually. I even heard one of my staff speak a completely different language!

Other events such as fire walking, blade ladder climbing and boiling oil showers also take place.

The close of the festival is a great climax with a big and very noisy procession through the streets with all the participants making merit to send the gods back home, really worth seeing but be prepared for a lot of smoke, firecrackers and noise, I love it!

I must admit when I first came to Phuket and saw these events I was a little skeptical but have since come to have a great respect for the festival and its participants and I am happy to see that every year the festival grows in size rather than dwindling in these fast moving times.

Do I partake dahlings is another matter, though I have managed it one time, being vegetarian that is!
A participant on a bed of nails....

I hope you’ll enjoy my selection of pictures of the festival and that one day you may come.

Happy Sunday dahlings, until next week!

And if it is a sunny day then here is your umbrella