Saturday, 12 November 2011

A Walk on the Wild Side

Sometimes living in a Muslim country can be challenging. Sure there are Western social stigmas  and politically polarizing issues but, more importantly, eating pork, drinkin' liquor, and owning a dog are seen as just plain wrong.

Luckily, I live in Malaysia - a beautiful, liberal country that tries to be welcoming to all appetites - for both faith and dinner. When I lived in Dubai it was helluv difficult to get my hands on some bacon and it was illegal to have booze in my apartment. Not so here! So on a recent Saturday afternoon, my friends and I embraced our freedom and indulged in our heathen ways.

We started off with lunch at Vintry. A rib joint. A pork rib joint. It was seriously non-halal. Don't believe me? Just look at the menu.

What did I tell you?

Then we headed to the finest wine tasting at KL. It's in a Chinese owned shop just off Bukit Bintang. I've been here twice and I actually don't remember the name. But they have at least 25 bottles of wine to try and you do the pouring yourself. (hence the reason I can't remember the shop's name).

I've made quite a splash here because I was able to identify a savignon blanc blindfolded. If only someone had a Rubik's cube I could really knock their socks off.

At any rate, the owner is very friendly and the prices are very reasonable. Next time you are in KL, I definitely recommend you buy a bottle of wine at this shop. It's across the street from McDonald's. You can't miss it.

Oh yeah. And after I ate my ribs and drank my wine I bought this magazine.

I'm sorry. How can you not love that face?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Girlz Night!

Oh Yeah! Mr. Happy is still traveling so I invited some girls around for a night of food, drinks, and flicks!

We kicked things off with some light bites. A LOT of them.

Outdoor Girl helped me out in the kitchen chopping fresh strawberries and cucumbers for the Pimms.

The main course was my famous Chicken Ole! It's chicken baked in my homemade mango salsa. No one asked for seconds of Chicken Ole! I guess they ate too many starters. Unfortunately, one of my guests couldn't eat the Chicken Ole! because she is allergic to green peppers. That meant she also couldn't eat the accompanying Salad with Green Peppers or the Quinoa-Mango-Green pepper dish. Have you ever heard of such an allergy?

Luckily she could fill up on our dessert - fruit salad and tiramisu sans green peppers. These disappeared so fast I didn't have a chance to take a photo. Maybe my guests were just saving room and that's why they didn't finish off the Chicken Ole!

Unfortunately, all this eating really ate into our movie watching time. We screened the Hollywood blockbuster Bridesmaids, which is terrific. But two people had to leave in the middle and Outdoor Girl fell asleep.

Live and learn. My next girls night will probably be just perfecto!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

je suis en train de manger

That's right. I'm eating, the French way, right here in KL.

While Mr. Happy attended to biz-ness outta town, I said au revoir and went to dinner with friends at Natalie's Gourmet Studio. I'd heard about this place for a year or so and was anxious to try it. Natalie is only open for dinner twice a month so reservations get booked up fast. The menu changes each month so regulars get some variety.  Here were the eats we enjoyed.

First course:
king prawn ravioli, cardamom flavors, melted & crispy leeks

marinated duck liver in Asian flavors, green lentils and herb salad. This is what I wish I ordered!

salmon mille-feuille, sea shell and tomato dressing - this is what i did order. sorry to say, a little bland.

Main course:

Veal cheek blanquette, braised portobello and sweetbreads in tempura, carrot mille-feuille. This is what I wanted, but I'm afraid of sweet breads. I love sweets and I adore bread, but put the two of them together and you get some sadistic chef's cruel idea of a joke.

Scallops three ways: truffle, carapccio, roasted with artichoke puree.

Poule au Pot with Foie Gras. Once again - my choice, and it was a bad choice. It doesn't look exciting. It didn't taste exciting.

The desserts: 

I did order this choco-decadence. Finally a winner! 

 The macaroons were tres magnifique!

Between courses:
take one -

take two

third time is a charm...

Most of Natalie's ingredients are imported from France.

I've heard naysayers complain that the dishes here are "all foam" but I thought the portions were a nice size.

Unfortunately, I think I was here on an off month. My first course and main could have used a little more - flavor. The dessert was delicious. But my friends who are regulars thought the night of our visit the food wasn't up to its usual standard. It was good - but not great.

I also wasn't a big fan of the high chairs and tables in a fine dining establishment. I wasn't wowed, but I would give it another shot!

By the way, the boy in the photo is Broken Arm - the one I told you got hurt mountain biking in my last post. He better watch out for that butter knife!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Two Wheels

I am a champion!

...or at least a participant.

The past couple of months I've been cruising around town on two wheels. While Mr. Happy enjoys road biking, I've been entering the jungle for some pretty intense mountain biking sessions.

On my first ride, I was pretty surprised. We literally turned off the road and rode into the jungle. It seemed like a mistake. I guess I was expecting a safer proper dirt road. And while some of these paths are crowded with tree roots, some puddles and others rocks, the one thing they do share is they all seem to go straight up.

But while going up is excruciating, going down is terrifying. I enjoy the straight aways, but these seem few and far between.

My favorite place to ride is FRIM - the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia. Why? Well, one reason is the ground is softer. This makes falling less likely to send me to the hospital.

Here we are in Putrajaya. Here the ground is hard and rocky and one of my friends did end up going to the hospital after a fall.

My general partner on these rides - Outdoor Girl -  was with said victim.

She diagnosed him as just being scared. Unfortunately, the licensed doctor who examined him disagreed and immediately sent him into surgery. By the way, while she may be lacking in diagnostic skills, she does have mad skills when it comes to hooking up that bike rack. It takes her approximately 3 minutes (I timed it!) It's all the more amazing to me because on the family vacations of my childhood it would take my father just under a week to attach the bike rack to the car and - more than once - those bikes would manage to escape before we reached our destination.

So, mountain biking is not for the light of heart. Fortunately there's nothing light about me - heart or otherwise. And the best part?

Being able to enjoy a late breakfast after burning 3000 calories!

All this mountain biking got me in shape for my first road race! OCBC Bank sponsored a ride through KL and a group of us signed up.


Outdoor Girl and I met early in the morning and peddled over to Merdeka Square together.

Luckily it was a Sunday and traffic was light on the highway. I'm well more frightened of hitting a car (or vice versa!) than hitting the ground.

Particularly since I'm apparently incapable of putting my helmet on straight

We met up with our group and got ready...

Got set...

and we were off! pics of us actually riding. I was too preoccupied!

It was a 20K course and so peaceful to ride through the city without traffic to worry about. Unfortunately, the organizers opened the course after our first lap to cars, taxis and motorbikes. And those drivers were mad! They'd been stuck in traffic for ages because of the race. I felt like a target. Luckily, I was able to dodge them and finish - not victorious, but alive - and with my friends.