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Flavors of Chile

December 2, 2011 12 Comments

Chile is the longest north-south country in the world, stretching over 4,630 kilometres “top” to “bottom”, but only as wide as 430 kilometers at the thickest region east-west. Situated on the west side of Andes and right next to Pacific ocean as well as the presence of Atacama dessert allows Chile to have a remarkably wide range of climates and thus, a huge selection of agricultural resources as well.

According to my colleague who is from Peru, a neighboring country to Chile, it is also a prosperous and stable country, something that can’t be said for many South American nations. If not for the usually prohibitive airfare, I am sure it would be a fantastic place to visit, perhaps some day…

Flavors of Chile
Kiwi fruit isn’t just from Australia and New Zealand

In the mean time, we got to attend the “Flavor of Chile” event held by the Embassy of Chile in Malaysia. It was a treat of gastronomical adventure at Westin Hotel, KL. This was actually a two day event that gives Malaysian businessmen a chance to discover Chile’s wide variety of high quality products, according to ProChile director Felix De Vicente.

South American food is something of a mystery to me, prior to this dinner, if you ask me anything food related from the region, I’d probably just say Argentinian steak (from Gaucho Grill), Chilean wine, and Chilean sea bass.

and it was a grand party, with my favorite people too
with some of my favorite people – fatboybakes, cumidanciki, haze

During the course of the event, I got to know more than I bargained.

There were video presentation in between every dish, with quality of production that makes most travel programmes look amateur. The clips introduces different places in Chile and what it has to offer, as well as plenty of airtime with Chef Carlo von Mühlenbrock – a guy who looked more like a rockstar than a chef – explaining how the ingredient is grown/catch and his method of preparation.

And then the very dish is served. Brilliant.

Quinoa Timbale with avocado and Chilean King Crab
Quinoa Timbale with avocado and Chilean King Crab

The first starter was Quinao Timbale with avocado and Chilean King Crab, paired with Sauvignon Blanc. This was the first time I had quinoa, a grain that is high in protein balance set of amino acids, and it was delicious. It has a crunchy texture, a bit sourish, and undoubtedly perfect with a couple slices of king crab and the wine.

Pablo Neruda's Conger Eel Chowder
Pablo Neruda’s Conger Eel Chowder

Next was Pablo Neruda’s Conger Eel Chowder. Eel? Chowder? This was not something that was expected, but perhaps it had something to do with our familiarity with unagi – a very narrow view of eel.

This eel was more like a cross between scallop & sea bass, subtle yet delicious, with the broth and other seafood in the bowl, it was a wholesome chowder for sure. We had Chilean Chardonnay to wash it down, which was of course, lovely.

Smoked Salmon and Mussels with Coriander Spiced Barley
Smoked Salmon and Mussels with Coriander Spiced Barley

The main dish was Smoked Salmon and Mussels with Coriander Spiced Barley. A generous slab of smoked salmon sitting on bed of barley, accompanied by a couple mussels.

This was another good dish, but the texture of barley that doesn’t come in a dessert or drink was a little too foreign for me. The dish was served with Vina Cono Sur Pinot Noir.

Southern Chile berries sorbet with fresh fruits, and the wine
Southern Chile berries sorbet with fresh fruits, and the wine

The dessert was Southern Chile berries sorbet with fresh fruits. A sweet ending to the wonderful dinner. Due to my allergy to kiwi, this was the only dish I did not completely finish. The sorbet, made from pureed Chilean berries, were excellent.

The dessert wine Late Harvest, however, were a tad too sweet for my liking. It would probably be great if served at almost freezing temperature at a smaller dosage, but alas, this was an event with hundreds of peopld, one can’t be asking too much.

Chilean Chef Carlo von Mühlenbrock & Haze
Chilean Chef Carlo von Mühlenbrock & Haze

It was a lovely night punctuated by a visit of the famous chef to our table and did a autograph on Haze’s drawing of his dishes. The drawing later appeared on a Chilean newspaper too. 😀

So now, when will I be able to go there.

A few weeks ago I was invited by Ollie to a mooncake sampling session at Li Yen, Ritz Carlton. The trouble about having a review session over lunch, and one that is set up more than a week in advance is that… there is a risk that I forget about them.

I was happily walking out of the office heading to lunch when my phone beep and I was reminded about the event on the day. I quickly made my way to Ritz Carlton, and of course did not have my SLR or my trusted Canon S90 with.

So you will have to be content with these photos taken with my phone under poorly lit condition.

Li Yen at Ritz Carlton
Li Yen at Ritz Carlton, Jon & Cheng Yi

Our primary goal was to have a taste test on several types of mini mooncakes on offering here. I do like my mooncakes, and for me, a lunch consisting of pure mooncake actually sounded rather lovely. Furthermore, the session is conducted at Li Yen, a pretty posh Chinese restaurant of which I’ve tasted the food, but haven’t yet stepped foot in as yet at the time.

the glorious mini mooncakes from Ritz Carlton
the glorious mini mooncakes from Ritz Carlton

We were served four types of mini mooncakes, two of which were new flavors introduced this year – the green tea with custard and salted egg in snow skin, and wasabi with lotus paste.

The wasabi mooncake is very subtle, you really need to let it swirl a little the mouth before getting the wasabi taste, I do like it. On the other hand, I like the salted egg in the green tea flavored mooncake, but not too big a fan on the custard bit, tends to be slightly too jelak I think, but not something a sip of hot tea can’t fix.

Then there’s the interesting Moët & Chandon Champagne with snow skin that has the most exquisite taste of any mooncake I’ve ever tasted. It’s like eating normal chocolates, and then having those with liquor inside, it’s definitely a different experience, and one that I received positively.

Lastly, the pink Rosé mooncake in snow skin too offers the experience as the name suggest, a hint of the flavor of rose that is unique to your typical mooncake tastes.

dimsum for lunch
dimsum for lunch – spring roll, har kau, siu mai

As I stuffed my stomach at least 70% full of mooncakes, they brought in dimsum and some other dishes as a supplement for lunch, and how could I deny?

The spring rolls and prawn rolls gave a welcoming change of taste from those sweet mooncakes, then the har kau and siu mai were as good as any out there. Li Yen is a non-halal outlet, and thus these dimsum were made with the ingredients as dimsum should.

pork buns, seafood noodle, custard buns
pork buns, seafood noodle, custard buns

The pork buns and custard buns at Li Yen were really, really, awesome! At this point I was already over-full and still I couldn’t stopped myself from stuffing another serving of each of them.

As I was going to surrender, the seafood noodle arrived… I noms down all the seafood, and left the noodle pretty much intact. It was a good session, and I am going to get more mooncakes before the end of the season, yes!

The mid autumn festival falls on the 12th of September, get your mooncakes before the date, you still have a week. 😀

Read about Jon and Cheng Yi’s reviews too, and thank you Ollie for the invite.

 

Ritz Carlton, KL

Address:
Li Yen @ Ritz-Carlton Hotel
168 Jalan Imbi,
55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.146960, 101.715406
Tel03-2141 8000

Last weekend Le Meridien threw a small party for a few lucky bloggers. The email invitation I got a few weeks prior to the event called it “A Night of Discovery” with no other details. As it turned out, it was a grand tour/food crawl at the various fine restaurants within the hotel, with surprises along the way.

Conservatory Bar at Le Meridien KL
canopes at Conservatory Bar, Le Meridien KL

The evening started out at Conservatory Bar, the lounge at the main entrance of the hotel. A glass of wine in hand and ample of canopes for us to get the stomach ready for what’s next.

We had pan seared cremolate tuna sashimi with sesame wakame salad, diced feta cheese, ratatouille and pine nuts in mini pita bread (pic), martini of tomato salsa, mozzarella mousse and pesto (pic), and even chicken tandoori and minted raita on chili focaccia bread. I had to start pacing myself to not over eat.

Favola at Le Meridien KL
Favola at Le Meridien

We then took the elevator and moved up to Favola, Le Meridien’s Italian dining outfit. More food awaits us as chef Antoine started to explain the seafood centric food laid before our eyes, for examp;e, the fabulous spicy calamari with olive oil & citrus (pic.)

chef Antoine at Favola, showing us the various tomatos
chef Antoine at Favola, showing us the various tomatos

The good chef then shows us the various ingredients important to Italian cuisine that are used here at Favola, including almost half a dozen types of fresh tomato, and the imported as well as one local mozzarella from Langkawi (Malaysia boleh!) that passed his personal quality tests. I can have those cheese as snack all day if you ask me.

Antipasti Duo at Favola
Antipasti Duo at Favola

Our main dishes (or what we thought as main dishes for the night) at Favola were two antipasti.

Smoked salmon with cold cucumber and macadamia puree, grilled peaches, buffalo mozzarella, Pecorino rocket and Radicchio salad. I love the contrast between the salad and the salmon, and I can really use more of that buffalo mozzarella at home, It was so good!

foie gras on wild mushroom risotto, haze
foie gras on wild mushroom risotto, haze

Then there’s the pan seared foie gras on wild mushroom risotto in clear beef broth that was so delightful. This was highly anticipated when chef Antoine told us about it, and the dish did not disappoint at all.

The other part of this antipasta was the chicken meatball in green olive tapenade, onion and roasted bell pepper, that was very good too.

after Favola, we make our way to Prime
after Favola, we make our way to Prime

At this point in time, with some really good determination to not over eat, my stomach stood at maybe 70% full. Then we collectively moved to Prime, my favorite steak house in town.

the beef served at Prime, that's a grade 12 wagyu on my hands
the beef served at Prime, that’s a grade 12 wagyu on my hands

A surprise awaits us at Prime as we stepped into the private room. Slabs of Blackmore Wagyu beef from grade 6 to 12 as well as grain fed Austraian Angus beef were on display as chef Antoine again explained the ingredients used at Prime to us.

The number of days a vacuum packed beef could be kept refrigerated is tightly regulated here to ensure maximum quality that goes into every serving.

it's like choosing between fish & bear palm (chinese proverbs, learn!)
it’s like choosing between fish & bear palm (chinese proverbs, learn!)

Look at the two slabs of Blackmore Wagyu marble grade 6 and 12. These are some of the best beef you can get, the grade 12 Wagyu on the right consists of some 60% fat, not for the faint hearted, but that was exactly what we’re going to have at Prime! Yes, I’m a very lucky man.

blackmore wagyu marble 9, with truffle sauce
Blackmore Wagyu marble 9, with truffle sauce

Undoubtedly, the high light for the night were the steak. The charcoal grilled Blackmore Wagyu chuck flap tail marble 9, with roma tomato confit, brocolini and braised intercoastal on mascarpone polenta. It was absolute heaven, especially with some truffle sauce to go with the red meat.

teppanyaki ice cream, ciki
teppanyaki ice cream, ciki

Dinner wouldn’t be complete without desserts, and for that we were guided to the final destination of the evening – Latest Recipe.

Teppanyaki ice cream is a must have here, and the Belgium waffle personally prepared by chef Antoine was fantastic.

desserts at latest recipe, and macaroons
desserts at latest recipe, and macaroons macarons

We were also served a dessert platter with honey dew sago shot, carrot cake, lychee tart, vanilla creme brulee, agar agar, and my personal favorite – chocolate mousse with citrus jelly. It sounded like an unlikely combination, chocolate & citrus jelly, but the contrast was perfect, I finished it despite the stomach complaining at 150% capacity filled.

fatboybakes, ciki, a lil fat monkey, Damian of Le Meridien
fatboybakes, ciki, a lil fat monkey, Damian of Le Meridien

This was easily one of the best events I’ve attended, the people at Le Meridien were fantastic hosts and have everything prepared meticulously. A big thank you to Damian, Sashi, Harvey, Fauzy, and of course, chef Antoine for the great evening.

map to Le Meridien at KL Sentral

Address:
Le Meridien
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7888

I can’t really claim that Kepong is one of my favorite places when it comes to food, getting there during rush hour can be quite a PITA, on top of that, I don’t exactly know many good eats around the area other than Kaka bak kut teh (they have pork kidney!), the original KTZ, and several other restaurants I don’t usually frequent unless I happen to be there.

To be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that the invitation to Sliver Spoon Trattoria was from the owner Jessica, a long time friend, I would have probably skipped this food review session already. As it turned out, I was more than glad we made the session.

Silver Spoon Trattoria
Silver Spoon Trattoria

Located at a pretty unassuming part of Kepong, Silver Spoon is sitting on the first floor of Wisma Manjarala. The decoration an ambiance of the restaurant rivals many 5 star hotel eateries, and yet a look at the menu pricing shows that the place actually live up to it’s name “Trattoria” – casual, affordable, and a hell lot less up tight than those so called haute cuisine establishments.

We were seated at the private room with a bunch of other usual suspects – fatboybakes, nomadgourmand, Gareth, Kim, Terence, Horng, and Haze. Our host was Jessica, someone I’ve actually known for some 8-10 years. According to Terence, she’s grown up rather well.

feta & olive foccacia, mozarella sticks & smoked salmon rice ball, stuffed portobello mushroom
feta & olive foccacia, mozarella sticks & smoked salmon rice ball,
stuffed portobello mushroom

We got started with some feta and olive foccacia, the dough served here is home made and they really tasted subtle but good. I also love the mozarella sticks with it’s really hearty cheese in almost liquid form, the salmon rice ball was alright too, but I couldn’t really taste much salmon in there.

If I had to choose one appetizer, I’d probably go for the stuffed portobello mushroom. Sitting between a bed of salad and minced meat, the mushroom was really really yummy, I had two pieces despite eating on a budget due to the number of dishes to come.

wine, silver spoon special mock tail
wine, silver spoon special mock tail

For those who are familiar with Kepong, you might remember that there was a place called Chef Ken in the 90s. It was a place famous for really cheap but awesome Italian food. Well, Silver Spoon got Chef Ken himself back to run this place.

According to the “old timers” like Fatboybakes who used to frequent Chef Ken, this place retains every bit the originality of his foods, down to the famous tiramisu (about that later)

wild mushroom risotto, prawn & avocado stack, smoked salmon pizza
wild mushroom risotto, prawn & avocado stack, smoked salmon pizza

The other appetizer we had was the prawn and avocado stack. Grilled fresh local prawn served on a bed of avocado with other salad and probably some balsamic vinegar. Though the prawn itself lacked strong flavor, overall combination turned out quite well.

Wild mushroom risotto was prepared to cater a bit towards the local taste (meaning slightly more cooked than the “real” Italian style), I love it! The smoked salmon pizza too was pretty good, but I’d love to have a lot more salmon to go with the crispy crust (from freshly made to order dough). Then again, it’s hard to argue when the pizza is priced at less than RM 30.

duck confit, grilled baby snapper, seafood marinara
duck confit, grilled baby snapper, seafood marinara

The 3rd main dish we tried was the delightful duck confit. Instead of just the drum stick, this one came with the whole 1/4 duck. I loved the taste, and made some sneaky moves to acquire quite a bit of duck skin. *slurps*

Grilled baby snapper was one of those dishes that doesn’t really seem to fit in. I’ve never seen whole fish served in such setting, with potato and beans on one side, and a slice of lemon on another. It did, however, turned out to be quite tasty, just not particularly very “italian” to me.

Lastly, there’s seafood marinara. The pasta came with generous amount of mussels, clams, prawns, squid and fish chunks on a tomato based sauce. I only had a couple bites and found that the taste was quite agreeable indeed.

chocolate pot, creme brulee, tiramisu
chocolate pot, creme brulee, tiramisu

Then there’s the desserts. We had chocolate pot, creme bruelee, and tiramisu. I find the chocolate pot a tad too rich (but goes well with wine though), the creme brulee satisfying, and the tiramisu a must order if you like your dessert to be rather alcoholic, it was niceeee!

Of course, we finished everything.

Rebecca & bf, Kim & Gareth, Terence & Horng, KY & Haze, Jessica, Joe & partner & Cheng Yi
Rebecca & bf, Kim & Gareth, Terence & Horng,
KY & Haze, Jessica, Joe & partner & Cheng Yi

We had loads of fun time at Silver Spoon, the food was great, drinks aplenty (Jessica’s dad even brought out the Royal Salute), and above all, the company was excellent.

I’m definitely going there again. The pricing was definitely very reasonable, lamb shank for RM 38, marinara for RM 29, desserts at around RM 15 or so, soup at RM 12. Great food, reasonable pricing, and awesome ambiance. What more could one ask for? Open a branch next to my house la Jessica!

silver spoon trattoria map

Address:
Silver Spoon Trattoria,
1st Floor, Wisma Manjalara,
Bandar Menjalara,
52200, Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.195364, 101.632456
Tel: 03-6277 0445