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Favola at Le Meridien KL is pretty synonymous with fine Italian dining, but what’s little known is the fact that they do serve dishes that are not pizza, pasta, or risotto. On the latest visit to one of our favourite Italian restaurants, we tried their beef and lobster instead.

We were told by our hosts to pick our main dishes and soup, while appetizers will be taken care of. I found out that I certainly wasn’t the only person who always over order.

bread to start, creamy mozzarella w beef bacon, buffalo mozzarella cheese
bread to start, creamy mozzarella w beef bacon, buffalo mozzarella cheese

As usual, we were served with some lovely breads to much on while pondering what to pick for dinner. I had to constantly remind myself not to have too much of these whenever I’m at Favola, they were yummy with just a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Soft creamy mozzarella, shaved truffle, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts and beef bacon was the description for Burratina (RM 40) was refreshing, and the crispy beef bacon gave the dish an added dimension.

For cheese lovers, you’ll love Caprese (RM 35), how does marinated trio of tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and balsamic emulsion sounds like? It tasted as good as it sounds, I can use some buffalo mozzarella cheese right now, not overly cheesy, yet soft and creamy. A small pack can be had at Jaya Grocer for about RM 30.

deep fried breaded mozzarella cheese, grilled jumbo asparagus with poached egg, mushroom soup
deep fried breaded mozzarella, grilled jumbo asparagus w poached egg, mushroom soup

Fritti Mozzarella  (RM 40) has a different take in mozzarella preparation, two generous slabs of buffalo mozzarellas breaded and deep-fried, then served with sautéed mushroom and avocado purée. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, the skill of the chef is exhibited here by not over cooking the cheese, while still giving the skin that crispy texture.

The most beautiful appetizer of the day was Asparagi alla Griglia (RM 45). Grilled giant asparagus, poached egg, crispy bresaola, brown butter and parmigiano.  This was both beautiful and delicious.

cream of clams, sausage, vegetable in golden pastry; lobster dumpling in clear broth with spinach
cream of clams, sausage, vege in golden pastry; lobster dumpling in clear broth w spinach

For soup, I picked Brodo di Spinaci (RM 35), clear chicken broth with fresh spinach, with lobster dumpling and grated Parmesan. The soup was light, but I felt that the dumpling did not have enough lobster flavour to it. This was the least filling soup I think, a good thing in this case.

Haze had Zuppa di Vongola(RM 40). You could call it an Italian clam chowder, officially it’s cream of clams, Italian sausage, vegetable sofrito and green peas in golden pastries, and you gotta have a big stomach for this. The broth is creamy and quite filling, and tasted pretty good, the only minor qualm was that we wish  they’d be more clams.

Zuppa di Fungi Calabrese(RM 35), or assorted mushrooms cooked in milk with garlic rustic bread and Swiss cheese, is always a favourite among diners at Favola. The mushroom soup is one of the best I’ve ever tried, rich but not overly creamy, and absolutely fantastic.

black angus ribeye and grilled angus t-bone steak
black angus ribeye and grilled angus t-bone steak

OK, now we finally get to the main dishes.

There were two beef dishes on the menu and we tried both of them. Haze and I ordered the grilled Angus T-bone steak (RM 150) with Caesar salad and smoky pimiento butter, while Josen asked for the black Angus ribeye Fiorentina (RM 135) with grilled lemon halves and balsamic vinegar.

The beef were very good, I had mine medium rare, and Haze asked for hers to be served “blue” – which was rarer than rare. While these weren’t quite the standard of Prime (nor the same type of beef), they held their own very well and did not disappoint at all. At this price point, the beef were quite a bit cheaper as well.

ciki and her full baked boston lobster
ciki and her full baked boston lobster

While we enjoyed our beef, ciki went the other direction and picked the baked Boston lobster (RM 230 full, RM 120 half) that came with spice tomatoes and lemon chermoula with buffalo mozzarella. She was kind enough to share the seafood with us and I’m happy to report that it was indeed excellent.

You can have Maine lobsters for a tad cheaper at Lobsterman, SS2, but of course there won’t be buffalo mozzarella, attentive servers, or ambiance anywhere near the standard of Favola.

risotto with pan seared sea scallops, home made pasta
risotto with pan seared sea scallops, home made pasta with prawns, chili, garlic, parsley

For those who favours traditional Italian food, Risotto con Cappesante (RM 65) comes with pan-fried sea scallops on leeks, lemon zest, chili and basil; or you could perhaps choose pasta in the form of Gamberetti ai Pinoli (RM 45) with prawns, chili, garlic, parsley, pine nuts and mushroom in extra virgin olive oil. In either case, I’m quite sure you won’t leave in disappointment.

The menu with price can be found at http://discoverlemeridien.com/menus/

Thank you Janice & Damian for the invitation.

Address:
Favola
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7753

Favola

First, a little snippet from wiki about Napa Valley:

In 1965, Napa Valley icon Robert Mondavi broke away from his family’s Charles Krug estate to found his own. This was the first new large scale winery to be established in the valley since before prohibition. Following the establishment of the Mondavi estate, the number of wineries in the valley continued to grow, as did the region’s reputation.

Travis Brown, Regional Director for Asia for Robert Mondavi wines
Travis Brown, Regional Director for Asia for Robert Mondavi wines

In addition, Robert Mondavi Winery also perfected the dry oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc and labeled it as “Fumé Blanc” in 1966. This was an unpopular variety in California at the time, but the wine proved to be a success.

In time, Robert Mondavi successfully developed a number of premium wines that earned the respect of connoisseurs and vintners alike.

tomato, cheese, bread, calamari, simple yet utterly delicious
tomato, cheese, bread, calamari, simple yet utterly delicious

A few weeks ago, we were invited to the winemaker’s dinner at Favola, Le Meridien KL.

Classy Italian food prepared by one of my favorite chefs – Chef Antoine, and pairing them with some fine wines from Robert Mondavi, what is there not to like?

Fumé Blanc, Robert Mondavi's version of Sauvignon Blanc
Fumé Blanc, Robert Mondavi’s version of Sauvignon Blanc

We sampled Chardonnay sourced from the cool growing regions of the southern Napa Valley with its rich and complex taste; Pinot Noir, a bright and vivacious wine; the full body Merlot; the soft and silky Cabernet Sauvignon; and of course, the Fumé Blanc.

the good chefs at Le Meridien KL, and David Stephen
David Stephen and the good chefs at Le Meridien KL

As for food, there were the usual arrays of excellent pasta, tomato, cheese, pizza, bread, risotto, and of course, the best freshly made Belgium waffle ever.

Though my knowledge in wine is still amateur at best, I did learn a few things after this event, and would at least know which wine to choose from without being disappointed. :D

map to Le Meridien

Address:
Favola
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7888

Olympus E-PL3

Last month it was the Vietnamese cooking demo and Vietnamese promotion at Latest Recipe, Le Meridien. Now the very same hotel runs the Taste of Italy” culinary event featuring guest Chef Fabrizio from Westin Bejing Financial Street.

Together with a bunch of bloggers & members of media, we were treated to a cooking demonstration by the good chef, and here’s one of his recipe.

Now even I think I can properly cook a meal with lobster that will do the shell fish justice. Here’s the recipe.

glorious Maine lobster in frying pan with olive oil, herbs & cherry tomato
glorious Maine lobster in frying pan with olive oil, herbs & cherry tomato

Ingredients:

  • 320 g spaghetti
  • 100 g olive oil
  • 300 g cherry tomato (halved)
  • 30 g garlic (chopped)
  • 4 pcs maine lobster
  • 100 g butter
  • salt & pepper to taste

For the pesto

  • 25 g basil
  • 25 g marjoram
  • 25 g parsley
  • 75 g olive oil

here's the spaghetti with lobster
here’s the spaghetti with lobster

The preparation method is pretty straight forward, and let me just copy verbatim from Chef Fabrizio’s text.

Roast garlic in large pan with olive oil. Add lobster, cherry tomato and cook with some water, add seasoning. Boil pasta in a large pot with salted water until the favorite cooking. Blend herbs with the olive oil for pesto. Take“` lobster out of the sauce, clean the tongs and half the tail. Arrange halved tail in a plate. Strain spaghetti and add sauce with herb pesto and butter. Arrange spaghetti beside the lobster, add lobster meat. Decorate with some herb leaves and serve.

fresh spring herb pesto
fresh spring herb pesto, prepared with a blender

It’s pretty simple isn’t it?

Chef Fabrizio has a bit of flair and the lack of “seriousness” when it comes to preparation of his dishes. As he proudly said “I am not a pastry chef”, and cooking should involves a sense of flexibility and creativity. I like this style.

In fact, in a short span of 1 hour or so, the good chef prepared three dishes right in front of us, including the eggplant millefeuille recipe shared by Kim.

and we were served a very good buffet spread too
and we were served a very good buffet spread too, Chef Fabrizio & Chef Antoine

To get a taste of Chef Fabrizio’s creations, you can head to Favola at Le Meridien KL from June 4 to June 12, 2011. Ala carte goes for RM 25++ to RM 130++. Don’t miss out especially if you’re a fan of authentic Italian cuisine.

KY with Chef Fabrizio, Jon & Ciki, Cindy & Kim & Haze, Kim & Gareth
KY with Chef Fabrizio, Jon & Ciki, Cindy & Kim & Haze, Kim & Gareth

We were also fed an awesome spread of Italian dishes after the event (and after we sampled all three dishes prepared by Chef Fabrizio). There were cold cuts, clams, pizza, bruschetta, smoked salmon, salad, and more. It was a fantastic and certainly gastronomically satisfied session.

map to Le Meridien

Address:
Favola
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7888

 

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

Early last month boo of masak-masak called me up for a year end dinner with a few other food bloggers at Favola. As it turned out, it was a food review session at the new Italian outlet of Le Meridien KL. Thank goodness I had my newly acquired S90 handy with me.


the capable chef Antoine at Favola

The restaurant has a very cheerful mood with its spacious tables, comfortable chairs, and light music further compounded by a very jolly chef Antoine who loves to mingle with diners. Meena, Ciki, and Fatboybakes were among the bloggers who were there.

Like most proper Italian restaurants, we started off with some lovely breads. Other than the standard olive oil with balsamic vinegar, there were guacamole and the very flavorful potato truffle dips. I had to stop myself from eating more of these to save some stomach space, but if you’re on a shoe string budget…


cold (freddo) antipasti, bread with potato truffle dip, and crispy pizza dough

There’s a pretty good selection of antipasti available at Fivola. We had the sampler of five antipasti (RM 35) which had the following:

  • octopus – with garlic and chili flakes
  • caprese – buffalo mozzarella, tomato, basil, anchovies, garlic confit and oregano
  • bresaola – shaved dried beef with rocket salad, figs, lemon and olive oil
  • bruschetta – cured salmon, portobello mushrooms
  • seafood salad – garlic, chili-olive oil, lemon juice and italian parsley

Of course, the descriptions and names were copied from the menu as there was no way I could remember all of them. I particularly like the beef as well as the octopus, they were tasty and had a nice texture to it too. This was sorta parellel to the old Chinese cold dish, I think.


warm (caldo) antipasti, Conchiglioni Marinara al Cartoccio

Warm antipasti came next, and we had these little curry puff look alike items that were made with pizza dough calledpanzerotti. They were filled with marinated mushroom, mozzarella and grilled bell pepper and makes perfect beer snacks.

We also had cod fritters, but my favorite has got to be the sardines. Unlike the canned version we’re familiar with, the sardine’s sauteed with onions, raisins, pine nuts, and bell pepper to a crispy texture. They were absolutely delicious.

For pasta, we had the conchiglioni marinara al cartoccio (RM 40), in laymen’s term – shell shaped pasta with seafood, extra virgin olive oil, herbs, and tomato sauce. I’m not a huge fan of conchiglioni, but this tasted pretty good.


lobster risotto, roasted lamb shoulder, wagyu beef lasagna, veal osso bucco

They were quite a few main dishes to share among us. For a taste of luxury, we had the risotto con argosta (lobster risotto, RM 45) and lasagna al forno (wagyu cheek lasagna, RM 40) and both dishes didn’t disappoint the ingredients used. The lasagna was especially the yums, Garfield would have approved.

The two veal dishes – veal escalope (one pan seared, one coated with bread crumbs, RM 60) and veal osso bucco (RM 70). They were decent, but to be frank I’m not a huge fan of veal and would probably opt for something else (the lasagna for example) if I had to choose. I prefer the pan seared veal and could give a pass to the bread crumb preparation method though.


veal osso bucco, scallop with cauliflower, mussels with chicken, veal escalope “due modi”

Another two antipasti dishes we had (in full serving instead of sampler) were roasted scallops (RM 20) and fresh mussels (RM 20). The scallops came on a bed of cauliflower and truffles and were absolutely delightful. The mussels had minced chicken stuffing, garlic and tomato sauce. I am quite sure suan would have loved to have this, they were quire good too.

The roasted lamb shoulder (RM 50) was the other meat dish we had. I remember it to be quite rich but couldn’t really recall much otherwise. I think my stomach was already over stuffed at this point.


panna cotta, fruitti di miso, illy coffee inspired tiramisu

Then of course, there were desserts. Illy coffee inspired tiramisu (RM 20) was nice, and the fruitti di miso (ricotta cream and mixed red berries RM 20) gives a jolt to the senses after the heavy meal. However, the panna cotta (RM 20) had to be the recommended choice – almond custard cream, minestrone of fruit sugar veil and orange wafer might not mean anything to me, but it was very delightful. The contrasting tastes of custard with the berries and sugar was just perfect.


Meena, KY, and ciki; potent Grappa

To finish off the dinner, we ordered some grappa, basically grape based pomace brandy (or distilled wine) with alcohol content as high as 60%. These drinks cost anything from RM 20 (Grappa Limonico) to RM 50 (Alexandar Red Rose Grappa). The red rose grappa was quite good, but I can’t say I’d be able to justify the price for it though.

The Grappa Platinum (RM 40) was especially nasty and left a grimace to anyone who’d tasted it. Perhaps it was an acquired taste, I don’t know, and probably wouldn’t ever order this particular type of drinks anytime soon.

By the time we wrapped up, it was already 11pm. I think I still felt full when I woke up the next morning. It was definitely a nice session and Fivola would make a pretty good place if you’re looking for some authentic Italian food. The ambiance is good, the food did not disappoint, and the price is fair too.

Address:
Favola
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7753