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Tag / haze

Le Midi is a name that I’ve came across for quite sometime, and it was a privilege to finally be invited for a food tasting session in conjunction with the arrival of Chef Andrea Alimenti, who has some 30 years of culinary experience since graduating from Aurelio Saffi Florence Hotel School in 1983.

Chef Andrea Alimenti is a multiple Michelin star chef, with his first coming at the tender age of 20, then at age 30 he left Florence to open his own restaurant with some partners (the renowned Aquamatta in Capolona) for 15 years… which also received a Michelin star. It is not common that we have the opportunity to sample creations from a chef with such pedigree, we felt very honored.

Le Midi at Bangsar Shopping Center, with live nautilus
Le Midi at Bangsar Shopping Center, with live nautilus

The restaurant is located on 3rd floor in the East wing of Bangsar Shopping Centre, the interior oozes a sense of mystic and class, with a couple nautilus in a round aquarium at the centre of the dining hall. This was actually the first time I witness these pelagic marine mollusks outside Aquaria, way cool.

Anyway, we’re here for the food, and you can’t order the nautilus.

eggplant nest with truffle egg yolk and parmesan cheese
eggplant nest with truffle egg yolk and parmesan cheese

Out first dish was eggplant nest with truffle egg yolk and parmesan cheese. A dish with deceptively simple base ingredient – poached egg and eggplant, manage wow us with it’s wonderful combination of texture and taste. The eggplant fried to a texture not unlike bacon, the egg poached perfectly, and shaved parmesan with truffle gives it that touch of complexity. I was impressed.

mozzarella ravioli in tomato consommé
mozzarella ravioli in tomato consommé

Next up was mozzarella ravioli in tomato consommé, a classic Italian dish with a well balanced taste of acidity from tomato consommé countering the stronger mozzarella cheese within the ravioli.

A glass of Secret de Berticot Sauvignon Blanc proved to be a worthy companion for the above two dishes.

homemade Tagliolini in saffron butter whiskey salmon cream and crunchy almonds
homemade Tagliolini in saffron butter whiskey salmon cream and crunchy almonds

Next we had homemade Tagliolini in saffron butter whiskey salmon cream and crunchy almonds. A type of pasta popular in Emilia-Romagna, a region in Italy.

While we love the soft smooth texture of the pasta, I thought the salmon cream was a little too mild, but nothing a dash of sea salt won’t help. We also had Secret Berticot Rosé to go along with the pasta. Though the Rosé was a decent pairing with pasta, we felt that the Savignon Blanc was actually suited for this occasion.

seabass with fine herb crust on spinach bed
seabass with fine herb crust on spinach bed

Next up - seabass with fine herb crust on spinach bed. Seabass, or barramundi, is quite a popular fish in local cuisine, but I’ve never had it prepare this way before. The crust gives it a crispy herbal taste while leaving the texture of the fish still tender and moist. The spinach did a fine job as a side kick, and we had more white wine to go with this.

It was already a rather good night at this point.

tenderloin in old Madeira sauce with foie gras and fig
tenderloin in old Madeira sauce with foie gras and fig

Then came my favorite dish of the night, tenderloin in old Madeira sauce with foie gras and fig.

When it comes to beef, I’m usually one who likes to have it as is. Be it ribeye, NY strip, tenderloin, of Black Angus, Wagyu, you name it. I like to have it medium rare with nothing on it.

On this occasion though, I was proven wrong. The Madeira sauce and fig really enhanced the taste of the already excellent beef. The foie gras, of course, managed to kick it up a notch. Give me this any day and I’ll be the happiest man.

Red meat deserves some red wine to go with, so we had a glass of Château Pouroutou red to go with (I believe it was merlot). Perfect.

dessert galore!
dessert galore!

As usual, by the time we were well full, dessert is served. Not one, but five creations from the good chef. I took a bite from all of them and wished that I had a bigger stomach to properly devour them. They are:

  • Millefoglie with Chantilly cream and caramel
  • Vanilla panacotta and strawberry coulis
  • Chocolate fondente and mini chocolate cup
  • Chocolate tender heart with Amarena cherry parfait
  • Orange cheesecake and chocolate drawing

KY, Haze, Mei & Josen, Melissa, Kelly, Chengyi, Chef Andrea Alimenti
KY, Haze, Mei & Josen, Melissa, Kelly, Chengyi, Chef Andrea Alimenti

It was a great dinner with even better company, thank you Melissa for being a generous and wonderful host. We will be back to Le Midi.

map to Bangsar Shopping Center

Address:
Le Midi Restaurant
3rd Floor, East Wing,
Bangsar Shopping Centre,

285 Jalan Maarof,
Bukit Bandaraya, 59000 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.142808,101.667448
Tel:  03-2094 1318

Disclaimer:
I am blogging on behalf of Visa’s Travel Happy campaign and receive compensation for my time, but the thoughts, words, and promotions on this page are mine, not Visa’s.

After our positive experience visiting Bali in 2011, I’ve always wanted to go back again. Hence when given the opportunity to head back to the island for a 3D2N tour, I was more than happy to plan a trip that maximises what we can do.

So instead of a normal vacation, we made it a road trip!

P/S: contest to win an Agoda travel voucher worth RM 1,000 at end of this post!

bali itinerary 2014

Our itinerary to Bali started on a flight on Friday morning and ended on Sunday night, a total of 3 days with 2 nights spent on the island.

Instead of taking a cab to the airport, we decided to drive. Parking fair at the KLIA long term parking came up to RM 130 or so, which is still a little bit cheaper than taking a cab.

we met Firdy at Denpasar Airport, totally by accident
we met Firdy at Denpasar Airport where I withdrew IDR with Visa

Soon as we touched down, I stopped by the ATM to withdraw some Indonesian Rupiah using my Visa debit card for places that doesn’t offer credit/debit card payments.

Denpasar airport does not have any car rental booths, so do plan ahead if you want to rent a car, otherwise it’s another hour’s wait for the car to arrive.

We rented a Toyota Avanza for our trip. I opted for self drive (armed with GPS brought from Malaysia), but you can get one with local driver too.

Check out some of the offers exclusive to Visa for car rental here. There is also a Mobile App you can download for iOS & Android devices that allows you to check the latest Visa offerings.

Additionally, there is the Global Customer Assistance Service available where you can get emergency card replacement in as little as within 24 hours.

when in Bali, one must have babi guling
when in Bali, one must have babi guling

Coincidentally, we met Firdy at the airport. While we traveled cashless, this guy went one step further and didn’t even bring any luggage! He ended up joining us for half our trip.

First order of business was lunch, and when in Bali, one must have Babi Guling!

To be honest, my previous experience of babi guling at the famous Ibu Oka was not exactly very positive, but this version at Sanur (around 30,000 IDR per person) completely changed my mind about this unique Balinese dish. It was very, very good, I’d definitely go there again on next Bali trip.

Address:
Babi Guling Sanur
Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai, Sanur (Opposite McDonald’s)
Bali

GPS: -8.682743, 115.259062

you can refuel at the gas station, of from these road side "premium" bottles
you can refuel at the gas station, of from these road side “premium” bottles

From Sanur, we got on the road and cut through the middle of the island on the way to Lovina. Roads in Bali are usually pretty tight, which makes for some challenging driving.

To refuel, there are gas stations, but there’re also road side stalls that offer gasoline (referred to as “premium” in Bali) by the bottles. No prize guessing which option accepts Visa.

Danau Beratan is at around 1200+ meters up, as high as Genting Highland
Danau Bratan is at around 1200+ meters up, as high as Genting Highland

By the evening, we reached Danau Bratan, one of the three lakes in Bratan caldera, which was a Volcano that was erupted hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

The lake is situated at around 1200+ meters high, making it as high as Genting Highland. It was windy and very chilly, but of course, the scenery was definitely worth a a shiver. I would love to stay a night here next time.

our dinner at Warung Ayu, Lovina, it was lovely
our dinner at Warung Ayu, Lovina, it was lovely

For dinner, we stopped by Warung Ayu by one of the beaches that is popular as a take off point for dolphin watching (which we planned to do).

This restaurant was a complete random choice, but one that turned out to be a rather awesome! We ordered traditional Balinese food and they turned out to be very, very good. I can have that grilled chicken over and over again, it was a new taste that I’ve never had before.

The server explained that it was grilled with soya sauce and Balinese sauce. I gotta try to make that some day.

Address:
Warung Ayu
Kalibukbuk Lovina, Jalan Mawar, Bali
GPS-8.159648, 115.026056
Tel: +62 82147555034

our first night was spent at The Lovina Bali, with a private garden
our first night was spent at The Lovina Bali, with a private garden

We spent the first night at The Lovina Bali hotel (about RM 380 including tax), it was a pretty lovely hotel with a King sized bed, a day bed, LCD TV with DVD player, and a small private garden too.

Access to the hotel is through a beautiful paddy field, and the rear of the hotel is the Lovina beach, with a pretty decent size swimming pool too.

dolphin watching started at 6am in the morning!
dolphin watching started at 6am in the morning!

The next morning we woke up rather early for the dolphin watch, one of the things I have always wanted to do. My first dolphin sighting was on a trip to Tenggol Island, and second being when we were at Maldives.

While there are places you can swim with dolphins in Bali, I wanted to see them in the wild instead of in a confined area.

For 60,000 IDR (RM 17) per person, the boat man took us on a boat way out to the middle of the ocean. It was a lot of waiting but the dolphins did come, they were somewhat cautiously curious and did not come too close to the boats. Still, it was a very exciting experience!

Bali Asli, a lovely restaurant at the East side of Bali
Bali Asli, a lovely restaurant at the East side of Bali

We hop on our car and continued the road trip after the dolphin sighting. A little over two hours and some 100 KM later, we arrived at Bali Asli in Gelumpang village.

The restaurant offers traditional Balinese cuisine with an excellent view to boot. Bali Asli also accepts Visa if you book online. We had a great meal and loved the experience. At 195,000 IDR (RM 55) per person, it was very reasonably priced too.

Address:
Bali Asli

Jalan Raya Gelumpang
Gelumpang village
Amlapura
Karangasem
GPS-8.426548, 115.607427
Tel+62 8289 7030098

Tirtaganga water palace, just a short drive from Bali Asli
Tirtaganga water palace, just a short drive from Bali Asli

If you are at Bali Asli, Tirtaganga water place is just a little over 3 kilometers away. The water palace is a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by lush garden and many stone carvings.

The water palace was built from 1948 onwards by the late heir to the Kingdom of Karangsem, definitely a place worth visiting. Entrance fee is 20,000 IDR.

Ubud, one of my favorite places in Bali
Ubud, one of my favorite places in Bali

We then continued our road trip, destination Ubud, one of my favorite places in Bali. The 60+ KM journey took us another two hours on the road.

We spent some time walking around the streets littered with many shops offering local arts, paintings, and more. Haze bought a wooden mask from a local artist too.

Dinner was at Melting Wok Warung. A restaurant that’s quite highly rated on TripAdvisor but one that we did not find agreeable to our taste. The food was perhaps catered more towards Western tourists with quasi Balinese + Western dishes. It wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t finish my minced chicken as I thought the chicken breast was too dry.

If you’re a mat salleh, you might love this place though, since the place was fully booked with plenty of Westerners dining in.

Address:
Melting Wok Warung
13 Jl. Gootama, Ubud, Bali
GPS-8.509321, 115.264251
Tel: +62 82 153666087

our private pool villa at Kajane, so I can skinny dip :D
our private pool villa at Kajane, so I can skinny dip :D

We decided to splurge a bit and checked into a villa with private pool at Kajane, one of the nicer hotels at the main stretch of Jalan Monkey Forest in Ubud.

The villa was huge, and comes with open air bath tub, a king size bed with entertainment system, an outdoor breakfast area with a day bed, and of course, the 8×2 meter private pool which allows one to skinny dip (don’t judge.)

Pro tip – sometimes online prices can be cheaper than walk in, so I actually paid for this villa (RM 740) via my phone with Visa while sitting at the lobby of the hotel.

Breakfast was served at our villa the next morning. My English breakfast was awesome, but it seems like Balinese are terrible at Japanese cuisine as Haze’s Japanese breakfast was rather terrible. Worst miso soup ever, it was sweet.

Bebek Kruwil for lunch, and shopping at factory outlet before heading back
Bebek Kruwil for lunch, and shopping at factory outlet before heading back

We checked out from Kajane and headed to Sanur for a bit of shopping and lunch.

We stopped by Soto Ayam Suroboyo and had some pretty awesome Bebek Kruwil (20,000 IDR), a local style duck dish that went very well with rice and some Balinese sambal. I really loved it, and it tastes even better than the Bebek Bengil we tried during the previous trip, not to mention about 4 times cheaper too.

Address:
Soto Ayam Suroboyo
Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai No. 210,
Sanur, Bali
GPS: -8.71742, 115.215224
Tel: +62 361 7806065

Finally, we bought some cloths from one of the few outlet stores along Sanur before leaving the island with heavy heart.

So, you want to travel too?

You can and should participate in Visa’s contest by submitting your most creative travel photo with the hashtags #TravelHappy #VisaMY to your Twitter or Instagram account and stance a chance to win Agoda.com travel e-voucher worth RM 1,000 every week for four weeks. Click here for more!

P/S: at the point of travel, 10,000 IDR = 2.81 MYR.

 

Earlier this month, I decided to bring Haze to somewhere quiet and relaxing for a short birthday holiday after a super busy end of 2013.

After a bit of research, I chose picked The Dusun for a night stay, recalling the blogpost kinkybluefairy wrote about the place a couple years ago.

vacation in the rainforest, The Dusun
vacation in the rainforest, The Dusun

Dusun translates to plantation in Malay, and this is precisely what this place was, and still is, a small family run resort situated within a durian and other tropical fruits plantation about an hour away from KL city.

Started in 1984 as a private family retreat, the couple turned it into a nature resort in 2009. It started out with two houses, and since expanded to five unique houses  that fits 2-5 adults each.

our room at the Berembun House, with a bathroom and kitchen
our room at the Berembun House, with a bathroom and kitchen

Each houses come with bathroom, a private kitchen, BBQ set, and are situated apart from each other. We chose Berembun House for the night as it is closest to one of the two infinity pools at the resort, with an expansive view over the Berembun forrest reserve.

lovely infinity swimming pool
lovely infinity swimming pool

While the chalet style room is only big enough to house a queen size bed and a small furniture somewhat resembling a closet, there’s a huge deck and a big outdoor carved bench to laze about.

There isn’t air condition units nor you really need one at this resort. The Dusun is located about 250 meters above sea level, making it a few Celsius below average and rather windy and comfortable at night.

took a well deserved afternoon swim
took a well deserved afternoon swim

The swimming pool too was gorgeous, it isn’t much for swimming laps, but that’s not what we went there for anyway.

After a dipping session while admiring the nature, we also spent some time playing boardgames that’s available with the room. It was a bliss staying away from all that city noise.

dinner was a self-cooked BBQ affair
dinner was a self-cooked BBQ affair

Being a small resort, The Dusun doesn’t have an in-house restaurant, what they provide tho is a private kitchen at every house and a BBQ pit with charcoal. So for dinner, I marinated some chicken chops and bought along a fish and a couple sweet potato for grilling. We also ended up buying some brinjal and sambal at the local grocery store 5 minutes away.

We had a great dinner under the stars that night, it was awesome.

breakfast and a walk around the fruit plantation
breakfast and a walk around the fruit plantation

Fortunately, breakfast is included, and we were served coffee, fresh juice, toast, and scrambled eggs the next morning right at the table on our balcony.

We then spent some time walking about the surrounding area before heading back to the reality of city life.

Other activities provided at the resort includes jungle trekking to a nearby waterfall, bird watching, massage, and even fishing trip. For a longer stay, those distractions will be quite welcomed.

I can get used to holidays like this.

map to The Dusun, Negeri Sembilan

Address:
The Dusun
Pantai New Village
Negeri Sembilan
GPS: 2.8018, 102.0151
Web: thedusun.com.my
Email: hello@thedusun.com.my

Good news for those who studies at Sunway University, stay at around the area, or generally likes hanging about at this car tuners’ paradise – there’s yet another new coffee place!

I really like how new coffee places are now mushrooming all over the city, with many of them offering really quality coffee with some rather nice concepts. Gone were the days where espresso based coffee is only found at Starbucks and Coffeebeans.

Garage 51, opposite Sunway University side entrance
Garage 51, opposite Sunway University side entrance

Garage 51 is owned by the same people who run CoffeeSociete, so in terms of drinks, there’s already a pretty good reputation going on.

As for the cafe, like the name suggests, it is based on a garage theme. A volkswagen Beatle convertible by the side that is now an alfresco dining table, and seatings atop a container which is now a kitchen gives this place a pretty unique ambiance. I also really like the expansive high ceiling within the main area.

cafe latte & chai latte
cafe latte & chai latte

We tried their cafe latte and chai latte, and while the tea kinda turned out slightly sweeter than we would have liked it, the latte was excellent. Aroma of coffee well balanced with the silky smooth milk, just what a caffeine addict needed.

grilled chicken & grilled lamb shoulder
grilled chicken & grilled lamb shoulder

Other than caffeinated drinks and slices of cakes, Garage 51 also offers a small menu of dishes served after 6pm. There are only 5 items on it, and we tried two of them.

The grilled chicken (RM 19) I had was pretty decent. It came with homemade croquette potato and cauliflower as sides, the quarter chicken well marinated and the sauce compliments the meat pretty well.

Lamb shoulder (RM 22) with mashed potato and salad wasn’t executed nearly as well, but generally an okay dish.

Other entrees include olive aglio olio and a couple baked eggs dishes.

KY & Haze catching a late dinner and some coffee at Garage 51
KY & Haze catching a late dinner and some coffee at Garage 51

Garage 51 also serves brunch and carries speciality single origin coffee that changes from time to time. I didn’t try their Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Gelena Abaya coffee on my first visit, but I’m quite sure it is a place I’ll head to again in the near future.

map to Garage 51, Sunway

Address:
Garage 51
51, Jalan PJS 11/9,
Bandar Sunway
46150 Selangor
GPS3.067876, 101.603086
Hours: 11 am to 11 pm

Whenever we think of vacations, we often think about sandy white sand, far-away foreign cities, beautiful old temples, or at a waterfall nested within a pristine jungle. Those are “traditional” and in a sense, more ideal vacations, but at the same time they also require a lot more planning, time, and often incur higher expenses.

Enter the recent trend of “staycation”, pick a nice hotel somewhere not far away and spend a couple nights enjoying the facilities, good food, while having someone else make sure everything is clean and tidy.

We spent an awesome 3 day 2 night stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur doing just that a couple weeks ago for a much welcomed de-stressing session. At the end of this post, you’ll find out how to win the same 3D2N de-stress getaway (for 3 winners.)

Aloft KL, lobby and quirky art
Aloft KL, lobby and quirky art

The decoration within Aloft KL is one that is pretty atypical. Lobby is a mixture of industrial presence dotted with quirky art works everywhere.

Right behind the check-in counter is a re:fuel counter that offers ready-to-eat foods such as sandwiches, salads, drinks, coffee, instant noodles, and many other snacks. If you want to have a quick bite, this is a good one-stop center.

To the far right of the lobby, you’ll find the W XYZ bar that offers a selection of draught beer, cocktails, juices, and more. There’re also live bands performing at the area. Have a drink, shoot some pools, enjoy the music.

Mai Bar and Re:Charge gym
Mai Bar and Re:Charge gym

On the top floor there’s a more “serious” bar with a great view of the city.

At night, MAI Bar is lit up by colorful LED lights and offers a full range of drinks and great live performances as well as DJs spinning latest tunes. This is a place to go to shake your booty.

For those who loves to sweat, Re:Charge gymnasium is well-stock with modern equipment. While isn’t exactly big gym by any stretch of imagination, it is well sufficient.

infinity pool on the top floor
infinity pool on the top floor

Then there’s my favorite part of the hotel – the infinity pool on the top floor, right next to Mai Bar.

The pool is some 25-30 meters in length and sufficiently wide enough to accomodate some 8-10 swimmers at the same time if they’re all doing laps. Furthermore, opening my eyes underwater did not sting, I suspect that this is probably due to the fact that they might be using salt water treatment instead of the more traditional chlorine.

In either case, this is a great place to chill.

our room for the weekends at Aloft KL
our room for the weekends at Aloft KL

All guest rooms are equipped with comfortable platform beds, iron, ironing board, bathrobes, coffee maker, 42″ flat screen TV, a sofa, mini fridge, safe, oversized shower, and a workstation. I also particularly like the floor to ceiling windows that takes up the entire wall for an uninterrupted view of the city.

Since we have Haze’s siblings staying with us over one of the nights, we also got the hotel to provide us with extra beds that came in a form of cute little tent thing and a bed with cute bed sheet.

On top of every headboard is also a piece of quirky art work, another nice touch.

breakfast buffet spread at Nook
breakfast buffet spread at Nook

The big restaurant at Aloft KL is Nook, and this is where most foods are served.

Breakfast comes in the form of buffet with pretty decent spread (complimentary for room guests). There’s salad, cold cuts, juices, cereal, espresso coffee, and many local dishes. My favorite was the laksa Sarawak, which had the same soup base with the high end version that was offered during MIGF at Nook.

evening buffet spread at Nook
evening buffet spread at Nook

At night, the buffet spread at Nook gets an upgrade. There’s good selection of seafood such as mussels, prawns, smokes almon, and even scallops. There’s also roast chicken, delicious salted beef that is served with kimchi, salad, soup, cheese, desserts, and many other local and Western dishes.

Nook provides a good selection of ala-carte menu too
Nook provides a good selection of ala carte menu too

Apart from buffet, there is a pretty decent selection on the ala carte menu as well, though you might have to wait a little bit before the food is served.

There’s mushroom soup, steak, cod fish, sandwiches, spaghetti, yee mee with tiger prawns, and many more dishes. These were mostly pretty delicious, though our experience with the steak wasn’t as good as other choices.

kids at play, Aloft KL
kids at play, Aloft KL

Over all, it was a very nice and relaxing stay over at Aloft KL. This whole “staycation” thing is something I can get used to, and hopefully will be doing more.

the ultimate de-stress gataway

OK now here’s a few steps you can do to stand a chance to win a 3D2N stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur

  • like MyStarJob Facebook page www.facebook.com/MyStarJob
  • go to MyStarJob Facebook  app Ultimate De-stress Getaway Contest
  • take a photo of how you de-stress in the office
  • Fill in your details and upload your own Ultimate De-stress Photo in office
  • Share and get your friends and family to vote for your photo
  • Vote for your photo. Participants can vote once per photo per day

how do you de-stress at work?
how do you de-stress at work?

3 pictures with highest votes will win a 3-days-2-nights stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, so start doing it and hopefully you’ll be the one who wins this “staycation” package! Contest ends on 15th January 2014, be quick!

Adress:
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, 
5, Jalan Stesen Sentral, 
50470 Kuala Lumpur. 
Tel03-2723 1188
GPS3.13295, 101.68619
Emailaloft.kualalumpur@alofthotels.com
Website: www.starwoodhotels.com/aloft
Facebookfb.com/AloftKualaLumpurSentral
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