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A couple days ago we were lucky enough to be one of the first batches of people to be fortunate enough to have a taste of authentic Sicilian cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton KL by the award winning Guest Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare in Singapore.

This event happens from March 14-18, 2017 so you may still have a chance to participate in the last few sessions if you catch this article early enough; or of course, you can head to Singapore and visit the good chef at his home turf.

The Library at Ritz Carlton KL
The Library at Ritz Carlton KL

The dinner happened at The Library, a dining space that has an ambiance not unlike an extensive classy private library, complete with collection of books with topics ranging from film to art and travel. We were there for fine Sicilian food this time, so I’m afraid the books will have to wait for next round.

a bit of tid bit & bread prior to dinner
a bit of tidbit & bread prior to dinner

We started the night with a glass of sparkling wine, some bread, and a pre-dinner amuse-bouche of salmon with caviar which I thought was perfect to get us ready for what’s coming next.

For this first session of Sicilian dinner, we were also lucky enough to be joined by His Excellency Mario Sammartino, the ambassador of Italy to Malaysia.

amuse-bouche - ostrica
amuse-bouche – Ostrica

Then came the first course – Ostrica, or oyster with sherry vinegar jelly, wasabi chips, and Avruga caviar. This amuse-bouche was perfect in opening up the appetite with its refreshing taste and subtle sweetness from the oyster that is perfectly balanced with the slight salty flavor from caviar. Usage of wasabi showcase Chef Lino’s boldness in using contemporary technique and ingredients.

Sanfeletto conegliano valdobbiadene prosecco superior docg was the accompanying wine.

appetiser - polipo
appetiser – Polipo

Appetizer was Polipo, or charred citrus glazed octopus, risone, capsicum, sun dried tomato aioli, chilli, and pistachio pesto.

At the first glance, I thought we were having risotto, but as it turned out it was risone, or a rice shaped pasta that was much smoother, having a more controlled taste and texture that complimented the stronger tasting octopus well.

Vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt was served with this seafood dish.

entree - Capellini con Aracosta
entree – Capellini con Aracosta

Then came entree, in the form of Capellini con Aracosta, or angel hair pasta, lobster, seafood, and carrot.

This is a deceptively simple looking dish that is again packed with the sweetness of what the Mediterranean sea has to offer. Lobster tail & angel hair pasta are two ingredients I enjoyed, and this combination did not disappoint.

Cecchi orvieto classico toscana doc would be the accompanying Sicilian wine.

main course - Manzo Australiano
main course 1 – Manzo Australiano

There were two choices of main course.

Manzo Australiano would be the Australian wagyu with morel mushrooms and horseradish sauce. Perfectly executed with the meat in the overused “melt in your mouth” texture, but that’s the best description I could give. The sauce was thick, strong, and go surprisingly well with the red meat (this coming from someone who loves his beef with only salt & pepper).

Wine pairing – mazzei zisola sicilia doc

main course 2 - Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo
main course 2 – Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo

Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo, or the Signature Gattopardo Seafood Stew, would be the other equally worthy option. The stew is packed with several types of shellfish, prawn, as well as fish fillet. This stew is perfect in a cold rainy day, or any day actually.

Wine pairing – vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt

dessert - Cassata
dessert – Cassata

Dessert was a unique interpretation of Sicilian Ricotta Cheese Cake, or Cassata by Chef Lino. The deconstructed dessert was a sweet treat with some strong sourish berries that wakens up the senses a bit, which I thought was nice. We also had some chocolates to go with coffee to end the session.

Sicilian wine pairing option available
Sicilian wine pairing option available

This specially curated Sicilian course dinner is priced at MYR 250 with an option of wine pairing at MYR 375 per person. Dinner is served from 7 pm but only available until 18th March 2017.

Executive Chef Lino Sauro
Chef Lino Sauro

Ritz Carlton, KL

Address:
The Library @ Ritz-Carlton Hotel
168 Jalan Imbi,
55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.146960, 101.715406
Tel03-2141 8000

Seems to be like Xmas was just a couple weeks ago, and all of a sudden we’re faced with Chinese New Year in only about a month’s time. The thing that I like about Chinese New Year (since angpow money is now in negative territory) – Yee Sang and Chinese New Year dinners!

Chinese restaurants around the country are busy preparing Chinese New Year menus just about now, and we’re lucky to be invited by Siobhan to sample a few dishes from Ritz Carlton’s Li Yen and JW Marriot’s Shanghai restaurants.

Li Yen at Ritz Carlton and Shanghai at JW Marriot hotel
Li Yen at Ritz Carlton and Shanghai at JW Marriot hotel

Li Yen serves traditional Cantonese cuisine, the variant of Chinese food that is more prevalent among the high end Chinese restaurants in Malaysia, while Shanghai restaurant, like the name suggests, entice customers with traditional Shanghainese dishes.

As per usual YTL standards, both restaurants are tastefully decorated and provide excellent ambiance. There are also private dining rooms in addition to the common dining hall.

Prosperity yee sang with abalone, with Siobhan & Haze
Prosperity yee sang with abalone, with Siobhan & Haze (at Li Yen)

We started the night with my very first Prosperity Yee Sang for 2013, and this one comes with a touch of luxury with abalone slices instead of of the more common raw salmon. The ingredients were fresh, and it sure tastes like CNY is just around the corner. Li Yen also provide you with those extra long chopsticks, real handy when it comes to Lou Sang time.

Huat ahhhhhh!

double boiled chicken soup, stir fry prawn with supreme soya sauce
double boiled chicken soup, stir fry prawn with supreme soya sauce (at Li Yen)

When it comes to traditional CNY Chinese course dinner, I always love to start with a bowl of good soup. Li Yen didn’t disappoint. The double boiled chicken soup with dried scallop and Chinese cabbage was one of the best I’ve had. Subtle, sweet, it gives you that homey warm, comfort feeling.

The stir-fried prawns with supreme soya sauce too was a top notch. Huge fresh prawns completely shelled (they should do this more often, I don’t want to deal with the shells), the seasoning isn’t over powering and you can eat it on it’s own. Sweetness of seafood complimented well with the hint of saltiness from supreme soya sauce.

braised Shanghainese pork,  xiao long bao
braised Shanghainese pork,  xiao long bao (at Shanghai)

After the three dishes we moved to Shanghai restaurant just a short walk away.

Greeting us on the table were the beautiful braised Shanghainese pork, xiao long bao, and the traditional CNY dessert – glutinous rice cake with sesame seeds.

The braised Shanhaginese pork looks a bit like “tong por” pork, but in truth it’s a more sophisticated dish. The bottom half of the dish is a mixtures of prawn paste, pine nuts, and vegetable. It was soft, succulent, and delicious. Would be even better with a bit of rice I think.

Xiao long bao here is top notch as well, with plenty of soup and skin that’s just thick enough to hold everything in.

pan-fried glutinous rice cake with sesame seeds
pan-fried glutinous rice cake with sesame seeds (at Shanghai)

We ended the night with pan-fried glutinous rice cake with sesame seeds, they’re sweet and crunchy on the outside from the sesame. Perhaps not one of my favorite desserts, but it shouldn’t disappoint anyone who likes glutinous rice cake (I prefer mine deep fried between sweet potato, old school)

The set menus start from RM 1388++ per table of 10 persons, click on the link below to see the menus.

Ritz Carlton, KL

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

GPS3.146960, 101.715406
Tel03-2141 8000

Shanghai

The first time I learned about Peru was a bit of a strange and unrelated coincident.

The Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition is known as LIMA. While looking up that up on the internet I was brought to a different Lima – the capital of Peru, and that was how I first know about this South American country.

Peruvian Gastronomic Week at Ritz Carlton - Joyce & Jamie
Peruvian Gastronomic Week at Ritz Carlton – Joyce & Jamie

Fast forward many years later, I found myself sitting across a Peruvian colleague at my work place, and now a chance to get a taste of Peruvian cuisine for the first time in my life. (I ran the photos through my colleagues and he gave a thumbs up on their authenticity)

The Peruvian Gastronomic Dinner starts from 10th to 16th October 2012 and is priced at RM180++ per person (with two pisco sours). It is a collaboration between Ritz Carlton KL and the Peru Embassy.

Ceviche - salmon, mussels, tuna & octopus
Ceviche – tuna, mussels, salmon & octopus

Anyway, lets get on with the food.

Peruvian cuisine has a strong influence from African, Arab, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese cooking. This is particularly evident with the raw fish dish that is Ceviche.

mix this up and you get a good plate of Ceviche - seafood goodness
mix this up and you get a good plate of Ceviche – seafood goodness

Ceviche is in fact declared a part of Peru’s “national heritage”. The dish is a mixture of chunks of fish/prawns/octopus with key lime, sliced onions, chili peppers, salt and pepper.

In this regard, it is actually closer to umai, a traditional Sarawakian dish I had thanks to Irene on our trip to Sipadan many moons ago.

The ceviche was delicious and we had second servings. If you like sashimi, you’ll love this.

octopus with black olive alioli and various types of potato dishes
octopus with black olive alioli and various types of potato dishes

Another interesting dish that stands out here was the octopus with black olive alioli. The octopus prepared not unlike those in Japanese cuisine, but what’s distinctive here is the black olive alioli, a sauce made from garlic, olive, lemon juice, and egg yolk with the taste that reminds me of fu yee (fermented bean curd). This needs a little getting used to, but I find it quite interesting.

Executive Chef Rafael Lopez-Aliaga mentioned that there are over 4000 types of potato found in Peru, and there’s a few samples of dishes made from potato at the festival. I enjoyed the potato with huancaina sauce (yellow chili sauce), and the mash with yellow chili and crab was excellent too.

potato, chicken & peanut stew; sea bass with seafood & spicy sauce; tenderloin beef with onion & potato; beef and cilantro stew
potato, chicken & peanut stew; sea bass with seafood & spicy sauce;
tenderloin beef with onion & potato; beef and cilantro stew

The main dishes from Peruvian Gastronomic festival certainly gives a hint of their origin while retaining a unique. There are 9 different dishes presented here.

Peruvian heritage. Potato, chicken and peanut stew is something that I’ve never tasted before, with a hint of peanut butter and the savory taste of chicken, it is quite special.

Sea bass with seafood & spice sauce (they don’t call it Chilean sea bass here though they are the same thing) goes well with rice, tenderloin with onion and potato savory and delicious, and beef with cilantro stew provided a little kick to the taste buds too.

desserts! - pecan with dried fruits, rice pudding, milk pudding, and more
desserts! – pecan with dried fruits, rice pudding, milk pudding, and more

And then there’s the desserts. The usual suspects were rice pudding, sweet milk pudding, apricot and coconut cake, but of course, there’re those Peruvian influenced sweet dishes such as pisco chocolate cakes, chirimoya, orange and meringue. and lucama crunch.

Always good to have a sweet ending isn’t it?

pisco sour is a definite must try drinks to complete the Peruvian experience
pisco sour is a definite must try drinks to complete the Peruvian experience

By the way, each guest is also served two glasses of Pisco sours to complete the Peruvian experience. The drinks is a mixture of Peruvian Pisco with the addition of lime (or lemon) juice, syrup, ice, egg white, and Angostura bitters.

It was certainly an excellent dinner and a great introduction to Peruvian cuisine. Now where do I find more Peruvian food?

Ritz Carlton, KL

Address:
Peruvian Gastronomic Week @ Ritz-Carlton Hotel
168 Jalan Imbi,
55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.146960, 101.715406
Tel03-2141 8000

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In an unrelated news, our election is here starting tomorrow (17th Oct 2012). Watch this space for more information very soon!

It’s gonna be exciting. 😀

A couple weeks ago I was invited to the Patrón XO Café and and Patrón Silver launch at Ritz Carlton Penthouse. Now I’ve been to Ritz Carlton quite a few times, but the penthouse on the 27th floor is quite something else. The suite has three bedrooms, a magnificent hall, and even an open air swimming pool on the 3rd level, quite a charming place for sure.

Patrón XO Café and Silver at Ritz Carlton
Patrón XO Café and Silver at Ritz Carlton

My very first time tasting Patrón tequila was actually at Frontera, where the owner Larry swore that this was one of the best tequilas you can get. Made with 100% agave plant, this is the real thing, it is smooth, clear, and if you drink it neat, not watering it down with mixers. Adding salt or lemon with the shot would be seen as an insult to the liquor too.

If you think tequilas are nasty (which many do due to the usually poor quality of tequila we get here), give Patrón a try and I’m sure you might start to think otherwise.

tapas prepared by Chef Carmela de Ponte
tapas prepared by Chef Carmela de Ponte

The drinks were served with some fantastic finger foods prepared by Chef Carmela de Ponte, who is of course, from Mexico.

we were obviously having a good time
we were obviously having a good time – Ciki, BangsarBabe, Haze

While Patrón Silver was smooth as it gets, I actually prefer Patrón XO Cafe, simply the best coffee liquor I’ve tasted. It too was smooth, and has a distinct coffee taste that isn’t overpowered by its sweetness. The XO Cafe has 70 proof, a higher content than most coffee liqueur.

Patrón XO Café and and Patrón Silver
Patrón XO Café and and Patrón Silver

It was a great night throughout, good company, great drinks, but that is to be expected from a brand has its products sold in hand-blown, individually numbered bottles

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