Thursday, 28 February 2013

Cocktails at Circus, Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

* Note Circus is now closed.

Cocktails at Circus, Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

"Gather, relax, mix, mingle, flirt, eat, drink."

Over 60 cocktails, ranging from the classics to the molecular, stand proudly printed on Circus' Bottom's Up menu. Alongside an extensive list of beers, wines and spirits, cocktails at Circus provide something for all moods and inclinations. Divided into sections for easier selection, my eyes were immediately drawn to the novel, and so, a Molecular Cocktail was my first order. 

The Jelly Bramble presents as a perfect gelatinized dessert. A red criss-cross of raspberry sauce leads the eye up the rectangular path to a fine peak of peach and burgundy. Fresh berries and mint make the mound look oh-so-innocent. It's not until the first scoop that you realize the jellied double tier is a potent mix of gin and creme de cassis. Impressed by the first and excited to see three other molecular inventions on the list, I shall be back to try them all.

Circus, Pavilion, cocktails, bar, booze, alcohol
Jelly Bramble RM32

Reversing back in time, we next hit the Vintage Cocktail list. The fired up apple number two, Fuego Manzana #2, came brandishing two devil horns in the form of halved chilis as garnishes on the rim warning you of the bite this drink puts forth. Tequila, apple liquor, lime juice, sugar syrup and crushed apple form a lip smackingly sour broth. Only the initiated (or the crazy) drop the two chili halves into the lemonish pool adding a hefty kick to the back of the throat and an eye watering tingle if you're game enough to then bite the fully drenched garnish. 

Circus, Pavilion, cocktails, bar, booze, alcohol
Fuego Manzana #2 RM30

Happy Hours are well appreciated around the city and Circus offers some of the most generous in town. Flowing from 4p - 8pm daily and 4pm - closing on Sundays, guests can expect wine from as little as RM15 per glass and spirits starting at RM12 per serving. This Gold Label New York Sour is another reason to keep guests in high spirits. Only served during Happy Hours, this cool imbibement features Johnnie Walker Gold Label with lemon juice, sugar, a splash of red wine and is finished with a fluffy egg white foam. No prizes for guessing that whisky loving hubby put this at the top of his 'loves' list. 

Circus, Pavilion, cocktails, bar, booze, alcohol
Gold Label New York Sour RM25

From the Moods of Circus section guests are asked, "What mood are you in?" Engaging in one of the specially created concoctions should suit, enhance or adjust your mood as desired. Drinking with friends, we thought the Sociable would be a friendly option. Made for sharing, this giant sized number is mixed with gin, Pimms, soda water, ginger ale and a basket of freshly cut fruits. Refreshing and clean, this beauty if perfect for a hot day and getting to know your companions a little more intimately.

Cocktails, Circus, Pavilion, bar, Kuala Lumpur, booze, alcohol
Sociable RM90 - serves four.
After sipping on a Sociable, chances are you just might start feeling a little more daring. Time for the Adventurous cocktail to be ordered. Thrill-seekers get ready, as four types of rum, maraschino liquor and a dash of absinthe are only mildly diluted with grapefruit, passionfruit and lime juice. Created in the 1930s this brew was originally named the "Zombie" and a maximum of two per guest is advised. 

Circus, Pavilion, cocktails, bar, booze, alcohol
Adventurous RM50

Finishing with a House Cocktail, it was hard to go past the Apry Vous Julep. Hand crafted copper goblets are topped with shaved ice keeping the chalice supremely chilled. Cognac, clove infused apricot brandy, mint and sugar syrup compose the liquid while dried apricots and fresh mint leaves affix colour to the crest. This is another thirst quencher well suited to Malaysia's tropics.

Circus, Pavilion, cocktails, bar, booze, alcohol
Apry Vous Julep RM40
Drinks are not all Circus offers. They also combine cuisine with carousing in a Sunday Hangover Brunch, and their regular dining menu is quite extensive too. 

Reason to visit: an extensive cocktail list, Molecular Cocktails that will make your tummy rumble and your mouth dribble
Circus, Pavilion, cocktails, bar, booze, alcohol
Circus, Pavilion

* Note Circus is now closed.

Lot C3.10.01b
Level 3
Fashion Avenue
Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2141 6151

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

La Mexicana, New Dishes, Terrace at Hock Choon, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

La Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
La Mexicana, Terrace at Hock Choon, Ampang

New Dishes at La Mexicana, Terrace at Hock Choon

Words by Lisa Mangelsdorf
Photos by The Yum List

The wonderful owners of La Mexicana, Carmela and Stephen, are never content – and we are glad!  Always striving to improve and expand to their offerings of truly authentic Mexican cuisine, this lovely couple pour their heart and soul into a variety of wonderful new dishes.  

Chef Carmela doesn’t exactly look like the stereotypical Mexican Mama who is at home making cheese and chorizo while learning to butcher her own meat, but that is exactly what she is up to these days.  Her commitment to preparing food that is 100% authentically Mexican is unwavering.  From the way the meat is cut and the cheese is prepared, to where the chilies and corn are grown, to who cooks the dishes for the guests, no detail is too small for her attention.

You may have already had the pleasure of dining at La Mexicana, but if you haven’t visited in a while it is time to go back and try some of the new dishes.

La Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
Cucaracha (perfect dessert replacement or after dinner drink - personally though, I could sip on this one all day long) and Margarita Cancun

La Cucaracha – when we think “Cockroach” we don’t normally think deliciously smooth warm and sweet.  This combination of Tequila, Rum, Kahlua and Cointreau is given its name from the tradition of it being served late in the night, ending you limbs up like a cockroach - watch out!

Tequila Cancun – a classic margarita with a splash of Curacao to match the azur waters of Cancun and a sugar rim.

La Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
Tequila with Sangrita, Lime and Salt - not meant for shooting contrary to popular belief! Sipping slowly is the best method for maximum enjoyment.
Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
Beer, Wine, Rice Milk

Queso Panela and La Botema Mexicana – Who says cheese can’t be good for you?  Queso Panela is a ricotta-like cheese that is made twice a week by Carmela from fresh milk.  The process even includes pasteurizing the milk herself while removing almost all of the milk fat. The result is a creamy, low-fat, white cheese that can be eaten all by itself or in a salad or tacos.  Even though it is a softer cheese, it is still firm enough to be grilled, as in “La Botema Mexicana” where it is paired with chunky guacamole and light and crunchy “Chicharron” (pork rind) for dipping.

Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
BOTANA “LA MEXICANA” - Guacamole with homemade grilled panela cheese accompanied with chicharrón (pork crackling) RM58

The Queso Panela is available for purchase on Wednesdays and Fridays!

Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
Queso Panela Casera - Home made white cheese - used in many dishes but also available for take away RM60 per 400gm

Not your ordinary tacos!  Two new taco creations have been added to the menu, each with it’s own unique flavors and textures.  

The first, Tacos de Bistec con Chorizo, features Carmela’s incomparable homemade sausage along with tender beef steak.  What makes this dish so special though is the amazing Salsa Rojas on the side.  Like everything else at La Mexicana, this salsa is made on the premises with only authentic Mexican grown Serrano chilies, tomato, garlic and salt that gives a lively kick with a rich smoky flavor.  

Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
TACOS DE BISTEC CON CHORIZO - three tacos filled with juicy beefsteak and homemade chorizo served with coriander, onion and molcajete red sauce RM25

The second taco is vegetarian - Tacos de Nopalitos  - Cactus leaf Tacos.  Whether you are a vegetarian or not, these are a must try as a totally unique taco experience.  The Nopalitos look similar to chopped green pepper but have a slightly tart taste to them.  Not only do they taste wonderful, but they are known to reduce cholesterol and contribute to healthy hair and skin!  The tart flavor of the cactus leaf is perfectly balanced with creamy sweet double cream cheese called Cotija, made by Carmela – of course!

Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
TACOS DE NOPALITOS - Chopped cactus leaf sautéed with Serrano chile topped with Cotija cheese RM25
Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
TACOS BISTEK CON CHORIZO - Tacos with steak and sausage

Huarache – literally translates to “sandal”. This dish may resemble a Mexican leather shoe but there is nothing tough about it!  The “sole” of the Huarache is a freshly ground and lightly fried corn meal base covered by the comforting flavors of refried beans, gouda and mozzarella cheese. 

Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
HUARACHE - A corn base stuffed with pork carnitas, refried bayo beans and salsa verde, topped with melted cheese and accompanied with chopped coriander and onion RM26

Enchiladas Rojas – another addition to please the vegetarian customers, but sure to be a pleaser to all!  The filling includes zucchini, Mexican corn, Salsa de Chile de Arbol and fresh onion.  This dish was best described by my friend who, after her second bite, said (and I quote) – “Ooohh, that’s got a cheeky kick to it!”

Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
ENCHILADAS ROJAS - three corn tortillas stuffed with sautéed zucchini and fresh corn bathed in “Salsa de Chile de Árbol” and topped with cheese RM20
Mexicana, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, authentic Mexican, tequila, mezcal, tacos
Cactus plants for making Tequila and Mezcal - both of which La Mexicana has some of the best offerings in the city

Reason to visit:  Authentic Mexican cuisine, one for one Margarita Happy Hours

La Mexicana
The Terrace at Hock Choon
Jalan Nibong (off Jalan Ampang)
Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 425 35251

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Daily Habit at Chi Fitness, Bangsar, Malaysia

The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
Fresh Juices and Smoothies - That's Amore RM16: banana, strawberries, pineapple, coconut milk and soy milk; Fountain of Youth RM18: apples, strawberries, raspberries and wolfberries; Agua Fresca RM10: celery, cucumber, apple, lime and mint; Clean Red RM12: beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger; Cappuccino RM10
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
Home made jams and chutneys, snack pack of nuts, home made yoghurt, wholemeal scones
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
Chicken Wrap - grilled chicken and avocado wrapped in a multi-grain tortilla RM18
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy

Freshly Baked Salmon Fillet with fennel and veg in a parcel served with wholemeal fusilli aglio olio RM25
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
Quinoa Salad RM16 - a complete protein power food salad - quinoa, pear, toasted walnuts, rocket & pomegranate - heavenly!
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
Power Pack RM16 - quinoa, fresh and stewed fruits and, granola topped with crumbled feta - if I lived nearby I would have a running order of this glass of deliciousness everyday.
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
Stuffed Capsicum with tomato, greens, anchovies and bread crumb topping - who knew baked veges could be sooooo tasty!
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
Moroccan Lean Lamb Shank, apricots, chickpeas & almonds served with brown basmati, RM32 - another dish that packs a powerful flavour punch
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
Portobello Mushroom with spinach, tofu, pine nuts and house made pesto
The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness Centre, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Healthy
The Daily Habit Cafe - cozy spots for grabbing a nibble or a sip

The Daily Habit, Chi Fitness, Bangsar Shopping Centre Office Tower

“Healthy Eating, Worth Repeating”

“Mon, you have to come try this place in Bangsar. I’m eating there everyday and have tried the entire menu. You won’t believe how good it is! It’s absolutely delicious and healthy too. You will LOVE it!” The text message read. My foodie friend Nik has been a reliable spy of good restaurants and strong critic of bad ones for years. So I knew, The Daily Habit had to be found.

If you’re in the Bangsar area, The Daily Habit certainly is worth nosing out. Located in Chi Fitness Centre, it is often missed by many as it looks as though the café is part of the gymnasium. Others confuse it with the café directly outside the gym, House and Co. Whether arriving via the third floor of Bangsar Shopping Centre or through the first floor of the adjoining BRDB Office Tower, you need to walk through the sliding doors to the reception of Chi Fitness and continue past the desk to the right. It’s then you’ll see a naturally lit room with floor to ceiling windows, comfy lounges upholstered with a mish mash of patterns and, a mingling of low coffee tables, high benches and drawn out dining tables perfect for sharing a meal with a small group.

Light boppy music extends the cheerfulness and two passionate ladies, Elisa and Jacquie, greet customers as personal guests. The Daily Habit exudes relaxed neighbourhood café charm. The location might conjure harrowing images of super fit gym bunnies brandishing their pecs and six packs in figure hugging Lycra – but it’s just not the case. On our visit we saw an older grander gentleman with a couple of kids enjoying wraps and juices, a teen polishing off a smoothie, some foreigners and some locals in groups and on their own, and yes a couple of gym goers breezed in and out, but they just made eye candy for the rest of us.  The crowd is from all walks of life, having only one thing in common – the desire for good food, reasonable prices and pleasant surrounds.

Made-on-the-spot sandwiches, light fare, vegetarian options, some heartier meals and superb juices and smoothies have already earned the Daily Habit a reputation for tasty, wholesome meals. Minimum processing, a shunning of anything artificial and, food assembled or cooked upon order, ensures freshness and flavour.

The trick to ordering here is to check out the menu of staples, look at the Daily Special’s board and, drool over the chiller display to see what grabs your fancy. Everything they make with quinoa merits a place on your table. Starting with The Power Pack, no foreplay is needed for this mouthful of deliciousness as instant orgasms crescendo with the first spoon. Chewy granola is sweetened with fresh and dried fruit (cranberries, pears, wolfberries, pomegranate) and crunched up with a sprinkling of granola. Ricotta cheese is crumbled on top or, alternatively, you can make yours into a parfait by adding home made yoghurt instead. The Quinoa Salad provides equal satisfaction. Aided by pear, toasted walnuts, rocket, pomegranate, macadamia and grape seed oils and, pomegranate vinegar, this satiating salad might be the source of never ending bliss.

The list of mouthwatering healthy delights goes on: Mango, Apple and Chickpea Salad is served with a curry and yoghurt dressing, atop a colourful base of crisp greens and shredded purple cabbage; the Portobello Mushroom is baked with pine nuts, home made pesto, tofu and spinach; a Chicken Wrap on a multigrain tortilla is also packed with avocado and crisp lettuce; the Baked Red Capsicum is more than tasty with tomato, spinach, lettuce and a crumbled topping of anchovies and bread crumbs; Baked Salmon provides a heartier meal with capers, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, finely sliced lemon, fennel and cherry tomatoes wrapped in baking paper sided with pasta spirals and; another no-to-be-missed meal, the Lean Lamb Shank is flanked with brown basmati rice and streams of a thick chick pea, apricot and almond stew.

Drinks are equally good. No sugar, only fresh natural ingredients are the secret. Nicknamed by regular clients as Designer Juices and Smoothies, these tall vases of colour are worthy of the label. Easily predicted, hubby fell for the smoothness and creaminess of That’s Amore, while I loved the refreshing tang and sweetness of the Fountain of Youth. 16 ounce servings are filling stimulations, but if you’d like to turn your juice into a meal, ground almonds, protein powder and wheat grass can all be added in.

For now The Daily Habit is open Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm and Saturday 9am – 4pm. As they grow they hope to extend service hours providing all day and evening nourishment, so do check their website for updates.

Map to the Daily Habit
Reason to visit: designer juices, delicious guilt free breakfasts, lunches and snacks, Quinoa Salad, Power Punch, Baked Salmon

The Daily Habit
Chi Fitness Centre
Lot 1-02 BRDB Tower
285 Jalan Maarof, Bangsar
59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+6 03 2202 3219

Monday, 25 February 2013

Afternoon Tea, Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Afternoon tea, 5 star hotel, dessert
Lobby Lounge, Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur
Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Afternoon tea, 5 star hotel, dessert
Live harp music sets the backdrop for an elegant afternoon tea
Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Afternoon tea, 5 star hotel, dessert
Strawberry Tea
Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Afternoon tea, 5 star hotel, dessert
Sweet Selection
Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Afternoon tea, 5 star hotel, dessert
Fresh Finger Sandwiches
Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Afternoon tea, 5 star hotel, dessert
Hot Savouries
Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Afternoon tea, 5 star hotel, dessert
Warm Scones with Jam and Cream

Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur

The dulcet notes of a harp lead afternoon tea seekers to the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, just as the Pied Piper entranced children with his magical flute. The flaxen instrument is gently stroked by resident harpist, and the enchantment continues with greetings from softly spoken staff and classic golden hues warming the surrounds. In firm contrast to the outside thoroughfare of Bukit Bintang, a rendezvous at the Ritz Carlton is a soothing moorage for the afternoon.

Commencing with the drink selection, guests have over 40 blends of specialty tea leaves from which to choose. Rolled to your table in a wooden display box, you can view and sniff your way through your decision via petite glass vials showcasing each varietal. The Ronnefeldt Teas are arranged by black, green, herbal and fruit groupings to help narrow your decision. The smoky Irish Whisky is a popular blend just as is the Strawberry infusion.

With olfactory and auditory perceptions stimulated, it’s time your gustatory senses got a look in. The three-tiered tea tower for one, in my opinion is enough for two. However, if your lunch seems in the ever so distant past, go ahead and bravely order the doubly sized tray laid out for a duo. As with most traditional afternoon teas, a trio of levels consists of sweets, sandwiches, savouries and scones.

Expect to see bite size treats such as Chocolate Gateaux, Orange Fruitcake, Mango Cheesecake, Berry Tartlets, Macarons and Chocolate Truffles saluting you from the top of the tower. The midriff brandishes an assortment of sandwiches on light fluffy sliced bread featuring: home cured Atlantic salmon and cream cheese; cucumber fingers and; turkey ham and cheese. Chicken and Mushroom Pie, Quiche Lorraine and Plain and Walnut Scones make a carbohydrate filled foundation. Considering myself a scone pundit, I happily report satisfaction with these perfectly risen and textured rounds of dough. Accompanied with a smear of fruit preserve and a gobbet of cream, they really are the rudiments of a fine afternoon tea, the rest is just enhancement.

Traditional Afternoon Tea is served daily from 3 – 5pm in the Lobby Lounge of the Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur, except on Sundays. Sundays are full of their own indulgence, featuring the famous Sunday Roast. The afternoon tea is priced at RM75++ per set inclusive of one tea.

Reason to visit:  elegant setting, live harp music, traditional afternoon tea menu, over 40 teas from which to choose

The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur
The Lobby Lounge
168 Jalan Imbi,
55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
+6 03 2142 8000

Sunday, 24 February 2013

And the Oscar goes to "The Quiche"

Sundays with Chef Peter….

Sunday’s just seem to come around far too quickly daahlings and go unfortunately even quicker!

I have finally set up my facebook page for “Les Diables” (or rather my good friend Jordan did, thanks darling) so I do hope you will have a quick visit (there’s not a great deal to see at the moment but coming soon!) and LIKE ME!
Well the Oscars are tonight so I have reserved tomorrow morning for me and the TV and a pot of tea and crumpets to watch and cheer and boo. I went to see Les Misérables this week and I must say I love Hugh Jackman and think Anne Hathaway is gorgeous but darlings it was as painful as it must have been for Ms. Hathaway to cut off all her hair! Mind you this show, I saw in London and it had the same effect so maybe it is just me!
What else happened this week in the news... a lot I am guessing but I have been just too busy with my own affairs!
So busy in fact that I forgot completely I had invited friends around for supper the other evening and had to rustle through the shop to see what I could knock up in a hurry.
I thought as it was such a lovely day I would do a quiche, bacon, onion, mushroom and cheese, classic and delicious and also easy to make!

I have a great recipe for the shortcrust which a good friend gave to me and is perfect for quiches. All you need is:
200 g               Unsalted Butter
250 g               Plain Flour
125 g               Sour Cream

To make, crumb the butter and flour and then add the sour cream and work till a paste, not working it too much.
Flatten it out on a piece of film, wrap and keep in the fridge for half an hour or so to relax.
Once rested, knead it a little and roll out nice and thin (3mm) and line your quiche dish or ring. Make sure you get the paste right into the corners so it does not fall down the sides when baking.
Pop it in the freezer for another half and hour to rest and then press some foil or baking paper into the ring or dish on top the paste and fill with baking beans and bake blind. When it is nicely cooked (25-30 minutes on 180̊ I always remove the paper and beans and brush the paste with egg and pop back in the oven for a couple of minutes. This makes sure any small holes will be not leak out the quiche royale.

While the paste is resting in the fridge though, you can prepare your filling, anything you fancy but I am having bacon, onion and cheese as mentioned. So get some onions and chop and sauté without colouring in a pan and then add some chopped bacon and sauté again for a couple of minutes, add the chopped mushrooms and give a quick cook. Leave to cool.

To prepare the royale I use:

3 eggs
3 egg yolks
250 ml cream
200 ml milk
Salt and black pepper

Easy to make, just whisk the eggs, yolks, milk and cream together and season with salt and pepper and add a good pinch of nutmeg which I like in quiches but you can add any herbs or spices you like to go with the filling you have chosen. Tarragon and parsley too, go well with this quiche.

Place the bacon and onion mixture in your pastry case (still in the mould or flan ring of course, don’t want any accidents) and top with grated cheese (again of your choice but for this time I am using a mature Devonshire cheddar from my local farm shop at home “Quicks” so really full of flavour)

Place the quiche on a baking tray and take it to the oven (pre heated at 160̊c) and rest on the oven door and pour in the royale till the case is full.

Pop in the oven and bake for around 45 minutes or until the quiche is set and firm to the touch, remove and if you have time leave to set for 30 minutes or if in a hurry like me serve it piping hot. 
Both ways are delicious and served cold is good too so great for picnics which what why I think quiches were invented for!

Served with a big bowl of fresh salad and good glass of sauvignon blanc, you’ll think you’re sitting in a Devonshire field on a glorious summer’s day daahlings (mind that cow dung though!).

Happy cooking sweeties and don’t forget to LIKE my “Les Diables” Facebook page…..

Till next week….