Nordsee

This brightly lit, modestly furnished restaurant _ which specializes in seafood _ is the latest addition to Terrace at Hock Choon's slowly expanding family.

At first glance, Nordsee's one-page menu might seem a bit too basic, but everything we tried was expertly prepared and easy on the wallet. The prawn salad was a relative bargain at 12 ringgit: a light, refreshingly cold starter, featuring plump crustaceans soaked in garlic aioli.

Tasmanian salmon cakes with remoulade sauce, also RM12. Pleasantly moist and crumbly, without any trace of excess oil.

Seafood vol au vent (RM28). Absolutely addictive; mussels, prawns & fish, swimming in a creamy sauce that we merrily soaked up with the buttery, flaky puff pastry.

Herb-crusted butter fish (RM30). A hearty, succulent slab of flavorsome fish in a recipe that tasted reassuringly healthy and nutritionally balanced.

Prosecco, the perfect fit for seafood (more so than white wine, sometimes). Note that steaks are also available for anyone seeking to steer clear of the ocean's bounty.

Nordsee Bistro,
Terrace at Hock Choon, Off Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 4256-3886
Closed Sundays.

D Legends

Che Guevara, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Bob Marley, Run-DMC, Bruce Lee & the Beatles _ larger-than-life portraits of these icons line the walls of D Legends, a friendly neighborhood hangout that serves satisfyingly porky pub grub and cool cocktails.

Wild boar rendang. Tender and not terribly oily, thankfully. Super-spicy though!

Their pork burger (nicely priced at RM15) might not be the stuff of legends just yet _ but with such a juicy, flavorsome patty to sink our teeth into, it's well worth recommending.

Long Island Iced Tea & Green Apple Margarita. Reasonably potent drinks.

P.S. He isn't famous anymore, but does anyone remember Eddie Money? Here's an exceptional cover of his brilliant 1991 Top 40 hit, "I'll Get By": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwQZUTbVlc8. "Tell you somethin' baby, there will come a day, when I can open up my heart and love again." Still gets me every time.

D Legends Bar,
Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
Tel: 7725-6270

A living Dutch-style walled city in Sri Lanka

Location: Fort Galle , Galle, Sri Lanka (6° 1′ 53.19″ N, 80° 12′ 58.78″ E)
Date: 12 October 2010, 6.10pm
Camera: Canon 500D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

I first visited Galle in 1996 and spent less than 2 hours there. I did not do much research about the place then and went there because it is one of the tourist destinations touted by travel publications on Sri Lanka. I was a little disappointed with Galle then as there was really nothing to see apart from some old style Dutch buildings which are in various state of disrepair. Later I realised that it is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Lately I have read some travel guides that described the place with flowing praise, more for the so-called transformation into a shopping paradise for arts and the money spent, mainly by rich European expatriates in renovating and transforming some of the older buildings into boutique hotels and art outlets. So I told myself I must spend two days there the next time I visit- which I did recently- I specially extended my stay in Sri Lanka for this. Well, I was reasonably disappointed again. Yes, there had been some restoration of old buildings but the audience is obviously rich Europeans tourists. Most of the houses and churches are still in “original” state despite the “city” being a UNESCO site and hence, getting funds to preserve and upkeep. I guess the UNESCO inscription was for a “fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.” and in that sense it is correct. I do enjoy the fact that it is a living city with people actually living and breathing in the old houses, and for centuries for that matter. But that is also changing- many of the houses are already under renovation and soon the character of this place will change from being a living city to a commercial city.

Re:LeX

This no-frills cafe, with very friendly service, is part of Empire Subang's Lifestyle Experiential Center (LeX), an electronics store.

The center is best-known for the "LeX Slide," a five-story-high spiral slide that whooshes customers 50 meters down from the mall's top floor to its lowest level.

This 15-ringgit thrill ride takes less than 10 seconds; it's lots of fun but reasonably tame _ nowhere near as harrowing as a roller coaster.

Back to Re:LeX. Malaccan chicken rice balls are a highlight here. A bit less fresh-tasting and flavorsome than the ones back in my hometown, but still satisfactory.

Chocolate chip cookies. Crisp, but kinda lacking in chocolatey richness.

Apple crumble. Warm bites of squishy comfort food for people with a sweet tooth.

Moist, creamy cheese cake. To be safe, we ate these only AFTER we went on the slide.

Re:LeX Cafe,
Empire Shopping Gallery, Subang.

my kitchen: elmo and cookie monster cupcakes



Who doesn't love Elmo and Cookie Monster? And who doesn't love cupcakes? So when I first saw Elmo cupcakes on justJENN last year, I made a mental bookmark, as well as shot my sister an email to find me some red sanding sugar in LA. (Where to get it? Surfas in Culver City is a good place to start, or their online store.) I guess when she spotted the perfect blue for Cookie Monster, she bought that as well for me to bring back to Taipei, as well some white chocolate chips and smaller chocolate chips.

So when there was a chance to make them for an Elmo lover this past spring, I put my handiwork to the test.

The steps are fairly straightforward- you just need to do some prep work for the eyes and mouths before hand. And for Elmo's nose, I used some marshmallows I had and cut them into shape.. Otherwise you could use orange jellybeans or soft candies.

stuff you'll need:

cupcakes
vanilla or cream cheese frosting
red/blue sanding sugar (or food coloring)
white chocolate discs (or marshmallows)
mini chocolate chips
orange marshmallows (or gummi drops or jelly beans)
oreo cookies


1. First, let the baked cupcakes cool down and frost them! Use vanilla or cream cheese frosting as I tried it with chocolate at first and the colors came out too dark. (See the first picture of the two pairs! The top is with chocolate frosting and the bottom with cream cheese).



2. While the cupcakes are cooling, pour the sanding sugar into two plates so you can dip the frosted cupcakes onto it. Also, cut off the nibs of the chocolate chips and use frosting to "glue" the chocolate onto the white chocolate. You could also use marshmallows for the white of the eyes. I also tried using a food coloring marker I had bought, but it didn't work as well. Then take apart oreo cookies and break each side in half. I scraped off the cream, but I guess you could use that as "glue" as well.



3. Assemble! Dip in colored sanding sugar, add eyes, mouth and for Elmo, a bright orange nose, using a touch of frosting underneath to make sure it sticks. Could be fun to do with friends or kids too...

For Cookie Monster, have the eyes be off center and in different directions.



4. And you're ready to party!



One thing is to be patient and be sure to let the cupcakes cool down completely. I think I rushed some of them and they were still not totally cool and the next day the sugar had sort of melted and some of the faces slid away from what they were supposed to look like. :( Or the humidity in Taipei. Or don't cover and seal them like I did in the cupcake holder until you're ready to go.

But we stuck them in the fridge for a little bit and the cupcakes were still a hit and though quite sweet with all the sugar and chocolate, super cute!

Happy halloween this weekend!

Jojo

A soothingly sedate restaurant, where customers can linger over plates of pasta and intimate conversations while an Andrea Bocelli CD plays gently in the background.

The menu is large but mostly unadventurous; all the staples from bruschetta, lasagne and fettuccine carbonara to tiramisu and panna cotta are well-represented, but anyone seeking more unusual fare might be disheartened.

White pizza slices, served with marinated eggplant, olives, mozzarella & tomatoes with balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil. Cumbersome to eat, but worth the effort. Warily scooping the veggies onto the thin, crisp pizza, we tried not to let everything fall all over the table before we could take a bite. The result was surprisingly tasty, like some crisp, carbohydratey salad.

Cannelloni stuffed with seafood in tomato sauce. Not bad; the pasta sheets might have been slightly too chewy, but they enveloped a fair bounty of prawns, mussels & other seafood, all nicely complemented by a creamy, cheesy sauce.

Pumpkin risotto, sauteed with butter, served with Parmigiano cheese & drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. We had mixed feelings about this; it tasted heavenly, with all the wholesome sweetness of pumpkin infused in every grain. Alas, it was the mushiest risotto we've had all year.

Ravioli stuffed with smoked salmon in tomato sauce. Competently prepared, but unmemorable. The taste of the salmon was strangely mild, making this a safe bet for anyone who'd prefer to eschew fishy flavors.

Baked bread pudding, made with fresh vanilla beans & custard and drizzled with limoncello. Undeniably delicious, with a fresh-tasting softness lacking in hotel buffet versions. The only caveat: we couldn't sense any liquor in this.

Astica Chardonnay (Argentina). Not a wonderful wine, but cheap at least.



Jojo,
Tropicana Golf & Country Resort.

Domestic Violence In China

If you believe in reincarnation - pray not to become a woman in rural China in your next life.

Status of females in Chinese villages is not enviable from birth to death: three evidences to it are reflected in 1) statistics of infant mortality breakup by gender, 2) statistics of females suicides and 3) statistics of domestic violence.

The latter - violence in family only recently came into public light. The term "domestic violence" was included in Chinese Law for the first time only in 2001. And the first court decision protecting woman's safety from family abuse was made in 2008.

All that on the background of figures showing that domestic violence occurs in about 30% of Chinese families...

Unfortunately most of the victims prefer to live with it in fear of losing their face or being retaliated by their own family members.   

The “Crown of Jaipur” Hawa Mahal, Rajasthan, India

Location: Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India (26° 55′ 26″ N, 75° 49′ 36″ E)
Date: 3 Jan 2009; 8.30am
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

Jaipur forms one of the legs of the so-called “Golden Triangle” of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur that nearly every tourist to India will visit. The city is a chaotic city- just like anywhere in India- and has a few interesting attractions, including the UNESCO Heritage Site of Jantar Mantar. However I always enjoy visiting the Hawa Mahal in the city.

Hawa Mahal means the “Palace of Winds” and is part of the City Palace complex. Nothing much of it is left except its exterior five-storey structure. The structure was designed like the crown of the Hindu god, Krishna. but with 953 small windows known as jharokhas, decorated with intricate lattice work. the windows was designed to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen as they have a tradition of strict face covering (purdah) for the ladies then. Hawa Mahal was for many years in a rather derelict state with peeling paint and broken windows until a restoration effort that started in 2005. It is now somewhat more “pretty”.

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Ad Hog

Ad Hog is the truest definition of a hidden gem, secluded in a semi-industrial zone, seemingly not within walking distance of any other restaurants. But before the year is over, this cleverly named enterprise is likely to be on many pork-lovers' lips.

It's not a large space, but it can accommodate anyone. Customers clad in singlets, shorts and slippers can feel comfortable and welcome here, but it's also warmly romantic enough to even play host to a marriage proposal. If you're lucky, the gregarious proprietors will stop by your table and regale you with tales of their escapades in Bali and beyond.

Our mission was to sample their "babi guling," a dish we haven't found elsewhere in the Klang Valley. We loved the version here _ tender pork, beautifully marinated in aromatic herbs & spices, accompanied by moist & fragrant rice, veggies, crackers & chili. Generally available for lunch only, but call in advance and you should be able to reserve some for dinner.

Their roast pork was a stunner. I could attempt to praise the crunchy crackling and melt-in-the-mouth meat, but ultimately, this beggars description. It has to be eaten to be believed.

These are "Chic Pogs" _ chicken thigh stuffed with pork sausage & wrapped in bacon. If that sounds like your kind of dish, then let's just say it tastes as terrific as it sounds.

Not everything here is a surefire hit though. The pork shoulder steak was less succulent than expected, but that's because the bar had been raised so high by the earlier offerings.

We liked the BBQ pork ribs, though there's more fine-tuning to be done before we can call this a bona fide triumph, partly because the marinade failed to penetrate all the way through, leaving part of the meat rather bland. But that's nitpicking, really.

Several experimental, off-the-menu recipes include the pork tail _ a sublime blend of brittle skin encasing what seemed to be the purest and most pleasurable of porcine fat.

Customers on this recent evening were also fortunate enough to savor a complimentary serving of the restaurant's first-ever Spanish suckling pig.

Still a work in progress. The texture was perfect; we couldn't have asked for crispier skin or juicier meat. But the flavor was somewhat off. That will doubtlessly be rectified.

Date-ly cake with ice cream. Decent, but definitely not the highlight of dinner.

Nevertheless, we very much relished the rum ice cream with whole almonds, black jelly & fruits. A textural treat, though the flavor of booze was terribly faint.

Ad Hog,
25, Jalan PJU 3/45, Sunway Damansara.
Tel: 7804-7813