Friday, May 31, 2013

Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur - Tanzini

The past year I've been waxing lyrical about Malaysian food in Malaysia (of course) on this blog. I mean, it's kind of hard to go wrong with a char kuay teow with loads of chilli or a freshly made roti, but it's always interesting, when the opportunity comes up, to see how they would do fine dining. 

One of my dear friends, who'll I'll call E, was the restaurant manager of Tanzini in Kuala Lumpur, in G Tower, and kept asking our friends and I to visit and check out the food. 

Earlier this year in March, my friends and I all had planned to be in KL together, so of course, we all dressed up a little bit (heels for the girls, jackets for the guys) and finally went to check out E's pride and joy. 

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Tanzini itself is quite beautiful, on the 28th floor of G-Tower. Softly lit with white tablecloth, lots of glass in the interior and warm wooden floors, it has some rather prime views of KL city and the Twin Towers. 

We were treated to an even more intimate setting though, as we walked up the stairs to the Upperdeck, where we were surrounded by windows and a mirrored ceiling. It was a rather serene and beautiful setting to relax in. 

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At the Upperdeck at Tanzini, there is no ala carte, simply the Chef's degustation menu, which on this particular night was crafted by Chef Eugene, who came out to greet us. Young and full of smiles, it was clear that we were going to be in for a rather adventurous menu, as E told us about his passion for unconventional cooking, mixed with the fundamentals. 

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Our evening started with a wee amuse bouche of smoked salmon (I think), with a bit of pickled veg, presented on a rock. A cool and refreshing tidbit to get our appetites stimulated!

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Next up we had pan fried ricotta gnudi 'scallop' with a Hokkaido scallop with a light garlic butter alfredo. Oh I was tickled by this. I loved how playful this dish was, with the ricotta gnudi shaped to look like the scallop, which also filled the air with a delicious and comforting aroma. They were light and fluffy, and the scallop was beautifully cooked. 

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Oh. Macaron you say? 

Not just any macaron darling. It's a salted egg macaron.

Say what?!

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Before tucking into it though, the waiters came around to pour the cream of cannellini bean around it. The cannellini veloute was lovely and although I was tickled by the idea of a salted egg macaron and certainly appreciated the chef's creativity, I do feel it could have had a bit more saltiness and flavour to it, but did impart a bit of flavour all the same. 

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A blushing smoked muscovy duck with stewed parsnip, parsnip chips and parsnip-truffle puree was not so experimental, but comforting with familiar flavours and a pleasant earthiness. The duck was just cooked perfectly. 

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Between entrees and mains we had a spoonful of house made berry sorbet to freshen up the tastebuds after a whirl of curious flavours. 

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There were two options for the mains and the guys opted for the 52 hour braised wagyu beef brisket. Although a somewhat small serving, it was a seductive looking little minx, falling apart at a knife's touch.

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The girl's on the other hand, opted for the wild caught Nunavut Artic char in light soy court bouillon with simmered kyoto eggplant and toasted baby sardine 'tuile'. I loved the idea of the 'tuile', although I felt it could have been just a little bit crunchier. Maybe two more seconds in a the deep fryer? 

The arctic char was an incredibly generous serve and I struggled to get through it! It was tender and so tasty, I did enjoy the Asian accent on flavour here, wrapped in leaves with eggplant and soy. 

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Last but not least, we tucked into a Grand Cru Guanaja 70% chocolate creme chiboust (apparently a pastry cream lightened with stiffly beaten egg whites), with a pecan croquante, banana Confiture de Lait and Fleur de Sel liquorice gelato. 

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Painstakingly constructed, you could tell how carefully plated this dish was. However, before we could tuck into it though, a few bowls of dry ice with rosemary in them were placed in the middle of the table. We were slightly befuddled until the waiter came back with a small pitcher of water, which they poured over the dry ice. 

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Oh my goodness, I didn't realise how much the smell of the rosemary would surface, so that we had rosemary scented clouds washing over our plates. It created a lovely atmosphere, and was really just a bit of fun. Kind of wish I had dry ice all the time just so I can do this at home. Rosemary. Mmmm.

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The dessert itself was just lovely as well. Rich, but not too much and I absolutely loved the hint of banana. Lots of textures in this dish too, which you guys probably know I always like. 

Overall, it was a fabulous evening. We did feel as a group that maybe for a degustation, the flavour story didn't always flow and that the higher concept or vision for the meal was a little bit scattered. However as individual dishes, it was all quite beautifully executed. 

So although I can't imagine you would get tired of the local Malaysian fare, but if you did want something a little special, with a great view to boot, Tanzini certainly makes for a great option.

Tanzini Upperdeck
199 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Afghanistan Pop Up Cafe

Disclosure: I was invited to try the food at the pop up cafe

Have you guys visited the Afghanistan Hidden Treasures exhibition at the Melbourne Museum yet? If not, why haven't you gone? 

I personally loved the exhibition when Brad and I went. It was fairly small, but rich with history and information and I guess with the more recent current state of affairs, it's hard to sometimes realise there's a lot more to Afghanistan to that and see things from a different perspective. 

I for example, didn't realise that the ancient Silk Road crossed through Afghanistan, which connected…well a lot of countries together. Therefore, the art and culture is infused with many different elements. I loved the hints of Greek as well as Indian influences that could be found throughout the treasures. 

And then the story of how these precious treasures survived from the National Museum of Kabul, despite all the tensions and tough times going on in Afghanistan is quite inspiring in itself. It's a bit of a shame it's not as busy as some of the previous exhibitions, and I certainly do think it's worthwhile checking out. 

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So that's the exhibition, but did you know that the cafe downstairs in the Melbourne Museum, next to it, is not your typical museum cafe (as I had thought when I first visited the exhibit) but is actually a little pop up cafe that's giving visitors a taste of the Afghan food? How could have I missed it?!

So although I might've missed out the first time I went to the exhibition, I was quite pleased to have the opportunity to swing by again and try out the food, along with Joyce and Daisy. We hung around the counter looking at our options, um-ing and ah-ing, until I made an executive decision and just did the ordering for the group. Someone's got to do it!

I don't think I've ever had Afghan cuisine before, so although I can't quite say how authentic it is, I do think we all found it quite tasty!

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The Mourgh Delight was a generously sized chicken dish. It was sort of interesting seeing a saucy dish with no rice, and just bread, but it worked just as well for mopping up all the sauce afterwards. The chicken was tender and tasty, although the sauce could had a little more seasoning.

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The Sabzee vegetation fill with salata is apparently sometimes called an 'Afghanistan Hat', how cute! It immediately caught my eye with promises of flaky and crunchy pastry, layers of it, neatly curled up like a rose (or sorta). Although not as flaky as I had imagined in my head, I still quite liked the texture but absolutely loved the abundance of roasted veggies and the spices, it had a lovely warm heat to it and would be quite comforting in the cooler weather.

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One of my favourite dishes of the afternoon was the Qubili Pilau (lamb stew) served with yellow rice, which is the National dish of Afghanistan. The tender lamb was so aromatic and beautifully seasoned, it just melted away in your mouth. Ultimate comfort food. I also became fairly smitten with the fluffy yellow rice which was bright and flavoursome, the saffron was fragrant and I loved the sweet raisins through it which added a bit of contrast to the heavier spices. 

The flavours in general were all quite reminiscent to me of an Indian lamb briyani. So if you like that, you'll probably love this too!

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The grilled chicken with orange and saffron vinaigrette dressing made for a nice side dish (although it would do perfectly well as a light meal as well), with fresh leaves and a bit of zest. I loved how tender the chicken was as well. 

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Just as we were wrapping up our mains, we were told that they had decided to toast a homemade Afghanistan bread filled with lamb, cumin and feta served with a dish of yoghurt. Oh my goodness. So aromatic and just so delicious. Being the lamb fan I am, this was rich and so moreish. The bread was also one of the star features, being lightly toasted and crunchy around the outside but so fluffy and sweet. 

There's also a vegetarian filled bread that we didn't get to try, but if it's anything like this, it sounds like it would be an awesome vegetarian option!

To finish, we had lovely rounded and rich chai's (it's in the theme of the lunch right?) with a small platter of desserts. All were served with a sweet yoghurt, which was a nice touch. 

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I was particularly infatuated with the Sheer Payra Afghan fudge, sweet, nutty and oh so delicious. With it's dense texture, it'd be the perfect companion to a cup of tea, coffee or chai even. I might've snuck in two or three pieces! 

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I also really liked the Halwa and Zardak pudding, which was essentially like an Afghani carrot cake with a hint of rosewater and cardamom. Beautifully spiced and lightly sweet, the cake was so moist and again moreish. Bit of a theme going on here. 

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Although the pastry casing on the rosewater and orange curd tart was a bit hard to cut through, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. Orange and rosewater don't tend to be my favourite flavours in dessert (give me chocolate and vanilla any day), but I really enjoyed the subtle and elegant flavours at play here. Definitely worth trying out for something a little different!

All in all, I'm actually quite sore I didn't realise this was in existence when I first visited the exhibition! Could have certainly done with some Afghan fudge after walking around for an hour and a half….

Don't you make the same mistake as me, the pop-up cafe is around for as long as the exhibition in the Melbourne Museum is, until the 28th of July and open daily from 10am until 4:30pm. Even if you have already checked out the exhibition, I think it'd make a great spot for a filling and tasty lunch (with most items being under $10) and would certainly be by again if I was in the area a little more!

Afghanistan Pop Up Cafe
11 Nicholson Street
Carlton 3053

Saturday, May 25, 2013


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So we finally come around to the 25th of May! Thanks to everyone who wished me Happy Birthday yesterday, despite being a bit under the weather I still dolled up, headed out for a delicious dinner at The Town Hall Hotel and then proceeded to some drinks with a few friends of mine at Lily Black's...which means I have no voice today! Le sigh! I am having a belated birthday cake with the family for afternoon tea though, so it's all good!

I was going to do a cute little video where I announced all the winners, but seeing as I have no voice, we'll just have to do this the old school blog way! 

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Thank you to everyone who invited and shared this with your friends, I had a lot of fun putting this together and I loved hearing how you all thought best to celebrate your birthdays!

Without further a do, using the random number generator at so that everyone is drawn at random, the winners of the different vouchers and yummy goodies are...

Percy's Aeroplane, Breakfast for two - Jazzy Rulzz 

Grosvenor Hotel - $50 Dining Voucher - Shamim

Masak Masak - $30 Dinner food vouchers - Piggy Eat alot, Sonia Nair, Christian Robas

Masak Masak - $20 Brunch food vouchers - Nerdy Asian, Emma Ferraro, Keren

Luxbite - $50 voucher - Leaf

Helados Juaja - Takeaway Gelato packs - Lisa Chen, Baking Tray

Tasting Table - Tickets for Two - Samantha Cahn 

Congratulations to everyone! Sorry if I couldn't include your actual name there, I've just used what I could find from what you left in your comment or from your twitter account! 

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Thanks again and Tyler (my new inflatable triceratops from my darling Brad) and I will be emailing everybody very soon!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Pour Kids

Hey, you there. Listen to this.

Burnt. Butter. Gnocchi.

Are you now excited? If you're not, we might not be able to be friends. Unless you make me brownies I guess. 

I stumbled upon this wonderful combination of words, which materialised into a dish at The Pour Kids on a cheery Sunday morning. Brad and I had attended his Cricket Presentation evening the night before (where I understood nothing of all these numbers and overs they talk about) and stayed at his place in Glen Waverly, so Malvern was sort of on the way between his place and mine. 

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I was pleasantly surprised how much room the cafe had, and we had no issue nabbing a table at around 11:30am. As we seated ourselves at the communal table, I found myself immediately smitten with the juxtaposition of bright colours and graphic black and white wallpaper prints. It was all so cheery and bright!

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There was a nice buzz to the space, with a constant hum of activity, but never getting in the way of a good conversation.

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A warm and comforting chai and a rather elegant looking latte. I had no complaints. 

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 The menu at The Pour Kids was quirky and playful, with dish names such as 'Google This', 'Smash and Grab' and 'Three bears out hunting'. So cute!

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Brad ended up ordering the 'Stacks On!' (exclamation mark is on the menu!), with stacks of grilled chorizo sausage, hash brown, guacamole, sour cream and roast corn relish. Oh and added an egg. Of course. 

I loved it's vibrant colour and found this also translated to the taste, with delightfully spicy chorizo which went very well with the generous smear of sour cream. Oh and crispy hash browns. Yes. Come to me…

I had the 'Duck for Cover' (no exclamation mark on this dish), Italian-style pork sausage with burnt butter gnocchi, fried egg and Swiss chard.

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Now, I don't know why you would 'duck for cover' with this. If I heard this was coming my way, I would be standing with arms wide open, and maybe setting up a couple of fans to make sure the air stream directed it to me. 

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Seriously, how can you deny that beautiful buttery aroma? Especially when it's wrapped around soft and fluffy gnocchi, with deliciously fatty pork sausages and some oozy egg yolk. So good. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed the Swiss chard, it just soaked up the buttery flavours and became something I probably would have enjoyed all on it's own as well! I've never really had Swiss chard that much, and after this encounter think I should get to know it much, much, much better!

Although I might have to keep my dalliance with burnt butter gnocchi occasional. I was absolutely stuffed for the rest of the day!

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To wrap up, I adored our bunch out in Malvern, it's not an area we're often in, but maybe this is something I ought to change? With beautifully executed and delicious breakfast combinations, and an interior that instantly draws out a smile, what's not to like really? 

The Pour Kids
1e Winter Street
Malvern 3144

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Monday, May 20, 2013

MELT: Chocolate Festival at Immigration Museum

I've found that although many I know a lot of people with a 'sweet tooth', I've found that within this spectrum, you can get quite a lot of varieties of said 'sweet tooth'. 

I have friends who are all about boiled lollies and jellybeans, some who are cream and cake aficionados, ice-cream fanatics, or just all about the chocolate. Sure, there's some crossovers, but for the most part, I think people have particular sweets that they gravitate to more than others.

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For me, my sweet vice definitely has to be chocolate. Bags of lollies will stay uneaten in our house for months, but a box of chocolates? A week. If it's lucky. 

So if you're a chocolate lover like me, you should definitely be checking out the Melt: Chocolate Festival at the Immigration Museum this Sunday the 26th of May, from 11am until 4pm.

Last week I got to have a sneak peek at some of the delicious offerings that will be available on festival day and also get to meet the people behind the chocolate. 

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What I love about the Immigration Museum's 'sweet' festivals is that the focus is not just on the food but of the cultures behind them as well (naturally!). At Melt, members from the Belgium, Mexican and Portugese communities in Melbourne come together to showcase the best of the chocolate goodies from their cultures and share the stories behind them. 

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We met Stefaan who is originally from Belgium and the owner of Van Nunen Chocolates. He has been making chocolate for the past 23 years and crafts just the most beautiful chocolates, so smooth and rich. I was particularly enamoured by the salted caramel chocolate, which was filled to the brim and was dense and creamy, rather than runny. Apparently this is because Stefaan actually tempers his salted caramel as well! 

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From Mexico we got to try some of their concha's, which is a sweet bread (which is actually a sweet bread, not of the meaty variety!), served warm, which was particularly delightful on the rather cool evening it was. These smelled simply amazing with the distinct aroma of cinnamon hanging in the air. 

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Apparently these are usually made by the men, as there is a lot of physical labour involved with making these, at 3am in the morning and served as breakfast. Someone find me a Mexican husband (but don't tell Brad)! 

With the concha's, we were also served champurrado, a Mexican style hot chocolate, made with milk, water, chocolate and cornflour, which again smelt and tasted of cinnamon and was perfect for dunking the concha's in. Totally yum!

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The colourful brigadeiros from Portugal are hard to take your eyes off! Although chocolate is the most traditional flavour, we were also treated to coconut and strawberry flavours, which were just delightful! 

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Usually these are apparently served at birthday's or weddings with the celebratory cake. Personally I'd be totally skipping the cake and tucking into these! During the Melt Festival, you will have the opportunity to try making some of these lovely goodies yourself…

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…or you could decorate a Mexican chocolate skull! Typically the skulls are used during the Day of the Dead celebrations, and as such, we were encouraged to make them as colourful and cheery as possible. To the Mexicans, death is not something to be feared of, but to be celebrated instead. Apparently it's a sweet gesture to write someone's name on the forehead of the skull and give it to that person as a gift!

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I think I got a bit carried away with mine. But he was delicious!

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At the Melt Festival this Sunday, you'll be able to try all of these and much more! We were told that there would be Belgian waffles and chocolate fountains, that you can actually dunk stuff into to munch on. Say what?!

On top of that, there will be series of talks, including the history of chocolate, the process of making chocolate and the ethics and sustainability factor of making chocolate, the latter of which will be with Fair Trade Australia and New Zealand and A Heart of Chocolate. Not just delicious, but it promises to be an educational day too!

Make sure you're wearing comfortable shoes as well, as you can expect a bit of Brazillian dancing, a Mariachi band and some traditional Mexican dancers as well! Got to work off all that chocolate somehow right? 

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Sounds all great? Want to learn more about chocolate in these cultures? Great! Make sure you purchase your tickets online, or by phone (13 11 02) in advance so you can skip the queues on the day (which there will be I'm sure!). At only $10 for adults (free for kids!), it'll make for a great, and very sweet, way to spend your Sunday afternoon. 

Sunday May 26th, 11am to 4pm
Adults $10, Children and concession free entry (workshops and showbags extra)

Immigration Museum
400 Flinders Street