"True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in their worth and choice."
When Ciki told me that we were having a small, little Birthday do for you, I put everything aside for that evening and made sure I attended. I have to admit that when I first met you, I was a little bit taken aback. You were the complete antithesis of what I was. You were loud, gregarious and you talked straight. I was the polar opposite, not by my own choice but by the little nucleotides that make up my DNA. Unfamiliar surroundings make me fidgety, fretful and uncomfortable. Strange people make me clam up and aloof, just to hide my insecurities.
And there you were, larger than life. The writer of a blog I secretly followed and read. The story of food is peppered by your wit and an uncanny eye for little details of life. The details that may strike others as mundane or insignificant. These details were captured by you, each nuance that breathed life into the protagonists of your tales, and from there you spun a comic strip. A montage that not only tells the story of food but food in it's resplendent glory. Food consumed and shared by a group of people who share the same enthusiasm. A story of how food brings people together, sharing not only the nourishment and the excellent taste, but also love, friendship and camaraderie, all liberally injected with your infectious sense of humour.
As I got to know you, I discovered that your creativity, boundless perfectionist passion and diligence was not the most endearing of your qualities. Your most amazing quality is your capacity to love your friends, you eagerness to care and your almost child-like innocence approach to friendship. You are the first and remains to date the only one who called me a prudish prune (which by the way, I agree whole heartedly) straight in my face. Honesty and Friendship is something sorely lacking in this world but you offered it in abundance.
As you enter another important threshold in life, the big 30, I can only wish you good health and a long life, and some thing you truly deserve, a life filled with lots and lots of love and joy.
Clockwise from top left: 1. Toro Bravo Clams 2. Monkey proving that he clips his nose hair 3. Sauteed Mushroom 4. Birthday Boy and Birthday organizer 5. Pil Pil 6. Date Pudding
Spain evokes a memory of a land filled with passion, colour and romance. The Flamenco bars of Seville are dingy, smokey and dim with a solo guitar player and a middle aged women, dressed in gaudy red. Flamenco singers have very expressive voice and my laughably rudimentary skills in Spanish did not limit my enjoyment. Each well timed gutural stop from the throat a sigh, punctuating her tale of unrequited love and her yearning expressed with a lingering thrill at the end of a phrase.
As with flamenco, Moorish influences also can be seen in Spanish cuisine. Despite being outshined by their Italian cousins, Spanish food is making it's mark in KL. Jalan Bangkung was very easy to find, even for a geographically challenged person like me. A row of shophouses next to the Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Pantai is now known as the Bangkung row.
Clockwise from top left: 1 and 2. Cava 3. Kataifi Oyster 4. Re-cycle and Re-use. 5. Honey Glazed Smkoed Duck with Mango.
Cava makes no pretensions about itself. It is not a Fine Dining restaurant. It is a neighborhood place for relaxing which has some of the most obliging and enthusiastic service crew in KL. It is a place for people to chill in it's dark, romantic environment and have a conversation without having their ears blasted by loud music. Their bar is incredibly well stocked.
What better way to chat and catch up with friends than on Tapas. Small morsels of delectably attractive food that is not distracting but yet still packs a decent punch in taste. Their Deep Fried Kataifi Oytser in Spicy Mint Sauce was excellent. Two oysters in a plate, wrapped in thread thin batter fired to perfection. The oysters were still cold and succulent and the taste was enhanced by a small dollop of sauce. It was a wonderful play of textures and temperature.
Another tapas dish that deserves special mention will be the Smoked Duck with Mango, a wonderful pairing that was simple. The suck meat was lightly grilled and was delightfully smokey and not dried out.
We were not impressed with the Lamb Boulette and the Black Pepper Beef as they were both smothered too heavily with sauce. The Toro Bravo Clam, Sauteed Mushrooms, Pil Pil Grilled Prawns and Barbequed Calamari were are decent enough as accompaniments, but did not shine as a flamenco diva. Noticeably missing from the Tapas Menu was olives.
The Tapas were priced between RM 12 to 18 ordered a la carte. If you manage to get to Cava before 8 pm, there is a special price of RM 75 for a set of 8 tapas, which is more than reasonable.
Their Paella was pretty decent as well. We tried the Paella Valencia which was Bomba rice simmered in seafood stock with a mixture of different seafood. The stock had a heady scent of Rosemary, though it could do with some Saffron. It was one of the better Paellas to be found in town.
I was also curious to try out their lunch menu. Extremely affordable too, with a choice of Salad or Soup of the day, a choice of main courses and coffee or tea for RM35. Desserts are optional.
When I was there for lunch, I ordered the chicken which was barbequed to perfection and drizzled with their home made BBQ sauce which was light and slightly sourish.
The let down at this place is their desserts. During alittlefatmonkey's birthday, I had the date pudding which was a little too sweet and failed to impress me. For lunch, I had the crema catalan, which was their creme brulee.
Food was fairly impressive with more hits than misses and the prices were extremely reasonable.
I just can't get today's lunch out of my head, because it was perfect. Perfection to a P. Unfortunately, it was at Sage. If you could bear with me, let me share with you why I was blown over.
The meal started off with some Cold Somen, the perfect panacea for the heat wave. Served with thick chunks of Tuna Chutoro (which is the belly area), laced with Ebiko and Avruga Caviar and laid out on a piece of refreshing Oba Leaf at the bottom. It was beautiful. Everything was in place and bursting with flavour. Lunch at Sage is RM100 for 1 entree, mains, dessert and coffee, which is pretty reasonable. I went to Hajime recently, and paid RM40 for a piece of Tuna Choturo.
Next was the Terrine of Foie Gras, Served with Biroche toast and Scallop Royale soup. The soup was poured over some steamed eggs in a cup. I used to have a fairly low opinion of Foie Gras Terrine. But this one was marvelous. None of that metallic taste but was both creamy and unctuous. Oh La La! Forget your truffle butter, dump your olive butter and Thrash your seaweed Butter. If there is a reason to commit the ultimate sacrilege in an Atkin's Plan, this is it! The creaminess of the Terrine with the crunchy butter toast paired with the incredibly rich tasting yet light and clear soup was magical!
The Star of the show did not disappoint as well. The Garoupa was excellently fresh, and obviously worked out at Fitness First before landing in the frying pan. Muscular yet flaky, it absorbed th Clam Jus so well. Dieters will probably munch without worrying because this dish was so light.
Lunch was rounded up by their famous Earl Gray Bavaorois, which I have blogged about sometime ago. Some say that the food in Sage is pretentious and unaccesible. But say what you may, Sage was nearly full for lunch today. This is not an easy task given the economic climate and their pricing for lunch. This speaks volumes for the food there and also the excellent team. I am very very glad that they are doing very well, but unfortunately now I have lost a quiet place to lunch. Sigh!
Definitely one of the most memorable lunches this year (I have lunches outside 6 days a week) and available until the 6th of August.
71 Jalan Bangkung
59110 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 2093 6637
Maps and directions from www.cava.my