Wednesday, January 27, 2010

El Meson. Jalan Telawi, Bangsar, KL. Lunching with Immanuel.

(non halal)

Ever since I was in Primary School, in a little backwater coastal town, I was fascinated by history and literature. We had a starfruit tree in the front yard, and a lot of sleepy afternoons were spent lying on one of the branches, lullabied into a dreamy reverie by the gentle sea breeze. As my eyelids grew heavier, I always thought to myself. What if all of this is not real, and I am just a part of somebody else's dream, or am I dreaming now myself. What is reality? How does my brain will my little finger to bend? What if there was only nothingness and emptiness and darkness? I voiced my questions to my best friend in school, (Isa, if you are reading this, don't snigger) he said I was mad.

Interior of El Meson. Rustic and warm.

In my teen years, I discovered a subject known as Philosophy which attempts to address these questions. In fact, the Mathematician, Descartes wrote extensively on this problems and of course a very clever film maker made tons of money from The Matrix. I do not wish to bore you guys with Descartes, Putnam and Plato or technicalities, but try to Google "Brain in a vat" and read some very interesting arguments on Cartesian Dualism and Putnam's causal constraint.

Philosophy has also taught me to question a lot of things and help put things into perspective. Courses on ethics make me realize that most people do not know what they are talking about when they talk about ethics and morals. Please join Michael Sandel's course on Justice free of charge, right in the front row of Harvard University. You can appreciate what a good and interactive lecture he gives and why his course is one of the most sought after at Harvard. There is also an interesting forum at his site for you to discuss his lectures, plus assessment tests!



There is also Philosophy of Aesthetics. What makes music, art or even fragrance good? What is good literature? Why is some art repulsive or obscene? Why does a mother encourage her teenage son to view Botticelli's Birth of Venus at the Uffizi, yet shields him from a bare breasted playboy centrefold?

When I was El Meson, I heard a couple of tracks from Bebo & Cigala's Lagrimas Negras album. Take the Gypsy Kings, put it through a strainer and compress it to get the essence and mix it with a Quartet of Piano, Double Bass, Trumpet and Percussion. Why does Cigala's beautiful wailing move to to tears and make me smile at the same time? Flamenco is distinctively Spanish. Yet the Phrygian Tonal Modes and the undeniable Arabic influences has made it into an exclusively "Spanish" music. Any visitor to Spain will be able to see the influences the Moorish have left in the country. An interesting observation would be the commonly used expression "ojalá que", which means "if it is God's will". It is derived from Insha' Allah.


Another dish from Meson is Gambas al Ajillo. Prawns sauteed with chilli and garlic. Beautifully succulent, large prawns sauteed in Olive Oil with garlic and chilli flakes. It tastes almost like Chinese fried prawns. Is the dish Spanish or Chinese? Does it matter?

Ontology which is a branch of Metaphysics which studies the basic categories and relations, whether the entities exist or do not exist and it's hierarchies. Terribly dry, and did not appeal to me at all, just like the next dish.


The Honey Iberico came highly recommended. But the one I had was too charred and although the meat had a nutty flavour to it, the overcooking rendered the meat tough, which is a pity because Iberico is considered the Wagyu equivalent of pork.

My favourite philosopher is Immanuel Kant. He is part of the German Enlightenment philosophers that included Schopenhauer, Hegel and Nietzsche. In 1784, he wrote an essay entitled "What is Enlightenment?". I would lile to share it's opening passage here:

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance (natura-liter maiorennes), nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians. It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them (including the entire fair sex) regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult. "

This was written in 1784. But isn't it amazing how it is still relevant 250 years later? The full text is available here. Reading it will only take 10 minutes.


The Piquillos stuffed with minced pork and beef was exquisite. The pepper itself was sweet and slightly spicy and had been slightly roasted before it was stuffed. Beautiful and fresh it is a source of amazement to me that this could be found in KL.

When I first discovered Kant, it was also a source of amazement to me as well. If you have a vision of Kant being a godless, degenerate and hedonistic Philosopher you will be in for a surprise. He is a pietist, which is a movement within the Lutheran movement and is particularly austere. He himself led a very simple, disciplined and frugal life.

"But would a society of pastors, perhaps a church assembly or venerable presbytery (as those among the Dutch call themselves), not be justified in binding itself by oath to a certain unalterable symbol in order to secure a constant guardianship over each of its members and through them over the people, and this for all time: I say that this is wholly impossible. Such a contract, whose intention is to preclude forever all further enlightenment of the human race, is absolutely null and void, even if it should be ratified by the supreme power, by parliaments, and by the most solemn peace treaties. One age cannot bind itself, and thus conspire, to place a succeeding one in a condition whereby it would be impossible for the later age to expand its knowledge (particularly where it is so very important), to rid itself of errors,and generally to increase its enlightenment. That would be a crime against human nature, whose essential destiny lies precisely in such progress; subsequent generations are thus completely justified in dismissing such agreements as unauthorized and criminal."

You have to forgive his writing style. It is terribly convoluted and bad. He means to say that the people who hold power in a religious organization, in this case the church, cannot bind it's believers to a particular interpretation of the bible for eternity. As a society progresses, our knowledge and capacity for knowledge changes.


The Octopus Salad was disappointing. The amount of octopus i barely detectable and was soft and mushy. Serrano Salad was as good as the Ham, and Natillos with Chocolate mousse was unremarkable.

The Gutenberg Printing press led on a mass dissemination of knowledge that led to the Renaissance and Enlightenment in Europe where the old order was destroyed. The Catholic Church resisted the change and never realised that frightening the masses with the bogeyman of Hell and Satan did not work anymore. It did not reform itself when challenged with Luther's Theses at Wittenburg and lives to suffer the consequences until today.

"A prince who does not find it beneath him to say that he takes it to be his duty to prescribe nothing, but rather to allow men complete freedom in religious matters--who thereby renounces the arrogant title of tolerance--is himself enlightened and deserves to be praised by a grateful present and by posterity as the first, at least where the government is concerned, to release the human race from immaturity and to leave everyone free to use his own reason in all matters of conscience."

We are now facing a second wave of information explosion. We are connected to information everywhere. Our phones have data packages. Our ipod touch and soon to be launched ipad is connectable to the internet. Starbucks and even Mamak shops attract customers by offering wi-fi services. There is no way you can stop a person from thinking and deciphering the assault of information available out there in the internet. It is a change or be changed scenario now.

And one last quote from the essay,

"Nothing is required for this enlightenment, however, except freedom; and the freedom in question is the least harmful of all, namely, the freedom to use reason publicly in all matters. "

My journey in Philosophy has not been easy. It is one fraught with more questions than answers. But as someone close to my heart once remarked, it is the journey and the questions that are important, and not the answers. And I agree. I would not want to be led by my nose all my life and be told what is good or bad by accepting it blindly, nor delude myself that I already know everything there is to life just by accepting blindly what was written in a book. I will not allow my feelings to overcome reason and I will never ever delude myself that whatever selfish motive I have is for a greater cause.

I hope this little post which had barely scratched the surface of Philosophy have not scared you away from my blog, and sincerely wish all readers would take the journey of enlightenment, free from any encumbrances of what we have been told or taught and to start thinking for ourselves and maybe inspiring a few daring souls, to attempt to read philosophy.

All the quotes in BOLD letters are from Kant's Essay, "What is enlightenment?". Link above.

My lunch while musing about Immanuel Kant's essay after reading the newspaper was at:

El Meson
61 Jalan Telawi
Bangsar
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: +6.03.22.82.82.90




Thursday, January 14, 2010

Havana. Changkat Bukit Bintang, KL. Crocodiles. If You Can Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em.

"A communist is like a crocodile : when it opens its mouth you cannot tell whether it is trying to smile or preparing to eat you up" - Sir Winston Churchill

Substitute the word communist with Politician and that sums up how i feel about Politicians in Malaysia. Thank goodness something good came out of the recent debacle. A lot of love and goodness, from all walks of life and all colours and creed.


A group of youths have taken to initiative to come together, bridging the boundaries of race and religion to re-assure everybody that "Everything is gonna be alright", passing out flowers to everybody who walked pass them. Would have waited for Marina Mahathir to grace the occasion as well, but I had to rush off to Low Yatt to get my BB Bold II (BB 9700), the current love of my life.

It's not exactly the proper time to celebrate, but Ciki and I decided to do lunch together, and having having read Sean's post about Crocodile meat, we decided to pop over to Havana. We wanted to work some white magic to rid our nation from some evil spell that has made a lot of people irrational and moronic.


The ritual began with the offering of a jug of Sangria, with hints of cinnamon and loads of fresh lime and green apples. The Sangria that was blended by Havana would have made Zeus fly down from Mount Olympus to join us at Changkat, as one sip of this beautiful nectar would have calmed Juno's wrathful jealousy. Slowly, Ciki fell into a deep trance and was visited by Bacchus or Dionysus (his roman name).


"Drink!", said Dionysus. "It's Ribena!". And I drank and drunk, drunk and drank. In a fit of Bacchanalian stupor, I was transported to another place and time. In this dreamy world, I saw a crawfish. A mean nasty crawfish with nasty pincers, whose was was contorted with a perpetual smug smirk. Behind him were his band of brother. All of them looked the same. It was surreal.

"Who are you?", the crawfish squealed.
"Erm.... The Paranoid Android. And you?..."
"I'm Bigot Bardot. Meet my brothers Xeno-phobe, Ig-no-rance, Self-Right-shuss, Pre-joo-dis and Koh-Rup_Shen. We belong to the Merry Idiotic Brothers of Intolerance."
Remembering Dionysus who gave me the Silver Kris and my promise to bath it with the blood of intolerance, I pulled it out from the sheath and plunged it into their hearts, my eyes filled with tears that they still existed at this day and age.

I brought their sorry carcasses to the chef at Havana. He duly chopped their flesh up, mixed it with some mashed potatos, onion, garlic, celery and pepper, breaded it and fried it and turned them into Crawfish Boulette. Light and Crispy exterior with a luxuriously flavoured interior, both Dionysus and I polished the Boulettes and toasted to the extinction of Bigot Bardot and his merry band of intolerant, idiotic brothers.


"Drink, Android. You are now ready for the next test.", Dionysus exhorted me. And I drank and drunk and drank and drunk more of the delicious nectar. Again I was transported to another ethereal world, but this time it bore an unbearable stench that was fragrant initially yet disturbingly, had a bottom note of rotting, putrid flesh.

And in that stinky world, I came face to face with X3-mism. It looked like a wolf with a forced beatific smile and was wearing a cape made of lamb fleece.

"Who in God's name are you?", he snarled at me.
"The Android", I stuttered. "I know you. You are the one who always Talk about God, Fight for God and get Agitated about God. Yet you never do what god tells you. Be meek and turn the other cheek. Bah! You talk about God's attributes yet do not display any of it. Compassion, Mercy and Love are all alien to you".
"How dare you insult my God?", the wolf in sheep's clothing snarled.
"Hello, Dolt! I am insulting you. Not your God. Your God is good, but you are bad", I retorted.
"NO! You swine. You insulted my God and I am going to kill you!", it ranted like a mad man.

I had no choice. In order to silence him I took out my sword of knowledge and enlightenment and lobbed of it's sorry head. I carried it's carcass back to Havana and the Chef turned it into an Andouille Sausage to be used in concocting the Jambalaya. Dionysus and I marveled at the the dish when it was served. The chicken meat chunks and Prawns were beautifully fried, light and crispy. But when I dug into the rice, I crinkled my nose.

"What's wrong?", Dionysus asked me.
"The rice..... It tastes weird and very gamey".
Dionysus dug into the rice and fished out a piece of sausage. The same sausage that was made from the meat of wolf in sheep's clothing.

"Imagine this plate of Jambalaya to be a country. Although X3-mism dead, the stench is still strong enough to permeate through every grain of rice, causing a discordant note. That is why everybody must be vigilant and nip it in the bud. It is easy for people to demand things from others. Demand to use this or that. Demand to stop using this and that. But the proper thing that is demanded from their faith in Almighty is for them to change themselves and transform their life to be a beacon of love and faith. That is the most difficult thing to do. Many people seem to be fighting for the cause of Almighty, but if you see through them, they are just a bunch of narcissistic ego maniacs. They misuse the name Almighty so that they appear to be champions of their cause, and hence gain adulation and respect from others. They do not love the Almighty. They love themselves."


"You shall know the tree by the fruit it bears. Be patient!", Dionysus said. "As a parting gift, I brought you some crocodile meat from Australia."

The Chef had grilled the crocodile meat on skewers and it was served with some salsa thingy.

"It tastes like chicken! But it is so, so, so very tough! Barely edible without the sauce!", I exclaimed.
"Politicians are thick skinned. Hence the tough meat. And deep down inside, bad politicians are chickens. They do everything for political survival. They are not brave enough to change what is wrong for the fear of losing support. Not everybody is like the intellectual Gus Dur. His views on tolerance and pluralism is unusually courageous!", said Dionysus. "And now, I must leave you, my friend. Go forth with the message of love from me, a Pagan God, and a figment of your over active imagination".

Ciki snapped out of her trance and was again her beautiful, energetic self.

A tall tale, badly written by me and a departure from the norm. As I walked down Changkat I felt better, my conversation and adventures with a creature I summoned from the depths of my mind was cathartic. And I appeal to all of you reading this blog to give some thought to what your faith is, and what it really means to you. As for the Android, it is painfully easy. It only believes in reason and rationality. But if everything fails, it believes in love and the universal goodness of man. I'm a hopeless romantic.

Havana
No. 2 & 4, Lorong Sahabat
Off Changkat Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur.

Add: Just came across MM's post here. Please click. FYI, The Android is neither a Muslim or a Christian, but feels that to try a divine matter in a court of man made law is undignified and ridiculous. It should be solved by an open dialogue by all parties.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cilantro, Micasa All Suite Hotel, Jalan Tun Razak, KL. Mummy! I swallowed Cod Sperm!

(no pork served)

After 3 weeks of suffering from separation anxiety, with tears, whimpering and tantrums, I am back. Everybody teases me about my abnormal fixation to Sage. I know. It's that bad. My week is never complete without me being tantalized and seduced by some of the finest food available in KL. And now, Sage's mother cum precursor is back in business.

"Cilantro, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Ci-lan-tro: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Ci. Lan. Tro."

(plagiarized from the opening passage of Nabokov's Lolita)


Had a horrid day, and a have a feeling that I will be having an impending meltdown soon. I need to be reminded why I have to work. At the precise moment, the radio blasted out Black Eyed Peas who are probably psychic and they were singing:

A feeling, woo hoo, that tonight's gonna be a good night
That tonight's gonna be a good night
That tonight's gonna be a good, good night

Tonight's the night, let's live it up
I got my money, let's spend it up
Go out and smash it like oh my God
Jump off that sofa, let's get, get off

I know that we'll have a ball
If we get down and go out and just lose it all
I feel stressed out, I wanna let it go
Let's go way out spaced out and losing all control

That is just about as close I can get to a religious experience, I guess and a sign for me to go for my overdue visit to Cilantro.

Clockwise from top left: 1. Interior, Cilantro. 2. Another shot of the interior with the stairs leading down to the Cigar room. 3. Venison Carpaccio 4. Sea Urchin Angel Hair Pasta.

The feeling that I got when I entered was claustrophobia. Used to the space and view at Sage, Cilantro felt like a dungeon. No window views, and the cellar and cancer club in located one floor below. The few mirrors they had on the pillars did not do much to give the illusion of space it required. But the old, familiar figures from Sage were there, including Jason the knowledgeable Maitre'd/Manager who does an excellent job of puting diners at ease and recommending dishes and wines.

Seaweed Butter (foreground) and Truffle Butter (background)

The loaves at Cilantro are perfect, as expected. Instead of the Pesto like olive oil mix in Sage, they were served with the most unctuously fragrant truffle butter and a very very lovely seaweed butter. I wished I could take them home with me. I could have wet dreams thinking about them.

Tsubugai with Oba leaf

I arrived very late, at about 10pm and all the other diners were either leaving or waiting for their checks. I am really grateful to the chef for being able to oblige me with the degustation menu, which consists of 5 items. 3 starters, one main and desserts plus coffee. The amuse bouche was Tsubugai with Oba Leaf. Tsubugai is a kind of whelk that is slight chewy and that evening it was served Sashimi style with a minty Oba Leaf. Beautiful play of taste and texture.

Tuna with Arenkha

The plate of hors d'oeuvres was a source of amazement and wonder. The tuna with arenkha was fresh and beautiful. Venison carpaccio served with daikon and truffles was a divine mouthful of indulgent creativity. Sea urchin with Angel Hair begged for an encore and the oyster reiterated my belief that it is a gift from Neptune. The platter came with a shot of Japanese Plum wine.

Oyster

The plate of hors d'oeuvre left me panting for more. Everything was so perfectly executed and in place. It was frighteningly perfect.

Consommé with Tarashirako

The meal proceeded with Beef Consommé with Tarashirako, or more precisely, Cod Sperm Sac. The Consomme broth was beautifully clear with scallions and truffles. It was the first time I swallowed some fish cum but I have to admit that it was a marvelous experience. Creamy smooth and rich, only a genius could have masterfully matched this with a perfect consommé.

Unagi with Foie Gras

The Pièce de résistance of Cilantro. Unagi with Foie Gras. Breaded and fried, and then baked and doused with a tiny bit of Port Sauce. The consistency of the foie is perfect and creamy. A marvelous showpiece of ingenuity and perfect cooking technique.

Main Lobster Acqua Pazza with Asari

The chef decided to do something off menu for the mains, the Maine lobster was poached in Acqua Pazza (Crazy Water) together with Asari (Japanese Clams). The results was a heavenly blend of briney perfection, with hints of Basil and seafood. I'm in love, and transported to the sea. The texture of the lobster was slightly too rubbery, but other than that, no grouses.

Chocolate Terrine with Pistachio Ice Cream

The desserts at Sage has never disappointed me. At Cilantro, it is also beautifully perfect. Chocolate terrine with Pistachio Ice Cream. A sinful, indulgent treat with an irreproachable texture and taste. I went home and threw that last piece of dry Sacher Torte that I have been saving up.

This is certainly not the proper place to discuss the morality of Humbert's obsession and lecherous intentions for a 12 year old Lolita, nor the place to debate the difference between love and lust. But the book is both lyrical and has a dark sense of humour.

And just like Humbert, I too have an obsession for Cilantro. Having to accept that the world is imperfect and having to brace myself to the necessity of having to trudge through the mundane chores everyday, it is a blessing to be able to dine in solace in a place where the food is almost faultless. Cilantro has risen again and Easter came early to KL, last December 16th to be exact. Hurrah!

Cilantro
Micasa All Suite Hotel
Jalan Tun Razak
Kuala Lumpur

To Read Lolita:

1. Cheap and Easy: Downloadable in PDF at http://www.vahidnab.com/lolita.pdf

2. For Scholars : The Best version would be The Annotated Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and Alfred Appel Jr. ISBN: 978-0679727293. I last saw it at Kinokuniya, but you can purchase it from Amazon or get the lovely, helpful elves at Kinokuniya to order it for you.

3. For lazy readers. The book is chillingly read by Jeremy Irons. Lolita Audiobook (Unabridged) Read by Jeremy Irons ISBN: 978-0739322062. Last spotted at Borders before Borders was put into a shrinking machine. I stopped going there after that out of disgust and disappointment.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

MBG Fruits, LG Floor, Mid Valley Megamall, KL. Size Does Matter.

New Year came and went. Another year, another list of unfulfilled resolutions. Flip the papers, depressing news. Surf the internet news portals, MORE depressing news. Job sucks. The continuous need to code switch and use so many languages at work is driving me up the wall. There's an expression Spiderman would love to use. Maybe I should get bitten by a radioactive spider and learn to stick on the wall. Effortlessly.

Aren't you amazed by the ability of Malaysians to politicize everything? I for one am sick of politics. How can we talk about politics if we cannot even come to any common ground on where to start? How can we discuss anything when both parties are not rational and everybody is so confrontational? We say the westerners are rude and pride ourselves for being well bred, good mannered and religious. It doesn't show at all. Words like bastard and big ape used in Parliament. Everything is threatened with blood shed. At least Wendy Wright did not threaten to kill Dawkins and cursed that snooty academician to an after life of eternal suffering and damnation when they debated about creationism and intelligent design. Nor were there threats of blood shed and death to atheists. And Dawkins did not use words like stupid and unable to tolerate idiocy, despite being a godless heretic. They were behaving rather civilly despite being passionately militant about their causes. Politics in Malaysia often drive me to a Kafkaesque angst. Trudging through life here is like living out The Castle.

Political scavengers from BOTH sides of the political divide just love to circle around issues like vulture around carcasses. And inevitably the ones that makes the most noise will be the has beens or the minions that are looking for an opportunity to rise up and be noticed. Bearing no other talents and obviously lacking in intellect, they can just rise up and bay, bay, bay. Howl and thump their chest in front of the pack and reject civilised debate and dialogue. Same rhetoric, day in day out. Sort of reminds me of a T-shirt I had which has a picture of a Chicken calling the cat "Pussy" and the cat calling the chicken, well, "Chicken!".

How come when it comes to race and religion, there are so many defenders. MCA defending the Chinese, Hindraf defending the Indians... When it comes to the specifics like the homeless, drug addicts, school dropouts and hospice patients, nobody wants to rise up and defend them. Nobody organizes any rallies to highlight the welfare of the old and feeble, lack of welfare for the handicapped? The media coverage both in the MSM and the Internet for SMILE campaign was so, so,so much less than an idiotic politician making an inflammatory remark.

If there is anybody who needs some defending, it would be me. A Secularist, Humanist, Wagner loving Kant worshiper who believes in the preservation of Mak Yong has to be listed in the endangered species list in Malaysia. Just in case you guys accuse me of being a snobbish anglophile, I would like to set the record straight by saying that Latin should be the lingua franca of the world. At least while trying to conjugate both the verbs and nouns (which is as pleasant as trying to ease yourself while suffering from hemorrhoids) at least there is some time to think and reflect, instead of spewing out the usual rhetoric of venom and hate.

Guys, just stop fighting one another. The country needs some serious governing. Our education system is in shambles, our borders are porous with more people getting in and out illegally everyday, more than the nether regions of a whore in Chow Kit. Crime in the streets are driving the residents of quiet suburbs into paranoia. Highways that turn in carparks on bad days and are car parks at their exits on normal days. Housing for the poor? Affordable housing for the middle class? The list is endless.

Amidst the babble and cacophony of mindless rhetoric, at least Khairy seems to be making some intelligent media statements that are intelligible to the sushi munching, macchiato sipping crowd. Only time will tell if it is just a matter of political survival, shifting his support base to middle class urbanites who are getting more opinionated. Perhaps he finally realizes that those he had banked on for support last time would drop him like a hot potato when a taxi permit is dangled in front of them.

Amidst the gloom and doom and uncertainty, fueled by the general nastiness of the politics in Malaysia, where can a ravenous, chronically stressed, Sage junkie Android find solace?

At the most unlikely place. A fruit store in Mid Valley and a sight for sore eyes. Lusciously sweet and fragrant and definitely the ideal snack while watching some soppy Korean tele-drama. After eating, the taste of strawberries lingered on in my mouth for a long time...

Mangoes from Australia. Look at size of 'em MFs. Again, sweet, fragrant and delicious to the last bite. Nectar for a disillusioned Android.

Bing Cherries from Australia. Humongous, sweet and luscious. Sweeter than the Rainier in the previous post. Cherries. See? We need diversity. If Australia never existed and we insisted dogmatically that winter months must be in December, then we will not be getting these large, beautiful Cherries now. The wonder of living in Malaysia is the nation is never paralyzed during festive season. During Chinese New Year, the Mamak Stalls are open. During Hari Raya, Chinese Doctors will take over the running of essential services in Hospitals and Malay Doctors can take a break.

Growing up in the 1970's in a small town was so idyllic. Climbing up trees and running aound fields, oblivious to the political turmoil both in Vietnam and Cambodia. As I grew up and started watching movies like the Deer Hunter and Killing Fields, I begin to realize that there were so many atrocities committed so near Malaysia. All of the despots were ultra nationalists. So many lives were lost. The Genocide was especially worse in Cambodia where the first to be killed were the intellectuals. Gifted singers such as Ros Serey Sothea and Sinn Sisamouth were interred in concentration camps and later executed. (Just a diversion, Ros and Sinn's version of psychedelic grunge continues to inspire until today. A rock band known as Dengue Fever is inspired by Khmer 70's rock and has produced 3 albums to critical acclaim)

Peace is so fragile, please be careful and responsible. As I walked away from MBG, all i could think about is Fellini's Dolce Vita. Instead of Anita Ekberg dancing away at the Trevi Fountains, mine version was her, stuffing strawberries seductively into her mouth, playing with bananas and mangoes at a fruit stall. My version of modern morality in the midst of consumerism.

I walked to the car park after having stuffed myself with the RM18.80 set meal at Crystal Jade, sipping the beautiful Caramel Frappe from Austin Chase with my hands bogged down by the fruits. I felt better. I now that the traffic will not improve, the scary Politicians will still be there, the toll rates will just rise and rise. Life may suck at times, but is still relatively good. Of course it can be better. But at least I for now, have good food and beautiful fruits to cheer me up. Happy New Year, Malaysia. May you continue to grow and prosper. May your custodians walk their talk.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Albion, Jalan Berangan, Kuala Lumpur. Hail Britannia!

(non halal)

After disappearing for three weeks, I returned to Changkat Bukit Bintang and was amazed by the changes. The dizzying turnover of restaurants along this small stretch of road matches an acne outbreak on the face of a pubescent teen. Engka Portobello has disappeared, which was disappointing as it served reasonably priced and delightful food. Reggae Bar popped up. Some new Spanish restaurant seems to be under construction next to Werner's.

A new restaurant that has popped up is Albion (which means the Islands of Great Britain, Gaelic, if I am not mistaken) which is located next to Bar Italia along the quieter stretch parallel to Changkat. Chic and smart, with a slightly spartan yet contemporary setting, it offers modern British cuisine and has been open for about 2 weeks now. The menu is not too terribly extensive, but please bear in mind that this is a new place and they are just breaking into the scene.


Starters are fairly interesting here. Besides the usual offerings of Parma Ham and Melon, there is Fishcakes with Strawberry Salad and Blue Cheese Salad. I had the Chorizo a la Plancha (which means grilled Chorizo in Spanish) and it came as a Bruschetta look alike with the Chorizo sausages bathed in sourish tomato paste and basil. The dish is no eye candy, but tasted delightfully fresh on a humid Sunday night.


For mains, I had seared duck fillet with Blackcurrant sauce. The duck was a little bit too tough but blackcurrant sauce that came with it was a welcome departure from the normal as the fruitiness of the sauce tempered the gaminess of the duck. The potatoes would have been better if they were Dauphinoise.


For dessert, I had the Toasted Mature Fruitcake (which was mature enough to vote in the coming GE) that came served with Vanilla Ice Cream on top of some candied pineapple rings. Although the fruitcake was nothing to shout about, but the way it was served with the pineapple was brilliant as it cuts down the satiety. Albion probably warrants some return visits again.

I am terribly excited about Cilantro's re-opening and must find time to dine there soon (although both the Queen and Goddess of KL foodblogs did not attain food nirvana there).


Just to end this fruity post, Rainier Cherries are available from Imbi market now! These are pale and pink and sweet, not the usual tart read ones that are used for cooking, but sold at an exorbitant price in KL.

Here's to wishing all of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010!

And I hope that your LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES THIS YEAR.






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Unless stated otherwise, all the posts and food here is paid for by the Paranoid Android. He dose not receive any financial compensation for posting in this blog. The views expressed here are an opinion and as usual, taste is subjective and varies among people, time and mood as well! Please feel free to contact me at humanist dot philo at gmail dot com. Unless otherwise stated, the photos here belong to the owner of this blog. You are free to use it for any non commercial purpose. As courtesy, just drop me an email and credit the photo to the blog. Thanks for dropping by!

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