Monday, May 30, 2011

The Best Secret Location @ Paris

One of the best places that I've ever been in Paris (I've just made a return to the city after being there last winter in December 2010) and I've just realised it after 3 trips is actually having coffee with a view of everything! I didn't know about this place until during this recent trip where I had to visit Printemps and then i discovered this secret place...

It's a brasserie called Le Déli-Cieux. It's a roof garden self-service restaurant on top of the adjoining Printemps Beauty/Home store where you have to take a lift to the 8th story and then an escalator at the travel/luggage department to the roof top. Déli-Cieux simply means "deli under the sky". What a hidden gem!

The food is simple—sandwiches, snacks, coffee, tea, pastries and nothing fancy but if you're on a tight budget, you can still enjoy the 360° panoramic view for free! I had a cup of cappuccino there and it was great. I love the strong brew and with the cold breeze, a cuppa really does the trick. Or you can sip a glass of champagne here from 9.35am until 8pm and 10pm on Thursdays.

Spot the Eiffel Tower

The view from atop is just picturesque. I enjoyed every bit of the magnificent baroque and roman styled architectures. Paris is really a land of man-made architecture marvels. Just staring at the buildings is enough to make me fall in love with the city of love!

Although views from the terrace aren't as breathtaking as those from the Eiffel Tower or the Tour Montparnasse, they are equally interesting. It's like having a view with a closer perspective.

Fantastic view, beautiful breeze and it's FREE...

And after admiring such a wonder view, I embarked on my shopping journey before flying home the next morning. Guess where did I go? I found my way to Franklin D Roosevelt Metro station and walked down Avenue Montaigne where all my favourite stores are located. You'll find brands from Gucci at the start of the street to Paul & Joe at the end with Dior, Chanel, Pucci, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi and LV all in between. Shopping haven!

Ermm... they all are not mine!

Le Déli-cieux
9th Floor, Printemps
66, Bld Haussmann
75009 Paris
Tel: +33 1 42 82 62 76

Métro: Havre Caumartin or Opéra
RER: Auber or Hausmann St-Lazare

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Valrhona in Brussels

Part of our meeting itinerary involves visiting the Valrhona store in Brussels! The Valrhona store is actually located in Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes, in Brussels. It was very near the place where most of the outlets are serving beers!

We all had a good time tasting the gourmet bon bons!

We were all given a tour yesterday where we would walk around Brussels, stopped at one place for beers, another restaurant for starters and then another restaurant for mains and lastly a place for dessert. It was crazy! I never thought someone would actually do such a thing but it was fun. The best thing being in Europe in summer is that the sun is shinning but it's still very cool and sometimes a bit cold at night and it's still bright even at 10pm. How wonderful.

I'm now on the Thalys on my way to Paris. Coming home soon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Le Chambord @ Brussels

Bonjour! Hoi! I'm in Brussels, the land where they speak 2 languages or sometimes three including German... Ooh wait... it's also the land of awesome Belgian Beers and Belgian chocolates to boot. The 13 hr flight from KL to CDG Paris has been really pleasant as I had a very good sleep after a couple of champagnes starting from the lounge right up to the plane.

The transit at CDG took me about 4 hours as I had to take the 11.45am flight on Brussels Airline to Brussels. Guess what, there were only 10 passengers and we practically can say that we chartered the flight!

It's true what my designer told me that there are almost no terrible restaurants in Brussels. According to him, everything is good. Oh well, we've yet to find out! For dinner, we chose to eat somewhere near the hotel and this place called Le Chambord is actually situated just diagonally across Hotel Bloom and opposite the Botanique gardens.

This restaurant is really cute. As a start, they do not have the usual "book menu" and all they did was to push this menu board to your table and you order from there! The menu is in French and lucky I've actually picked up some French during all the french cuisine dinners that I had and I knew what I wanted that night! It's actually not that difficult as you'll only need to learn a few words like "duck, beef, pork, chicken" in French and then you'll roughly know what you'll be getting.

For starters, it has to be the beers! What a waste if I come to Brussels and not try the local beers here as I've heard so much about their special brew. One of my bosses asked me, "Are you a strong girl, Eiling?" and I said yeah! So, I was served this glass of Chimay Bleue. The Chimay brewery produces three widely distributed ales and a patersbier exclusively for the monks. They are known as Trappist beers (under control of Trappist monks) because they are made in a Trappist monastery. It was the first brewery to use the Trappist Ale designation on its labels. As with all other Trappist breweries, the beer is sold only for financial support of the monastery and good causes.

The beer has a FREAKING 9% alcohol content and it's a very rich beer. It's dark in colour and this is a "classic" for Chimay. It has a creamy head and slightly bitter after taste coupled with some peppery and fruity notes. Very interesting indeed. The glass makes it look like I'm drinking brandy!

One of my colleagues had the Toast Champignons ala Creme (€10) which is actually toast with mushrooms and cream. It's very nice as the mushrooms are really tender and juicy but the secret lies in the sauce.

My designer has the Asperges a'la Flamande (€11) which is white asparagus in a Flemish way. It's my first time eating such a dish and interestingly the asparagus is not soggy. It still has the crispness and the sauce is not too rich either.

I had the Jambon du Parme Serano au Melon (€12) which is Serano Parma Ham with melon. This is so addictive as I'm already a big fan of Jamon Serano and Iberico Bellota, but this one here is served with slices of melon that is so sweet and juicy! I wished I could have multiple plates of that but then again, I don't want to miss out on my mains.

Almost everyone on the table has the Chateau Briand (€19) which I strongly recommend when I saw that on the menu. There are not many places in KL that does a Chateau Briand (which I did the explanation here). I had mine medium rare but I think it's cooked medium. I'm fine with that as long as the meat is juciy and tender. It is! I didn't have it with the Hollandaise sauce as I felt that the steak should be eaten plain as you can taste the flavours of the meat better.

The prices are quite reasonable provided you try not to convert because if you do, you won't want to eat anything! Haha... I love the food here but the drawback is that the service is really SLOOOWWW... I think I've waited more than 30 minutes for my plate of parma ham and then another 30 minutes for our mains! If you have the time, why not?

Cheers to more Belgian beers for the next few days!

Le Chambord
10, Chaussee de Haecht
1210 Saint-Josse-ten-Noode - Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 223 62 31

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Absinthe Restaurant @ Bukit Pasoh Rd Singapore

Recently I unexpectedly met a young gentleman in the republic whom has a passion for champagnes and wines. Also during this time, we've been "whatsapp-ing" each other and sending pictures of bottles after bottles that we were drinking. And so when I was in Singapore recently, we met up and have dinner at a French restaurant called Absinthe, located on Bukit Pasoh Rd at the end of a quiet corner street.

And since my dinning partner is a sommelier, I just leave the wine ordering to him. He chose a bottle of Prestige des Hautes Garrigues 2004 from Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas.

Just a little information about the appellation Gigondas : It is solely a red wine region with a small amount of rosé wine produced in the Southern Rhone wine region of France. Often called the little brother of Chateauneuf du Pape, with the lowest annual yield in France of only 36 hecto-litres per hectare, the association of noble varietals such as Grenache Noir, Syrah and Mourvèdre helps produce a very delicate palette of Gigondas wines.

I love the rugged tanins, the chocolate notes and the great earthy spicy molten pepper and minerals on the palate.

Absinthe is really one of the restaurants that I'm impressed with in Singapore. I think it's perfect if you like a non-pretentious French restaurant with bubbly French faces and if you don't mind the friendly staff. There's even a wine room if you want to dine privately for 4-6 people. I did enjoyed myself that night and let's hope that I get to come back for more good food!

48 Bukit Pasoh Road
Singapore 089858
Tel:+(65) 6222 9068
Opening Hours
Lunch : 12pm - 2:30pm (Mon - Fri)
Dinner : 6:30pm - 10:30pm (Mon - Sat)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Part II: Oenotheque by Wine Universe @ Singapore

Exactly one year ago, I gave this restaurant a try (post here) at the republic and this year, almost around the same time I returned for another dinner. I had to arrange a dinner for my customers during the Tax Free show and good french cuisine coupled with convenience is the key. Thus, I made a reservation with the chef, Paul Longworth weeks in advance to organise a dinner for 8 people.

Too bad the chef was not around and it's been a year since I last saw him. However, his team of chefs did a good job that night coupled with really good service from one of the staff, Jello. Yeah, his name is pretty unique and cute. There's a choice between ala carte and degustation.

I was in charge of ordering the wines and I chose a bottle of Domaine Duclax 2005 Chateuneuf du Pape from the southern Rhone. The sweet spot for drinking Châteauneuf du Papes is usually the first 5-6 years after the vintage according to Robert Parker. The best of them will continue to hold on to life (but rarely improving) beyond 15-20 years. It is only the exceptional Châteauneuf du Papes that will evolve for 20-25+ years, and those are indeed a rarity.This bottle was quite a decent drink at SGD$100 a bottle. It has an earthy palate coupled with nice balanced flavours.

The degustation menu is priced at SGD$98.

Sauteed duck liver, grapes, apples and Balsamic
It's an interesting combination of savoury duck liver paired with the sweet citrus notes of apples and grapes. The balsamic sauce with apple foam completes the dish which provides the layering of textures.

Saffron & Leek risotto, Parmesan
This dish is a little too heavy for me as I find that the Parmesan cheese flavours too strong and over powering. The risotto is very nice but it fills you up too quickly.

Fille of line-caught snapper, emulsion de poisson & rouille pearls
The snapper is tender and fresh which pairs very well with this broth/soup-like dish. Look out for the surprises in the bowl!

Palette Cleanse
with a sorbet and sparkly surprise on the tongue!

Grade4/5 wagyu rump
Instead of the Kurobuta Pork, we had to add SGD$10 to change it to the wagyu rump served with celery, baby spinach and horseradish froth. I had mine medium rare but everyone else had it medium well! The portions are very generous and the meat is tender.

Coffee creme brulee & Belgium chocolate ice cream
Everyone was filled to the brim and hardly anyone is able to finish the dessert. I find this a little bit too sweet for my liking.

Overall the dinner was very satisfying as everyone loved the foie gras starter and the wagyu rump. I think you have seriously consider the level of hunger before ordering a degustation menu as the portions are big. The wines here are pretty affordable and it's definitely a good place to indulge in good food and wines. They even have some special wines from Switzerland which I was tempted to try but my boss preferred to drink French that night.

Oenotheque by Wine Universe
9 Raffles Boulevard,
#01-109 Millenia Walk
Singapore 039596
Tel: +65 6338 0717

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A week in Singapore

What a week!

I'm in Singapore for work again since last Sunday as our team are getting all geared up for the exhibition in Singapore Suntec Convention Hall. It was the annual Tax Free Asia Pacific show for all things duty free! Although it wasn't my first experience being an exhibitor at this show, it was however my first time having such a big stand. It was 4 to 5 times of the average booth I had before.

MARS booth at TFAP 2011

I really like the Tax Free show as you can see so many new product launches, big brands, impressive displays. The brands represented in the tax free industry is really extensive from high end fashion, perfumeries, cosmetics, skincare, tobacco, liquor, chocolates, travel accessories and also IT gadgets.

Glenfiddich booth
They have the awesome 40 & 50 year old whisky!

Big fashion houses like the Bvlgari and Dior has closed doors booths for exclusivity and privacy.

Imagine the heaven of confectionery for sampling, whisky drams to taste, cocktails to sip and luxuries for indulgence. This is the best exhibition ever!

Marina Mandarin Singapore

For convenience, I stayed at the Marina Mandarin Singapore which is just located opposite Suntec Convention Centre. This is my first time staying there as I have always preferred to stay at the Meritus Mandarin in Orchard Rd.

Lucky I have booked a room 2 months in advance as during the exhibition period, the hotels around this area is always fully booked. My room was quite nice in a way that there's a balcony and a view that over looks the Marina Bay Sands. The room is quite spacious but I find the shower cubicle in the toilet a bit too small.

I'll be back to KL on Friday for the weekend before flying again for a global meeting somewhere far far away...


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Have a beef steak @ La Vacas in Mont Kiara

Perhaps one of the most unusual places that I would like to have a piece of good steak and wines is under a shade with no air condition. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with al-fresco dining and my heat tolerance levels but sometimes with the heat wave in KL, you wished you can dine comfortably under the cool breeze.

Las Vacas is "The Cows" in Spanish terms. And there is no surprise what type of food they will be serving here. The difference is, this is more like a no frill dining place where there's a simple menu consisting of beef and lamb in different cuts, some burgers and also light food like bruschetta, soup, beef wrap and also salads. It's also a meat shop where you can buy your meat and cook it at home like a Master Chef!

The different types of beef available are - Wagyu, Angus (grain/grass fed) or normal beef and you can choose your cuts - ribeye, striploin, tenderloin and also rump. Prices range from RM15 - RM60 per 100gm.

The ordering process is very easy : you either choose the cuts from the menu or you can walk over to their chiller to choose the meat on display and then choose how you want it to be prepared. The styles are quite standard - rare, medium rare, medium or medium well... The beef steak comes with a side dish of garden salad and also a slice of garlic baguette. And if you think it's too plain, they have a few sauces on the table for you to compliment the steak such as the HP sauce, Dijon mustard and seed mustard if you prefer.

I had a mushroom soup (RM5.50) that night. It seemed like most of the nights, their soup of the day would be the mushroom soup. It's not the best tasting mushroom soup but at that price, it tasted pretty good but it's not thick enough and the flavours are not very distinctive either. But hey, it' still better than some out-of-can soup!

Angus Ribeye Grass Fed Steak

I had a Angus Grass Fed steak of 260g done medium rare. I didn't have it with any sauce as I've always like a plain steak where you can taste the flavours of the meat better. Actually I'm not a fan of mustard either...

Pardon me for the bad quality of pictures. I have a crappy point & shoot camera and under dark conditions like this, I had to use the candle to lit up the picture as the flash was too harsh. The meat was prepared medium rare, the way I wanted it but as you can see, this is also a thin steak of about an inch thick. The outside layer is grilled very well and it secured the juiciness of the steak within. Not much chewing needed as I'm always afraid I get a piece of steak that has the texture of a chewing gum! It was a very good tasting steak and I must say, it's worth another visit.

Brunello di Montalcino 1995 Riserva Poggio All'Oro

To compliment the steak, I had a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino 1995 from Castello Banfi. courtesy of my dining partner. Rated 91 points by Wine Spectator. Using the sangiovese (pronounced "sahn-joh-veh-zeh") grapes, this wine from the Tuscany is really good! It's actually a semi-classic grape grown in the Tuscany region of Italy which is also used to produce the Chianti and other Tuscan red wines. It has a very nice tobacco and earthy nose and lots of black cherries and plums on the palate. It's really a nice brunello, medium-bodied and firm tanins. I would say it's drinking very well now!

The dinner for two costs RM200 with 2 soups of the day, 2 Angus grass fed beef steak @RM28/100g and RM30 for the corkage charge. You can bring your own wines here as they do not sell any. It's about RM100 per person which I think it's not cheap but not too expensive either. There's only 2 tables in the air conditioned area but it's too smoky inside. There are only a few tables and therefore you might want to make a reservation ahead of your visit and bring cash because sometimes their credit card system is down.

We were lucky as it has just rained and it wasn't too hot while dining there. I would say the beef is worth coming back but the ambiance might not be that great. After that, we adjourned for a cup of double ristretto latte at Ristretto @ 10 Mont Kiara. The coffee still tasted great and Julian is still a good barista!

Las Vacas @ Shoplex, Mont Kiara, KL
LG, Lot 1A, New Wing Mont Kiara Shoplex,
Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
(Beside Baskin Robbins & opposite Plaza Mont Kiara)

Telephone No.: 603-6205 2258
Opening Hours: 10am - late (Closed on Mondays)

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Revisiting Lafite @ Shangri La KL

The last time I dined at Lafite at Shang was probably more than half a year ago when they had a change of chef from Damon Campbell to now Georg Schroppel. I can see that he has changed the menu and it's interesting to see how the new dishes would fare.

It was a post birthday dinner for a friend and since he was craving for some French cuisine, Lafite was a timely excuse for an indulgence in some good food! Nothing much has changed at Lafite - same setting, same ambiance and probably the same concept. That night was particularly full as almost 80 percent of the place was occupied by ladies!

To start things off, the amuse bouche for the day was made to look like a mini ice-cream. The "scoop" was a salmon confit and the cone was a crispy pastry. The taste was lovely but sadly it was too small! haha... They had a new bread which is red in colour. Apparently it was red because it was made with beetroot and topped with black sesame seeds. The bread tasted very good with the aioli which is actually a garlic mayonnaise made with garlic, olive oil and egg.

Pierro Pinot Noir 2008

The wines of Pierro from Margaret River does indeed worth a mention especially this bottle of Pinot Noir. I've had the Pierro Chardonnay 2003 but certainly not the reds. Despite it being an Australian wine, traditional Burgundian methods still drive Pierro's pinot production. The 2008 bottle displays an aroma of plums, with soft and gentle flavours of red cherries and blackberries. It's medium-bodied with velvety textures and silky tannins. Very good for drinking now although you can also consider cellaring it for a few years. Priced at RM380+ a bottle at Lafite, I think you can probably get it outside for half the price.

Australian Kobe Wagyu Beef Steak Mille Feuille (RM75)
This is like a steak tartar using the Australian Tenderloin paired with lemon polenta and also topped with caviar. Had a spoonful, nice and flavourful but I'm not really a fan of steak tartar!!

Pan Seared Perigord Foie Gras (RM60)
The Perigord, a former province of France is apparently a truffle area and is famous for its foie gras. This dish consists of a nicely seared foie gras paired with a celery root puree, orange meringue, apricot almond chutney, spiced bread and the very interesting contrasting textures of sauce, fluffy bread and almond nibs. Love it!

Australian Kobe Wagyu Beef Tenderloin (RM160)
The tenderloin is cooked medium rare, paired with a bernaise sauce, herb pomme puree, black truffle puree, bone marrow and also a piece of pan seared foie gras. I was really having a good time indulging in foie gras, forgetting about my cholesterol levels. Who cares when you have a piece of foie gras dangling in front of you at that moment?!! The dish was excellent.

Australian Hill Side Farm Lamb Loin (RM120)
It's a combination of grilled lamb rack and braised lamb, served with couscous, fine ratatouille, and balsamic glazed tomatoes. The lamb was tender and free from gamey tastes but I am not a big fan of lamb and couscous either. My friend did have a special palate for food!

After both the starter and mains, we were both very satisfied and full. There were no room for desserts. It was indeed a very wonderful dinner. I had not had such wonderful french cuisine for sometime and this was really a good reward for a hard's day work.

Lafite is still one of the safest bet for fine dining in the KL food scene. Good job chef!

Other posts on Lafite - here & here and here.

Shangri La Hotel
11 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
T: +(60 3) 2032 2388

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