Sunday, January 30, 2011

21 - Significance of age

It is such a celebrated number. Who wouldn't like to be 21 again? It is the number of significance and importance, not only for me personally but for the vast majority of us and also for the whiskies that we enjoy. Age 21 marked the legal age to enter a fine club in London, the legal age to drink in U.S and also the legal age for Malaysians to enter a casino. Being said that, did you know that the ageing for whiskies is also equally important as it will have an impact on it's character? As we all know, time is essence.

There is just so many wonderful whiskies out there and 21 year old bottlings are not that difficult to find either. Not too long ago, I had a chance to do a horizontal tasting (same year, different distilleries) of some of the best single malts of highland and speyside regions. Time to revisit the feeling of being 21-year-old again!

Whiskies tasted:

Aberfeldy 21yo
Dalmore 21yo
The Balvenie Port Wood 21yo
Highland Park 21yo

Out of these 4 whiskies, I have tried Dalmore and Highland Park previously and this time it is done in a way that I can compare all these 4 bottles side by side. Three of these bottles are also in the "101 whiskies to try before you die" book that I aim to complete it before I die! haha...

Aberfeldy 21 Bottling Note

Launched in October of 2005, this 21 year old lies at the core of the Aberfeldy range and is something of a flagship for the brand. This bottling was heralded as the Best Mainland Single Malt at the World Whisky Awards 2007.

Dalmore 21 Bottling Note

The Dalmore Distillery has been producing exceptional single malt whisky since 1839. This bottle is a Gold Medal winning single malt from the highlands. It is a sherry oak matured whisky and the bottling now has been discontinued.

Balvenie Port Wood 21 Bottling Note

The flagship single malt from Balvenie's little group of Port Wood whiskies. This bottling was finished in thirty year old port pipes and is a veritable masterclass in poise and balance.

Highland Park 21 Bottling Note

Established in 1798, Highland Park is one of the oldest Scotch whisky distilleries. More important than age though, is the combination of traditional whisky-making techniques with obsessive attention to detail that has made Highland Park arguably the most respected single malt in the world.

Aberfeldy 21 Tasting Note

Nose: Honey, fruity. Thick malt, enlivened by a fresh, zesty quality.
Palate: Smooth, vanilla, undulating, refined smoke.
Finish: Gentle finish with perhaps some ripe white peach notes and a good wave of honey.

Dalmore 21 Tasting Note

Nose: Fresh, rich and complex, sherry, smoke, with aromas of dried apricots, peaches and nutmeg.
Palate: Sweet and malty, berries, chocolate and caramel.
Finish: Smoky, fruity, some caramel.

Balvenie Port Wood 21 Tasting Note

Nose: Elegant. White peach and a faint puff of smoke.
Palate: Surprisingly delicate. Abounding, yet fine. It has a sublime mouth feel with red fruit, an edge of white grape and a very floral honey.
Finish: Cocoa, slightly bitter as it tails away gracefully.

Highland Park 21 Tasting Note

Nose: Hints of brittle toffee, spicy malt and contrasting heather and smoke notes.
Palate: Rich and full-bodied in the mouth, it is quite smooth and elegant, with hints of caramel, stewed fruits and chocolate, plus some peaty notes.
Finish: Long and sophisticated, with malt, smoke, and a little oaky.

Then, I was asked by my friend to rate the whiskies from my most preferred to the least preferred. After all, this is all about my personal tastes and thus I have no qualms to choose my favourite bottle unless someone plans to sue me for not choosing their bottle as the preferred choice! Lol...

I would rate Balvenie as my most preferred due to it's elegance and delicate notes. Next, I would prefer Highland Park. Let's put it this way - they rarely put a foot wrong and this expression of 21yo is indeed lovely. The third bottle would be Aberfeldy because it is a well-mannered, gentle and heather-honeyed whisky where people who doesn't like whisky would find that they might like this one. Too bad I hated the rather squat and ugly bottle! My least favorite would be Dalmore as I find it less expressive compared to the rest.

Balvenie > Highland Park > Aberfeldy > Dalmore

Seriously, if you're into whisky, the best way is to have a group of friends to conduct a horizontal or vertical tasting so that you can have a few whiskies side by side to see which ones you actually like. At least through this way, I have found my favourite bottle for 21-year-old whiskies! Brilliant!

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Birthday wishlist...

Since my birthday is coming, I intend to sent out the most shameless wish list so that my family and friends would get the hints! However, some of my friends had already gave me some pressies earlier and they have escaped the list I'm posting today! How unfortunate...

I received a bottle of 27 year-old Single Malt whisky as my friends tend to get me a bottle of whisky that indicates my age every year! And then I also received a bottle of a 100-pointer Dom Perignon 1996 - woot! It was just ecstatic. I think my friends think I'm really an alcoholic! My girlfriends got me a manicure and pedicure which I have not been before. Can you imagine I have not had my nails done by a professional before?!!

see how happy I am....

Dad gave me a Samsung Galaxy S - bye bye Blackberry Curve. I'll need to explore the new Android phone and I will definitely miss the BBMs... actually I am tempted to keep the BB but I can't afford to have two lines with data plans! Mom gave me my favourite bottle of Christian Lacroix Cest la Vie perfume!

As for my sisters... hmm I have the perfect present suggestion - why don't you guys get me the Nike+ running sensors for my Nike+ shoes and this Nike+ band to track my running?!! I am trying to walk and jog for at least 3 times a week considering the much weight gain in these recent years. Yeah it took me 3 years to realise I'm fat!

Nike+ Sportband

Then I would also love to have some SK-II miracle water please because my stocks are finishing soon! Perhaps I should change to another brand since I am now very broke after the house purchase. Actually there is even a longer list but I should not go overboard and be thankful for everything that is given to me. The best present would of course still be the messages and birthday wishes I receive on my birthday. Who says the best things aren't free?!!

The ultimate birthday dream...

Ok... I'm really dreaming...

Don't worry, you still have 5 more days to fulfill my wish!
P/S: The most shameless post ever!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dutch A-Z (Part II)

This is a continuation of the "My Selective Dutch A-Z".

K for Kroket and Kaaskop

Kroket is a popular Dutch delicacy which is also known as "Croqutte" and it's a crispy, sausage-shaped meat roll with a minced meat filling that is piping hot, often encased in breadcrumbs. The inner filling is gooey. It's so popular in the Netherlands that they actually have a McKroket Burger at McDonalds there.

Kaaskop is a slang and used offensively for a Dutch person which literally means "cheesehead". Use this word at your own risk when in Netherlands. haha...

O for Oliebollen and Orange

A treasured Dutch custom, the Oliebollen (oil balls) were traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve but now they appear at almost all food stands and fairs in the winter. The deep-fried dough is powdered with sugar. The average Dutch would polish off at least 8 Oliebollen each year. That is about 131 million balls across the country which is enough to fill more than 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Orange is the national colour of Netherlands which is quite evident during the World Cup where you see fans of Dutch football team turning up in Orange jerseys. The association to the colour originated from the name of the royal family "Oranje-Nassau".

P for Pannekoeken

Pannekoeken is actually Dutch pancakes and their pancakes is quite different from the American ones because they are thinner and much larger. It can be just a basic pancake or a pancake with "stroop" which is sugar beet syrup or powdered sugar and also with "spek" (bacon).

R for Red Light District and Rookworst

The Red Light District situated at De Wallen is the largest and most famous. As Holland is a very open-minded country, legal prostitution is not hard to find here. In this Red Light District, women are displayed behind windows where you can view them and pick the ones you like and then negotiate a deal with them. At De Wallen, there are approximately 300 windows used by prostitutes lighted up with a red light or purple light.When you pay a visit to the red light district, remember not to take pictures there. The prostitutes do not like that and neither will their pimps. Stay safe and keep the camera in the pocket. This is a must-see when in Amsterdam.

Rookworst is actually a typical Dutch sausage. While it literally means "smoked sausage", it is actually not truly smoked. To achieve the smoked flavour typical to the product, smoke aromatics are added to the product alongside the spices. The genuine, old-fashioned rookworst is smoked over wood chips: it can be recognised by a dried-in drop at the end of the sausage. I managed to bring some back and it tasted a little peppery and salty. It is often eaten with stamppot which is made with mashed potatoes, celery and cabbage.

T for Tulips

Everyone knew how famous Tulips are in Netherlands but it's only in Spring. Too bad I was there in winter and I didn't even get to touch a single tulip except that tulip shaped umbrella at a shop! To see the varieties of Tulips, visit the Keukenhof, which is dubbed as the Garden of Europe and situatted at Lisse, Netherlands.

W for Windmills

The largest collection of windmills are located at Kinderdijk in South Holland. The 19 working windmills are on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list and is definitely a popular tourist spot.

X for XXX

This is not something to do with the x-rated stuffs or some erotic scene in Holland. When you ask a Dutch person, they will tell you that it represents 3 kisses. In most cultures, it is common to greet with a kiss or two but not in Holland. The Dutch however like to add one extra and they would give 3 kisses. These kisses are actually air kisses where the lips should not touch the cheeks and by the way, the men do not kiss each other. You can see the XXX part of the city's crest and it's Saint Andrew's Crosses of historic value.

This completes the A-Z guide of Netherlands and this would definitely make the one easier to navigate when in the country. Although it's just a few days in Holland, I do like the place very much and I would love to revisit the country again.

Part I here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Selective Dutch A-Z (Part I)

There are a few things to understand when in Netherlands and this is just a simple guide of words that I think would be useful when visiting the country.

A for Amsterdam

It is the capital and largest city in the Netherlands. It's one of the must visit places in the country filled with museums,beautiful canals, tourist attractions and the infamous Red Light District.

B for Bicycles and Bitterballen

Some claimed that there were more bicycles than people in Netherlands. One of the curious facts of the Netherlands: nearly 85 percent of the population own at least one bicycle. It's the most convenient way to get around as most of the paths are for walking and bicyles only.

Bitterballen is a savoury Dutch meat-based snack, typically containing a mixture of beef (minced or chopped), beef broth, flour and butter for thickening, parsley, salt and pepper. The bitterballen complements the beer very well and best eaten with mustard!

C for Cheese, Clogs and Coffeeshops

What's Holland without cheese? This country is indeed reknown for its excellent cheese and the largest exporter of Gouda, Edam, Maasdammer and Boerenkaas (farmer's cheese). The prices of this yellow delight is very affordable too! Take a visit at the cheese markets.

Wooden shoes, or clogs (klompen)are very popular in Netherlands. Although you don't really see people wearing them now, it's still a very popular souvenir.

If you're searching for a cup of aromatic coffee in Netherlands, don't be fooled by the outlets called "coffeeshops". In the Netherlands the term coffeeshop has come to mean a place where hashish and marijuana are available for personal consumption by the public is tolerated by the local authorities. The majority of these "coffeeshops" (in Dutch written as one word) also serve drinks and food. It is not allowed for a coffeeshop to serve alcohol or other drugs. You can smoke a joint in there but provided there is no tobacco as smoking indoors is banned. If you're realling looking for coffee, then head to the "coffee houses or cafe".

F for FEBO and Frikandel

Febo is a fast-food franchise that serves up its snacks in vending machines. It’s a simple process: You walk up to the window of the tastiest-looking treat, drop the correct amount in the slot, open the door, and take out your snack. Febo is still best known for its croquettes. Here are a few, yummy meaty recommendations: “kalfsvleeskroket” for those who love beef (€ 1.40), or “kipcorn” for those who crave a bit of chicken (€ 1.40).

Frikandel is like a minced-meat hotdog. It is a long, skinless, dark-coloured sausange that is eaten hot. Unlike other sausages, a frikandel is deep-fried. Sometimes it is served on a bun and is then called a broodje frikandel.

G for Gay

Since gay marriage has been legalised in Netherlands in 2001, it makes the country a popular destination for gay couples due to the tolerant attitude. The popular Amsterdam Gay Pride event is held every 1st weeked in August. There are several gay areas in Amsterdam, all of them not really far from each other. It's at a street with an unpronounceable name, Reguliersdwarsstraat, which is rather mainstream and 1990s style and (used to be) quite busy at the weekend. Nearby, at Amstel street with its several gay bars, many of them in traditional Dutch style and atmosphere. And finally there is Warmoesstraat with its gay leather and cruise bars and fetish shops. Look out for the rainbow flags!

H for Hagelslag, Haring and Heineken

When I was at the hotel breakfast, I was curious why besides the usual butter and jam, there were packets of chocolate rice on the counter. Then when I read the Amsterdam magazine, only I realised that it is a typical Dutch thing to do which is to sprinkle chocolate on the toast with a layer of butter and the chocolate rice is called Hagelslag.

Anyways, one of the must try while in Amsterdam is the Haring. The trip will not be complete without at least trying to eat one Haring. Haring is actually a the slimy little fish sold in street side stalls that the Dutch can’t seem to get enough of. It is eaten by holding the tail of the Haring and dangled over to the open mouth and must be eaten raw with chopped onions. I've tried mine here.

If you have not heard about Heineken, you must have been from another planet. This famous beer originates from Netherlands and when in Amsterdam, you can visit the Heineken Experience to get to know everything about the beer! Info here and tickets at Euro 15 each.

I for Ice-Skating

This is a popular winter activity in the Netherlands. On the streets during winter, you could see small ice-skating rinks created for people to skate.

To be continued.... Part II here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

1st Vacation of 2011

When you read this, I'm on my way to Bali. This is my first time-off for the year. I know it's a bit early but who says that one shouldn't enjoy at the start of the year? As I didn't really take many vacation last year with lots of leave to carry forward, I am now enjoying myself in Club Med, sipping a glass of martini and chilling by the pool!

Surprisingly I'm going on a trip with a bunch of strangers!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chocolate Classification

Typically, the terms "grand cru" and "premier cru" has been used to describe wines, cognac, beer and now chocolate. While these terms are well defined when it comes to vineyards, however the use of these terms for other food items are not regulated. Therefore, there is a vague idea when it comes to reading the labels of food and in particular in chocolates.

I would safely say that many people do not know the classification of chocolates. For a start, we might not even know it if we are actually chewing on sugar instead of the real cocoa beans because no one reads the labels! Some of us would be aware of dark chocolates that are categorised by the amount of cocoa in a bar with percentages but do you know that all 70% cocoa bars do not taste the same? It's just like all 21 year-old whiskies do not taste the same either.

The secret lies in the ingredients of making the chocolate. Small chocolatiers do not have the resources to buy and process their own cocoa beans and thus they have to buy chocolate couverture to make their chocolates. Very few chocolatiers would actually have access to the high quality beans and then blend it the way they like before making them into bars. One such chocolatier would be Beschle (Swiss), joining the ranks of Amedei (Italian), Valrhona (French) and Domori (Italian) with it's Quiza collection.

A Premier Cru chocolate is actually more superior than a Grand Cru chocolate in chocolate terms unlike wines which is actually the other way round. Premier Cru, which designates that the cocoa in a bar is sourced from a specific area, such as a plantation, within a country or region. And Grand Cru designation signifies that the beans in a bar all come from a certain country or region.

Quizás’ philosophy stresses collaboration with the farmers from various regions of Venezuela, resulting in both a first class product . Beans are imported directly by Beschle to Switzerland and the whole line is free of vanilla and lecithin, leaving their ingredients list incredibly short: cocoa mass, cocoa butter, cane sugar. It's a brave move which resulted in stripping off the inferiority of the beans, fermentation and roasting process. The Quizás Premier Cru Criollo has subtle tastes of the bean to shine through, and a very smooth buttery melt on the palate.

Tastes great with a glass of single malt whisky too!

If you have a chance, try to grab a bar and try it yourself. Beschle has a boutique in Singapore at the Mandarin Gallery on Orchard Road. If I'm not mistaken, this bar is actually retailing at almost SGD$16-20. I think it's worth every cent!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

101 Whiskies to Try Before I Die

New Year resolutions are always meant to be broken. I've made so many and I couldn't even remember if I did manage to keep track of the developments. It's easy to make but it ain't easy to keep!

Therefore, this year I've decided that to hell with resolutions and just be the way I am. I just have to like myself for who I am and accept all weaknesses and strengths I possess. Sounds like a good idea right?

And one thing I could definitely try sticking to or die trying is to follow the 101 Whiskies to Try Before I Die book by Ian Buxton. This is a very practical book as it contains different expressions and bottles of whiskies that one should try for the taste-experience and price wise - it's something that mortals like us could afford. The book carries a number of single malts from Highland, Lowland, Speyside and Islay, blended whiskies, Japanese whiskies and also bourbon. It's indeed a fine mix of whiskies which would keep me busy for at least 3 years to come?

I have started drinking whisky about 3 years ago and I've obviously made a mark with a post-it note on each whisky on the book that I have tried. Till this date, I'm actually on my 47th bottle from the list. Not bad huh for a beginner like me? Assuming that I try 1 bottle a month, it would take me at least 4.5 years to complete the whole list and probably by then, some connoisseur would come up with a list of 199 whiskies to drink before you die of liver failure!

In just 2 months, starting from Dec 2010 up to yesterday, I have actually had my 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, 45th, 46th & 47th bottle already. So that's 7 different bottles in 2 months! What a feat! The problem is, about half the list has whiskies that could not be bought here. You might have to make use of the network you have to get these bottles overseas.

Have some fun and drink moderately in 2011...

Or you could choose to live a healthy boring life by drinking orange juice...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The affection for alcohol...

Affection for alcohol doesn't necessary make someone an alcoholic. Although I do not deny that there were in fact many others who indulge in binge drinking but I am certainly not one of them. Recently I've even started drinking mineral water at clubs and this further prove that I am no alcoholic. But I do admit that I love trying wines, liquor and spirits.

This also means that I have quite a good collection of alcohol at home...

All the miniatures bought from traveling

Initially, dad was the one started collecting whisky and cognac. He has some bottles of Hennessy VSOP, Hennessey XO, Martell Cordon Blue, Camus XO, Otard and Chivas Regal. All these bottles are actually kept in my bedroom for more than a decade.

The elderly will always say that the longer the liquor is kept, the better it is and hence the smoothness you get from drinking a 30yo whisky. Actually the truth is, no matter how long you keep your bottles, the quality of whisky would not get better once they are out of the casks. The alcohol will be evaporated and thus you get the mellow and smooth liquid on your palate. Therefore, don't keep your bottle too long or else the air would be consuming the alcohol instead of you!

Now my sister (Yiling) and I are starting our own collection. We move away from buying Chivas and Hennessy but instead concentrate on single malt whisky and also those which are quite unique to us.

Dad's Chivas & Otard, Yiling's Chivas Revolve and my Dom Perignon Vintage 1999 and Santis Malt from Switzerland.

12 yo whisky - Aberfeldy, Glenkinche and Old Parr

15yo SM whisky - Glenlivet & Matisse

26yo Magdalene I got from my 26th Birthday, 30yo Admore & 32yo Glenrothes all from Single Malt Cask private bottling.

And the other single malts I have....

Besides all these whisky, my sis is also an avid fan of Absolut Vodka. I think she bought almost all the variants of Absolut just because she likes the bottles. Sigh... So far we managed to finish one bottle of the original vodka and a bottle of Mango.

She collects Absolut and I collect the premium vodkas.

We are really not alcoholics.. We just happened to be unable to control the purchase of these bottles. Nothing wrong with that right?

I've been reading these books lately...

What you see here is actually half of the alcohol we have at home. This is not included my dad's collection, my wines & champagnes in the fridge and also some beers like Hoegaarden, Paulaner and Erdinger. Our collection is nothing great or rare but these are really strict for drinking. I certainly can't afford to collect anything above a RM1k a bottle so anything you see here is definitely for drinking.

And since I have been such a show off, it's only fair that I allow my friends to try these bottles during the CNY house visits. But then again, I won't be around for CNY so I guess all these bottles would still remain as it is. hahah...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Change is inevitable...

As time passes, I realised that things as well as human beings do change. Nothing is certain and not even your favourite chocolate muffin with melt in the mouth chocolate chips is permanent. It just cannot be done in the same consistency and quality you fell in love with at first bite and the muffin will never have the same amount of chocolate chips you have during the previous visit (that is if you bother to count them).

As superficial as it may seem, the person you fell in love with years ago may probably now be out of mind and out of sight today, well at least from my real experience. If you ask me, I would never have thought that this day would come but it sure did.

Just as when you think that there is a glimmer of hope that some things would never change, and that’s when you’re taken by surprise. That includes purchasing a bottle of your favourite Bovril because of the beef extract except that now it doesn’t have any beef in it. What if one day, someone told you that Bovril's makers have taken the beef out of the world's most famous beef drink?

Where have the beef gone?

The truth to be told is that the Bovril that you’re consuming now is not the same beef extract that you had in your porridge or toast years ago. The Bovril with the red signature bottle cap that you are buying today is actually made of yeast extract. Did you realise that?

It all started when there was a spread of Mad Cow disease in Britain. The prions (infectious agent composed of protein in a misfolded form) can't be destroyed even by exposing to high heat through cooking or boiling and thus the British Bovril is banned in other countries. And so Bovril has been vegetable based since 2004. Therefore, Bovril has turned out to be a Marmite!

When they switched to the new formula, Unilever says that extensive taste tests were conducted before they introduced it - 50% of people preferred the taste of the meat-free version, with 10% being unable to tell the difference. That means that 40% can tell the difference. I must admit that initially I didn't taste the difference, probably I'm not eating it often enough but recently I found the precious bottle of BEEF Bovril in Paris and I bought it.

It has to be the best purchase from Paris!

I tasted the two bottles side by side - 1 yeast-extract version and the other 1 a beef version. It does taste different. The one with beef has a slightly more salty and a strong robust taste of beef. I bought 3 bottles of this and I do hope I will not run out of it before I find where else I could get the beef version.

But then, in 2006, Unilever announced that the beef be put back into Bovril. However, the beef version is not available in Malaysia due to the strict restrictions by the government on non-halal meat products, and Malaysia is one of the biggest consumers of Bovril. Initially I bought Bovril because of the beef extract but knowing that it's an yeast-extract now, it doesn't matter if it's Marmite or Bovril. Afterall, there's no distinction between the two except for the branding that one favours. In this case, I think Marmite has won the battle.

So are you a Bovril or Marmite fan?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

NSFW : The Temple of Venus @ Amsterdam

One of the must visit museums in Amsterdam would of course be the infamous Sex Museum - the ultimate museum for everything from genitals to the different art of love making. This museum here is located in the busiest spot of Amsterdam, at the Damrak street, just in front of the Central Station, at the main street and in the real middle of the traffic madness.

Affectionally called, Sex Museum - Venustemple (The Temple of Venus), this place combines the rich collection of artifacts with the elements of exotic to erotic, historic to hysterical and every possible sex variety existed in this very world!

Before you proceed, I have to warn you again... NOT SAFE FOR WORK
(read at your own risk)

Works of Art on display

As you enter the museum, you are greeted with the plaster figure of Venus at the entry and the full size wax figures of Mata Hari with her male partners. Then on the window display on the right, there is an exhibit of the mannequins dressed in the SM (sadomasochism) costumes. There are a few floors to explore in this what seemed to be a tiny shop along the main streets of Amsterdam.

Admiring the photos on display

The Sex Museum with more than 20 years of its existence, has hundreds of interesting pieces of art, unique objects and rare old photographs, bringing them together in an organized and interesting way.

Lot's of Photography and Paintings of Sex

In the Marquis de Sade room there were repetitive sounds of the steam machine, mixed with woman’s screams of joy coming from the speakers on the ceiling. This old fashioned multimedia approach really amused me. It was rather funny to be listening to the "oohs and aahhs" while looking at the display. My colleague and I laughed and "eewwwwed" at the same time.

The sex icon - Marilyn Monroe

We expect to see some air pumped into her skirt and to revive the "ooohh" moment but it didn't happen. I guess the air pumps were not working when we were there. What a disappointment.

Wait... this chair looks like an erect penis...

Two huge plastic phallus (an erect penis or a penis-shaped object such as a dildo) standing erect will give you an interesting photo opportunity because you are allowed to photograph throughout the whole exhibition. This is of course the best part of the deal because you get to capture some pornography as remembrance!

Perhaps the most horrifying wax figure over there is this...

It will appear and try to grab you!

There are actually lots more but I better not post them all here or else parents would start banning my blog for the obscenity and unsafe materials I posted for underaged readers. Overall, this is definitely an old museum with an interesting collection of the objects about the human sexuality such as art, photographs, artifacts and many other items – all composed in a very old-fashioned presentation.

I hope you didn't get caught while reading this at work. What a post to start with on a Monday huh?!! No more Monday blues...

Don't you just love Amsterdam?
Btw, that lollipop is not for kids. You'd know what I mean...

Opening hours:
Every day (also Monday) 10 a.m. to 11.30 p.m.

Admission: € 3-.

How to get there:
Walk from the Central Station direction Dam (2 minutes) or from the Dam square direction to the station (5 minutes).

Sex Museum – “Venustempel”
Damrak 18
1015 LH Amsterdam
Telephone: +31 020 622 83 76


Friday, January 07, 2011

Quick Meal in Paris?

Not everyone who goes in to Paris is actually interested to feast on French cuisine. There are a lot of reasons why people visit the City of Lights.

The first reason being:

Louis Vuitton Flagship Store at George V

Must I need to explain further? Of course the ultimate reason was to buy a LV (no matter how small the bag is, there must be a LV purchase!). The last time I was there 4-5 years ago, I had to line up 30mins to get into the store and I came out empty-handed. However, this time around, there were no queue!

The second reason being:

Sight-seeing of course! One of the major reasons why I like to travel is that I like taking pictures of buildings and the wonderful architectures. Although I am no architect and I have no knowledge on how to view a structure from their perspective, I actually do like appreciating these big concrete structures!

Oh well, then there is the food! This time around, although as much as I would love to try to feast on a good French meal, we actually ran out of time. There were just not enough time for us to scout around for a good meal. It was snowing in the morning and we had so many travel disruptions that we lost a lot of time. This is actually more like a shopping trip as I have visited almost everything that I have to see in Paris - Lourve, Notre Dame, Sacré Cœur and Eiffel Tower.

That is why we can only afford a quick meal. Our meals shouldn't last for more than half an hour and there's no time to sip coffee and watch the Parisians walking past. Moreover, it's so freezing cold, who the hell would want to have an alfresco dining?!!

And so while walking along Champs Elysées after a round of excessive shopping, we were hungry and we need to eat! So we decided to dine at this place...

Quick is an European Fast Food Chain just like McDonalds. Here in France, they call McD as MacDo since it's difficult for them to say the full name. Quick (pronounced as kwik)is the biggest competitor to MacDo and they serve burgers, and Little Magic Boxes (similar to Happy meals) with toys. I was however attracted to one of the burgers on the menu. It's probably something I would never be able to get it here.

The Supreme Foie Gras Burger

Why this burger is so special is because it's done with a Quick's Suprême Tender Beef base burger and then topped with Foie Gras. The foie gras is actually frozen and then defrosted two hours before serving and there were a generous amount of bitter arugula and onion confit. Okay, it's supposed to look like the picture on below but of course the final product you always get differs from the picture on the menu.

One might think that the French idea of noblesse du produit is really questionable as we all know how foie gras is actually made... however, since this is not coming from an endangered species, I have no qualms about consuming my favourite foie gras once in a blue moon. Foie gras to be is like the best invention in food after century eggs!

I paid €7.50 for a set meal together with fries and a drink. Their fries are nothing fantastic compared to MacDo but the burger is indeed interesting. It's one of the most complex burgers I've ever had in terms of taste. First there is a sweetness to the taste due to the onion confit, then you had the melting foie gras together with the taste of the beef patty with the bitter arugula. I like the slight bitter note of the arugula. The whole combination came up pretty good but it wasn't good enough for an "awesome" rating.

So, I did in fact had French cuisine (with foie gras) and all I need to do is to picture the above and it'll be perfect with a glass of red wine!

Quick Hamburger Restaurant
122 Avenue des Champs-Elysées,
75008 Paris, France

Tel: +33 1 53 75 38 49


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Home Dining at Huck's Cafe @ PJ

I was taken by surprise when my girlfriends suggested the dining venue for our New Year's eve dinner. She told me that it would be done at a home. Huh? Is it like a house turned into restaurant? Ok, to be honest, there were many bungalows that were turned into restaurants but to see a corner house of a residential turned into a private dining is something new to me.

This looks like one of those private dining concept in Hong Kong where the chefs offer dining at small condos or apartments catering for a few tables. Huck's Cafe, owned by Huck Seng (also the chef) and a partner turned a normal house into a dining place, literally embracing the term home dining. It's really done right at home, not mine but his home!

The house is certainly beautiful with lots of natural wood and an airy patio that sits 2 or 3 tables complete with private room with air condition. There is also a koi pond on the ground floor just before you enter the house.

This place allows you to dine comfortably without your shoes and there's even no reason to dress to the nines. It's just like going to a friend's house for dinner.

How about a glass of chilling Air Selasih?
(syrup with kiwi seeds)

Hue Gee enjoying her bowl of Mushroom Soup.
Some of us had the Pumpkin Soup. It didn't turn out so well.

The gang of Ipohrians.
Most of us are from Ipoh except a few and it's nice to get to know friends from the same hometown!

Hue Gee gets to poke the lemon with the chopstick (looks obscene, I know...)

We had one of the signature dishes which was the Roast Chicken with herbs, garlic and lemon. This dish is meant for 4 people and it was served with a generous amount of roasted potatoes, eggplants and carrots. Lots of fresh rosemary and thyme has been used to make it flavourful. One setback was, the chicken wasn't cook thoroughly when it was served as there were parts that were still uncook. Apart from that, this is actually quite delicious.

The other dishes we had were lamb stew, steaks, Spaghetti with meatballs, Pan seared salmon and fish and chips. The lamb stew and spaghetti meatballs is good but the others I felt it was just okay for me. Overall, they do have a very good choice of mains and you could go there with a group of friends and share the mains so that you can try more.

Most of the friends had the signature Creme Brulee.
Huck Seng torched it in front of us before serving to the table.

I had a chocolate brownie with ice cream.
The brownie was quite unique with lots of banana and raisin.

This place is quite a nice venue if you want to have a private dining with some friends. They claim that they do not use MSG in the cooking and thus more reason for a revisit. Not only they serve western food, they also do Italian, Mexican, Nyonya and Asian dishes. The array of dishes is quite impressive too. For RM88 nett, you get a drink, an appetiser, a main and a dessert with coffee or tea. In my opinion, the package is quite affordable but the food could have been better.

However, reservations is encouraged as they can only accommodate 15-20 people at one time. Corkage is at RM25 per bottle. There is no menu and you'll need to preorder the food from their menu in the facebook. Therefore, the hassle is that you need to scan through the menu on the facebook and think of what you would like to eat tomorrow!

P/S: Some pictures are taken from Huck's Cafe facebook as mine sucks.

Huck's Cafe
26, Jalan 5/58, Gasing Indah,
46000 Petaling Jaya. Selangor. Malaysia.
603-7781 2781, sms 012 604 8719

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