Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Aston Martin Michels Rally 2013 in Belgium

Early Saturday morning on the 16th June, we started our journey from home to Stadhuis Oudenaarde which is about 45 mins away as the Aston Martin Michels Rally will kick off from there. It was a nice drive on a weekend morning with a slightly cold breeze and traffic free roads.

Stadhuis Oudenaarde - There were already more than 50 Aston Martin cars parked at the parking lot in front of the City Hall, attracting many passers by.

 Luc and I are also wearing the AM polo T for the event which is a first experience for me.

 We had a light breakfast in the Stadhuis and then a short briefing before we start the rally. This picture is a view of the carpark taken from the building which you can see Aston Martins of so many past and present taking part.

It's such a lovely sight of all these beautiful cars!

This is the 2nd René Michels Rally taking place in the Vlaamse Ardennen which is in the same area as the famous Ronde van Vlaanderen (cycling) and this place is filled with farmhouses, lush green fields and windmills. It's a picturesque journey for sure.

We went through quite an amount of narrow roads which is meant for one car at a time.

We even had to slow down when there are people who are riding on the horses were trying to get by so that we don't scare the horses with the roaring engine. During the journey, we encountered countless horses and also people riding their bicycles.

After 70km of driving, we stopped by at Flobecq/Vloesberg at Lumen 7 which is a house built in 1905 owned by the Hallet-Jouret family and survived the wars. Today the house is refurbished but maintaining its original structure and can be rented as a holiday home for 14 to 16 people. We stopped here to try one of their local beers called Quintine.

I must say that despite my limited precise pronunciation of Dutch/French street names and my first time in a rally, I've been a really good navigator. We started with 3 Aston Martin in front of us and at a few junctions, they made a wrong turn but I didn't follow and we managed to arrive at every stop early and without a glitch! That's a pat on my back for myself.

I really like some of the Vintage AM that took part in the rally. The condition of these vintage cars are unbelievably tip-top and the cars are all sparkly-polished too!

There were 2 new Vanquish there and they are stunning!!! The interior was beautiful and there were at least a million stitches used.

Another beautiful vintage Aston Martin.

The world's most beautiful four-door sports car - Rapide S. This one here is their latest model with bigger front grill and a more sporty interior that has stiches that matched the colour of the car exterior.

After driving for almost 100km, we stopped at Hof Van Nassau in Zottegem for lunch.

Along the way, we saw a local cycling event taking place and also the staff of Aston Martin posing at bakers on the side of the street handling us a pack of Mattentaarten from the famous Lekkerbek bakery which is so delicious.

 It's a delicacy from this area where people will drive all the way here just to get their hands on some Mattentaarten.

 Luc enjoying a beer at one of the stops.

After driving for about 170km, we arrived at the destination which is at a beautiful castle called Kasteel Steenhout in Vollezele. It was unbelievably huge!

 It's a private property belonging to one of the rich business man in Belgium who happens to be an avid collector of Aston Martin vintage cars too. I think he owns 20-30 of them and was so kind to allow the rally participants to have a cocktail evening at his place.

Car enthusiasts checking out the vintage cars.

 One of my favourite Vintage Aston Martin.

 Of course I had to take the opportunity to camwhore with some of them.

A beautiful Vanquish which I liked very much but it's €250k here.

 Aston Martin is celebrating it's 100th birthday this year!

We went home around 8pm. What a wonderful experience and on the way home, another Rapide was driving along side our car too and it felt so nice to be watching such a sexy butt of the Aston Martin during the journey home. The event was very well organised and there were at least a hundred AM that took part in this rally. I had a great day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Burps & Giggles @ Ipoh

There's always a first for everything. Whenever I am in Ipoh, favourite hawker delights is always a priority and dining in a western cafe probably never crossed my mind. The abundqnce of delicious hawker treats in Ipoh is enough to keep my stomach filled and where can I still find space for the rest of the food?

This post was supposed to be written earlier but I was too busy enjoying life somewhere around the world. First I was in Doha to celebrate my dad's birthday and stayed with my parents there for a week and then I flew to Belgium to spend some time with my partner. I was so lazy and preoccupying my time doing this and that and neglected my blog. Now I'm back to writing this morning after my partner insisted that I stopped being so lazy and get my butt to the front of his mac and start typing away.

It was not so difficult locating Burps & Giggles as it is located along the row of olden shophouses across the street from HSBC which you can't miss because it is housed in a beautiful colonial british building. All of these buildings are part of the historical sites in Ipoh and until today it is still the charm of this city. Parking might be quite limited but if you don't mind a little walking, you can park a little further and walk to the cafe. After reading so many reviews about this place and also from my girlfriend Jasmin who told me that they make nice burgers, my sisters and I decide to drop by for a visit and some food. 

The decor is very impressive. It's artistic, innovative and it still exerts a rustic charm to this place.

Yiling ordered a Latte (RM10). It came in a nice latte art presentation but too bad it tasted a little diluted. I think the price is quite exorbitant for Ipoh standards too.

Ziling was feeling alcoholic and had a Vodka Lime (RM16) which again I felt was a rip-off because I can hardly taste the alcohol. If you let the glass sit on the table for a while more, all you get is the taste of ice.

My happy two sisters.

The menu are written on the board and I'm not sure if they have a hard copy of the menu because I didn't see anyone with a copy of the menu too. We decided to try the burger and there are a few choices but we selected the one that is recommended called "Bam Bam"(RM28). It comes with a black sesame bun with a wagyu beef patty, egg, cheddar, onions and tomato. The burger took almost 45 minutes to arrive and we were already starving like hell. It comes with no sides. The beef patty is juicy and tender but when the wagyu is made into a patty, you can't really taste the marbling of the beef anymore. The burger is recommended.

We saw many patrons ordering the Chunky Chips with Truffle Oil and we decide to do the same. If you order just the chips, it's RM4 but if you want the truffle oil, it's an additional RM2. I think these are handmade chips and they are fried well with a crisp on the outside and mashy potato in the inside.

I think the owners had spent quite a lot of money in decorating this place. Some of the old switches are recycled and used as decorations and the tables with colourful mosaic motifs reminds me of Spanish tapas places.

I was feeling alcoholic too and ordered a pint of Guinness (RM21.50). Again I felt the price was too expensive not because I think this is Ipoh, it's the quality of the drink. I have had much better Guinness in KL for less. It is somehow diluted and I didn't like it.

It's quite a queue at this place. Maybe because it's a weekend and it is also a long weekend due to Wesak Holidays that we waited for 15 minutes for a seat. I am impressed with the set up and decoration of this place but it probably takes some convincing to make me dine here again. I would say that this is an attraction in Ipoh but for KL folks, this looks like another Ben's outlet.

I'm finally at my last paragraph and I'm feeling relieved not because i dislike writing, it's a hell of an experience to type with an AZERTY keyboard. I had to learn to use a Mac and a Belgian keyboard to blog now and probably by the time I am back home, I need to get used to a QWERTY keyboard again...

Burps & Giggles
93&95, Jalan Sultan Yussuf,
30000 Ipoh
Tel: +605-2426188

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Greek Goodness

If one has been to Maldives, then where do you suggest one to go next?

I have an answer - SANTORINI

It's such a beautiful place and the whitewashed low-lying cubicle houses on the cliffs made out of stone stands out against the clear blue sea. This is of course another one of the must-go-islands in my list. Speak of Santorini and Greece comes into my mind.

The closest association I have with anything Greek would probably be Greek Yogurt. Did you know that there are many types of yogurt in the market such as Balkan, Swiss and Greek? Despite Greek Yogurt being really popular in Europe and America, we seldom find this variety of yogurt in our supermarkets. Fret no more as Nestlé has decided to launch 3 varieties of Greek Yogurt in Malaysia to further provide us with a richer yogurt experience!

 Nestlé  Greek Yogurt Variants
Strawberry Field, Natural and Peach Harvest

I am not a big fan of sourness and thus when Nestlé  was conducting a sampling on all 3 variants, I took the opportunity and try each of them. Most of yogurt fans would probably like the Natural variant but since I prefer something sweeter, I like the Strawberry Field and the Peach Harvest.

Each 135g cup of yogurt comes with a lid and a foldable spoon for consumer convenience. The serving size is just right and I like the packaging too which reminds me of Santorini. The difference between the regular yogurt and greek yogurt is its texture. I find the greek yogurt to be more silky, creamy and thicker. While regular yogurt is strained twice in the process of making it, the Greek yogurt is strained 3 times and thus making it thicker. And if you really want to know all about the difference between a regular yogurt and a greek yogurt, you can read this article "Greek vs Regular" here.

Since I don't really like yogurt that is too sour, I came up with a brilliant idea of making it appealing to my palate. I started taking yogurt regularly a few months ago for constipation purposes. Haha... Coffee used to do the trick but lately when I was in Europe I find that eating yogurt helps!


The left picture is a recipe using the Nestle Greek Yogurt Natural with Honey, Walnuts and Sweet Mango. Usually the greeks will take their yogurt with honey and walnuts but I like adding some fruits for the fruity flavours. On the right, I added just strawberries and peaches to the Nestle Greek Yogurt Natural. oohhh... I'm so smart to have found a way to eat those sour yogurt!!! If you are lazy, you can just buy the Strawberry Field and Peach Harvest variants as the real fruit pieces are chunky and generous.

 It makes a nice dessert or breakfast to serve to your guests too!

Recently on May 19th, Nestlé Greek Yogurt had a roadshow at Midvalley (in front of La Boheme in Jusco) to launch its yogurt. To tempt the consumers, every purchase of two cups of Nestle Greek Yogurt entitles them to take a picture as a Greek Goddess with a good looking Greek Warrior feeding them the yogurt!

 Redmummy and KampungBoyCityGal were there too and we were given an explanation on the goodness of Greek Yogurt. Hue Gee was there with me too as we had some shopping and lunch before that. Although the price is slightly more expensive than the regular yogurt, it did not stop the curious consumers from grabbing a few to try, and it's easy to see why, Nestlé  Greek Yogurt is silkier, thicker and creamier. Not only low in fat, it's a natural source of protein and calcium and there is no sugar added!

Goodness of live culture in yogurt!

I had not one but four Greek warriors!!!

And since I aim to visit Santorini, I better get used to eating more Greek Yogurt!

Try Nestlé Greek Yogurt at locations found here.

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