Thursday, July 18, 2013

Breaking News from the Engagement Bureau!


As of last night, that is.
At 8.45pm.
17th July 2013.
At Starbucks, Kuching Airport.
In my hooded sweater and shortpants.
Because I thought we were going out for coffee. 

About a year ago, this place was where we had our first coffee meetup (or date, now that we both can call it that) or to be exact, how he introduced me to caramel macchiato. And that was the exact sofa we sat on talking about nothing in particular, just getting to know one another. Was nervous as a wreck back then. Sweaty palms and all, while waiting for my flight to KL for a week's work. When we parted, unsure and awkward, I held out my hand for a shake because it felt like I had failed a test and that probably deserved a polite thank you. The man didn't even acknowledged the hand, he pulled me (backpack and all) for a quick big warm hug. Which is never done. By me at least. If you know me.

You know, that was when I saw a glaring flash of silver lining in the sky and felt someone up there was whispering 'It's going to be alright girl. Don't worry for a single thing...'

Ok that's just a glimpse of the past for you. I shall not document the rest of the personal details in here because it might either bore you, or you'd throw up with too much sweet stuffs, or you'd looked funny and say 'so what', you know... but since it's not an everyday occasion in a girl's life, it deserves a special treatment.

The empty caramel macchiato cup with the ring in it, and the loveliest sentence ever...

And for the record, Coffee Girl actually loves all coffee black and strong, but Caramel Macchiato will always be special, see?

I'm dying to tell you all about it, but my Significant Otter already beat me to it. And his version is sooooooo much better! Besides, you'll know why that was not exactly the correct engagement ring finger, but then, I don't really care.

I admit, I didn't expect the proposal to happen last night. In fact, I think my otter instinct went on a holiday on me. Haha. Just sharing this major news with you all because I sayang you all very much and because if it weren't because of Blogging, we probably would never have met. And the rest, like they say, is history.

 borrowed this from le eheart...

I may not be Hollywood superstar material, but who's the happiest girl in the world right now? Wohoooo!

Ok you all have fun now! <3
Ps: I'm still in a shock that it takes effort to write this and even then it's not as articulate as I want it to be. haha

Saturday, July 13, 2013

BCCK Ramadhan Buffet is back!

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for sungkei.”

Well hello food. We meet again. Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) is back for the fifth year offering its popular Ramadan Buffet, arguably the best and cheapest in town. I didn't say that, BCCK did, and I have to agree. With a new Executive Chef taking over, this year's buffet is presented in a Kampung Style. I didn't say that, the Chef did, but I must say the overall decoration and setup is pretty impressive.

I'm going to have to remind you that when it comes to taste, I am hardly an expert. Taste is subjective and one's view on a certain dish does not reflect the opinion of another or all. And the fact that I do not fast means that food is quite neutral to me. All the better because then it won't cloud my judgment after a day of abstinence. I love food and eating, so then all in all, in a way, that does make some sort of an expert right? :)

Anyway, let's not waste anymore time. Here I go directing you to my favorite dish served at an individual stall. BCCK is ultra famous for its roasted whole lamb, served with condiments and sauces. A little thank you note to the Chef for making sure there's some black pepper sauce to go with the lamb. If you remember last year, there wasn't any, at least not on the day I ate there. Although there is mint sauce to go with it, I prefer my lamb cutlets to be awashed and drowned in thick black pepper sauce. I find it more reveling that way.

Cutting and carving the freshly roasted lamb...

... and more lamb. The buffet starts at 6.30pm by the way. And by the time it was 8.30pm, that whole lamb was done with. And they brought in another freshly roasted one! Wow... Just how many did they prepare in one night? Awesome.  Can I please visit the kitchen?

Juicy, tender, and soaked in black pepper sauce...

Some of us made it to the lamb queue nearly 4 four times. Some of us were a little embarrassed to even go twice! Yep, the lamb is the winner that night, if I say so myself.

I probably should start with the cold dish first, but that's the beauty of eating buffet style. You don't have to follow the rules. The only rules you need to abide by are the ones set by your stomach and taste buds. Don't limit yourself, but then again, don't stuff yourself either. Haha. Pretty contradicting advice huh, considering the amount of dishes you need to try and the amount of room in your stomach. Take it from me... try a little bit of everything (exception to the lamb), and if you're don't mind, share with a partner so you don't waste food.

The fresh prawns poached on ice were really fresh, if that brains were any indication. The prawns were absolutely fantastic and just big enough for that impressive finish, but I may be biased because I like anything prawn. However the fish fillet served on the side were a little bit dry. But that can be solved by blanching it with a dollop of mayo or thousand island sauce.

Poached prawn on ice and served with fish fillet...

And my all-time appetizer favourite... Tempoyak in da house! To some of the locals, this dish plays a prominent part in their daily menu, especially if you're from the Kampung. But to the other urbanites, cityfolks, and out-of-towners, tempoyak is a special delicacy that is hard to come by. My mother tells me the best tempoyak is the fermented durian that has been kept for more than a year inside a clay jar. The longer the preserved state, the more acquired the taste. Like wine. I think.


Some, however, prefer to give this dish a wide berth. No matter, more for me! :p

What is kampung style without sambal belacan and ulam-ulaman right? How do I translate that in English... prawn paste dip? This goes with most raw veges for dipping, or fruits or just with hot steamed rice. The hotter the sambal, the better the sniffling effect.

 Sambal belacan...

Sour pineapple goes perfectly with the sambal dip. And pickled buah kedondong too! This fruit is called Ambra in Penang, and Google calls it Great Hog Plum. Whatever works.

Pickled kedondong and fresh pineapple for ulaman...

Remember last year I complained that the satay was tough? This year, to be honest with you, I didn't manage to get a bite. A weird thing happened... I took 4 sticks of beef satay and its usual accompaniment from the satay stall, drenched them in satay sauce, brought to my table, and waited to taste them while I heartily ate my roasted lamb. However Mike Cheng the coordinator for BCCK, called the media in for the scheduled tête-à-tête with the new Executive Chef. We left our food on the table and half an hour later when we returned, everything had vanished, including my untouched satay. Sigh... I already got my picture, so feast your eyes on this and you be the judge yourself. Deal?

Beef satay looked promising ... 

Be careful with the appetizers and the cold dish, you could be prematurely full on these alone. If that happens to you, take a seat back, slow down, and rest for awhile. Give them room to digest and slowly go down the system so you can make room for more. Like this crispy fried keropok, it's an instant hit with kids and adults alike. I know, there's nothing so special about them except that it's big and so crispy. There's some pickles to go with it but I forgot to snap them...


On the next stall, the fried kueh tiaw is simply delicious. Not too oily, and just moist enough, fried to perfection ... if there was hot cili padi to go with it, it would've been so much better. Almost like Penang Char Kueh Tiaw except for the missing clams... but I'm not complaining.

 Fried kueh tiaw...

Did I ever tell you that BCCK excels in dishing out the perfect Shawarma, a delightful pocket of heaven? Well this year, the pocket got a little bigger you need both hands to hold them. Bigger means more of everything inside. The Chef is being generous I see...

 Best Shawarma in town maybe?

For the traditional folks, they can also opt to break their fast with bubur lambuk, a favorite among kampung folks. The special thing about this porridge is it's normally cooked by the masses for the masses in a mass pot. Kind of like a communal food. It usually has bits of yams or potatoes mixed with rice as ingredients, to give it the thickness it needed. I must go into the Chef's kitchen to make sure I'm right.

Bubur Lambuk

The ikan terubok masin is a local Sarawakian dish, goes well with hot steamed rice. I took a piece onto my plate, took a bite and realized it was missing that crispiness bit the kind you get when deep frying stuffs. But don't let that slow you down...

Ikan terubok masin...

On to the bread section... look how pretty they decorate the whole setup! Almost felt like I was in Asian Food Channel (AFC) corner. Soft bread, hard bread, french bread, wholewheat bread... they have it.

What a pretty picture..

How's the feasting so far? I didn't take much pictures of the main dishes because those are the usuals. They have white rice and briyani rice, noodles, udang goreng berkunyit with petai, ayam percik bakar, masala mutton, scrambled egg chinese style, top shell with celery and snowpeas, braised tofu with minced chicken, umai... the list goes on and on...

Anyway, to wrap things up... we have reached the dessert table! There's so many little cute stuffs to pick and choose from, mini assorted tapas, sushi, etc. I'm just going to tell you about the ones that I did try.

This stuff below, an assortment of individually served miniatures of all things delightfull. Top to left to right... that looks like red beans cake or I could be wrong but because they tasted sweet, and mango and berry pudding (or maybe not) served with chocolate, and jellies. I'm bad with names. How about we just eat and forget about what they're called for a while.

And more desserts! Top to left to right... mini futomaki roll or I think that's what it was, sweet pastry with either apple or banana I wasn't sure but would go nice with hot tea, and meat cutlet on potato. Oh the names of this tiny stuffs...

And there it is, the chocolate fountain! Kids love this. I saw them flocking the place and dip just about anything there. Even adults go nuts after them. I overheard an aunty asking one of the waiter "Where can I get this for my granddaughter's birthday next week?' To which the smart waiter replied, "Why not just come over to BCCK next week?" Haha good one. The grandma would have a food party for the birthday girl and her guests!

 Orphaned kids treated to BCCK Ramadan Feast...

My other closure episode ended with this sweet 'ais kacang' and ice cream. For those with sweet tooth, the ais kacang is served sparingly so as not to waste, but you can go ahead ask the boys manning the stall to make you a double portion of everything inside a bigger bowl. They'll do so with an indulgent smile. Yep, I'm not kidding.

 Ais kacang...

I actually had coffee after the ice cream to balance things up. Too bad they don't have Bristot Coffee like they did last year. That coffee was awesome, I never tasted anything like it. Sigh. The cappuccino machine went missing as well, heard they put it at the RainTree restaurant next door... but the coffee they did serve at the BCCK Buffet wasn't that bad either. My only problem with it was it got cold too fast. But that's just me.

 And ice cream with chocolate sauce...

There are reportedly more than 70 dishes of everything altogether folks. I may be wrong, looks like nearly 100 altogether! You have to come here to try them out yourself because I may have a big appetite, but I do have a small tummy (referring to the content ok).

The flyer...

BCCK Ramadhan Buffet is now open to the public for Breaking of Fast until 4th August 2013. Price is set at RM75nett per adult and RM30 for kids aged 5 - 12 years old. Opening hour is from 6.30pm - 10.00pm.

For reservations, please call 082-392889. You don't want to miss this! I highly recommend it.

[Note: Pictures of Samsung Galaxy S3 phone quality only, and taken with the flash on. I love my phone.]

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ramadhan Buffet Review: Balik Kampung with Four Points By Sheraton

And I quote: There is no sincerer love than the love of food. And so long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.

Right? Well loosen that belt and make room for many cheat days because in a few more days, the Ramadan season will be on us again! And like a promise kept, there will be plenty of food everywhere in the country throughout the Fasting month.
This year, I had the privilege to try out Four Points by Sheraton Kuching 'Balik Kampung Ramadhan Feast'' at its only restaurant, The Eatery. [A little bit on the restaurant: The Eatery is a multiple-award-winning restaurant and its banquet kitchens have been recertified as 'halal' in accordance with the new guidelines issued by the Sarawak Islamic Council. So there you have it.]

Chocolate cake! All geared up for Raya?

The "Balik Kampung" style buffet is being featured via the Eatery's eight open concept kitchens. Wide and spacey, plenty of room for everybody, perfect for group dining or adjustably romantic for  couple's night out. The buffet will showcase some of the best traditional Malay cuisines including the hard-to-come-by desserts and appetizers, and interspersed with the The Eatery's long standing favorites. However, I think I was too hungry and too excited to remember to take pictures of all the delicious stuffs I ate, but no matter, you can always give it a try yourself next time.

Roast Arabic whole lamb with Basmati rice...

The main course, roast Arabic whole lamb is just juicy enough. The only thing I find missing is the black pepper sauce, it would've been perfect to go with the lamb cutlets. Served instead with Basmati rice, it makes a perfect lamb briyani.

Dinner is served! ...

Then there's the Indonesian Bakso soup, prepared with 10 types of condiments. Soup is best served piping hot and chilli hot for that sniffling effect.

Bakso ...

They even incorporate some local elements into this awesome looking pizza - Beef serunding (beef floss) Rending! I can't decide if it was the floss or the soft-hard crust pizza base that I like better, but they make a pretty decent combination.

 Beef serunding pizza...

And the usual colorful lok-lok for the health-conscious.

 Lok lok

Midin shrimp salad anyone? I was told the chef used fresh tiger prawn for this crowd-pleaser dish. You can't go wrong with midin, people. After all, it's uniquely Sarawak.

Midin shrimp salad...

If you notice, I normally mix and match the desserts with the appetizers and the main course. They go well in one plate and you can pick whichever you want to try first. The beauty of eating buffet style.

My favourite part of this whole buffet dining has got to be the desserts. The sweetmeats, exotic finger food, bite-size pretty delicacies ... I can get full on just those alone. I mean, check out this sweet Arabic Baklava! Four Point's The Eatery reportedly has the best crunchiest moist baklava in town. I gotta agree. They are sweet and poignant, just enough to store itself inside the memory, for next time in case of that craving.

Sweet Arabic Baklava...

And the usual traditional kuih-muih to wrap things up (or to start them off, whichever way you prefer). They also served lemang, ketupat, satay and rendang... but none for this preview for now. Wash it all down with sweet Air Bandung, and you're good to go. Or fruit juices, or coffee, to each his own taste.

Cucur sayur/udang...

And our compliments to the hotel's culinary team, for dishing out a 'great variety, great food and great value' buffet. That's their tagline anyway.

One for the camera...

Four Points by Sheraton will start showcasing the Ramadhan Balik Kampung Feast beginning on the first day of fasting which is on this 10th July, until the eve of Syawal.

For RM80nett per person, I'd say this is a good deal and a great option for your Berbuka Puasa. Group dining discount of 10% will be given for every 10 - 19 adults, and a further 15% discount  for a group of 20 pax and above. Bring your kids along too. Children below 12 are entitled to a 50% discount. Babies below 3 years of age eat for free (like they even eat that much :p).

That wraps things up. Thank you Sarawak Bloggers and Four Points by Sheraton Kuching for the opportunity to do a preview on this Ramadhan Buffet. And to my Muslim friends and acquaintances, Happy Fasting in advance!

For reservations, call 082- 280888.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stalking July ...

You have a nice name, July. Here's a tiny admission.

I get a kick out of reading a blog entry with lots of personal information. Don't you? The strange predatory feeling it invokes, and that sense of headiness knowing you're on the outside getting an inside first-hand report of perhaps something exclusive, confidential, intimate. You didn't have to ask or look for it, it was handed to you on a silver platter.

Nice homebody accounts just don't cut it anymore. Sweet stuff gives you toothache, and a cringing sensation at the back of your neck. Whereas agonizing stuffs, awful experiences, throbbing awareness ... those are award winning materials.

The deeper the pain, they say, the better the kill. The more morose the conviction, the more profound the incitement. The more intimate the story, the more poignant the feeling. How else do you think break-up songs keep winning top charts and heart-wrenching movies keep getting high ratings in the box offices? Taylor Swift to the legendary Titanic.

In each of us underlies a seeker ... a shadow of a hawk. Always skulking about, repressed and smart. Knowing when to surface, and knowing when to withdraw. Knowing when to defend, or when to offend. And knowing most of all, when to lend a supportive shoulder, open arms, an assuring pat on the back, or a nod of acknowledgement... without giving away too much of oneself or without getting too involved. Or in other words... without sounding like a stalker.

 Pic courtesy of Internet Bird Collection

Sometimes I wonder what drive people to expose so much of themselves to a world they're barely familiar with, what more to say trust in? I can only speak for myself. Because the one time I let myself loose and hang with the rest of the heartsick and miserable lot was when I was truly lost and looking for an avenue to channel all emotions. I found then that the virtual world could be a sympathetic listener as well as a convenient support, always accommodating, always glad to assist. Little did I know when I put myself out there for the whole world to read, I also opened a wealth of potential harms to myself.

A short moment of reprieve. Like Eve, deceived. 

We all like sheep, they say. Going where one leads. Not necessarily a bad thing that. But to let yourself out without much thought to the consequences, that is where our downfall begins. I know, I have been there, for years. Do I learn? Sometimes not as quickly as I meant to. Do I still do it? Less and less now. I find that giving my stalkers something to laugh about behind my back is distasteful, so I'd rather give them something else to wonder about. They do like a bit of mystery, a vague clue, something not quite there. Ah. Familiar territory. Don't we all go through that, one or the other?

What is there sacred anymore?

Because, why should we give anybody the satisfaction of telling them about everything that goes on in our lives, at the risk of being endlessly scorned, mocked, and made parody of? We're not celebrities, whose lives are not our own anymore. Nor are we heroes, or martyrs.

Live, love, write, document them ... whatever you do... refrain from telling the whole world everything. Everything. A vulture would feast on you in  minutes. But a hawk will bide his time.

In short... Don't give me the time of the day. 

P/s: There is not much point to this post other than to merely address the inner hunter in each of us. Stay in the shadow. And to us the writers, tread with care.