30 November 2008

Historic town of Melaka, Malaysia 13-14 Jun 08

One Friday evening after work, hubby and I had the wild idea of driving into Malaysia and stay a night somewhere (couldn't extend the stay till Sunday as I had something on). Somewhere preferably not more than 3 hours drive away.
Melaka came to our mind because all these years of road trips to Malaysia, we have not for once stay in Melaka before. We did drop by for meals but never a stay. We thought, why not?
So, we searched the internet for nice lodging and decided on Hotel Puri, a boutique hotel just next to Jonker Street. Yes, we were quite crazy to set off at around 8pm and after 3 hours journey, reached Melaka at 11plus pm.

The facade of Hotel Puri. The hotel is originally a traditional Peranakan House, as we could see from the intricate facade and distinct interior furnishings.
All the standard and double rooms were fully booked that night, so we settled for a Junior Suite; simple but tastefully decorated. But we weren't really used to the loft concept as the bathroom is on the lower level.
After settling in, we headed to Jonker Street immediately. Apparently, the entire Jonker Street is closed to traffic and transforms to a night bazaar every Friday and Saturday. I love bazaars, always colourful and vibrant with lots of knick knacks for sale.
Hubby couldn't resist a bowl of Laksa.

Whereas I was more interested in a bowl of ice kacang!

Old-school and retro-looking stores paddling food and drinks brought much nostalgia. There was even a singing competition going on at an open-air stage. The whole place was still quite crowded even though it was close to midnight. Melaka is happening!

After exploring the bazaar, we headed back to the hotel for a good night's rest.

We woke up bright and early and ready to explore a bit more of Melaka town. First, we explored the hotel since we checked in late and didn't really have a good look.

Balcony on the loft level.

I was so intrigued by this retro telephone which is still working.

Original structures and interiors are preserved, doorways, windows, partitions, airwells are intricately carved with patterns (couldn't make out what they were, should be animals and creatures that symbolise fortune, health, prosperity, happiness).

Beautiful facade of the building.

We skipped the complimentary breakfast offered by the hotel as the spread was quite ordinary. Hubby wanted some Assam Laksa, so we headed to Jonker Dessert, an eatery we passed by the night before and also recommended by a colleague previously.

Hubby's verdict: ok, but not spicy and shiok enough.
I had a bowl of fish dumpling noodle soup. It was passable. Probably I didn't like this type of yellow noodles.
After breakfast, we walked towards Christ Church, built since 1753 by the Dutch. There were many trishaws in the vicinity touting for business. Most of them are decorated with exuberance using colourful artificial flowers. The 'soft-toy' themed one caught my attention but no, I didn't take a ride.
Next, to Maritime Museum, which is a life-size replica of 'Flora De La Mar', the Portuguese ship that sank off the Coast of Malacca on its way to Portugal.
After visiting a few attractions, we headed back towards Jonker Street. Weather was rather hot and humid so we couldn't resist a bowl of refreshing dessert.
Couldn't remember what this was, I think something like Gula Melaka Ice.
After checking out of the hotel, we decided to go for an early lunch before it gets too crowded at Famosa, famous for its chicken rice ball.

I ordered 2 chicken rice ball and 1 yam rice ball whereas hubby ordered a normal plate of rice. The rice was more fragrant and actually tasted nicer than the rice ball which was quite mushy.
The chicken was not bad, meat quite chewy, could it be kampung chicken?
Roast meat and char siew were ok as well. Overall, not really very impressive. Should have hunted for authentic Peranakan food instead. Next time, perhaps.

After lunch, it was still quite early to head home. I didn't want to go home! We decided to hunt for durians at Segamat since it was near the durian season. Exited the North South Highway at Tangkak. After driving towards the direction of Segamat for about 15-20 mins, we found a roadside durian stall amidst a palm plantation. It was like set up in the middle of nowhere. Found out from the very honest looking durian stall owner that it was too early to go Segamat, not the season yet; and he strongly recommended his Tangkak durians from his grandfather's plantation.

Opened one durian to try, it was GOOD! I love this type of kampung durians, wholesome, authentic, not too jelat like those D24/XO, most importantly the meat was bitter. I prefer bitter ones to sweet ones. We whacked another 2 more durians immediately and bought a few more home.

The durians were so good that we went to purchase more the week following. Now we know where to hunt for good durians :p

21 November 2008

Uncle's Kitchen, Bugis Junction

I have not been to Bugis Junction for ages. Used to go there often when I was staying in the east. One of my favourite eatery was Tea Shake Hut located on level 1 which sold bubble tea, snacks like thick butter toast and simple main courses like fried rice with honey baked wings. Small shop, very popular and tables were filled rather quickly during meal times. I love the fried rice, especially the honey baked wings which were baked to perfection with some charred bits and the meat very tender and succulent. The chilli sauce (home-made I think) was also sedap and complemented the fried rice very well. The bubble tea selection was wide and very authentic.
Went there recently and shocked to find the space under renovation and worse, not Tea Shake Hut anymore. Searched online to try my luck, whether the shop has shifted elsewhere; surely such a nice and popular eatery could be sustainable? Luckily found a blog which talks about the Lost & Found Tea Shake Hut, now known as Uncle's Kitchen and re-located to Basement 1, opposite Bread Talk.
Had chance to go Bugis area again for some purchases and dropped by Uncle's Kitchen specially for the fried rice. The shop space is now slightly larger, more seats and tables with an open-kitchen. Concept is plain and modern unlike the old place with a more 'tea-house' feel.

Went in around 12.15pm and there were only a few tables occupied but from 12.30pm onwards, the whole place was filled with the office crowd.

There are four main courses like it used to be, and naturally I ordered my favourite, now known as Uncle's Fried Rice.

Variety of bubble tea has reduced significantly. Ordered the honey bubble green tea.
Despite being slightly early, I still had to wait for some 10 minutes before food and drink were served. The fried rice came piping hot and bubble tea, fresh and cool. In fact, this is a set lunch promo of $7.90 for a main course and bubble tea.

Ahhh, the familiar fried rice, honey baked wings and chilli, look exactly like it used to be. Or am I missing some prawns? I remembered a long time ago, they used to add prawns in the fried rice.
Anyway, the fried rice tastes quite similar but somehow not as fragrant as before. The chilli is still as good, just a tad not spicy enough. Nonetheless, I asked for more as it is not enough.
The honey baked wings are definitely still as good as before, succulent and sweet; the chicken meat tears off from the bones easily meaning the wings are well marinated. Yum!!!
The bubble tea is also very refreshing, not too sweet and well shaken (can see a thin layer of foam).

All in all, it is a hearty meal. Shall bring hubby to try as he is also a fan of the old Tea Shake Hut (we used to date there :p).

11 November 2008

Christmas Special Workshop: Holiday Baked Treats

Christmas is a month away, it is really time for me to plan my Christmas bakes! Thankfully, attended Chef Joycelyn's Holiday Candy Workshop at Shermay's Cooking School as well as the most recent Christmas Special Workshop: Holiday Baked Treats.
Have a much better idea on what to bake for my gang's Christmas party this year. In fact really appreciate the simpler versions (hopefully) of holiday treats this year, as I was absolutely hopeless with the fondant decorations last Christmas. And I also realised that I am not really the cookie kind of person so the decorated cookie is out as well.
Recipes demonstrated during class were:
  • Rich Valrhona Equatoriale Noire 55% Chocolate Pudding (included for food tasting)
  • Sticky Date & Toffee Bundt (included mini puds for food tasting)
  • Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes with Valrhona Perles (included for take home)
  • Valrhona Cocoa Meringue Kisses (included for take home)

All these recipes are quite doable with a homely, modest feel.

I totally heart Sticky Date Toffee Pudding; am a big fan of the ones at Marmalade Pantry. So the moment I see this recipe offered for the workshop especially when we can have mini puds variation, I'm sold. Though I attended Shermay's Easy Comfort Desserts last year and she had a Self Saucing Sticky Date Toffee Pudding, it was served as big portion only and not quite the same.
Reckon this should be presentable for the table. Or should I do the mini puds? So happy at the thought of baking my own sticky date toffee pudding at home anytime. Anyway, shall let all my friends savour the goodness of this pudding! Maybe they will get addicted as well? LOL.
The Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes with Valrhona Perles are good as well. I like how the perles melt when the cupcakes are heated yet stay in solid form when cold! Gives an illusion of warm chocolate cake where the molten chocolate flows out of the cake when heated, albeit tiny bits. But some spices like cinnamon, ginger and cloves are added and not everyone like spices in their cakes. Maybe not this one.
The Rich Valrhona Equatoriale Noire 55% Chocolate Pudding sounds good as well (no pictures here, except the tasting picture below). But I need souffle dish, deep roasting tin...

Nah, I stick to my Sticky Date Toffee Bundt :p

Meringues cookies are especially good if I have egg whites left-over from other recipes that require egg yolks only. Now I don't have to scratch my head over what to do with left-over egg whites.
The meringue cookies are light and airy; can be flavoured with additions of extracts, tinted with food colouring gels and pipe into fanciful shapes and sizes like the meringue mushroom below. So cute!
Food tasting time! Each participant could try one portion of Chocolate Pudding and Sticky Date & Toffee Mini Puds with sticky toffee sauce on the side for top-ups.My mind was fixated on the sticky date toffee pudding, so can't say much for the chocolate pudding (it was nonetheless light, fluffy and rich). I love love love the sticky date and toffee pudding! I think this is IT, almost the same as Marmalade Pantry's. Whatever, doesn't matter. I just love it! It was moist and sweet, not too overwhelming, it's those sort of comfort dessert that makes people (me! me!) go for seconds.

Our early Christmas treats - one piece of Valrhona Cocoa Meringue Kisses and one Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes with Valrhona Perles.