Monday, July 28, 2014

Something's Brewing @ Ipoh

With numerous new cafes blossoming in Ipoh every month, businesses must maintain formidable standards to stay competitive. That’s the mission of places like Something's Brewing, which claims to have Ipoh’s speediest wi-fi connection ... 

... to complement a menu of relatively cutting-edge concoctions like open sandwiches bountifully topped with spiced prawns, hard-boiled eggs, mayo & dill (RM20.90) ...

... & chicken breast that’s blow-torched to a smoky finish at the customer’s table ...

... & served with celery salt & lovely, garlic-laced mashed potatoes (RM18.90) ...

... plus 'pull-apart bread' (RM11.90 for a half-loaf) with cheesy mozzarella, melted parmesan & basil pesto.

“This is a wonderful time for Ipoh, because we’re really opening up to new possibilities in the food and beverage scene,” says Vincent Ng, one of the founders of Something's Brewing who returned to Malaysia last year after residing in Australia for more than a decade. “If we can sustain this momentum, then Ipoh might someday become a must-visit for travellers searching for a truly fun and diverse gastronomic adventure in Malaysia.”

Something's Brewing is also serious about tea: its loose-leaf selection ranges from caffeine-free blueberry rooibos to coconut oolong to fair-trade-certified 'Ancient Emerald Lily Green Tea.'
The text of this review first appeared in the April issue of Going Places, the in-flight magazine of Malaysia Airlines.

Something's Brewing
9 Jalan Medan Ipoh 1B/1,Medan Ipoh Bistari, Ipoh, Perak
Daily, noon through 11pm. Tel: 05-541-5900

Check out the latest edition of Eat Drink KL: 100 Favourites, featuring 100 recommended restaurants for July-September 2014, including more than 20 new entries for this quarter. 
This eBook is available to read or download at this link: http://eatdrinkkl.publ.com/2014C 
Link expires Sept 30, 2014; see blog entries after that date for new link.

Stay up to date: The Eat Drink KL newsletter is sent by email to subscribers every Monday; it's the Klang Valley's foremost weekly round-up of new restaurant openings (even before they're featured on this blog), F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits.
Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: 
Note to subscribers on Gmail: The newsletter will be in the Promotions folder of your inbox.

Sausages to sambal. Muffins to marshmallows. Peanut butter to mango chutney. Cornflake ice cream to honey aloe yogurt. Lavender-laced lemonades to lychee-&-guava juices.
Eat Drink KL: Small Businesses, Huge Flavours is the first eBook to help customers navigate the diversity of independent F&B entrepreneurs who bake & boil in their own kitchens, offering some of Malaysia's finest, most fascinating food products.
This resource will be continuously updated with new listings: www.eatdrinkkl.publ.com/businesses
Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Bread of My Childhood by Jean Michel Fraisse

The late '70s and early '80s was a sad time for bread in France because of  intensive wheat farming. As a result, we didn’t have good quality flour and ditto good bread. 

When I was growing up, we had a very good baker in the village in the Southwest of France where I was living. So I knew what good bread is.

During the late 70s, small villages like mine in Sabarat became deserted after the folks left for the cities to look for work. Small artisan craftsmen like bakers and butchers had to close their shops as the business was no longer viable. As a result, we had to rely on bread supplied by bakers in the larger villages and cities, and these breads were produced in a more industrial way. 

There was a distinct difference between city bread and country bread. The kind of bread that we find in Malaysia today is like the city bread of my childhood – made with industrial “corrected” flour, which means whiter flour with additives, and quick methods using instant dried yeast that allowed the baker better control over the production, and resulted in a good-looking but tasteless and soulless bread. 

There were still a few bakers in the remote countryside who were making the kind of big, rustic loaves that you could keep for up to a month without going mouldy. It was the kind of bread that you could throw at a man and it would knock him off. 

When I started to work in the city, we would drive 70 to 80km to buy such bread. This was, and is, how important bread and its taste is for me.

In 2005, I put my heart and soul into bread-making after learning how to make bread from a veteran French boulanger. Even though the results were pretty good, and better than any bread that you can find in KL at the time, it was not the bread of my childhood. I thought it was because of the flour or the equipment that I was using.

In 2007, during the Sirha food expo in Lyon, France, I came across a baker, Antonio Louro, who was making the kind of bread that I was dreaming about. He was demonstrating for a boutique flour mill, Les Moulin d’Antoine in Cantal, the mid region of France. I decided on the spot to import the flour that he was using.

Although the flour was very good and helped me to improve my bread, it was not enough. I was still not making the bread of my childhood. Good flour alone was not enough.



Earlier this year, I invited Antonio to Malaysia and he showed us how to make his bread. Antonio is an honest guy with an open heart and readily shared his knowledge. His method was – surprise, surprise! – among the easiest of artisanal bread making techniques shown to us by the many boulangers whom I had invited to teach at the French Culinary School in Asia. 

So now I have been reunited with the bread of my childhood: the pain de campagne (country loaf), the baguette and old slab, made using flour from wheat grown and processed with integrity (read: 100% natural and sans additives and conditioners) and made by a baker who understands the product.

Like the old baker, Antonio’s heart is in making good bread – it’s all about the taste. So his bread is not pretty to look at; his baguettes are not shaped into pretentious pointy tips and do not benefit from being buffed and varnished. They look like rough logs that you whack the dog with.

But break one open, hear the crust crackle, see the creamy and holey ‘meat’, and smell and taste real bread. For me, it’s the taste of love – after all, it’s just a humble loaf of bread.

By Jean Michel Fraisse
Director
The French Culinary School in Asia, HTC in Asia, La Vie En Rose Restaurant, Urban Picnic CafĂ©, Gourmandines Fine Foods
Photos courtesy of Kamal Zainul (of Breadties cafe-bakery) & Jean Michel Fraisse
To read more stories of Malaysian-based chefs, including Isadora Chai of Bistro a Table, Philip Leong of Nobu, Riccardo Ferrarotti of Mediteca, Christopher Yee of Topshelf, Nikom Uatthong of Kompassion, Lee Wee Hong of Tai Thong & Jason How of Ante Kitchen, see here: http://www.eatdrink.my/kl/2014/07/16/ask-chefs-satisfying-dish-youve-tasted-year/

Check out the latest edition of Eat Drink KL: 100 Favourites, featuring 100 recommended restaurants for July-September 2014, including more than 20 new entries for this quarter. 
This eBook is available to read or download at this link: http://eatdrinkkl.publ.com/2014C 
Link expires Sept 30, 2014; see blog entries after that date for new link.

Stay up to date: The Eat Drink KL newsletter is sent by email to subscribers every Monday; it's the Klang Valley's foremost weekly round-up of new restaurant openings (even before they're featured on this blog), F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits.
Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: 
Note to subscribers on Gmail: The newsletter will be in the Promotions folder of your inbox.

Sausages to sambal. Muffins to marshmallows. Peanut butter to mango chutney. Cornflake ice cream to honey aloe yogurt. Lavender-laced lemonades to lychee-&-guava juices.
Eat Drink KL: Small Businesses, Huge Flavours is the first eBook to help customers navigate the diversity of independent F&B entrepreneurs who bake & boil in their own kitchens, offering some of Malaysia's finest, most fascinating food products.
This resource will be continuously updated with new listings: www.eatdrinkkl.publ.com/businesses
Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bricks & Barrels @ Sri Hartamas

Barrelling through a sweeping selection of grub & booze at one of this year's popular new watering holes at Desa Sri Hartamas.

Pork's the primary pursuit at Bricks & Barrels, a beer garden that first emerged in Ipoh before expanding to KL; first-timers will likely enjoy the roast pork, available in both an English-inspired version of slow-cooked pork belly with sage & garlic (RM38) ...

 ... & a German-influenced preparation, also tender & meaty, with crunchy crackling & plenty of mashed potatoes & mustard.

 The repertoire, more ambitious than many might expect, spans East & West; this reinterpretation of Hainanese pork chop (RM36 nett) comes pan-fried with peas & potatoes in a light tomato gravy, to be soaked up with herb-tinged basmati rice.

Egg can be ordered frittata-style, mixed with luncheon meat & topped with cream cheese (RM16 nett) ...

 ... or fried with oysters, capelin roe & cucumbers (RM20 nett) in an interesting rendition of Chinese 'oh chien' omelettes.

Ultimately, Bricks & Barrels is all about guilty pleasures; scarcely three or four salads feature on the menu, heavily outweighed by two dozen pastas & pizzas. We like the 'French Pizza,' a crispy-crust, garlicky-cheesy one with snails galore. RM42 nett.

The cocktail list is extensive too; it's easy to see green with the eye-catching Mojitos (RM28 nett; variations of ginger, cinnamon, lychee or passion fruit are offered) ...

 ... to Martinis that come in head-turning variations (from black forest to banana, chocolate to apple pie to espresso).

 Our memory of what specifically we had is foggy now, the consequence of guzzling down too many sips of these.

 Bricks & Barrels has a vibe that'll fit customers who want a hangout that's breezy, casual & easy-going. We hope it stays good.

Bricks & Barrels
76, Jalan 27/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. Open in the evening, through late.

Check out the latest edition of Eat Drink KL: 100 Favourites, featuring 100 recommended restaurants for July-September 2014, including more than 20 new entries for this quarter. 
This eBook is available to read or download at this link: http://eatdrinkkl.publ.com/2014C 
Link expires Sept 30, 2014; see blog entries after that date for new link.

Stay up to date: The Eat Drink KL newsletter is sent by email to subscribers every Monday; it's the Klang Valley's foremost weekly round-up of new restaurant openings (even before they're featured on this blog), F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits.
Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: 
Note to subscribers on Gmail: The newsletter will be in the Promotions folder of your inbox.

Sausages to sambal. Muffins to marshmallows. Peanut butter to mango chutney. Cornflake ice cream to honey aloe yogurt. Lavender-laced lemonades to lychee-&-guava juices.
Eat Drink KL: Small Businesses, Huge Flavours is the first eBook to help customers navigate the diversity of independent F&B entrepreneurs who bake & boil in their own kitchens, offering some of Malaysia's finest, most fascinating food products.
This resource will be continuously updated with new listings: www.eatdrinkkl.publ.com/businesses
Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my

Friday, July 25, 2014

BEAM @ Bandar Sri Damansara

Introducing our cafe recommendation for the long weekend: Off the beaten track, BEAM opened this week, offering stimulating new ideas in a manufacturing neighbourhood of Bandar Sri Damansara, scarcely a ten-minute drive from Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

First, the basics: BEAM is run by a team with years of experience in coffee, including members of the local Caroma company that's been involved in coffee production since the mid-1970s. This new cafe, located near Caroma's factory, marks a push by a diverse set of talents to invigorate the momentum of Malaysia's artisanal coffee movement.

Aesthetics matter. In that regard, BEAM is captivating; it seems set to become one of the most photographed cafes for this second half of 2014, capitalising on its size & space by creating corners galore worth exploring. The beauty rests in the details.

Much of the furnishing was painstakingly built by BEAM's own team. In recent months, some people have publicly & spitefully whined that many of KL's cafes look cookie-cutter because of faux-vintage & industrial touches. Those people disrespect the heart & work poured into these places; they dismiss these cafes, without even visiting them, out of ignorance & self-importance.

Elegant coffee-making equipment lines the shelves & tables at BEAM, where every cup is taken seriously; a poster provides potential tips on recognising the elaborate, sometimes-elusive nuances of coffee.

Here's what makes BEAM particularly notable: It imports & sells a convincing variety of speciality green beans, not yet roasted. Owners of other cafes can conveniently head here to select & purchase beans for their own use.

Roasting machines are available as well; BEAM is also likely to start hosting workshops & training sessions by September.

For casual customers, BEAM offers a rewarding experience too: Try the hand-brewed coffee, which comes in options of 'strong' (RM12, with 18 grams of coffee) or 'very strong' (RM16, with 25 grams), with current choices of Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Guatemala & Ethiopian beans. Baristas will try to chat with customers about the coffee.

Cherry Red Natural Yirgacheffe. Really enjoyable; light & easy to drink, but very much vibrant.

Espresso-based beverages, hot & cold, are also offered, as is iced sweetened coffee, plus Malaysian-style 'kopi-o' & 'teh.'

BEAM's food is the equal of its drinks, with wholesome recipes that feel fresh & flavoursome. The mixed seafood salad (RM18), which features Japanese-inspired flourishes, is satisfying from start to finish.

Warm roast chicken panini (RM19), also a very capably executed sandwich, hitting the right marks for taste & texture.

BEAM's desserts also range from local favourites to Western pleasures, with glutinous rice & kaya sharing a display counter with peanut butter, ice cream & chocolate.

Not officially for sale (we think), but maybe there might be a mooncake slice or two at hand here.

Parting shots: BEAM is an acronym for something that's kinda wordy. We'll just keep calling it BEAM, pure & simple; expect to hear this name many, many more times in the months ahead.

BEAM is now open 11am-8pm, Wednesdays through Mondays. If you're lost, call them at 03-6261-8255 for directions.

BEAM Cafe
25, Jalan Gangsa SD 5/3B, Bandar Sri Damansara, Kuala Lumpur
BEAM remains open during the Aidilfitri weekend except on Tuesday (its regular day off every week)

Check out the latest edition of Eat Drink KL: 100 Favourites, featuring 100 recommended restaurants for July-September 2014, including more than 20 new entries for this quarter. 
This eBook is available to read or download at this link: http://eatdrinkkl.publ.com/2014C 
Link expires Sept 30, 2014; see blog entries after that date for new link.

Stay up to date: The Eat Drink KL newsletter is sent by email to subscribers every Monday; it's the Klang Valley's foremost weekly round-up of new restaurant openings (even before they're featured on this blog), F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits.
Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: 
Note to subscribers on Gmail: The newsletter will be in the Promotions folder of your inbox.

Sausages to sambal. Muffins to marshmallows. Peanut butter to mango chutney. Cornflake ice cream to honey aloe yogurt. Lavender-laced lemonades to lychee-&-guava juices.
Eat Drink KL: Small Businesses, Huge Flavours is the first eBook to help customers navigate the diversity of independent F&B entrepreneurs who bake & boil in their own kitchens, offering some of Malaysia's finest, most fascinating food products.
This resource will be continuously updated with new listings: www.eatdrinkkl.publ.com/businesses
Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my