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Event: Charity Gala Dinner by World Chefs Without Borders

>> Saturday, November 1, 2014

What a night! It'll be one of the most memorable dinners in the year 2014 for The Ruthless Eater :D Dining amongst talented world-class chefs from our own home-ground, together with people with charitable hearts for those who are less fortunate in this world was just a privilege & honor.
The Charity Gala Dinner held in conjunction with the celebration of International Chef Day 2014 took place at the Cilantro Culinary Academy on the 18th of October 2014. This dinner was an initiative by the World Chefs without Borders, Chefs Association of Malaysia & Cilantro Culinary Academy. All funds raised at the dinner will support the work of caring matters by the World Chefs without Borders. Each guest contributes RM250.00nett for charity & in return, get to enjoy a sumptuous meal by world-class chefs from our own home-ground.

Themed "Cook with Love", every dish certainly featured the love of the chefs for the less fortunate in this world & their love for food as well! Allow me to share this lovely experience with you :)

Cocktail session
The evening began with cocktail at 7:00p.m., featuring Chef Amy Beh's Jiu Hu Char amongst 2 other small bites. It was simple yet fragrant & 'fun' to pop into the mouth while looking forward to the full dinner menu for the evening. Guests were also served wine, JKS - Amigos Beer & orange juice to accompany the small bites.

Jiu Hu Char/ Fried Cuttlefish with Vegetables by Chef Amy Beh
Looks LOVELY, right? :)

Dinner kicked-off around 7:30 - 8:00p.m. with the salmon appetizer by Chef KK Yau. The fresh pieces (yes, not slices!) of salmon were served alongside marinated asparagus with vin jaune & borage. Frankly speaking, I don't even know what vin jaune & borage were until I Googled them up! Really lovely taste of freshness from the salmon & also the asparagus. I wish there was more! :P

Salmon, Marinated Asparagus with Vin Jaune & Borage by Chef KK Yau

Up next, guests were served Chef Eric Siew's "powerful" Fresh Prawn Bisque with Blue Swimmer Crab Timbale, Crispy Prawn & Truffle Leek Parcel topped with Avruga Caviar. Trust me, it was 'something not to be missed'! The taste of the prawn bisque was SO intense & fragrant, while the various textures from the Blue Swimmer Crab timbale (generously served in proportion with the bisque!), the crispy prawn & truffle leek parcel & exquisite avruga caviar just made playful, harmonious music in my mouth! I even 'cleaned' the dish with the oh-so-delicious-made-in-house-by-students artisan breads served throughout the night :D Well done, chef!

Fresh Prawn Bisque with Blue Swimmer Crab Timbale, Crispy Prawn & Truffle Leek Parcel topped with Avruga Caviar by Chef Eric Siew

Artisan breads made by the team at Cilantro Culinary Academy! SO delicious!

It took me a while to complete my enjoyment of savoring the fresh prawn bisque dish, but there were more exciting dishes being served! Chef Rajesh Kanna coddled us in his entree of the delicate Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with Hot Salted Smoked Mozzarella Cheese, Caper Berries, Dehydrated Kalamata & Mustard Dressing. The wagyu beef slices just melts in your mouth *drools* As the mustard dressing & the kalamata were quite distinct in taste, it took away the raw taste of the thin beef slices, which some may find unpleasant. The hot salted smoked Mozarrella cheese & purple cabbage gave a good balance of texture & flavor to this simple dish as well. Just lovely.

Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with Hot Salted Smoked Mozzarella Cheese, Caper Berries, Dehydrated Kalamata & Mustard Dressing by Chef Rajesh Kanna

I felt I was in dreamland after the entree when I felt that I was taken even deeper into dreamland by the beautiful presentation of Master Chef Helmut Lamberger's Honey Infused Lacto Chicken Breast with Brussel Sprout, Topinambur Mashed & Chanterelle. Oh my goodness. It took me a while to digest the name of the dish! There were so many ingredients that were foreign to my vocabulary & I felt even more privileged to be at the dinner :D I'm actually not a fan of chicken breasts, but this premium, lean & tender chicken breast did amaze me & fill me 'til I felt all-too-full! I never expected to feel so satisfied to the brim (and almost over-flowing) at a dinner such as this. 

The mashed topinambur intrigued me & brought me to a whole new learning dimension, away from my usual mashed potatoes. How interesting! According to Nature's Pride, topinambur is a family member of the sunflowers & is native to North Amercia. The tubers are the ones which are consumed. Topinambur looks like a white potato & tastes slightly sweet, nutty, potato, artichoke like. The texture is like a potato only crunchier. Such a rare item in Malaysia & I had the opportunity to experience how this native tuber tastes :D It's also my 1st time tasting Chanterelle & you can imagine how excited I am with all the dishes served that evening!

Honey Infused Lacto Chicken Breast with Brussel Sprout, Topinambur Mashed & Chanterelle by Master Chef Helmut Lamberger
Note: Photo above shows the dish without the brown sauce

I think I remained at dreamland for the entire evening as the dessert looked even more splendid than I would have ever imagined! *respect!* The Trio of Miniature: Mango Yuzu Brulee, Soya Pana Cotta & Infused Chocolate Mousse with Garden Flower, Seasonal Berries, Raspberry & Passion Fruit Drop by Chef Khor BG left me astounded. I was really lost for words. All I could say was "wow!", "Wow!" & "WOW!" How can anyone eat such a pretty display of art?? That's a whole load of effort to ensure the taste, texture & colors blend harmoniously with each other & not to forget, there were at least 200 plates to prepare! *unbelievable*

Every single miniature dessert had its own character. The entire dish wasn't overly sweet as it was well-balanced by the tangy, fruity taste of berries & passion fruit. There was a variety of textures from the soft & silky brulee & pana cotta, crunchy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside little macaron, crunchy-hard sugar-glass showpiece, smooth liquid of the passion fruit drop, crunchy chocolate pieces & fresh, juicy berries too! *lalalalalalalala - can't stop singing with joy*

Trio of Miniature: Mango Yuzu Brulee, Soya Pana Cotta & Infused Chocolate Mousse with Garden Flower, Seasonal Berries, Raspberry & Passion Fruit Drop by Chef Khor BG
Check out the hand-written words as well! *faints in awe*

The infused chocolate mousse with garden flowers & seasonal berries *gasps*

As if it wasn't enough, the evening ended on a sweet note of Pralines. Ah, The Ruthless Eater was highly satisfied!

Thank you, chefs! What a fantastic job & a wonderful night of charity & enjoyment of good food! Malaysia is blessed to have such generous & talented chefs!

L->R: Chef KK Yau, Chef Khor BG, Chef Eric Siew, Chef Amy Beh, Chef Chern Chee Hoong, Chef Rajesh Kanna, & Master Chef Helmut Lamberger

Looking forward to enjoy more of these amazing chefs' creation back at the hotels/restaurants where they work ;)

For more on...
Chefs Without Borders: Click Here/ FB
Cilantro Culinary Academy: Click Here
Chefs Association of Malaysia: Click Here/ FB

Reminiscing on the good food & fun,


Review: Cafe Olle, Desa Sri Hartamas

>> Friday, October 24, 2014

Overall comment: Your pathway back to nature - a peaceful, chillax cafe with good coffee & simple food to pair with your favorite coffee.
Halal: Pork-free

It has been 8 years now since Gilbert arrived at Malaysia. A Korean at birth, Gilbert Kim & his wife are passionate about good coffee & simple, yet delicious food. With a passionate heart & mind, they started the homey & natural-looking Cafe Olle last December at Desa Sri Hartamas.

Olle means 'pathway to the nature' & it's actually a narrow pathway surrounding Jeju Island in South Korea. The routes pass through various landscapes along the way including small villages, beaches, farms, forests & parasitic volcanoes. The philosophy of Olle Cafe is simple: "The pathway is here. Come over any time & take time to enjoy your dining experience here."

With such an 'all-natural' & homey ambiance, I'll certainly enjoy my time here!

Cafe Olle roasts their own coffee beans. Gilbert even spends time to select the best beans at a table in the cafe! :D

Coffee beans from all over the world

Cold Brew Dutch Coffee & Terarosa Coffee Beans for sale
These are good stuff! Terarosa is a coffee factory in South Korea that roasts, brews, and sells coffee beans directly imported from the most famous coffee plantations around the world! You'll rarely find such coffee, so Cafe Olle is probably the only place to try it out for now ;)

Here at Cafe Olle, you'll find your favorite cup of coffee (tea & juice too) along with some simple variety of food like sandwiches, pastas & the Olle Signature Brunch to accompany your drink.

Lovely selection of flower tea

Gilbert Kim sharing his experience & explaining the dishes/coffee to us

Here are some of the coffee & tea that we tried:

Caffee Latte/Mocha/Caramel Latte/Hazelnut Latte/Vanilla Latte (RM11.00 - RM12.00/cup)
Each cup of aromatic coffee comes with pretty coffee-art.

Bamboo Salt Caramel Latte (RM13.00/cup)
Bamboo salt?? Bamboo salt has healing properties & I can testify that it's MUCH SALTIER than the usual salt! Oh my, my...but it gives a good twist to the simple coffee!

Bamboo Salt

Red Eye Coffee (RM12.00/cup)
This is the king of coffee here at Cafe Olle: a mixture of brewed coffee + espresso! Such a blend of coffee came about when pilots of the olden days who needed to work through the night/for long hours mixed these 2 blends of coffee to stayed awake for work. This resulted to bloodshot-red eyes the next day due to much strong coffee & long working hours. Drink this strong coffee at your own risk! :D

Iced Americano (RM7.00/glass) - not 100% sure if it's this
I didn't have this, so I'm not 100% sure if it's the iced Americano. Help? :P

Cafe Mocha Ice Blended (RM14.00/glass)
A good balance of coffee & chocolate. I enjoyed this!

Affogato (RM12.00/serving)
"Kao" & lovely - vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso.

Magnolia Flower Tea (RM15.00/set - refillable with hot water)
Such delicate & fragrant flower for a simple tea. The magnolia flower is harvested upon blooming for maximum fragrance in a tea. The tea was light, fragrant & very soothing after a long day at work :)

We were also introduced to some of Cafe Olle's favorite/popular dishes. You'll get to enjoy all their sandwiches throughout the day & their pastas from 11:00a.m. - 8:30p.m.

Food Menu

Grilled Vegetables & Cheese with Ciabatta (RM10.00/serving)
Gilbert's favorite! I've never really had a grilled vegetables sandwich! Who would have thought to have a non-meat sandwich? My 1st thought was that, "Er...veggie & bread??" Haha. This surprised me. A sandwich that tastes fresh, healthy & pleasant in the mouth. The grilled peppers were sweet with a hint of smokiness from the grill & the freshly baked ciabatta just complemented the grilled vegetables, cheese & honey mustard well.

Pan-Fried Chicken & Cheese with Wholewheat Bread (RM11.00/serving)
I love chunky pieces of chicken in my sandwich. These pieces of chicken were pan-fried & the wholewheat bread is lightly toasted, so it's chunky & crispy *yums*

Classic Ham & Cheese with Wholewheat Bread (RM10.00/serving)
This is my classic breakfast & any-time-of-the-day sandwich while I'm at home! I certainly do not have any complaints for this sandwich.

Beef Salami & Cheese with Focaccia (RM11.00/serving)
The focaccia brings this simple beef salami & cheese sandwich to the next level. It's certainly a more dense type of bread compared to the wholewheat & ciabatta, but I love the bite & texture that it gives to the sandwich.

Spaghetti Meatball Marinara (RM14.00/serving)
Who doesn't like meaty, juicy meatballs? These flavorful beef + chicken meatballs went well with the fresh-flavored tomato sauce & spaghetti. The spaghetti isn't al dante, so if you prefer al dante, you'll have to inform the waiter.

Vegetarian Pasta with Italian Herbs (RM14.00/serving)
Another surprise. So simple yet delectable. Grilled vegetables & mushrooms in cream sauce with linguine! I enjoyed such simplicity here at Cafe Olle.

Olle's Special Brunch (RM15.00/serving) - available from 9:00a.m. - 8:30p.m.
That's quite an extended brunch! It's a very simple & healthy set of grilled organic tomato, french beans, Omega3 omelette, steamed chicken sausage, chef's fresh fruit yogurt, & focaccia with balsamic vinegar + olive oil. Koreans really strive for healthy living & Malaysians could learn from this dish! :D I have to say that the organic tomato especially is REALLY sweet! This brand that they use is only available at international grocers.

"Olle" brand eggs!

The cafe also serves a decent variety of cakes to go with your coffee. The cakes aren't made in-house, but they are good enough to make your day ;)

Black & White Cheesecake (RM10.00/slice)

Nut Cheese Cake (RM10.00/slice)

Map to Cafe Olle

For some good coffee with simple sandwiches & pasta, you can be sure that Cafe Olle could make your day.

Cafe Olle
Ground Floor, No. 26 - G, Jalan 24/70a
Desa Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 6206 3121
Business hours: 9:00a.m. - 12:00 midnight
FB: https://www.facebook.com/ollecafe

Can't wait to go to Korea,


Event: Gala Launch of Malaysia International Gourmet Festival 2014 (MIGF2014) - My Experience

>> Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Gala Launch for the MIGF 2014 (one of the largest, if not the largest, gourmet festivals in town each year) was held at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre late last month, 26th September 2014. This year marks the 14th year of this festival, with 28 participating restaurants & a good number of Red Hot Chefs.

click to enlarge

I received the invitation to the Gala Launch, of which I rsvp-ed, but did not receive any confirmation email from the organizing PR company. Thinking that just like certain PR companies that do not practice acknowledgements, I sent out another email to seek for 'double-confirmation' that my email reply has been received. Both emails didn't receive a system bounce, neither did it receive any replies from the head of PR. Hmm...

I went ahead anyways & rushed from work in Cyberjaya, got dressed formally (dress code was evening gown), put on some make-up, which I rarely put on during non-events, & braved the massive Friday evening traffic jam to the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre. Was all the effort worth it? Read on...

The event was certainly filled with excitement & festivity. Almost everyone was dressed in their best & waiters were walking around serving drinks & small bites to all guest. I proceeded to the Media Registration Desk, where I was asked by a lady for my name. After informing her, she said in a rather impolite manner that my name isn't in the list & didn't provide any advice on what I should do next. The slight commotion made the organizing chairman, Dato' Steve Day, come over to check on the situation & I was rudely informed to go home & come the next day since my name wasn't in the guest list. I was probably too shocked & baffled by the treatment, but I am not that easily bullied, mind you.

I showed them a printed copy of my email correspondence to the lady & Dato', which without apology, they showed me a crossed look, asked each other what they should do & to cut the story short, handed me the 'gourmet dollar booklets' grudgingly. Not very professional, eh?

L to R: Royal Patron Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Ja’afar, Tunku Nurul Hayati, Organising Chairman Dato’ Steve Day & Datin Su Wai Fun
Photo above from official press release

Without a doubt I was upset with the entire treatment as if I'm not even a human, & was tempted to just walk off, leaving the venue, but did not, since I took so much time & effort to get there already. I proceeded towards the entrance of the hall, where I was stopped by the 'security', who insisted that I have the media pass if I were to enter the hall. *sigh* I wasn't given anything apart from those 'gourmet dollar booklets' & had to walk back to the Media Registration Desk.

I told another young chap who was at the desk that I needed the pass & he even asked in return if I was provided the media kit, which of course I said no. Upset, upset...I couldn't even comprehend my own emotions anymore. Thanking the guy, I walked towards the hall again & met up with some of my food blogger friends inside the hall, where we started taking photos & chit-chatted until we had another unpleasant encounter: we were impolitely 'chased' out of the hall without a reason. Am I in the wrong to be really crossed? To the very least, as the organizing committee, you could just tell all your guests to leave the hall first & come back later as the photo-taking session was over (or for whatever reason you had to have the hall vacated).

With some of my food blogger friends: Pancake, Waffle/Pui Yan, Sycookies, & Spicy Sharon

We walked out of the hall, not feeling like well-treated guests, & actually spent an hour lingering outside without anything much to look forward to. Everyone was telling me to chill, but it wasn't that easy to put emotions aside & try to enjoy the night. I struggled, I tried, & I held my tongue to only speak when required. Dear Lord, help me. We were all kinda starving as well, so I guess hungry people can be a little more angry people, no?

Some of us ended up getting too bored of sitting around & just waiting that we decided to pop-by the Epicure International Gourmet Village in the next hall. The gourmet village showcased some new products available in the market, with some stalls providing samples for guests to try/taste.

There weren't that many stalls to fill up our whole hour, so we took our own sweet time to browse through the stalls & check out the new food products in the market.

One of the more interesting products at the gourmet market were home-made sausages from Heartland Foods. The sausages are currently not available at supermarkets, but customers could call or email to order & have the sausages delivered. I must say that the sausages are quite delish, especially the chili beef sausage!

When we finally get to enter the hall/Theater of Cuisines for the Gala Launch, a few of us went around to check out each restaurant & cuisines showcased. You'll have to use your gourmet dollars in exchange for the small bites to taste-test the various cuisines cooked by the Red Hot Chefs. Different items will require different amount of points, from 1 to 3 points at the maximum.

Some of the food I tasted

Fancy taking a photo with these ladies?

Macaroon tower!

French Snail & more by Chef Eugene@Tanzini

Interesting samples

One of the best for that evening...

All the Red Hot Chefs - well done!

It was certainly an unforgettable experience at this year's MIGF Gala Launch. I hope that the organizing committee will improve on the way they treat their guests for subsequent MIGFs. The festival actually lasts for the entire month of October from the 1st to 31st, with the 28 participating restaurants offering their special MIGF 2014 menu items, so do visit those restaurants & enjoy the variety of exquisite cuisines only available this month!

The wise uses her mouth to eat more than speak? :D

p/s: For those who were wondering if I took any further action on the experience, I did write to the Head of PR, and the Head of PR called me after 10 days to apologize.

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