Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sydney Fish Markets

So far, my time in Sydney has been nothing short of fantastic. As time is ticking and food is waiting, I'll have to be efficient and pick out the highlights.

One experience you cannot miss if you come to Sydney are the Fish Markets. Busy, crowded and full of foodies waiting to get their hands on the freshest fruits of the sea, it's a place to consume and be consumed by.

Weave in and out the crowds who stare, marvel and indulge in all the fresh seafood around. Everything seems so vibrant and technicolour-rich. This is food envy like none other, you gaze green-eyed as everyone else's choices seem so good and ever more confusing when you reach the top of the line!

R (who graciously gave me a first class tour of Sydney- thank you!) and I were kids on Christmas Day in this salt water playground. After over excessive deliberation, we saw the light in 3 sashimi fillets of tuna, salmon and kingfish.

If the choice stupefies you, as it did us, Peter's Fish Market in the main hall is a fine choice. Select your fillet and hands fly tentatively to slice up these tender, satiny portions. After muscling our way onto a table nearby, and breaking wooden chopsticks eagerly, this wait was all worth it. I only had to push the top of my mouth onto the tuna sashimi piece gently to get it sliding down. Immaculate.

The salmon was marvellously striped with fat, sending sweet fishy sensations throughout my tongue. Kingfish had more bite, but just as delicious.

For the rest of the time there we giggled over other customers plunging into their crab and lobster bonanzas, the mounds of shells that littered the tables and the infectious buzz of the place. There is plenty more to sample (I hadn't even managed to get to my true love, the oyster!) but as I said, there is more food awaiting! Absolutely worth a visit in this food capital. Our sashimi treats which we couldn't finish was an extremely reasonable AUD$24 for that fine quality. Sydney Fish Market is on Bank Street Pyrmont, open every day from 7am, except Christmas Day. Check their site here for directions and details.

Monday, March 28, 2011

G'Day Mate! Hungry in Sydney

Bad Hungry Female. Fewer posts and falling behind on all these amazing things I've been up to since landing Down Under. If I had to pick a highlight in the last couple of days, it would have to be...

...seeing swarms of bats fly up from Hyde Park whilst having a beer at Opera Bar, near Sydney Opera House. Dramatic, spooky and enthralling, so Gotham City! At first they look like disturbed birds, then they fly overhead, spreading their limbed wings in that distinctive eerie shape. Opera House to the left, bats above, cold Opera Pale Ale in hand, I'm in another world.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Hungry Female gets a Versatile Blogger Award!

How nice to wake up to a blogging award called the Versatile Blogger! This was given to me by Cinnamon and Truffle, a blog written by two sisters who live in San Francisco and London. Between them, covering those two amazing foodie cities in a fun, chatty way. Thank you girls! You have made my day!

From what I can gather, it's given from blogger to blogger in a way of saying "Good Job!". Recipients then award this to other blogs they admire, and say 7 random facts about themselves. So in the spirit of good blogging, and as it is the end of the week...

Tamarind & Thyme who also writes a food blog and has a light-hearted, cheerful way of conveying taste. I love her incredible food photos (you are an inspiration!) and one of the friendlier uber bloggers in London.

Brigadeiro An Australian-based fashion blogger with great global coverage of fashion events, and a wonderful eye for picking out rising stars and lesser known designers. Earlier postings used to feature more self styled shots of her creative and glamourous outfits, inspired by her cultural observations, high-end fashion and globe-trotting background, I hope we see more of them:-)

West Hampstead Life One commited writer who is a champion for all things West Hampstead, a neighbourhood in North West London. A great organiser of local events, and always ready to spread helpful news and tips on the area.

And as for 7 random things:

1. Pizza or pasta? Both.
2. I can make really good sound effects!
3. When I was younger I wanted to be Smurfette when I grew up. Still waiting to turn blue and blonde.
4. I'm trying to get asbestos fingers, for picking up sizzling hot food and making silver jewellery.
5. Driving is something that was never programmed into my DNA.
6. My friends say I've got a merry-go-round in my head. Long may it go round.
7. One of my favourite quotes, in the words of Kung Fu Panda is, "A true warrior never gives up".

Happy Friday all!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hokkien Mee, Reunion Bangsar Village II

The food and blog pace in KL is bewildering. I'm finding it hard to keep up, given all this amazing food. I'm doing my best to keep posting on the really exciting experiences.

Posting an empty plate of Hokkien Mee (Dark Soya Caramel Noodles) might seem silly, but take it to mean a very very good thing. Ask a KLite where the best Hokkien Mee is, and a spray of responses as fierce as flying daggers extolling Reunion in Bangsar Village II fly back. They aren't wrong. The noodles are soft with good bounce, and the even distribution of Chee Yau Zha (Fried Pork Lard) ensures every bite bursts with ambrosial porky magic. Good helpings of fried squid and liver also fall elegantly amongst the noodle.

Reunion is what I call Gastro Mamak, Malaysian food that originated from the lowly hawker stall doing a Cinderella. Three years since opening, and it still ain't pulling its punches. Dishes come in Small, Medium, Large portions, the largest coming in just under RM40. Service is excellent and you can sip Chinese Tea in dignity from wide rimmed cups, under sexy low lighting. Perfect for treating yourself after a long hard work week, with friends and cocktails. Don't forget to check out it's A la Carte and Dim Sum Menu too.

Reunion Restaurant
Lot 2F-17 & 18 Level 2
Bangsar Village II
2, Jalan Telawi Satu
Bangsar Baru
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2287 3770

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Richwell Restaurant

It feels good to be back in KL. Having lived in London for the last 10 years, every visit back is never longer than two weeks at a time. The most average Char Kuey Teow was probably outstanding to me, and I was happy to take what I could get (I don't care what my fellow Malaysians in London say about Sedap's CKT, there's nothing like being in the KL mothership!). I'm lucky to be back with a little more time, now being able to judge without desperation.

Names like Richwell are translated directly from a Chinese dialect, with the idea that anything remotely suggesting prosperity, no matter how blatant and unrefined it sounds, will bring good fortune. Inside, there is no pretention in the simple decor, usually a bright red tablecloth over tables and maybe some Chinese lanterns above.

The words "Sang Har Noodle" emblaze the entrance in big red letters. The closest translation to Sang Har, is a type of Langoustine, hence it's speciality here is the Langoustine Noodle. Similar to Lobster Noodle, Langoustines are braised traditionally in ginger and spring onion, then tossed with noodles. The noodles then soak up all that fishy goodness.

The irony is we chose not to try them.

There were some pretty interesting dishes that were new to me, such as the Nai Pak (a smaller, plumper version of Pak Choi) with Yam. Breaking the yam whilst cooking it with the crunchy Nai Pak introduces an earthy, creamy texture. Smatterings of Salted Dried Fish provide a tasty and aromatic punch of seasoning.

Braised Belly Pork with Salted Fish was a more traditional dish, this one lacked a caramelised depth usually brought on by marinating with some sugar.

We were brought back on track with a meaty Braised Catfish. I love how the gelatinous juices mix with ample spring onion and ginger to create a natural broth at the bottom, which gets eagerly spread over my rice. 

I also loved the Stuffed Tofu, soft and milky tofu stuffed with garlic, diced prawns, chinese mushrooms and water chestnut to give it seafood flavour and crunch.

The only other let down was the Three Layer Pork Belly, which with its lacquered ebony shine is so inviting. I say let down because whilst it was really super tender, the sauce was a touch too starchy and not salty enough. 

Increasingly, I notice Chinese restaurants having rooms that house a healthy selection of wines and loving how there is greater appreciation of appropriate wine pairing with Malaysian food. We had a smooth Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand which went down very nicely. 

I liked Richwell, but didn't love it. Great food should elicit "Wahhs" and "Mmmmms", which weren't very present in our company. There are some dishes they do very well, like the yam, fish and tofu, though the rest was more "Meh". Service is smiley, efficient and good natured (they jested in me taking pictures of food on other tables since I was snapping away!), and the average dish (to share) is RM 13. I'd rate this as a very good SS2 neighbourhood staple. Perhaps the clue is in trying the dish across the doorway first...

Richwell Restaurant (check out their Facebook page!)
24G & 26G, Jalan 19/3
46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: 03 7955 5855

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Three Choirs Vineyard

An English vineyard in February? Well, don't be surprised given all this talk about climate change. These days there is much to be said for the oenological advances in Blighty, which could be very due to the weather.

Despite the feathery drizzle, one could almost imagine France with the undulating grounds of the Three Choirs Vineyard. It is the largest vineyard in Gloucestershire, amongst 500 others. You heard that right first time, there are about 500 vineyards in the county alone. Like many others, Three Choirs began from one acre, today now at an impressive 75.

I'd "Adopted a Vine" for the Boy's birthday last year, intending for a summer seance and ending up having to rush and use it up before it expired. The experience included a tour of the grounds, a two course lunch at the restaurant with wine and coffee, "toasting" the adopted vine with sparkling wine, a flight of 5 Three Choirs and 2 bottles to take home! It's more than worth the trip down and makes for a super fun day out.

We yielded to our rumbling tums (2 hours on the train from Paddington gives you the rumblies) and went straight into lunch. Our shared starter of a Baked Camembert with a Beetroot Chutney fooled us with its simple outside. Pure molten deliciousness, and a surprise kick of star anise from the beetroot worked like a charm.

A perfect oozy moment!

On the mains front, was straightforward classic food cooked very well. Not a place for swooshes and tricks but that's not what they are trying to do. My sea bream with a balsamic rocket salad and chive sauce was fresh, very moist and of generous portion.

Salmon with pureed potatoes with more chive sauce was a little bit simpler, and again textbook cooked to perfection.

Whilst the food may have appeared simple, it paired very nicely with the Coleridge Hills 2009 which was a crisp, dry white, with elderflower notes. Definitely an excellent match for our fish courses and for gentle afternoon sipping. All of Three Choirs wines retail only in the UK, at their winery itself, and at Waitrose and Tesco's.

Desserts are the very prim and proper English kind, we shared a very grainy but moist cherry and almond tart, served with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. Lovely.

And after two glasses of sparkling wine later, we had another 5 wines each from the winery to taste. We chose from a list of about 15 wines, divided into Dry, Medium Dry and Medium, including ales and cider made from their sister brewery, Whittingtons.

Forgive me for not making detailed tasting notes of all the wines we had (my motor skills were just a little frazzled from the tipples), though I remember really enjoying mainly the whites (Three Choirs makes them from German grapes, then growing them locally) and thinking the roses were far too strawberried and sweet for my liking. Sadly there were no reds to try, owing to a recent bad harvest.

We were then taken on a tour of the grounds and wine production area, by an excellent tour guide who gave a thorough run through of their processes, methods and offerings. Sparkling wine continues to be their flagship item, having a dry, cider note to it.

Head down to Gloucestershire and be charmed by the rolling hills and interesting produce this county has to offer. It must be absolutely stunning in the summer, so fingers crossed for a sizzler this year! An "Adopt a vine" experience is just under GBP 90, covers two people and I would highly recommend this for a romantic day or weekend out. If heading out from London, the easiest way to get there is a train from Paddington to Gloucester train station, and then a taxi to the venue. Or in a convertible in summer. Chin chin!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fig, Prosciutto & Mozzarella Pizza a la Lorraine Pascale

If a picture paints a thousand words, then this post could have been the web's entire content. So I thought to stick to the pictures.

Lorraine Pascale's Fig, Prosciutto and Mozza pizza is so worth making yourself. I suppose it's seasonal, but we should definitely see more figs on pizzas as they are eternal partners-in-crime with ham and cheese. Baking it for 20 minutes as per LP's orders means the cheese is at melty bliss with the prosciutto, and the figs have slightly browned tips. The dough makes a sturdy, more biscuity crust which is actually needed to hold up those lush figs. And I feel a geeky baking glow inside when I see air pockets in the crust.

You too can bring the Amalfi Coast to showery London, or indeed anywhere in the world that has dry yeast and figs. Follow yet another look-at-me-I'm-a-baking-maestro recipe from Lorraine here. Molto perfectivo!