Saturday, February 23, 2013

DIY Nutella Popsicles

Hey, guys!

As some of you may know World Nutella Day was on 5 Feb and there had been a lot of Nutella dedicated posts going around. Remind me again, why World Nutella Day isn't a big-a-deal as Valentines' Day? It should be a public holiday, I say!

Where was I? Oh right. So, I came across this post:

I decided to give it a try and here is my guide to making Nutella Popsicles. The ingredients I used was the smallest jar of Nutella and low fat milk (890ml) as well as a Popsicle mould. I got my mould at Daiso for only RM5! This recipe can make 8 Popsicles.

Step 1: Buy ingredients and take outdoor product shot of ingredients.

Step 2: Take ingredients back into kitchen where it is cleaner.
Start by pouring the bottle of milk into the blender.

Step 3: Next, mix Nutella into the blender.

Step 4: Blend until mixture is smooth with micro bubbles on the surface.
Step 5: Pour mixture into Popsicle mould.
Leftovers can be refrigerated as milk shake.
Step 6: Place the mould in the freezer overnight.
Step 7: When removing popsicle from mould, place the mould in a
container of water to loose up the sides of the popsicle for easy removal.
Step 8: Enjoy!

Got your own version of a Nutella Popsicle? Share it! After all sharing is caring in the world of Nutella!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cloud Atlas movie review

The trailer for Cloud Atlas has been playing non-stop on my Unifi television channels and it had me brainwashed intrigued by this movie. Obviously the advertisment worked. Thanks to Nuffnang, I was able to catch the premiere screening of Cloud Atlas at the new TGV cinema at One Utama.

Courtsey of Nuffnang
Based on a novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas follows the lives of various characters in six different centuries and countries and observes how interrelated and connected a person can be in someone else's life in the past, present and future. It carries a cast of seasoned actors consisting of Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae and Ben Whishaw. These actors more or less are the main characters throughout the movie to look out for although their roles differ from storyline to storyline as they vary from main characters to supporting roles to protagonists to antagonists.

The opening scene had me confused as it presented a montage for all the six storylines viewers will be about to dive into. The challenge there was to pinpoint the different storylines whilst remembering the main characters played by different actors. As it was a late-evening movie, my brain was aching from a headache from following the entire film.

The visual effects however were stunning as viewers are taken through six different worlds that consisted of interesting costumes, makeup, concepts and landscapes. The movie diverse in terms of genres as you have a mix of comedy, action, self-biography and most importantly, adventure. I was actually more fascinated with the numerous characters played by the actors. Some like Hugo Weaving made it a challenge to recognise them sometimes.

Hugo Weaving.
Mr. Weaving as usual, played diverse badass to the core regardless whether he was a man or a woman while Tom Hanks was brillant as a conflicted character that underwent a major character development throughout the movie. He certainly held my attention during his main story. Halle Berry's characters were.... predictable as it felt as though the movie was merely a cut and paste of all her previous movie roles. I found her plotline boring....

Jim Sturgess and Doona Bae were, for me, the two to look out for as they play characters attracted to one another but forced to put the bigger picture before them.

I was also thrilled to spot Zhou Xun in a minor but no less important role. I loved her performance as the demon fox in Painted Skin: Resurrection and she carried the same intensity over in her brief moments on Cloud Atlas.

Would I watch it again?
Maybe. Perhaps on a day when I am not tired and red-eyed from a lack of sleep. Halfway though the movie, I found myself wishing for the end...which came only after 45 minutes. Some of the storylines were interesting and fast-paced, others slow. It was like watching six mini movies or TV series in one and it can be mentally taxing. I can see why Cloud Altas got a polarized reaction from critics....Not advisable to watch if you're tired or have the attention span of a puppy.

Cloud Atlas hits the big screen on 21 Feb 2013.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Renoma Cafe Gallery - Brunch Buffet review

The following post may cause salivating and hunger. Proceed at your own risk.

I first heard about Renoma Cafe Gallery, Bukit Bintang and their Sunday brunch buffet from Rebecca Saw's blog. Unlike most buffet places which have lines of food laid out before you, Renoma's version of buffet is different. At RM85++, you order whatever your palate desires from their special brunch menu with dishes ranging from starters to soups to sandwiches to main courses to desserts between 11am to 3pm.

Foodie galore!
Everything is prepared upon order, comes in smaller-than-usual portions but tastes superb! Of course this brunch offer is worth it if you're a huge eater craving for classy, refined food without having to break the bank.

The menu
Interior of art and food.

I brought two of my ex-college mates there recently and we got there at 11am to fully enjoy the entire afternoon just eating. Ah....bliss....

We started with several appetizers with the more memorable ones being the Tiger Prawn and Candied Pecan Nut, Salted Egg Yolk Soft Shell Crab, Crispy Mozzarella Caprese and the Croque Madame.

Tiger Prawn and Candied Pecan Nut
The Tiger Prawn was super crunchy, juicy and not to mention, fresh. The pecan nuts added in a nice sweet kick.

Salted Egg Yolk Soft Shell Crab
You can’t go wrong with the Salted Egg Yolk Soft Shell Crab especially with the softness of the crab meat.

Crispy Mozzarella Caprese
Crispy Mozzarella Caprese was oozing delicious cheese with a thin deep fried exterior layer.

Croque Madame
The signature Croque Madame comes highly recommended by many food bloggers and I could certainly see why. As soon as you slice it open, you are in for a treat to your palate consisting of beef pastrami, duck breast, chicken salami and black truffle egg.  

To give our tummies breathing space before the mains, we switched over to desserts. The Vanilla Panna Cotta was a real treat with fresh berries to accompany it. I had another helping in round two of desserts. The Orange Vanilla Crème Brulee was a little disappointing due to its tiny size and the super thin burnt crust of sugar on top but the zest of oranges offered an interesting twist. The Carrot Cake came thinly slice but I found the portion perfect for tasting with a nice mix of carrots and walnuts that went well with the smooth cream cheese.  

Forest Mushroom Veloute
Anyway, back to the main courses. The Forest Mushroom Veloute soup (a blend of black trumpet, oyster mushroom, porcini mushroom, crème porcini and white truffle oil) was so good we ordered two helpings of it.

RCG Classic Burger

RCG Signature Burger
My friends had the RCG Classic Burger and Signature Burger which came as half of a normal sized burger. It came with beef patty so my Hindu friend had to forgo it despite how good it looked. My other friend happily gobbled both burgers up, commenting on the patties’ juiciness. As for me, I was saving space for other dishes.

Char-Grilled Sirloin Steak
The Char-Grilled Sirloin Steak (Black Angus) was delicious with a chewy texture with a lot of smoked flavour saturated into the meat. But it was the Confit of Muscovy Duck Leg that made a huge impression on all of us.

Confit of Muscovy Duck Leg
My friend has no love for duck due to its odd taste and texture but she had no issue eating Renoma’s Confit of Duck, remarking on how lovely the texture and taste was. I agreed. The meat simply peels off the bone beautifully while the skin offers a crispy contrast.

Finally, round two of desserts came next and I admit we did abuse the buffet concept here as we ordered all but a few from the dessert menu.

Peach Melba
The Peach Melba was a light treat that offers a brilliant blend of flavours and textures as it comes with caramelised peaches, toasted almonds and raspberry sauce over a scope of vanilla ice cream.

Valrhona Chocolate Fondant
The Valrhona Chocolate Fondant was highly recommended due to its high-quality chocolate balanced out by a wild berries stew.

The Pavlova wasn’t too bad although I would have like more passion fruit sauce and perhaps a chuck of passion fruit to balance out the sweetness of the other fruits and berries.

Peach and Almond Tart
Whilst we had the carrot cake earlier, we now opted for the Peach and Almond Tart which was a good choice due to the juicy sweetness of the peach and the crunchy bite of the almonds.

To wrap up desserts, I ordered every ice-cream flavour on the menu which is of course, never a bad thing. It helped that it came in very small scopes to allow us to fully enjoy this eating experience. The Rum and Raisin and the Cointreau Crème al Orange contained alcohol though.

Coffee to stay awake.
Throughout brunch, we were topped up with an unlimited flow of coffee, tea, soft drinks and juices to help ease down the meal and to wash our palates. The services were fast and prompt although food took a while to reach us. That was understandable as dishes are prepared upon ordering. The ambience was very chilled and relaxed for a nice Sunday afternoon. Overall, I was quite happy with the experience.

To quote one of my friends, “We get to experience a wide variety of high-class dishes without having to pay through our noses.”
My best advice to making the most of this experience is to make full use of the four hours you have there and to pace yourself. Sharing dishes will definitely allow you to make the most of the variety of cuisine there and be adventurous!

Renoma Brunch Buffet is available on Sundays and Public Holidays from 11am to 3pm at RM85++ per person. Reservations are recommended for big groups.

Renoma Cafe Gallery

Monday, February 11, 2013

First hike to Bukit Tabur

Hey, guys!

First of all, Happy Chinese New Year to those who celebrated it and to those who didn't, Happy Holidays!

I bet your CNY holidays was spent getting stuck in traffic jams on the way home, eating and drinking, having reunion dinners, taking family portraits, house-visiting to collect Ang Pows and wearing red a lot.

As for me, my parents did go back to Taiping to visit my grandparents with my relatives....and left my sister and I behind. As we have a mind-boggling number of cats and dogs, we stayed back to babysit them and the house during the festive seasons. Not that we mind as we took advantage of a very-jam-free-KL.

Bukit Tabur

Bootcamp Tabur hikers (L-R): Sunil, Alex, Cherrie & Norizan.
Cherrie and I also went hiking for the first time in a long time at Bukit Tabur with Sunil, Alex and newly befriended Norizan from bootcamp as well as Yasmin from my swim team days on the first day of CNY. Due to the series of hikes and activities coming up, I got myself a new pair of New Balance trail shoes the day before and planned their maiden vovage to Bukit Tabur.

New New Balance trail shoes.
Our group of six got to the foot of Bukit Tabur at 730am and already, there were quite a lot of cars parked along the side of the road. Apparently the regulars come to the hill at 6am for a good workout.
Still it wasn't as crowded as Gasing Hill but that could be due to it being a public holiday.

Entrance near the Klang Gates Dam.

Bukit Tabur is a limestone ridge located in Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur and is part of the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge. Standing at less than 1000m, the hill consists of a few peaks and the most frequented entrance, Tabur West starts near the Klang Gates Dam. For detailed instructions and GPS coordinates, click here. 

photo credit: All about Tabur.

 Baby Steps

With the first rays of sunlight peeping out from behind the ridge, we made our way up the hill. The first stretch of forest had me panting and reminded me of Gasing Hill. For the record, cardio hikes are not my forte. However, after good ten minutes of forest hiking, the route became less strenous and the view got more rewarding.

'I am never leaving this tree' - Norizan
At the first peak, we stopped momentarily to admire the stunning view of the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge that divided the Klang Gates Dam and the concrete jungle that was Kuala Lumpur. Behind us were two other peaks, running side by side like camel humps. As the sun continued to rise up from behind these two peaks, the rays broke across the scene and created a surreal sight.

We soldiered on, going higher and further along the ridge. We met several other hikers along the way, many posing for their cameras and some even, picnicking on the rocky flat spaces. During one of our breaks, my friend Shaun caught up with us, having arrived late and was panting and sweating hard by the time he joined us. But then again, he did sprint up the hill, a feat not many could accomplish.

The Climb

We had to conquer seven peaks that morning and each got a little harder and more challenging to get to as we went along.  Tall trees disappeared, replaced by limestone rocks and formations as well as shrubs and mosses. Photo opportunities were at an abundance due to yours truly being a 'capture-the-moment' person and truly every peak and climb had me snapping away.

Yasmin - No sweat!

Of course, Bukit Tabur wasn't as tame as Gasing Hill or Broga. On both sides of the ridge pathway was sudden drops and huge boulders created obstacles to scale around. The hill demanded respect from its visitors and you better give it just that as there has been reports of deaths and accidents on Tabur. People have gotten lost, injured or died due to their over zealousness and for underestimating Bukit Tabur.

Love at first hike.
When it came to the rock-climbing bits, I tucked my cameras away in my backpack to free up my hands and did the climb with extreme caution. I loved it though, despite or maybe because of the element of danger. I often had to rely on my upper body strength to boost me over ledges and if it wasn't for bootcamp, I wouldn't have the strength or the stamina to do it. Good hand and eye coordination also comes in handy when moving along the rocky ridge to avoid falling flat on your face. Being a parkour expert will be a huge advantage.

Midway though, we came across two paths to take around a boulder, one harder than the other. The harder (and scarier) route involved climbing rungs drilled into the rocks while the other requires us to climb down a short but vertical slope using a knotted rope with little foothold space. As some of us were rookies, our unofficial Tabur guide, Sunil opted for the rope and gave us precise instructions on scaling down. It was scary at first as beyond the tiny ledge was another sudden drop and all you had to cling on for dear life was the rope and your own arm strength. But when I actually did it (without making a fool of myself), there was a deep sense of adventure and satisfaction. Must be the adrenaline rush.

A marker flag

That also have me a good burst of energy that carried me through the next few peaks. I decided there and then, I was in love with Bukit Tabur. The greenery at the higher peaks were incredibly picturesque and we were fortunate to have a cool breeze cut through every once in a while.

Past the last peak and the turning point to go back, Shaun showed us a path that continued a little further on and ended in a sudden drop. He got lost here the last time and scaled midway down before the danger of it dawned on him, making him return to the original trail. As beautiful as Bukit Tabur was, its dangers should not be undermined.

Up, now Down

As the saying goes, what goes up, must come down. There were two trails that we could use to return to our cars. Go back the way we came or head down a dirt trail along the side of the hill. Majority headed for the latter although Superman Sunil opted to go through the rocky peaks again.

Time to head down.
The trail downhill was reminiscent of the trails I used to thunder through when I joined the Hash House Harriers but instead of running, we walked. Like normal people who just finished climbing a hill. It was relatively quite an easy, uneventful brisk walk back to the car, although albeit long. Alex lead the charge downhill, doing even the Gangnam Style (briefly) on the way. I did pause to glance back up at the ridge and I felt so tiny and amazed that I was even at its peak.

Are we there yet?

It was about 1030am by the time we reached the car to unload our backpacks and unwind (and to stare at chicks...and hens) while waiting for Sunil. He joined us 15 minutes later, delayed only because he stopped to help a group of girls stuck on the rung trail. Apparently their uncle led them there before heading ahead and leaving them behind. Tsk tsk. Bad uncle.

Due to the lack of human traffic on the hill, we completed Bukit Tabur in three hours with plenty of breaks and photo sessions in between. I really enjoyed loved the hike/climb, my new shoes and most importantly, the company. Really, the company makes all the difference in an activity like this.

Thank you, Sunil for planning this trip and guiding us through Tabur with the patience of a saint.
Thank you, Alex for (not ffk-ing) driving us there and leading us noobs down safely.
Thank you, Norizan for the laughter and jokes up there and for the most rewarding brownies ever.
Thank you, Yasmin for giving up your Sunday to join us and make new friends I hope.
Thank you, Shaun for looking out for my sister and also for helping us along.
Thank you, sis for allowing me to drag you along.
Thank you, adventurous random stranger who followed us all the way down.
And thank you, Bukit Tabur for reviving my adrenaline junkie and interest in hiking once more.

Tabur CNY hikers!
 For more pictures of our Tabur hike, click over to my Facebook album here.

10 Tips for Noobs

1. Invest in a pair of proper hiking/trail shoes, preferably lightweight.
2. Wear gloves for the rock climbing parts.
3. Go with an experienced friend and stick together.
4. Bring two bottles of water or isotonic drink.
5. Use a backpack to free up your hands.
6. Leave your ego at home. Better to be teased than dead.
7. Bring a camera.
8. Always let faster hikers through. But don't be afraid to ask for help if needed.
9. Don't look down! Seriously, watch where you're stepping at all times. Your next step could be a flimsy rock and your last....
10. If it rains, postpone the hike. Slippery trails are not your best friend.

It helps to read up more on other people's experience and on Bukit Tabur itself. I recommend All about Tabur and Vertical Adventure. Have fun and be safe!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cakes at The Red BeanBag @ Publika

Photo credit: The Red BeanBag

A friend's friend introduced us to the Red Beanbag in Publika after a two hours hike through Gasing Hill in Petaling Jaya recently. The hike was exhausting but fun and we felt that after burning all those calories, we deserved a reward. In the form of cake.

Photo credit: The Red BeanBag
My friend's friend, Sher Lyn mentioned a friend's cafe in Publika that had the most amazing cakes. And that was how we ended up at this adorable restaurant overlooking the Square, near the Bee's and Plan B.

Photo credit: The Red BeanBag
We got there about lunch time and the place was buzzing with people waiting for a table. Fortunately we had the foresight to grab a bite at the food court downstairs which prevented us from salivating over the other customer's food. I heard people would wait 45 minutes to be seated, indicating the popularity of this place.

Pardon the poor quality pictures of the food as it had been an impromptu trip and I only had my phone with me. I had to steal some of the interior shots from their official facebook page here.

The interior design and ambience of the restaurant immediately reminded me of Australia and my friends from there quickly confirmed this, noting the cardboard menus and bottles of water to help yourself to on each table. The entire place, althought crowded, gave off a warm welcoming feeling that just invites you to come in and chill out for the rest of the day. Preferably with a cuppa and a slice of their yummy cake.

As soon as we were seated, I headed to the cake display to check out their cakes. Sher Lyn recommended the Rum and Raisin Mille Crepe cake (RM14.90) which was too die for! As soon as we dug in, we relapsed into silence to fully appreciate the smoothness of the cake and the mixture of sweetness with clear flavour of rum in it. It was slightly more expensive than the crepe cakes at Food Foundry but totally worth it! All of their crepe cakes are home made by Oneatezero and often sells like hot cakes!
I also ordered the Red Velvet cake (RM12.90) because I have been craving for one ever since trying the Starbuck's version. Sadly the Red Velvet was a disappointment as the cake was dry and crumbly while the layers of cream cheese were too thin and little. Perhaps it was because we had the Rum and Raisin before it which affected our taste buds but the Red Velvet was also lacking in sweetness.  
While we were there, Sher Lyn ordered a cup of coffee. It smelt divine! And that wasn't the only thing that smelt good there. The table across ours had the Mussels & Clams In Aromatic Wine Broth and the My Crustacean Cousin (Tiger Prawns, Scallops & Pipis Served With Freshly Pressed Tagliolini Pasta) that had us drooling despite our full tummies. We could smell the scents wafting through the air and we promised we would come again for a proper meal.
Service was prompt and efficient, I have no complains about that. The restaurant decor is just lovely and in the mood of Chinese New Year. The pricing of the cakes are slightly more expensive than what I am used to but the Rum and Raisin crepe cake is worth every cent and considering the location, I believe the prices are justified. I will certainly come back again, this time with a bigger group of friends, my trusty cameras and an empty tummy to try everything.
Aw, dammit. I've gotten hungry again just from writing this review. Oh and by the way, the Red Beanbag is also pet-friendly, ringing up another plus point in my books!

The Red Beanbag
Add: Lot A4-1-08, Level 1, (overlooking The Square)
Solaris Dutamas, Mont Kiara
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03-6211 5116
Hours: Tue-Fri, 10am-10pm;
Sat & Sun 9:30am-10pm,
closed on Mondays
Photo credit: The Red BeanBag


To all my readers,
Happy Chinese New Year!
Have a safe journey and happy eating!