Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Indulgence Ipoh

It took a lot of convincing on my part to get Hubs to drive to Indulgence in Ipoh all the way from Taiping. While planning our trip, Hubs asked what did I want to eat in Taiping. Our conversation went a little like this:

Hubs: Let's Google & see what food Taiping is famous for.
Me: Indulgence in Ipoh.
Hubs: That's like a bloody hour's drive away!
Me: Indulgence in Ipoh.
Hubs: How about that famous chicken and beansprout rice place in Ipoh then?
Me: Indulgence!

 So no prizes for guessing where we ended up driving to after our lil trip to the Taiping Zoo ;) Thankfully Bubs fell asleep through the hour's drive. This marks our 3rd trip to Indulgence and for someone that hates long distance driving with a passion, it's a lot saying that the 2 hour drive from Penang to Ipoh is worth it just to be able to dine there.

Indulgence is both a restaurant and beautiful boutique hotel located in a quiet, unassuming white bungalow. Proprietress extraordinaire and culinary magician, Julie Song, is very much hands on and can often be seen bustling around in the kitchen. I've seen customers asking to speak to the chef and she comes out to explain and make recommendations from her menu, charming, understated and humble, exactly what Indulgence is all about.

The brilliantly creative and sheer genius of the dishes offered in the ever changing menu is what makes us returning customers. Think choices like ricotta pancakes stuffed with fresh figs, open lasagne with blueberries, sardines and drizzled with truffle oil, where else can you find such gems?

Huge fan of the splashes of blue, white and greens throughout the eating area with an eclectic mix of furniture and bric brac. For a place that serve fine dining quality, we found the wait staff to be really friendly, down to earth and not a single bit snooty unlike other establishments we've been to.

The front portion is dedicated towards bring-home-gourmet-goodies such as imported paella mix, fresh cherries for sale at RM12 per 100gm, arborio rice and of course, delectables produced by Indulgence, such as lemon curd, oven dried tomatoes and hibiscus pesto. Ready made desserts ranging from lamingtons, macarons, tiramisu, creme brulee, canele, are also on display if you need to further tempt your taste buds. This place is a dieter's nightmare!

The food is nothing short of fantastic. Complimentary bread and butter are served before the main courses arrive. We ordered the lamb and onion pizza (RM39) and the wait staff was kind enough to request the kitchen to separate out the chilli flakes because Bubs can't handle anything too spicy. We also had a portion of the lamb, chestnut, bean and parmesan pasta (RM39) .

Indulgence serves an amazing array of dolci (desserts) and this where I've to stress, the sweets from the menu are purely works of art - they cost as much as mains and forget about portion sizes, this petite creations are meant to delight your senses (camera and wallet too). Hubs nearly had a heart attack when he saw the prices and the portions served ;)

Unforgiving (RM39) is a choux "tree" served with small scoops of gelato, strawberries, blueberries, and for an added touch of whimsy, sprinkled with edible flowers dusted with icing sugar. Hubs and Bubs refused to even touch the flowers so I ate all of them, muahaha. In case you were wondering, they did not taste a single bit floral at all, more of a green, leafy fresh taste.

Imagine (RM32) - I wanted to break out into the John Lennon classic, is small crepe pieces with a centre of fresh pear chunks, chestnut chocolate puree and topped with fresh figs. The chestnut chocolate sounded a bit odd but I was surprised at how the chestnuts add an almost smokey taste and its richness cut down the sweetness of the chocolate.

Since Bubs and I have an insatiable sweet tooth, we ordered MORE desserts from the ready made ones on display. Trust me, it was soooo hard to narrow our choices down to just 2 tiny morsels - a single berry macaron and a canele. The macaron (RM6.50) was out of this world, just the right amount of tartness and sweetness balanced with filled with a light cream centre studded with fresh blueberries. Canele is a French dessert (RM6.50), I was really excited to find it served at Indulgence - I love the caramelised, thick crust and the simple custard filling in it - the flavour reminded me a bit like apom, clean, simple eggs, milk and sugar with a touch of vanilla.

Can't wait for more trips to Indulgence Ipoh *hearts*

Indulgence Restaurant and Living
14, Jalan Raja Di Hilir, 30350 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel No : 605-255 7051

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Let's Go to the Zoo

There are lots of things to do and the chicken is finger licking good ... Each time I think of the zoo, that old school Kentucky Fried Chicken (none of that new fangled KFC abbreviation) jingle plays in my mind. Hubs and I haven't been to the zoo in ages and since Bubs is recognising some animals, we thought it'd be fun for him to see some exotic ones. The closest zoo here is the Taiping Zoo, the oldest one in Malaysia, and is about an hour's drive away.

Patience is not one of Bub's virtues and I was tempted to ply him with alcohol so he'd pass out we fully charged his iPod for him to keep him occupied in the backseat. We had a 10 minute stop at a rest area for him to stretch his little legs and to get a quick breakfast before continuing the drive. Surprisingly, Bubs was contented and didn't kick up a fuss throughout the drive until we reached Taiping Zoo. After carefully rubbing sunblock all over ourselves (which turned out to be a good decision because there were uncovered areas where the sun was really strong) and stepping past the gates: we were there!

There was a strong, heady scent of musk mingled with wet leaves throughout the zoo, if you're unfamiliar to animals, your nose would be wrinkling up at the smell. The grounds were huge with a lot of winding, sun dappled paths and scattered around were tall, leafy trees that provided shady areas visitors seeking a brief respite. We spotted a small group of monkeys wandering around and picking up trash from the bins. It felt a little surreal. 

Long, arduous walks call for serious measures. In addition to liberal dosing of sunblock, we came prepared with appropriate footwear: Crocs for Bubs and me and Tevas for Hubs. Adel told us that the pathways were wide and stroller-friendly so we brought along Bub's stroller which we used probably less than 10 times since we first got it. 

Bubs seemed more excited with his stroller (which he hardly gets to sit in since most of the places we go to in Penang are un-stroller friendly) and clambered up and down in it. He said "stroller" repeatedly and even got out to help us push it around for a while. Who knew all it took to keep him happy was a simple trip with his stroller ;) At steep paths going downhill, we'd warn "Bubs, hold tight" and he'd immediately grip the sides until we descended.

It was a really good walk though we sweated buckets from the stifling heat. We spotted some of Bub's more distant relations, LOL.

The zebras had a curious barking laugh that made him jump. For some reason, I kept thinking of the poor zebra in the book Life of Pi and half expected to see a hyena close by.

An hour of walking non stop and dodging the ever present trams made us all fatigued and we stopped for a very much welcomed ice cream break. Everyone else had the same idea and Hubs had to queue for some time to pay for the ice cream - you could make a fortune there selling icy cool treats! Bubs had the time of his life pushing the empty stroller about in his snazzy orange Crocs in between greedy mouthfuls of ice cream.

 After a short rest, we trudged on. This giraffe was decidedly the most friendly of all the animals we saw. It came close by to us and stuck its head over the fence, watching us curiously with its long, lash fringed eyes. A visitor offered his palm up to the giraffe and hurriedly pulled away when a long strand of giraffe saliva dribbled out. Bubs started feeling hungry as it was close to his lunch time and we gave him biscuits. 

By the time we reached the elephants which signaled the end of the zoo, we were exhausted, sweat drenched and hungry as the cafe was closed and there was no food to be found around apart from potato chips and fizzy drinks. It was a good thing we packed a hot lunch in a Thermos for Bubs and after feeding him, we wet a small towel with water and cleaned him a little. In hindsight,I should have brought a spare change of clothes :( 

Anyhow, Bubs fell asleep the moment Hubs started driving towards our next destination for lunch ...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Toddler Stuff: 21 Months

Dear Bubs,

   Have I ever told you how much I adore your cheeky grin or how your happy giggles sound like bubbles whenever you do something that you know you're not supposed to do? When sent to the naughty corner, you play peekaboo with the curtains in a way that makes it so hard to keep a stern look on my face even though you've misbehaved. You've recently gotten into the habit of pinching people hard and scrunching up your face with all your might as you grip - ouch! You don't like it a single bit when we make you apologise, you'd cry until tears wet your little face, you'd say mai over and over again but after we insist firmly, you'd then hug the person you've hurt, patting them and saying in a very apologetic voice "sah-ree" (sorry)

  You've recently discovered the fun and wonder of arts and craft. We've kept it simple to paints, crayons and playdough for the time being. The messier and the more colourful they are, the better you like it. Is this the part where I tell you that Crayola is well worth the money simply because it's washable on all surfaces? You can now recognise most of the colours apart from white, black, pink and brown (mainly because I can't figure out any Sesame Street muppets that are these colours - anyone care to help me out here?)

 Daddy and I suspect that you learned most of the alphabet by playing with your iPod touch. It started when I was trying to teach you some letters by going through an alphabet book that Grandma got you. We've gotten to ABCs. The next day when we were playing with your Cookie Monster Play Dough alphabet set, you were suddenly picking out letters that we've never taught you, like E, F, H, I, X, Y, Z ... From then onwards, whenever you see letters, be it from books, advertisements outside, even words printed on our T-shirts, you'll puzzle out the letters and shout it out loud proudly. I feel a little guilty that you are learning this from screen time instead of from a book with Daddy and I.

  You've started recognising cartoons like Tom & Jerry (you call them cat and mouse), Bugs Bunny (you'd say rabbit) Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck (duck duck to you) and Goofy. Again, more mummy guilt for letting you watch cartoons at such a young age but secretly, a part of me feels happy and nostalgic by watching them with you. The purist in me loves the old, watercolour painted classics that I watched as a kid. Your attention span to the television isn't too great (is that a blessing in disguise?) and you'd get bored easily before wandering away to play on your scooter or other toys.

  You get fascinated with the simplest household chores. One of your favourite things to do is to vacuum even though the handle goes all the way up to your shoulder. You'd often trail behind Daddy, helping him push the vacuum cleaner behind him. Let's hope you can continue doing this well into your teens ;)

  Weirdly enough, your favourite food right now are peas and legumes Anything round, tiny and brightly coloured, you'd devour them. You love helping me make red bean soup by swirling the little beans with your hands, tossing them up and down. Considering the fact that Daddy and I both hate mushy peas, we find it amazing that you finished a bag of frozen peas in a month as you always insist on us adding peas to your food. It's probably a phase but a good one as you don't seem very keen on most of your veggies, especially leafy ones.

Love you lots, baby darling, you're growing up to quickly,

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Goh Huat Seng Steamboat

Once upon a time, before modern steamboats running on electric were invented, people would use metal constructed steamboats with a base at the bottom for charcoal (similar to olden day irons but that's another story). Call me a purist if you like but there's something alluring about using charcoal to cook - be it simple toast, that smoky wok hei-ness of char koay teow or a pot of steamboat.

If you're looking for a place that still serves old fashioned steamboat powered with charcoal, Goh Huat Seng at Kimberley Street is a must visit. It has a very basic, no frills layout but is clean and brightly lit.

Forget about your fancy soup bases like kimchi, red wine oxtail, Goh Huat Seng only offers ONE choice: clear chicken soup. It might sound boring at first, but hear me out, once you start adding in the other raw, sliced dishes, which ranges from fish to fresh veggies, the broth becomes this amazingly sweet and rich soup that you simply cannot stop sipping from. Goh Huat Seng's only concession to modern times is the little battery powered fan used to fan the burning charcoal so the soup cooks faster.

The staff were friendly and once they found out that Bubs can understand a little Teochew, they kept speaking to him in Teochew and playing with him. He was chuffed with all the attention he got ;) The place gets filled up rapidly so it's best to go early to avoid crowds.

Goh Huat Seng Restaurant
59A  Kimberly Street
10100 Penang
Tel : 04 2615811
Business Hours : 5.30pm – 9.30pm

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lace & Shorts, Japanese Treats and Hong Kong Mangoes

With the sun peeking out today, I went with black shorts, a sleeveless lace edged tee (yayyy, Gap Kids, fantastic clothes for nearly half the price of the adults tops) and if that wasn't girly enough, tied a ribbon through the belt loops.

There was a Japanese food fair filled with lots of yummy snacks in colourful packaging. What is it about Japanese treats that are so cutesy that you can't help but want to buy them all? I was particularly attracted to the new flavours of Tohato Caramel Corn that I've never seen before: green tea and ice cream but Hubs put his foot down and said we'd more than enough junk food already :(

Daiso has proven to be so popular in Penang that they opened a 2nd branch at Gurney Plaza. It's slightly bigger than their first branch. Is anyone else as obsessed as me about browsing through Daiso? I know I don't need any more unbleached tea filter bags or kids sushi making kits but it's just so fun to see what else the Japanese has come up with for just RM5.

And speaking about new shops, Hui Lau Shan finally opened doors at Gurney Plaza. Hui Lau Shan is incredibly popular in Hong Kong with outlets scattered about, you can't pass by a street without seeing a branch there. Business was brisk and it was crowded since it was the weekend. The service was a little erratic but that's to be expected since it's brand new. Hui Lau Shan prides itself for being the go to place for all mango desserts.

I wanted to try the coconut with birds nest since it was much raved about but it was out of stock so we settled for a sampling of their best loved mango desserts. There was a scoop of their mango ice cream served with fresh mango chunks and fresh coconut, coconut ice cream with mango bits inside and a bowl of glutinous rice balls served in mango syrup with yes, you guessed it, more mango chunks. We also ordered a plate of mango mochi sprinkled with coconut on top.

The verdict? Hubs and I thought it was quite decent and Bubs absolutely loved it as he's a huge fan of anything mango. He couldn't stop eating until all of the bowls were licked clean and kept wanting more!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Weekend Brunch

It was Aussie Godma's last day in Penang so we spent time going around the popular corners of Penang.

We started off with breakfast at Toh Soon. As expected, it was madness there on a Saturday morning, packed to the brim with crowds hovering about, waiting for people to leave so they could get an empty table.

After scoring a seat, we then had to wait again for our order to be taken, followed by a much longer wait for the food to be ready. It takes ages for the charcoal grilled toasts to get ready simply because all the bread are toasted in a contraption that boils the hot water for the coffee on top and has a little compartment on top of the burning embers of charcoal where the bread is slotted it on a metal wire tray. You get the smoky taste of charcoal but it's a much longer wait.

The toast is then slathered with kaya, butter or both. This is so good, I could eat platefuls of them. Forget your lattes, cappuccinos and fancy drinks, coffee here only comes in two kinds: with or without condensed milk and served either iced or hot but this old school basic is arguably one of the best coffees ever in Penang.

 We took Aussie Godma to see some street art - I love her mint jeans and would totally steal them from her ;)

Followed by an icy treat at Gurney and more last minute shopping at Dorothy Perkins - the both of us are hooked onto this season's clothes!

And a quick lunch at Sukhothai. We tried their miang kham which was nice but the sauce was a little too sweet. By the time we dropped Aussie Godma home, Bubs was fretful, bawling his eyes out and having a little meltdown because he still wanted her to play with him. We'd to cajole him by telling white lies that he'll see her again soon ;)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What's Keeping Bubs Busy

Bubs has been a very lucky boy lately with a whole bunch of new toys to play. Chun got him a 20 car Hot Wheels box set and like the boyish little boy he is, he loves his wheels. It's sooo cute to see him go brooooooom as he pushes them all over. When he gets bored with them, he tries to feed the cars to Dragon or whacks them under the bed. It took Hubs a lot of hard work with the vacuum to get them back out, LOL.

 MIL bought an inflatable boat so he could sit on it in the swimming pool. It's been a hit with him both in and out of the pool - he is fascinated with the little steering wheel on it and pretends he's driving a car/boat on dry land. 

Bubs was interested in playing masak masak (cooking), with putting little stones into bowls, using a spoon to feed them to poor Elmo since Hubs and I refused to even let him put the spoon into our mouths. So we decided that he might fare well with a Play-Doh set. 

We were looking at different sets at Toys R Us. I wanted this kitchen set where you could pretend cook the Play-Doh in a small kitchen stove and oven set but Hubs was saying no more kitchen sets! He insisted on a more "manly" BBQ set instead. I picked out a Cookie Monster alphabet one where you could mould out the dough into alphabet shapes which I figured would be a whole lot easier than finding Montessori sandpaper letters. All together now - kiasu mummy ;)

Aussie Godma also got him a talking Elmo Play-Doh set that voices out loud the colours and plays pop the weasel when you crank the handle.

The result?

Hours of fierce concentration as Bubs sat there, playing with his pretend food creations over and over again.
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