Thursday, December 30, 2010

Roasting Exploration ::: Chinese Style Crispy Roast Pork Belly / Siew Yuk / 烧肉

Missing the Crispy Crunchy skin crackles as you take your bite to reveal the mouthwatering fat that sits right below along with the savory pork belly meat~ ohhhh heavenly............. This tickles me to actually plan to make this dish for our dinner.

One of the successful dishes i tried and want to share with you my first attempt 烧肉 "Siew Yuk". Can't believe I manage to make these yummy looking Roast pork that dear actually ate 2 servings and finish up all that is left on the plate!!

The problem when i am at Mauritius i could not find any fresh pork available. Even before roasting the skin is already tough & hard at certain parts due to the days that the Pork Belly actually stayed in the supermarket fridge rack.

Here it goes~ Between, I'll be trying my second attempt soon enough with Fresh Pork Belly from one of the market in Malaysia.

Pork Belly
Spiced Ginger Powder
Five Spice Powder
White Pepper

1. Wash the Pork Belly under cold water.
2. Submerge the pork belly meat in a pot of water and boil for 15mins on medium heat.
3. Remove the pork and place it to dry for about 15 mins, do pat dry the pork belly skin with a paper towel for extra crispy skin.
4. Use a small knife and stab the pork a few times.
5. Rub the spices in layers according to this list:
Spiced Ginger Powder, Five Spice Powder, White Pepper, and Salt in the flesh only not the skin!
6. Let it marinate for an hour or more for a deeper flavor.
7. Pre-Heat oven to 180 Degree Celsius. Fill the large cast iron oven tray with oil enough to cover the skin of the pork belly.
8. Place the skin side first and bake for roughly 5mins or until golden brown and crispy.
9. Turn it on the side and bake it for 1 or 2 mins.
10. Let it rest until cool and cut into slices to serve.

Be sure to calculate the timing of you roasting it as food is always better when it's served hot & crispy~ The Crispy skin will only stay crispy for a few hours and it won't really be that nice and lovely if kept overnight!

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hippocampe - Flic en Flac, Mauritius

I'm back in KL for Christmas and New Year! Woo hoo! Main purpose, of course, is to eat eat eat. And then eat some more! In the meantime, though, I've got a bunch of backlogged restaurants from Mauritius that I haven't blogged on yet. Figure I'd better clear them off before I totally forget about them, ha ha.

So well, the darling and I took a trip to Hippocampe over at Flic en Flac for dinner. And not just any dinner, if memory serves me correctly, it was my birthday dinner, hehe. (die la ... barely one month ago and I can't remember clearly already). According to TripAdvisor this is the second best restaurant in Flic en Flac (only losing out to the wonderful Domaine Anna), so we came with high expectations.

Like all good restaurants, we're served with assorted bread, and some plain salted butter. The bread has been warmed up, which is a pretty nice touch.

For starters we share the assorted samosas. They come on a plate of three assorted ones. Two of them were delicius with a nice combination of meat, veg and spices, but the third was a bit weird - had a kind of mustardy taste, which didn't suit my taste buds at all.

We also shared the deep fried chili salt squid. These weren't too bad either, nicely battered, and tasted extremely similar to those Taiwanese-style salt-and-pepper deep fried meats. Squid itself was also fresh and tender.

Unfortunately the main courses went a little downhill. My Lamb Daube (lamb stew, basically) was kind of nice, but nothing special. The dish had a rather strong tomato-ey flavor, and the lamb meat itself was a tad bit on the tough side.

The darling's gourmet burger was even worse. Other than the slightly eccentric choice of ingredients (a slice of radish? and no cheese?), the patty itself was bland and dry, despite being requested medium. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I'd rather have a Big Mac over eating this burger again.

Forgot to keep the receipt, or jot down the prices, haha ... =[ ... but I do recall they were somewhat high-moderate. Shame then, that the mains were a bit of a let down - because the service and appetizers were great. I hear that the desserts are to die for - if you're willing to give it a shot, Hippocampe is just behind the SPAR supermarket in Flic en Flac.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Segala - Intercontinental Resort, Balaclava Fort, Mauritius

Lots of the higher-end resorts here in Mauritius are of the 'do everything and eat everything here,' Club Med-style variety - you pay for the room, and (depending on how much you want to pay of course), all the food and water-sports and other activities are "free." So it's perhaps not very meaningful to provide a food review of these restaurants, because the only people who dine here are guests of the hotel.

But anyway, the InterContinental Mauritius Resort Balaclava Fort is one such resort. And the Segala is one of the restaurants at the resort - if memory serves me right, it's the 'mediterranean seafood and grill' restaurant. Unfortunately I didn't take a photo when there was actual light in the sky, but it's located right next to the sea, and on the beach.

Practically all restaurants here are open air and non air-conditioned. Which is fine because the weather at night is cool, even during the summer. Here we dine with the waves as the background music, accompanied by a lone singer/guitarist, so it's mucho relaxing.

Selection of breads to start the night. Interestingly, instead of butter we're served with a trio of spreads which are (from front to back) Goat Cheese, Eggplant Caviar and Pumpkin Cream. Pretty funky stuff. I like the Cheese and the Pumpkin, but since I don't like Eggplant the middle spread was a bust for me.

We go for the set menu dinner, which has two choices for Starters. This is the Smoked chicken breast with pears and walnut vinaigrette. I don't know what the chefs marinate the chicken in, but it's delicious, so I can forgive the simplicity of the dish.

I don't enjoy the Grilled vegetables Terrine with roasted peppers salsa and creamy cheese sauce as much. It's a bit plain, and has too much eggplant (which I don't eat), and bell peppers (which I don't like).

For the main course, we have the Grilled Marlin Steak. It's seasoned and cooked deliciously, but the fish itself is pretty tough (for fish standards, of course). I don't have any real reference point though, as I've never really eaten Marlin before. Could be that these big game fish tend to have much tougher meat than other fish.

The darling's Marinated beef filet with black peppercorn was ordered medium but came closer to medium well, so a tad bit on the dry side, but otherwise the beef was pretty tasty, and the black pepper sauce wasn't overpoweringly peppery.

For dessert, there's only one choice: Fresh Coconut Tart with Coconut Ice Cream. A bit of cheating going on in the kitchen here: The Tart is just a generic base tart with some coconut shavings, and the ice cream isn't really coconut - it's milk flavoured with coconut shavings to make it taste coconut-ty.

No prices available because this set dinner is part of our room package, but if we didn't choose the set dinner we'd have been given 600 Rs (RM 61.20) credit to ordering ala carte from the menu, so I guess that would be as good an estimation as any.

Overall, the restaurant was above average, and if we were staying long we'd have no hesitation going back for repeat visits - but again, I doubt anyone from outside the resort would drive all the way out here just for a dinner.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Domaine Anna - Best Restaurant in Flic en Flac, Mauritius!

The "Best Restaurant" tag doesn't come from me - it comes from Domaine Anna's ranking over on the TripAdvisor website. Personally I haven't eaten at enough places here to judge, but I can say that it's one of the best restaurants I've had the pleasure of eating at here in Mauritius.

Domaine Anna is located in Flic en Flac, near the Western coast of Mauritius. It's not exactly at the beach area, but about a ~2km drive away, so you'd need a car (or a taxi). The entrance is nice and supremely inviting.

The restaurants is actually pretty huge. There's something like 3 or 4 dining areas. Most of the dining areas are indoors ...

... but some of them are in little huts beside/on top of a small lake. Not sure if it's a natural or man-made one, though.

Just a quick detour - in practically every restaurant we've eaten at, there's this green chili paste. I don't know what else is in the chili but it's quite a bit sour, a little salty, and very spicy.

Back to the food - bread with butter. We're served with just plain french bread, which isn't half bad - french bread over here is a lot fluffier, and with a more crispy (and less 'hard') crust than the ones back in Malaysia. Couldn't hurt to have a tad bit more variety, though :).

Domaine Anna's kitchen is staffed predominantly by Chinese chefs, so the items on the menu are very Chinese in nature. We start off with Coquilles St. Jacques gratinées (Scallops gratin style, 250 Rs). Filled with some sort of creamy, cheesy sauce and topped off with breadcrumbs, these are DELICIOUS. So good that we had to order a second helping.

The Calamar fondant (Crispy calamari, 150 Rs) was fresh and nicely battered and fried. Crispy without being oily or chewy, was pretty good as well.

In comparison, the Fondant de poulet persillé (Crispy Chicken with Parsley, 125 Rs) was a bit of a let-down, as the chicken was a bit dry and bland.

On to the main courses, then! Ivan, being a die-hard beef guy, has a Steak de boeuf nature (Steak "au naturel," 500 Rs). I think he ordered medium, and yet the steak turned out a bit towards medium well, so I guess Mauritius is certainly not the place to be for steak lovers.

Pauline's choice: the Rôti d'agneau au feu de bois, sauce forestière (Wood fired roast lamb with forestière sauce, 350 Rs). Which is, essentially, a fancy name for mushroom sauce, ha ha.

The darling decides on Lobster, since it seems pretty cheap on the menu at 750 Rs per 500gms.

Our lack of experience in choosing lobster proves to be our undoing though, as this monster, Langouste grilée au beurre d'ail, flambée au whisky (Lobster, grilled with garlic butter and flambé with whisky), comes up to a whopping 1,850 Rs. Looking at the size of the lobster and the amount of meat inside I don't feel 'cheated,' but I do think that the waiter could have let us know the exact weight of the lobster he showed us before cooking it up. Ah well, live and learn!

The Noix de St. Jacques - Spécialité du Chef (Scallops - Chef's special, 450 Rs) turns out to be the chinese "葱姜" (spring onion & ginger) style. Pretty good dish, although I was expecting/hoping for something more 'elaborate.' You know, being 'chef's special' and all.

Moving on - more seafood! Crevettes géantes sautées au beurre d'ail et vin blanc (King Prawns, sautéed in garlic butter and white wine, 450 Rs) - the prawns are big, and the sauce is delicious - most importantly of course is that the prawns were also extremely fresh! Peeling them out of their shells was literally a 10-second job.

And finally, the last main course is the Camarons grillés sauce barbecue - flambés au rhum (Grilled camarons with barbecue sauce - flambé with rum, 500 Rs). Maybe it's just me, but I'd never heard of a 'camaron' before this. And I've never seen such huge prawns! The picture doesn't do it justice - the head is a full two inches in diameter!

To cap off the night, we share a Peach Melba sundae. I'll go out on a limb here and say that Desserts are not a strong suit of the restaurant - they don't even have a desserts menu! This sundae was way too sweet - was OK the first few mouthfuls but after that it just started feeling a bit too much.

Now before I sign off on this blogpost, I have to comment a bit on the service. We've been there twice - the first time everything was great. The second time was a bit rubbish, though. We had to ask for bread, and ask three times for butter after that. Food also took over an hour to arrive after ordering. While the staff were friendly, a smile doesn't help with the rumbling in the stomach when waiting for food.

Other than that, this is certainly one of my favorite restaurants in Mauritius - nice ambience, good food, and very reasonable price, too. Domaine Anna is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesdays to Sundays (closed on Mondays). The place is pretty full on weekends, so make sure you make a reservation - phone number is +230 453 9650.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Photo Spam: David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Nairobi, Kenya

More Photo Spam! This will be the last in my Nairobi/Kenya series of posts. David Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage takes in baby and young elephants who are orphaned from their parents (most probably because the parents died to poachers who were after their tusks for ivory). Left in the wild, these young elephants would have no chance to survive, so the Orphanage takes them in, feeds them and nurtures them, and then releases them to the wild once they're big enough to fend for themselves.

The elephants are fed once a day at 11am, and for a token sum of KES 500 (RM 19.45), visitors get to come in and watch. It's actually a pretty fun visit, being able to see these young, playful elephants drinking milk and splashing around in a mud pool. The keepers will also give a short talk on the history of each of the elephants.

The Orphanage is right next to the Nairobi National Park, so if you're going there for safari do try to include a visit to the elephant orphanage - it'll definitely be worth your time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sakura Restaurant - Japanese food in Grand Bay, Mauritius

If you haven't already read the darling's previous post on her cupcakes, make sure you take a read. And make sure you try them too, because I (and about 30 other people in the office) can vouch for the cupcakes being absolutely delicious! For me ... being significantly less talented in the kitchen, I'll stick to eating out and writing about it :P

So back to a good ol' fashioned food review! In all my travels to maybe a dozen countries over four continents, I've always been able to find (in addition to the 'home' cuisine) three countries' food in relative abundance: Chinese, Japanese and Indian. Surprisingly Mauritius has a distinct lack of Japanese joints - a quick search on shows only five on the entire island. Probably because Mauritius isn't a particularly popular holiday destination for Japanese tourists?

Whatever the reason, took the darling to Grand Bay, to try out Sakura Restaurant.

While the decoration and the furniture is long overdue for a refresh, the service is pretty good. We're seated at the front 'relaxing' area for drinks and cold towels while ordering our food, and while waiting for the waiter to set our table.

We decide to just share a Yakitori Set Lunch (600 Rs), because neither of us are particularly hungry. It starts off with an appetizer dish of salad and some deep-fried fish, which was OK-tasting.

The set lunch comes with fried rice and miso soup. We're impressed that the restaurant served us one bowl each (even though we only ordered one set). Fairly certain most other restaurants would have just said 'since you're too cheap to order two sets for two people, then you can share one bowl of rice and soup.'

The yakitori turns out to be tender and delicious. You're free to choose from Chicken, Chicken Wings, and more exotic chicken bits (liver, gizzards, etc), but we settled for just regular meat :)

We finish the lunch back at the 'relaxing' area for fruits, hot green tea and more cold towels.

Overall, the food was pretty good, if a little pricey - the green tea was 80Rs each! Total cost for the lunch came up to 874 Rs (RM 90) after 15% VAT. There also wasn't that much choice on the menu in terms of sushi and sashimi, though that's probably mostly caused by the (lack of) patrons - the darling and I were the only ones there on a Saturday afternoon.

Sakura restaurant is located in Grand Bay, which is the main tourist area located on the North-West-ish tip of Mauritius.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Baking Exploration ::: Mini Cupcakes to Warm Hearts

Starting a journey of kitchen exploring and fun with the always mention "the darling" in this blog. Bringing wonders and smiles to everyone faces on my experience I would love to use this amazing look-see-eat blog to share recipes with all of you so you may be able to spread the joy to your friends & family too!Since I am here in Mauritius, lucky enough the service apartment dear is staying in have a wonderful average oven I am able to delightfully start my kitchen exploring journey.

List of recipe to share with all of you it is so hard for me to choose my first recipe to share in this blog post. Since dear just passed his 30th birthday, I would like to share this mini cupcakes fun baking recipe, which I believe would be the best first very special post.

1/3 Cup Softened Butter
1/2 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Egg
1 cup sifted Self-Raising Flour
1/3 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degree C.
2. In a medium sized bowl, use an electric mixer on high speed to cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. 3. Next, add the flour, milk and vanilla extract and beat with the electric mixer on medium until well combined.
4. Line up mini cupcakes pan with mini-cupcakes papers.
5. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture followed by 1 teaspoon of cupcake fillings that you would like to have (eg. blueberry, nuts, chocolates, raisins, etc) then followed by more cake mixture.
6. Bake for 13-15mins until well risen and the top spring back when touch.
7. Allow to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before putting the icing.

1/3 cup of Softened Butter
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Powdered Icing Sugar
Decorative Sprinklers

1. Use an electric mixer on high speed to beat the butter a
nd vanilla until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually beat in the sieve powdered icing until all combined. Continue beating for 1 minute.
3. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a nozzle and pipe onto the cupcakes.
4. Decorate your mini cupcakes with sprinklers.

You may design your own cupcakes according to the occasions... This time around on 25 Nov 2010, it's designed for dear's birthday cake. Part of the surprise for dear.
Try it. It's fun and lovely.

Click here for our blog page Baking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Black Steer Restaurant - Trianon, Mauritius

I'm most definitely a carnivore at heart - I love my meat. And of all the meaty dishes, my favorite, top two are probably (i) a good steak, and (ii) a juicy slab of pork ribs. While I've been able to satiate my hunger for steaks marvelously thanks to Prime and other steakhouses in Kay-El, ribs are quite a bit harder to find.

It's for that reason, then, that the darling and I find ourselves at Black Steer. It's a 'chain restaurant' of sorts that I think originated in South Africa, and has somehow found it's way here to Mauritius. We're in the Trianon outlet.

The interior is pretty nice, and closer to a bar/restaurant environment (something like the TGIF and Chili's chains) rather than a sit-down dinner place. There's big screens and TV's everywhere, and also a rather lonely singer/keyboardist in the corner. He was good!

We decide to share a Mixed Starters (270 Rs). This comes with garlic bread, chicken strips, fried calamari, fried cheese and fried mushrooms. Chicken strips were excellent. Cheese also tasted great, but also felt a tad bit too sinful.

Rather than take two half-slabs, we just go for the Mighty Slab of Pork Ribs (575 Rs). Surprisingly, the waiter split the meal to two plates without us having to ask, which was a nice touch. Photograph here only shows half the rack. Most of the rib meat was nice, if a tad bit tough, and the 'edges' were a bit dry. BBQ sauce was finger licking good!

Total bill after drinks, tax, and discount was 944 Rs - roughly RM 97, so that's pretty reasonable and on-par with what you'd pay for a similar meal in Kay-El, too.