Thursday, June 20, 2013

SCENTS AND SENSIBILITIES

The backlit signage outside the restaurant makes a stylish statement. Pix courtesy of Melur & Thyme
I have always admired anyone who have a knack at coming up with catchy restaurant names...one of the most recent brand names that I like is Melur & Thyme - a chic eatery in KLCC that's right opposite the posh Harrods Cafe. Thanks to Phoenix Bee who invited us to meet Melur & Thyme's owner cum Executive Director Datin Nazneen Abdullah, we were treated to a most slap-up lunch recently.
View of the patio seating area. Pix courtesy of Melur & Thyme
According to Datin Nazneen, the name Melur & Thyme reflects the menu's East & West selection, a meeting of old and new favourites.
Warm, earth tones coupled with whimsical filigree-like swirls and artistic renderings dominate the interior.
"We're aiming for a memorable mix of East and West by maintaining traditional processes and food experiences in our modern, eclectic ambience," said Datin. "My eldest girl who's a graduate from the London School of Economics wants to reinterpret her favourite recipes from across Europe and some family gems like grandma's Hokkien mee in one eatery. So Melur & Thyme is really a casual sidewalk cafe where friends and family can gather and share fond memories over a selection of tapas or small bites and nostalgic dishes."
Different views of the restaurant interior...pixs courtesy of Melur & Thyme
Even the decor is slightly retro; interior arty iron works are based on whimsical hand-drawn sketches and stylish renderings, white tiled walls are matched with dark wood fittings, circular framed 'fish eye' mirrors and ornate wall lamps. Unsurprisingly, the 85+ seat outlet has drawn a regular crowd of office workers and tourists since opening as well as acclaim from 'floggers' and food mags.
Seeing red? Nah, it's just brilliiant Plancha Sauce...goes perfectly with the Californian seafood salad
Our attention was first drawn to the brilliant orange hue of the sweet red pepper vinaigrette known as 'plancha' in the California Grilled Seafood Salad (RM28). The distinctive sauce, an intermingling smoky-sweet-savoury concoction enveloped the grilled salmon, tiger prawns, squid, and fresh sardines (marinated with herbs) in the huge bowl of green salad. Every mouthful yielded an explosion of flavours and layers of multiple textures: crispness, chewiness, succulence and softness that had us picking at the dish repeatedly.
Stick 'em up...these duck-licious satay drove us quackers!
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Duck Satay (RM11-small, RM19-large) from the now defunct Duck n Such (Datin and her daughter's maiden venture) returns to roost anew here. The skewers of well-marinated duck breast meat are so delectable that they knocked us over on their own. But wait, we discovered they taste equally marvellous with the accompanying peanut sauce.
 
Lace me up and scarf me down...Crisp lettuce leaves and roti jala filled with sliced aromatic duck
The Crispy Aromatic Duck (RM29) which is all the rage in London also appears in the line-up. Interestingly, the dish's a blend of Chinese-Korean-Malaysian influences. The delightfully crisp duck breast slices bear a subtle herbal accent to them are then turned into salubrious parcels once wrapped up in fresh lettuce leaves, roti jala (lacey pancakes) and slivers of raw garlic. We were soon quacking for repeat helpings after dipping them into the trio of sambal, orange plum and hoisin sauces.

Deep Fried Hoisin Chicken Wings (RM15), tender from its sous vide treatment and slicked with a sweetish honey and hoisin mixture, proved fabulously irresistible; a godsend treat to placate a surly teen or hyperactive tot in tow.
Flyaway winner...peckish cravings will be satisfied with these crunchy quail quarters
Small in size but big in flavour best describes my impression of the Lemongrass & Lime Leaf Quail (RM11 - S, RM19 - L). Marinated in a hodge-podge of aromatics: lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, onion, galangal, ginger, cumin and crushed pepper, the deep-fried quail quarters are not only crunchy to the bite but also thoroughly suffused with the heady scents and bold, punchy overtones of its marinade. We unashamedly picked everything clean off the bones, I tell you!
A sight to melt the heart...tender lamb cutlets redolent with bold flavours
Another dish I'd return for is the Grilled Lamb Cutlets (RM25 - S, RM34 - L). Sumptuous thanks to its red pepper marinade, the cutlets are a wicked treat thanks to its yummilicious melted goat cheese topping.
Get tangled up with scrumptious seafood and spaghetti doused in rich plancha sauce
A grilled crab with some prawns starred in the Plancha Seafood Spaghetti (RM37) creation with the signature house plancha sauce giving the overall dish a rather indulgent unctuousness. I personally find a small serving more than ample but if you're one of those who are partial to rich, creamy pasta sauces then this combo will make your day.
Nice bait...snap up this crisp fish fillet before it slips away
There's nothing bland about the Crusted Baked Hake Fish (RM32) as the fillet is sealed with spices, and topped with herbs and Japanese breadcrumbs before it's baked. We were quite hooked on this invigorating, zesty main that stirs up your sense of taste and smell, complemented by sides of vegetable, mash and cilantro garlic oil.
A bumper burger that's too luxe for words
Fancy sinking your molars into a juicy, superbly scrumptious Beef Burger with Foie Gras (RM39)? This is the real deal - made on premise, the beefy patty is seasoned with myriad spices and herbs before it's grilled to tender perfection. Sandwiched between a multi-grain bun and topped with a slice of seared foie gras for that luxe finishing, it's moreish to the max.
Better than the other Madam? Eat it and judge for yourself
Fried king prawn with crispy wantan noodles drenched in a thick chicken broth and eggy sauce with ginger, garlic and spring onion makes the Sang Har Mein (RM39) a surefire crowd-puller. Pure comfort food that's designed to satisfy.
Chocoholics dream...with durian, pecans and peanut butter stirred in
Our dessert was literally Death by Chocolate as we sampled three chocolatey confections: Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake (RM10), Durian Chocolate Cake (RM10) and Chocolate Pecan Pie (RM15). I'm a sucker for anything peanut buttery so the choc and peanut butter creation naturally got my top vote. Coming in a close second is the pie despite its rather crumbly crust. When it comes to durian and chocolate, my personal maxim is "never the two shall meet" but if that tickles your fancy, don't let me stop you.

Early birds take note. Breakfast is served from 830 am to 11 am daily with local and Western choices available so if you're famished before heading to work or to shop, this is the place to nip in for a quick bite.

MELUR & THYME, G03H-I Level Ground, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03 - 2181 8001

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A TOAST TO THE GOLDEN YEARS




Wow, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® is older than me! It was first brewed in Southern California in 1963 so the franchise marked its 50th anniversary this April. In Malaysia, the franchise is in now into its 15th year with 50 outlets opened nationwide.

I bet few of you knew that it's also the oldest and largest family-owned specialty coffee and tea retailer in the United States. Steeped in tradition, the company prides itself on sourcing and providing a diverse selection of the highest-quality coffee and tea based on long-standing collaborations with the finest private coffee farms and tea estates around the world. 
Wong Wei I, marketing exec of CBTL Malaysia briefing us on new products & promos
“As we celebrate this milestone for our company, we want take this opportunity to truly celebrate and thank our dedicated customers and fans who have been so loyal in their support throughout our 50 year history,” says President Mel Elias. 
“The 50th anniversary celebrates the spirit of our heritage, our passion with fans—old and new—as we look ahead to continued growth for the brand and future innovations. We are dedicated to further our one-on-one relationships with growers around the world and are constantly challenging ourselves to come up with innovative new beverages at the forefront of coffee and tea culture, as is evident by our  single serve beverage systems.”

 
We were effusively invited to sample some of the CBTL's new menu items at a recent celebration held at the latest concept outlet in Taman Tun Dr Ismail. 
 
 
 
If you want gourmet coffee at home, the CBTL Single Serve Beverage Machine makes a nifty gadget to own. Take your pick from Americano, Contata or Kadi models that can brew up espresso, coffee, tea or chocolate drinks. Buy it in June and you'd get RM50 off and 50 free capsules.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® will commemorate its 50th anniversary with special in-store new beverages - Rocky Road and Birthday Cake and special promotions until end June 2013, including:
§   50th Anniversary Open House on the last Monday of June, from 2-6 p.m. Enjoy The Original Mocha/Vanilla Ice Blended® drinks at 50% off

Fresh lettuce topped with chicken bacon bits, poppy seeds, juicy mandarin orange wedges, almond flakes, drizzled with lime juice, olive oil and onion vinaigrette make up the Poppy Citrus Salad (RM18.00). We like its refreshing and light accents on the palate.
There is an Oriental spin to the Chinese Chicken Salad (RM18.00) which has fresh lettuce topped with fried vermicelli strands, chicken breast, Chinese cornflakes, almond flakes and sesame seeds drenched in sweet and sour sauce. Equally tempting albeit a tad sweet for my liking.
If you like pesto and pasta, you'd like the Pesto Farfalle (RM14.50) - a dish of bow-tie pasta tossed with basil walnut pesto, grilled mixed capsicums, mushrooms and pinenuts. Its rich, nutty flavour scented with the fresh basil aroma will induce you to finish it with gusto.
 
 Minced chicken, hearty tomato sauce and lots of cheese dominate in the Chicken Lasagne (RM16.50) while tender turkey slices and poached egg with melted cheddar with a choice of Panini or Ciabatta bread and fresh side salad make the Egg Club Sandwich (RM18.50) my favourite for the afternoon.

Less indulgent but just as tasty is the Turkey & Melted Cheddar Cheese Sandwich (RM16.50) - a classic combination that has turkey ham and melted cheddar cheese on crusty Ciabatta bread 
The Pesto Chutney Zucchini Burger (RM15.50) turned out to be a nice, delectable surprise. 
We all gave thumbs up to the irresistible  zucchini & Parmesan cheese patty laced with pineapple chutney and basil walnut pesto that came in a soft Vienna bun and some cranberry salad.
Having a party? The Deluxe Canape Party Pack (RM58.00/pack of 20 pcs) will go down a real treat with four savoury nibbles: crisp “vol-au-vent” with salmon cheese mousse and smoked salmon topping; mini ciabatta with savory herb cheese and avocado; fresh-baked pita stuffed tuna mayo and mini baguette with light egg mayo.
Meanwhile, the Sweet Pickings Party Pack (RM58.00/pack of 20 pcs) offers bite-sized coffee eclairs, brownies, praline puffs, fruit tartlets and white-chocolate raspberry cake.
New cakes on the block include a rich, chocolate-coffee infused Mocha Cheesecake (RM9.50/slice; RM88 whole) and Hummingbird Cake (RM8.90/slice; RM85 whole) - an enticingly light sponge cake enriched with crunchy walnuts, bananas, coconut flakes and chocolate chips topped with decadent butter icing.
 Look out also for the new range of bottled tea in different flavours - you can select from carbonated or non-carbonated versions as well as a wide range of commemorative tumblers, mugs and plush teddies to mark the historic milestone.



 



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Monday, June 03, 2013

MOM'S THE WORD





Three heartwarming anecdotes about their mothers earned Stephanie Lim May Ling, Siti Ainin Sophia Mohd Azman and Stephanie Lim Sook Beng great prizes from Neubodi in conjunction with the brand's Facebook contest, “My Mother, My Support” held in conjunction with Mother's Day.



They were invited to an intimate Afternoon Tea Delight Session at Botanical with Nadine Ann Thomas, Sue Lynn Tiong and Parveen K. Brar who also had their bosom buddies and mothers in tow.
 

An exquisite Afternoon English Tea tray stacked with scrumptious bite-sized sweets and savories accompanied by freshly brewed English tea set the mood for the intimate gathering.

Each winner then shared hilarious and touching memories of picking out their first bra with their respective mothers. Neubodi rewarded the winners with personalised fitting sessions and complimentary brassiere sets in time for Mother's Day.

The Bra-education session also covered interesting issues such as knowing what a proper fit means, developing the right inner self confidence and the importance of creating a proper and stronger self- image by Ms Estee Ong, a notable bra fitting expert and General Manager of Neubodi in Malaysia, and Ms Wendy Liew, owner of the Image Creator and certified image consultant.

Estee shared that “When a woman wears the right cup, right size, and right fit, she will definitely encounter a life changing experience resulting in better posture with centered breasts and a defined silhouette. She is a confident woman, who loves her body.”



Estee then presented the winners with their prizes and gave them tips on how to care for the brassieres. “Every woman needs to have a minimum of three good brassieres in their wardrobe, one to wear, one to wash and one to rest. This will help extend the lifespan of the brassiere. When you care for your brassiere, the brassiere will care for your breasts,” she said.


Guests present at the event then enjoyed personalized fitting sessions and went home with a complimentary brassiere set and a set of Neubodi’s vintage mugs after the fun filled afternoon came to an end.

For more information about Neubodi’s personalized fitting session, please visit http://facebook.com/neubodi.