Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mooncake Sparkles, Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Text by Chee Gee Ren 

Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur lights up this Mid-Autumn Festival, literally and luminously, by thinking outside the box for an iridescent innovation that outshines pedestrian mooncake packaging.

This signature Mooncake Sparkles theme showcases nine-inch Glass Light Globes that glow as radiantly as a full moon, in shades of Sparkling Gold, Sparkling Blue or Sparkling Pink, crafted through meticulous glass-blowing, shaping and cracking techniques, fitted with brilliant lights. Even on a cloudy night on Sept. 13, you’ll have no trouble spotting this shimmering orbs.

What's offered within is a repertoire that irreproachably interprets time-honoured mooncake traditions, from a contemporary-edged Lotus Paste with Chestnuts and Custard to the cherished classic of Assorted Fruit Nuts. The notes of chestnuts and custard in the former, a newbie this year, bring richer textures and complement the sweetness of the lotus paste perfectly. The latter is exemplary too, an aromatic mix of almonds, walnuts, melon seeds, sesame and winter melon. 

Other new flavours for possible combo selections include Lotus Paste with Loh Hon Ko, Yam Lotus Paste with Yolk, and Chocolate Peppermint Paste, plus returning favourites like Pandan Lotus Single Yolk and Black Sesame with White Lotus, each with potent, punchy nuances - a testament to the behind-the-scenes effort poured into each mooncake.

The variety of baked mooncakes is bolstered by equally enticing snowskin mooncakes. The Snowskin with Musang King Durian is as luscious an experience as eating the fruit itself, made with fresh Musang King flesh sourced from orchards of Raub in Pahang, wrapped in beautifully delicate snowskin. All mooncakes, including the Snowskin with Yam Lotus Paste Single Yolk, are made on-site by the talented team at Concorde Hotel's Xin Cuisine restaurant.

The nine-inch Glass Light Globe set (RM138) comes with 4 mooncakes (180 grams each). Concorde Hotel has prepared four sets of mooncakes to choose from:

Set A: Japanese Red Bean, White Pure Lotus, Pure Lotus Double Yolk, Golden Pandan Pure Lotus
Set B: Japanese Red Bean, Lotus Paste with Loh Hon Ko, Pure Lotus Single Yolk, Pandan Lotus Single Yolk
Set C: Assorted Fruit Nuts, Yam Lotus with Single Yolk, Lotus Paste with Chestnut and Custard, White Lotus Black Sesame
Set D: Snowskin with Red Bean Paste, Snowskin with White Lotus, Snowskin with Pandan Lotus Single Yolk, Snowskin with Yam Lotus Paste Single Yolk

The Snowskin with Musang King Durian, Concorde’s bestseller, is only available in a set of four mooncakes (180g) within the nine-inch Glass Light Globe (RM168). A set of two mooncakes (180g) of your choice can be purchased in a 2.5-inch Glass Light Globes (RM90).

For a more conventionally elegant option, the vibrant lacquer boxes of previous years have been refreshed. Emerging in pastel hues of blue, pink, purple and a vivid red, the Lacquer Jewellery Box encases a selection of six mini mooncakes, doubling as a practical permanent chest for cosmetics and ornaments with a mirror and small compartments.

The Lacquer Jewellery Box set (RM148) comes with six mini mooncakes (90g): Japanese Red Bean Pure Lotus, Golden Pandan Pure Lotus, Yam Lotus Paste with Yolk, Chocolate Peppermint Paste, White Pure Lotus.

Note that Concorde does not sell individual mooncakes. All mooncake purchases must be from the sets listed above.

All snowskin mooncakes should be refrigerated to retain freshness, with the exception of the Musang King, which should be frozen. For the flavours of the durian to come through, the Musang King snowskin should be removed from the freezer for 15 minutes before eating.

In addition to the Hotel Lobby Kiosk (operating till 13 September 2019, 10:30am-8:00pm), Concorde will also have a kiosk at Mid Valley Megamall, South Court Ground Floor (22 August-13 September 2019, 10:30am-10:00pm).

Discounts for the mooncakes to usher include20% off for CCC, Classic and Priority Plus Members, eligible for points only at the Concorde Lobby Kiosk; 20% off for CIMB, Citibank, HLB, MBB, OCBC, RHB, SCB and UOB cardholders; and 25% off for purchases of 30 boxes and above. Discounts are not applicable for the Snowskin with Musang King Durian set.

Many thanks to Concorde Hotel for this glittering glimpse at Mooncake Sparkles.

For further information or to place and order, contact +6012-399-5007 or email fbkl@concorde.net
Alternatively, order forms can be found at https://kualalumpur.concordehotelsresorts.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Concorde-Mooncake-Sparkles-Flyer-2019.pdf - fax your order
forms to 603-21492719

This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com

Il Feudo, San Gimignano, Italy

Amid the fourteenth-century piazzas and pavements of Italy's Tuscan town of San Gimignano, Il Feudo seems among the friendliest restaurants, beckoning patrons for a warm plate of truffle cream ravioli paired with local Vernaccia white wine.

This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Sticky Wicket, Damansara Heights

A true all-rounder: The Sticky Wicket might share the contours of a sports pub, with a perpetual play of cricket and rugby on its screens, but it scores a century by serving up food and beverages of match-winning skill and imagination. Running full throttle for three years now, this remains one of Damansara Heights' most exciting hot spots, hitting marvellous runs with a kitchen inspired by cricket-loving countries, from England to South Africa to Sri Lanka, and more than enough drinks, especially gin and cocktails, to celebrate a Cricket World Cup victory.

Even if you're not a fan of cricket, sports or bars, The Sticky Wicket is still well worth a visit, with cooking that keeps up effortlessly with full-fledged restaurants, crossing continents with a confident stride.

The first prime minister of Canada once proclaimed cricket to be the national sport, so it's no surprise that Quebec's poutine earns a prominent place in The Sticky Wicket's repertoire, reinterpreted as a heartier, more robust serving of chips not only smothered with cheese and gravy but plenty of savoury, succulent pulled beef, crowned on a piping-hot pan with a sunny-side-up for glorious runny-yolked lusciousness (RM36). If you haven't had poutine before, this might not be the most traditional introduction, but it's potentially even more richly satisfying.

Moving to Asia, the Howzat Poriyal is for customers who crave potently spiced meat (RM25 for chicken, RM39 for beef), cubed and sauteed in a swirl of aromatics, fragrant with onions and curry leaves. For a milder but no less moreish temptation, the battered calamari with salted egg yolk sauce is easy to snack on all evening, a crazy-irresistible study in crunchy-creamy contrasts (RM17) - the sauce itself is notable, house-made for a lovely authenticity in taste and texture.

Sausages rank high among pub grub favourites, but The Sticky Wicket goes remarkably beyond a few puny wieners.

England, the birthplace of cricket, goes to bat with the toad in a hole, a classic staple that's nearly as old as cricket itself - plump, juicy sausages are showered luxuriously with onion gravy in plenty of Yorkshire pudding batter that's prepared to order (RM32; the 20-minute wait is worth it).

For those of us who bemoan the scarcity of South African-inspired restaurants in KL, The Sticky Wicket promises a genuine treat - springbok boerewors, a mighty half-kilogram of rustically textured, powerfully seasoned pure-meat sausage, curled up and served sizzling in curry sauce, perfect for raging carnivores with monumental appetites, doing justice to the spirit of Johannesburg (RM69).

Fish and chips receive royal treatment too, fit for a British monarch, complete with two chunks of beer-battered premium cod, thick-cut fries and mushy peas  (RM60). Even the signature steak here hits significant heights - The Sticky Wicket Ribeye brings us 300 grams of U.S. prime beef, brimming with a quality depth of flavour in every bite, rounded out with mashed potatoes and vegetables (RM195). And there's still lots more to order for future visits, from Scotland's cullen skink seafood soup to Sri Lanka's kottu roti with crab meat curry and soft-shell crab.

Desserts here also dazzle: The sticky date pudding emerges comfortingly warm and tender, yielding a fresh-baked feel, mellow in its syrupy sweetness, brightened with beautiful Madagascar vanilla bean creme anglaise, making each calorie worthwhile (RM22).

The Sticky Wicket is a sister establishment of Damansara Heights' long-enduring Aliyaa Sri Lankan restaurant next door, so the sweet appam also makes for a sensible conclusion to this meal, a crisp fermented rice-flour pancake that serves as an engaging base for a hefty scoop of decadent chocolate ice cream, coconut milk and gula Melaka (RM13).

The bar component of The Sticky Wicket is equally impressive, kicking off mostly in the afternoon for day-drinking all the way till past midnight everyday. Happy hours stretch from noon through 7pm, Mondays till Saturdays, and all day and all night long on Sundays, spanning everything from beer to vodka, rum, tequila, blended whisky, single malts, Prosecco and wine - the fan favourite is gin, since a Beefeater clocks in at only RM9.80 per glass throughout happy hours.

The rest of the gin selection also merits mention, ranging from Cobalto 17 to Colombo, Roku to Rutte Old Simon Genever, West Winds to William Chase, all available by both glass and bottle. The bar also stocks premium tonic water, so it's worth ordering a gin and tonic, a concoction that also stays loyal to The Sticky Wicket's themes, first introduced by the British East India Company in the 1980s.

Ask The Sticky Wicket's head bartender Shaq to recommend a combination - perhaps his personal favourite, the Poli marconi, mingling with passion fruit bitters and elements of orange and rosemary - or browse the bar's extensive list of nearly two dozen intriguing cocktails, with names like Wisdom From Winston, The Hitter and The Bowler.

The Record Breaker is an instant perk-me-up (RM39), blended with Beefeater, house-made honey-infused beer, elderflower, fresh grapes and pineapple juice. Speaking of beer, The Sticky Wicket is also increasingly expanding its range of craft beers, so check out the selection.

All in all, The Sticky Wicket looks set to top the table of KL's favourite bars for many more years to come. Many thanks to the team here for having us.

The Sticky Wicket
34, Plaza Damansara, Jalan Medan Setia 2, Damansara Heights, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur.
Open Mon-Thurs, 12pm-1am; Fri, 12pm-2am; Sat, 9am-2am; Sun, 9am-1am. Tel: 012-444-2957

This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com