Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sights and Eats: Langkawi Day 3

I woke up on the third day with a throbbing feet. Flip flops and steep rocky terrain aren't really meant together . I got blisters at the most inconvinient corners of my feet. It looks hideous and hurt like Mummy-puker. I was limping all the way to breakfast , face grimacing like I've just eaten something rotten . Needless to say, I had nicer mornings. 

Din is picking us up at 1:30 in the afternoon. So to kill some time, we checked out the neighbouring Casa Del Mar Hotel. It was a memorable day, especially for my guy, who's  as nervous as a lactating cat. He is getting his very first professional massage after all!  I planned this very well. Our Spa itineraries for the coming  weeks greatly depend on this day .

Casa Del Mar's Satkara Spa is hailed as the best in Langkawi in 2013, or at least according to Tripadvisor . We were immediate tended to , seated and  given a refreshing , sweet tamarind juice the moment we stepped in. Along with it are chilled, fragrant rolled towels to wipe some sweat off our faces. I smiled for the first time today.  Promising, very priming indeed . There we met the masseur  Carina. Her easy going and engaging personally certainly put FF at ease. His sloppy smile was  less twitchy  and his laughter less forced when we were guided into one of the two massage rooms. The treatment room was not overly big, nicely furnished and smells clean and good. Privacy was kept the whole time. Two thumbs up for that.

We both had a foot bath, which was  absolutely divine. The warm water was  infused with aromatic oil, dried orange rind and some other things, tired feet simply need. I skipped the foot massage because of my blisters and FF followed suit since he can't have anybody touching his feet. He  still doesn't know what he's missing.

Then we both lay face down on  massage table. Light, medium or hard. You could choose how your massage pressure will be. Then the blissful  effleurage and petrissage   began.It did not take long before I was knead to complete oblivion and was out snoring at 12 noon! Yup, it was that good. FF, despite all his inhibitions and tension, slept like a new born baby as well.

I felt languid and so relaxed after that wondrous 60 minutes, I was smiling blankly when we were ushered to another room  for some post-treatment  tea. FF shared the same dazed, contented look. Before saying our goodbyes to Carina and her colleague, FF booked another appointment. Mission accomplished! Let's do some tap dance!

Din was  in front of the lobby  right on time. Check out was a brisk and with all our luggages in tow, he drove us to our next hotel. I asked him to bring us some where nice for lunch. Bless Din, he certainly know how to please his guest. He brought us to the Tegala Marina. It boasts a beautiful view of the Harbour with some flashy looking yachts moored just in front of the restaurants .  We invited Din to eat with us and I  almost choke  on my own spit when he said he'll just  ''destroy the romantic mood''. He looked pretty serious so we let him off the hook . Talking about hesitant third wheels.

Lunch was at Tapaz Restaurant. I had the best coconut juice in my life there. Food was also very good. Portion was huge, service prompt and attentive. Crowd was less since it's past lunch time .

We shared  and flavourful Hummus and some fluffy light flat bread for starters. It was delicious !

I had a burger. Cooked medium with some golden, lightly season and perfectly crispy fries.

 FF's Fish and chips. It was huge! Fish was fresh and lightly battered. It could easily feed two people.

Look who's very happy with every mouthful? I was not kidding about the portions. The plates are huge and it is filled with food. We skipped dessert because of that.

A post meal walk around the Marina is just what we need after that. Then, Din drove us  to our next hotel, the Berjaya Resort. The place is enormous ! You are totally dependent on the resort's buggy to go around the resort's vast property . Try to book a room near the lobby if you want to stay in this place, it will save you from a lot of inconvenience. Walking especially at night is certainly not an option. Unless, you want to end up in the middle of the Forest and sleep beside fanged and long tailed creatures. And no,  I don't mean Edward and Jacob...

Berjaya offers  free transportion to the Oriental village as well. We went back there to do this.

Ride the highest gondola in Asia! Appreciate the unparalleled view of Langkawi at 700 meter above sea level. Being on high altitude certainly has its comforts. For one, we stop sweating and looking like slimy eels .The cool gushing wind is such as relief. The Hanging Bridge is under renovation when we went there, so you could play fear factor some other time. Yay!

We hitch another ride to the resort's Pahn Thai restaurant . Setting is romantic. The picturesque view of the lush and green covered mountains, turquoise waters and blue skies  will certainly whet your appetite. Everything you could expect from a restaurant perched in the middle of the sea. Grab a seat outside and enjoy the sunset when you are there and pray hard, it won't rain. Dinner was  filling but it did not blow me away as much as the wind that day.

We feasted on Pomelo salad (top left), deep sea bass in mildly spicy sauce. I reckon fish was not caught that day. Grilled chicken ( bottom left) was surprisingly good and is not as dry as it looks and lastly, green mango salad ( bottom right) which tasted and looked relatively similar to the pomelo salad. I guess they simply spit the marinade in two. 

The clouds are threateningly dark when we left the place giving the backdrop a rather dramatic look. We were already back in our chalets when it rained cats , dogs and donkeys.  Despite the not so  sunny beginning, FF and I are still lucky, aren't we?!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Satay Ayam

There are probably 1001 reasons why I love Bali. One of those is her delicious satays . The other reason is  the sweetish, rich, sometimes spicy peanut sauce that's usually served with it . It's summer here in Germany and I'm getting all melancholic thinking about our good times and the good foods in Bali. Grilling some Satay Ayam or chicken skewers somehow consoles me, plus it tasted mighty fine too. 

Recipe is from a book, The World of Satay,  I bought at  Denpasar International airport. So far, I'm happy with the result. There are about 100 satay recipes in here and I promise to give most if not all, a try. Did I ever mention I love Balinese satays?!

You need:

600 g chicken breast, cut into thin wide strips

A Spice paste

-2 red chilis, cleaned and seeded, if you like it hot, add more . Original recipe says, 7!
-1 big red onion or 8 small shallots
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp of mashed lemongrass, or 1 stalk
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- a thumb sized ginger root, peeled and grated
- 2 1/2 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 tbsp- toasted grated coconut ( I used desiccated) 

B Spice

- 2 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsbp tamarind paste
- 2 tbsp. palm sugar
- 100 ml coconut milk
- 125 ml water
- 1 1/4 tsp salz

Peanut sauce
  • 3 dried chilli ( soaked in water), you add more if you prefer it spicier
  • 8 shallots
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 candle nuts
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 300 ml water
  • 175 toasted crushed peanuts
  • 3 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste

Got everything? Now let's make some satays!

1. Put A spice except the toasted  coconut in a food processor or blender. Give it a few pulses until it becomes a paste. If you want to do it the authentic Balinese way, grind the ingredients using a mortar and pestle .Heat oil in the pan. Sauté A Spice paste until paste lumps together leaving oil around it.

2. Stir in B Spice. Bring mixture to a soft boil. Keep stirring then lower the heat. Add toasted coconut . Take out from the heat and cool marinade completely. Yup, it's just a marinade. A yummy, aromatic marinade you could almost pour over some hot rice or toast and eat.

3. Make peanut sauce. Using food processor , blender or mortar and pestle, ground together chili, shallots, garlic, candle nuts, turmeric  coriander and cumin powder. Sauté ground spices till oil separates. Add  water and bring mixture to a boil. Stir in toasted ground peanuts, sugar, salt and tamarind paste. Remove from heat. Lick the spoon when no one's watching.

4. Combine chicken pieces and marinade until each piece of meat is well coated. Cover with a cling film and refrigerate for about 2 to 3 hours. And keep your paws off the peanut sauce! Thread meat onto skewers and grill once you're done waiting. 

Serve with peanut sauce , compressed rice and cucumber salad  or your favourite green salad.

We had wonderful Sunday. It was sunny but not hot so we ate outside, soaking up some sunshine and ultraviolet rays. Aside from the Indonesian Satay, I also grilled some pork skewers, Filipino style and served it with the typical soy sauce -lime sawsawan ( dipping sauce). Guess which BBQ plate got stolen by aliens, it practically disappeared before my eyes ? 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Honeydew with Tapioca Pearls

I have been French kissing ice cream, one scoop after the other  since local temperature soared , engulfing the  usually cold Germany in a much anticipated and appreciated summery heat. Although I undeniably  love ice cream in such hot weather , I did try to look for another cooling alternative. This time, with real fruits in it. The sight of fresh and aromatic honeydew melons at the local supermarket provided a welcome relief . Shake? Smoothie? Why not with tapioca pearls ? It's been sulking in the pantry for quite a while now, looking unused and unwanted . So sago ( tapioca pearls) it is!

Making this recipe was easy . Plus, the end result was delicious and just as promised,  quite refreshing  .  A perfect summer treat! If you like honeydew melons, give this recipe a try.


Syrup ( 100 ml water + 100 g rock or palm sugar)
1 honeydew melon
3 nectarine (alternative: Avocado, mango, watermelon, peach)
200 g fresh milk
200 ml coconut milk
1 Cup tapioca Or sago pearl

1. Make syrup. Bring 100 ml water and 100 g rock or palm sugar into a boil. Let it simmer until sugar dissolves. Take out from the heat and transfer into a bowl. Allow to cool.

2. Bring 5 cups of water into a boil. Pour tapioca pearls. Cover pot and cook for about 8 mins or until most pearls become translucent   Give the pot a good stir once in a while to avoid pearls from sticking together . Once cooked, pour  tapioca pearl into a strainer under running water. Drain excess water, transfer into a bowl and set aside .

3. Cut honeydew melon into half. Scrap out seeds. Using a melon baller, scoop the flesh out . You could also dice it.  Divide diced/ balled melon into 2 portions. Chill the half and keep the other half for the next step.

4. Blend the remaining half of honeydew melon together with fresh milk, coconut milk and syrup.
Refrigerate for hours or  overnight. The mixture thickens as it chills. Do not mix sago pearls at this point. It will absorb the liquid.

5. In a mixing bowl, put chilled honeydew melon and other diced fruits ( I used nectarine) and sago pearls. Pour the chilled ,blended mixture. Give it a good stir. Serve and let this treat do its magic..And oh yeah, enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, July 7, 2014

German Flag Inspired dessert

FIFA would cup fever is becoming a  pandemic and I, a football snob, is officially contaminated. How could one not be? The jovial mood, the fierce patriotism and the roller coaster emotions in the air , one could practically  inhale it. You can see  it, hear if, and feel it!

Schwarz- Rot- Gold  in now every German's favourite colours and is just everywhere I look. I see it at my neighbours' houses, on people's cars, in the shops and even at my workplace ! Tomorrow's the semi finals. Germany will play against the host , Brazil. Will Germany make it to the finals? Let's wait and see. One thing for sure though, this German Flag inspired sweet will certainly make Germany's victory even sweeter or at least console a bitter disappointment . After all, nothing numbs  better than chocolate . Serve it at home if you are having some football fanatics coming over. Win or lose, this fruity and berrylicious dessert is certainly a keeper.


For Gold..
200ml chilled cream
400 ml Mango pulp ( other option: peach compote)
1 tbsp. vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
3 gelatin sheets

Beat cream until double in volume and fluffy. Beat in 1 tbsp of vanilla sugar and turmeric powder. Stir in mango pulp or peach compote , if using. Soften gelatin sheet in water , squeeze out excess water , put in a small bowl and pop in the microwave for half a minute until it liquifies. Add a tablespoon of mango cream mixture to tamper the temperature. Then stir into the mango cream until well incorporated. Pour about half a  cup of the mixture into your serving bowl or glass. Allow to set and refrigerate for about 6 hours. Best made the night before the game. (^_^)

For Red..
500 Red berries such as strawberry
1 tbsp sugar
alternative ingredients: raspberry, red currant, cherries with stones removed

Clean about 200 g strawberry, remove stems and put in a blender, puree until thick. I add a handful of red currant to add vibrant red colour and sour-y tone. Clean the rest of the strawberry, cut into small chunks, sprinkle with a spoon of white sugar. Add about half of the strawberry sauce and strawberry chunks until well combined. Save the rest of the strawberry sauce.

For Black..
chocolate cake crumbs
alternative ingredients : crushed Oreo cookie, brownies , chocolate cookies, graham crackers or blackberries


Take out chilled mango cream from the fridge. Add a spoon of strawberry sauce on it. Tilt glass to spread red sauce evenly. Add strawberry chunks. About 2-3 spoons. Top it with another tbsp of sauce. Add your black toppings. I used a store bought chocolate pound cake for less than 2 euro. Too lazy to bake one. That's it!  Chill and serve after the match...if you could wait, that is.  Enjoy it anytime.

One for the win. Go go go Germany!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sights and Eats: Langkawi Day 2

Breakfast at Meritus Pelangi's Spice Restaurant is  a gustatory, if not a cultural  delight. Malay, Indian, Chinese and western foods are plentiful  , boasting an abundant smorgasbord of east meets east fare. The restaurant looks chic and stylish with its dark wooden  ceilings, birdcage shaped timber  beams  and its antique  and catchy handicrafts adorned nooks and crannies. Although food choices are plenty, it is not overwhelming , with many items changing daily . Here's just a glimpse of what this restaurant offers.

Bread in all forms and sizes. From Danish pastries,  muffins , doughnuts to Malaysian Rotis. If you like you carbs as much I do, this is the corner to go.

For the health conscious , there's a salad bar with enough greens , fruits and vegetables to chew. There's cheese , cold cuts and smoked fish .

Seasonal fruits are aplenty. Noodle and egg stations are making fresh treats at guest's request. There are enough warm ,cooked dishes such as rendang ( bottom left), mee goreng ( bottom right) to choose from. The  typical Malaysian breakfast   Nasi Lamak and Roti canai  are also ever-present at the breakfast buffet.

My breakfast. Roti Canai  with lentil and chicken curry  A traditional Malaysian breakfast with buttery , pastry-like pancake which are cooked on a griddle. I had seconds thirds   a lot of these,  but, whose counting anyways?

And slices of tropical fruits to end the meal.

After a satisfying breakfast, FF and I  squeeze our flabby hides into our swimsuits.  Then, we scare the children off the kiddie pool so we could take turns getting splashed by a giant bucket . It was damn boring ! So we did it again..and again..and again. Until, the number of  curious little faces are getting too much to ignore . We gave up pretending we're 4. We retreated back to the adult pool, where sensible adults belong. Deeper, wider, no tipping giant buckets and undeniably less as  fun. Spent 2 hours burning that roti canai. FF swimming and me waddling since I can't swim...Don't ask.

Lunch was cheap. It was an nondescript little restaurant along Pentai Cenang street. We were more thirsty than hungry, FF gulped down 2 SMB before we're done eating. The Prawns on my Char Kuay Teow look bigger and merrier  on the  picture menu.  Copy right issues? Taste wise, it was ok and a tad bit greasy. Thankfully, I like greasy foods. Yay!

FF's  lunch was Indian chicken and vegetable curry served with Naan bread. The bread was dry, dense and almost ciabatta-like, don't look and taste remotely like Naan Bread should be.  My first try , home-made Naan tasted better! Uhurm, recipe coming up, if ever someone's interested. The vegetable is as mushy as it looks but the chicken tasted good. Not the best meal we had but it was filling. Now we know why the restaurant was empty .

We were contemplating on hitting the beach, purposely ignored multiple warning signs  of Jellyfish. However, after almost tripping over a football sized one, we decided stay off the sea, not overly keen to meet tiny jellyfish babies looking for its washed ashore and drying, hardening mommy.

We decided to have an island tour. FF hailed a taxi, driven by a local named Din. He is about about 60, reliable, punctual  and kinda sweet. He   laughs a lot, especially at his own joke , which we don't get most of the time. His English was not that good , often switches to Malay mid sentence when he gets too animated.  But, we get along pretty well, plus he brought us to places we wish to be. He's funny , even if his humor less so.He usually bursts into a fit of laughter after finishing a sentence. To be polite ,we tried laughing with him. Hah! Hah! Hah! FF and I bark awkwardly  while trying to look less bewildered at why were laughing . Needless to say, it was exhausting. We hired him for 2 days, each trip last about 4 hours, costing 120 ringgit. I reckon, we could haggle, but I like supporting hard working people like him so I stick to the price and gave him a tip. Support local economy, gain a friend. That's how I like my holiday. You would be surprise how far, few euros could go.

Anyway, our island tour started off at 2 in the afternoon, which was a mistake since the heat was rather harsh. Only the abundance sun screen lotion , preventing us from burning to a crisp. Tip: Have enough of those at hand  and something to drink. From a Pentai Cenang, we went to Kuah, Langkawi's main town. 

First stop: The Eagle Square or Dataran Lang.

The 12 -meter Sculpture of the reddish brown eagle is symbol of Langkawi. It sits on an elevated, star shape platform.  The square is located near Kuah Jetty,  offering a view of the bay . It covers a 19-acres area featuring some fountains, ponds,  a covered pavilions with  cafes and souvenir shops selling  Ray-Bams eyewears , Hardly Rock shirts  , Loius Vuittom, Guccii, Parda, Channel 2 5 7 , Blueberry knock offs and many others things, tourist might me interested in. We don't want to exchange numbers with German Customs officers on our way home so we skipped that . 

Next Stop: Legenda Park 

Legenda park or the Park of the Legends is just a short walk away from the Eagle Square. Malaysians, love their folklores and myths and this 50-acre park is a proof to that. Amidst the lush scenic gardens , artificial ponds and backdrop of traditional Malaysian buildings, are several monuments, each has a story to tell. The legends are craved on a stone for curious and interested visitors to read.

Thunderous fight between Mat Raya and Mat Cinchang being intervened by a common fwend.

I'm not a great story teller but I'll try to give one of local legends of Langkawi a go. This is the story of how Kuah town was born.
A long, long time ago, there lived 2 formidable giant warriors named,  Mat Raya and Mat Chincang. They're BFF by the way, and to strengthen their bond, they play match makers and marry off their son and daughter . After all, blood's thicker than water.   Anyway, on the eve of their children's wedding,  Mat Raya saw his son- in -law ogling the bridesmaid ( or something)  and started bitching . Well, Mat Chincang is not having any of those. So hell broke lose. Testosterone , fists and gigantic cooking wares went flying all over the place as the mighty giants fought, resulting to spillage of a pot of gravy, among other things. Reality slap ( or something) from  common friend and the two warriors came to their senses. As a sign of remorse for ruining their kids' big day , the squabbling giants turned themselves  into, what to yo know, mountains! The town that was spilled by the overturned pot of gravy was name, Kuah ,meaning gravy in Malay. Too literal but makes sense, don't you think?  Anyway, Gunung Raya and Gunung Cincang are two of the highest mountains of Langkawi. The  best friends turned worst enemies turned mountains are still trapped in their petrified  forms , silently watching over Langkawi and  throws occasional  heated  glares at each other's direction ( Ok I made the last one up! Sorry!). The End.

Third stop. Durian Pelangin Waterfall

We went back to Din and his taxi. Seeing our flush , sweaty faces, he turned his air condition to a full blast. I told you, he is a sweet guy. I asked him to bring us to a waterfall and to a waterfall we went. Did not know I have to climb 41 million steep steps  to get there! Well, that how it feels like, at least. I stop counting halfway through , concentrated on breathing and not tipping over the rocky terrain instead. I was expecting a big , raging waterfall when I got hyperventilating on top. The sight that greeted us almost made me cry... Huwat?! That's it?! I look taller than that! And where's the water?! Looking at the steep steps down made me want to cry some more. I have fear of heights. Great! Crawling at  a turtle pace, FF and I manage to reach a smiling , well rested Din on the flat ground with throbbing knees but without a scratch.

Din: No big water?
FF: No, it was disappointing.
Din: Long time not raining, lah. Water  dry! hahahaha
FF and me: Hah! Huh?
Din: You drink waterfall ?
Me : Err should we?
Din: Yes! Makes strong! No more sick, lah! Hahahaha
FF and me: Hah! Huh?
Fanciful thoughts of dissolved  kidney stones, cured endometriosis and sturdy spine run through my mind. But then, HD images of diarrhea and of me running to the toilet that night stopped me from hiking back up again.
Din:  One more waterfall?
Me: Do we have to climb up again to reach it? 
Din: YeS! More! Hahahaha
FF and Me: No, thank you.

Last Stop: Oriental Village

Last stop before calling it a day. The Oriental village. It boast cafes and restaurants, souvenir shops with more authentically copied designer wears,  Spa, animal and wheeled rides and a hotel. It is also the starting  point of Langkawi Cable car rides. Just your  typical tourist trap spot to kill some time and burn some cash. We did not stay long. Needless to say, it was out least favourite stop of the day. Just as a reminder, forget coming here for dinner, all restaurants and cafes were already close when we arrive here , around 6:20 PM.

Din was kind enough to drive us around the area and show us the way leading to the Seven Wells waterfall, one of the biggest in Langkawi. He drove us back to the hotel after that, after promising to pick us up around 3 in the afternoon the next day for another adventure  tour. After a cherry adios , we were practically dragging our tired feet to our room. After a refreshing shower,  I throw myself gratefully into our gigantic bed and snored away.

Dinner was at Putomayo and was fantastic! Light was low and outside dinning option was romantic but really dim, so excuse me for the hazy picture. It did not do the food some justice. FF and I feasted on tangy , green mango salad, generous portion of soft shell crab, chicken dish and huge prawns in spoon lickin' good sauce!To end the meal, FF and I share deep fried ice cream. It was certainly as sweet as it looks. I heart it! Was a nice way to end our day. 

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