Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Touring Langkawi Gastronomically

     It is dangerous to visit Langkawi! If you are thinking that the hazard involves Abu Sayyaf militants kidnapping tourists, you are way off track. The danger that I am referring to has dire consequences on one’s weight! Malaysia is home to an endless choice of good food, but we usually think of Ipoh or Penang where tasty meals are concerned. Prior to my recent visit to Langkawi, I was unaware that good food also abounds in the Jewel of Kedah.

1.  Scarborough Fish & Chips Restaurant
     As our accommodation was at Tanjung Rhu, naturally our first dinner in Langkawi was in the vicinity. Tanjung Rhu, by the way, is a much quieter part of the island but has one of the most gorgeous shorelines of Langkawi. At Scarborough Fish & Chips Restaurant, we enjoyed an al fresco dinner at the beach, being fanned by the cooling sea breeze and watching the sun dip down for its slumber. The food offered there include battered fish, pan-fried fish, calamari, prawns, chicken and lamb. I ordered a deep fried snow fish (RM30) while Derrick opted for a chicken cordon bleu (RM26). The batter of my snow fish was crisp and very nicely-done; the chunks of fish were thick and fresh. Upon trying Derrick’s chicken cordon bleu, I agreed that it was yummy.
A very simple eatery by the beach, but it's so popular

Watching the sunset  with your loved one whilst having your food...bliss!

Derrick's chicken cordon bleu

My fish and chips

We shared these prawn fritters, which disappeared in no time

Calamari rings were also a delight

Address : Lot 1388 Jalan Tanjung Rhu | Mukin Air Hangat, Langkawi 07000, Malaysia
Opening Times : 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

2.  Pia’s The Padi
     This restaurant is ranked #8 out of 308 Langkawi restaurants by TripAdvisor. Despite the location being rather difficult to locate (it involves driving off the beaten track and right into the middle of a paddy field), we knew we had to give this place a try. 
     On our 2nd evening in Langkawi, Derrick and I arrived at the restaurant at 9 p.m., only to find that it was closed. We were disappointed and were getting ready to leave when Jimmy, the owner and chef, walked out. He had just closed up for the day but being the hospitable host that he is, immediately welcomed us in and was happy to cook for us. A truly gracious host!
     The restaurant is a simple building built in the midst of gorgeous paddy fields and the decor is minimalistic yet elegant. I can well imagine what a lovely experience it would be to dine there whilst enjoying the sunset.
     We chose to have the set meals, which came with an appetiser (spring rolls and samosas), a main course with rice, vegetables, dessert and free flow of drinks. It didn’t come cheap (RM165 for 2 persons) but the taste was exceptional!
     Everything was beautifully prepared. I am a huge fan of beef rendang so of course I chose that for my mains. One bite of the tender beef in Jimmy's special rendang gravy, I was hooked! It is definitely the best beef rendang that I had ever tasted. Although Derrick had the chicken butter masala for his mains and he generally does not favour beef rendang, he kept on nicking mine. Jimmy’s mango kulfi (an Indian dessert) is also top notch!
     Throughout dinner, Jimmy kept popping out to check on us. He was pleased to find that we were enjoying our food. When his wife and daughters came later to find out why he was not home yet, they too were so warm and friendly. We really delighted in our dinner that night, not only because the food was so exceptional, but also because we felt like we were dining in the house of friends.
Hungry face, but so lucky to have the entire restaurant to ourselves

While Jimmy worked his magic in his kitchen, we enjoyed the free flow of iced lime juice.

Spring rolls and samosas to whet our appetites

Lovingly prepared dishes to go with rice

Jimmy's oh-so-delicious beef rendang

Jimmy's mango kulfi for dessert

Address : Jalan Ulu Melaka, Langkawi 07000, Malaysia
Opening Times : 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. (for lunch)
                                6 p.m. onwards, but can close early (for 

3.  The Breakfast Club
     We stumbled upon this old shophouse turned into quaint eatery in the middle of a fishing village. Owned and run by an Englishman, it had a quirky tagline to promote itself : “Slow wifi, Cold coffee, Lousy service, Give us a go!”. It got our curiosity piqued. The menu listed bacon and it definitely got the oink oink-deprived Derrick interested.
     Its bacon sandwich was nothing fanciful but it kept Derrick happy. I was brought a little closer to Scotland when I tucked into my Lorne sausage and French toast. For the uninitiated, the Lorne sausage or flat sausage is a traditional Scottish food, though lesser known than haggis. 
     Breakfast here was fairly reasonably priced and came up to about RM25 for the 2 of us. Most importantly, Derrick got his oink oink fix.
Eager rabbit caught in the act of entering The Breakfast Club

A kampung house turned into eatery

My French Toast with Lorne sausage

Derrick's oink oink fix

Address : 52, Kuala Teriang, Langkawi
Opening Times : 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Tue to Sat)

4.  fatCupid
     Hoping to have some Chinese food for our 3rd dinner on the island, we drove past bustling Pantai Cenang to head to Fat Mum at Pantai Tengah. This was a friend’s recommendation for some tasty yet reasonably priced Chinese food. Unfortunately, it was closed (this was a Friday evening) so we turned to the nearby fatCupid Restaurant. What’s with all these “Fat” eateries in Langkawi? Perhaps they think fat equals scrumptious food?
     Anyhow, we thought we couldn’t go far wrong as fatCupid is ranked #104 out of 308 Langkawi restaurants in TripAdvisor. I remember reading some fairly glowing reviews of it. Perhaps our expectations were too high; we just found the food average and nothing to shout about. The restaurant is nicely decorated, simple Scandinavian decor. Derrick ordered chicken "pongteh" with rice...it was average. So was my chicken kapitan with rice. The food's not bad, it's just average and not as exquisite as claimed by other reviewers. I did enjoy my Lemongrass Mojito (a cocktail of lemongrass, white rum, mint, lime and brown sugar) though.
Simple Scandinavian decor at fatCupid

My Lemongrass Mojito, which made me a little intoxicated later. 

My chicken kapitan with rice

Derrick's chicken pongteh with rice

Address : La Pari-Pari, 2273, Jalan Teluk Baru | Kampung Tasek Anak, Pantai Tengah, Langkawi 07000, Malaysia
Opening Times : 9 a.m. to 2.30 p.m., 6 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.

5.  MY French Factory
     We were briefly transported to Paris for lunch on our 4th day in Langkawi. This creperie is ranked #1 by TripAdvisor and having a penchant for crepes, I was not going to leave Langkawi without trying this one out. And it was such a rewarding eating experience at this authentic French creperie owned and run by a young French couple. The sweet lady boss chatted with us amicably as she made our crepes and I got to practise a little of my rusty French with her. Derrick, who had also learnt French during his university days, could understand us but did not dare to join in. Fortunately, the lady boss did not laugh at my broken French.
     It was Derrick’s first crepe experience and he was impressed. Now he asks me where to find crepes in Ipoh. I tell him we probably can find one or two, but will definitely not match those made at MY French Factory, Langkawi. 
     We started off with a savoury crepe each. And then shared a sweet one for dessert. Derrick chose to have one with chicken slices, cheese and egg (RM18) while I picked a crepe with mushrooms, sour cream and cheese (also RM18). These savoury crepes are made from organic buckwheat flour and are also known as galettes. The sweet crepe that we chose was topped with roasted almonds and caramel. It came looking like a bit of a mess but was exceptionally lovely. I seriously considered getting more to take away.
     Tres bien!
Friendly French owner hard at work

The look and the smell...I'm salivating!

French version of roti canai

My crepe with mushrooms, sour cream and cheese

The heavenly crepe with caramel and almond flakes that we shared and I couldn't get enough of  it
Derrick's crepe with chicken slices, cheese and egg

Address : Jalan Pantai Cenang | Ground floor of the Langgura BARON Resort, Langkawi 07000, Malaysia
Opening Times : 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Closed on Fridays)

6.  Mangoes Bar & Grill
     Ranked #3 by TripAdvisor, this converted “kampung” house tucked away in the small village of Kuala Teriang was the venue of our 4th dinner on the island. Locating the place is not an easy task but ask any local and you'll be directed to this restaurant, which is the pride and joy of a German and Australian couple. It was such a lovely experience dining in this homely restaurant surrounded by lush greenery with a direct view of the Andaman sea. 
     Derrick’s roast lamb (RM40) was very well done (he especially loved the mashed potatoes). My chicken cordon bleu (RM35) was also one of the best that I'd ever tasted. Fortunately, we still had room to spare so we shared a rum mango crepe (RM17), which was delicious.
The entrance to Mangoes

Derrick's roast lamb

Do I hear baa-baa?

Who can resist this rum mango crepe? I can't!

My chicken cordon bleu...looks dry but tastes delicious

Address : Jalan Kuala Teriang, Kuala Teriang, Langkawi 07000, Malaysia
Opening Times : 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Wed to Sat), 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Sun)

7.  Breakfast Bar
     On our last morning in Langkawi before our early afternoon flight, we drove to Pantai Cenang for breakfast. We were attracted to this tropical beach-like hut establishment and decided to try it out. Owned by a Malay artist, you get to have simple, average-taste choices like American breakfast (minus the bacon, of course), omelettes, toasties and pancakes. As most of everything is priced between RM4 to RM9, this breakfast spot will definitely not leave a dent in your pocket.
The Breakfast Bar beckons

"Good morning" in different languages

My handsome hubby and his coffee

Derrick and his big breakfast

My tuna toastie

Address : Pantai Cenang, Langkawi

Opening Times : 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

So now are you convinced that it is dangerous to visit Langkawi?

Friday, 6 May 2016

Wishing My Angel Mama Happy Mother's Day

                           YOU TAUGHT ME TO PRAY AND TO NEVER LOSE HOPE
                                   YOU BECAME MY FIRST TEACHER

                                   YOU GIVE ME COURAGE TO PURSUE MY HAPPINESS
                            YOU SHOWER ME WITH YOUR INFINITE LOVE
                             YOU ARE MY MOST HONEST CRITIC    
                                 YOU ARE MY WISEST COUNSEL                                              
                                   YOU BRING SUNSHINE INTO MY LIFE

                                 YOU UNDERSTAND ME, WHEN NO ONE ELSE DOES
                          YOU ARE READY TO CATCH ME SHOULD I FALL
                                         YOU ARE MY GREATEST GIFT FROM GOD



Bonding with Nature and Wildlife At Kangaroo Island - Part 8

     After yesterday's episode with the punctured tyre, we decided it would be prudent to leave for Penneshaw early. Our Nissan Qashqai had been quite battered after a trip round KI and we were afraid that other tyres would also give trouble.
(Blog to be continued. I had to publish this first, as it's the final lap of my KI trip. I need to post another blog in conjunction with Mother's Day)

Monday, 2 May 2016

Bonding with Nature and Wildlife at Kangaroo Island - Part 7

Days 10 and 11 - Penneshaw and Dudley Peninsula Regions
     It was time to leave the South Coast on Day 10 and travel north east to our next destination, Cape Willoughby (113.9 km). We made a quick stop at the Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery as we were eager to purchase its
Enjoying the Colony Cove apply cider in the comfort of the vast living room at Cape Willoughby Lighthouse Keepers Heritage Accommodation
Colony Cove apple cider, made from fresh cider apples grown in KI. Eucalyptus oil was once KI's primary industry but is now struggling to compete with cheaper diluted versions...what a shame! The scent is soothing and the eucalyptus oil possesses anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. I would have loved to join the guided tour to learn about the making of eucalyptus oil but Derrick was too tired to be interested.
Meeting the namesake of Emu Ridge
    By the time we arrived at Cape Willoughby, our tummies were rumbling. Fortunately, the Zest & Thyme Cafe,
located just outside the light station, served fabulous food and amazing sea views.
Lunch with a glorious view
Derrick predictably chose a chicken curry with rice while I decided to give the kangaroo pot pie a try (A$20 each). Kangaroo meat tastes like beef, but it’s more tender.
Derrick's chicken curry with rice came in a unique serveware and some tantalising poppadums

My kangaroo pot pie. Now I can look a kangaroo in the eye and say, "I know what you taste like!" :P

     Seymour Cottage was all ready for us and we only had to retrieve the key via the key code given earlier. This was, by far, the best of the three lighthouse keepers heritage cottages that we stayed in.  It has five bedrooms, a lounge, an extremely well-furnished kitchen, modern bathroom and laundry area. Not only are there Nautilus decorations everywhere, all the lamps in the bedrooms are designed as lighthouses. There are rather dry lavender bushes surrounding the house but the scent of lavender still filled the air. The Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, built in 1852, is the South Australia’s oldest lighthouse, and it is situated right in our backyard. With the spectacular sea views of the Backstairs Passage (which separates KI from Fleurieu Peninsula on the mainland, it was no wonder that we were thoroughly enamoured by the lighthouse, the cottage and the surroundings.
The 3 Lighthouse Keepers Heritage Accommodation at Cape Willoughby (the 1 on the left is used as the office for the Ranger)

Our Seymour Cottage

Love this door stopper!

Well-equipped kitchen

Living room and dining area

Literally putting up my feet (note the many Nautilus decoration pieces)

The jigsaw puzzle that kept me at work

     We spent a lazy relaxing afternoon, with Derrick blissfully snoozing and me caught up at piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. And when the setting sun cast is fading light onto the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, it was a sight to behold.
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse on a quiet evening

It was blissful to wander around at dusk, without any prying eyes around
     Sunrise on Day 11 at Cape Willoughby revealed more astounding beauty. Even Mr. Photographer was stunned by the majestic lighthouse against the backdrop of the wondrous colours of the sky, and he agreed that this was definitely one of the main highlights of this KI trip. 
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse to dazzle one and all
Glorious view to wake up to
Bidding au revoir to lovely Seymour Cottage
We only had a short way to drive (6.3km) to our next destination, Antechamber Bay. Creek Farm, where our accommodation, Antechamber Bay Retreats, is located on an incredibly vast piece of land. We met Andy, the owner, who was busy loading bales of hay onto a truck. As our cottage, The Kona, was not ready, we decided to drive all the way down to Antechamber Bay,
Andy's boat on his private strip of beach

Solitude at Antechamber Bay

Such pristine environment!

No prying eyes....perfect for skinny dipping!
another breathtaking strip of beach. Upon making our return, to our dismay, we discovered a flat tyre! As our Nissan Qashqai was still on sand, it made the changing of the tyre a difficult task. I had to walk all the way back up to the farm in the scorching midday sun to enlist Andy’s help to tow the vehicle back onto firm ground before changing the tyre.

     It was such a relief to be able to sink into the cooling comfort of The Kona, a splendid property of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a spa bath, a well-stocked kitchen, lounge and views to die for. The bedroom that we chose had floor to ceiling windows with views of the sea. Imagine how blissful it was to wake up to such splendid views! Thoroughly worn out by the sun and the flat tyre incident, both Derrick and I beached out the entire afternoon. He was even too tired to venture out for photography, which was a blessing in disguise because he obtained his much-needed rest.
The Kona
The deck on the patio of The Kona, perfect for barbecue party

View of Antechamber Bay from The Kona