Helloooooo Kuching!

The man who placed George Town on the world festival map is now taking his crazy brand of style and fun to Borneo.

Joe Sidek, the director of the George Town Festival wants Kuching to rock on the fringes of the internationally-acclaimed Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in July.

He is curating and presenting the Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) and promises it to be a 10-day (7-16 July) spectacle of the best which Sarawak has to offer by way of art, food, fashion and music. 

“The festival happens right in the bustling capital town of Kuching in Sarawak and will provide the ultimate lead up to the annual Rainforest World Music Festival. 

“The inaugural Rainforest Fringe Festival will also give prominence to Sarawak’s rich indigenous arts and culture, giving festival goers a true sense of the beauty and energy of the state, its people and rainforest,” says Joe.

Festival-goers will rediscover Sarawak through film screenings, fashion showcases, photography exhibitions, art and craft bazaars and other displays of Sarawak’s highly underrated trove of local talents.

The Old Court House in Kuching will serve as the venue for most events – such as a craft and vintage market, talks, exhibitions and various movie screenings – tied to the fringe festival.
The “Sarawak: Theatre of Clothes” fashion gala will showcase exceptional and multi-talented fashion and accessories’ designers originating from Sarawak.

In upholding their Sarawakian roots, these designers such as Datuk Tom Abang Saudi, Eric Ong, Ramsay Ong, Tanoti and Neng Kho Razali have made their mark on local and international high fashion runaways and will bring to the festival, their show-stopping works.

A special fashion treat awaiting those coming to the fringe festival would be Singapore-based contemporary womenswear label Ong Shunmugam. The label owner is Malaysian-born Priscilla Shunmugam, whose work is designed and made across Asia and offers ready-to-wear ranges and bespoke designs. She is working with `Pua Kumbu’ the traditional patterned multi-coloured ceremonial cloth used by the Ibans and in Sarawak for the fringe festival.

“Music is the way nature speaks to us. It is found in the splash of a waterfall, the rumble of the wind and the flutter of a bird’s wings …These are our music; it means Sada Kamek in the Iban language.”

The Rainforest Fringe Festival will open with an official concert `Sada Kamek’ at the Kuching Amphitheatre, with a line-up of Sarawak-born performers like Dayang Nurfaizah, Noh Salleh, Tony Eusoff, Nading Rhapsody, At Adau, Pete Kallang, Alena Murang and Matthew Ngau.

(Images courtesy of Joe Sidek and the Rainforest Fringe Festival)


Cookie Bake-Off with Flex

They came, they baked and impressed the judges, their colleagues and all cookie monsters present! Forty Flex Penang employees comprising 20 teams rose to the challenge yesterday in displaying their baking prowess at making Hari Raya cookies. 

Left to concoct their own recipes or fall back on traditional festive ones, the teams did Flex proud by displaying so much love, joy and pride in what they were doing while having fun.

Stella, Faten and Joe had a field day sampling the bakers’ delights and Val conceded that every single team and their cheering supporters present were winners. The attention to detail, creativity and taste were amazing while Flex’s generosity in allowing the bakers to take home the Pensonic ovens and cake mixers and a host of other goodies are enough reason for it to remain employer of choice and have more employees asking for more corporate cooking events.

Pensonic’s abilities in organizing cooking events were put to the test and they emerged with flying colours and have proven that their corporate headquarters are more than just a place to view their products and impressive test kitchens, but also a spot to cook and have fun in.

M is for Massage and (Jo) Malone

It’s one of those treats which money cannot buy. And this is simply because the quintessentially British Jo Malone London does not charge you for their oh-so-blissfully relaxing (20 minute) hand and arm massages (yes, it’s free BUT by invitation only).

Betsy and I ambled over to the brand’s first boutique in Penang this evening, The generous invite on thick and creamy paper said to bring along a friend  (Betsy) and we were welcomed by the gracious Lillian and equally warm and familiar Carmen.  Lime infused water and a black velvet Jo Malone complimentary pouch were offered (to store our respective watches and other jewellery items) before we submitted ourselves to a relaxing and scented journey.

Lillian used a latte whisk to form a warm frothy hand wash in a fragrance of our choice (mine being grapefruit, although my first introduction to the brand by Bina years ago, has had me hooked on their signature Lime Basil & Mandarin).  She wiped it off gently with a warm towel, leaving the skin feeling softer and noticeably lighter.

Lillian’s firm yet soft hands are the perfect ad for the body products and the incredible layers of scents  combined, and so telling of the brand which is synonymous with a bespoke style of service.

We were waved off in a shower of multiple sprays, and continued to feel cocooned in the warmth of this British fragrance for the ensuing hours spent as mall rats.

Iftar Ramadan @ E&O

As the ninth month of the Islamic calendar looms on us, Muslims around the world are getting ready to fast daily from sunrise to sundown.

Ahead of this auspicious month, which is just around the corner, the aromas of Ramadan-inspired food have begun wafting from the kitchen of the Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel.

The sweet smells and tastes of fresh lemongrass, garlic, cloves, tumeric and candlenuts cooking slowly in rich coconut oil have been finding their way to some of the hotel’s buffet offerings and yesterday’s sneak preview was not a letdown.

Eileen, JJ and Yvonne continue to be the ever-gracious hosts, this time for an extensive sampling of the month-long ‘Jamuan Berbuka Puasa’ promotion which kicks off on May 27.

Many of my childhood favorites popped up during the feast which was prepared and served at E&O’s Sarkies Annexe Restaurant with great care and love in a display of generous colours, flavours and not lacking in herbs and spices.

Chicken Briyani Rice, Yellow Glutinous Rice or Nasi Kunyit (shaped as discs and sprinkled with “serunding” or chicken floss) and the novel Nasi Lemak “cake” (which seems to be current rage) are great starters along with the aromatic Soto Ayam (chicken spiced soup).

The tender Rendang Daging (beef) and Masak Lemak Ikan Masin (salted fish in a creamy coconut curry) were reminiscent of good Malay fare found in the kitchens of chefs who know what Malay cooking is all about.

These, along with Malay “kuih” or desserts are among an extensive spread of eats laid out in a buffet which will be rotated during the month of Ramadan (RM143.30 nett for adults/RM70.95 nett for a child from 7pm – 10.30pm will be available till 24 June, 2017).

And for those who are not in Penang during the upcoming holy month, a Balik Kampung (homecoming) Buffet Lunch (RM98.30 nett) on June 25 & 26 is available if family members simply want to chill, enjoy (almost close to) home cooking and give their home cooks a break. Children (aged between 6 and 12) are charged RM49.15 nett for this promotion. (The hotel requires that full payment is made one week prior to the dining date for this festive promotion)

Details and reservations, call +604-2222000 ext 3139/3151.

Timeout (for the sweet tooth) at Doutor

I must confess that I am no coffee addict although the sweet treats accompanying them at coffee outlets are usually the draw for me. When Adeline kindly invited me to try out Texchem Resources Bhd’s first Doutor Coffee outlet in Penang, the prospect of checking out some fine Japanese pastries was the carrot. Doutor Coffee Japan is an artisanal coffee chain which was founded in 1980 in Tokyo’s Harajuku district. The brand has grown to countries like Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia where it appears to be a haven for Japanese expatriates who are craving for a taste of  a “home”-brewed cuppa. For those who have savoured this new brand, the thumbs up is what they have offered by way of opinion.

In Malaysia, Doutor Coffee outlets are found in Penang’s Gurney Plaza, at Aeon Tebrau in Johor Bahru, along with Sunway Velocity Mall and Aeon Bukit Tinggi.

Together with Fanne and Debbie, we were a tad unorthodox and dived into the Strawberry French Toast (RM15.90) first. It turned out to be just the right portion for four people to share and not get on a sugar high! Fresh and generous amounts of  berries, along with a dollop of vanilla ice cream were part of this entree.

The Carbonara dish which had a good balance of  greens, sausages, chicken ham and an egg yolk won my vote and is something I would try again. 

The Fluffy Souffle Doria (RM19.90) was a nice savoury lunch alternative owing to the generous use of cheese and the light-as-air eggs. 

The much-anticipated desserts for us were the Vanilla Souffle (RM8.90) which won me over and Chocolate Souffle Pancake (RM14.90) which tasted more like sponge cake than it did a pancake.

The portions at this cosy coffee shop are fairly generous and owing to the richness of its offerings, it would be best if dishes (and desserts) are shared or one would end up feeling stuffed very fast and deprived of other treats (especially the sweet ones!)


Photos courtesy of  Texchem Resources Bhd