“ISLE TO ISLE” – GTF JOINS HANDS WITH TAIWAN

The annual George Town Festival (GTF), running from Aug 4-Sept 2, 2018 is bringing in the richness of Taiwanese art and culture to Penang.

“Isle to Isle”, is a collaboration between GTF and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia (TECO).

It will showcase a layered series of programmes highlighting the very best of Taiwanese performing arts, creative and art administration, say its organisers.

Programmes hosted throughout the week will be an effort to showcase and create a discourse on Taiwanese performing arts and design and the use of creative spaces to generate people-centric experiences.

“We are very excited to work with TECO along with other well-established Taiwanese organisations on this project.

“There is much to learn from the Taiwanese art and cultural creative industries and we want to bring forth a different approach to art and design to Penang”, GTF director Joe Sidek said.

“What Taiwan has done for its art industry is an exemplary approach for Penang’s growth of the art and design scene here.

“Taiwan is a leading example within the region where the government and private sectors are working together to create a successful platform for the creative industry. There is much we can learn from this,” he added.

Isle to Isle also serves as an effort to create closer ties with the Taiwanese art and design community.

“By partnering with the George Town Festival and establishing Isle to Isle, we hope that we can create a closer bond with Malaysia. What better way to strengthen a great relationship than through the arts,” said Cultural Division Director of TECO in Malaysia, Peggy Chou.

“Through this project we are thrilled to bring to Penang the best of Taiwanese art, design and more”, said Peggy Chou.

Isle to Isle will feature a week of Taiwan’s best art and design showcases to be hosted around George Town.

The cultural week will include The Hsinchu City Youth Chinese Orchestra, Isle of Dreams, Kaxabu! A Language No Longer Spoken?, Second Body, talks and a market showcasing and selling Taiwanese creative products curated by Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, and screenings of Taiwanese films.

The collaboration with Taiwan also includes partnerships with Taiwanese organisations such as the Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, Quanta Arts Foundation and Penang-based Mano Plus.

The GTF is a month-long celebration of culture, heritage, art and community. The festival which is now in its 9th year, continues to honour George Town’s spot on the world map as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Watch this space for more world-class acts which are coming to George Town!

#isletoisle #georgetownfestival2018 #gtf

(images courtesy of GTF)

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Athene the Spice Girl

I met this purveyor of artisan spices two years ago at her “spice laboratory” in Relau on the island.

The warmth and bubbly personality matched her colourful and aromatic spices as did her passion for cooking and sharing food and recipes.

Faten Rafie (or Athene to family and close friends) is the force behind the ‘Athene Spices’ brand of artisan spice blends and rubs, which are designed and created for home cooks to make easy, yet exciting dishes.

They are all natural, free of artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and MSG-free.

Just staring at the colourful contents of her bottled spices is enough to inspire the foodie in all of us and here’s why:

Her recipes are so easy to follow and end up looking like one has slaved for hours in the kitchen!

Befitting its premium tag, Athene Spices products are targeted at those with greater purchasing power and exposed to international cuisines, and also the health conscious, who do not want oil or sodium in the food they prepare and consume.

For this Ramadhan season, Faten has kindly shared some recipes below which include her famous spices which have found their way into Malaysian kitchens and restaurants at home and abroad.

Together with her businessman husband Azizi Hassan, Faten sources her spices like nutmeg pepper locally, and mix them into their distinct products with labels like Hot Chick Spicy Salt, Lemon Lime Pepper Salt, Mandy Spice Mix, Lebanese Za’atar, Moroccan Ras el Hanout and Hyderabad Biryani… to name a few, for retail and wholesale.

Check out her online spice shop at http://www.athenespices.com

If you are in Penang, her spices at stocked at both the Tropical Spice Garden’s gift shop at Teluk Bahang or The Tropical Spice Garden In the City store in George Town.

They make great gifts for Hari Raya open houses or to pop into a festive hamper.

(Images courtesy of Faten Rafie and NST)

E&O Iftar

As the holy month of Ramadan descends on us again, our Muslim friends will be preparing to fast (puasa) from dawn to dusk, while they also engage in more prayer and works of charity.

We in Malaysia are blessed to not only enjoy the public holidays for religious and cultural celebrations of our rich and diverse communities, but to also indulge in the food which are associated with each of the festivals.

One of the high points for me during Ramadan since I was a child was to look forward to the wide array of Malay `kuih` (cakes and desserts) sold at the Ramadan bazaars.

In more recent times, Ramadan has also spelt a time for me to catch up with my Muslim friends over the `Buka Puasa’ (iftar) meal.

Here in Malaysia we are spoilt for choice and because most people are working and are unable to get home in time to prepare the evening meal to break fast, they either pack food to take home or sometimes indulge in buffet spreads found in restaurants and hotels.

The heritage Eastern and Oriental Hotel (E&O Hotel) in Penang hasn’t failed to deliver yet again on a sumptuous `buka pausa’ feast this year.

The hotel’s Sarkies Restaurant is featuring the usual suspects of popular traditional Malay fare for its `Jamuan Barbuka Puasa’ buffet, in addition to its intercontinental offerings of Japanese and Italian favourites.

“The perennial Malay salad or `ulam’ to be complemented with an array of `sambal’ and sauces, is the perfect starter to the sumptuous meal for breaking fast,” says the hotel’s communication and public relations manager Eileen Chong.

“Our traditional must-haves like `biryani rice’, `rendang daging’, `ayam masak madu’ and `gulai ketam kampong’ are prepared by our seasoned chefs who have tapped into their familiar family recipes, handed down through generations.”

For the hotel’s international guests, the Ramadan buffet serves as a great introduction to Malaysia and her lip-smacking cuisines. For those who are fasting, what better way to break fast than to enjoy local staples like satay, ikan bakar (grilled fish), `roti canal` and `murtabak’ and to round up the meal with the assortment of Malay `kuih’ and the heart-warming `bubur kacang’ (mung bean porridge with coconut milk). For the rest of us, the meal is one we can share with our Muslim friends as a sign of solidarity and a good opportunity to catch up and bond.

The buffet is available daily from 17 May to 14 June, 2018 from 7.30pm to 10.30pm and priced at RM166 (adults) and RM83 (children).

Early birds take note: bookings made and paid before 23 May 2018 are entitled to a five full paying adults allows one person to dine for free deal (+604-222-2000 extn 3151/3139 or email fbcentral.resv@eohotels.com)

For those wishing to try their hand in cooking at home, below are two recipes courtesy of the E&O Hotel’s chefs …

Chicken Biryani

5 to 6 Persons

Ingredients

• 1 onion, thinly sliced

150ml vegetable oil

2½ tbsp sweet Pepper

1 tbsp each black peppercorns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds

2½ tsp each ground turmeric and ground chilli

¼ tsp finely grated nutmeg

3 cardamom pods

2 cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick, broken into rough pieces

2 long dried chillies, broken
into rough pieces

1 fresh bay leaf

500g thick natural yogurt

½ cup each finely chopped mint and coriander, plus extra coriander
sprigs to serve

1½ tbsp finely grated ginger

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

6 chicken leg portions, halved
through the joint into thigh and drumstick

400g basmati rice

50g butter, diced

70ml milk

¼ tsp saffron threads

To serve: Fried shallots and fresh coriander

Method

• Fry onion in 120ml oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6-8 mins.

Transfer to a bowl and cool. Dry-roast spices, chilli and bay leaf over medium heat, then pound with a mortar and pestle to a fine powder.

Add to onion along with yogurt, herbs, ginger, garlic and 2 tsp sea salt and mix well.

Add chicken, stir to coat, cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate.

Spread chicken mixture in the base of a heavy-based casserole with a tight-fitting lid.

Bring rice, 20g butter, remaining oil and enough well-salted water to cover by 2cm to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Drain and spread over chicken.

Bring milk, saffron and remaining butter to the simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then pour over rice, cover with foil, then the lid.

Cook over low heat until rice is fluffy and chicken is cooked through (50 minutes-1 hour).

Stand for 15 mins without removing the lid, then serve hot, scattered with fried shallots and coriander sprigs.

Rendang Daging
Preparation time: 1 hour

5 to 6 Persones

Ingredients
1 kg beef Striploin, cut into 3cm chunks

For the beef Marination

2 tbsp coriander seeds (ketumbar)
2 tsp cumin seeds (jintan putih)
2 tsp fennel seeds (jintan manis)
1 tsp black peppercorns (lada hitam)
1 1/2 tsp salt (garam)

For the spice paste
200gr shallots (bawang kecil), peeled
10 garlic cloves (bawang putih), peeled
5 stalks lemongrass (batang serai), cut into segments
1” galangal root (lengkuas/galangal), peeled
1” old ginger (halia),peeled
½” turmeric root ( kunyit hidup), peeled

Other ingredients
1 tbsp red chili powder (serbuk chili)
10 pcs kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut), snipped with scissors
2 tbsp palm sugar (gula Melaka)
8 pcs cardamom (buah pelaga)
5 pcs cloves ( bunga cengkih)
10cm cinnamon stick (kulit kayu manis)

For the coconut milk

1 coconut freshly grated – to yield 250ml thick coconut milk and 250ml thin coconut milk

For the kerisik

100g fresh grated coconut Squized

Salt, to taste

Method

1. Toast the dry spices (cumin, fennel, coriander seeds) in a wok over low heat until fragrant. Using a mortar (or grinder), grind the spices and peppercorn into powder. Marinade the beef with the spices and salt for 2 hours.

2. To make the kerisik, place the freshly grated coconut into a wok over medium heat and toast until it turns to a dark brown. Stir often, this will take about 10 minutes. Once browned, place the toasted Kerisik into a mortar pound oil released from the kerisik.

3. Place the spice paste ingredients into an electric blender with 3 tbsp of water and blend until you get a paste. (Note: The paste is a bright yellow colour)

4. Place all ingredients (marinated beef, coconut milk, kerisik, spice paste + other ingredients) into a large pot. Bring to the boil over medium high heat, and once boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer for 3 hours or until the rendang is dry and meat is tender and dry (Tock )

5. Season with more salt, as necessary, Remove and serve with rice or lemang.

Rooms with a view

She used to be a most gracious hostess when showing us around the high-end properties that her former employer built to sell on the island.

Nothing much has changed today, except that the still-gracious Christina is now her own boss at TZ Suites Sdn Bhd, and “sells” a different category of properties.

She is just as busy these days on her feet as she goes about curating enjoyable and comfortable stays away from home for Penang residents and visitors.

The single and double-roomed suites at The Straits Quay Apartments in Tanjung Tokong on the island, are one lot of her offerings to those who want to drop off the hotel circuit for a change.

Standing above the (still picturesque) Straits Quay Retail Marina (where a good number of eateries are located together with a supermarket and convenience store) are several apartments which are being managed by TZ Suites as holiday rentals.

The view alone from the generous balconies of the units overlooking the Andaman Sea are enough to scream “holiday” and “tropical isle.” I don’t think I was alone in just wanting to sink into a chair on the balcony and chill with a good book (or think of this vantage spot to enjoy the fireworks display on New Year’s Eve)!

Swimming pools nestled among frangipani trees, a gym, clubhouse, sauna and barbeque area are among the facilities within the apartment complex, if you think you want to tear yourself away from the seaview!

Clean sheets and fresh towels greet guests who are checking in and while you may need to pack s toothbrush along, shower gels and shampoos have been thoughtfully supplied in the well-appointed bathrooms.

WiFi is available for your convenience (and to perhaps update your social media platforms or send multiple photos to family and friends of the gorgeous view!) and you can do your laundry in your rented unit as well.

The kitchen is equipped with all basic amenities (fridge, hot plate cooker and other utensils) but in Penang and seriously, would you be wanting to cook your own meals?!! Nearby food attractions range from hawker fare, seafood options and Nasi Melayu and its accompanying curries and condiments.

The two bedroom units can accommodate up to 12 people while the one bedroom, up to 6 guests.

(From April 16 to May 31, 2018, TZ Suites is offering a 15% discount for its 2 bedroom unit which is priced at RM580 per night and RM450 a night for its 1 bedroom unit. The discount does not apply to weekends, the eve of public holidays and public holidays)

More details are available by calling:

Christina Lau (+60103682498) or Bee Hong (+60146042498) or simply drop an email to :tzsuites77@gmail.com

(Images courtesy of TZ Suites Sdn Bhd)

On the fringes of the rainforest

Mr Crazy and Creative, Joe Sidek, returns to Borneo for the second edition of the Rainforest Fringe (RFF) in Kuching from 6 to 15 July this year.

“After a successful inaugural festival in 2017, this year’s RFF will showcase a wide range of cultural, contemporary, and traditional events representative of Sarawak’s exciting, complex and many-layered identity,” said Sidek, who has been synonymous with the George Town Festival for close to a decade.

The 10-day festival is set feature both local and international artists,performers, designers, photographers, and speakers.

“Sarawak has so much to offer. Apart from ecotourism, it is also renowned for its diverse cultural identities and traditions. The Rainforest Fringe Festival is all about Sarawak and is for everyone.

“It will be an exciting time for all to come together and be immersed in art, nature, history, tradition, culture and fun,” promises Sidek.

“This year’s RFF will be an all-inclusive and a complete sensorial experience,” he adds, saying that the programme includes:

• SARAWAK: The Indigenous Showcase – Opening the festival, Sarawak’s own creation presents a tapestry of Sarawak’s indigenous groups through dance, songs,

sounds and chants. The performance layers the traditional with the contemporary, featuring New York-based dancer and choreographer Raziman Sarbini.

Also performing will be the celebrated Kuching-born soprano Dewi Liana Seriestha, the first Malaysian to win the Miss World Talent title in 2014, and recently selected as icon and keynote speaker for International Dayak Culture Day in Indonesia.

• A performance of the Paiwan Tribe from Taiwan will add an international element to the evening. The Paiwan Tribe performance, one of Taiwan’s most interesting indigenous showcases, stars Hao-Hsiang Hsu, internationally famous actor (Life of Pi) and theatre director, and Paiwan ancient singer Seredaw Tariyaljan, who performed at the Pre-Grammy Party at the 55thGrammy Awards.

This performance combines cocoon, percussion instruments and aboriginal folk songs to present a pure aboriginal musical performance celebrating the beauty of the aboriginal culture of Taiwan.

• FIRST PEOPLE Party – Introducing the term orang asal, the “first people”; RFF celebrates indigenous Sarawakians with a party hosted at the Black Box, Borneo744. The night is a performance from the electrifying soul band Electric Fields, fresh from WOMADelaide and the Australian Performing Arts Market, alongside Sarawak’s own At Adau and Pete Kallang.

• BAMBOO THAT BINDS & WOOD – This interactive series of programmes, curated by Sarawakian Wendy Teo, aims to encourage innovative use of bamboo and wood:

• The “INSTRUMENT” – A Bamboo Musical Installation. A public interactive installation of bamboo in the shape of the angklung, with musical performances.

Wendy Teo will be working with Indonesian musicians Karinding Attack to create this site-specific music sphere.

• The CREATIVE FORUM welcomes international speakers: Filipino designer to the stars, Kenneth Cobonpue; Malaysian furniture designer Shahril Faisal, whose designs “evoke emotions, provoke thoughts and stimulate the senses”; Taiwanese artist Cheng-Tsung Feng, a designer who explores the contemporary potential in traditional utensils and materials; Indian bamboo textile designer Madhu Jain, a craft revivalist recently honoured by the President of India for her services in design; and Australian architect Jed Long, co-founder of Cave Urban, a collective formed to investigate vernacular lightweight structures and their relevance to contemporary design.

* The WORKSHOP – Redesigning Bornean Crafts. 20 days, six designers/craftsmen, three countries. Bringing together three designers from Thailand, three designers from Taiwan and local craftsmen to showcase what happens when international design embraces local craftsmanship. The design teams will combine their skills to create innovative new items over a three-week workshop in June and July, after which they will display their pieces at the festival.

• The MARKET – Borneo 744 plays host to the best of Sarawakian artisanal products: wood and bamboo designs and crafts, antiques, exotic plants, books, fashion, food, and more. For the first time, Big Bad Wolf comes to East Malaysia with their enormously popular book fair at the Market.

• The RAINFOREST STORIES – A set of screenings of films and documentaries that pay homage to Sarawakian culture. A highlight is the intriguing Lost Films series, films that have been lost into the archives, featuring Cinta Gadis Rhimba (director Datuk L. Krishnan), and introducing the Search for the Long House – a project to locate and screen The Long House (directed by Phani Majumdar).

“Making RFF a true sensorial experience, food will feature in our programme, and we look forward to announcing partnerships with local food establishments and putting indigenous and contemporary Sarawakian cuisine on an international stage,” said Sidek.

The Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) began in 2017 and is an annual 10-day celebration of the spirit and energy of Sarawak. Hosted in the heart of Kuching, the festival honours Sarawak’s eclectic culture and vibrancy of the land and the people through music, art, craft, film, photography, and design.

#rff #rainforestfringe #kuching #2018

(all but one image courtesy of RFF)

Inspiring Enterprise

Fashion with a conscience

The Tamil word for thread is `nul’ நூல் and both Evlyn and Anne have made South Asia (India and Sri Lanka) their initial hunting grounds for all things crafty and artisanal.

Their new enterprise is aptly called `Southern Nools’ (threads from the south) and the long-term plan is to sustain the business by making it a social enterprise which is aimed at empowering women.

For a start, the siblings are offering quirky and fun items like yoga bags, healthy copper mugs, book covers, meditation cushions, cheerful mandala-inspired totes and a host of other colourful and quality merchandise.

Their debut at the Straits Quay weekend market last week served as a good test-bed to gauge consumer trends and interest and they will be back there on Saturday and Sunday (March 24-25, 2018) with more offerings.

The girls share their story below, and the photos weave more colours and tales:

“At Southern Nools we draw our inspirations from the elements of Mother Earth and the four beautiful seasons of the year to bring you and the rest of the world our eclectic array of designs,” they say.

‘Nools’ or ‘Nul’ means thread in most parts of Southern India and Sri Lanka. The thread is the central point in retaining the fabrics outlook, appearance and lifespan although it only represents less than 1% of the entire outfit., they share.

“While the fabric captures the essence of bringing alive its tapestry of colours, the thread remains the spindle that spools it together. “

Handloom weaving is a heritage handed down from generations. Masterpieces are created from the blessed and creative hands of skilled weavers. These hands represent the simple and humble artisans who brings alive the fabric that adorns its wearer. Southern Nools celebrates all designers through the richness and diversity of traditional and classic fabrics.

“We take pride in weaving together the magic of Mystical India and the Wonder of Sri Lanka through the windows of exotic exuberance set in the splendour and grandiose British era.

“Our passage of timeless collections is designed with fine attention to detail. At Southern Nools we believe in quality, uniqueness, comfort and sophistication with a flair. Our clothiers and collections carry the proud trademark of stitcheries and the spontaneous placement of colours and designs inspired by the eccentric brilliance of Mother Earth.

“Our philosophy is rooted in integrity, simplicity and contemporary elegance handcrafted with a conscience.”

The Southern Nools story goes beyond threads and spools.

“At the heart of Southern Nools is the mission to empower and create unlimited potential with life skills, entrepreneurial growth and leadership for the marginalised and the differently abled in society. We hope to not only empower our local community in Malaysia and beyond, but also to enrich their lives with dignified earnings and a life changing future.

“At Southern Nools we strongly support and promote Fair Trade as a path towards a sustainable economic development for these communities and their families.”

At Southern Nools “There Is A Season For Everything” and “There Is Something For Every Season”.

“Southern Nools is about making a difference in people’s lives. Each smile, each little thing, each blessing, each gratitude is an affirmation of our purpose and mission,” is the promise of Evlyn and Anne.

Watch this space …..

#southernools #thereisaseasonforverything #pb2j #blessingsinlife #fairtrade #empowerment #threadsandspools #india #srilanka #socialenterprise

Let’s go luxe

Luxe shoppers take note!

Michelle the magical queen of happening events, is uplifting Penang’s retail scene by a notch this coming weekend.

The Luxury Shopping Showcase event takes place on 9 Feb (Friday) from 3pm-7pm and 10 Feb (Saturday) from 10am-5pm at

Suite 010, Heritage Wing at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel on Farquhar Street in George Town.

After her successful debut in presenting global label Cocoon by Randi Kristoffersen to us last year, Michelle is now bringing it back to Penang shoppers.

This designed and made-in-Malaysia export, is one of the world’s premier nightwear brands – think silk, satin, silk-velvet and the finest cashmere (www.cocoonbyrandikristoffersen)

Discerning shoppers are also in for a treat with the launching of a new collection from luxury linen brand, The Sinclair Company by Anne Sinclair.

The collection is said to include easy-to-wear dresses and separates in lightweight European linen and available in limited quantities in sizes ranging from 4 to 14.

“No appointment necessary, admission is free and credit cards are accepted,” says Michelle.

“Call us on +60164570221 if you can’t find us! We’re in the old wing, ground floor of the E&O Hotel.”

(Images courtesy of Michelle Grimsley)