Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bon Vivant Speaks: 6 Strange Things About Me

Well, I've been tagged by Adorable Gourmet H, who for some reason is now known in bloggerville as "wwh" - could it be beta blogger hell?

So, if you are not sick of me talking about me all of the time, here is some more about me:

1. I prefer non-breakfast food for breakfast than breakfast food (or really non-American breakfast items over American breakfast items.) Give me some wonton noodle soup or a dosa masala any day over ham and eggs. Apple cinnamon oatmeal? Blech! I want pan-fried pork dumplings, dammit!

2. Many years ago, in my youth, I was on the Playboy Channel.

3. Even though I'm very dog centric (at least when it comes to my dogs) I'm really a cat person.

4. I think that I may be in a segment of Jackass: Number Two.

5. If I could live my life over again, I would choose to be a dancer or a tenor sax player. I would probably suck at both.

6. I hated Firenze (Florence).

Bonus: my paternal grandfather was a stoner.

Here are the rules - Each player of this game starts with the "6 Strange Things about You." People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says 'you are tagged' in their comments and tell them to read your blog!

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Sad Farewell: Kuala Lumpur

Below, a photo of what was the best dish in Southern California: Wonton Curry Laksa. A wonderful Malaysian coconut curry soup which delights all of your senses and tastebuds. The laksa is a curry paste that is usually made from onion, ginger, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, chiles, candlenuts, coriander (not fresh although I think that I may have seen recipes that call for cilantro roots), paprika, and cumin, but there are probably as many laksa recipes as there are cooks. The curry paste mixed with broth and coconut milk produces something tart, salty, sour, sweet, rich, tangy, and creamy all at once - in other words divoon! The Wonton Laksa at Kuala Lumpur is served with thin rice noodles (but I always ask for the thick rice noodles), bean sprouts, Chinese broccoli, fried tofu puffs, and those wonderful wontons.

A close up of the wontons. I've been eating this dish for over ten years and love the wontons. The wontons are filled with shrimp and pork and they are seasoned with something that gives them just this wonderful flavor of funk. I just can't describe it; it's like a good funk like truffles, not too funky like natto.

I was so depressed to learn that one of my favorite restaurants, Kuala Lumpur in Pasadena, was going to close at the end of December. Kuala Lumpur was a staple of the Old Town Pasadena restaurant scene and a big favorite of Jonathan Gold's. I made three final treks up there in December with many different foodies and these photos memoralize some of the dishes that we had indulged in.

I don't know why I didn't eat here everyday - the food was so damn good! I liked this place better than Little Malaysia in El Monte although LM makes these really good fresh fruit Slurpee-like drinks that can't be beat. The cooking at Little Malaysia is a little greasier and a little funkier (they use pig's blood in a lot of their recipes.)

Below, the refreshing Chendol. It's a sugar syrup and coconut milk drink with green "worms" that are made out of green pea flour - the worms are sweet and taste like candy.

Below, a curry puff. A deep fried turnover stuffed with curry flavored ground beef. Excellent! We inhaled them so quickly that I forgot to take a picture when they first came out of the kitchen.

Below, KL Mein. This was also referred to as "midnight noodles." In other words the type of noodles that you order on the street in the early hours after a long hard night of drinking. Noodles stir fried with shrimp, chicken, cabbage, green onions, and the thick Malaysian soy sauce.

Below, Mee Rebus, another famous Malay street food. A sweet potato curry sauce atop egg noodles with chicken, shrimp, hard boiled egg, bean sprouts, cucumber, and garnished with lime and chili sauce.

Below, the regular Curry Laksa sans wontons. This version had shrimp and chicken in it and rice vermicelli as opposed to the thick rice noodles that I always request.

Below, deep fried shrimp with a sweet chili sauce. I've been eating at Kuala Lumpur for over ten years and never ordered these but they seem to be very popular since most tables were ordering the dish.

Below, the Spicy Wonton Soup. At my last meal there, I just went straight for those funky wontons! This dish is a lighter version of the Wonton Laksa, more broth than coconut milk.

Below, another favorite dish of mine, Hainanese Chicken. It's a steamed chicken breast covered in Malaysian soy and fried shallots and served with a ginger garlic rice. Simple, delicious, and light.

Below, the standard Beef Rendang. This is stewed beef in a wonderful curry sauce served with coconut rice.

I spoke with the owner of Kuala Lumpur just before it closed and he said that he was going to take a break for a couple of months and then decide if he wants to start looking for a new space in Pasadena. I sure hope that he does because I don't know if I could go through life without eating anymore Wonton Laksa!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Gourmet or Gourmand? Part Deux

This is Pepper (maybe I should change his name [again] to Rasputin). Pepper likes to eat to eat things that are inappropriate, for a dog at least.

The culinary adventures of Pepper continues. What praytell has Pepper eaten lately? My spaghetti al tartufo that I received for Xmas; a bag of flour; a box of powdered sugar (I still can't get that damned stuff off of my kitchen floor!); two boxes of thank you cards; a two pound bag of raw basmati rice (Chyna was a co-conspirator on this one - don't ask me how I know); more Calabrian chile peppers; a box of food coloring (yes, it does stain your floors); a bag of frozen pelmeni; many packages of tortillas; a package of dried soba noodles; three calendars that I bought as gifts for Xmas (with the replacement gifts that I had to buy I should have just given him a hundred dollar bill to chew up!); and the list goes on and on.

The problem is that Pepper knows how to open my pantry doors. I tie them closed but sometimes I forget and he takes advantage. I'm really grateful that he hasn't learned how to open the fridge yet.

So, Dear Reader, the question is is Pepper a Gourmet or a Gourmand?