A Malaysian Blog about Food, Family and Friends – by Lyrical Lemongrass
I had arrived early at our meeting point at La Risata, and none of my friends were in sight. We had planned to eat Korean that night at a restaurant in Ampang, near La Risata. I called Paprika to find out where she was. “Ummmm, there’s been a change of plans…..we’re eating at La Risata instead,” she said. Okayyyyy. The restaurant was already bustling with patrons despite it being a weekday night in a relatively quiet part of Ampang. Boo turned up first, then Paprika and Hunky.
“I’m in labour,” Paprika said, in a slow and even tone.
What??” I exclaimed, having seen one too many ER scenes on television. ”Shouldn’t we rush you to a hospital??”
“It’s okay,” she replied, “we will finish dinner first, then go to the hospital.”
And so we ate and laughed and ate some more.
Little baby Biskit was born the next day.
Best of all, I’m a Junior Godmother! (Thank you, Paprika!)
We remember events….people….stories….smells….tastes. Restaurants are just vehicles for memories to take place. It was by no means my first visit to La Risata since the refurbishment and menu change this year. In fact, I was at La Risata a couple of month earlier on the invitation of its proprietor and my friend, Lissa. For a halal restaurant, this one trumps many other Italian restaurants which are not similarly restricted by the choice of ingredients. The owners are constantly involved in the running of the restaurant and in the menu selection, and their perseverance and passion is reflected in the output. I generally dislike eating pizza, but at La Risata, I devour the pizza. My favourite is the thin crusted Pizza D’Anatra, lightly covered with smoked duck, anchovies, caramelised onions, rocket and mozarella. The buttery aroma drives me crazy. Another favourite at La Risata is the gnocchi. Gnocchi is typically served in a sauce-based dish, but at La Risata, there is a special gnocchi dish called Gnocchi Ai Gamberi where the little potato dumplings are sauteed with prawns and herb butter. The texture is both bouncy and slighty crusty. Lissa tempted me once with a dish that was off the menu – crab ravioli. I’ll never forgive her for introducing that dish to me because I am haunted by memories of that experience – the crab meat had been cooked and extracted earlier, then sealed in the ravioli and cooked in a buttery sauce scented with sage. It’s a labour intensive dish – one that can’t be whipped up in an instant, and Lissa refuses to use any of the canned stuff in her ravioli, so I shall have to just live with the memory until it fades away in ten, maybe twenty years.
Penne Con Gamberi E Pesto – Tube pasta with prawn & basil pesto sauce. My experience with this dish has been inconsistent. My first time was a reasonably thick pesto sauce which clung to the pasta, my second was a watery dish that appeared to be hurriedly prepared.
Sicilian Bombe – Meringue covered liquored sponge filled with lemon cream flambéed with brandy – cold on the inside & hot on the outside. A dessert reminiscent of my distant childhood where Bomb Alaskas were the vogue.
There is nothing avant-garde about the food at La Risata. The food is traditional and familiar, and that’s not a bad thing when one wants to just chill out with friends over wine and good, well-prepared food. Judging from the many patrons whom Lissa recognises from years back, La Risata houses many memories, not just mine.
La Risata (Ampang)
16 Pesiaran Ampang
55000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-4252 6269
La Risata (Damansara)
128 Jalan Kasah
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2095 9572
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.