NOT a food blog
I love storytelling. I remember being 7 years old, standing up in front of a fidgety audience of 7 to 9 year olds in school and giving them my best reading of Red Riding Hood. I was clueless as to why I was doing it; all that mattered was that I enjoyed being caught up in this world of make-believe. I’d write stories in brand new exercise books, fill them with my own illustrations, and hide them in my drawer far away from my parents’ prying eyes.
I love storytelling. I get my best ideas for my blog when I’m doing my daily commute from home to office, soothed into a reverie by inspiring music stored in my iPhone. I discovered recently, among Bald Eagle’s stash, the soundtrack for Avenue Q, and I have been playing it twice daily, 7 days a week for several weeks now. The music’s uplifting, but unfortunately provides very little inspiration for my blog. With songs like I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today, Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist and The Internet Is For Porn, it’s hard to translate that to child-friendly posts on this child-friendly blog. And so I am hopelessly useless today, short of telling everyone that the internet is for porn…the internet is for porn…grab your dick and double click for porn, porn, porn…
On the other hand, there’s this thing called food porn….
Casbah. To be honest, I loathed the idea of MO’s replacement of Pacifica with a restaurant that served mezze and tapas from the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and Spain. Pacifica was in a league of its own with its fresh seafood, luxuriant decor and sheer curtains offering privacy for the romantic and delectable seafood to the ravenous. It wasn’t so much my dislike for any particular cuisine, but more a case of my affinity to Pacifica for sentimental reasons.
But I visited Casbah anyway upon the persuasion of a foodie friend and mostly because I had the MO Elite Club card with its 50% discount trappings. (However, as fate would have it, our friend, Cheryl, Director of Communications at MO, happened to be there and footed the entire bill. Thanks, Cheryl!)
I was told that the cocktails at Casbah were to die for, and ordered one called Magic Mo Kool Berry Bliss. Kool? Really? As it turned out, it was a theatrical masterpiece, a cocktail made of childhood memories and adult realities. The irony is strong here as the fluffy cotton candy floss dissolved right before my eyes in a harsh pool of vodka, cranberry and lemon. It was a good cocktail.
The food is segregated into five broad categories: small plates (vegetarian) with prices ranging from RM12 to RM25, small plates (meat) – RM15 to RM39, small plates (fish and seafood) – RM25 to RM35, large plates – RM45 to RM248, and sweet treats – RM12 to RM18. Dining is meant to be communal and tables are small enough to offer intimacy.
My moderate expectations of Casbah were quashed from the beginning when I tried the grilled stirato (literally meaning “to stretch”) bread, flavoured with rosemary and topped with tomato, garlic and olive oil. Somewhat like a pizza after being stretched, it was crisp and tasty, its flavour enhanced by nothing more than the simplest of ingredients.
The Queso Fonduta (Cheese Fondue), at RM25, and an outright favourite with me, is worth ordering. The fondue is made with melted Manchego cheese. Pieces of bread and homemade chorizo are provided for dipping into the melted cheese. The chorizo is unfortunately not pork, but its absence will only be mildly felt.
The freshly made baklava also stands out here. In fact, I could hardly fault any of the dishes that I tried that night. Even the most ordinary of the dishes, patata harra (fried potatoes with garlic, summac and labneh) was finger lickin’ good. Perhaps MO has found its groove after all.
Casbah at Mandarin Oriental
Kuala Lumpur City Centre, KL
Tel: 03-2380 8888
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.