NOT a food blog
Except for my dad who grew up on berries and boars on the plantations of Sungai Siput, the rest of us in the family have had less than solid stomachs. The whole family has a loyalty card at Pantai (buy 10 surgeries, free 2) and a parking lot right next to the lift reserved for the most frequent visitors. So when it came to planning a birthday dinner for mum (born in the Year of the Pig), we knew that the task was bigger than it seemed. We had to prevent another visit to Pantai at all cost as they had ceased their loyalty scheme. (They said they were losing money thanks to our last barbequed lamb fiasco.)
Nothing can go wrong with pork. As I write this, all is well at home, and their faces are still plastered with happy grins, stomachs intact. Yes, El Cerdo delivered.
We ordered a few starters and mains to share. The tomato soup with fine bits of pork was complimentary. The Jamon Serrano, basically air dried ham with slices of rockmelon (RM38 for one portion, we ordered two), was a play of salty and sweet, a little bit of country and a little bit of rock n’ roll. I embraced the flavours with the same excitement shown by my five year old nephew when he receives a hammer for a present (i.e.pure smashing ecstacy), while my mum politely smiled and said, “I thought we were going to have pork chops”.
Patience, I muttered.
I silently prayed. Please let the next item look like a pork chop.
Voila. Two servings of Iberico BBQ pork spare ribs (RM68 for one portion). Black pigs that have fed on a diet of greens and acorns along the southern border of Spain and Portugal (which basically means they’ve done a fair bit of exercising before their almost definite death at the chopping board of some spanish man with a long curly moustache) and are supposedly healthier, leaner, meaner pigs compared to the fat slobs roaming Kampung Baru Di Selatan Sana who feed on belacan and durians. And frankly, this was the best porker I had ever tasted. The pork ribs would have made a cannibal change his ways – the slightly salty, savoury marinade enhanced the juicy tender and yes, lean meat, and made the experience mindblowing. So it wasn’t a pork chop. Thankfully, mum had forgotten her mantra. We all resorted to using our fingers cavemanlike as a tribute to this wonderful animal.
It got better. Shhhhh, keep this to yourself – the waiters at El Cerdo are actually actors who didn’t get roles in RTM2’s Drama Minggu Ini. Yes, El Cerdo has its own showtime. I won’t elaborate, although many of you are probably aware of the special performance, but suffice to say that the little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home and got one helluva beating from mummy and daddy.
The skin of the suckling pig (RM215 for a whole pig) was thin and crisp, and there was quite a bit of meat to feed 7 of us even though the menu said 4. It was the best roasted suckling pig I had ever tasted. My family concurs.
The paella with seafood, chicken, chorizo and pork (RM88) was an excellent tummy filler. The rice was cooked to perfection. My compliments to the chef.
And the birthday cake? It could only be Death by Chocolate from Just Heavenly – a sweet, chocolatey ending to a celebration enhanced by the sound of smashing plates and oinks. Music to my ears.
43 & 45, Changkat Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2145 0511
And while we are on the topic of birthdays, on 27 August 2007, Kenny Mah wrote me a wonderful collection of stories as a birthday gift and put it up on his blog. It was definitely a labour of love and something that touched my heart. Today, my friend turns 29. I wrote the following poem, specially for this friend who came into my life nine months ago and has refused to leave ever since. Does anyone know of a good poison?
Why you so liddat?
Why you tease me so?
You say my voice sexy
Y’mean better than Nipple Joe?
How can I forget
The first time when we met
I swear I saw the sparks
Between you and that slutty baguette!
Don’t lie, it’s true
It’s not me you want
I can’t compete
With that baked runt
Happy Birthday,my love
Embrace your age
You’re old, I know
You’re almost a sage
Your hair will grey
Your teeth will fall
When that bun leaves ya
You have my number to call
Coz our friendship lives
Got nine months mah
If babies are forever
We’re forever and ever. errr. lah
I can’t rhyme for nuts
This is disastrous
I’d better shop for cards.
At least you know I didn’t plagiarize this poem.
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.