I adore these minimen jewellery that Frédérique Conte has created. I stumbled upon these when I clicked on a link to Howkapow, a wonderful online design shop which sells many other lovely things including Lucy’s graphic scarves (which is how I came upon this gem). Seeing as summer is on the horizon and I am feeling it particularly more as I’m away in Kuala Lumpur where temperatures are well above 30° C, I have found the swimmers collection rather refreshing and the humour in these designs uplifting (check Nikki about to go skinny dipping!). I tried to find more information on the designer all I could find out is the little write up on the Howkapow website. Shops like Tombée du Camion do sell minimen like these. Guy and I are off to Langkawi soon and I cannot wait to be splish sploshing soon!
Quite simply, no trip back to KL is quite complete without a stop in Chinatown or Petaling Street as it is known. I spent many years’ worth of weekdays in this area. My mum used to send us to Mandarin lessons which we took in the back of a Chinese temple every day, after our daily school lessons. The classes were held in the back of the temple, up a flight of stairs. There were 3 rooms, where the lessons were taught. Walking through the temple you will have to go through huge incense hanging from the ceiling and there were always some homeless people begging for money right at the entrance. I hated learning Mandarin, so for me the lessons were an opportunity to make the temple our playground.
On Tuesday night, Augusta and I went to Petaling Street. Our friend Bassi had requested some mirrored wayfarers, so we went to hunt some down. After walking around and finding some bargains, we stopped for a little snack at Kim Lian Kee. This little corner shop has been around since the late 20s. It has not been modernised much and remains pretty much a modest outfit. This is Malaysian street food after all! We shared a plate of Hokkien mee/meehoon. I’ve eaten here several times before, and was happy to find that the noodles were still good in this KL institution.
We were thirsty and ordered one of the best thirst quenchers ever- kalamansi lime juice with asamboi. Kalamansi limes are a special variety of limes. They are tiny, but packed with flavour, a little explosion of sweet and sour. The juice of kalamansi limes with a couple of asamboi (preserved salted plums or saladitos) = flavoursome thirst quenching drink. It’s a drink that packs a flavourful punch, satisfying almost all the different tastebuds. Palate Palette, which is one of my favourite places in KL does an alcoholic version of this drink with your choice of Vodka or Rum. It’s pretty, pretty, pretty good.
It’s been very hot in KL this few weeks and when the weather leaves you all sweaty, nothing is as nice as some ice-cold juicy watermelon. When walking around Little Korea in Ampang on Friday, my friend Kio and I were excited to find a watermelon ice lolly. Fashioned like a watermelon slice, this ice lolly was made so realistic it even had seeds scattered all over.
This popsicle looked so good, it reminded me of a jumper I’ve had my eye on and keep meaning to buy. The handknitted jumped is from Dudua based in funtime Barcelona!
A quick research also led me to quite a few fruitwear (footwear) watermelon-inspired designs. These include socks from artist/designer Baron von Fancy , and at least 3 models of trainers/sneakers that Mike Perry had customised in watermelon including Nikes and Vans. Funnily enough Vans also released the watermelon themed collection for Spring/Summer 2009, giving Van fans quite a few different cuts of the fruit to wear.
Keep is also offering watermelon fans plimsolls that will hopefully keep feet fresh all day. I like the use of colour in their offering. Slightly more subtle than the crazy Vans version although I must admit I love the green soles.
The watermelon is a striking fruit. So round and so green with such vermillion flesh, dotted with black seeds. It’s no surprise that designers find it an inspirational fruit. This morning I had some watermelon with salt for breakfast and when I am back home, I will probably be digging out my copy of Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar to read again.
The thing I love most about KL is the randomness and incongrous buildings that sit side by side each other. Like the Hindu temple that sits under a shopping mall called Mid Valley. Or this Chinese temple I spotted today whileI was waiting around for my sister to finish in a meeting.
This shanty temple stood out next to the highway in vermillion and had a little one-stop bike thing filled with joss sticks, statues of deities, Malaysian flags and a sack or two. I walked into the smokey interior and witnessed a ladymonk/nun going about her business on a side altar and an older man rushing around the main altar which was filled with about what seem like a thousand gods.
Note the little altar that’s been propped to the side of that tyre complete with joss stick that’d been burnt.
My uncle came over the other day with a carrier bag full of pandan leaves for my mother. He picked these leaves from his garden where his one plant has truly grown in abundance.
I remember being a kid and spending Sundays in my uncle’s coffee shop, where he would make kaya for the week. Kaya literally translates from Malay to mean rich. Like a jam, it is a spread made from coconut milk, eggs, sugar and pandan leaf juice. My sister and I would fight to hold the giant wooden spoon to stir the mixture while my uncle cracked the eggs in.
Pandan leaves emit a superfragrant smell. For this reason it is used to perfume many of my favourite dishes. Added into cooking, the kitchen is rich with the aroma. Used with coconut it enhances the taste and smell of coconut and turns food a light green colour.
Knotted and added to cooking rice with coconut milk, you get nasi lemak, Malaysia’s favourite breakfast. Juiced and marinated with chicken, then used to wrap the chicken, you get Pandan Chicken, a Thai/Malaysian dish.
Pandan as a magic ingredient does not stop at savoury food. In Asia, it is also used in making cakes. I spent this trip in Kuala Lumpur looking to buy some Pandan Layer Cake, a chilled cake, sometimes topped with dessicated coconut. Last week, I found 2 different types of layer cake. The Indonesian variety, a dense cake made of many layers and the one I love, which is chilled and is made up of layers of sponge and pandan flavoured jelly. Another favourite is kuih bangkit, a cookie that is flavoured with pandan and a staple treat during Chinese New Year. I found some being sold in Chinatown the other day and snacked on the fish-shaped cookies, pretending that it was still Chinese New Year.
Pandan leaves are available to buy from the Chinese supermarkets in the UK. I remember seeing it for sale in Pat’s Chung Ying on Leith Walk in Edinburgh. Although available to buy from the Chinese supermarkets, once I head back to London, I am going to miss seeing the many foods made with pandan on menus and in bakeries. Before I leave, I will be clutching on to some leaves and soaking in the wonderful fragrance.