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Friday September 14, 2012

Go on, indulge yourself

Eat, drink and be merry with these culinary delights.

THERE are a number of food items that bring to mind Ipoh as soon as they are mentioned: white coffee, kuey teow soup, bean sprout chicken, pork satay and pomelo. But gourmet food? There’s unlikely to be an immediate connection with the city.

<b>Kitchen creative:</b> Chef Julie Song – Mathematics graduate and one-time runway model – is featured in September’s Flavours, as are new mooncake recipes with fillings like granola and roselle. Kitchen creative: Chef Julie Song – Mathematics graduate and one-time runway model – is featured in September’s Flavours, as are new mooncake recipes with fillings like granola and roselle.

Those in the know, however, are well aware of Indulgence Restaurant & Living. The owner and chef Julie Song is a trailblazer who created Ipoh’s most experimental eatery in a huge colonial house on Jalan Raja Dihilir.

Her creative dishes draw in diners from within the country and beyond, including Singapore’s former Prime Minister and now senior minister Lee Kuan Yew. Luminaries whom she has met in her culinary career adorn the walls of Indulgence, which houses the restaurant downstairs and a boutique hotel upstairs.

Song graces the cover of Flavours this month, and she is certainly a worthy personality to feature in the country’s premier food and lifestyle magazine.

The self-taught chef has won numerous international accolades and prestigious standing, including as designated chef for Malaysia Airlines’ Chef-On-Call programme.

Flavours takes readers on Song’s journey from Mathematics graduate and runway model to culinary innovator who has created a niche in her hometown (Hint: It started around the mahjong table!). Along with her story, Song provides two lovely recipes for heirloom tomato salad and hibiscus almond cake.

Like Song, well-known international chef Ken Hom too started his career from humble beginnings. Credited as the person who introduced Chinese cooking to Britain, the American-born chef tells Flavours what he likes about Malaysian food and how sophisticated food in China has become.

In conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Festival on Sept 30, mooncakes are featured in the magazine. In the Wellness section, readers are reminded to enjoy these sweetmeats in moderation because of their high calorie, sugar and fat content.

It is advised that this indulgence be tempered with other healthier foods commonly eaten during the festival, such as pomelo, persimmon, water caltrop and baby taro.

There are five recipes for those interested in making their own mooncakes. Instead of the traditional lotus seed paste and salted egg yolks, these mooncakes have unconventional fillings like granola, pomegranate, Roselle and kaffir lime leaves.

Duck is another ingredient that is featured in the magazine. While many people think of it as fatty, a nutritionist talks about the health benefits of the meat. Several recipes are given for those interested in cooking duck.

Of course, there are plenty of reviews of eateries, especially in the Klang Valley. Home cooking can be savoured at three restaurants that have built their business on family recipes. Poached chicken rice lovers have a choice of five places to go to for the fix and if Japanese food takes your fancy, you can find it all in one “street” in Pavilion KL.

In Food News, read about how the students of HELP College of Arts and Technology took the bak chang (pork rice dumpling) and reinterpreted it as a rendang dumpling. There’s also an item about a healthy pizza fortified with seaweed and red peppers that won the Best New Idea award at a recent food trade show.

Food trends around the world are also covered. These include vegetables as the new stars of cooking and a move away from molecular gastronomy.

The Travel section takes readers to the happiest place on earth, Bhutan, where chilli and yak cheese are prominent ingredients in its cuisine – visitors either love the food or hate it.

The September issue of Flavours is currently available at all good newsagents and bookstores nationwide. Flavours is owned by Star Publications (M) Bhd.

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