Malaysian cuisine, Argentine rose

I once had to spend 2 weeks in the (then) charming sleepy little beachside town of Georgetown in the Penang Peninsula of Malaysia waiting for my Thai visa. I had inadvertently flown into Thailand without a visa and they would only let me stay a few days without one so off I trekked with my traveling companion to the nearest Thai consulate, which just happened to be across the southern border of Thailand in Malaysia. There wasn’t much to do at the time but lay on the beach and eat. Every night we looked forward to the night market. After a long hard day lazing around the beach, it was the only thing that could refresh us for the next day’s beach tanning session. I loved those Asian night markets and the night markets of Georgetown were culinary Alice in Wonderland type scenarios. Various strange fishes and rice and noodle concoctions. Malaysian cuisine is a melange of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Eurasian influences.  Mee Goreng, fish in spicy chili, sweet and sour crab legs, so many variations of veggies, noodles, rice, fish and meat. That was probably some of the best eating of my life but sadly after that experience, I never really had the chance to eat Malaysian food again. Until the other night. Rushing down Holland Park Rd, I was late for the launch of the Malaysian Kitchen passport at Kiasu (a restaurant in Bayswater) which translated means “afraid to be second best.” They strive to be as authentic as possible, making everything from scratch each day and sourcing their ingredients as freshly as possible, even going so far as to import what they can’t source here. Let me tell you, the food is incredibly spicy and tasty. A fantastic meal! I missed some of the starters but what I did have was very authentic. Malay chicken satay, special fried calamari – not rubbery at all, and stir fried radish cakes were some of the starters I was able to sample....

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And now for something a little different… Argentine pinot noir, Torino ’08

I don’t know what it is but recently whether knowingly or not, I’ve been encountering organic wine everywhere. I was out to dinner with fellow wineblogger, Sarah of Wine90, the other night and she spotted an Argentine pinot noir on the wine list. Now I know Chilean pinot noir’s quite well, even had some very good stuff from Cono Sur  the other day but Argentina is not my go-to place for South American pinot so it was with a bit of hesitation that I agreed to order it. The Michel Torino vineyards are located in the northeastern province of Salta, in the foothills of the Andes.  The vineyards are some of the highest in the world, over 1700 m above sea level, nestled in the Cafayate Valley. The vineyards get over 350 days of sunshine a year but because of the altitude there are plenty of cool breezes to cool down the grapes and because it is isolated on all sides by desert, it makes the region virtually free of viruses and pests, enabling Michel Torino to practice organic wine production. They’ve been certified organic since 2006. So I ordered the Michel Torino 2008 ‘Coleccion’ Pinot Noir. It certainly was like no other pinot noir I’ve had before. It wasn’t bad at all, as a matter of fact, it was very well made but it certainly wasn’t what we were expecting. It was quite an intense deep ruby colour. I thought it was smooth but medium bodied whilst Sarah thought it was more medium to full bodied. We both agreed that there wasn’t much of a nose, I got some minerality, loads of rocks and dirt but not much fruit. I was really trying hard but just didn’t get much and neither did Sarah. The taste however was some intense berry flavours coming out of the glass. Dark berries, blueberries, berries,berries, berries! I was diggin the intensity of the fruit. The finish was toasty and nutty and I even detected a bit of dark cholocate. Nice balance of acidity kept it from being an overblown fruitbomb. For me, it didn’t have...

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