Adam Lambert Glamnation Tour Malaysia 2010

Earning... October 7th, 2010

I gotta admit it, I am not a huge fan of Adam Lambert throughout the first half of American Idol. It was only when he appeared on stage with that Elvis Presley look, I started to like him and was hoping that he would win the competition. I would pay to see him in that look and sing his heart out again.

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And what did you know? He’s coming to Malaysia and having a concert of his own at Putra Indoor Stadium at Bukit Jalil on October 14. Hooray! The venue is only five minutes away from my place. Brought to you by Live by DiGi, Marctensia and Sony Music Malaysia, the Glam God is set to blow your mind away with his powerful vocals, shinny costumes and probably enough disco lights to blind you. :P

Luckily, I managed to get my hands on a ticket in the Rock Zone and will be rocking (hopefully without breaking my back) with some other bloggers that night. It is still not too late to buy the tickets and you can do so by visiting TicketPro.

And if you bought your tickets already, you are entitled to a 10% discount off for Adam Lambert’s latest CD ‘For Your Entertainment – Tour Edition’ album, which includes four bonus track, a bonus DVD containing stripped performances, AOL live sessions and making of the video ‘If I Had You’.

Well, for those who have already bought the album, lucky you, you can buy the tickets at 10% discount off too! So, fret not! It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

So, will I be seeing you there next Thurday?

Serai @Empire, Empire Shopping Gallery

Eating... October 4th, 2010

Together with Sidney of Big Boys Oven, we made ourselves comfortable by settling down at a long table towards the back of Serai @Empire, awaiting for the food tasting to begin after some formalities.

Located at the ground floor of Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya, the restaurant looked rather small from the outside. It maybe small but it is quite cozy and relaxing (not sure about during rush/peak hours), with adequate lighting for that warmth and at-home feel.

One half of the shop lot is allocated for non-smokers where tables are arranged a little too close to each other while the kitchen and bar took up the other half. At the back of the shop lot is the smoking area where there are more tables and dinners can dine in more comfortably and have a wee bit more privacy.

The coffee table book menu is a nice touch; with at least two (up to four) pictures of dishes printed on the right side of the book to capture your attention.

If you didn’t notice, our eyes tend to scan the right pages first only then the left sides. Hence, advertisements in newspaper are generally on the right side, probably more expensive too. Flip a copy of The Star and count the number of advertisements that appear on the right side of the paper to test my theory.

I had Frosty Tamarind (RM8.50), refreshing but nothing out of the world.

There were other drinks served but pictures didn’t turn out great, so…

I also had a glass of Serai @Empire’s signature drink, Serai Iced Tea (RM10.50) that came with a scoop of lemon sorbet and a strong but not overpowering taste of lemon grass.

Minted Calamansi Soda (RM8.50), wasn’t mine.

For starters, we had our national food, chicken and beef satay (half dozen for RM16), served with handful of onions, cucumbers and nasi impit. The owners claimed they were the suppliers for satay during the F1s or some other motor sports events. While I can’t verify that, the satay, especially the beefs, were really good.

Serai Platter (RM25) is their signature dish, featuring steamed rice (with hint of lemon grass) served with honey squid, fresh acar, oxtail asam pedas and spiced fried chicken.

I liked the rice, a lot. The rice was soft, fluffy and didn’t clump together. It also had this shinny coating around each grain, which I suspected was due to the added coconut milk but according to the owner, it wasn’t and as of writing this post, I can’t recall what is the “secret” ingredient.

Honey squid was yummy but the chicken was a little overcooked, hardened but I reckon most ayam goreng berempah are like that. The owner claimed that the chicken is first marinated overnight, steamed before being deep fried ala Indonesian styled.

Middle Eastern Medley a.k.a Moroccan lamb shank wasn’t my favourite as the tomato based sauce was a tad too sourish for my liking. Upside was the meat was so tender that you won’t need a knife but a spoon to “cut” the meat out from the big ass bone.

The rice was really fragrant, especially when it’s served piping hot and sweet raisins among the rice were a delightful taste every now and then; served with cucumber raita and Turkish relish.

Crispy Skinned Salmon (RM35) could very well be my favourite for its pan seared to perfection salmon, lightly battered and deep fried potato cake. Salmon (probably one of the three types of fish I actually enjoy eating) and potato cake, how could you not like that? I am a fan of both ingredients, if you didn’t know.

The piece of salmon was served with sautéed asparagus, crisp bread with roasted capsicum dip. It was the first dish that I whacked everything, down right to the asparagus. Yums! However, the piece of salmon could have been bigger considering I am paying a whopping RM35 for a piece of white meat.

By the time we dug into Spicy Thai Rice (RM15), it was all cold and the shrimp paste smell and flavour were long gone. The rice, shaped like a stunted pyramid, is served with minced chicken, egg omelette, fresh acar and fried anchovies; mixed all the ingredients up and you are good to go.

Steamed Fish with Lime Sauce (market price) was something new to me. Instead of using asam, the chefs at Serai @Empire steamed the fish together with freshly squeezed lime (Not some bottled lime juice or flavouring, mind you.) for the sourness; bringing out and enhancing the natural sweetness of a fresh fish. As the fire continues to burn, the broth would get better/sourer but do watch out as it would get really sour and “murky” after sometime. There were bits of cili padi for that extra kick too.

Interesting usage of lime in a simple dish like steamed fish.

We had four desserts and the first one was Pistachio Creme Brulee (RM15), served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Honestly, I didn’t like it, not a single bit. While the idea of improvising plain old but classic dessert is a good thing and worth encouraging, I am not sure if pistachio is a good ingredient to start with. I would go for the vanilla flavoured custard creme brulee with caramelized top and served really really cold anytime.

Pandan Banana Fritters (RM13) is the most common snack food during afternoon tea and the chefs used pandan flavoured batter to fry the bananas and drizzled pandan extract, made by pounding pandan leaves, on top of the fritters. It did smell very pandan-ish but I wouldn’t say there’s a huge difference compared to the usual pisang goreng. It is also served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I really like the Chocolate Lava Cake (RM15), served with yet another scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s not too sweet (the cake) and bitter (melted dark chocolate inside the cake). Definitely can’t go wrong and for chocolate lovers, you should not miss this dessert.

My favourite dessert from Serai @Empire that won my heart is none other than their Pavlova. The moment I had the first mouthful, I was secretly hoping that they would bring out another slice, just for me but alas, that didn’t happen. :(

Pavlova (RM14), listed under selection of cakes of the day, is a dessert consisting of a meringue base (or cup) filled with fruit and whipped cream. It was soft, fluffy, airy and literally melted inside my mouth. The sweetness from the grape and sourness from the strawberry diluted the yucky whipped cream taste and everything just complimented each other so well that I couldn’t wait to have my second helping.

I was even tempted to buy myself two slices home but my wallet didn’t allow me.

It is said that the desserts are baked daily by the owner’s sister or something like that. I wasn’t sure because I wasn’t paying attention to the conversations but tucking in and enjoying my food.

All in all, the main courses had more hits than misses (A quick search on Google revealed that some said their Nasi Ambang and Nasi Kerabu are quite good too!) and their desserts, particularly the Pavlova, was nothing but outstanding. Items are priced moderately and definitely affordable for most college students and working adults.

Will I return? Definitely.

Now, can someone please deliver a few slices of Pavlova to me? And did I mention all the waiters are actually part time models model liked? They are all so tall, good looking handsome and soft spoken. No, I’m not gay.

LG37, Empire Shopping Gallery,
Jalan SS16/1, 47500 Subang Jaya.
Tel: 03-56370706

Three Photographers, One Objective

Expressing... September 29th, 2010

I bought my new lens alright, but it stayed inside the box for the entire week before I had the time to bring it out for a “spin”. Exam was just around the corner and I had to set my priorities right.

Together with my trusted gears, I joined Shutter God, Robin Wong‘s weekly shutter therapy with the objective of familiarizing myself with the lens. Since I was already at it, I invited my friend, Ivy Soon to tag along, hoping that she too could learn a thing or two from Shutter God himself.

First thing first, breakfast at an old Punjabi restaurant, Jai Hind along Jalan Melayu, that is said to serve really awesome chappati and other traditional Punjabi food.

I like my chappati fresh and hot from the stove, not cold. Big boo-boo! It was served with three types of curry, dhal, chicken curry and one cooked with chick and green peas. Not a big fan of chick and green peas but surprisingly, it tasted pretty good.

We also had a Punjabi snack called Pakora, served with a few spoons of chutney. It is made using ingredients such as onion, eggplant, potato, spinach, cauliflower, tomato and/or chili and dipped in a batter of gram flour and then deep fried.

This dessert, Ras Malai had a texture like grated coconut and is paneer soaked in malai (clotted cream) flavored with cardamom. It was really refreshing and delicious due to its sweetness and served chilled.

After a simple but satisfying breakfast, our street photo shoot began.

Unlike Robin, both Ivy and I aren’t really into street but food photography. On top of that, it was our first time hitting the streets. I didn’t know what I wanted from this photo walk so I snapped whatever I saw, hoping that something would prevail when I got back home later.

This isn’t exactly the right way to kick start a photo shoot (read: concept, idea and visualization) but since it was my first (and hopefully not the last), I kept an eye shut. Naturally, I came back with more food related photos than photos of the streets. :-|

We started from Masjid Jamek and ended at Chow Kit area. Perhaps it was still early, there wasn’t any crowd and most business operators just arrived and about to start setting up their stalls/business.

To be honest, I picked up photography not because I was interested in it but because I knew I needed a better camera than the 2.0MP Sony Cybershot U-20 if I ever wanted to put up better photos on my blog.

If you looked at the food pictures I took like five years ago, you would probably wonder what the hell I was thinking when I decided to put that picture in my blog. :-|

The interest came at a much later stage and even so, photography is more of a money making, ironically, also a money spending tool than hobby to me.

Instead of doing portraits or so called model photo shoot on weekly basis like most photographers these days, I only practiced my photography skills during events, press conference, grand openings, launching, presentations and etc. aka journalism work and during meal times.

Despite holding the camera for more than two years now, what I know and understand about photography is very little, if not, nil. I only learned some of the skills that I knew would be useful to me and tend to ignore the rest that I know I won’t be using or not that useful to me, for example, wireless flash photography.

I am a rather practical person; you can also say that I am not exactly a very hardworking photographer but the least I can do is to deliver usable pictures. Heh!

On the other hand, Robin Wong is a very dedicated photographer. He would try to understand every thing inside out before hitting the field to put his theory and understandings to test. He would probably spent 30 minutes at one spot and go great length just to capture that one shot whereas I would spend three seconds to get a shot and move on.

When he’s at the field, he would abuse his camera down right to every single component and squeeze out whatever power he could to get the shot he wanted. If you want your dSLR to break down, just loan it to him for three months. :P

Ivy is my boss, my good friend, my teacher and also, allow me to say this, sometimes, my student. She teaches me loads of stuffs on writing, journalism and food while I share my little knowledge about photography with her and trying my best in guiding her to be a better photographer than she already is.

Unlike Robin and I, Ivy doesn’t have a good grasp on the more technical side of photography and probably have to flip the manual to activate a particular function deep inside the menu. She could well understand shutter speed and aperture by themselves, but throw in ISO, exposure, white balance, metering and/or any combinations of the aforementioned, she would be lost.

However, she has some of the advantages that I totally lacked of, i.e: creativity, composing the picture (especially in food photography) and food styling; in other words, the “eye” for good pictures. And we all know how creativity can make or break a good photo.

Have you ever have that feeling where the photographer aren’t willing to share the setups or knowledge on how to capture a certain photo, afraid that you end up shooting a better or more stunning version of the same photo than him/her?

Do you believe in your so called mentor or sifu in passing down every knowledge or skills that he or she had acquired and perfected over the years?

As a mentor/sifu yourself, are you willing to share all your tricks so that your student/apprentice truly excels and be a better photographer than you?

Robin and I are willing to share, provided that you know your stuffs and not expecting spoon feeding. You can’t expect me to help you when you don’t even know the very basics of photography, right?

There were three very different photographers that day but all of us had the same objective and mindset, to be able to capture good photos and share what we have to offer that day.

While I have been teaching Ivy for quite some time now, I believe Robin’s inputs, advices and explanations on the technical parts of photography would provide Ivy with fresh perspective and hopefully, something good might come out from it.

It does help when you join a photo shoot with photographers whom you look highly upon. It shows you where you stand or how good/bad your skill is compare to another photographer.

And after looking at Robin’s photos of the same walk we took, I realize I have much more to learn and understand. Good thing is, I am now much more familiar with my new lens now and is beginning to get a good hold of it. However, I also realized I have problem controlling my flash and exposure/histogram.

Now, if only Robin and I can convince Yoon Onn to stop being *coughs* anti social *coughs* and join us during one of Robin’s weekly shutter therapy, it would be fun. It has been sometime since I last took photos of the same thing with him and he’s a great photographer. Not to mention, we are using the same body, Canon EOS 40D.