Sunday, 30 November 2014

Bicycling at the Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam

Recently after a long, long while, we revisited the Shah Alam Botanical Gardens or Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam (also known as the Taman Pertanian Bukit Cahaya Sri Alam) to do a bit of bicycling there. The previous times we came here, we'd missed the ornamental garden. But this time we found it, walked around it and took pictures of it from the best vantage point - the lookout tower across the lake.

It was very, very difficult to cycle on a rented bike because the one I got was very wobbly. Actually, A said my knees were wobbly, not so much the bike. Yeah, right! Maybe.

We rode up to the Taman Haiwan (Animal Park? Mini Zoo?) but were quite upset with what we saw. The birds were confined in cages too small, most of the porcupines were quite bald, only the deer had more space to roam. Do we really need to have distressed fauna in a botanical garden that needs only to emphasise on our myriad flora?

There were some 'art installations' we found, including the 'plants in denims' below. Just two of the trees/plants of note that we came across are the very tall poisonous Rengas and the colourful Eugenia oleina (alt: Syzygium campanulatum). On the whole, the gardens need to be better maintained in order to make it a major attraction.  

Note: A previous blog post on Taman Pertanian Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam is dated 20 November 2011.

Friday, 28 November 2014

MAHA 2014 @ MAEPSerdang

MAHA @ MAEPS is the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism Show at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang. I do not know the year this annual show started but it was only recently that I went there for the first time. I went with A, who was a volunteer some years ago - when she also got to meet our hero Dr. M then (as she always reminds me).

The showgrounds are spread over a huge area so visitors usually will take the free trams and buses to get to wherever their interest lie. There are the Main Exhibition Hall, Vegetable & Herb Showground, Fisheries Showground, Floriculture Showground, State Pavilions, Paddy Showground, Pineapple Showground, Livestock Showground, Machineries Showground, etc. Actually if you want to cover them all, you need to go over a few days.

We went on only one day and parked at the Laman Tiba 2 (Arrival Complex 2). We only managed to cover the Livestock Showground before taking the free bus to the Main Exhibition Hall.

The Livestock Showground exhibited an array of animals (plus a mechanical bull which provided a lot of laughs!). There were the work animals, livestock bred for food and 'fun' animals for pets (including pygmy goats, Playboy bunny rabbits, cats, guinea pigs, etc.). Two rather 'famous' cats we were charmed to meet are Ah Yen (aka Garfield, shown below with his handler/owner Ruzita of  A'sta Katz Hotel-Spa-Grooming, Cheras) and Che Mat (shown above with A and his handler/owner Khairul, Ruzita's husband). The only dog we saw (and touched) was a model search and rescue Alsatian.

At the Main Exhibition Hall area there are a number of venues of which the Dewan A Agensi Kerajaan (Hall A Government Agencies) was where we spent some time. We bought books from MARDI* and checked out the numerous exhibits of fruits and flowers. Some fruits are not familiar but they are well-labeled so I took many photos of both these and the beautiful orchids on display, which I will put up later in another blog post.

We also went to another (International) Exhibition Hall where among others, there were two booths set up by the Governments of Fiji and Ecuador. The Fiji booth was closed then but we spent quite a bit of time at the Ecuador booth. We discovered some interesting facts about Ecuador here and a blog post is definitely forthcoming.

*MARDI is the Malaysian Agricultural Research & Development Institute.
26 November 2014

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Landmarks of Selangor: Menara Mesiniaga

Whenever I take the Federal Highway from Shah Alam to Kuala Lumpur and vice versa, this particular landmark stands out when in the Petaling Jaya/Subang Jaya stretch. In fact even while driving, I cannot help stealing glances at this architectural wonder that won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1995.

The Menara Mesiniaga (office of Business Machines Pte Ltd) is a 14-storey circular tower built in 1992. This 'most unconventional' and 'high-tech corporate showcase' was designed by architect Ken Yeang who espouses a 'green' philosophy in his work.

Among the design features are the vertical landscaping, and the incorporation of low-energy features that are ideal for our tropical climate.

Friday, 21 November 2014

SA Garden Catalogue: Curry Leaf

Scientific name:Murraya koenigii
Family: Rutaceae/Citrus
Common name: Curry leaf
Origin: India to Indochina

The Murraya koenigii or Curry leaf plant is very useful to have in your (kitchen) garden. It is a small tree or shrub with leaves smelling strongly of curry when crushed, hence its use in curries. Pardon me for stating the obvious! The leaves are pinnate, consisting of 4-11 pairs of leaflets. It grows well in full or partial sun, in a container or in the ground. You can propagate the Curry leaf plant by root cutting or seeds.

I have a few Curry leaf plants in my front yard garden, two in containers and a small tree on the ground. Another container in the backyard also has little plants but I am guilty of neglecting them so they are fighting for survival with some Dukung anak weeds. By the way, caterpillars love the Curry leaves. But not to worry because these little creatures still leave you a lot (of leaves) to cook your curries.

The weather in November is still wet and wet, but there are sunny periods in between the thundershowers. Our East coast state of Trengganu has been experiencing heavy floods in some areas.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

PickNik @ Publika, Solaris Dutamas

When you are in Publika, Solaris Dutamas (Kuala Lumpur), don't forget to Pick Nik. I mean, have a gourmet meal at PickNik Comfort Food Cafe. This Cafe will be celebrating its second anniversary come 18 November, but it was only recently that we got to dine there. I had been goading the family to go check it out earlier but I don't know why we took soo long to discover this culinary gem.

Lucky for us, when we got there, Chef Nik Michael Imran was in and ready to cook up a storm in his open kitchen. I like the concept of the open kitchen. You can watch while your meal is being cooked. We sat at the bar in front of the kitchen and believe me, here the seats are dangerous! Because when you see all the delicious concoctions being whipped up in front of you, and by a celebrity chef no less, you will want to savour them all! Pasta fresh from the frying pan and meats hot from the grill straight on to your plate. Everything looks simply yummy and you'll feel that you are in food heaven.

Chef Nik Michael's dad and GM of PickNik, Dato Nik Ezar also came by with his two lovely daughters. Being first-timers, we asked for the Chefs' recommendation as to what we should eat. We ended up satiating ourselves with some really delectable and mouth-watering food.

#1. Succulent Lamb cutlet with Korean sauce           #2.Very tasty Truffle Olio Duck

#3. The most comforting Stracciatella                        #4. Gorgeous Squid ink pasta

#5. Delicious desserts of Crepe Suzette                      and # 6. Scrumptious Pavlova

I am a pasta lover and my favourite eatery for this has been Italiannies. But from now on, I think PickNik will be the place for my pasta fix. Mamma mia!


Monday, 10 November 2014

The Roti Man

The Roti man or the roti seller on a motorbike, serves a most useful purpose, bringing bread and other like goodies to our neighbourhoods. He is a most eagerly waited person when he does his rounds of the housing estates, especially by children.

Person of the Year? Yes, NST columnist Johan Jaaffar voted the roti seller 'Person of the Year 2013'. Why? Because he was the only one who was compassionate enough to stop and help an accident victim while others were just busily snapping pictures!

I don't know the name of the Roti seller Person of the Year 2013 but the above is a snapshot of another roti seller, Encik Baharudeen, who obligingly posed for my camera. Tqvm.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Eating Out in SA: ROA Jovian Mandagie

A designer's restaurant recently opened in Shah Alam, Section 7. The ROA by Jovian Mandagie is the Malaysian branch of ROA in Indonesia. This eatery serves Manadonese food which is generally fiery hot. ROA takes its name from the roa (in Manadonese) or gar fish (ikan todak in Malay), the symbol/logo of this restaurant. Not surprisingly, the signature dish Roa Saos is that of the gar fish.

A bit about Manado; it is the capital city of the North Sulawesi province of Indonesia. It is also the epicentre of eco-tourism in Sulawesi.

Most of the dishes are hot, hot, hot PEDAS! So for my solo maiden visit, I chose to eat the Nasi Goreng which has gar fish as an ingredient. You also get a fried egg and a piece of Ayam Rica Rica. Verdict? Quite nice. For dessert I had Kue Brot Goreng, a bit like the doughnut but with sweet coconut filling.

During a subsequent visit with a family member, we had rice and Roa Saos (very, very spicy hot!), Ayam Rabe Rica, Ayam Tuturaga, Udang Woku, and Toge Buncis Cah. For dessert we shared a rather delicious Klapertart.

Would we dine here again? Yes, because the ambiance is good (hey, it is a designer's eatery after all) and it is in a most convenient location for us. As in property, so even food is also about location, location, location! Because we are not really foodies who would go all out to find good food in obscure places. Ces't la vie!

P. S. You can learn the Manadonese language while you select your dishes. The board behind the food display unit teaches you some words like 

Makaseh... thank you!