Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Whole Hoopla on "Magic (Coffee) Beans" for Weight Loss

Apparently Congress has taken the charismatic Emmy Award-winning talk show host, Dr Mehmet Oz, to task for marketing unsubstantiated weight loss aids on his TV programme, "The Dr. Oz Show". Dr Oz has, in the meantime, acknowledged that his prior use of language about green coffee beans ("magic weight loss cure for every body type") and other supplements had been kinda "flowery".

See him get ripped hilariously apart by comedian John Oliver who has dubbed him the "snake oil man"... ... Poor Oz... ...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Purrfect Cat Cafe, Penang

A scene of overtly zealous and shrill kids prodding visibly tired and sleeping felines with sticks and attempting to grab at and carry the frazzled cats unnerved the lioness quite significantly. She glanced to her side and noticed the grim expression on the lion. She placed a hand on his lap trying to soothe his seething frustration that was threatening to boil over. He glared at the wayward parents trying to indicate his displeasure but it was kinda futile huh when the numbskulls noted but cavalierly shrugged off the icy drop in temperature. Boy, a lecture was in order... ....That got the lioness thinking... ...will a cat cafe do more harm than good if rules are not strictly enforced? Cats are not dogs. Cats are not toys. And is the customer always right?     

As if on cue, the sweet-natured felines came out to play and stretch when the screaming tykes were gone. The lion heaved a sigh of gratitude and relief.

Purrfect Cat Cafe
53 Jalan Muntri
10200 Penang, Malaysia

The White Durian at Penang Durian Festival

The Penang Durian Festival, organised annually by the Penang State Tourism Development, usually runs from 1st June to 31 July at Anjung Indah in Balik Pulau where stalls of well-known durian estates congregate to sell their prized and pungent King of Fruits. According to Mr Business Times, most of the durians that we get here in the Lion City hail from Segamat and Pahang. So it's a rare treat to tuck into good Penang-grown ones. 

"Due to the unique landscape and cooling weather in Balik Pulau, home to durian plantations in Penang, Penang-grown durians are considered to be one of the best in the world." -

In the lions' minds, a festival usually translates to a carnival-like atmosphere with exuberant performances and activities. But the only activity going on here is the slow movement of jaws. This is a relatively muted, low key and quiet affair with independent stalls scattered around the hills of Bukit Indah. Only discerning locals are well-versed in the right time to hit the stalls and know the right joints that hide a treasure trove of great quality smellies. The lions hit a major dud on the first day but serendipity stepped in and they were quickly directed by their kind friend and owner of a local coffee joint to the right stall with a handwritten scribble of a seller's hp number. This lanky cafe owner and his durian connoisseur mom have been know to eat almost RM300 worth of durians in one seating. Wow, the lions and friends gorged - to their fullest satisfaction - on premium seeds that day and the bill only came up to RM150 +. Hardcore fanatics indeed.

Yup we came for this... ...
Meanwhile, somewhere near the hotel... ...
afternoon nap beckons.

According to a local insider, the best time to head down to savour these thorny fruits is between 2 to 3pm when the supply trickles in from the plantations.

Mind-boggling variety. Famous and reputedly the best durians back home
in the Lion City like the Mao Shan Wang and D24 are treated as meh commonplace
smellies here. It's the legendary Ang Hae or Red Prawn that you've got to try in
Penang but they heard that the harvest's not too good for this variety this year.
Spot the "bad word" durian. Mrs Business Times was so tickled by the name.
Day 1: Clueless so they hit a random stall. Sob.
A weird or entirely fortunate thing happened before they chose a
durian stall. A lone guy nearby beckoned the lions and gang over to his
makeshift table without a signboard. "He doesn't look like a durian seller leh,"
noted Mr Business Times as this nameless dude struggled to pry open a
fruit for them. "He must be a resident here who just wants to share some real
good shit with fellow connoisseurs," quipped the lion. And he was right.
The nameless one pried open a Kapili or Capri durian dubbed the "Pek or
White Durian" with pale-looking seeds. It was the best durian tasted during
the entire trip. And the bugger only had one of it :(
The Queen of Fruits is always in the company of
the King of Fruits.
Veterans of the trade.
Signs are displayed describing the types of durians sold.
For non durian fans - there was actually one sole
hater in the huge group of 16 that day - be pacified and
tuck into a less pungent fruit (but still somewhat smelly) -
the chempedak.
Mr Husky swears by this cure for heatiness - drinking water from durian
husks. And he made sure everyone did it.

Day 2 continues after the gang got the handwritten scrawl on a tiny piece of paper... ...onwards to the recommended durian stall emblazoned with a lucky number... ...

Brisk business for the uncle hawking petai in its original form.
A much raved about bowl of assam laksa at a Balik Pulau
stall. This is the next best thing after the pungent bowl
at Ayer Itam. Penangnites seem to like their grub "strong
For the unbearable humidity. You might like to take
a dry shower with this - like what grandpa used to do.
Retailing at a local provision shop in the area hohoho... ...

Numero Deux Stall (the recommended one) ... ...

A Monster of a Fruit greets the senses... ...
The gang overheard a guy trying to sell a baby durian
like this one here for RM1.
Stand or sit... ...your preference... ...
Great quality durians look good in pictures too. The
recommended stall did not disappoint. They feasted on
Green Skin, Olive, Duri Hitam and Red Prawn.
The Olive Durian was the stunner here with its
complex grassy flavours.
The lions later grabbed a handmade rattan stool here
in Georgetown. The lion plan to rest his butt on it while
enjoying more smellies back home.

Uncle, why is Gong Tng called Gong Tng?

"Because I use a huge ass wooden rolling pin to 'gong gong' the peanut candy flat." Yup right from the horse's mouth, though those aren't exactly his angmoh words. Mystery solved. Thank goodness for a contact of Mr Business Times that alerted the lions to what must be the only surviving artisanal handmade gong tng aka peanut candy brittle stall in Penang. The lions are humbled and in awe of this man's tireless dedication to his craft. Very often, city dwellers take certain things for granted and this is one of them. The lion would just pop one of these peanut brittles into his mouth without ever pondering about how it was made. The handmade process is a tedious one but the resulting candy is fit for a king. The lion has surely developed a deeper appreciation for the humble childhood sweet now.

Talk about the sweat and skill that goes into this....

Flatten the peanut candy with a wooden pin by hitting
on it several times.
The cool surface of a glass bottle comes in handy as well to roll the candy
Dusting a little flour... ...
Encasing the peanut powder with the flattened candy. 
Making sure that the fold is tight... ...
Tightening the fold with two flat rectangular
slates of wood.
Sharp and thin knife used to cut the long roll by gut feel. No measurements
needed by this veteran candy maker.
Ok! Done! Transfer blocks of peanut brittle to a container. Approximately
24 pieces for RM20.
The bright red signage. This candy veteran was specially invited
by Seaview Hotel (now defunct) for a food festival on its premises
many years ago. Hey hoteliers, time to bring him back to the Lion City
for a demo again! Sure to attract crowds one.
Reserve your containers of candy.
Mr Ang also churns out another type of hua sheng tang
by hand.