Hong Kong model Flora Cheung Ching-sze is set to cook up a storm later this month in Hong Kong when she hosts an adult channel cooking show in which she prepares food fully naked while wearing a “tailor-made, fully transparent apron especially made for the program.” That’s right: a naked cooking show is coming to Hong Kong.

Flora Cheung

The risqué show aims to get more men cooking, which is apparently the goal of the show. Hong Kong is already home to naked news readers and producer Jesse Au says “The guys really liked naked news…So I thought maybe they will go for nude cooking.”

Although the twice-monthly show will be recorded in Cantonese I bet that even viewers who do not speak Cantonese would have no difficulty following Cheung. Her presence on the adult channels of Now TV, Hong Kong Broadband Network and TVB (SEHK: 0511) Pay Vision at least promises more eye candy for them.

Cheung will start each 30-minute show shopping for fresh ingredients in the city’s famous wet markets, undressing once she is back in the privacy of her studio kitchen.

Flora Cheung the nude chef

“I have always liked cooking and I thought I should share the enjoyment with more people,” the 26-year-old said. She admitted that she has had no professional culinary training

“Most men don’t like to cook, but I want to get them interested… From shopping to cooking — it’s the whole shebang,” Cheung added.

The host promised that her tailor-made, transparent apron won’t leave much to the imagination.

“It covers pretty much everything but hides nothing,” she was quoted as saying.

Flora Cheung Ching-sze naked chef

The cooking show is the brainchild of Jesse Au King-wai, who brought naked newsreading to Hong Kong in 2004 when Fire/Ice News featured Chan Long, 18, reading news summaries while slowly undressing until she was naked.

Naked news reader Chan Long

Producer Jesse Au told the paper that the show may spawn similar offerings with nude hosts cooking up a range of Asian cuisines: “This could be an endless series if it proves popular.”

“The guys really liked naked news,” said Au, who heads the production company Lemonation that produces programming for the adult Ice/Fire channel on Now and Hong Kong Broadband.

“So I thought maybe they will go for nude cooking.”

In the first programme, which is scheduled to air later this month, she will prepare two of her favourite dishes – fried vermicelli with shredded beef and assorted vegetables, and ox tongue in a red-wine sauce.

Depending on the response in Hong Kong, Au wants to try Korean cuisine next.

“There are many ethnic cuisines around the world,” he said. “This could be an endless series if it proves popular.”

Actress Flora also has her own fashion line ‘Tian Art’. She is fluent in speaking Chinese, English as well as Portuguese languages and is also trained as a ballerina.

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Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho bid US$330,000 (RM1 million) for a pair of white truffles, matching the record price he paid in 2007 for one of the rarified fungal delicacy unearthed in Tuscany. The billionaire made the winning bid on Saturday at a charity auction through representatives of his company, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau.

Stanley Ho

The auction was staged at Ho’s Grand Lisboa hotel in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, with bidders participating simultaneously in Florence and London through satellite link. Ho outbid luxo-artist Damien Hirst (of multi-million-dollar diamond skull fame), among others, said auction organizer Giselle Oberti. Ho is best known for his casino monopoly in Macau, a gambling enclave in southern China near Hong Kong.

The pair included a huge truffle dug up in the central Tuscany region weighing 900 grams as well as one found in Molise weighing in at 400 grams.

The larger truffle was dug up recently by truffle hunter Cristiano Savini, his father Luciano and dog Rocco in Palaia, a town about 25 miles from Pisa. The Savinis said Rocco started sniffing “like crazy” when he zeroed in on the fungus.

The $330,000 truffle

Proceeds from the auction were to go to an Italian organization that helps sufferers of genetic diseases, a group that helps street children in London and Catholic charities in Macau.

Guinness World Records lists a 2.86 pound white truffle found in Croatia in 1999 as the biggest.

Truffles are a fungus. They are related to mushrooms, puffballs and bracket fungi. They usually weigh from 1 to 2.8 ounces apiece. Slivers of white truffles, with their strong aroma, are prized in Italy to flavor pasta sauces and rice dishes.

Just about every truffle that lands on your plate has to be found—underground, mind you—by a human being, usually with the help of a specially trained mushroom-sniffing dog. All species of truffle (in the Tuber genus) are ectomycorrhizal, meaning they require a symbiotic relationship with roots of specific trees to live. The truffles, sprouting underground attached to the roots, get easy access to the nourishing sugars created by the tree during photosynthesis. The tree gets the benefit of increased root surface area with which water and nutrients can be better absorbed.

Truffles are one of the outstanding gourmet foods of the world. The best truffles are found in the soils of northern Italy and southern France, but they are found in other parts of the world, too. The European truffle-hunters use trained dogs to sniff out the truffles in the ground and dig them out. Such dogs are worth several thousand dollars. But the truffle hunting man and his dog may find a bushel or so and the man does not have to work for the rest of the year.

Think of them as expensive, top-flight gourmet foods. Truffles are indeed the world’s costliest food ingredient. Now you know why Stanley Ho paid such a high price for them.

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Eljo Restaurants Sdn Bhd, the franchise operator for the famed McDonald’s fast-food chain, has opened the first 24-hour drive-through outlet at Permyjaya in Miri City. It is more of a conventional outlet with drive-thru facilities rather than a pure drive-thru outlet.

The McDonald's drive-thru at Permyjaya

McDonald's during the day

McDonald's at night

The famous golden arches

Drive-Thru Sign

The drive-thru area

Cars queing up at the drive-thru

The other drive-through outlet at Bulan Sabit Road near Columbia Asia Medical Center is scheduled to be opened by June next year, said Peter Chiu Lik Sing, the Sibu and Miri franchisee.

He said 60 employees, including 10 management personnel, have been hired to manage the outlet at the Permaijaya.

Chiu also said plans are afoot to open the first McDonald’s outlet in Bintulu while the McDonald’s outlet at Sarawak House Shopping Complex here has been relocated to Causeway Road.

“The relocation is inevitable due to expiry of the tenancy agreement. However, the new site will offer us better flexibility in terms of operating hours.

“We can open at 7am to serve the popular McDonald s Breakfast to our customers for the first time in 18 years here. The operating hours will be from 7am to 2am,” he told BERNAMA in an exclusive interview.

Chiu said the McDonald’s outlets in Sibu and Miri have been registering double-digit growth for the past several years.

“Last year, we did about RM9 million sales. With our new drive-thru outlet, we expect over RM15 million turnover next year,” he said.

Big crowd at McDonald's Permyjaya

He said the new outlets would introduce value-added products periodically to cope with keen competition from other fast-food operators.

“For instance, McDonald’s value lunch product is a hot favourite among our customers. Nonetheless, we will insist on our QSC (quality, service and cleanliness), the three pillars of our success and strategy to stay competitive and relevant,” he added.

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Today marks the opening of Ta Kiong Supermarket at Merdeka Mall in Miri. With a retail floor area of 17,000 square feet, Ta Kiong offers a wide selection of local and imported goods. I particularly like the good choice of imported food items that the supermarket carries.

Big crowds at Ta Kiong on its opening today

In connection with the opening, the supermarket is holding a special two-day opening sale starting today. And customers can apply for the Ta Kiong RM10 annual membership card which will entitle them to certain privileges, such as getting one reward point for every RM1 spent and special discounts on Members’ Day. After comparing the member prices for some items to the non-member prices, I must say that the membership is a worthwhile deal.

While browsing around in the fruits section, I was attracted by the Kiwi fruits offer and bought a pack of the fruits to try out.

Kiwi fruits offer

Being a chocolate aficionado, I can’t help myself from being drawn to the chocolate section where there is a wide range of imported chocolates. The prices are a bit steep when compared to prices in neighbouring Brunei.

Ta Kiong - Chocolate section

Though I am not into wine, I still love to browse in the wine section. I am a bit allergic to liquor and my whole body would turn a bit reddish whenever I imbibe some wine. Call it a curse or blessing, depending on which side you are judging from.

Ta Kiong - Wine section

More wine

The coffee products also tempt me as I love coffee. Despite advice from a doctor to limit my coffee intake to not more than 2 cups a day (preferably 1), I often end up drinking 4-5 cups daily. So my dear liver, accept my apology for putting too much work on you.

Ta Kiong Imported Canned Coffee

I have heard that the food at the Chicago 7 outlet in  Merdeka Mall is not bad so I decided to give it a try. Chicago 7  is a local franchise and only the “broasters”are franchised from the U.S.  If you expect to see restaurant decorated with photos of The Chicago Seven, then you are in for a disappointment. The Chicago Seven were seven defendants—Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner—charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to protests that took place in Chicago, Illinois on the occasion of the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

I ordered a beef burger and a hot dog plus a cold green tea with honey while my wife opted for two pieces of their broasted chicken set and a hot Ceylon tea.  I must say that their food is not bad, better than quite a lot of the fastfood outlets in town. The beefburger is tastier than McDonald’s but I think the jumbo beefburger sold by the burger stall near the Curtin Village in Senadin tastes better.

There is a Hummer road show at Merdeka mall that seems to attract a lot of curiousity. On display are 3 units of Hummer trucks of different colours – one black, one silver and one white.

The black Hummer

Mr Silver Hummer

The white Hummer

The Hummers are left-hand drives

I wonder whether the Hummer trucks can be considered an obsolete product since production of the Hummer vehicles has ceased in the US. I read online that the long strange trip that has been the Hummer brand is just about over for General Motors. The final ever production H3 rolled out of GM’s Shreveport, Louisiana factory on May 24, 2010 on its way to an Avis rental car outlet. GM had actually stopped assembling H3s in mid-2009 as it went through bankruptcy, but it resumed production recently in order to fill an 849 unit special order.

GM tried to sell the Hummer brand to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines Co., Ltd but the deal ultimately fell apart last February. A subsequent offer from Raser Technologies also went nowhere. Production has ceased.

Safety and ecological perceptions from other road users has attracted a lot of criticism for the Hummers. They are significantly bigger than other SUVs; this can cause problems parking, driving and fitting in a garage. Their large size also potentially poses a serious threat to smaller vehicles. The Hummer has been singled out and attacked as a symbol of ecological irresponsibility. Even compared to other heavy passenger vehicles, Hummers generally have very poor fuel economy. Because of its weight, it takes longer and further to stop in emergency braking situations. Large blind spots make parking difficult and possibly dangerous.

Ignoring the criticisms above, the Hummer trucks actually look very imposing. I have seen a few units on Miri roads and have been awed by their rugged sophistication. One of the Hummers that I have seen on Miri roads reminds me of an armour car.

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Today is Hari Raya Aidilfitri. To all my Muslim friends and readers, I wish you Selamat Hari Raya. As for the kids, I hope you will receive lots of  “duit raya.”

Last night I was at Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club’s Lakeview Terrace Coffeehouse with my family and some of my sister-in-laws and their families to try out the Ramadhan buffet promotion. We heard that the food was not bad and that at RM35 per adult, it was good value for your money.

Selamat Hari Raya greetings at the front counter of the hotel

The hotel lobby

As last night was the last day of fasting for the Muslims, there were not many patrons at the coffeehouse. We were given table number 18…what an auspicious number, haha! Apart from us, there were only 3 or 4 occupied tables. I took my time wandering around to take photos.

Table number 18....an auspicious number!

My hyper-active nephew Ah Nong

Lightings outside the coffehouse

A view of the hotel's compound

There was quite a wide range of food…..butter prawns, ginger chicken, black pepper beef, assam fish, barbecue prawns, barbecue chicken wings, barbecue sotong, satay, sambal eggs, ketupah, salad, coleslaw, barbecue lamb, and many more. I must say that the food was really not bad….better than the food that I had tasted at other hotel buffets.

Butter prawns

Sambal eggs

And for desserts, we were spoilt for choice. There were lots of traditional Malay kuih, cakes, ice creams, puddings, ice kacang, bubur caca and fruits. It was a great relaxing evening for us. By the time we left the hotel, we really felt full up.

Traditional kuih

Cakes...cakes...and more cakes

A choice of different puddings

Bubur caca

Once again, Selamat Hari Raya! Enjoy the Hari Raya food and delicacies and use this occasion to foster closer racial harmony. God bless you all!

May the flame of racial harmony burn brightly!


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Adam Liaw, a 31-year-old media lawyer of Malaysian heritage, won the finale of Australia’s MasterChef on July 25 2010 to cook up massive ratings, making the reality show the most-watched, non-sporting event ever shown on Australian television.

The jubilant Adam Liaw

The televised great debate between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was brought forward to 6:30pm so that it did not clash with MasterChef finale shown on Network Ten. And the move paid off. In the end, the political debate attracted almost as many free-to-air viewers as the cook-off.

Viewers across Australia tuning in to watch the finale reached a peak of 4.348 million. This year’s MasterChef finale saw Liaw, whose parents are from Malaysia, beat Callum Hann, a 20-year-old engineering student from South Australia’s Barossa Valley to win the coveted title and the prizes of A$100,000 and a cookbook publishing deal.

Adam Liaw and Callum Hann

Adelaide-born Liaw beat Hann with advanced food knowledge and tasting skills, claiming the win with a score 89 to Hann’s 82 out of a possible 100.

Judge Matt Preston said Liaw won because he was “highly skilled” and had an “intellectual approach to food”.

Liaw will now turn his thoughts to relocating back to Australia after six years living in Tokyo as a media lawyer.

A tearful Liaw dedicated his win to his grandmother who was by his  side shortly after his win, saying that her influence on his cooking was “enormous”.

“She’s been there for me throughout my entire life and she’s been a huge influence not just in my cooking but in everything,” he said.

He was joined on the set by his girlfriend of two years, Asami Fujitsuka, and father Dr Liaw Sia-Lin.

When growing up in Adelaide, there seemed little doubt that Liaw’s world would eventually centre around cooking.

“I first remember cooking when I was eight or nine and living with my mum and stepfather,” said Liaw, a young protege who completed Year 11 at age 14, enrolled in university, two years later and graduated as lawyer at 21.

“With my step-brothers and sisters, there were eight of us kids in the house and once a month, it would be the kids’ turn to make dinner.

“We moved around a bit when I was younger, like over to Malaysia, and there would always be some kind of food that I had loved — and wanted to cook — for the whole family.”

Liaw’s mum and step-father moved to New Zealand when he was 14, but he stayed in Adelaide where he lived at his grandmother’s home.

He lists her as a food inspiration, but it wasn’t until he was studying science and law at the University of Adelaide that it became a passion.

MasterChef Australia is an Australian competitive cooking game show based on the original British version of MasterChef. It is produced by FremantleMedia Australia and screens on Network Ten. Restaurateur and chef Gary Mehigan, chef George Calombaris and food critic Matt Preston serve as the show’s main judges.

MasterChef Australia

MasterChef Australia judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston (from left to right)

If you would like MasterChef recipes or more info about the show, head down to their official website.

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My family used to go to Nine 2 Five Restaurant in Pelita Commercial Centre for dinner but it has been a long while since we last went. We decided to pop in there for dinner yesterday evening.

Wall decorated with kids' photos inside the restaurant

Simple decor item on one of the windowsills

We ordered fried chicken in prawn sauce, kangkong fried with belacan and fried baby corns. For drinks, we ordered two hot “teh o” and an iced Milo.

There were several customers who were there earlier than us so we knew it would take a while before our food would be served. But the wait was much longer than expected….it took them more than half an hour before we were served. And the music was a bit too loud for my liking.

The fried kangkong and baby corns were not bad but we did not like the fried chicken in prawn sauce as it tasted so bland. I thought it would come with some sauce but there wasn’t any. Apparently I misread the menu which says “Fried chicken in prawn sauce” and not “fried chicken with prawn sauce”. …maybe it was due to my “lau hua yen”, haha! The bill came to RM42.10 which was comparatively more expensive than many other similar air-conditioned restaurants.

Kangkong fried with belacan

Fried baby corns

Fried chicken with prawn sauce

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We had breakfast yesterday at Face To Face Noodles House in Boulevard Commercial Centre. Face To Face is a West Malaysian franchise.

Face To Face Noodles House at Boulevard Commercial Center

I ordered Fried Pan Mee Mamak ‘s Style with a cup of “Kopi O” while my wife tried Creations Minced Pork Pan Mee with her usual “Tea O”. My son Les opt for their House Specialty Hot & Spicy Pan Mee (dry) and a cup of Milo.

Fried Pan Mee Mamak's Style....looks like char kway teow

Minced meat pan mee with the usual ikan bilis and cangkut manis

House specialty......hot & spicy pan mee

House specialty......hot & spicy pan mee

There were not many customers so we got served quite fast. Want our verdict? Well, we all find the pan mee not bad but nothing to shout about. I was hoping that it would be something really nice so I must say I am a little bit disappointed. However if you are looking for something for a change when you get tired of the usual kolomee or laksa, do head down to Face To Face. Just for your info, our bill came to a reasonable RM16.40.

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Irene and her husband are new friends that I got to know recently as a result of an interesting job vacancy advertised by Irene.  She and her husband are the owners of Glorious Hair & Beauty Supplies situated on the second floor of Bintang Megamall. If you need any hair accessories & equipment, beauty & cosmetic products or nail art accessories, head down to their store….they have an interesting range of products.

I was at their shop at Bintang Megamall yesterday afternoon when two beautiful Caucasian ladies walked into the shop.  I immediately thought they must be contestants in the just-concluded Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2010. They shopped for a while and as they were about to leave the shop after paying for their purchases, I plucked up the courage to ask them if they were contestants in the beauty pageant. They spoke very limited English but one of them replied that she is Miss Azerbaijan. Her friend did not respond and walked out of the shop. I quickly asked Miss Azerbaijan’s permission to take a photo of her. She very sportingly agreed and struck up this pose for me.

Miss Azerbaijan...isn't she sporting?

It was almost 5.30 pm when I left Bintang Megamall with my wife. We decided to try out the new Hong Kong themed Food & Tea Restaurant at Boulevard Commercial Centre. The interior of the restaurant is a bit crammed but they have a lot of tables on the five foot pathway outside the restaurant. The place was packed as it just opened for business a couple of days ago.

Food & Tea Restaurant

A view of the restaurant

Part of the deco inside the restaurant

I ordered Shanghai style vegetable rice with roasted honey spare ribs and “Ying Yong in Hong Kong” drink while my wife ordered cheese baked rice with chicken chop and lemon green tea. This is how the dishes we ordered look like in the menu.

Shanghai style vegetable rice with roasted honey spare ribs

Cheese baked rice with chicken chop

My order came first. I forgot to take a photo of the dish before eating so I do not have a photo to show here. When my wife’s order arrived, I quickly took a photo of it and this is how it looked like.

Cheese baked rice with chicken chop

I found my honey roasted spare ribs a tad too sweet for my liking and my wife did not like the taste of the chicken chop at all. The drinks were also rather ordinary. Not a satisfying meal, that is my comment. The bill came to RM35.30.

The restaurant menu boasts of  over 200 choices so you may find something that is to your liking. Go try it out!

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You tiao ( in Mandarin) or you char kway ( in Hokkien) is a long, golden-brown , deep-fried strip of dough that is lightly salted and made in such a way that they can be torn lengthwise into two.

Yakin Food Court's "You tiao"

“Lek tau suan” (Hokkien) is a type of dessert that is usually eaten hot with “you tiao”. Lek tau suan means “green bean pearl” in Hokkien. The green beans are actually mung beans and they are purchased in split forms minus the skin.

Yakin Food Court's "lek tau suan"

In Miri, there is a stall at Yakin Food Court that does brisk business every day  selling “you tiao” and “lek tau suan”.  I like their “you tiao” and “lek tau suan”…it is nice to have these for breakfast for a change instead of the usual kolomee or char kway tiao.

The stall owners busy making "you tiao"

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