Tag Archives: shopping

O’Gourmet Food Hall

2 Dec

As a passionate cook and a foodie, I am always on the lookout for places where I can source the best of the best. I truly believe that ingredients matter: the olive oil you use impacts hugely on the final taste of your dish; the nuts, spices and flavourings, if fresh and carefully sourced, can deepen and embolden a meal so much more than wan supermarket choices; and fruits and vegetables of sublime quality are not only a joy to work with, but their colours, textures and flavours make everything just taste better.

I will drive an extra mile to find food of extraordinary quality, to be able to speak with knowledgeable purveyors about their wares, and to sample different and new items. I am lucky though, because I live within a few minutes of what I consider one of the most wonderful collections of food and ingredients in Kuala Lumpur – the O’Gourmet Food Hall at Bangsar Shopping Centre. O’Gourmet has it all – a decadent and seductive cheese room; a bright and stunningly beautiful fruit and vegetable stand; fresh nuts, spices and herbs; the astonishing variety of Vom Fass vinegars and oils; pastas, flours, and grains of just about every description; a thoughtfully curated wine selection; chocolates, cookies, candies and cakes; and prepared foods that are made with care and quality.

O’Gourmet reminds me of a Malaysianised combination of Dean and Delucca, Chelsea Market and Zabars in New York with Harrods and Harvey Nichols in London. Its a Food Hall of quality, with resources from around the world. I have been deeply impressed by the way the way the people at O’Gourmet know their food. For example, Sebastien Le Francois, the resident sommelier and cheese guru, is not only deeply knowledgeable, but happy to make time to talk through selections, options, ideas, pairings. He tells you what he thinks, he explains the relative merits of different cheeses and wines, he talks recipes, combinations, flavours. Wonderful!

Its like a gourmet wonderland of food and ingredients, and I have always regarded a visit to O’Gourmet Food Hall as a thrill, a moment of inspiration and joy – a truly happy day. I can wander the aisles of O’Gourmet for hours. In fact, AngelKitten and I did so just yesterday, marveling at everything we saw. I love the food conversations she and I have together – we inspire each other, fantasise how different ingredients can be put together, find hidden gems and share our excitement. Our day at O’Gourmet Foodhall was pure happy – we marveled at the careful way in which each item is chosen, tasted the oils, sampled the cheeses and imagined different pairings of ingredients… from a gingerbread house with candied and sugared fruits to a hazelnut torte to a truffled macaroni and cheese. O’Gourmet has the resources to provide for all these imaginings and more.

First we stopped at the fruit and vegetable stand. Amazing! Such colour and texture. Such a wide variety to choose from, and so fresh, so luscious, completely delectable. Those fruits, oh my goodness. Tiny perfect apples (we want to candy them for our gingerbread house), comice pears at their peak of ripeness, a beautiful array of berries, tomatoes on the vine, voluptuous dragon fruit, and lettuce leaves so fresh their roots are still attached.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

Such a great selection – and so intrinsically sexy. Onions, cabbage, fennel and mushrooms so perfect that I couldnt wait to get my hands on them, to touch and tease them into recipes and meals. I felt like the little old lady in the movie Tampopo, who gets chased away from the produce section for touching and stroking and feeling the vegetables a little too much!

Luckily there were other things to mark our attention. We wandered through the herbs and spices, dried pastas and grains…Everything is lovingly laid out, like art, and easily accessible. You can sample, sniff, and consider to your hearts content.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

I love the fact that you can look and choose exactly what – and how much – you want – bay leaves, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, mustard seed, mace, cinnamon, fennel, chili, nutmeg, dried pulses, and so much more – all arrayed temptingly, their colours a symphony of choice, and each pretty bottle a really exciting possibility of flavour and illumination. A spark of possibility every where you turn.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

From there, we wandered over to the oils and vinegars. Alongside carefully chosen bottled oils and vinegars, O’Gourmet has brought in Vom Fass – a German company that supplies artisanal vinegars and oils of the absolute highest quality. You can sample everything at the Vom Fass section because of how the oils and vinegars are presented in earthenware casks – and we did! From a stunning wild raspberry vinegar to the sharp brightness of calimansi vinegar to the syrupy dusky wonder of a 25 year old balsamico. From extra virgin olive oils that tasted like sunshine and light to hazelnut oil that was rounded and rich and wild to a truffle oil that was totally imbued with the haunting notes of truffle. Each oil and vinegar can be sampled, and they can be bottled in 100ml and up glass bottles of your choice. We were like kids in a candy shop!

O'Gourmet Foodhall

We wanted to bring all that we sampled home with us, but we tried to be restrained (!) and so we chose three – the hazelnut and truffle oils and the 25 year old balsamic vinegar. I have to admit, when we got home, we unwrapped the oils, and tasted them again. Tonight, I will make a hazelnut torte using some of that hazelnut oil. So beautiful!

O'Gourmet Foodhall

And finally, we went to the cheese room. We stood and sniffed that pungent enticing wild aroma of cheese, we tasted, we looked, and we chatted with the accommodating M. Sebastien. I am so pleased that Kuala Lumpur has a cheese shop of such high quality, beautifully curated and totally tempting.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

And we chose – a triple cream Brilliat Savarin, imbued with truffles. I looked at it and I could feel myself purrrrrr.

O'Gourmet Foodhall

I have been a customer of O’Gourmet for a while now. Each time I am at Bangsar Shopping Centre, I make time to wander and look and touch, to consider some special cheese or a prime flavour ingredient that will brighten the food I am cooking that day. I love that there is always something different, something unique, something deeply tempting.

Because I am so enamoured of the quality ingredients available at O’Gourmet Foodhall, and so inspired to creativity every time I visit, I have decided that I am going to do a weekly O’Gourmet recipe for the next few months. I hope these recipes will excite you with the possibilities inherent in ingredients of perfect quality, and will spark a passion for prime ingredients, treated with love and respect.

O’Gourmet Food Hall is at the East Wing, Ground Floor of Bangsar Shopping Centre, Jalan Maarof, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: +60.3.2094.9966

Visit their website and their Facebook page to be inspired!

 

Abundance

21 Aug

Sunday is my sister’s birthday, and of course I am planning a really lovely meal for her. I am trying to rein myself in a bit because its really muggy and hot here at the moment … and you dont really want to eat lots of rich overwhelming hot dishes when its a thick summer’s day. But I do want it to be an exciting meal, and to that end, I went mosey-ing along to Whole Foods (my personal mecca) to see what was in store. I have never been there during the summer months, and I have to say… WOW. Amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, luscious, astonishingly bright, delicious, fragrant, touchable, edible fruits and vegetables. I mean really, really stunning. I probably spent about an hour in the produce section. I couldnt believe how lovely and tempting everything looked…

These are just some of the things I picked up…

Such colour and texture and taste!

Check out these baby heirloom tomatoes. Seriously gorgeous. I chopped some up tonight to go into a bean (pinto and kidney) stew. They added brightness and freshness and a certain pizzaz to the dish. I just love how they smell… essence of tomato but each one subtly different.

Lusciousness

Peaches, with baby fuzz skin, and a scent like a perfect perfume. Flesh juicy and sun warmed, sweet and tangy and thirst quenching … like your first kiss. Unforgettable. And the avocadoes… bright green and creamy, we had one for lunch today, sliced thin and sprinkled with salt and pepper and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. With sour dough bread, and some smoked white fish salad. What a summer’s meal!

Cant eat just one...

Oh these cherries. So glossy they seemed out of a magazine. Such blood red colour, and tartsweet flesh. Staining our lips red, like lipstick. These cost ten times as much in Malaysia, and when I had these today, I realised the ones at home dont even taste like cherries should. These had such a complete and full flavour that all your senses are satisfied after eating just a few…

Oh My Goddess

These grapes were phenomenal. We had them for dessert with the cherries. Thick skinned, so you had to work at biting into it, but once you did … An explosion of juice, the essence of grape – but greenpurplered all combined. You had to spit out the seeds and skin after, but each bite was like a firework going off. Amazing!

Roasted for dinner tonight :)

Have you ever seen such beautiful kale? Frilly, thick, perfect. Roasted it for dinner tonight with bean stew and rice. What a great, healthy, vegan meal. Simple and yet infinitely satisfying. This kale was so vibrantly green it almost hurt the eyes. And it was absolutely delicious. Earthy, strong, vibrant.

Perfection

Strawberries. I was literally assaulted by the perfume of these berries in the store. I tried one, and they were sooooooo good. I couldnt resist. I got a four pound box first, but then decided may be it was overkill, so I compromised with a 2 pound box. Again, it cost about ten times less than it does in Malaysia, and these were so richly strawberry-ish I couldnt believe it. I plan on making a strawberry fool with some organic whipped cream to go with the chocolate cake for M’s birthday dinner…

There were so many other things – firm succulent mushrooms, tender delicate raspberries, red and green figs, leeks, parsnips, arugula, elephant garlic, bright broccolini… I was totally and blissfully immersed in these lovingly grown and sold fruits and veg. I was so happy today, and I am so thankful that my family and I can experience such abundance.

Speaking of which… I am still musing on the menu for the birthday dinner, but I think its going to go something like this…

  • Poached fig tart – made with a walnut crust, mascarpone and blue goat’s cheese base (all local cheeses), and wine poached figs on top
  • Mushroom pastry
  • Roasted butternut and parsnips
  • Broccolini with almonds
  • Honey glazed carrots
  • Heirloom tomato salad
  • Arugula + Avocado
  • Creamed spinach
  • Chocolate blackout cake with a raspberry coulis + Strawberry fool

What do you think? 🙂