"After years of continuous eating,'A Girl has to Eat', a self-confessed food lover and eat-aholic, has been spurred on to create her own food guide & blog. Read about her fabulous (and sometimes not so fabulous) culinary adventures in her restaurant reviews. This and more!"

Lone Pine Hotel – Penang, Malaysia

Posted on Wednesday, 29th July 2015

LONE PINE HOTEL

After our stay at The Eastern & Oriental Hotel we ventured up to the beaches at Batu Ferringhi, which is located on the northern coastline of Penang Island and about a half an hour drive from George Town. There, we stayed at The Lone Pine Hotel, the sister hotel to The Eastern & Oriental Hotel. The hotel first opened in 1948 and was the first hotel to be established on the beaches of Batu Ferringhi. Lone Pine is a beach resort boasting of a quintessential seaside character and is very comfortable with a relaxed, laid-back energy. It caters well for those looking for a well-equipped four-star standard beachside hotel versus high-end luxury. The hotel boasts of a full range of contemporary comforts with a swimming pool, a wellness spa, a fully-equipped gymnasium, a business centre as well as meeting rooms. There is also a games room, two restaurants and a bar. There is complimentary wifi throughout the hotel, although this worked better in the lobby and not so well in our room.

Lone Pine Hotel - London food blog

Lone Pine Hotel

Lone Pine Hotel - London Food Blog

Lone Pine Hotel

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Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

Posted on Monday, 27th July 2015

EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL, PENANG

Penang is known as both the foodie capital of Malaysia and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So it was with much anticipation that we visited this vibrant island, to both sample its food diversity and relish its many cultural and historical offerings. In Penang we first stayed at the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Located in Penang’s old town, George Town, the hotel is minutes away from Penang’s food and shopping strips, the financial district and all of Penang’s main cultural destinations.

In its early days when Penang served as an outpost of the East India Company, the island drew in a variety of travellers ranging from merchants to missionaries that made the arduous route from London to Singapore, a journey that generally took about four long months. But it was not until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 that travel to Asia took on another dimension, with writers, actors and the rich from Europe and America all making the trip to Asia to see what the oriental world had to offer. And with this new breed of affluent travellers, the demand for luxury hotels flourished.

And so The Eastern & Oriental Hotel was founded in 1885 by the Sarkies Brothers, the same brothers who were also instrumental in the construction of the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The Eastern & Oriental is a tale of two halves. There are two wings to the hotel, first, the traditional Heritage Wing, and the second, the ultra modern Victoria Annex. The Heritage Wing evokes a sense of tradition, one that is filled with old, colonial charm. The Heritage Wing maintains many of its original features such as the spacious domed lobby and a grand marbled floor corridor. It’s where many old time traditions have been kept such as the doorman in khaki shorts, knee-high socks and pith-helmets, and the gentlemen at reception with their bow ties and slicked back hair. The Eastern & Oriental Hotel is a popular spot for weddings, and the Heritage Wing truly makes for the perfect backdrop for that all-important wedding photo.

Eastern & Oriental Hotel - London Food Blog

Eastern & Oriental Hotel

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Four Seasons Langkawi, Malaysia

Posted on Friday, 24th July 2015

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL LANGKAWI

Four Seasons Langkawi - London Food Blog - Welcome drink

Four Seasons Langkawi – Welcome drink

During my recent trip to Langkawi, I also visited The Four Seasons Langkawi, one of the most preeminent luxury resorts on the island. The Four Seasons is located on one of Langkawi’s most spectacular beaches in the North Eastern corner, right on the Andaman Sea, and is a breathtaking study in nature. The resort is set within a rainforest and is surrounded by lush greenery and cliffs that give it a wonderful eco tropical island feel. The Four Seasons Langkawi integrates beautifully with its natural surroundings by making use of features such as reflecting ponds and secluded thatched-roof pavilions. The resort also stays true to its Malay origins as it follows the layout of a traditional Malay village. To get around the resort you can use the bikes supplied by the resort, walk or call for a buggy.

Four Seasons Langkawi - London Food Blog - Greeting area

Four Seasons Langkawi – Greeting area

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The Danna – Planter’s Restaurant, Langkawi

Posted on Wednesday, 22nd July 2015

THE DANNA – PLANTER’S RESTAURANT

The Danna is a luxury 5-star hotel in Langkawi, a grand colonial hotel that is classically beautiful and effortlessly elegant with high ceilings and an impressive presence. Perched on a lovely stretch of beach, it has the marina on one side and lush tropical lands on the other.

We went to one of the restaurants at The Danna for dinner, Planter’s, which is recognised as one of the best restaurants on Langkawi. Located towards the rear of the hotel, you get to Planter’s from the impressive hotel lobby by walking along the corridor, past the seductive Verandah Bar. Upon reaching Planter’s, one is presented with an impressive sight, not only because the restaurant is beautifully romantic, but also because it looks out onto the hotel’s infinity pool and beach. The perspective is mesmerising, and particularly lovely if you chose to dine al fresco on the restaurant’s outside porch. The Planter’s menu makes for an interesting read by serving an eclectic collection of Western, Thai, Indian and Malay dishes. It’s a very comprehensive menu and easily caters to a variety of tastes. We visited on a Friday night which is buffet night, although the al la carte was also available. Tempting as the ‘all-you-can-eat’ option was, we elected to order off the a la carte menu, preferring our food to be cooked to order.

We started with a Thai seafood broth (MYR40 – £6.80) with king prawns, calamari, mussels and fish. This was deliciously light, with the stock having been prepared using kaffir lime, lemongrass, galangal, coriander and a seafood base. The result was a stock that was crystal clear with a distinct and delicate flavour. A classically trained French chef would have been proud had they produced a consommé of such clarity. Each of the seafood elements was also nicely cooked to round off a lovely starter.

Danna Langkawi - London Food Blog - Thai seafood broth

Danna Langkawi – Thai seafood broth

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Temple Tree Resort, Langkawi, Malaysia

Posted on Friday, 17th July 2015

Temple Tree Resort - London Food Blog

Temple Tree Resort

On our recent trip to the beautiful Malaysian island of Langkawi, we spent two nights at the special and very unique Temple Tree Resort. The resort is unique because it consists of eight antique houses of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian origin, all ranging from 70 to 110 years old. Narelle, the owner of Temple Tree spent many years scouring Malaysia in search of these buildings, each of which are original. The houses were then dismantled and transported from their location of origin piece-by-piece and rebuilt. Some were derelict, but each house was lovingly restored to its former glory, keeping true to its original layout. Each house was then decorated in a style that reflected the period in which they were once lived in. Temple Tree Resort is like an antique treasure trove, with each building having it’s own special story to tell.

Temple Tree Resort - London Food Blog

Temple Tree Resort

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Mezzaluna, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

Posted on Monday, 13th July 2015

MEZZALUNA, EMIRATES PALACE

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi is a landmark hotel located on the West Corniche of Abu Dhabi, overlooking the Arabian Gulf and occupying a stretch of private beach about 1.3km long. The hotel was built in the style of an Arabian Palace and its aim is to provide guests with the ultimate luxury experience, comparable to the kind that royalty receive. In fact, the hotel is particularly popular with reigning royalty. The top floor of the hotel is made up entirely of ‘Rulers Suites’, suites specifically reserved for use by Heads of States. But other dignitaries and celebrities also flock to the Emirates Palace and it counts notable figures such as Bill Clinton and Robert de Niro as its past guests.

Like Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Emirates Palace also featured in the blockbuster movie Fast & Furious 7, and in 2010, the Emirates Palace made headlines with a £7m Christmas tree draped in diamonds. Little wonder then that it makes for a great tourist attraction, with TripAdvisor ranking Emirates Palace as one of the top tourist spots in Abu Dhabi. Even if you’re not staying at the Emirates Palace it is well worth a visit just to take in the grandeur and opulence of its interior bejeweled with silver, gold, marble and Swarovski crystal chandeliers.

We had dinner at Mezzaluna, an Italian restaurant which is one of nine restaurants at the Emirates Palace. The menu serves a range of classic Italian dishes with antipastas, pastas and risottos, and also extends to pizzas as well. The décor of the restaurant is formal and every bit as opulent as the rest of the hotel.

We began our meal with veal tenderloin slow cooked with a creamy tuna sauce (AED120 – £20.80). This was delicious as the veal was wonderfully tender and flavoursome and had a creamy, almost milk-like flavour to it. The tuna sauce was also delicious. Creamy and tasty, yet not overpowering, it paired perfectly with the veal. The dish was a little cold, but otherwise it was an outstanding plate of food.

Mezzaluna Emirates Palace - London Food Blog - Veal tenderloin

Mezzaluna Emirates Palace – Veal tenderloin

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Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi

Posted on Wednesday, 8th July 2015

JUMEIRAH AT ETIHAD TOWERS, ABU DHABI

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers - London Food Blog

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers

On my recent visit to Abu Dhabi I stayed at the iconic 5-star Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, a 280m tall luxury hotel located on the West Corniche in the exclusive Ras Al Akhdar area of Abu Dhabi overlooking the Arabian Gulf. The hotel is close to the central business district and adjacent to the famous Emirates Palace Hotel. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers is one of a group of five towers that includes a prestigious office tower and three towers housing apartments, premium boutiques and contemporary restaurants. The Etihad Towers are an integral part of the Abu Dhabi skyline and most famously featured in the blockbuster movie Fast & Furious 7.

The construction of the Etihad Towers was overseen by Australian architects DBI and began in 2006. The Towers are particularly dramatic for their staggering modernity and are beautiful on the eye. Inside, the hotel is no less beautiful, oozing with a cosmopolitan ‘city’ chic that is sublimely sophisticated. The lobby is wide, tall and deep, shining with natural light during the day, and dazzling from the glow of the handmade chandeliers at night. Much care has gone into the selection of the finishing touches which were awe-inspiring and which features a unique use of rare marbles, semi-precious stones and crystals.

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers - London Food Blog - The lobby

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers – The lobby

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Iberica – Great Chefs Great Causes Campaign

Posted on Sunday, 5th July 2015

Ibérica are currently running a ‘Great Chefs Great Causes Campaign’ which features a collection of special signature tapas dishes created using recipes from the most celebrated Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American chefs, the majority of which were recently recognised as part of the 50 Best Restaurants in The World Awards. The tapas dishes are priced from £7 and will be rotated on a weekly basis throughout the London restaurants. The campaign ends on 23 August 2015, and the profits from the campaign will be shared equally amongst the chef’s chosen charities such as Unicef and Action Against Hunger.

I recently attended a preview tasting of this special collection of tapas dishes at the Great Portland Street branch of Ibérica. The evening began with a ‘Caipiritxa’ by Chef Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi in Spain (N°19 *). A beautiful green colour, this was a refreshing concoction made from capirinha and Spanish sparkling wine.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Caipiritxa by Azurmendi

Iberica – Caipiritxa by Azurmendi

Next was the razor clam with yellow pepper and black quinoa by Chef Virgilio Martinez of Central in Peru (N°4 *). This was my favourite dish of the evening. Beautiful soft razaor clams had been tempered with a delicate yellow pepper foam which combined beautifully with the clams. The spritely texture of the quinoa also added a lovely contrast and completed what was a mesmerising dish.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Razor clam by Central

Iberica – Razor clam by Central

Oysters with cucumber and lychee by Chef Daniel Redondo, of Mani in Brazil (N°41 *) was an interesting contrast in flavours and sensations. The lychee added sweetness to the savoury earthiness of the oyster, and the cucumber, served as a slice and as a jelly provided a refreshing twist to the dish.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Oysters by Mani

Iberica – Oysters by Mani

Mango, beer and black pudding by Chef Juan Mari Arzak, of Arzak in Spain (N°17 *), served in a beer can was visually arresting. The black pudding was well made, but on the whole this tapa was unremarkable.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Mango & beer By Arzak

Iberica – Mango & beer By Arzak

Beef tartare with vinaigrette and anchovies by Chef Dieter Koschina of Vila Joya in Portugal (N°98 *) came within inches of perfection. This was a delight to eat with the anchovies providing the perfect contrast and seasoning to the depth of flavour in the beef. But the spread of the anchovies in the tartare was a little uneven, and with a few more anchovies the tartare would have been absolutely perfect.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Beef tartare by Vila Joya

Iberica – Beef tartare by Vila Joya

Avocado toast with bone marrow salsa, cucumber and sea urchin by Chef Enrique Olvera of Pujol in Mexico (N°16 *) was interesting with its eclectic combination of ingredients. But as unusual as it was, every element came together wonderfully to provide a harmonious union of flavours. There was earthiness from the avocado, fatty creaminess from the marrow, and an extravagant sea flavour from the sea urchin, which was well balanced and not overpowering.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Avocado toast by Pujol

Iberica – Avocado toast by Pujol

Foie Cuba libre with lemon frost by Chef Quique Dacosta of Quique Dacosta Restaurant in Spain (N°39 *) was also delicious. The base of a beautifully creamy foie gras had been topped with a delicately flavoured lemon frost. This was delicious but not particularly disimilar to other foie gras parfaits you might try elsewhere.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Foie Cuba by Quique Dacosta

Iberica – Foie Cuba by Quique Dacosta

Fresh chorizo tartar by Chef Bittor Arguinzoniz of Asador Etxebarri in Spain (N°13 *) was next, and I didn’t understand the point of this dish. It lacked the intensity of flavour you might ordinarily get from chorizo. Furthermore it had a slightly odd texture. The tartar was original in it is conception but not particularly memorable for its flavour.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Fresh chorizo tartar by Asador Etxebarri

Iberica – Fresh chorizo tartar by Asador Etxebarri

Squid parmentier with red smoked Spanish paprika and squid stock by Chef Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca in Spain (The World’s Best Restaurant *) was a lovely dish and beautifully presented. The squid was soft and the paprika graced the squid with a hint of spiciness. At the based of the dish was a bed of lovely mashed potato. But the highlight was undoubtedly the squid stock, an exquisite concoction of intense flavour that brought the dish together.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Squid parmentier by El Celler de Can Roca

Iberica – Squid parmentier by El Celler de Can Roca

Rustic bread with fresh pancetta and spring herbs by Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz in Spain (N°6 *) was scrumptious in its simplicity. Lusciously fatty pieces of pancetta and fresh herbs served on warm bread provided a lovely explosion of flavours, especially as some of the fattiness of the pancetta had melted with the heat of the toast. Comparatively speaking, this tapa was less interesting than some of the others that preceded it. Yet there was no lack of flavour.

Iberica – London Food Blog - Rustic bread by Mugaritz

Iberica – Rustic bread by Mugaritz

The dessert was watermelon infused in sangria by Chef Albert Adria of Tickets in Spain (The World’s Best Pastry Chef). This was somewhat of a disappointment as it was merely watermelon infused with sangria. I had hoped for a recipe of more innovation from ‘The World’s Best Pastry Chef’.

Iberica - London Food Blog - Watermelon with sangria

Iberica – Watermelon with sangria

There was a plethora of delights to behold as part of The Great Chefs Great Causes campaign at Iberica. Many tapas dishes were original and interesting, with a few that proved to be particularly exceptional and delicious. But there were some which didn’t quite hold the torch as far as a 50 Best Restaurant goes, so chose your week of visit carefully as each of the dishes are rotated on a weekly basis.

Website: http://www.ibericarestaurants.com/great-chefs-great-causes/