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AXN Big Challenge is here....

The AXA AFFIN Health is Might AXN Big Challenge is here! Is it a copy cat of the Amazing Race? No! This Big Challenge is a league of its own. Expects lots of fun, excitement and laughter as we see it on AXN - think CSI, So you Think You Can Dance and Hawaii Five O. And as the name suggest, it’s no longer only about fitness and physical strength. Throughout the race, teams would be challenged on aspects such as their mental wellbeing, positive outlook, teamwork and knowledge on nutritional health.

I was at the launch of the AXA AFFIN Health is Might AXN Big Challenge and had a little taste of what to expect in the actual event. Here's us girls with our shaky hands and legs after our rock climbing session at Camp 5.
And obviously with the fun I had experienced with some other fellow media pals, I rope Jo - my running, kick boxing, eating, doggie and Spyder buddy into it. Register online http://www.axn-asia.com/axnbigchallenge/malaysia. And we're registered as team Dipaksa Datang. Let's hope we get chosen:D
Only 150 teams will be chosen to battle it out for the chance to win up to RM29,000 worth of total cash prizes:
• 1st Prize – RM15,000
• 2nd Prize – RM8,000
• 3rd Prize – RM4,000
• 4th & 5th Prize – RM1,000 each

Malaysians! You are invited to form a team of two adults, aged 18 and above and register at http://www.axn-asia.com/axnbigchallenge/malaysia to qualify for the preliminary round. The top three winners from the preliminary round in Johor Bahru would face the contenders from Penang and Kuala Lumpur on 26 June at One Utama for the finals!
Dates and venues are as follows:
11 June (Sat)
Penang Preliminary Round
(Penang Times Square, Concourse Area, Level 1)
Closing date for online registration: 2 June 2011, 10pm

25 June (Sat)
Kuala Lumpur Preliminary Round
(1 Utama Shopping Centre, Ground Floor, Highstreet)
Closing date for online registration: 15 June 2011, 10pm

26 June (Sun)
Kuala Lumpur Finals
(1 Utama Shopping Centre, Ground Floor, Highstreet)

For those who missed the online registration deadline, they may still be eligible for the contest if they are the first 50 teams to register at the respective event venues.

PS: I did my maiden rock climbing at Camp 5 and it was superbly fun!

And to spice up the Super GT 2011 ~ Velocita Rave Party & Rock concert!

And for the much anticipated line up for the Rock Concert and the Velocita Rave Party that will make the the Super GT this year extra hot, extra exciting from the previous years!
VELOCITA RAVE PARTY

(Saturday 18 June, 6pm onwards, Sepang)

Tickets: RM38 Pre-sale & RM58 Door-sale

SUPER GT ticket holders enter free before 5.30pm

Ticket agent: www.redtix.airasia.com

Get your hearts racing with some of the best trance and progressive Djs in the world along with our own local talents as they make their way down for the first SUPER GT VELOCITA outdoor rave party!

Featuring four of the worlds most wanted DJs such as Roger Shah (DJ Mag Top 100 #34), Arnej (#87) , Sied van Riel (#97), and Mari Ferrari each spinning their unique blend of heart thumping and uplifting trance, the first ever VELOCITA dance party held at the Sepang F1 track will transcend your senses and fuel your musical soul.

ROCK ‘N RACE CONCERT

(Sunday 19 June, South Paddock)

Tickets: RM50 inclusive of race viewing from Hillstand B.

ALL Grandstand ticket holders enter concert area for free.

Ticket agent: www.redtix.airasia.com

Rock out like never before to leading local bands such as Hujan and Azlan & the Typewriter and Indonesian favourite Radja.

This is the first ever concert to be held on the actual Sepang racing track! You will be watching the concert from the race track immediately after the conclusion of the SUPER GT race, while the track is still blazing hot, littered with bits of rubber from the car tyres. But of course, you can choose to watch the concert from the cool comfort of the South Grandstand. You make the call!

Coffee and more @ Ristretto, 10 Mont Kiara

Marcky asked what do I think of coffee.

I loveeeeeeeeeeeeee coffee. For its taste, character and even its "stay awake" effect. As much as possible, I'll stay away from coffee because I am quite an insomniac to start things with. However, I could not resist the idea of Ristretto . It had to be a combination of its name and perhaps because I was seriously looking for a new place to chill before and after my kickboxing classes.

For the uninitiated, Ristretto is a short shot of an espresso. Short shot but this results in a more full flavoured and bodied coffee. Short shot isn't a mild shot if one is thinking that a short shot means less potent:P And as I learn later...the coffees at Ristretto despite being mildly priced, its certainly some rich potent coffees brewing there.

Its after work and at 7pm, I am surprised that I dared to coffee. For good coffee, why not? The kind folks at Ristretto started us off with a refreshing watermelon juice to freshen us up after work. Good idea since I was almost half dead by the time I arrived after the crazy rain and of course our famous KL traffic.

I opted for a piccolo for RM4.50. A piccolo is basically a small latte but with less milk. This is for those who like their coffee with milk but have a stronger preference of stronger coffee. Verdict? I loved it. And I finished every bit of it...
Hubby opted for the Long Macchiato at RM5. This is a rather strong drink since its double espresso. It was his drink however, I am on some caffeine high that I flicked quite a bit from him. The aroma and taste of the coffee was awesome (remember I like my coffee strong).
And obviously since hubby "lost" his coffee to me, he opted for another round of coffee. This time he had the Special Cappuccino at RM6. Unlike many other cappuccinos around, this is an interesting chocolatey cappuccino. The chocolate is intense yet not overwhelming. And the secret lies in the milk. It is chocolate milk!
Soy Chai Latte at RM6 that Bok ordered has a subtle blend of spices. It tasted just right and the soy milk made it delightfully smooth. A good drink to warm one up during the cold rainy night that we were there.
A sip here and there from the following coffees (all caffeinated and at night), it is no wonder that I kept awake for the next 36 hours:D

Ristretto isn't just about coffees. This places serves some wicked food. I absolutely adored the Club Sandwich. Served with a bed of salad and crinkled fries on the side, this is quite a filling meal and is best shared so you can try the other awesome stuff of their menu.
Another must try is the Mexican Chicken. Richly oozing with cheese and spicy well marinated meat. Its amazing how every mouthful was a mouthful of meat, mash potato and cheese.
If you're a pasta lover, Ristretto has quite a few for you to choose from. The Meatball Arrabiata is made with their own homemade chicken meatball. The sauce was a tad salty that night. But that aside, the whole pasta was really quite good.

The creamy based pastas were rightly creamy. So if you're not a creamy pasta person, leave this out as they are really awesomely creamy. This is the pollo @ fungi. Forgive my photo that does no justice to their pasta, but its really good. My only gripe is that I wished the pasta was a wee more el dente. No one complained that night, so perhaps its just a matter of preference:P
And if you prefer local stuff, Ristretto has them all sorted out. There is Nasi Lemak, Chicken Rendang and even Char Kueh Teow. Amongst the 3, I loved thed Char Kueh Teow the best. It was nice and spicy albeit a tad salty (which I think can be easily sorted out with the chef as my tastebuds are quite sensitive to salt).

Hubby mentioned that he loved the nasi lemak the best. The rice was fluffy "lemaky" and served with crunchy anchovies on the side, its no wonder that this was his best that night. And serving it on a slice of banana leaf definitely made the whole nasi lemak more "real".
And for the lost or even those with kids, the burgers at Ristretto will be your solution. We had chicken burger that night. Nothing to shout about but it was a safe order for anyone with fussy eaters or whose favourite order is "anything will do, please order for me".

Coffee must have a partner. And the partner here would be the desserts. When I first walked in, this chiller of desserts greeted me. I told myself, whatever it is I must leave room for desserts. The desserts looked good and tasted just as good.
I'm an apple pie child. Here at Ristretto the apple pie is just nicely sweet with a hint of cinnamon. The slightly tangy apples and the to kill for pastry (almost like a buttery crumble) makes this my favourite dessert of the night. Some may find the apple a wee chunky but this is the way I like my apple pies. Yummy...may I have more pleaseeeee?

Wild berry cheesecake was equally yummy but it just wasn't the best I have had. The cheesecake was good. I supposed I didn't take too well to the berries. Something was missing and I can't seem to figure out why.
The chocolate brownie is another must have. Moist and rich, it was perfect with the scoop of cream. The generous almonds went well with the whole works of the brownie and ice cream. Quite a delightful thing to have on a wet cold night. And definitely a good end to the night.
But I was wrong. The night didn't end with just desserts. More coffee to come. Ristretto has alcoholic coffees too. If you're adventurous and love the bitter taste of coffees coupled with the bitter taste of alcohol, this would be your cup of coffee. Andrew ~ thanx for the use of the following pictures.

I opted for Guinness Coffee. It was bitter. But something was just quite missing. I reckon it would have been nicer had it been a little creamier. Told Julian our barista for the night my 2 cents worth of opinion and he offered mea modified Guinness Coffee with a creamy texture the next time I swing by.
Hubby opted for the Irish Coffee. It was a tad mild for our liking. Reckon we both like our drinks stronger.
The Mayan Coffee was off for me. I don't know why but it certainly smelt like orange washing liquid to me:-( And Sue Lynn's face certainly made the Mayan Coffee a bad idea too :P


I'll sum up. Ristretto is a fabulous place to chill for coffee and food (especially the desserts). There is much love that goes into each coffee. See how they work and you'll know the love. Its some good beans chosen and coupled with the proper know how to brew a coffee that results in good coffee. And when you thrown in passion for coffee, the magic recipe for good coffee is perfected (almost).



Ristretto is nicely hidden in 10 Mont Kiara. Minus the on going construction nearby, this place is such a great cozy hideout. You'll love the cozy feel of the place. And coupled with the warm friendly service of the folks there, its no wonder this is one of my fave hangouts apart from Nolita in Viva Home Mall (which I'll opt during the weekdays since its nearer to my office).

Ristretto Cafe:
4 Jalan Kiara 1,
Mont Kiara,
50480 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia.
+603 62 1111 83

Dumplings 粽子 time: Pork free 粽子 @ West Lake Garden Chinese Restaurant, Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa

More pork free dumplings 粽子"zongzi" galore awaits one at West Lake Garden Chinese Restaurant, Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa. Its a clever play of ingredients and the art of cooking that ensures that pork free 粽子 taste just as smooth and flavourful as the pork ones.

Aptly named "Bundled Treasures", Chef Chan Choo Kean and his team roll out 5 awesome bundled treasures. This promotion starts 25th May till 6th June 2011.
Sharing is caring. And one certainly can't go wrong when one orders a 3kg Superior Giant Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Assorted Meat and Chef’s Special Savoury Sauce. Priced at RM188++ each, the 3kg rectangular dumpling looks like a block of rice wrapped in bamboo. It does look sort of the huge meal you'll need to feed an army:P
However what is actually in stored isn't just a block of bamboo and flavoured rice. Therein contains specially chosen ingredients for its flavour and texture including dried scallop, dried oyster, barbecued chicken, lotus seed, chestnut, salted egg yolk, mushroom, dried shrimp and yellow peas. To add to the whole awesome experience is a specially concocted savoury sauce.
I half expected that when it is steamed and sliced to be served, the ingredients will not evenly spread out. In the art of laying out the ingredients, the chefs have painstakingly ensured that every bit of ingredient is laid out evenly throughout each 3kg roll or block of dumpling. To put the chefs to the test, we actually dug out the 2 slices that we were served to check out the ingredients. Bravo, both slices of dumplings from the 3kg roll were evenly spread out. And yes if the 3kg which averagely feeds 10 very hungry people seems really too big for you, you can opt to order the sliced ones at RM28 each.
And may I add...the chinese pickled chili actually goes real well with the dumplings. Give it a try, you may well like it like I did. This condiment on the table looked really good with the very warm and traditional chinese decors of the West Lake Garden Chinese Restaurant. Bring your older loved ones such as your grandparents to score brownie points from them this chinese festival. Or better still take advantage of the above mentioned 3kg Superior Giant Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Assorted Meat and Chef’s Special Savoury Sauce and have a family reunion!
How many of us have actually heard of lamb being used in dumplings? Here at West Lake Garden Chinese Restaurant, they have introduced Steamed Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Yam and Lamb. Priced at RM23 each, this 粽子 is bursting with the flavours of the seasoned lamb meat coupled with the specially chosen ingredients of yam, dried shrimp, mushroom and chestnut. The taste is just amazing. The lamb was not strong neither was it subtle. It just tasted right. Neither did it leave the dumpling oily.
As it turned out, the lamb is carefully seasoned and cooked with precision to achieve such texture and flavour before it is being used as one the ingredients in this flavourful Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Yam and Lamb.

Hong Kong Style Steamed Glutinous Rice Dumpling priced at RM28 is a must try if you want something closer to the original old fashion dumplings. A bite into this all time favourite will reveal an assortment of hidden treasures including dried scallop, barbecued chicken, salted egg yolk, black mushroom, chestnut, dried shrimp and yellow pea all wrapped by a bed of fluffy glutinous rice which is lightly "tea-like" flavour because the lotus leaf is used to wrap this bundle of treasure.
Vegetarians fret not. Tantalise your tastebuds with the Steamed Vegetarian Glutinous Rice Dumpling priced at RM18 each. In every dumpling lays an array of mushrooms including enoki mushroom, abalone mushroom and black mushroom. And what makes this vegetarian dumpling different from many others out there is the usage of wild rice grains. These awesome power packed wild rice is not just nutritious but it has a slightly nutty taste which I admit compliments the chosen mushrooms well.
The fifth bundled treasure awaits us in the form of Steamed Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Sweet Red Bean priced at RM12 each. Frankly I was a bit disappointed with the idea of red bean. I felt it was normal. However, a bite into this Alkaline Dumplings "kee chang" filled with the red bean paste, I got hooked. The red bean paste was creamy and smooth. Nothing like the usual rather roughed ones that I had eaten most times. And when one adds a little of the honey on the side into the dumpling, it becomes even more flavourful. This I will have to admit, it is because I have always loved honey of any sort.
With all this glutinous rice, its best that one opts to wash it down with some Chinese tea to promote better digestion of the glutinous rice. Speak to your waitress or waiter on the wide assortment of exquisite chinese tea.

The dumplings 粽子 are served daily ala carte for lunch and dinner till 6th June 2011 and are also available

for take-away. Three days advance request is highly recommended for orders beyond 15 pieces per dine-in or take-away order. So hurry down to:

Opening hours:
• 12.00 noon to 2.30 pm for lunch (Mondays to Saturdays)
• 10.00 am to 2.30 pm (Sundays and PublicHolidays)
• 6.30pm to 10.30 pm for dinner (Mondays to Sundays).

For reservations, call West Lake Garden Chinese Restaurant at +603 7495 1888.