My last post on Marrakech. But more Morocco to come!
A man was selling mint from giant sack, right on the street.
mint for sale
Fried fish. Mark, our guide, said that it wasn’t worth eating seafood here and that it would be better on the coast. Also, notice the Activia sign. I had no idea that stuff was so far reaching!
fish and yogurt sign
Lots and lots and lots of colourful tagines for sale.
Garlic and spices for sale on the side of the street.
garlic and spices
When I decided to go on a trip to Las Vegas, I knew I wanted at least one fancy pants meal. After doing some reading about the various places in Las Vegas, I settled on L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon as the place where we’d have our most expensive meal, to be eaten on the Saturday before we went to a showing of KÀ.
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
I’ve actually had my eye on this upscale chain of restaurants for a while now. I had planned on going there while in Hong Kong last year, but on the only day I had free I wasn’t feeling hungry at all and ended up going to sleep early instead of trying to find my way there. Because of this, L’Atelier was high on my Vegas to-do list.
This location of L’Atelier is located right next to the casino floor and they had the doors propped open, which meant that some of the casino sounds filtered into the restaurant. Part way through my meal they closed one of the doors and most of the sounds went away, so at some point I actually forgot we were right next to the casino. Next to the restaurant is Robuchon’s other restaurant at the MGM Grand, Joël Robuchon at The Mansion (which I considered for my list but crossed off due to the price). And next to that fantastic entrance (look at the chandelier in the foyer!) was the KÀ Theatre.
Joël Robuchon at the Mansion and KÀ Theatre
In Las Vegas, L’Atelier is a one-star Michelin French restaurant. A majority of the restaurant’s seating is at a bar surrounding and facing the open kitchen, similar to a sushi bar. An important part of the dining experience here is watching the kitchen staff make your food. It is for this reason that Robuchon calls this series of restaurants “the workshop,” or L’Atelier.
bar seating at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon with the casino viewable through the window
The decor was very modern with lots of reds and blacks. The kitchen was decorated by large vases of fruits, eggs, and vegetables floating in water, as well as giant fake apples and round hanging greenery.
My attempts at healthy eating completely failed this weekend. Not only did my meals consist of Mexican and Chinese food (more on that later this week), but I also indulged in some Easter chocolate. Specifically, chocolate from Kerstin’s Chocolate and their store The Cocoa Room.
This year Kerstin had an Easter egg hunt where if you found six eggs you would get a special basket full of chocolate. If you found three eggs, you had your choice of one Zotter chocolate bar. The eggs were scattered in various local stores that sells Kerstin’s line of Chocophilia chocolate bars. And they went quick. It was awfully frustrating to call or end up at places that had already given theirs away, and yet fun at the same time to go on a treasure hunt. Some of the places were just too far away to get to; I figured I might as well buy my own chocolate than waste gas driving out to some locations. It was an interesting cross-marketing idea though, and I actually ended up spending money at a couple of places while looking for the eggs (also more on that later in another post).
In the end, I ended up with three plastic eggs that I traded in for a Zotter bar. Zotter’s chocolate bars are Austrian organic and fair trade “hand scooped” bars that specialize in unique flavours like Bacon Bits (Kerstin told me those sold out very quickly) and Sour Cherries with Sesame. I chose Cheese – Walnut – Grapes, which Zotter describes as:
“A harmonious combination: Austrian mountain cheese, walnuts, grapes, almonds and a touch of balsamic apple vinegar, altogether dipped in dark alp milk chocolate.”
It was definitely interesting. The closest that I could think of as a description was eating a cheese and walnut plate with a side of wine (actually some Grappa that was one of the ingredients), accompanied by small pieces of chocolate – but with the experience all rolled into one bite instead of separate nibbles.
Cheese - Walnut - Grapes chocolate bar by Zotter
Laksa, popiah and ais kacang with durian ice cream oh my! Just a warning, this is going to be a long post. Kek Seng Kopitiam (coffee shop) is an institution in Penang. It’s been around for years and years, and frankly the atmosphere is a little dingy (although all the tables, plates, bowls, etc. were clean). The food is a little more old fashioned too; unlike at someplace like New World, the food is pretty much how it was served 30+ years ago (found something online that says Kek Seng opened in 1906). When we were there it was quite busy but we managed to snag a table.
One thing I miss dearly about Malaysia was the easy access to laksa. And by laksa, I mean Penang assam laksa. I talked about curry mee (curry laksa) a little while ago. That one is a coconut-based curry broth. Penang-style assam laksa is a sour, mackerel-based soup that is flavoured with tamarind, lemongrass, galangal, chilli, ginger flower buds, mint, pineapple and onion. You also usually get a soup spoon filled with a thick, sweet prawn paste called Hae Ko, and the whole thing is served with rice noodles (either thick or vermicelli).
The assam laksa at Kek Seng was one of my favourites that I had throughout the trip. A strong fish broth with all those spices and a slight sourness; my mouth is watering as I type this. This first photo is of the hawker stall; those pink things are the ginger flowers. When I’ve shown that photo to other people, the reaction I’ve gotten has been “you mean they actually use flowers and not ginger root?!”
Penang assam laksa hawker stall