Friday, 26 February 2010

Anise Terrace, Anise Hotel, Phnom Penh

Granted, having lunch in my hotel was a bit of a lightweight option on my first day in Cambodia however in my defence a) it was ridiculously hot (37°c) b) I had spent the morning at the Killing Fields which is a sombre appetite suppressant and c) I was wiped out with jetlag. One of the main attractions of the terrace was the shaded area surrounded by palms, this combined with the overhead fans and the Billie Holiday being played on the sound system as opposed to the pan pipe/harp hell that invades my ears in many other asian restaurants made it my number one choice!

I opted for the ginger chicken with jasmine rice. I quickly learnt that in Cambodia you get exactly what it says on the menu. In the UK ginger chicken tends to contain maybe onions or peppers or some kind of veg. Not in Phnom Penh, if it says ginger chicken, you get chicken with ginger. End of. That said, it was very tasty, with a nice crunchy bite on the ginger for texture and the right amount of fire without burn. The jasmine rice was nice and fluffy so all in all for $5 who am I to complain?!

The rest of the menu is pretty evenly split between asian influenced dishes and western food, I guess to cater for the tourist crowd as well as those on a more long term travels who want a taste of home. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to find this place but if you're nearby and need food it's a safe bet. 10% of all profit goes to a local childrens orphanage charity which makes you feel good whilst you eat; it's not often that eating can make you feel virtuous so it would have seemed rude not to make the most of it!

Nº 2C, St 278 off 57, Beoung Keng Kang I, Chamkamorn, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.


Monday, 22 February 2010

A Quest for Cambodian Cuisine

Khmer food is widely renowned for being similar to Thai or Vietnamese but not so spicy. Either this is not true or I have a ridiculously low tolerance for spice because most of the dishes I ate required copious gulps of Angkor beer after each mouthful (not that this was any hardship!) There are also clear influences present on menus from India and China which I guess, considering Cambodia's geographical location, is no massive surprise. In general I found that the food was sweeter than Thai, often involving large chunks of palm sugar or lashings of palm syrup so if you're a mainly savoury creature visiting Cambodia, be warned!

Some of the best known dishes and ingredients include the following:

  • Amok: usually with fish but can be with chicken, pork or prawn. The name "amok" comes from the cooking process whereby the curry is steamed in a banana leaf parcel. The sauce involves a mix of spices, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, turmeric, lemongrass and lots of coconut milk. The resulting dish is quite dry as compared to it's closest relative the thai green curry and less spicy.
  • Loc Lac: sugar and garlic marinated beef, stir fried with greens and served with a tangy lime dipping sauce. Often served with cucumber in Cambodia (which unfortunately put me off trying it due to my pathological hatred of cucumber)
  • Prahok: a fish paste made by drying crushed fish in the sun then storing in a jar to ferment. Fermentation periods vary between anything from 20 days to over 3 years and generally the bigger the fish and the longer the fermentation period the better the Prahok is considered to be. Prahok can be used as an ingredient in soups or curries but can also be eaten as a stand alone dish with rice for the very brave.
  • Samlar Machu: a hot and sour soup, spiced and flavoured with tamarind and lime

OK, so for a few days the sybarite bit goes out of the window. Whilst Cambodia is certainly changing fast, the definition of luxury here is still a little different to my usual one but here goes.....

Friday, 5 February 2010

Bellevue Rendezvous

Bellevue Rendezvous is actually one of my closest local restaurants so I’ve spent a fair amount of time there. Although this means I may be a little biased it also means I can vouch for its consistency.
Stephanie and Pablo are a fantastic French couple who own and run the restaurant. Whilst Stephanie masters front of house Pablo cooks up a storm in the kitchen. I love that the menu is always comparatively simple, offering up traditional French fare.

Designed to feel cosy and a little rustic, the grey gingham theme, flower murals, candles and olives on the table transport you several hundred miles away from the middle of Wandsworth to the French countryside. That said, in the last couple of months, whilst the quality of food remains high, there has been a clear focus on presentation resulting in more interesting visuals.


The First Post.......

Hello. Welcome.
It feels a little odd writing that when I know no one can read this yet but who knows, maybe once I unleash Sybaricious into the cyberworld someone might find my greeting.

I have been writing notes about favourite foods, meals and drinks for some time and keep hold of treasured menus but I had never thought about recording it all in a blog.
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