Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Little India and Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur's Little India and Chinatown are next to each other and provide neighborhoods for two of the three main ethnic groups in the city (the third being Malay).  From my hotel, I walk along the Klang River to Little India, as the architecture changes from modern to more traditional Indian construction.

 Along the Klang River

The streets of Little India are packed with shops and houses rebuilt of bricks and tiles after a flood in 1881 swept away the original structures.

Little India

At the bottom of Little India and across the river are views of the the Masjid Jamek Mosque and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, originally holding the Federated Malay States administration, then later the Supreme Court, and currently the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.  I'll find my way to that side of the river in a bit.

 Across the river, Masjid Jamek mosque, Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Below Little India, Chinatown hosts markets, restaurants, and food stalls, including Central Market, which offers shopping for anything one might desire.  The market is not yet open and I continue on, making a note to self to return later.


 Central Market

 Below Chinatown is a great food court, full of hawker stalls with tables out in the open under canopies to protect diners from the occasional shower.  All the local police seem to be eating here.

Food court/hawker stalls

I come to the end of the Indian and Chinese centers of the city and it's time to cross the river to the government offices and Malay community.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Arriving in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I arrive in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, amid a sea of green.  The high-speed train from the airport into the city passes through forests of palm trees as far as the eye can see.  Kuala Lumpur is 350 km (217 miles) from the equator and the climate is hot and humid.

 Sea of green

My initial stroll around the neighborhood near my hotel takes me over to the Petronas Twin Towers, about 15 minutes away.  These 88-story towers were built as a blend of modern stainless steel and Moorish architectures, opening in 1999, and were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998-2004.

 Petronas Twin Towers

At the base of the towers, KLCC Park provides 20 hectares (50 acres) of green space with lakes, trails, gardens, and fountains.  I wander through the park and enjoy the scenery and all the people out and about (especially near the water features).

 KLCC Park

The Kuala Lumpur Aquarium and Convention Center stretches along the southern edge of the park, providing great places for convention attendees to take a break.

Convention center

From the park, I walk into the city toward the Bukit Bintang, a shopping district with malls, cafes, night markets, and hawker stalls for incredible local dining.

 Shoping at Bukit Bintang

 Dining in malls and at hawker stalls

From Bukit Bintang, an elevated covered walkway weaves through the buildings and over the streets back to KLCC Park and the Convention Center, winding through the city for about 850 meters (1/2 mile).  The walkway itself is art!

 Covered walkway

From the Convention Center back to the hotel, there are beautiful parks and water features integrated into the buildings and streets, providing a refreshing end to my initial stroll through this welcoming city.

 Small parks and water displays

The Petronas Twin Towers are prominent, even when 900 meters (.6 miles) away, an incredible representative of the modern Kuala Lumpur.

Petronas Towers from afar

I can see another landmark site of the city, the Mernara Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur Tower), 421 meters (1,380 feet) high to the tip of the TV antenna.  The tower has an observation platform at top, which is used to observe the crescent moon which marks the beginning of many Muslim holidays.

 Kuala Lumpur Tower, day and night

This has been a great introduction to Kuala Lumpur and there sure is a lot to see!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Trofie with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

One of our favorite dishes in Cinque Terre is the Ligurian specialty:  Trofie with Pesto.  The combination of fresh pesto with potatoes, green (or string) beans, and trofie pasta is incredible.  Although we can't [yet] make it at home as great as it is when we have it for dinner on the Mediterranean, not only is it a wonderful meal, but it also bring back lots of wonderful memories of our annual trips to Cinque Terre and its fabulous scenery, food, and people.

Trofie with pesto

Trofie pasta is made by rolling a piece of dough into a long rope, cutting the rope into short pieces, and rolling each piece until the ends are tapered and the dough is twisted.  We often buy ready-made trofie at Market Hall Foods (formerly the Pasta Shop) on Fourth Street in Berkeley.

Trofie pasta

In addition to the pasta, we use 1/2 pound (.25 kg) of green beans, 3/4 pound (1/3 kg) of small round white potatoes cut into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) rounds (alternatively, we could use two large white potatoes, peeled and cubed), and basil pesto.

Ingredients lined up

The beans are boiled about 10 minutes until slightly tender, then removed and replaced by the potatoes, which are boiled 10-15 minutes until tender.

While the beans and potatoes are cooking, we mince 50-60 basil leaves in a food processor (we can also use a mortar and pestle, which is more traditional, but a lot more work), then add several garlic cloves, toasted pine nuts, a little salt, and, once everything is well-minced, two tablespoons each of grated parmesan reggiano and pecorino romano cheeses.  We then blend in olive oil until the pesto has a light, creamy consistency.

 Prepare the beans and potatoes

Ready to assemble

The trofie is cooked in boiling water for about ten minutes, then mixed with the pesto sauce, potatoes, and beans.  After a quick stir, coating everything with the pesto sauce, the trofie pesto is plated and served with extra parmesan reggiano.

 Assemble and stir

Serve with extra cheese and wine