The Bread Winner

I just love Carbs. Especially bread. Who hasn’t been seduced by the smell of freshly toasted bread, slathered with a generous dollop of butter and topped with your choice of jam or whatever. However, for many years in Ipoh, I have had to tolerate flabby soft rolls or indifferent slabs of factory made loaves under the excuse of “well in Ipoh people like their bread like this!!”

Now I have found the winning bread: Chef Sam Lau’s Artisan Handmade Bread (AHB) which are crusty, robust and hearty breads that have ‘ooomph’ in them. And usually with a sourdough base which according to my research is more digestible than standard loaves and more nutritious too. They also render the gluten in flour more digestible and less likely to cause food intolerance.This is why Chef Sam says his breads are a healthier option and why his Artisan handmade bread (AHB) are a hit with Ipohites.

A classically trained chef who has decided to “come out of the closet” and declare his passion for baking, Chef Sam is all set to offer delicious artisan handmade bread and at the same time educate Ipohites on the niceties and nuances of AHB – the kind that lingers on your tastebuds long after eating; and brings out the best in all the foods you serve it with; the kind that makes your friends ask “…where did you get this?”

What sets AHB apart from other breads is the meticulous and painstaking process to make it. “Unlike the usual bread you can find in any bakery, AHB uses only three main ingredients; flour, yeast and water. I cultivate the sourdough from scratch which takes two weeks for each batch and make each bread with my own two hands,” said the passionate chef cum baker.

AHB’s main product is its sourdough bread that is good to have alone or with a spread of butter or jam. Currently AHB offers a selection of sourdough bread such as Rex Bavarian Dark (Dark Roggena roasted wheat malt flour and barley malt) RM13, Cheddar Cheese (RM13), Sundried Tomato/Black Olive/Garlic/Italian Herbs (RM15), Swiss Muesli (RM13), Rye/Multi Seed RM13, Tripple Chocolate Chips (RM15) and December’s bread of the month, Parisian Fougasse at RM10. All their breads are made without artificial preservatives.

Customers who are keen on getting a taste of AHB can contact Sam at 016 597 8922. The minimum order is three to four loaves and please give two days advance notice to avoid disappointment. Delivery and pick up point for collection on Tuesday and Friday from 12pm to 3pm only. For more information check out the Artisan Handmade Bread page on Facebook.

SeeFoon Changes Her Mind about STG @ Old Town

I am a self-confessed insatiable Foodie. And curious to boot. Therefore when a new eatery opens, I make it a point to visit and explore. But as my dear readers may be aware, I am totally focused on quality of food and that is what I write about.

The ambiance and decor may be stunning (STG in Old Town is spectacular) but these two features will not get me or my foodie friends returning if the quality of food is not up to scratch. Which was the case when I went for the first time to STG for a meal when they first opened. Never setting foot inside ever since, I was surprised when my Foodie Kaki Ginla Chew invited me there for lunch but to my delight and surprise, I found Jessie Yong, formerly of Indulgence, managing the place.

And has the food quality undergone a complete transformation! With Jessie helming the Food and Beverage side including getting into the kitchen herself to prepare some of the dishes, the difference was almost like night and day.

Yes there are still a few dishes that don’t work so well yet but all in all the food quality has improved so much that a meal in STG within this beautifully restored heritage shophouse is now on my “where-can-I-get-a-good-western-meal-in-comfort-and-style” list of restaurants to invite guests and visitors.

So without much ado, allow me to introduce to you my favourite dishes from STG. Firstly the pasta is ‘al dente’ which for me is the most telling of a good kitchen despite what I’m constantly being told that Ipohites like their pasta soft. My stance is that a good kitchen caters for all tastes. Ask guests how they’d like their pasta and serve accordingly, would be my recommendation. But of course if the kitchen is set up where the pasta is precooked and even frozen, then there is no hope for ‘al dente’.

Thankfully STG does not pre-cook its pasta. The angel hair pasta served with slices of smoked duck had an added nuance with slices of water chestnuts lending crunch to an already al dente pasta. Chilli flakes and fried Thai Basil lent pizazz to the dish – RM26. Another, a deluxe version of Rigatoni in a thick cream sauce with earthy black truffle slices, topped with Danish caviar and infused with truffle oil was yummiliciously rich and creamy, almost too much to eat the whole portion – RM42. The secret to the creamy sauce, according to Jessie? Adding egg yolk to the sauce towards the end.

I had on two occasions tried their soups, first the roasted pumpkin and subsequently a Cauliflower soup with smoked chicken, both umami and creamily smooth with the creaminess coming from the pureed vegetable rather than just from cream – RM12/13.

Their pizzas are highly recommendable. I particularly enjoyed their Roman Anchovy pizza, with turkey ham, rocket leaves, oven dried tomatoes and mixed cheese. The pizza crust is thin and crispy and do ask for extra chilli flakes to sprinkle – RM28.

Of the two salads I’ve enjoyed, I had difficulty deciding which was the better of the two. The Pomelo with mango, and fresh prawns had a sesame dressing dressing (RM22) which lent it a fusion touch while their Smoked Chicken and Avocado with cheese, pine nuts, green apple, and pumpkin was paired with a pesto vinaigrette – RM24. Another starter of note is their pan fried fresh mushrooms with basil which is excellent, firm, and not soggy like in some other places where I’ve had this – RM17.

Of their meats, the one I recommend the most is the chilled Black Angus Rib Eye, a generous slab (250gm) of juicily tender steak served with a black pepper sauce on the side – RM66.

There will be a special menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day consisting of a four course meal with the addition of a Mocktail for RM88+/pax. A kid’s menu of two courses and Juice is set at RM48+/pax. These will be available throughout the two days.

STG Boutique Cafe@Old Town
18 & 20 Jalan Tun Sambanthan,
Tel: 05 243 3116; 05 253 3116
Facebook: stgboutiquecafe