Monday, December 27, 2010

SPRING/SUMMER 2010/11: Balenciaga, Givenchy, Hugo Boss Black, Lacoste, Max Mara

Gisele Bundchen and Yuri Pleskun photographed by Steven Meisel for the spring summer 2011 Balenciaga campaign. The point of this collection is all about teddy boy-meets-punk masculinity and something the French call "garçon manqué" aka tomboy. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Movie Review: BLACK SWAN

Natalie Portman stars as Nina Sayers, a young ingenue whose desire to be cast as the lead in her company's ballet performance of Swan Lake was suddenly granted. The vulnerable and repressed Nina is the perfect choice to play the part of the virginal and innocent Swan Queen. Unfortunately, Nina lacks the passion and wild side to personify Swan Queen's deceitful twin sister, the Black Swan. The two qualities which are possessed by a newcomer named Lily (Mila Klunis). Rounding up the casts are Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy, the demanding director who uses sex to direct his dancers; Wynona Rider as Beth Macintyre, the embittered former star who is forced into early retirement; and Barbara Hershey as Erica Sayers, Nina's domineering and controlling mother who lives vicariously through her daughter because she sacrificed her career in order to have Nina. As the pressure to be perfect builds, Nina tries to lose herself in the roles but soon the line between reality and fantasy blurs and indivisibly makes everyone she crosses paths with her enemy, even herself. In the end viewers are left to find out which is real and which is imaginary.

At first glance, the movie seems just like your usual psychological thriller about a mentally unstable girl with paranoid delusions. However, the script cleverly elevated the storyline beyond just drama and thriller to comprise other genre and theme such as body horror and sexual awakenings. Yes, the catty competition  aspect between two rival dancers is generic, but it is still pretty irresistible. Furthermore, the script utilizes the characters as metaphors for different constructs of Nina's psyche. There is Nina, the submissive  and confused part that serves as the point of entry for viewers. Then there is Lily, the darker side who tries to steal the spotlight and by doing so feeds the paranoia. The mother as the voice of critiques that pushes Nina to be perfect all the time. And Beth, who struggled to retain her star status after her fifteen minutes were up, a scenario Nina fears will be happening to her sooner than expected.

The movie contains some genuinely earned scares and cringe inducing moments that had me at the edge of my seat for the whole 1 hour and 40 minutes, which is not an easy feat to accomplish as I've had my share of scary movies in the past. To say that this movie managed to knock the living daylights out of even a hardcore horror fan like me is not an exaggeration. Much of the success of the frights could be contributed to the musical scores composed by Clint Mansell. The scores successfully enhanced the daunting and eerie ambiance of the movie but still beautifully classic at the same time. The scores actually reminds me of classic noir and old horror movies such as Psycho.

Portman's performance as Nina is as captivating as it is flawless. It was apparent that this role is the most physically demanding one out of her career and she managed to pull it off gracefully. We have always known that Portman is a very talented actress and possesses a lot of range when it comes to emotional performances, but this role also gave her the opportunity to showcase her skill as a dancer and  let us see how devoted she is to her crafts and as a performer. How that girl hasn't even won an Oscar yet is beyond me. Mila Klunis' role is different than what she used to play, however she holds her own and managed to steal some scenes from under Portman. Klunis' performance successfully makes her character a perfect foil to Portman's. Complex on many layers, darkly disturbing, and acutely intense, Black Swan is a movie that once it grasps you, it never lets go. A definite must-watch.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Social House 2nd Anniversary Party: A Magical Journey to Majestic Middle East

The invitation

On Friday 10th December 2010, for one night only Social House had been transformed into magical land of Middle East for the celebration of its 2nd anniversary party. In conjunction with the Grand Opening of Social House Dubai, Social House Jakarta went all out in bringing the exoticism and mysticism of the majestic Middle East for cosmopolites and glitteratis alike to experience. The place was divided into two areas: the theater and the club in compliance with the evening's program.

The exclusive party spoiled your senses, starting by tickling your taste buds with delightful choices of exotic Middle Eastern food, especially crafted by the executive chef Aldo Volpi, and a special cocktail. The party moved on to feast your eyes as belly dancers seductively sashayed around the room brushing past fashionistas dressed to the nine in Arabic attires. The fashion in harmony with the lavish decors brought the scene to life. Then they took your breath away as James Galea, Australia's #1 magician, performed his tricks in the Social House Theatre. As the night sizzled and frizzled like desert heat, the party climaxed by musing guests' ears to DJ Aaron Ross' toe-spinning inducing beats in the Social House Club.

The signature cocktail of the evening, named Ruby Red Dust

Belly dancers

 The theater with stage upfront

The club

 The f. Vodka bar

The party was like a performance on its own as guests were spotted strutting across the room for the obligatory cheek-kissing between friends and then carefully maneuvering the room as not to bump into frenemies. Highlight of the evening, however, was definitely James Galea's performance as he charmed the audience with his card tricks and wicked sense of humor.  James infused the party with his youthful presence and the much-need laughter, in an otherwise a lackluster event. James Galea's laid back style -performing in tees,  jeans, and sneakers- and his devil-may-care attitude was definitely a nice change from the increasingly theatrical and buttoned-up conventional magicians sprouting up these days. With his effervescent personality, James Galea managed to make cool seems so effortless.

Supporting the event were Dunhill, HSBC, Vodka, Coca-Cola, and Corona. Ismaya Group once again have proven themselves to be the leading hospitality and lifestyle company. Pocketing another a successful event under its belt, signs of the terrible-twos were nowhere to be found, in fact the future of Social House as a fine-dining establishment in Jakarta looks gleaming. Anyone who's anyone were present to celebrate its birthday and many of them would probably agree that it was a pretty memorable night. 

James Galea

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

PRINCE HOUSE: The Best Margherita Pizza Can Be Found Here

Kelapa Gading is like a mecca for food lovers. You can find almost every kind of food there. Just take a stroll on the boulevard and within minutes you'll find yourself bombarded with various establishments from those specializing in local cuisines to Asian, and western. Looking for something more specific? You can always hop to the La Piaza for more choices. With the vast array of options, it is easy to get confused when picking a place to eat. I'm sure the thought process of a lot of people goes like this: Tried that, bored. Haven't tried that one, but not in the mood. Tried that one and it was eww. And start over. Don't even let me start on when we're arguing with our eating partners. Choosing a place to eat, sometimes can be a chore in when you're in Kelapa Gading. 

So, I was driving around the boulevard looking for a place to eat. Then I spotted a place that piqued my interest. Located next to a flower shop was Prince House, a restaurant specializing in Belgian Waffles and Italian Cuisines. I've always had a weakness for waffles , so it was no surprise when I suddenly found myself standing in the front steps. The place was small and simple, almost like a diner. On the inside, it was conjoined with the flower shop next door which gave the place a little bit of charm.

Assortment of waffles on the display.

The specialty here is the waffles, available sweet and savory. We got right down to it and ordered one of each. We didn't forget to also try the pizza. And for the drink, I had a green tea gelato shake.

 Gelato Deluxe White (22.8K). Two pieces of waffle, strawberry gelato, white chocolate, and almond.

Classic Parmigiana (24.8K). Waffles served with breaded chicken breast, cheddar cheese, mixed salad, french fries,and homemade neapolitan sauce.
Medium Margherita (49.8k). Pizza with cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, and Neapolitan sauce.

Greentea Milkshake Gelato (19.8K).

The gelato on the Deluxe White Waffles was nothing special, but the waffles themselves were really good. They were crisp, just the way I like them. The Classic Parmigiana was rather generic and kind of difficult to  be eaten with utensils. When I sliced through it with knife and fork, the whole dish fell apart. I guess it was meant to be picked up with hands like eating a hamburger. Both of the waffle dishes were not bad and I felt like I got my money 's worth.

The pizza itself was Oh My God! I feel like I could write a poetry about the pizza. It was by far the best Margherita Pizza I have ever tasted in my entire existence. The pizza reminded of a passage in one of my favorite books: "Eat, Pray, Love". The passage describes of a legendary pizzeria in Naples, Italy, and ever since I read that book, I have always wondered what their pizza would taste like. The passage really best describes the pizza I ate and it goes like this:

"The dough, it takes me half my meal to figure out, tastes more like Indian naan than like any pizza dough I ever tried. It's soft and chewy and yielding, but incredibly thin. I always thought we only had two choices in our lives when it came to pizza crust--thin and crispy or thick and doughy. How was I to have known there could be a crust in this world that was thin and doughy? Holy of holies! Thin, doughy, strong, gummy, yummy, chewy, salty pizza paradise."

I really think I've found that pizza here, in this place! When I read that passage in the book, this is how I would have imagined the pizza to taste like. In my opinion, the success of the pizza could also be attributed to the homemade Neapolitan sauce. The garlic and onion flavors really came through and it elevated the dish from being another standard cheesy, salty pizza.

I loved the waffles and the pizza. Prince House is definitely a place worth checking out when you're looking for a place to eat in Kelapa Gading area. I'm tempted to try out other stuffs on their menu, maybe another type of pizza and the pasta. I haven't gotten the chance to try the pasta before. I often find myself craving for their waffles and the pizza, but I just live so far from Kelapa Gading and rarely visit there, but I will definitely return and I am looking forward until the time comes.

Prince House
Jl. Bulevar Kelapa Gading WA2 No. 12
Kelapa Gading Permai
Delivery (Kelapa Gading Area Only): 021-98299537

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The 7 Wonders of Jakarta Culinary Festival 2010 Blogger's Dinner

Jakarta Culinary Festival is an annual epicurean festival that runs for a period of one month. Brought to us by Ismaya Group, this festival features prestigious International chefs, vintners, and local culinary stars. Now, in its second year, JCF continues to deliver excellence and capture the hearts of gourmet connoisseurs throughout the city. Putting an emphasis on quality, the festival aims to promote Jakarta as the go-to culinary and travel destination in Southeast Asian.

On the 30th of November, the last day of JCF, a special session was held for aspiring bloggers and I was one of the lucky few who was invited. The session took place at the Pop-Up restaurant & bar located on the fifth floor of Grand Indonesia - West Mall. An exquisitely designed space, the restaurant was built and operated for one month only during the festival.

Co-managed by, the official food portal, and supported by Foodtography, the official photographer, the session started with a talk-show with a panel consisting industry insiders such as Mr. Ivan Sielegar, the co-founder of; Mr. Erza S.T., a  food critic, writer, and contributor to The Jakarta Post & Elle; and Mr. Himawan Sutanto, a food photographer from the Foodtography agency. Other than the talk-show, we were also treated to a sushi-making demonstration from Chef Hugo Adrian, the executive chef of Blowfish Kitchen & Bar, and a seven-course gala dinner prepared by celebrity chefs.

The Talk-Show Panel from left to right: Mr. Himawan Sutanto, Mr. Ivan Sielegar, Mr. Erza S.T., & Mr. Yudha Perdana as MC.

      Chef Hugo Adrian giving a demonstration and instructions in sushi making to the participants.

Good foods and good friends made for one awesome evening. The food was meticulously prepared and there was no bad dish out of the entire meals. The companies consisted of sophisticated and interesting persona who kept the conversation flowing as the waiters periodically poured wine into our glasses and served us with martini. Now, here is my two-cents about the food:
The 1st course. Cold Appetizer. Balinese Chicken Salad with Coconut Vegetables and Sambal Matah. By Fahmi Widarte - Corporate Chef of Rotaryana Prima.

The meat was cooked evenly, but personally I would have liked it better if it was a little bit more tender and juicy. However the firmness of the meat provided some contrast and consistency when eaten with the salad underneath. Some attendees found the dish to be too spicy but I found it to be just right for my taste. The aromatic spices and peanut sauce did give complexity to the flavors but the spiciness was a little bit palate-numbing at the same time. The presentation was delicately beautiful.

The 2nd course. Hot Appetizer. Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek in Sweet Miso. By Hugo Adrian - Executive Chef if Blowfish Kitchen & Bar.

This was my favorite dish out of the entire meals. I would fore-go all the other dishes if I can have this dish six more times. The beef was cooked to perfection. The sweetness of the caramelized radish perfectly complimented the saltiness of the meat. The radish was as equally a star of the plate as the beef. Both components literally melted in your mouth and with the light and airy miso soup, they all created a fusion of flavors so gratifyingly titillating. The presentation on this one was masterful. Simple, bold, and focused. In this case, less is definitely more.

The 3rd course. Soup. Authentic Sultan's Tomato Cream Soup With Foie Gras. By Agus Ishermawan - Head Chef of Ismaya Catering.

This was not a bad dish. It got a lot of flavors. It just wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I wished the soup had  had stronger tomato flavor. The cream was too heavy. And the texture of the foie gras was off. This was definitely something that I'm not used to. I couldn't finish the dish. It was surprisingly satiating and I got to save room for other dishes  :p

The 4th course. Pasta. Red Shell Pasta With Duck Ragout, Pine Nut, And Rocket Salad. By Gianfranco Beltarmo - Italian Chef De Cuisine At Casa D'oro, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta

The dish had robust flavor and the fact that the pasta was served with duck ragout gave a nice twist to it. The texture of the dish felt like a deconstructive lasagna. I was expecting the pasta  in the dish to be cooked more al dente since the last two dishes we had had been more on the delicate side, so I was expecting something that I could dig my fork and knife into. I  also thought that the pine nuts and rocket salad didn't add anything to the dish. The portion was too little to have any effect on the overall texture of the dish and as the result, it became a one-note dish.
The 5th course. Fish. Chilean Sea Bass Seasoned With Lee Kum Kee Ginger Oyster Sauce. By Sofyan Joshua - Technical Culinary Chef of Sukanda Djaya.

Basically, the flavor of Chilean Sea Bass is mild, so it really was up to the sauce to give the dish any extra flavors. And the oyster sauce, oh what a feat! I didn't taste much of the ginger flavor in sauce and of course, it would have been nicer to have that little smack from the ginger to add a little bit more complexity to the flavors, but the sauce itself already hit all the right notes for me. Again, I was expecting a dish with more consistency and instead I wound up with a delicate dish. Chilean Sea Bass has high fat content and can still retain a lot of moisture even when it is cooked long enough  as was the case with my dish. I found that my fish was a still little bit too oily and the sauce was liquid, so it was like eating sunny-side up egg on soup. The oyster sauce was the only saving grace of the dish and I wished I had just a tad bit more of it on my plate. And the dish will probably improve if the fish was pan-seared first. But, that was just my personal choice.

The 6th course. Meat. Short Rib, Truffle Demi Glaze, Charcoal Oil, Glazed Carrots, Potato Hot Foam, And Nuts Fake Cous Cous. By Ignacio Virgen Jimenez - Chef De Cuisine of Potato Head.

Finally, this was the dish that I could dig into. The meat was cooked perfectly. Tender and juicy. The truffle flavor translated nicely and wasn't overpowering. The glazed carrots was crisp and sweet,  the potato foam was creamy like melted mozzarella cheese, and together with the cous cous they all gave complexity and different textures to the dish. The only issue I had with the dish was that the meat was just a little bit too salty. 

The 7th course. Dessert. Green Tea Cake Ala Tropicale. By Rinrin Marinka - Artistic Chef.

I always love a good green tea cake and this was not an exception. Dessert is my favorite part of a menu and I'm always looking forward to a good dessert, so my expectation was high. Fortunately, this dessert didn't disappoint. I really enjoyed the texture of the cake. The outer layer was crispy and the cake center was well balanced. Not too moist, not too dry. I was afraid that the cake was gonna fall apart as I sliced the cake  through the hard shell of the outer layer to the cushy center, but it didn't. The presentation was beautiful, however it could definitely do with a few components off the plate. The mango and the baked apple didn't add anything, if anything they just shifted the focus away from the much more essential components. The passion fruit jus, on the other hand, was brilliant. It provided just the right acidity and refreshing touch to make this dish truly Ala Tropicale. And the green tea powder just further accentuated the flavor which was exquisite.

Again, I must remind you that I didn't think that there was any bad dish. Clearly, a lot of thoughts and efforts were put into creating these dishes. All of them were delicious and I would order any of them again if I go to one of the chefs' restaurant and see it listed on the menu. These are just my subjective opinions based on my personal taste. Maybe you could compare my thoughts with my fellow bloggers' who attended the session with me and form your own conclusion. I'll provide the links to their blogs below.

The atmosphere at the gala dinner.

I would also like to express my gratitude to all the parties involved to make it one memorable evening. Thank you Ismaya,, and Foodtography. We ate, we drank, we learned. And to my fellow bloggers, I had such a nice time with you and it was a pleasure meeting you all. I hope we could meet again in the future and share some more interesting stories about food and writing.

The wonderful chefs who made all the magic happen.

Check out my fellow bloggers:
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