casual french-italian dining: topshelf @ ttdi.

29 Apr 2012 § 4 Comments

Topshelf first appeared on my food radar after I read a review about their desserts at Eat Drink KL (scroll down, the review is at the bottom). It was immediately added to my in-no-particular-order-but-I’ve-gotta-try-these-places list on my BlackBerry.

After a lazy Saturday afternoon that saw us meandering around the older parts of KL, the boyfriend and I decided to stop by Topshelf for an early dinner. The restaurant is located behind the ‘pub row’ of TTDI along the quieter lane facing the residential area and was blissfully peaceful.

I love the decor of the place – very simple and very open, though I have a feeling it may get a tad bit hot during the day despite the air curtain.

Their menu is simple, with a variety of dishes for entrées, and what looks to be one of each type of meat for mains (duck, chicken, fish, beef, pasta…)…casual French-Italian fare with some classics like Coq au Vin and bouillabaisse according to their website.

Due to my predilection for any form or variation of Peking duck (if it’s on the menu, I’ll inevitably order it) and our mutual fondness for duck confit, we ended up ordering three duck dishes between the two of us!

Topshelf’s version of Peking duck (I totally have no recollection of what it was called on their menu – this is why I have long since given up trying to be a food blogger. Other reasons include my extremely limited palate and tummy capacity, but I digress…) took a leaf out of Ikea’s books, ie. self-assembly required! The dish was served on a wooden chopping board with julienned spring onions and cucumbers, a generous serving of shredded duck meat, steamed Chinese pancakes and a bowl of hoisin sauce. Halfway through, we gave up using our cutlery and devoured everything using our fingers instead (the Chinese pancakes ran out long before the duck meat did!).

The duck confit was a melt-in-your-mouth affair of tender duck meat and crispy skin, served with a side of sliced potatoes, french beans, greens and – if my taste buds were right – cranberry sauce. Needless to say, we both polished off our individual plates.

We returned for dinner on a separate occasion during the following week and I tried the Linguine Vongole this time around. The pasta was nice and al-dente and was served with plenty of clams (one or two were a little gritty, unfortunately), though I did find it slightly on the ‘soupy’ side.

Topshelf’s dessert menu may not be substantial, but what they do have on the menu is exceptionally yummy. Definitely a case of quality over quantity, which should be the case in any restaurant. We’ve managed to sampled three desserts so far: Champagne Mille-Feuille, Apple Tarte Tatin and Chocolate Mousse, and I’m dying to go back for more.

Personally, I feel that the Apple Tarte Tatin wins hands down amongst the three – thinly-sliced, sticky-sweet, slightly caramelized apples laid on top of a crispy tart base, topped with a generous scoop of ice cream…oh my. I actually felt reluctant to share after taking my first bite! We ordered this again on our second visit, it was that good.

The Champagne Mille-Feuille was a concoction of puff pastry, strawberries and lemon curd piled haphazardly upon one another – it was a nice mix of sweet and tangy, and the pastry was so deliciously light that it felt as if it would topple over with the merest puff of breath (pun unintended!).

The Chocolate Mousse was exactly how a chocolate mousse should be – slightly bittersweet and extremely decadent (with a slight tinge of liquor if I tasted correctly). One serving was more than enough to satisfy the sin-food quota for the week!

I think there’s a space within the TTDI food scene for unpretentious French/Italian cuisine in a casual setting, and Topshelf fills it pretty nicely. At the very least, it’s a nice change from the onslaught of B.I.G. establishments that has been popping up (a case of quantity over quality, but that’s another post for another day). I’m definitely looking forward to the next visit – I have my eye set on that bouillabaisse and panna cotta!

(My apologies for the quality of some of the photos – Samsung Note + dimly lit places is equivalent to a disaster that no amount of Photoshop-ing can fix…)

Topshelf Restaurant
61 Lorong Rahim Kajai 13
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
Kuala Lumpur
Open 12pm – 12am daily

child abducted @ mont kiara: nayati shamelin.

28 Apr 2012 § 3 Comments

Dear (Malaysian) WordPress community,

Early yesterday morning, a young boy was kidnapped on his way to school at Mont Kiara. Pictures and details have gone viral across Facebook, so please do help to share the same on your blogs if you are able to. The more people we reach, the higher the chances that someone, somewhere, may spot him or have some information. I cannot begin to imagine how his parents must be feeling now, and I’m just praying hard that this boy will be found safely as soon as possible.

Here are the details:

  • Nayati Shamelin Moodliar, age 12
  • Dutch-mixed Indian-Caucasian
  • 1.50m height.
  • Wearing GREEN SHORTS, WHITE POLO SCHOOL SHIRT with SCHOOL EMBLEM at time of abduction
  • Kidnapped on the way to school on the corner of Jalan Kiara 1 & Jalan Kiara @ 7.30am on 27th April, 2012 in Mont Kiara.
  • The vehicle used was a black Proton Gen 2. The tag number is WNH 1356. (Police have just verified that this is a false number plate). There were two Indian male occupants.

If you have news of the missing boy or any news relevant to the case, please call the school @ 03.20938604, the police @ 999, or 019.2333065 and 012.3656202.

fail forward.

20 Apr 2012 § Leave a comment

I chanced upon John Maxwell’s ‘John Maxwell on Leadership’ website through a friend’s post on Facebook. This article caught my eye and I thought it would be nice to share…

The benefits of mistakes

I recently shared a few quotes on mistakes here. And based on the comments, they seemed to strike a chord for many of you. I believe you can’t have too much instruction on the value of mistakes. So I thought I’d share one of my favorite illustrations on the subject. This is quoted in my book, Failing Forward.

Working artists David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their book, Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, tell a story about an art teacher who did an experiment with his grading system for two groups of students. It is a parable on the benefits of failure. Here is what happened:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A,” forty pounds a “B,” and so on. Those being graded on “quality,” hoever, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A.” Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

 It doesn’t matter whether your objectives are in the area of art, business, ministry, sports, or relationships. The only way you can get ahead is to fail early, fail often, and fail forward.

Fail forward.

I think that’s a wonderful way of describing failure. Too often, we feel like we have to go through life being perfect – to meet the expectations that other people have set for us, be it our parents, family, peers, bosses, or even our own internal expectations.

For some of us, maybe we’ve reached a point where we dare not try for fear of failing. But what this tells us is that it’s ok to fail. It’s perfectly fine if you take longer or don’t even meet those set expectations as long as you learn something along the way – even if it’s something as simple as “I shall choose option B instead of option A in the future“. Personally, I’m thankful that I have a great support system of parents and friends who stood by me when I knowingly took a step towards ‘failure’ (sadly, in the traditional Asian sense, taking some time out from working life is seen as failure, so is having an unsuccessful marriage).

So chin up! The best part about life is that there are just as many opportunities to succeed every day as there are opportunities to fail and learn. And wouldn’t it be grand if your most spectacular success stemmed from the knowledge gained from your greatest failure?

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. ~ Henry Ford

words to fall in love with.

12 Apr 2012 § 3 Comments

I was in the midst of writing another blogpost, flitting intermittently to Pinterest whenever words started to fail me.

One pin caught my eye, and before you knew it, I was scrolling through pages and pages of lovely prose by someone named Tyler Knott Gregson. I have no idea who he is, but he writes so beautifully that I just had to share it here.

The 20 odd pages that I scrolled through (and there are many more) were punctuated with many longing sighs (being the incurable romantic that I still am!)…here’s one that caught my eye and heart:

Maybe I can be
the cereal,
she said,
Or no, maybe
the milk
or perhaps
the spoon?
I just want
you to start
your day
with me.
without hesitation
Then I am
the bowl
and I will
hold you
every single

-Tyler Knott Gregson-

Ah…to have words like these written for you. Stuff of dreams, I suppose. I won’t be greedy though…1% of this would be enough, really.

If I fall asleep
please always wake me back up
to say you love me.

urban sketching 101.

9 Apr 2012 § 3 Comments

CultureRun, a start-up that organizes workshops and classes with the aim of “making learning a lifestyle“, recently held an ‘Urban Sketching’ workshop over the weekend, led by urban sketcher, Jun. A long-buried desire to improve my close-to-zilch drawing skills (it has regressed so far since art classes in Form 3!), compounded by the sheer horror and embarrassment of how amateurish my sketches turned out during my short-lived obsession with Draw Something was definitely the push factor that made me sign up almost immediately when the ad posted by CultureRun appeared on my Facebook wall (the boyfriend got dragged into this as collateral damage coz I wanted company, heh!).

And so, on a bright and breezy Saturday afternoon, a group of 6 people from diverse backgrounds with a common interest in drawing gathered at the outdoor area of The Bee @ Publika for a two and a half hour class on the basics of urban sketching. Following a round of introductions and casual chit-chat, Jun kicked off the class by equipping us with the tools of the trade – a sketchbook and a 0.5mm black waterproof pen. We spent the first half of the class going through the basics of sketching and water coloring – from creating a color doughnut, to shading and composition techniques, as well as recommendations on the type of paper and water colors that we can use.

Midway through the class, we made a very short ‘field trip’ to Restore where we were given 15 minutes to sketch anything that caught our eye at the store. I gather this was supposed to be an easy simulation of actual urban sketching where more often than not, we would be sketching in the midst of a bustling crowd without the privilege of time. I wandered around and found myself drawn to a couple of vintage boxes and decided to focus on those – unfortunately, one part of my subject was literally sold off to a customer while I was in the midst of sketching so I had to draw half of it from memory! When our allocated time was up, we headed back to The Bee to complete our sketches with watercolors, followed by a quick post-mortem on what we had drawn. It was definitely interesting to see what objects the other participants had chosen – my personal favourite was a really detailed sketch of a motorcycle drawn in strong, confident lines by one of the guys, Shawn.

Boxes. Perspective = #fail.

The class concluded with Jun giving us tips and answering our numerous questions as well as showing us some of his beautiful sketches. As someone who still draws a person’s face with a ‘L’ representing the nose (yes, go ahead and laugh!), I’ve always envied people who could put pen – or brush – to paper and produce masterpieces, and his obvious flair for drawing had me questioning myself silently – why oh why did I not draw (pun unintended!) the artist card in the talent pool?!?

Quick sketches by the boyfriend.

Doodling and making quick notes.

Seeing as I was still feeling rather pumped-up and excited post-class, the boyfriend swung by Cziplee on the way home so that I could pick up some watercolors, brushes and one spanking new Moleskine. I figured…a blank Moleskine with fresh crisp pages sitting upon my desk should be enough to guilt-trip me into not letting this class go to waste. With some patience, perseverance and practice, may there be some marked improvements in my drawing skills in the coming weeks…hopefully before this goes the same way as my other short-lived pursuits…

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