I sit here at Butter + Beans, in Section 17, Petaling Jaya. I am completely exhausted, but I am inspired. I don’t quite know where to start.
As part of my PR work, I was asked to attend a Swedish cooking event at Starhill Culinary Studio (at the very top of Starhill Gallery, in case you were wondering where people could cook in Starhill).
Let’s back up a little. I was here at Butter and Beans last week, and I got very excited about their Rhubarb Tarty Thing.
Image : Isn’t it lush? It tastes lush, y’all. Let me give you a little warning here. It IS lush. Lush.
So last week : “Where does your chef get fresh rhubarb here?!” I exclaimed calmly to the Butter + Beans café fiends.
Their answer : the chef gets it. And I did not see the point in invading the kitchen. So I let my wandering mind do its thing, and the rhubarb-sized hole in my heart was left empty.
Read on. I will explain. At some point. You know me.
Image : LV in its wee hours. You know, because I’m always at Starhill, buying LV pumps. And bling.
This morning, after gingerly dragging myself out of bed, and getting myself through town to get to a subdued pre-opening hours-Starhill, I arrived at the Culinary Studio.
Image : Swedish Chef of destiny, Natalie from the CS, and a cool shutterbug.
Well, actually : A cooking demonstration followed by hands-on work in the kitchen, and then, lunch.
I thought I was just there to have a look-see and make my observations from my little corner (as one does in a room full of people), but hey. Food people are different. Or so I would learn.
And then there’s the fact that it’s Swedish food. A completely different food experience.
I have several things to say about that. In Part 2, perhaps.
(1) The Ambassador, who spoke about what Sweden’s food is about, and how Sweden is tied to Malaysia. And you know how the International Relations butterfly in all of us must have its day, right? (Of course you do.) So I asked him for his speech. And he let me have it. I will transcribe it soon. I liked it. It wasn’t fussy. It was informative. And he spoke clearly. I suppose ambassadors need to know how to do that. This was Bengt (pronouced Benz), who I saw fit to order around the kitchen later. (Egads. I don’t know what possessed me, especially since everything ultimately culminated in culinary disaster.)
Let me just take a second here to talk a little about hierarchy. Beneath every important person there is somebody who likes cars and toys, and grating things into bowls gleefully. In Sweden (correct me if I’m wrong, y’all) people do not bend over backwards for ‘important’ people. Everyone’s civil and does what they can, it’s not about ‘oh gosh, Dato’, I’m so sorry I forgot to this-or-that’. People are frank. That suits me, mostly because I cannot figure out what people are trying to ‘achieve’ when they manoeuvre through events like this anyway. So yes, Sweden rocks. And so does their Ambassador to Malaysia, Bengt Carlsson. And Minda, gosh, Minda, could I have found a cheerier friend in Minda?
No, my friends. No.
(2) Minda is an intern at the Swiss Embassy, who is studying (or studied? correct me, please!) International Relations. She was such a joy, not least because she was direct without being abrasive, and shy without being a wallflower (these Swedes, I tell you). We have made tentative Sephora plans. So, now you can tell that we actually don’t mind each other.
(3) Paula, another brilliant-postured woman, made sure everyone was settled, and quietly fixed things in the background. Don’t think you can make sure everyone has the beverage of their choice with more calm collectedness than Paula had. I realise how valley-girl this sounds, but Paula has these bright eyes, and beautiful skin. Made mental notes to self to drink more water, goshdarnit. She was excited about the fancy new Electrolux oven, which frankly I couldn’t blame her for.
(4) Michael Elfwing (you couldn’t ASK for a better surname, could you?) is a casual bawse of a chef. I mean he’s from Hilton KL’s Senses. But was he stuffy about it? Pfft. He’s a Swede, children. And that means WYSIWYG. And Michael Elfwing – in his own words is ‘a proud Swede’. I have kitchen stories about this one. Tell you more soon.
Image credits from the left : 1 + 3 by glowdown, 2 + 4 by the fantastic foodie-traveller El Zee
I have several other things to talk to you about. I’ve only just written a lot more as a continuation to the above, and WordPress decided to eat it all. I am trying not to give into my disappointment. I’m failing. Oh well.
In the mean time, let me just tell you that I found the rhubarb. I am (really) excited about this.
I hope to write more about this next week, or the week after when I have more time.