Monday, May 11, 2009

Up Close and Personal with Bob Blumer - The Surreal Gourmet & Glutton for Punishment


doing the kampung baru tour

Being a food blogger definitely has its perks. Not only do we get constant invites for food and even alcohol reviews, occasionally we also get to sneak in a meet up with a celebrity chef. Bob Blumer, more popularly known as the Surreal Gourmet or that fella with the toastermobile (according to some of my friends) breezed into town, a few weeks back to promote his upcoming television shows on Discovery Travel & Living. Since he was in the neighbourhood to do a stint at the World Gourmet Summit down south, he dropped by Malaysia to do a few promotion events. He was kept busy everyday - meeting the press, taking in a food tour around Jalan Alor (as reported in the NST who also has a video of him eating durian) and meeting fans at sevenatenine. It's not his first time here, as I remember him being one of the star attractions a few years back when Kuala Lumpur hosted the World Gourmand Awards.


tucking into putu bambu and nasi lemak

Our mission for the night = take him out for another round of local eats.

Co-agents for that mission (not impossible) = Lyrical Lemongrass, Adly from Fried Chillies, Splashie Boy and S

Mission restrictions = No Jalan Alor nor Indian (he just came from India where he overloaded on curries, rotis and even learnt how to do the teh tarik).

Mission approved (but met with changes due to Murphy's Law!) = Nasi Lemak CT Garden, Kampung Baru Putu Bambu, Kampung Baru/Chow Kit night market, Robson Heights Seafood

Time to complete mission = 2 hours (eventually changed to 3 hours due to unforeseen circumstances!)

Hence, we ended up in Kampung Baru - the village within a skyscraper city to sample a round of Malay food. Bob, who made a quip of my name Boo (sounds very similar, right?) when we were first introduced looked a little tired from all his events but was raring to hit the streets. Murphy's Law (i.e. nothing goes right ever!) started to plague me from the early onset - Kin Kin Pan Mee, the first scheduled stop was closed! Oh no, his chance to sweat over the super hot dried chillies sambal just flew out of the window. Phew! Luckily, the next stop - Nasi Lemak CT Garden was definitely opened or I'll concede defeat. Bustling with people queuing up for their nasi lemak packets and side dishes, we hit the line. Identifying all the dishes was the hard part ....."hmmm, is that stink beans or is that jering! Whatever, it makes your pee stink the next day." Bob made the choice of sambal prawns, chicken curry, paku pakis, the crunchy tempe, stink beans, which we ate with the nasi lemak packets. We even had some grilled otak-otak on the side. Sambal prawns and chicken curry got his thumbs up. It is fascinating to watch him eat, as he approaches each dish quite seriously - tasting it slowly to savour the flavours, before giving his verdict.


ending with a little seafood including the spectacular sang har meen at Robson Heights Seafood

Next stop, after the quick nasi lemak stop was just round the corner - the putu bambu stall and the market next door. We ate piping hot putu bambu fresh from the steamer (it gets all crumbly inside but nice and soft) that reminded Bob of a similar dish in India (probably he had a chance to eat puttu there). Then, came the fascinating part for all of us - the quick tour around the night market, a well hidden local secret. Filled with local vegetables that come straight from the villages, the produce is cheap and fresh (2 large bunches of pegaga or pennywort leaves for ulam costs only RM1?). Bob was fascinated at the chicken stall and he spent a good few minutes observing the man's chopping chicken technique. "Amazing, how he doesn't chop off his fingers!", he tells us later. I'm also fascinated, as I've never seen people coat their chicken with turmeric or burn the feathers off with a blowtorch.

Mr. Blumer or should I say Mr. Booger (like how fatboybakes refers to him as!) got to sample the local fruits - duku langsat, mangoes, mata kuching and etc. He loved the mangoes, the Harum Manis from Thailand that bears a striking resemblance to the Indian mangoes. Since, we had to make up for Kin Kin, it was a choice between fried hokkien mee or seafood. Bob choose seafood hence we headed to Robson Heights (per Lyrical Lemongrass' suggestion). Can you believe that they ran out of crabs!!!! Who ever heard of a seafood restaurant running out of crustaceans on a weekend, but it had to happen to us (see how things never work!). We bragged about their sinful salted egg yolk crabs and they don't have any. Yikes!

Hence we had to settle for salted egg yolk prawns, the ginormous Sang Har Meen, fried kangkung with belacan and seong tong lala. The salted egg yolk sauce fascinated Bob - "how do they make salted eggs?", he asked. Luckily, S was around to help answer that fact on how long they preserve the eggs for. Everything passed his approval but he is obviously very sensitive to MSG as he detected it straight away. When the huge sang har meen came, Bob was mighty impressed that he even took out his Iphone and snapped a picture of it. Phew! I guess mission was a success after all. The noodles were very good especially with the prawn roe and eggy rich sauce. Yums!

After that satisfying seafood dinner, it was home for most of us, but I did hear that Bob went on to party the night away (seems he ended up in Frangipani's bar at midnight - don't you love how small KL is that everyone knows what is happening in town!). Next stop for Blumer after his Singapore duties - a trip to China where he learns how to pour tea like a kungfu master for Glutton for Punishment. What an amazing life! One can understand how he masters a difficult technique that can usually take months for a normal chef to learn, within a week, as he's pretty detailed on his observations and completely fascinated with everything to do with food (and wine - he also judges in Los Angeles, where his home is located). Thanks so much to Discovery Travel & Living and the people from Compass Communications for giving us the opportunity to meet up with him and take him around. I know I'll be glued to the telly this week catching up his television shows so, "hand me that astro remote and don't touch that channel."

Tune into Discovery Travel & Living (Channel 707 Astro) for Bob Blumer:
  • Surreal Gourmet Series 4 (from 8-9pm starting 11 May aka today, with repeats at 3pm)
  • Glutton for Punishment Series 2 (from 17 May or Saturday, starting from 1pm)

For detailed channel listings, check out the astro's website for Discovery Travel & Living. For those who prefer larger pictures, you can also view the Flickr set.

23 comments:

KY said...

Jealousnya! I want his job!

J2Kfm said...

thank goodness he lost that hairstyle of his from Surreal Gourmet of previous instalments.

what a hunt. now i'm salivating over the potential stinkbeans galore at that Nasi Lemak stall.

boo_licious said...

KY - so do I but I don't relish learning how to pour tea like a kungfu master though.

j2kfm - yeah, the hair used to stick up like Einstein. LOL, didn't know you're a stinkbean fan. Go try jering, even smellier!

550ml jar of faith said...

Ooh why was Jalan Alor singled out as a no-go zone?? Wow, I can just imagine being as lucky to eat with him, and having to actually pay homage to the real flavours of the food rather than just whack whack. You guys did us proud though, crabs or no crabs!

boo_licious said...

550ml - yup, we were very honoured to dine with him as he is a fascinating fella. He did Jln Alor earlier on with the NST people, hence no go for there. Wish there was crabs though, so embarassing that the restaurant ran out.

Paprika said...

Ahhh my sister is going to be soooo upset when she reads this. Heh heh. She has a MASSIVE crush on Bob. Oh well...

foodbin said...

i like to see his comical facial expression.

CUMI & CIKI said...

how much didja eat that night ?!! lol.. :P amazing. so this is the guy some of you(no names mentioned) attempted to put on fake lashes for ar.. ROFL. nice...

thule a.k.a leo said...

sounds like a lot of pressure 'entertaining' a famous food critic :)

Sean said...

sounds like a successful outing nevertheless! maybe he'll ask personally for you guys to take him out again the next time he's here, so you better be prepared with other places to check out! :D

Allie said...

wah... your job so syiok one ar!

Rosalie Abdullah said...

boo..this is my 2nd visit..i'm telling u... i'm ur biggest fan....ur passion for food..and the way u write it...oh, my god....it can cure depression u know...i hope u keep writing..

qwazymonkey said...

This is damn funny. Murphy's Law indeed.

I think I saw him over at Steven's Corner in Mid Valley last Friday while we were busy setting up Kiehl's new store. A colleague pointed him out and figure that he was a celebrity. Or she might be wrong.

Jen said...

Mmm, the shrimp looks amazing!!!!!!!!

boo_licious said...

Paprika - LOL, she can download his pixs and stick it on her wall! Wish you told me earlier Lisa liked him, would have gotten his autograph for her.

Foodbin - yeah, I liked the durian video and the faces he pulled on that.

ciki - LOL, it wasn't that much food! He was a little too tired to notice fake eyelashes though.

Leo - it was very stressful....

Sean - hmmm, good idea. Must go check out more night places so we can take them around and next time, must call and confirm they have crabs before we reach the restaurant!

Allie - not my job though, this one is purely done as a food blogger.

Rosalie - awww, such sweet words to cure me of my bad day! Thanks and hope you like sweet stuff from delectable.

qwazymonkey - yeah, things always go wrong when you want it to be A-perfect. Hmmm, not sure abt his schedule like on Friday but it could be possible since the pr co is at Mid Valley.

Jen - the shrimp is amazing stuff. I've yet to blog abt them as they're amazingly good here.

CUMI & CIKI said...

ya lar.. he looks tired! you guys should hv dragged him screaming and kicking to "the house party" .. oo-er! tt would hv picked him up immediately;P

boo_licious said...

ciki dearie - He had so many parties to go to that nite. Am surprised he ended up in Frangipani later at night as I found out this, just last week.

qwazymonkey said...

Frangipani? *raising eyebrow*

boo_licious said...

qwazymonkey - yeah, maybe shld ask Nigel to work his "radar"?

Henry Yeo said...

Okay. who was your mole at Frangipani's?

boo_licious said...

Henry - no mole there, just heard from a friend who regularly hangs out there.

Dharm said...

I"m so jealous! Maybe I should start reviewing food instead of blogging about my own food....

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