Sunday, May 6, 2012

Paella Cookout at Agua, Straits Quay

We are big fans of paella (pronounced ‘pie-a-yah').

Frankly speaking, I am quite a new fan. I was only introduced to paella by hubs a few years ago at El Cerdo in KL, and boy, am I hooked!

For those who don’t know, paella is a rice dish that originates from the Valencia region in Spain. The key ingredients in this dish is obviously rice - short to medium grain, vegetables, saffron (which is the most expensive spice in the world), and everything else you can think of – chicken, snail, rabbit, seafood, sausages, pork etc.

So, you can imagine our excitement when we were invited by Agua to experience a Paella Cookout at the Mediterranean restaurant in Straits Quay. The cookout is organized every third Wednesday of the month. I was told the previous few cookouts had been hugely successful. 

In the cookout, diners can experience how paella is made and indulge in the taste of the paella, accompanied by a generous serving of garlic bread, Paysanne salad and a glass of Sangria each. Given how expensive we used to pay for paella at other restaurants, I have to say the price of RM38++ per person is a real steal.

We reached the restaurant at 7:45pm, in the nick of time before the paella cooking demonstration started. The restaurant was already filled with diners and all abuzz with activities and excitement. Some diners gathered around the table where the demo would take place. 

All the ingredients and cooking utensils were lined out on the table including the special flat pans in which the paella will be cooked.  

Crowd gathered around demo table

The chef started the cooking demo by stir frying some fresh ingredients like tomatoes, capsicum, beans, onion, garlic, chicken and squid with olive oil and fresh herbs like oregano and thyme. The rice is then added followed by stock. The prawns and mussels were last to go into the pan. 

The cooking demo was very interactive, with diners enthusiastically asking questions and the chef happily sharing with them the secrets of cooking good paella.

Short grain rice
Smoked paprika powder

The paella normally takes about 25 minutes to cook so diners were served with garlic bread and Paysanne salad in the meantime, with a glass of zesty Sangria on the side. For those who abstain from alcohol, a non-alcoholic version made with grape juice is also available.

Paysanne salad is a typical Spanish salad with fresh greens like avocado, cucumber, corn, carrot and onion drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh herbs. The salad was very light; a great way to start the meal while we waited in anticipation for the climax of the night.

Paysanne Salad
Garlic Bread
The full house at the restaurant
Seafood Paella and Chicken Paella served

Diners were served to two types of paella that night – the Chicken Paella and the Seafood Paella.  

To me, paella is all about the burst of flavours in the slightly sticky and burnt rice. The seafood or meat are nice to have but quite trivial. And I definitely get some of those flavours with the paella served that night.

I have never been to Spain but that night I experienced the passion for paella, a dish that is sometimes viewed as the national dish of the country. 

I also experienced Agua's passion and celebration of the Mediterranean cuisine which strikingly stood out in the extensive Mediterranean menu and Karen and her team's genuine efforts to share the love of the cuisine with the people in Penang, which should be applauded. 

Various promotions at Agua
More promotions at Agua
Set dinner menu
Agua Mediterranean Restaurant

If you are up for a chance to experience the flavours and passion of Spain, what better way to do it than the Paella Cookout at Agua. So, don’t miss the next cookout on May 16. 

Book your seat now on-line at before May 16 to experience it all at the special rate of RM38++ per person. Tickets sold on the night will be RM50++ per person. For reservation, call +604-8908668. 

Read Lingzie's review of the Paella Cookout here.

3AG18-19 Straits Quays, E&O Marina,
Penang, 10470,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Balik Pulau Home Cooked Hokkien Mee and Laksa

Will you believe if I tell you the people in the photos above are waiting for their Hokkien Mee and Laksa? Well, you better, because they really were.

This family sells these all-time favourite Penang hawker fare from their home in Jalan Bahru, Kampung Jalan Baharu, Balik Pulau during the weekends only. The location is quite far in so it is a bit difficult to find.

The Hokkien Mee soup is very flavourful which explains the crowd and wait. The Laksa is a little more watery; I still prefer the stall nearer to the market.

So, the next time you crave for home cooked Hokkien Mee, give this one a try. It is undeniably good and worth the drive. RM3 per bowl. Tel: 04-8663929

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