Good evening from Penang, Malaysia. There are a million things to write about, including all the interesting things we did today; but I thought I'd tell you about a fancy dinner I just had at 1885, the fine dining restaurant of the luxurious Eastern and Oriental Hotel, right by the sea in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Georgetown.
THE OLDEST CONTINUOUSLY-RUN HOTEL
IN THE WORLD
I'd chosen to have dinner here because I thought it'd be interesting to see how the Eastern and Oriental Hotel recreated dishes from 1885, which is also the year it formally became the Eastern and Oriental Hotel. The hotel has been operating since then and it's among the oldest continuously-run hotels in the world -- if not the oldest itself. I'd seen a little bit of the menu and it was so intriguing that we made reservations right away and hauled ourselves off to dinner upon returning to the hotel, even if we were very tired and still full from a very formidable afternoon tea. More on the afternoon tea later.
Back to dinner first. Frankly, I can't remember what I was expecting out of a restaurant called 1885, but I can tell you that I wasn't expecting to be really bowled over. This was supposed to be the best restaurant in Penang, but I wasn't really sure if they would be able to serve up a truly delicious menu past all the hype -- and I wasn't even sure if people in the late 1890s ate well at all. I imagined that most of the hotel clients then would have been expatriates living in the foreign colony in Penang or else very wealthy locals.
There were several 1885 menus and I chose the Classic 1885 Menu which included lobster tail as a starter, followed by a mushroom soup, and then cod fish fillet on a bed of noodles as a main course.
Everything was excellent. "Wow, if this is how people ate in 1885, I'm very impressed," I said.
"People probably ate better then, actually," said my dinner companion. "Everything was home-cooked and slow-cooked, unlike now when so much of what we eat is fast-food or cooked in a hurry." He'd ordered the 1885 Tasting Menu and this began with scallops in a chili sauce, followed by ox-tail soup, and then prawns as main course.
"The scallops were very good," he said. "And I also like the ox-tail soup. It tasted like mechado."
"Aren't you glad we came here?" I said. "It's literally a history lesson over dinner. And that's the best kind of learning, as far as I'm concerned."
WATCH OUT FOR TRAVELIFE STYLE
from September 2
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September 8 at Whitespace
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TRAVELIFE Gastronomic Tour of Italy
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