Taste of Home: Pumpkin Soup

It’s been a while since we had pumpkin soup. Since our landlady gave us a fresh pumpkin, I decided to make this soup.

I made this soup from fresh products like potatoes, carrots, onions and of course pumpkin. It would go great with French bread and the leftovers taste even better the next day.

It’s delicious, satisfying and fresh. Plus, it would look lovely on your holiday dining table!

This pumpkin soup is the best – creamy, healthy and easy to make! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into cubes
  • 2 big onions, cubed
  • 2 medium size potatoes, cubed
  • 2 medium size carrots, cubed
  • 20 cL cooking cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Boil 750 mL of water.
  2. Add pumpkin, potatoes, carrots and onion into the boiling. Let it boil until the vegetables are cooked.
  3. Add cream into the mixture. Let it boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Blend the mixture.
  5. Season it with salt and pepper according to your desired taste.
  6. Serve and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Malaysia: Things we enjoyed in Kuala Lumpur

Aside from the fact that Kuala Lumpur is home to the famous tallest twin towers in the world, highest 2-storey sky bridge in the world, largest walk-in aviary in the world, largest pewter manufacturer in the world, 7th tallest communication tower in the world, one of the tallest flagpole in the world, tallest Murugan statue in the world, 2nd tallest Hindu deity statue in the world — Kuala Lumpur City itself is officially renowned as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities in the world along with Vigan City in the Philippines, Doha in Qatar, Durban in South Africa, Havana in Cuba, Beirut in Lebanon, and La Paz in Bolivia. The mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences in the city were noticeable and striking. To me, the city is the reflection of the vivid diversity of people and cultures that helped shape Kuala Lumpur in such a brilliant way.

Great views of the KL City from the KL Tower. 🙂

In December 2015, we were lucky enough to find ourselves in the modern and clean city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. After we ventured the city for 5 days, here’s the list of things and places we enjoyed, in no particular order:

Petronas Twin Towers. No trip to Kuala Lumpur would be complete without visiting the city’s iconic building. They are the tallest twin towers in the world and they feature the highest 2-storey sky bridge in the world. It was ethereal looking at Petronas Towers in the morning and at night.

Impressive Petronas Twin Towers.

KL Tower.

Menara Tower aka KL Tower. The 421 meters KL Tower was completed in 1996 and it is the 7th tallest tower in the world. Up in the tower, tourists can enjoy various attractions such as X D Theater, Blue Coral Aquarium, Forest in the City and many others. There is also a revolving restaurant called Atmosphere 360, where visitors can have their meal while enjoying the city’s skyline. We liked the revolving restaurant there and we enjoyed the excellent bird’s eye view of the city. Menara Tower is definitely a must see if you wish to visit Kuala Lumpur.

Merdeka Square. It is Kuala Lumpur’s independence square. Here you can see the 100-metre flagpole, one of the tallest flagpoles in the world, where the Malaysian national flag was raised for the first time on August 31st 1957 symbolizing the independence of the country from the British rule. We went there in the late afternoon, strolled around the place to see historical architecture and hangout in the garden with great green open space while we were waiting for the Sultan Abdul Samad Building to lit up.

Behind me is the 100-metre flagpole in Merdeka Square.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building. It is one of the oldest landmarks in Kuala Lumpur. It’s located right next to the Merdeka Square, where Malaysian legal authorities are located. The stunning architecture of this building provides a sharp contrast against the backdrop modernity surrounding it; and it makes a great photography. We visited the place in the late afternoon and waited until the whole building was brighten up by colorful lights. It was gorgeously beautiful.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

Islamic Arts Museum. It has a fine collection of arts on display from across Islamic civilization all over the world. It’s a great educational experience to learn about the Islamic history and the development of the religion and culture around the world. It’s a fantastic and inexpensive museum. We have enjoyed it very much – beautiful displays; cool and calm building. If you wish to take in some culture, this place is good for you.

Beautiful Islamic Art Museum with great collection.

Royal Selangor Visitor Centre. The Royal Selangor in Malaysia is the largest pewter manufacturer and retailer in the world. It’s open every day to the public from 9am to 5pm and free of charge. Our guide explained really well to us how the business has grown and developed and he demonstrated how each product is made and hand finished. It was very interesting to follow the process of making a pewter item and they allowed us plenty of time to have a proper look at everything. At the end of the tour, we bought some souvenirs at the shop.

A visit at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre, well worth the time!

KL Bird Park. It’s known to be the world’s largest walk-in aviary and it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It’s a home to thousands of colourful birds from nearly over 60 species. Some birds were in caged, though. Even though, it was boiling hot when we visited the park but we enjoyed watching the multicolored birds and the trek. It was my first time seeing a peacock opening its feathers.

KL Bird Park, a great place to enjoy your time with your family especially with young children.

Lake Gardens. It’s the oldest and the largest recreational park in Kuala Lumpur; and free! It’s considered as an oasis in busy KL – green, quiet and relaxing. The garden is well laid out with boardwalks and gazebos; and well maintained making it a perfect place for a stroll, jog and picnic.

It was delightful and beautiful in the Lake garden.

Butterfly Farm. It is one of the good attractions in the city. The park is arranged to cool you and the lovely flying butterflies make you feel energetic. It was indeed an excellent and tranquil experience walking through a canopied garden accompanied by so many beautiful moths and butterflies.

It was a peaceful thrill in the vivid butterfly garden.

KLCC Park. It is a nice, little park surrounded by skyscrapers. It’s clean and the views of the towers are great. We went there to relax after we shopped at the KLCC Shopping Mall. The park also provides awesome photo opportunity to capture a good picture of the Petronas Twin Towers. To me, it’s a calm and cozy place if you wish to get a hideout from the city heat or noise or if you just wish to get some rest when you are tired walking around the city.

Batu Caves. We visited Batu Caves, one of the famous attractions with our Malaysian friends. It seems to be an important place of Hinduism. The impressive statue at the entrance is a statue of Murugan, the tallest statue in Malaysia. It’s also known to be the tallest statue of Murugan in the world and the 2nd tallest statue of Hindu deity in the world. We climbed 272 steps and when we were on top the views of the city was very nice.

The tallest statue of Murugan in the world is in Batu Caves.

 Masjid Jamek is one of the oldest mosques and the main mosque in Kuala Lumpur with beautiful architecture. It’s located at the confluence of Sungei Klang River and the Sungei Gombak River. The location of this mosque is a significant landmark for the locals because it’s where the city got its name Kuala Lumpur which means muddy confluence, based on the first settlement on the eastern side of the river bank. We couldn’t really explore the place that much as it was about their praying time when we there.

Masjid Jamek, a beautiful building.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple is small and the oldest Hindu Temple in Kuala Lumpur. The most impressive feature of the temple that attract me the most is the five-tier tower also called gopuram which is carved in south Indian style with 228 brightly coloured figures from the Indian epic, Ramayana. The temple is solemn, the decorations are real craftsmanship and you can witness Hindu rituals.

A small Hindu Temple with great facade.

Guan Di Temple. It’s a small beautiful Taoist Temple located near the China Town and Central Market. It was our second time visiting a Taoist temple. It’s ornate and worth a quick glimpse if you are interested in temples.

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Guan Di Temple.

KL Railway Station. The old KL Railway Station is one of the Kuala Lumpur’s most famous landmarks. The station was completed in 1910 and designed by Arthur Benison Hubbock, British Colonial architect. It’s a beautiful Moorish colonial building to admire and be in awe. It’s a very well integrated railway station and clean. It sent us back in time, while walking around the station.

Striking 1910 Moorish railway station.

Bukit Bintang. It’s the central shopping district and by far the best shopping area in Kuala Lumpur. It’s known for its glitzy shopping malls such as Pavilion, Starhill Gallery, Fahrenheit 88, Berjaya Times Square and many more. The shops sell local goods to big international brands. There are also many good and authentic restaurants around the area. During this trip, we spent some time shopping at KLCC Shopping Mall and Pavilion.

Bukit Bintang, a great place for food, drink and shopping.

China Town/Petaling Street is an exciting shopping paradise where visitors can see loads of traders hawking all kinds of goods at bargain price. It’s fun to visit at night time because the whole area is transformed into a lively and vibrant night market with lots of stalls selling all kinds of stuff. While at Chinatown, we enjoyed eating local food and having a drink in a local restaurant while watching people passing by.

Chinatown.

Kasturi Walk is a street bazaar next to the Central Market. It’s easy to spot this place as there’s a big kite hanging on the top of the roof. The stalls sell varieties of goods – mouth-watering delicacies, fresh fruit juice, handicrafts, souvenirs, bags, etc. It was quite a good experience walking through it and seeing all the displays while drinking fresh fruit juice.

Kasturi Walk.

 Central Market. It is the center for Malaysian culture, heritage, arts and crafts. It’s a beautiful air conditioned shopping market in the midst of the beaming city attractions. It’s clean, well-organised and easy to navigate. The shops inside offered interesting and unique souvenirs such as Batik, carvings, paintings, jewelry, antiques, and many more. We were there for the traditional souvenir shopping!

The Central market is an ideal place for shopping genuine local craft.

 Malaysian Cuisine. Malaysia is a multicultural community and is influenced by all types of cuisine such as Chinese, Indian, Malay. Our Malaysian friends brought us to different local restaurants and we tried some local food – some were spicy, some were less spicy but they were all equally interesting in their own way. Two of my favorite Malaysian dishes are satay served, a Malaysian version of grilled skewers and Mee Goreng Mamak served with chicken, tofu, tomato and bean sprouts. I’d say, Malaysian food is good and tasty!

Satay, very yummy! 🙂

 

 

Cambodia: Sunset Cocktail Dinner Cruise along Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh

The sunset cocktail dinner cruise along Tonle Sap River aboard a private small boat is one of a real highlights of our time in Phnom Penh. Actually among the best experience I have had in Cambodia and I have tried quite a few times with family and friends. While cruising, we discovered Phnom Penh’s riverside from the Tonle Sap River and Mekong River confluent while enjoying good cocktails, French wines and delicious food overlooking the busy riverside by night.

Pretty sunset. 🙂

Pretty soon it’s going to be International Women’s Day. For those who would like to treat their woman, it could mean a quite stressful time trying to find unique date ideas you could do on this day. If you wish to take your woman out on International Women’s Day, ditch the restaurants and movie thing; not to mention every restaurant and bistro will be full with the celebration of such an occasion. Instead, go on a most romantic date in the city: the sunset cocktail dinner cruise along the Tonle Sap River aboard a private boat.

This is also a great idea to celebrate Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day since occasions like these are much commercialized nowadays. And yes, as time goes by, they become cliché.

February 14, 2015. 🙂

There are many various boats to choose from for a sunset tour on the Tonle Sap, but we hired a small private boat from the Butterfly Cruise. The boat was very nice, exclusive, peaceful and cozy with comfy seats, sofas, cushions.

Certainly, it was a lovely little tour down the river, very relaxing and romantic. I couldn’t even get over how romantic the whole thing was – the slowly cruising, the charming sunset, the darkness, the tranquility, the beautiful view of the lights, the chilly breeze, the gentle waves in the river plus being alone with your loved one. All these, made our cruise a magical experience.

I always love sunset.

When sissy Clareth visited us here last December 2014, we took her to a boat trip.

lights.breeze.calm

The Royal Palace at night.

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • You can hire a boat from Butterfly Cruise. Phone Number: +855 17 531 514
  • There are also various boats near the Titanic Restaurant on Sisowath Sway (Riverside), Phnom Penh where you can hire a boat.
  • You can also rent a boat and then you bring your own beverages and food.

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Topaz Restaurant in Phnom Penh

Topaz Restaurant is one of my favorites in Phnom Penh! It’s chic, unique and by far the best restaurant in the city. I have learned that it is renowned as one of the top French fine dining restaurants in the Asia Pacific region. It’s also considered as one of the most expensive restaurants and one of the most popular places for both locals and tourists. It’s a high quality restaurant food, made from very high quality products.

At the entrance

We have been there several times on various occasions; since 2009 up until now, it has always been exceptional – the style of the menu, the outstanding service, upscale atmosphere, elegant ambiance, gorgeous decoration, beautiful garden, extensive wine cellar and great food.

It was such a great experience. 🙂

On top of that, Topaz offers set lunch (3 courses plus wine) for a reasonable price. There is also plenty of local dishes to choose from, there are rare wines available (if you can afford them), and there’s a space for meetings or a space to just simply enjoy the company of friends.

Chill. 🙂

We had one of the best steaks that we could remember having in a restaurant. The French bread and butter were excellent. We also tried BBQ Salads and steak with mushroom sauce. The creamy mac and cheese was perfectly seasoned with green beans. The apple tart dessert is also to die for.

Every bite is amazing!

Steak Tartare

Lovin’ all the sweets in life.

Very recently, we celebrated my birthday there (2nd March 2016) in their lovely garden in their new location. It was my first time having Boeuf Tartar steak with Béarnaise sauce and it was luscious! I think it is the only restaurant in Phnom Penh I would trust to try Boeuf Tartar steak considering the how it’s prepared and the type of meat that is used. Overall, we had exclusive experience and we enjoyed our evening. Couldn’t be happier! 🙂

The menu

Topaz is certainly not for those on a budget. However, if you are going to treat yourself to a nice meal while you are in Phnom Penh and if you are looking for French gastronomic food then Topaz is a good place for you. Though it’s a bit pricey, but definitely worth a visit!

Have you been to Topaz? What’s your favorite dish?