Louisiana - Cajun Food Galore!

No, I am not in the US of A now (I so wish I am, though! LOL!) but who knew there's a place here in Malaysia that serves great Cajun food? I was introduced to Louisiana by a good friend when she took me out to dinner (and asked me to bring my camera along...heh!). It was such a superb experience that I brought my family out to eat there too a few weeks later! Yes, it was THAT good! Don't believe me? Let's allow the photos to do the 'talking' *wink* I'm no professional photographer, but the food there already look great, so not much editing is needed...heh!

The place itself....it has a nice homey feel to it, but the best seats are outside where it has a great view of the lake next to it! Eating out with a great view and a cool breeze blowing...*sigh of contentment* 
Here's the address:
Block D-1-01, Jln SS7/13A
Plaza Kelana, Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-78755230

My feeble attempt at capturing the cool decoration...outside, it's like a rustic Cajun diner that you see in the movies, with the striking red-and-green color banners and the vintage lighting...awesome!

The fountain that comes on during intervals at the lake...pretty, but err...my photography skills aren't. LOL!

Okay, okay...enough talk! Be prepared to feel hungry after this *wink*

For appetizers (both times!!), we had seafood gumbo! Remember the movie "The Princess & The Frog" where the princess would always talk about gumbo and how yummy it is? Well, if the real thing tastes like the one here, I would say "Get me another bowl!" The gumbo is creamy and savory, with plenty of seafood (shrimp, squid, crabmeat), some sausages and vegetables thrown in. Every bite is finger licking good! The dish comes with pieces of garlic bread and it's a great combination! If you thought pairing garlic bread with mushroom soup is great, garlic bread with gumbo is DIVINE! 

This was what my good friend, Y had...seafood oglio. Spaghetti tossed with some spices and accompanied by loads of seafood...I had a taste and it was scrumptious! Had a little bite and spiciness to it, but it was mild enough to make you go for more...*grins*

Y's housemate, C had the American burger...look at the ginormous size of it! Love the fries that came with it...they are what fries should be: crispy on the outside but soft and tender on the inside with a bit of bite! 

THIS was what I had the first time...Cajun Tossed Crawfish Spaghetti! I had heard of crawfish before, but I never expected it to look like this...they look like teeny lobsters! The spaghetti was done very well...cooked al dente and then tossed with some crawfish stock, herbs and spices. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on it, and you get a yummy experience! Now, to talk about the crawfish: to me it feels like a combination of shrimp and lobster...the shell is a little difficult to get off (Thank goodness they left only one for me to peel! There were quite a few peeled ones in the dish by the way..*grins*) but once you get the shell off, you have this tender but dense meat...kind of like a lobster texture, but it melts in your mouth more. And yet it has a head like a prawn with the nice gooey stuff that the Chinese adore when eating prawns! Cool eh?

This was what my sister ordered the second time I went with my family...Louisiana's Famous Shrimps Scampi. Look at the succulent prawns!! (I can never differentiate between shrimps and prawns...they look the same to me, and so I shall call them prawns. Hah!) It has a citrus-y taste to it, but oh so good! The prawns are cooked just right and was very springy, not like some places where they overcook the prawns...MMMM!

Kids eat for free in Louisiana...isn't that cool? Rachel had this kiddie set called Popeye The Sailor or something like that...the kiddie menu items all had cartoon character names like Mickey Mouse and Winnie-The-Pooh, so it was quite cute!

My Mom, the ever health conscious person that she is, opted for the Salmon Tataki Salad. Kind of a standard salad really, but the difference comes in the salmon atop it...it's seared just right and seasoned with black pepper. Couple that with the vinaigrette dressing, it was delicious! This got polished off real fast...heh!

Dad always had a thing for rice, so he ordered this: Dirty Rice. LOL! Don't be fooled by its name...it's not at all dirty! Rather, it's a whole mix of yummy condiments: liver, seafood, vegetables, chicken strips, etc etc. Kind of like a 'rojak' rice, if you may...but it's SOOO nice! I had a taste, and the first thing that came to mind that it tasted like Tom Yam rice...hahaha! But after a few bites, it doesn't and you taste this awesome "I want to have more" dish...the portion was ginormous! Imagine a mini mountain...o.O" And yet, my dad can finish about three quarters of it! That's the testament to how good it was..*wink*

Meanwhile, I had the rack of lamb...*grins* Sorry for the bad lighting, but this was taken in the evening (with no flash) so the photo doesn't really do it much justice. The lamb was cooked medium rare, so it's tender and juicy...*licks lips* Pair that with a mustardy sauce on the plate and the roasted vegetables (namely potatoes and carrots! My faves!), it's superb!

Another highlight of the day was the Famous Cajun Crawfish Boil! It had 2 serving sizes...half a kg, or one kg. We ordered the half kg one, and it was sublime! Crawfish boiled just right with loads of vegetables in it! The combination of the crawfish 'juices' with the vegetables were SUPER cool! Squeeze a bit of lemon juice and it's a perfect combination of savoury and tangy flavours! *thumbs up* You have to get dirty eating this though, aka using your fingers...but that makes it extra delicious too! *grins*

We were stuffed quite full in the end (the portions were HUGE!), but Rachel wanted a little dessert, so we ordered the Louisiana Mud Pie...gorgeous right? It's like a Molten Lava cake with a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream, drizzles of hot chocolate syrup, toppings of nuts, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top. Ooh, I'm salivating as I type this! 

So yup, that was my account of the great food at Louisiana! Ooh, another thing to note is the impeccable service from the crew there. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, and I remember they asked us how was the food (which we don't really get in other restaurants...I thought that was really nice! People should do it more!) and even voluntarily brought in bowls of water for us to clean our fingers after our enjoyment of the crawfish (although I would have licked my fingers clean even if they didn't bring it...haha! I know, how unlady-like! =P)! Price-wise, it is a bit on the steep side...expect to fork out at least RM40 per person, but it's so worth it! Treating yourself once in a while is always a good thing, I say...plus, how often do you find a place that has great ambience, great view, great food and awesome service? *wink*

The Losers

With a title called "The Losers", it's not hard to dismiss this film as being a loser too. But don't let the title put you off!

"The Losers" is based on the comic book of the same name published by DC/Vertigo and apparently, the film makers wanted it (the film) to have the same feel as the comic book...which we see similarities of in the opening sequence! So, what's the story with these 5 dudes and a hot chick? The hot chick comes a bit later, but the 5 dudes are actually military soldiers (I think they're commandos but there was no explanation on what they REALLY are, so my opinion works for me...haha!) who are accused of some murders in Bolivia after their 'job' there got horrendously wrong. They became fugitives after making themselves appear to be deceased in that incident. After a while we learn that they are framed by some weird dude named Max (Jason Patric) and Aisha (Zoe Saldana) gets in to help them exact revenge on Max and clear their names at the same time.

The action in the film is certainly something to look at. From the get go, we already can see lots of explosions, fist fighting, adrenaline pumping racing (cars or humans) and even 'telepathic killing' (which is so cute and funny at the same time, it needs to be watched to be understood!). And it does in a way feel like an action-packed video game (a la Counter Strike if I may say so!) where the characters are all bombarded with 'stuff' they had to do. Plus, the whole bad-guy-good-guy thing works rather well. I mean, it's from the comics, no?

The Losers arriving in the US of A with style!

The cast were quite commendable in their performances. I especially liked Jeffrey Dean Morgan's turn as Clay, the leader of the whole gang. He was more towards the rom-com movies where he played the rough but romantic leading man, but as the tough leader with a soft heart he proved his mettle too! Chris Evans (aka Johnny Storm in "Fantastic Four") also did a great job playing the geeky but every funny Jensen. Even though he's a techie in the group, he is no less of a soldier...watch out for his running and scaling building scenes in the film. Oh, and let's not forget his 'changing in the elevator' scene too, where he boogies and sings to that famous Glee song! *wink* Special mention also is in order for Oscar Jaenada for his solid portrayal of Cougar. Even though he has the least lines amongst the five, he has a great presence and is very likeable as the Latino sniper!

I also liked how the film makers took a dig at some recent 'issues' that we have in the world. One of my favourite quotes from the film (paraphrased):
"....for the 'green' terrorists in the world. Maximum damage, no pollution!"

Some movie critics didn't really like the film that much (read Rotten Tomatoes for it) saying that there is no character development or if there's any logic to the way they get things done in the film. Some even find it suitable only for people with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)! *gasp* Would it mean that I have ADD if I liked the film? For me, I liked how even though it was not the best movie I've ever watched, it kept me entertained. And since it was based on a comic book, what's there to talk about accuracy or logic? Most comic books don't really follow the rules on that...why should the film be? Let's not all be hoity-toity and pretend that we don't enjoy a funny, fast paced movie that doesn't require a lot of digesting in terms of the plot. *wink* 

Julie & Julia

I have recently come to appreciate Meryl Streep's acting more and more...she really does bring so much to each character that she portrays! Add that to a movie about food (French food nonetheless!!), some other cool actors too and you get "Julie & Julia"!

There really isn't much of a continuous plot if you asked me...the film is more on the lives of Julie Powell (Amy Adams) and Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and some similarities between these two personalities. Not that they are both alike in any way....Julie is a writer who is also a big fan of Julia Child. In an attempt to spice up her life, she decides to cook through Julia Child's French cookbook and blogging about it (isn't that a great idea?!). The film then sort of intertwines that with Julia Child's life (back in the 50's) when she was struggling to find things to do...and ended up cooking!

It is definitely a wordy film...there's lots of talking involved, but I guess with a movie that is made based on Julie Powell's blog (which is still there!!) and Julia Child's letters to a friend, it has to be talked out. But the talking is made bearable with commendable performances by Amy Adams (I think she was more known as the Princess in Disney's 'Enchanted') and Meryl Streep. The only thing I didn't get was that why Julia had this weird voice when she's talking...only later on did I find out that the real Julia Child actually sounded something like that! And it just goes to show how dedicated one can get with their work...=) 

Julia Child & her husband, Paul Child (played by the cool Stanley Tucci)

Stanley Tucci also pulled off a great performance in the film...if we remembered him all too eerily in "The Lovely Bones", here he is affable and rather suave as Julia Child's high-flying husband. These two definitely are great partners in acting! 

Even if you aren't too impressed with the talking and all, the visuals just might...the use of color is very cool, especially for Julia's scenes at her homes and Paris...what's not to like about Paris, right? In Julie's scenes, colors are not really striking but the food that she prepares will strike hunger pangs in you *wink* Too many a time I have been 'inspired' (if it can be applied to me!) to go grab a cookbook and start cooking my heart away! It did strike me at one time though that one doesn't really need that many tools to conjure up beautiful dishes as in Julie's case...or maybe it's just what films tell you. After all, the food wasn't actually made on the spot by the actors...they had renowned chefs doing it for them! So, that vision of me doing a Julie Powell goes down the drain pretty quickly. LOL!

Julie throwing a huge dinner party with a splendid looking main course!

Watch this for the gorgeous food shots and the splendid acting from Meryl Streep & Stanley Tucci. Even if you don't cook, you'll be salivating at the sight of them food...makes you want to go dine out at a fine dining restaurant pronto! *grins* Although cooking is not my forte, but this movie definitely sparked more interest in it...it does kind of makes me want to go get a cookbook and start working my way through it. The idea of cooking through a whole cookbook within a certain time frame is quite cool! What an idea for a project! Now, where should I start looking for a cookbook?

Clash Of The Titans

One of my most anticipated movies for 2010...combining Greek mythology (a favourite of mine to watch & read!), great actors (to name a few: Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, and Sam Worthington!!!) and state-of-the-art special effects, it should be a great movie right?? Yes....and no.

"Clash Of The Titans" is about Perseus (the delicious Sam Worthington) who is the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) but raised as a mortal by a fisherman. Something happened  and Perseus lost his earthly family. Enraged by this, he sets out to sort of 'set things right' with the gods and embarks on a journey with a gang of rather curious people. Some include the Djinn (watch it, and you'll know what that is!), another beautiful half-mortal (played by Gemma Arterton), an old soldier with mad swordsman skills (Mads Mikkelsen), and a few others. As with all big 'epic' movies, I guess you would have probably known what would be the end of the story...*wink*

Don't get me wrong...there's quite a few things that one is able to enjoy with this cool remake. Most noticeably: the special effects! All the giant monsters and creatures from the Greek mythologies come to life in the movie, and it's pretty awesome given the fact that technology has come such a long way since stop-motion puppetry (a la the 1981 film which this one is a remake of). One of my favourite scenes involving the effects would probably be the desert scene with the giant scorpions. *grins*

The cast certainly were no second rate actors too...Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes did a great job with their godly characters, bringing much presence and aura to them, though one can't help shake the feeling that Hades is kind of similar (if not the exactly the same) as Voldemort in the Harry Potter series...LOL! Still, it's a delight to watch Hades bring on destruction in his own quiet and deceptive manner. Liam Neeson as Zeus is very commendable too...he plays the 'doting father' role really well (I still remember him from the rather cool movie 'Taken'), trying to earn the love of the people for the gods. And yet, when push comes to shove, Zeus is a formidable power as well....only, I didn't quite like the armour thing that the gods had to wear. I mean, wouldn't they be immune to any attack? After all, they are gods, no? *shrugs*

Sam Worthington is - as usual - cool, but I'm not too sure if it's because the movies that he's acted in so far are these action films. Most of his expressions and even the way he delivers the lines to a certain extent are so similar to his 'Avatar' character, it's uncanny! Maybe he needs more roles in other types of films to show his versatility...he's definitely not showing much as of now! My favourite character of all would probably be Mads Mikkelsen as Draco. Although only a supporting character, he is definitely memorable and plays the unsmiling fearless captain with aplomb! Watch out for his 'training session' with Perseus...funny and awesome at the same time!

Although there is much to be liked about the film, the only stumbling block that this movie faces is the storyline...or lack thereof. Perhaps the film makers thought they can throw enough special effects to dissuade the audience from the non-existent storyline....it does have a plot, somewhere, but not enough character development to make people emphatise with the characters. Which is kind of sad really, coz it was almost there....just not quite there yet. LOL!

People who have watched the 1981 film all say that the old version was loads better in terms of the storyline...I have yet to watch the old film in its entirety. The only thing I remember was seeing bits and pieces of the movie as my sister was engrossed by it, and going "Err...why is the monster a puppet? So fake!" So yeah, you get my drift on the special effects of that era.

Difference between the old (top) and the new (bottom) Kraken...

If you have yet to watch the older version, give this one a go for the special effects. Then watch the old version for the storyline, and combine the two in your head for a more ideal movie...*grins*

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

Oh man, it's been so long since I've updated. Here goes my first attempt at a book review. *grins*

The "Diary Of A Wimpy Kid" series actually consists about 4-5 books if I'm not mistaken. I have only read the 3 pictured here thanks to my 7-year-old niece. (I still find it hard to grasp that kids nowadays progress so darn fast! At 7, I think my reading capability was only relegated to maybe nursery rhymes or the "Peter & Jane" books. How times have changed, no?)

Yes, in essence it is kind of a kid's book since it talks about a boy in middle school (which if I remember correctly would be the age around 11 - 14??). Heck, even the writings and illustrations reflect that. But what's great about the books is the humour injected into them. Written in a diary style, we go through the book in the eyes of Greg, who is kind of just a normal kid with the usual stuff that kids get (big brother issues, bullied by other kids, etc etc), only he's kind of a smart aleck too, coming up with 'weird' ideas and smart-but-will-get-you-in-trouble answers. Oh, and let's not forget his big ego when it comes to comparing himself with other kids his age....it's hillarious, especially looking at the way he compares himself to his best friend & sidekick Rowley (my idea of a bumbling but adorable character played to a T! Too cute!)

Accompanying the entries are all these illustrations (also done by the author) that just bring the jokes more humour. Simple as they are, they are effective and summarizes Greg's experiences very well. Somehow, the illustrations remind me a little of Calvin and Hobbes, but this time the main character is 12 and his sidekick is not a stuffed tiger, but a 6-year-old kid stuck in a 12-year-old kid's body. *grins*

One example of the hillarious illustrations in the books

All in all, one cool book that I'm not ashamed to say I've read even though it's a children's book (in a way). And who would have thought kids' books can be so entertaining? I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series...hopefully I'll find more time to do that! The first book is being made into a movie, and tentative release date is in May! Looking at the trailer, it looks about as funny as it was in the books, so I'm hoping it doesn't disappoint!