It's the little things: It's raining rambutans

I have discovered that rambutan-picking is really not as easy as it looks - the trees are always so very tall and the bunches of fruit always seem to be dangling playfully just out of reach, even when the galah comes into the picture. I've always loved rambutans - to me, they are the lychee and longan's wealthier, chauffeur-driven-in-Rolls-Royce-limos cousins. Sweet, juicy, and each one with its own distinctive taste - they are definitely worth staying out in the sun, fighting against mosquitos for. With that said, I'm probably extremely biased, having had the privilege of digging into just-off-the-tree rambutans all my life. We always knew when rambutan season had come - bags of the bright red, or yellow fruits would be piled near our back door, sometimes still warm from the journey from the family home in Kemaman.

The galah, the weapon of choice for us vertically challenged ones proved to be pretty tricky to handle. First, there's the problem of trying to keep your balance while making sure that you don't accidentally hit anyone on the head. As soon as you think you're good to go, you'll find that aiming for the tiny branch with the gorgeous fruits hanging from it isn't as easy as you thought it would be. Needless to say, there was plenty of giggling as we tried to take direction from our father, the veteran rambutan-picker.

While we couldn't always get our rambutans down in a pretty bunch (quite a few of our tries ended up in us getting caught in a downpour of rambutans!), every fruit was just as sweet, and worth all the effort.

It's the little things: Bak Kut Teh

My favourite bak kut teh isn't served at a restaurant but out of stall run by two ladies at the food court across the street from where I live. It's a stall so popular that the bak kut teh often runs out by lunch time, a bit tricky for someone who enjoys sleeping in when she's home. Unfortunately on this particular day, despite rising at a respectable hour, I couldn't get my dose of Kim Loong bak kut teh as the stall was closed. We decided that the next best option would be to consult the Bak Kut Teh Master.

I've always loved bak kut teh, the herb-infused soup with generous helpings of the different cuts of pork. As a child, I remember bak kut teh restaurants to be landmines of sorts - on one side, the hot claypot of delicious bak kut teh and on the other, the equally hot kettle of water for tea. My parents painted me pictures of getting painfully scalded if I didn't sit absolutely still - something I never had any trouble doing, not with the bak kut teh to keep me happy.

I've never been a fan of bak kut teh that is overly bitter or sweet, always preferring a more subtle taste of the herbs. An extremely generous amount of golden mushrooms, a mixture of ribs and belly pork slices and I've got the perfect pot of bak kut teh.

No round of bak kut teh is complete without yau char guai, the simple dough fried to golden perfection. Dunked into the hot bak kut teh, the little morsels of dough truly bring out the delicious flavours.

Addictive. Incredibly addictive

The Bak Kut Teh Master is definitely worth a visit but it's still Kim Loong Bak Kut Teh that's the master in my book.

Bak Kut Teh Master
No. 61, Off Jalan Wong Ah Jang,
Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia

Kim Loong Bak Kut Teh
Medan Selera Teluk Sisek
Kuantan, Pahang,

It's the little things: Roti Canai

Roti canai has always been my nasi lemak. While most Malaysians crave the aromatic rice and sambal fare, the roti has always topped my list.

I don't know what is it about it that I love - perhaps it's how it takes me back to the days of weekend breakfasts at the local stall, or how it was a treat after the dreaded early-morning mental arithmetic lessons. As a child, I used to be amazed by the antics of the roti-canai-man, the pounding of the dough followed by the deft flips. On hindsight, I have a feeling they always made it just a tad more theatrical than necessary to keep me entertained.
The best sort of roti canai is light, crisp and paper thin. I like them with no fuss, and with a generous helping of fish curry.

So, when my brother finds some time in of his busy schedule to meet me for lunch, I jump at the chance to live like a fourteen year-old again. While he tucks into his "Maggi goreng double", I'm perfectly content with my roti canai.

Yes, it's definitely good to be home.

Getting the dosa fix

I think we've established the fact that food can make you do crazy things, go the extra mile shall we say. It makes you get on the bus on an extremely hot Sunday afternoon, at the very peak of summer to travel for double the time on weekdays.

Yes, crazy things.

Chennai Dosa

Chennai Dosa is a chain of South Indian restaurants, famous for it's thosai (or dosa, as they would call it) and idly. As creatures of habit, we usually head to the East Ham branch for our fix and this time, it was no different.

To start, idly soaked in a generous amount of sambar or South Indian vegetarian curry.

There is an incredible variety of dosas to choose from and I have to admit, making the choice is really quite difficult. While they do have a selection of plain dosas, I've always found the ones with filling more interesting, and for good reason I think.

The mutton masala dosa - dosa stuffed with dry lamb curry and potato masala. I'm a lamb person when it comes to Indian curries. The robust, earthy lamb flavour and the wonderful mix of spices gets me everytime so it's no surprise at all that after some extensive "hmm"ing over the menu, I settled on a lamb infused dosa. All dosas come with a selection of chutneys and sambar, with the coconut chutney being my favourite. The onion rava dosa is a good one to try as well.

To wash it all down, mango lassi for me and a salted lassi that's always Sapna's choice.

Whether you call it dosa or thosai, Chennai Dosa is a great place to go when you crave the simplicity of the mamak stall.

On a time machine

I realise it's been far too long since my last food escapade and no, it's not because I've stopped eating (oh, the horror in that!) but because I've gotten a little swept up in trying to get my life back in order after the drama that was Spain. With that said, it's been a wonderful summer and I expect that it's about to get even better now that I'm back home, new camera in tow.

At the end of second year, I realised how little of the UK I had actually seen so this summer, I decided it would be hard work on weekdays and weekends dedicated to being adventurous. I had never heard of The Cotsworlds until a casual conversation with my colleagues over a picnic lunch but it seemed like just the perfect region to visit for the quintessential English experience.

Everything seems to be of miniature proportions - doors and windows are smaller, ceilings are lower and with streets filled with teashops and people lounging around on the grass, it felt as if we had hopped onto a time machine instead of a local bus.

A lovely summer's day is never complete without ice cream. Creamy, with crunchy butterscotch bits - butterscotch ice cream at it's very best.

We simply couldn't leave Bourton-on-the-Water without sitting down to tea at one of the many tea houses. With warm, buttery scones, clotted cream, jam and some of that English tea we all know and love, it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Quaintness, charm and a healthy dose of summer sunshine, nibbles and good company - that's the reicpe for the perfect summer afternoon.