Can we get a table any where on the last day of the year? Our host who was supposed to be preparing a great cook- out at the back of his house fell ill all of a sudden.
"Hello Mrs Wong. Do you have a table for five?"
"I can squeeze you into a back table the one at the very back you know where...if you don't mind."
"No we insist on a table...don't worry. We come for the food and the service..."
"Ok then. Not every one is celebrating the end of the year! Many here for just simple eating tonight. Seven thirty or eight when most of the diners have gone...Is that right? Say what you want!! Say !"
So I ordered my dishes..simple ones because it was "eating for fun. or Siak Ka Liu" ....not a serious dinner of 8 dishes for a celebration.
But she said "I will TRY my best to get your order. But we are overbooked tonight...."
I replied "Please surprise me then...."
We love this Lutong Cafe because we have been family friends for the last 15 years or so and the food is really good. It is a cafe for all races in Malaysia except that it does not serve halal food.
Amongst the drinks we had brought a bottle of Chianti (no corkage charges).
Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” - Ernest Hemingway.
Reading Hemingway seriously has brought me to appreciate Chianti a great deal more. His Chianti was most probably the squat bottle with a straw basket original version.
Several interesting points about Chianti :
+it is a red Italian wine produced in Tuscany.
+it was historically associated with a squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called a fiasco ("flask"; pl. fiaschi);(now the fiasco is only used by a few makers of the wine )
+Baron Bettino Ricasoli (later Prime Minister in the Kingdom of Italy) created the Chianti recipe of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca in the middle of the 19th century.
+wine-area called Chianti described the area near the villages of Gaiole, Castellina and Radda; the so-called Lega del Chianti and later Provincia del Chianti (Chianti province).
+A Chianti may have a picture of a black rooster (known in Italian as a gallo nero) on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the "Gallo Nero" Consortium; an association of producers of the Classico sub-area sharing marketing costs.
The diners at Lutong Cafe were all familiar faces - there were a lot of shaking of hands and slapping of backs. The noise level was exceptionally high it being the end - in the Happy New Year Mood.
In fact some diners came all the way from Brunei for the food!! Especially the Crispy Pata.
for our small meal I had ordered the Meedin sauteed with garlic. Mrs. Wong delivered it.
I hard ordered stir fried brinjals but we had the mun mien - a Foochow MUST HAVE instead.
And then we had the sizzling dish of belly pork with dried chillies instead of the braised pork leg.
We also had a good platter of deep fried prawns and another large plate of greens. (the photos did not come out at all...too much Chianti I think...) We ended up with a reasonable amount of local fruits which was complimentary from the management.
But because of the torrential rain that night I was quite glad that we were in a safe haven with familiar people. A bottle of chianti or two makes a tiny merriment even in a sleepy place like the Fourth Division of Sarawak.
A small celebration to end the year? To close the bad and throw out any ill feelings? To welcome the new year gently and hope for the best? May God bless us all in the new year I prayed.
(To most Miri people end of the year is not a big deal. Chinese New Year is a big deal when Miri restaurants are closed for as long as 10 days!! You will need to read the notices pasted on the doors of the restaurants for its opening after the CNY)