Luqman squeals with delight the moment I fish out a copy of Ratatouille DVD from my bag. Oh! For crying out loud kid, it’s a story about rats! He goofs around merrily while I juggle to slot the DVD into the player. For the next one and half hour, he stays glued to the screen – eyes as big as saucers – watching the movie to the exclusion of his mom who is watching him in utter disbelief.
Ratatouile is a movie about a rat, Remy, who dreams of becoming a chef in Paris. No offense to my cousin, Remy, if you are reading this crap; a rat named after you Abang? (Evil laugh echoes). Ah, Paris – the city of lights, the city of love. Trust Walt Disney to make a movie about rats living in Paris. Hold on to your horses folks, I am getting somewhere with this rat story.
The dead Chef Gusteau’s restaurant has been subjected to poor review about its dwindling performance by Ego; the mean but widely-publicised food critic. I love this Ego character to bits. His appaling demeanor sends the best of cooks in Paris scattering around in desperate attempt to please his, oh well, impossible-to-please taste buds.
I thought to myself – in my 32 years of living – I haven’t been adventerous with food at all. After years of eating tasteless food in boarding school tops with years of bake potatoes and fish & chips in England; I lost interest in the quest of finding good food. Pathetic, aren’t I? Books I can tell; books I can criticise or laud from the introduction right up to the glossary. But I am no Einstien in food. My vocabulary range in culinary equates to those in pre-school.
However, on January 3, things changed. Jefree and I went out on an impromptu date that day. After the movie, we dined at Tony Roma’s despite our hearts wrenched in guilt for leaving Luqman behind. We thwarted that little nagging feeling and stepped into the semi-darkness of the restaurant in Pavilion. The over-cheerful waiter, Adi, placed the thick menu in front of us. At this point, I would not hide my disdain with food menu; it is often overrated and the picture is a complete different version from what being served on your table.
But the food connoisseur in my life, Encik Jefree, urged me to have Bountiful Beef Ribs. After frowning at the exorbitant price of the dish, I readily agreed to his suggestion. Adi appeared back at our table after sending the orders to the kitchen with four types of Tony Roma’s sauces to go with my ribs. While I strained to make head and tail of his peculiar English’s accent; I appreciate his enthusiasm in serving me a decent meal. Kudos Adi!
My plate arrived shortly thereafter. The first chew of the rib transported me to nirvana of taste like never before. The chef tenderised the meat to perfection amidst heaven of flavours. The ribs were precisely served to my request of medium-well like no other American’s joints I frequented before. Juices and flavours oozed out from the meat the moment I sliced my huge knife through the ribs. The meal was served with 2 additional side dishes of my choice. I opted for sweet corn on cob and – my favourite comfort food of all time – mash potatoes. The mash potato was a bit starchy but dollops of cream on top of it made me forget the starchiness.
I devoured everything on my plate in record time and started poking on Jefree’s chicken. His chicken was, undoubtedly, mediocre as opposed to my awesome ribs.
Go ahead then, give Tony Roma’s a try. But if you order anything else than the ribs, please don’t hold me responsible. I told you I am no Nigella Lawson.