The other day in KL

I just returned from another week in Kuala Lumpur. I had a great time. Several invitations and receptions allowed me to sample great drops – Riesling, Lemberger, Weissburgunder and Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunier) – from Germany’s North Baden wine region. Unfortunately, the occasion did not permit me to identify the vineyards and wineries.

The last evening I went and explored the area around the Petronas Towers, which always remind me of the cathedral in Chartre, Champagne. In the end I settled for an Argentinean Steakhouse called ‘Maredo’ but not because I fancied any meat but because I thought why not try some Argentinian wine. I have heard people say, the Argentineans drink their good wines themselves and export only the minor qualities. Well, let’s check that out, I thought. The exterior of the place was inviting. I liked the bar and the Latin flair radiating the Latin love of life.

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The bar

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The Marredo

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Of course there was a big tango poster on the wall.

I sat on a high wooden table close to the sidewalk and ordered a cheese platter, which the menue recommended for two persons, thinking that that might be just the right quantity. Having indulged myself on Asian cuisine during the last days, something utterly un-Asian would do. In Chinese ‘cheese’ is called ‘lao nai’, meaning “old milk”, which says everything. The cheese platter consisted of Boursine, Bresse Blue, Camembert, Manchego, Tapanade with some grilled country bread.

The wine list included Australian, Chilean, and Argentinean wines. I went for the latter and intended to try the ‘Trivento Riserva Malbec’ which was described as follows:

“Filling notes of violet and scarlet bring out the sumptuous ruby red. The wine displays its breath of red fruit aromas, rasberries, cherries and plums and a magical dab of strawberry jam. Aromas of pepper, coffee, mint, tobacco and chocolate waft.”

The waitress informed me that this wine (26 Malaysian Ringgit by the glass) was out (because the restaurant intended to change the wine list), therefore I had to settle for the other open Argentinean wine, a ‘Trapiche Astica Merlot Malbec’ of which the menu said the following:

“Delicate aromas of dried fruit, coconut, cinnamon and chocolate, ripe and freshly finishing with soft ripe tannins and aromas of red fruit”.

The 21 Ringgit for the glas indicated already that this was the lesser wine. Since I was by myself I did not want to order a whole bottle. I would have loved to have a laptop with me with an internet connection to search for those two wines.

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The food arrived and the wine too. I loved the various cheeses, though there was nothing special there. The wine was ok, however, the aromas and the tastes alluded to somehow escaped me. Maybe it was the fact that I sat next to the busy road which somehow numbed my tastebuds. Anyway, it was better than a beer.

Thursday night was very busy in KL. After a clearing shower it was cool and fresh, ideally suited for what Italians call: a ‘passagiata’ and what Germans might call ‘flanieren’, i.e. strolling along the bars and cafes and showing yourself to the interested onlookers. I watched the passersby consisting of all races. There were groups of Chinese youths, Malay women in ‘Tudung’ (Malay version of Muslim headscarves), Arab men in western clothes, Arab women covered from top to toe in black, young skimpish women on high heels and with tattoos, fat western tourists in shorts, men in business suits coming from their offices, and so on. Many people I thought were overweight, but it was delightful to see them passing by, seemingly relaxed and in anticipation of a nice evening. Fully satisfied I walked back to my hotel with the firm motivation to learn more about wines from Argentina.

Postcript
The next day I set out for the airport at 6 in the morning to catch my plane home to Jakarta. When the pilot of the Malaysian Airlines plane informed us that the Sukaro-Hatta airport in Jakarta was closed because of flooding and that we would shortly land in Halim, I was still in high spirits thinking that in all those many years in Jakarta I had never made it to the military airport, which has been so popular with living and deceased generals.

In a heavy tropical rain we touched down at almost 11 in the morning. We were to remain on the plane for almost 6 hours watching the rain outside. When it finally subsided, the plane could not be towed back to the tarmac because of the lack of equipment big enough for this kind of plane. Lighter planes left for their destinations but we remained grounded. The passengers were patient and remained so for the entire duration of our stay. Finally, Indonesian, Malaysian and other passengers with valid visas were given the opportunity to disembark. The others, among them a group of Dutch tourists, had to remain on board because of lack of immigration services on the ground. Halim is only a domestic airport. Our checked-in luggage had to remain on board but we were happy to step down onto the tarmac in the hope of having found an escape route. The pilot had warned us before about the impending lengthy and cumbersome immigration proceedings. The pessimistic forecast did not come true. After an hour of passport and hand luggage checks, we were able to leave the building. Everybody on the ground was pleasant and helpful. I did not wait for taxis to arrive but instead walked to the entrance and flagged down a blue bird taxi which delivered me safely home. I wonder what happened to the rest of the passengers and the plane? Hope they also made it somehow.

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