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Belly Up
26 October 2009, Al-Amar, Pavilion KL
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For the first time in the history of the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival, Lebanese cuisine was on the menu. As one would expect, Al-Amar, which means “the moon” in Arabic, gives off a contemporary Middle Eastern vibe, replete with red velvety chairs and white-clothed tables.

Guests ready to sample the delights of Lebanon included YBhg Dato’ Ahmad Fuad Ismail, Mayor of Kuala Lumpur; His Excellency Mr Jose Manuel Ovalle, Ambassador of Chile; His Excellency Mr Hani Shash, Ambassador of the Republic of Egypt; and Mr James Beltran, Chairman of MAA International Assurance Ltd.

Upon arrival, guests were escorted to an open air terrace overlooking bustling Bukit Bintang, where host and MIGF Organising Chairman Dato’ Steve Day delivered his welcoming remarks and did a round of introductions of the guests.

As the sunlight faded, guests slowly moved inside to take their seats for dinner – they were in for a treat. Altogether seven courses, made with fresh ingredients flown in directly from Lebanon, were cooked up by Master Chef Pierre Chahda and his Lebanese kitchen team.

The first course was a Mezze Trio, of which the standout favourite was Hommos Bi Lahme (Mashed Chick Pea and Tahina Dip topped with Butter Fried Meat and Lemon Juice). In the middle of the second course – entitled ‘Raw Delight’, Ms Ang Siow Cheng was overheard remarking how much she enjoyed the Kebbeh Nayyeh (Minced Raw Lamb Meat mixed with Ground Wheat and Al-Amar Special Herbs). “It really was a different sort of dish to the kind that I’m accustomed to, but nonetheless enjoyable!” Next on the menu were Soup, Pastry Platter, Sausage Medley and Mixed Grill, closing with dual desserts themed “Sweets of Arabia”.

Throughout the evening, guests were entertained by belly-dancing performances from a Middle Eastern performer, who one guest described as “Resembling a genie from 1001 Nights.” In fact, this was the inaugural performance for what will be a nightly event from now on.

All in all, the Festival Diners had a very lively and fun-filled evening at Al-Amar, driving away those Monday blues. “The way the guests were enjoying themselves kept us in high spirits throughout the entire evening. We definitely look forward to taking part again next year!” said Chef Pierre, with a very satisfied smile.