Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Le Domino in Cannes, France

Le Domino Restaurant - 7 rue du Pré - 06400 Cannes, +33 492 980 787

Prix fixe: €13.90, two courses.

Wandering along the streets of old Cannes looking for where the locales eat, we stumble across what must be the only gay run restaurant in town. Perhaps this subtle attractive force could be a new fundamental one - mediated by the homon force-particle? We walk up another one of those charmant winding streets in the suquet to find the only cafe amongst four with bustling tables. Two 40+ trim men with tight cotton t-shirts, identical cargo shorts and military-style haircuts natter away to their customers whilst taking orders. One spots us and cheekily quips, "Depechez-vous vous asseoir, uh! (Hurry up and sit down, you two!)" The food is a good price and of good quality - good value compared to 'film festival prices' down on the Croisette. It's so easy to serve fantastic food when you have great ingredients - decent produce, treated well. I chose a mignon de porc avec sauce miel (pork eye-fillet with honey sauce) and a tarte aux fraises (strawberry tarte). This was cooked well, without ostentation and good value.


Throughout the meal I tried to gather evidence, for I wasn't quite 100% sure, that our hosts were indeed Friends of Dorothy. I decided definitely when Monsieur Un came over and pretended to do a little striptease with his cargo short on the front step to his customers. They pegged us too as Monsieur Deux bustled around and dropped a grand wicker basket of gay-club flyers and other community information declaring in hushed tones, "I'll give you some addresses to go out to, ok?"

It felt so welcoming to find 'instant' community. I've never encountered such warmth from gays before. As their friends and acquaintances arrived, we were introduced to his 'sister' and his 'aunt'. A painter friend asked if I would pose nude for him "or even in your underwear will be ok, no?" Flattered, I didn't think I had the time and politely declined.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Secret Malaysian Hide-outs

I think I've found the cheapest South-East Asian eats in central London. I've previously raved on about C&R Cafe but two recently discovered establishments leave it in the dust.

My mother always made a great deal out of chef pedigree - for how can a Chinese chef make real beef rendang if he (or she) didn't grow up living and breathing it, if it weren't part of the very fabric of their existence. As such, C&R being a Malaysian-Chinese run joint, although doing an admirable beef rendang, is not the best that it could be.

Leon unearthed two Malaysian eateries through his blog-trawling - two hidden gems accessible only to those in the know and completely hidden from public view. They're not advertised and there is no sign. You only know you're there because you're at the correct street number and there are tables and chairs to serve food.

Lest I give away my secrets and overwhelm the establishments with clientele (thus irrevocably changing what I seek to partake with minimal disturbance), I shall remain decidedly vague about their locations and you can email me for me to tell you about them. I expect great favours for my largesse - payments in kind also accepted.

Nahar Cafeteria is in Paddington and I suspect the canteen of the Mara hostel in London. MARA is a kind of technical training institute in Malaysia and why they have a hostel in London is beyond me, but I'm grateful for the extremely authentic Mamak-style food this place makes. This place is very basic with melamine tables and plastic chairs, but who cares - the fish curry is divine and the mee mamak aroma dark with Indian spices. Nasi Campur with 3 choices at £4.50 is the best deal. The menu is extensive and they're open till 11pm. I felt out-of-place speaking in English as Bahasa Malaysia flowed around me; I nearly did, but used English as I could barely string together, "Satu, ini [point, point], terima kasih."

The second establishment, Malaysia House, is in Bayswater and most definitely the canteen for the Malaysia House hostel in the same building. Although a more basic menu compared to Nahar: Nasi Campur (£4.50) and a few variants of mee/nasi goreng/bandung/sup - their ace in the hole is home-made roti canai (£1.50 with gravy). I could not believe it. But 'tis true. It's official that London has better Malaysian food than Sydney.

Very few non-Malaysians know or visit these establishments - a good sign that they cater specifically for the Malaysian palette rather than anything else.

Leon revealed that he prefers the oilier and greasier machine-made roti, simply because that's what he's used to - poor deprived thing. Never mind, I'm going to be eating both our shares of Malaysia House roti. They also do breakfast from 8 to 10am (Nasi Lemak and roti canai).

London has finally lived up to its reputation for being one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities.