Review: Belgische Chocolatier @ 163 Retail Park, Mont Kiara

Sunday, September 22, 2019


I have always been a chocolate fan, but I will admit that I know very little about chocolate. As far as I was concerned, all I needed to know was whether it tasted good. With that said, over the years, I’ve had some incredible chocolate from different places, manufactured by different brands. Swiss chocolate is one of my favourites for its creaminess but Belgian chocolate is a very close second due to the richness of flavour in the chocolate. Thinking of chocolate gets me so excited, I’m honestly tempted to take a certification in chocolate tasting! Well, I’ll add it to the bucket list!


Recently, I had the sheer pleasure of reviewing the offerings at Belgische Chocolatier, a new chocolate desserts store at 163 Retail Park @ Mont Kiara. Joining the likes of the many chocolate eateries Malaysia has seen pop up in recent years like dip’n’dip as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Belgische Chocolatier sets itself apart by more than its name.

Quality of Chocolate
They pride themselves in only using Callebaut chocolate, a Belgian chocolate brand with a long and distinguished history. Ahem, let’s get into the chocolate lesson.


So Callebaut is a Belgian couverture chocolate brand, which is chocolate with a high cocoa butter content. This makes it particularly creamy to melt and keeps the flavour consistent even when used in a variety of desserts, and whether solid or melted.
The store is so cute

The store is designed to be particularly accommodating to parties, events and workshops. With natural sunlight streaming through, adorable ‘chocolate splashes’ against the walls and ceilings, as well as plenty of seating all around, it’s a great place for an after meal dessert.
Tell me about the food..

Three words.


Best.

Churros.


Ever.

And I don’t say this lightly. I’ve been to Spain. I’ve been to America. And I’ve had churros in both those countries, countries where churros are meant to be amazing. But I found that the ones I had in Belgische was the absolute best I’ve ever had. Crispy and fluffy, perfectly flavoured and not too dense, it went incredibly well with the chocolate, and on its own as well. I am desperately keen for someone else to go and try it – just to see if I’m imagining things! The churros were topped with a light dusting of sugar and cinnamon but feel free to ask them to hold on the extra coatings and have it plain with just chocolate to taste it as it is. (Celine, I'm looking at you!) 


We had their Brownie Crepe as well, a delightful combination of crispy brownie, soft crepe and delicious chocolate that left us longing for an encore. 


I’ve always been a fan of fettucine crepe, and the one here comes with chocolate AND ice cream, the perfect mix for when you’re craving the depth of chocolate, but the refreshing cool of icecream. The crepe at Belgische is flavourful and soft, which I think is a testament to their recipe which apparently they took months to perfect. It left me wondering if I could permanently opt for crepe to fulfil my daily carb needs.



Their walnut brownie wasn’t a winner for me, because the brownie was crispy and more biscuit like. I know many of the other reviewers were big fans of this because a crispy brownie plus creamy chocolate & ice cream is apparently a better combination, but I’ve always been one to prefer fudgy, gooey, mud-like brownies and didn’t have any more of this. 



However, what I looked for, I found in their chocolate lava cake, a gooey, decadent offering of chocolate, more chocolate and premium vanilla ice cream. 


If you wanted your food served with some drama, their sizzling brownie delivered that in spades, with a brownie that came out more moist than the walnut one. It was a spectacular visual and audio show of sizzling chocolate against hot pan, creamy ice cream and a hot, yummy brownie.


They gave us a variety of special things to try, less common than other places. The Krispy Bowl was an incredible treat of rice krispies and hot rich chocolate, leaving me wishing my childhood breakfasts started out this sweet.

And finally, if you’ve ever wished you had molten chocolate to drink, allow me to introduce the Three Musketeers. Dumas would've never imagined his work materialising into three shot glasses of milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate, meant for drinking, and completely, absolutely, ridiculously sinful. Of course, you could always order this as a side for that extra dash of chocolate on anything else you’ve ordered (such as the churros) but I’m sure some chocoholics would think that nothing’s better than to down this in a go.


Their menu has so much more to offer. Their triple heart doughnut was an absolute hit with the other girls, but I was feeling too stuffed that I didn’t manage to try it. Their chocolate sushi crepe was also another popular dish, with every bite melding multiple textures and flavours together – something I also did not manage to try.



They serve coffee and other drinks from chai lattes to hojicha so if you’re not there for the chocolate, rest assured, you’ll find something else to enjoy as well!

You should try it if..

·       You love chocolate

·       You’re looking for a dessert place that’s chill and not too expensive

·       You want to try the best churros ever

·       You’re an adventurous dessert hunter and want a twist on the regular chocolate desserts (sushi perhaps?)

·       You’re in a large group of friends and want to share dessert

·       You want to try Callebaut Belgian chocolate

Minding Money Tips
As usual, my food reviews come with some tips on how you can get the best out of a restaurant. If you’re a student, you’re entitled to a 10% discount at every visit! Just flash your student card and you’re immediately entitled to that discount. If you want to get in touch for a party (graduation event? birthday celebration for kids? launch event?), you could get 30% off!  



With some of my friends - Sylvia, Ashley and Joanne

Thank you to Belgische Chocolatier for the food and the hospitality, and thank you to The Butterfly Project for securing the review opportunity.


Address1F-16, 163 Retail Park, Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur

How To Take The Perfect Flatlay for Business and Personal Shots

Monday, September 9, 2019

If you’ve ever struggled with taking the perfect flatlay, then this is the post for you! Flatlays are arguably an Instagram essential, and whether you’re trying to capture mouthwatering displays of food spread across a table or that gorgeously packaged new skincare product on an artfully arranged bed of flowers, a well taken flatlay can highlight a product, be a fun way to express your creativity and of course, become ultimate #instagramgoals.



This post is only possible thanks to The Butterfly Project, From The Top (flatlay experts – find them on Instagram) and Avant GardeBlooms. Towards the end of July, I had the privilege of attending an intimate 15-member workshop for taking flatlays, taught by Azrin who’s a lecturer by profession and a flatlay hobbyist. She has hosted workshops for creatives and professionals interested in using flatlays either in a personal capacity or for commercial use, and having attended this Flatlay Partea (it was a tea party and I loved the cheesy pun!) at Delectable by Su in Glasshouse Seputeh, I can tell you firsthand that food and flatlays go very well together.


Upon arrival, we were treated to a drink and goodie bag by Althea Korea with some of their signature products: their beauty blender (Meringue Puffs) and fruit sheet masks (with even more punny names). With the sweet treats from Delectable by Su laid out for us, fresh flowers by Avant Garde Blooms all over, and with the sunlight streaming in through the huge ground-to-ceiling windows, it was like stepping into a tea party wonderland – fortunately, no mad hatters in sight!



The workshop was interactive in the best possible way. Azrin would initially guide us through some key essentials for taking a flatlay, carry out a demonstration, then allow us to work with the props and goodies to trial test our own shots. She’d then come by and offer helpful suggestions on whether a set up was too cluttered, if another colour would enhance the ‘featured’ item better, on how to use flowers and petals and tealeaves for that ‘effortlessly’ busy effect. She guided us on how to take ‘clean’ flatlays, where items are neatly arranged in symmetry (think packing flatlays!) and even ‘messy’ ones, where things would look ‘sprawled out’ across a surface.

Over the break, we were given the chance to eat any of the food on display (but at the same time – were told that we might want to save some treats for the second flatlay activity later on!). I loved loved loved the lemon meringue tart, had numerous chocolate mousse pots which was rich and creamy and enjoyed many mini croissants and sandwiches before the break was up.

That’s when competitive mode kicked in, and we had the chance to group up into teams of 3 to take The Ultimate Flatlay. Our challenge? Feature Althea’s Meringue Puffs. Thankfully, these blenders are already so cute that it was easy to marry them with the tea party theme and props that we had at our disposal.

Pic by Eros

My group members were the dynamic duo of Ashley and Sylvia, both of which have an incredible eye for detail. After arranging and rearranging and rearranging again, this was the photo we came up with:


Which I think was pretty gorgeous, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, we did not win – but it was pretty tough to choose a winner because everyone’s shot was so good!

The other groups:





I learned so much from this workshop, and am happy to share some tips that I learned both at the workshop thanks to From The Top and also after trying it out a few more times at home. 

What is a Flatlay?

Before we dive into the details, we need to understand what a flatlay is. As you’d gather from its name, a flatlay is a photo taken from the top, where the viewpoint is 90 degrees from the flat surface. So that’s something that cannot be compromised – if you’re into taking creative angles, that no longer makes it a flatlay. Instead, your creativity is showcased through the layout of the items, rather than the angle of the photo.

Flatlay Top Tips

   1. Think of your ‘thing’

Have a focus. Find a pivotal object that you want to highlight or show as a centre of the photo. This helps you determine the colour scheme, theme and props that you’ll need before taking a photo. For instance, if you’re photographing a sandwich, it would look good on a picnic background or some sort of dainty tea party theme, but if you were photographing a burger, it might not be the most cohesive photo to pair that with a tea party setting.


2. The Backdrop

Choose your background wisely! One of the most useful things I learned at the workshop is that we can totally create our own backdrops. We don’t even need a marble table or a pink desk. Getting manila cards, old cloths or coloured paper to serve as the backdrop allows you to have a portable flatlay workstation that’s affordable and easy-to-work-with. From The Top’s workshop allowed us to work with samples of card in a variety of colours and textures (like marble!). Head to your local craft store to find a material that works for you!

3. Pop Your Props

From The Top’s strategy for ensuring that their props ‘pop’ in the photo is to arrange the photo by colour. This tip is super helpful for choosing which items should be in the photo. Personally, I’ve always had issues knowing what to feature. Sometimes in my head, I know that I have a few pretty items that would be nice to photograph, but because I didn’t plan the colours properly, the photo ends up looking ‘busy’ or disjointed, and it doesn’t make a good flatlay.

4. Right Ratio!

It’s also pivotal to have an idea of the ratio that you want to post. Some prefer a ‘portrait’ style photo with a 4:5 ratio for Instagram, whilst others are happy with the square. If you’re shooting a flatlay for a client, have in mind the kind of dimensions you want for the photo. The same shot for a square would look significantly different on a promotional banner. When in doubt, shoot as wide as possible, then crop it close.

5. Change and Arrange

From The Top taught us to take a look at the shots mid-shoot in order to see what they look like on screen. Sometimes, in person and on-screen have a different look and rather than take all the shots and edit later, you may need to take a breath, take a look at the photo, maybe play around with the ratios, and if you think it needs some adjustments, make some rearrangements and try shooting again.

6. Fresh flowers

As much as possible, if you’re using flowers in your shot, use fresh flowers! Fake flowers don’t look as good in a photo, and you have a lot more room to work with if you can scatter petals and leaves to fill up the blank spaces. At the workshop, Avant Garde Blooms supplied the flowers (where I learned that you can get some beautiful imported roses from Kenya) but even plucking leaves from the trees in your garden is an option!

And that’s some top tips I learned at the workshop! Hopefully I did justice to Azrin's instructions. 

I’ll wrap up this post with samples of flatlays taken by From The Top, which were huge inspirations to me.

 

If you would like tips from the flatlay guru herself or want some practical hands-on lessons, reach out to From The Top to join one of their workshops. Maybe even organise a flatlay party with your friends. I think it’ll be a fun bachelorette party or birthday party event to do if you and your friends enjoy Instagram, or just as a way to learn a new skill!

If you loved the flowers in this post as much as I did, Avant Garde Blooms have an amazing flower subscription service starting from only RM50 a month. I love having fresh flowers at home, and whether you’re subscribing to decorate your own home, or subscribing to treat your partner every month Avant Garde Blooms makes it easy: https://www.avantgardeblooms.com/

Since the workshop, I’ve gotten comments that my flatlay pictures have greatly improved and I’m so grateful to The Butterfly Project for giving me the opportunity to equip myself with some handy-dandy blogger skills!

Till next time!

Miniel Skinlab Review

Saturday, August 31, 2019
 
Thanks, Miniel Skinlab for all the goodies!

Finding the right moisturiser is not unlike finding the right partner. You'd want it to fulfill its promises, leave you feeling good after every encounter, and ultimately, not cause you more stress than what it's worth. As with relationships, there are some skincare routines that can be fairly stressful and unpleasant, which is why Miniel Skinlab's campaign for a Stress-Free Vacation comes at the right time.


 I've been in the review game just long enough to know what I like in a moisturiser, and high up on my list is how fuss-free it is. For me, that means that if I'm using it in the day, I do not want it to be sticky and it has to absorb quickly, though I'm willing to handle a little more stickiness for a night-time routine especially as I sleep in air-conditioned rooms.

The packaging that Miniel Skinlab sent over was packed with adorable things, from a cute leaf for all my future flatlays, adorable stickers (which I stuck on my face and had problems removing later lol) and even a lovely beach bag, which is now my go-to grocery bag.
I won't go into too much detail of the product itself, because here's all you really need to know: One pump and that's enough for the whole face and neck. The best part: absorbs within seconds! Even if we ignore the gorgeous and very premium packaging, under the hood, you've got these ingredients:
    a. (Mask) Kudzu Root Extract - France
    b. (Mask) Various Fruit Extract - United State
    c. (Mask & Serum) Sodium Hyaluronate - Korea
    d. (Serum) Yeast Extract - Switzerland
The chemists among you would know better than I what these ingredients do for you, so let me just tell you how they feel.

Miniel Hydraque Boost Serum


The serum is my daily staple for whenever I'm in a rush. All I do is pump onto my palm, and pat it on my face, and almost instantly, my skin feels significantly hydrated. I'll preface this by saying that I have moderately dry skin, so it doesn't take much for my skin to soak up moisturisers, but what I love about this serum is its fantastic texture. You could also pair it with an existing moisturiser for additional hydration, but even on its own, you'll feel an effect! 

Clear, water/gel-like. 
The closest moisturiser I've tried which absorbed just as quickly but is as hydrating is the Laneige Water Bank. Perhaps, I'd venture to say that the Laneige one is slightly more hydrating and absorbs a little faster, but hey, Miniel is about half the price, so I think it's a fair compromise. 


You can order the Serum for RM87.30 (with free shipping!) on this site and you get an EXTRA 5% discount for using my code:

SFVC-TIFFANY

Miniel Hydraque Gel Mask


This gel mask is a lot of fun to use. It comes with a tiny spatula and has the most incredible texture. The moment you slather this on your face, there's an immediate cooling sensation, almost like the feeling of aloe vera but a lot lighter. 

Over 15 minutes, the gel starts to warm up on your face, and it dries with a light film-like finish. I could probably forget about it on me if I was really engrossed in something because it really doesn't bother you at all. However, when you wash off the mask, there's just an amazing feeling of it sliding off you. Like slime? But in a good way! After that, you get a very smooth finish on your skin that isn't oily at all - but at the same time, hydrated! I love the feeling and I mask at least once a week. A very worthwhile investment for RM60.30 AND once again, another 5% off on top of that with the promo code! 

Here's the code again:

SFVC-TIFFANY


Thank you Miniel Skinlab for trusting me with reviewing your product. It's such a pleasure to be able to try great Malaysian skincare, especially as I'm publishing this on our National Independence Day (Selamat Hari Merdeka, readers!). As usual, thank you to The Butterfly Project! I'm not paid for this review, but I am given the products for free to try. 



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