Monday, 13 February 2006

Farewell, Peter Benchley

Peter Benchley (1940 - 2006)
I was born the year Jaws came out. The opening score should have been written for my birth.

Sadly, the author of the story that terrorised - and entertained - millions, has passed on.

The hype generated by the book and the movies never told the truth about the world's largest predatory fish, which belongs to a family that's reached the evolutionary pinnacle of its species long before the rise of mammals.

Since writing the novel, Benchley had learned much more about the great white shark, and became one of the strongest voices calling for its conservation. He never intended to misinform anybody about sharks; it just made a good story. But like I said, the stories don't even tell half the truth.

Thanks to Benchley and many others like him, we know more about sharks like the great white. As fear gives way to respect, some of us can see Jaws for what it really is: a creature whose mastery of its environment was long and hard-won.

When he spun the yarn about a monster from the deep, Benchley probably never thought about how inextricably linked he would be to his creation. Now that the man is gone, we should do all we can to make sure the beast does not follow.

We owe him that.

Friday, 10 February 2006

TEMPTations, The Renaissance KL

I never feel at home in swanky eating establishments, but I rarely pass up a chance to sample two- or three-star fare whenever the opportunity presents itself. Most of the members in the two software development teams (one team being mine) decided to have a buffet lunch to celebrate a job well-done. The venue: TEMPTations, at the New World Wing of The Renaissance, KL.

(This was the second; the first celebration was at a company dinner at a Chinese restaurant inside the Tropicana Golf Club, which in all probability negates the bonuses we were supposed to receive)

Most of the food was good; I ignored the shellfish (allergies and all that), and experienced horror from a pâté made of the stale organs of some animal mixed with crunchy bits of plant origin (there's no way it could be foie gras - too expensive for a buffet spread, and I'd never believe foie gras could taste so vile).

I also had blue cheese for the first time. Smells bad, tastes OK, although it's more like medicine than a chunk of soured milk cream. There was also a cheddar-like cheese that doesn't taste like any cheddar I've tried - nearly tasteless, not like the sharp, tangy feeling one associates with off-the-shelf stuff from Kraft's.

Everything else that I could pick was good: juicy beef and chicken satay, smoked salmon, smoked chicken, smoked duck, fresh veggies for salad, the curries, bread pudding and the crispy biscuit fingers that were among the skewered thingies you coat with melted chocolate that swirled down from a fountain.

Despite my churning stomach (damned vile pâtés, and I only had one!) and the realisation that my appetite wasn't what it used to be, it was still a great experience.

At RM55++ per person, you generally get your money's worth.

Ground Floor - New World Wing
Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel
Corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang, KL