From a professional photographer to restaurant owner, Sharon Lam of GLASS Tartines & Tipples has certainly taken an interesting culinary path.
“I studied fine art photography at Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia. I don’t think that there was a specific ambition growing up – I certainly didn’t expect to be doing what I’m doing today,” says Lam.
According to the youthful-looking 40-something, she discovered a passion for food as a student Down Under.
“When I was living in Australia – like any other student – I couldn’t afford to eat out too much. So, you’re forced to learn how to cook. When I was in university, I worked in two cafes that were really different in their food offerings. This, I suppose, sparked my interest in food.
“Being in Australia also exposed me to their approach to food and their interest in using fresh local produce.”
Lam describes GLASS as a loosely-inspired French restaurant. “Our menu is quite varied – it has something for everyone. The premise of our food sets us apart; wherever possible, our product is made on site. From the dressings to soup bases, dips and meatballs, we make everything that we can ourselves. We believe that one should eat well – and that translates into the ingredients that we select and use.”
Sharon Lam believes that one should eat well – and that translates into the ingredients that her restaurant selects and uses. Photos: Sharon Lam
“We are the only outlet on the strip that serves a wide range of craft beers and BBQs both on Friday evenings and Sundays as brunch.”
Bestsellers on its menu, says Lam, include truffle scrambled eggs which are a hit with breakfast regulars, and the smoked salmon salad, which comes with lychee and fresh house cilantro dressing.
“Our Asian meat platter is a new favourite. Served on a wooden platter, it includes char siew chicken with our house made chilli sauce, peppered oxtail and chicken ball bites with crisp sesame cucumber noodles. It’s perfect for sharing.”
An all-time favourite is the coffee rubbed Australian ribeye, which sees a good cut of steak with a coffee crust served with gorgonzola sauce. “It sounds like such a strange combination but it works deliciously well,” enthuses Lam.
Lam can talk at length about food. “I am interested in the process of, firstly, making use of interesting ingredients. A dish is a final outcome of the combination of many ingredients coming together well, sourcing for produce and experimenting with it to create flavour through infusion, smoking and other methods. We make our own salts, rubs, syrups and alcohol infusions, using mainly local produce.
“It’s an interesting process to discover smells and tastes through different stages. And then to incorporate that into the dish.”
When it comes to food creations, Lam says: “We mainly start from the ingredient that we’d like to include in a dish or even in a drink. I discuss with the chef how to incorporate a certain flavour, herb or texture, whether it’s subtle or strong.
“Sometimes we try to reinvent a sauce that’s fairly common – like our char siew chicken chilli sauce – it may be basic but we’ve put our own spin on it.”
She adds: “We love experimenting with slightly different combinations. For instance, our blended juices comprise orange, cherry tomatoes and thyme, or roasted pumpkin and our house roasted granola.
“We make our own syrups too; our coolers such as pandan and mint include the old time local favourite biji selasih (basil seeds).”
The smoked salmon salad with lychee and fresh house cilantro dressing is a favourite with customers.
From Monday to Friday, GLASS offers value-for-money set lunches at RM22+. Lam adds that GLASS is open to hosting private events.
“The BBQ is a favourite to have for events. We are able to put together something special for customers such as whole fish baked in salt or tea smoked meats,” she says.
GLASS TARTINES & TIPPLES
A-0-6 Ground Floor, St Mary Residences
No 1 Jalan Tengah, off Jalan Sultan Ismail
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2022 1477
When I first started drinking craft beer about eight years ago, there was one beer in particular in those early days that stood out for me. It was a dark, rich porter with a lovely chocolate malt nose, a velvety, rich chocolate mocha flavour that coated my mouth and tongue that finished with a lingering chocolatey sensation.
That beer was the Holgate Temptress Chocolate Porter, and even though I’ve had some amazing beers since then, I’ll never forget how that first bottle of Temptress, well, tempted me to try even more craft beers, just to see what other amazing flavours I could get.
So when I heard the founder of Holgate Brewhouse himself, Paul Holgate, was coming to Paus Craft Beer Bar in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, to conduct a tasting of his beers, I immediately reached out for an interview.
Considered one of the pioneers of the Australian craft beer industry, the Holgate Brewhouse is a family-owned brewery founded in 1999. Paul and Natasha Holgate started Holgate Brewhouse in their backyard in the village of Woodend, just outside Melbourne.
The idea of starting a brewery first occurred to the Holgates in 1997 when they were on holiday in the United States.
“We saw many small brewers starting up there, and thought to ourselves, ‘hey, we can do this too!’. These tiny breweries were owned by ordinary people with no money and just having a go, just like us!” Holgate recalled.
Paul Holgate and his wife started Holgate Brewhouse out of their garage 20 years ago.
“We were brewing out of our garage, had two little babies, and I still had a day job at the time, so it was a pretty crazy time!”
Now, Holgate Brewhouse has grown into a full-blown brewing and hospitality business that employs about 40 people.
Before starting his own brewery, Holgate was already a home brewer.
“I was a science graduate and always loved to cook or bake things in the kitchen. When I was a teenager I used to make bread, or ginger ale, so I was naturally drawn towards brewing my own beer,” he said.
“When I started brewing, the beers I was trying to brew were non-mainstream beers, European traditional beers like British ales, German wheat beers. Then as my palate expanded, I went into hoppy beers as well.”
The first beers he produced was an English ESB (extra special bitter) and a German wheat.
“My parents were from England originally, so I wanted to brew an English style ale. Back in those days, we were not trying to brew a mass market beer to suit everybody. We just brewed beers we wanted to drink ourselves, to prove that we could do it commercially before taking the next step,” he said.
Holgate also has three beers that focus on Australian ingredients in particular. “Don’t get me wrong, I love brewing using American hops and I also make a German lager with Czech hops, but I also want to promote Australian raw materials, to give that essence of providence,” Holgate explained.
The Temptress Chocolate Porter is a porter infused with Dutch cocoa and whole vanilla beans.
Holgate currently has three beers that use solely Australian malts and hops: the Mt Macedon Pale Ale (4.5% ABV), an “easy drinking pale ale”; the Alpha Crucis XPA (5.5% ABV), or “extra pale ale”; and the Norton Lager (4.3% ABV), a Munich-style helles (or pale) lager.
Guests at the tasting got to taste all three, as well as the Hop Tart Semi-Sour Pale Ale (4.5% ABV), a nice refreshing ale that serves as a decent introduction to sour beers for beginners; the Road Trip IPA (5.8%), which is also a sessionable IPA (India pale ale) for those not used to the bitter hoppiness of some IPAs; and of course, the Temptress Chocolate Porter (6% ABV), porter infused with Dutch cocoa and whole vanilla beans.
According to Holgate, it’s good to see the vibrancy of Australian craft beer these days. Back when he started, craft beer would have amounted to less than 1% of the total beer market in Australia. “Now, we’re probably about 3% … more, if you include the bigger corporate ones like Little Creatures,” he said.
“In America it’s probably about 12-15%, so we do still have a long way to go. Still, it’s getting crowded out there, with more and more brands coming up.
“For us, everything has to be about balance. Even if it’s a big hoppy beer, it’s got to have balance. That is part of the Australian brewing scene, where there is a place for well-done, sessionable, well-balanced beers as well.”
Paul reckons craft beer should be enjoyed by everybody, not just a specific type of beer drinker. “Our business mantra is to be creative and innovative, and we’ve got a broad range of beers because we want to educate everybody about craft beer. If people can appreciate good coffee or good wines, they can also appreciate good beer.
“Sometimes I don’t even want to use the word ‘craft beer’. I prefer to call it ‘good beer’!” he said with a laugh.
Holgate beers can be found at Paus, WineTalk or at selected supermarkets and craft beer bars in Kuala Lumpur.
Michael Cheang is still tempted by a Holgate Temptress Chocolate Porter every now and then. Drop him a note at the Tipsy-Turvy Facebook page or follow him on Instagram.
Holgate has a broad range of beers because Paul Holgate wants to make it easier to educate everybody about craft beer.