KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — It’s half past eleven on a cool Sunday morning but I’m sweating.
Each bead of sweat is somehow bigger than the last, and traces a wet path down my forehead, along my furrowed brow and finally gathering at the tip of my nose, dangling precariously like a chubby father about to cannonball into the water park.
The culprit is a fiery red mass of monitor lizard curry (RM26) that I, a foolish and naive man, have just shovelled down with little thought, and that investment in pain is paying dividends.
My lips throb and my mind blurs with every bite; it’s half joy, half pain, and with every sweaty wipe of the wrist I feel closer and closer to becoming a Dali painting.
Next to my food is an ice-cold glass of something magical: toddy.
Milky-white, subtly sweet with just the slightest hint of yeast on the nose, it’s the answer to my spicy prayers, allowing me to re-engage in this sordid affair of wipe, drink, wipe, drink, followed by a guttural ahhhh.
But how did I get here?
You see, I live and die by the maxim “It’s five o’clock somewhere”, so any reason to get out of the house for a drink is a good one.
Bellamy Kitchen Toddy was that reason, so on a fine Sunday morning, I found myself sitting al fresco at the charming patio of a quaint little house along Jalan Kerayong.
It faces Alice Smith School, with the exterior mostly covered by vegetation, save for a small banner on the gate that doubles as a sign.
Toddy is the name of the game here, with the original unflavoured variety going for RM15 a litre and an assortment of flavoured versions going for RM20 a litre.
For the uninitiated, toddy is a palm wine made by fermenting the sap of coconut palms, yielding a mildly sweet, slightly tangy liquid that has low alcohol content.
Longer fermentation periods result in a more acidic product, and can eventually produce vinegar.
A bottle of each of the original and lychee-flavoured toddy arrived in a bucket of ice that, on closer inspection, was revealed to be a resourcefully repurposed office bin.
The original is milky-white, as mentioned earlier and smelled almost, sweaty.
One sip and I knew I was in trouble: not only was it incredibly fresh, with just the slightest touch of fizz and tang on the tongue, but it also went down like a dream.
I knew I could spend the next few hours doing nothing but knocking back glasses of this stuff, which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound like a bad afternoon at all.
As expected, the lychee flavour amped up the sweetness, eliminating almost any nuance in the toddy, though this proved useful in dealing with some spice-induced reactions later.
I generally struggle to imbibe without indulging in some food, which here comes in the form of a small and simple banana leaf meal.
Rice, a papadum, and an addictive sour pickle are complemented by wild boar curry (RM27), mutton varuval (RM29) and fried ikan bulus (RM25), as well as the aforementioned curry.
Altogether, the meal provided ample reason to continue to guzzle glasses of ambrosian toddy.
The wild boar proved to be my favourite of the lot, immersed in a thick gravy that’s primarily flavoured with pepper and curry leaves.
Each bite was tender and slightly fatty.
The varuval featured a chunky spice paste coating the tender chunks of mutton, which sported plenty of dried chillies and curry leaves again.
The fish, while fried well and tasty enough, was not as memorable as the rest of the dishes.
Before you know it, two to three hours will have passed. In that time, you’ve seen yourself reduced to a dizzy state of euphoria; a snot-nosed mess, sweating, drinking, filled with glee.
Or maybe you skip the spice trip altogether and just order copious amounts of toddy, soaking in the relaxing afternoon, catching rays of sunlight as it hits the mesh canopy.
Bellamy Kitchen Toddy
26 Jalan Kerayong, Off, Jalan Bellamy, Kuala Lumpur
Open Monday to Thursday, 11am-6pm, Friday to Sunday 11am-7pm. Closed on Tuesdays
Tel: 014-641 4357
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