Christmas lunch with IWA JB

The invitation I received to the International Women’s Association (IWA) Johor Baru Christmas luncheon was sent by email from president, Jodie George, with a question: “Are you free to join us?”

The choir from the Church of Praise, presenting live music
 at the IWA JB Christmas luncheon in George & Dragon Cafe  
Every year as I share stories about the JB IWA and how they was contributing towards the community with their charity bazaars and fund-raising events, I’ve become familiar with the social support that the IWA ladies continue to give to local charities.

Inviting me to join them for their annual Christmas luncheon was one of the ways they show their appreciation for my stories and I always have fun with these lovely ladies.

When their past president, Caroline Davis, invited me to last year’s Christmas luncheon, I had to decline as I was travelling abroad on the same date.  This year, however, I was able to accept their invitation and said, “Yes!” 

Entrance to George & Dragon Cafe at Taman Tasek, JB
When I took a closer look at the attached invitation card, I saw the fine-print which read: “Please bring a wrapped gift for “Secret Santa” gift exchange; suggested spending limit for the gift is RM20 or less.”

I was glad I spotted this reminder and I wasted no time to gift-wrap something special to add it into the “Secret Santa” gift bag to share with my IWA friends at the lunch planned at George & Dragon Café.

I’m familiar with George & Dragon Café, an established name for its English fare, as our family used to order takeaways of roasted turkey and leg-of-lamb for our Christmas gatherings – every year.

A tall Christmas tree inside George & Dragon Cafe
Going to the café again reminded me of past Christmases and I couldn’t help feeling a tinge of sadness because Christmas will never be the same again for me after dad’s passing early this year.

I arrived to find a comfortable parking spot right in front of the café entrance [and the plus point about going to an event on a Friday is that public parking is Free of Charge!]

I saw how Patricia Chew, who runs the Café, always creates a Chrismassy ambiance with the cafe décor and I guess regulars like the IWA members, chose to host their event here probably because it reminds them of Christmas in their home countries.

With some IWA JB friends, Jodie George [Back Row Left]
and Anna Magyar [Front Row Centre]
I remember that the Cafe is also distinguished by its English décor and iconic suit of armor.  When I stepped through the entrance, my eyes were riveted to that suit of armor and I noted that it still held its place of pride next to a well-decorated tall Christmas tree.

As always, my IWA friends made me very welcome and I was happily seated, sandwiched between Jodie and Anna Magyar, with Sylvianne Siah diagonally opposite.

A choir, invited from the Church of Praise, to sing carols at the luncheon simply added to the Christmas mood and as I listened to the familiar tunes presented in beautiful group harmony, I couldn’t resist singing along with them.

My main course serving of traditional roasted turkey!
Then lunch started with each item being served on a delightfully warm plate.  While the portions may have looked deceptively small, I was sure that it was going to be just right – and I was right!

We started with an appetizer of egg and potato salad topped with a slice of smoked salmon, and this was followed by the much anticipated main course – roasted turkey.

The taste of roasted turkey by George & Dragon Café is reminiscent of many fond memories and every mouthful I savoured brought back special thoughts of home and family during past Christmases.

I’m pleased that Patricia and her kitchen team continues to maintain the superior quality of their roasted turkey, fragrant with chestnut and mushroom stuffing, served with pan roasted gravy, and a side of roasted potatoes and cranberry sauce.

As we slowly enjoyed every morsel, Anna vocalized my exact thoughts when she declared that even though she started out thinking, “I don’t think I can finish all this,” she was pleasantly surprised to see that her plate was almost polished clean!

Mmm… We certainly did justice to this simply irresistible serving of tender and juicy roasted turkey!

With Caroline Davis [Left] and Anna Magyar [Right]
As the staff removed our near empty plates, we gave our compliments to Patricia, who was seated at the top of our table, to pass on to the chefs.

Then the staff came around to take our order for dessert – between a choice of Orange cheesecake or Christmas pudding – and either Tea or Coffee.

Before I placed my order for coffee, I glanced at my watch to check if it was early enough to indulge in some caffeine and quickly decided that I should.  I thought I should need a little perk because I was off to an outdoor Christmas event that same evening.

At the first nibble of my slice of Orange Cheesecake, I must agree that its tangy taste was just right to round off our lovely Christmas luncheon.

By this time, the “Secret Santa” distribution of gifts had started and I heard loud exclamations of delight as the ladies tore open their packages and discovered the interesting contents in their secret gift packs.

Merry Christmas everyone at IWA JB!
When Anna started to open her gift package, she stopped when I reminded her of our family tradition of keeping all gifts nicely wrapped up until Christmas morning. 

We would keep them arranged under our tree – which certainly looked better when carolers came over on Christmas eve – and when we were kids, it was difficult not to peek or shake/squeeze the packages to guess its contents but we learnt to accept this tradition!

To close the Christmas luncheon, Jodie thanked everyone involved in making this year’s event a success.  She also invited members whose native language was not English, to share how they said, “Merry Christmas” in their language.

It was a fitting end to a pleasant festive meal with IWA friends, who not only wished each other, “Merry Christmas” in English but also in Hungarian and Russian!

George & Dragon Café is located at 1 Jalan Glasiar, Taman Tasek, 80200 Johor Baru.  For reservations, Tel: 607 – 232 3761.  George & Dragon Café is also opened at Johor Premium Outlets.  The café serves wine to complement its meals but no pork products are used in the kitchen.