Monday, July 21, 2014

Guardians of Glenlivet Strike Again, This Time With A Most Unlikely Pairing .... COFFEE!

I get very excited whenever I see these green invitations.  The fact that the event is for the "GUARDIANS" of Glenlivet gives one a sense of purpose, much like a superhero, except our superpower, if it is one at all, is to swirl the precious amber nectar and be able to spout and detect all the different notes, from vanilla to fruit to spice... Sssh, I hope they (the organisers) don't get wind of this, but my palate is as insensitive as leather, and my scope of description is "oooh, nice, more 18 year old please".

I lifted this from the Glenlivet website, so as to sound a bit more knowledgeable.

This particular event sought  to pair very specialized coffee with the various Glenlivets,  which I thought was a very novel concept indeed.  Again, I have to camouflage my plebian-ness, and it's best NOT to mention at any point that my daily cuppa consists of a Nescafe Gold.  I can hear my artisanal brew friends fainting in horror, clutching their chests and gagging.  Nevertheless, there's nothing to stop one from experiencing new things in life, and well, when a glorious opportunity like this presents itself,  one just thanks one lucky stars.

Who knew, that tucked away in the Club Utama (hitherto only known for the Restaurant Extra Super Tanker).. in the Village, lies a haven for coffee afficianados, where a cuppa cost almost as much, if not more, than a pack of glenlivet.  Roast Factor Glee, the place is called, and I've heard rumours about how coffee is such an art form, (and I don't mean the pretty drawings baristas create from the foam of a cappucino), but I have never really witnessed the painstaking love involved in the brewing of certain brews.  Put it this way, the amount of time taken to make one cup,  I probably could finish baking an entire cake.

The traffic as always, was HORRENDOUS, and I hate being late especially for these events, but made it JUST in time to see Lionel Lau introducing himself and the event. .

The first blend, paired with Glenlivet 12 Year Old was the Guatemala, Los Cerritos
Altitude: 1200m/ Crop year 2013/ Varietal Catuai, Caturra and Bourbon.  Caramel butterscotch notes, pleasant round acidity with notes of milk chocolate and caramel leading into fresh black cherries, and finishing with notes of baked apple.

You could see the meticulous care with which the lady boss, Shyue Chin and her brother, Shyu Wen, lovingly prepared these exotic brews.

Paired with the 15 Year old Glenlivet, the Panama, Carmen Estate Washed, Altitude:
1650-2000m/ Crop Year 2013/ Varietal Catuai Caturra Typica.  Sweet plum, apple and some toffee in aroma, deep candied fruit-like sweetness, raisins, apricot, fat juicy body with medium acidity, long delicate finish.

This was my favourite combination, as I found the first one a bit too mild, and not particularly leaving any evocative impact on any part of the tongue.

This whole fancy set up comprises the V60 Hario Dripper and Buono Kettle which releases the hot water in a thin water stream.  You really need the patience of a saint, and a lot of elbow grease to produce a cup of coffee.

Finally, to pair with the 18 Year Old Glenlivet (this time round, the 18 Years finished very quickly!), Rwanda Inzovu Washed, Altitude: 1200-1800m/ Crop year 2013/ Varietal Bourbon Typica. Caramel, lime and soft floral in aroma, black tea-like, plum, lemon, thick body with tart green apple acid, candied grape-like sweetness, long finish.

Okay, the caffeine from the coffee, and the buzz from the booze, now that's a good combination alright!!!

Looking forward to the next chapter of the Guardians.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Glenfiddich Solera 15 Years, Dissected and Deconstructed

What was I saying about my penchant for alcoholic events?  Well, the idea of a deconstruction of a whisky was too tempting to refuse, even if it meant traversing the crazy traffic to Kota Damansara at 7-ish pm.

I was intrigued, what this was about.  Actually although I am no stranger to the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old, I was not aware that it actually had a name (Solera), and certainly, when one imbibes this nectar of the gods, one doesn't think too much about its origins, and how it's made.

As it turns out, three very different components are mixed to get the finished product that we know.  And tonight was the night we were to find out which and how.

Lee Ying Zhi, Regional Brand Manager during the Glenffidich Solera Reserve 15 Year Old deconstruction tasting event, introducing the event, and the concept of the event, but what I thought was really novel, was the live tour of the distillery via live feed.

Mathew Fergusson Stewart, ‎Brand Ambassador Southeast Asia at William Grant & Sons hosted the first ever Live Streaming tasting session directly from Warehouse 8, the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Speyside.  The last time I saw him at the Glenfiddich event in KL Hilton, he was all kilted up.

[No point reinventing the wheel, the press release is informative and accurate]
Created in 1998 by Malt Master David Stewart, the Glenfiddich Solera process was inspired by the sherry bodegas of Spain and Portugal. As one of the oldest family-owned distillers in the industry, William Grant & Sons has had the time and freedom to constantly innovate and pioneer in new distilling methods, resulting in the renowned Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15 Year Old – the first 15 year old Scotch whisky to make it into the top ten best-selling single malts in the world.

What is interesting is the handcrafted American Oak Solera vat, in which the three components are combined to mix, is never emptied.  The 35,000 litre vat is always kept at least half full, much like a starter dough for bread bakers... hence achieving a complex and interesting flavour as time goes by.

In 1998, the Glenfiddich Solera Vat was filled with whisky that was all at least 15 years of age (distilled in 1983 or earlier). The three whiskies used to fill the Solera Vat have all been matured in different types of casks:

15 YO Glenfiddich aged in Bourbon barrels – casks previously used to age bourbon in America (bottle no 1)

15 YO Glenfiddich aged in Sherry butts – casks previously used in Spain to age sherry (bottle no 2)

15 YO Glenfiddich aged in Bourbon barrels, and finished for three months in New American oak barrels that have never been used before. (bottle no 3)

After the Solera vat is filled, the whiskies are left to mix together, encouraged with gentle aeration.
After mixing in the Solera Vat, half of the whisky is transferred into marrying tuns and left to rest for at least three months (a process used for all Glenfiddich variants). The whisky is then chill filtered and diluted to bottling strength with Robbie Dhu spring water.  Now I did not know that all this stuff is actually diluted with spring water.  Which meant when we drank the individual components, it must have been very very strong.  Actually, it was.  Very strong.

The fact that the Solera vat is always left at least half full and significant traces of earlier batches will always remain in the vat means that each bottle of the Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15 Year Old will contain some whisky that was distilled more than 30 years ago.  If only the vats could talk.  30 years ago, ...I was but a schoolboy.

As individual components, the Sherry Butts one was the most easy to drink.  It's a bit, but only just, a bit sweeter than the other two, and somehow the high alcohol content doesn't assail the palate like flaming water.

The amazing thing about the live feed was, that you could whatsapp Matthew any questions, and he would answer almost immediately...depending on how long the whatsapp took to reach Speyside.

Here, Matthew is speaking to a guy in a leather apron, who does barrels.  He's known as a Cooper, and it is a rare and sought after profession in the distillery industry.  They work in a cooperage, and are responsible for the quality of the barrels etc etc.

In Summary, thanks to the press release

What goes better with whisky than roast pork with crispy crackling???

Anyway, it was a great night out, especially with the sterling company of Christy Yoong of The Peak.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Errazuriz's Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve, Masterclass

Oh dear, I realised most of the events I have been attending recently are all alcohol related ones.  They are also the ones hardest to say no to, because generally, they are the most fun.  So when Makan Fairy Godmother got me an invite to a wine Masterclass, it was obviously going to be a yes from me.

Chile has always fascinated me, its long narrow stretch of land that stretches the length of some continents, giving it a diverse climate profile, depending whether you are north or south, (unlike our land of perpetual summer and humidity here), and such climes make it possible for vineyards to flourish and as such, produce delectable wines.

Founded by Don Maximiano Errazuriz, one of 19th century Chile's most prominent families, he sought a land north of Santiago, and came across Valle de Aconcagua, where he founded his winery in 1870, proclaiming "From the best land, the best wine".

Vina Errazuriz Winery

Today, Vina Errazuriz leads modern Chilean viticulture and showcases Chile as a world class appellation.

The very affable Nicolas Happke, who is the Area Manager of Southeast Asia, led us through the wine tasting that evening, featuring 4 different types of showcase wines.

The wines served were the Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve, 1989 (gosh, I had just graduated in 1989), Don Maximino Founder's Reserve 1999, Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve 2010 and Kai 2010.

The DM FR 1989 is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, described as clean cherry brick red in colour.  Notes of fresh fruit with earthy balsamic as well.  The wine had been decanted for an hour, but actually at the time of tasting, it felt that it could use a little bit more decanting time.  Actually, upon revisiting that wine 15 minutes later after the original tasting, the flavours were so much more evident, and it really was a very elegant, polished wines.

The DM FR 1999 is 97% Cab Sav and 3% Merlot.  Aged in oak, the wine boasts harmonious integration of toasted almonds, vanilla and coffee.  On the palate the spicy tannines titillate, with flavours of blackberries and cherries.

The DM FR 2010, as the years progress, become more complex in their composition, as I think wine makers by then were more adventurous in their blending, etc.  78% Cab Sav, 10% Carmenere, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Syrah.  I have to say the Carmenere and Petit Verdot are new to my vocabulary.  Apparently, the Carmenere is unique to Chile, which paves the way for the next very special wine, the

KAI 2010.  Kai means "plant" in the Chilean indigenous Mapudungun language, and it embodies the ultimate expression fo Carmenere that had long been lost and forgotten by the rest of the world.  Sounds rather dramatic, I know, but it was rediscovered in Chile.   The Kai has been quoted as "Year in and out this is Chile's finest example of Carmenere" - Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar.

The event was also graced by Christian Rehren Bargetto, the Chilean Ambassador to Malaysia, who said his favourite wines were the DM FR1989 and the KAI 2010.  What do you know, those were our favourites too!!!

Ooh, and one of my FAVOURITE things about event is this uber cool thumb drive containing the press release!!! So cute right!??

For those interested in procuring bottles of the wines, (they are not cheap, retailing at averagely RM300 and above per bottle), you can contact :

Su Ling Lee
Senior Marketing Executive
Asiaeuro Wines & Spirits Sdn Bhd
DID : +603-78832855 | FAX : +603-78832928 |

Follow them  on

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


In my memory, the Datai was one of the first ultra luxury hotels ever that were to grace our shores, and I remember visiting it circa 1995, and thought to myself, WOW, this place is stunning.  Till today, I have yet to fulfil that bucket list item of staying there, the best I've done is staying next door at the Andaman.  In days of yore, they were under the same management, so we were allowed to saunter across, and even had meal in their (Datai's) restaurant, The Gulai House.  Such nostalgia.

So my interest was piqued when I heard about this opportunity to win a 3D/2N stay for two in the Datai, Langkawi.

I posted about the Cloudy Bay Food Trail HERE, in awhile back in April.  So, all you have to do really, is participate in the exciting Instagram contest from 1st May to 30th June 2014. This is a chance for wine lovers to taste the perfect pairing of wine with seafood at participating restaurants and win the aforementioned  3D/2N stay for TWO at the award winning 5 star hotel, The Datai Langkawi.

Just share your best Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and paired seafood menu. Remember to hashtag #cloudybaymsia and tag @cloudybayseafoodtrail. The instagrammer with the most photos of paired seafood menu from as many participating restaurants WILL win.

 The stunning Datai, a 5 star resort (actually more like 6)  nestled in the tropical virginal rainforests, with a gorgeous private beach, facing the spectacular Andaman Sea.  Lots of nature activities too, from what I hear. Nature hikes and tours, jungle walks, etc. led by Irshad Mobarak, one of Malaysia’s most celebrated naturalists with over 26 years experience in the field.  A strong advocate for the conservation of Langkawi’s fragile natural heritage, Irshad introduces guests to Asian fairy bluebirds, Oriental-pied hornbills and dusky leaf langurs, among other local wildlife.

Complimentary morning and evening nature walks are available to all guests. The tours run for about 90 minutes.

The Datai Langkawi
Jalan Teluk Datai Langkawi, 07000, Pulau Langkawi Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia

Contact number: +60 4 9500 500

So to recapitulate, post on Instagram your favourite pairing with Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from the participating restaurants, listed HERE,  hashtag #cloudybaymsia and tag @cloudybayseafoodtrail.

Something like this la okay, ahem:

And that's how it's done.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pak Loh Chiu Chow - Starhill Feast Village

Starhill Feast Village is a bit of mystery to me, and actually strikes me as a bit intimidating.  Mysterious maze like corridors that lead to various culinary outlets, a restroom that requires a gps to navigate your way through, with taps fashioned from bamboo, oft leaving the user quite confused as to how to extricate water from the complicated water reticulation system.  So really, you wouldn't expect any ordinary run of the mill Chinese restaurant in these parts, and Pak Loh Chiu Chow is certainly not ordinary.

Their recently launched "Oscars of Hospitality" Set menu was in honor of their HAPA nominations and triple win awards which are  HAPA Restaurant of the Year, HAPA Flavours of Asia, and HAPA Masterchef (Asian Cuisin, Chef Alex Au).  The gorgeous Paula Conway was there to greet us, and she spoke of Chef Alex very highly, and said that he was a man of good heart, and this has somehow manage to show in his cooking.  Wow, high accolade indeed.  Anyway, Makan Fairygodmother and I were the only two present there that lunch time for the review together with Angelina Chanis, Marketing Executive, so it was a cosy, pleasant enjoyable lunch.

To start with, Combination cold platter of shredded cuttlefish with cucumber, Pork Jelly with Chinese Wine, Chilled Bitter gourd with Plum.  My absolute favourite was the bitter gourd.  The contrast between the sour plum, and bitterness actually strangely enough brought out a sweet flavour that was most delectable.

The pork jelly is reminiscent of that traditional chicken jelly that is so rare and hard to find these days.

Fortune parcels of prawns in double boiled superior almond soup. Such a gorgeous soup, and the parcel looked like a snow fungus, but actually is painstaking made from egg white.  The almond soup in a pork broth was so so good.  Creamy without the guilt of dairy cream, with some crispy bits of fried fish as the crouton.

Steamed Fillet of Imperial Sea Grouper Rolled with vegetables in chiu chow style.  The cabbage wrap (usually they use salted mustard) is a traditional way of preparing this dish.  The garoupa was fresh and cooked perfectly, and that slight broth, which has the flavours of the tomato, sour plum and golden needle mushroom was sublime.

 Steamed Quail Egg Accompanied with Sun Dried Scallops - So lovingly and painstakingly fashioned like a Chrysanthemum, the scallops are flowered into a cup, with the quail's egg as if in a nest.  Dainty and delicious, and one pop and its gone.

Village Style (I don't know which "Village" has this style of elaborate preparation" wok fried fragant rice with assorted seafood, duck egg and shrimp paste.  The netting is elaborately prepared from duck yolk.  Such elegant fried rice looked almost too good to be eaten, but it was, nevertheless.

 Chilled Osmanthus Flower Jelly Served With Aloe Vera and Bird's nest

Makan Fairy Godmother having an intent conversation with Chef Alex, who really does come across as a really nice guy.

Executive Chef Alex Au hails from Hong Kong, and joined Hong Kong's famous Pak Loh Chiu Chow restaurant 16 years gao where he learned from famous master chef Chan Tung.  When the owners of PLCC decided to open in Starhill, he was chosen to head the opening team.

The six course menu is accompanied by a glass of Hunter's sauvignon blanc, from Malborough, NZ, and a Grant Burge Benchmark Chardonnay from South Australia.  Priced at RM138++ per person, this elegant meal will definitely titillate your palate.

Pak Loh Chiu Chow
Operating hours : 12 noon -11pm (last order 10.45pm)
T: 03-2782 3856
Feast Village, Feast Floor, Starhill Gallery
181 Jln Bukit Bintang