Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hennessy XO Appreciation Grows - Spirit Of Conquest

It starts off with this Voyage Ticket, in the mail, and it's snail mail.  It's lovely to get anything via snail mail, or well, in this case, courier services, but it sure beats an E-Invite.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, it is ALWAYS a treat to be invited for a Hennessy XO Appreciation Grows, and actually, though it has only dawned on me now as I write this, Appreciation Grows is a rather apt name for these events, because, truly, this being my 6th such event, (let's see, there was Alvin Leung, Chong Liew, Susur Lee, Edward Lee, Michael Han), I have honestly grown to appreciate the whole set up even more, the wonderful people from MHD and G2 PR (and Milk before that), the amount of thought and preparation that goes into these events, the wonderful Chefs that have been commissioned to prepare such gastronomic delights...if you are reading this, here, a TOAST of imaginary XO to you guys, for you guys rock. 

The other distinguishing factor about these events are the novel venue ideas, which thus far have covered Suffolk Mansion in Penang, Equatorial Hotel which had already closed its doors to the public, for renovation, St Joseph's novitiate, Penang, and this time round, the iconic Chin Woo Stadium, which honestly, although is in the heart of KL, I can't say I ever remember going.  What does one go to Chin Woo to do?

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(Photo courtesy of G2 PR)
Not quite exactly what I envisaged Chin Woo to look, a large ship, but then again, we were to embark on a Spirit of Conquest, or The Spirit of Conquest, depending on your usage of the phrase, and at the helm, titillating our palates, was to be Chef Lee Anne Wong.  Read about the pre-event HERE.

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 (Photo courtesy of G2 PR)
Chef Lee Anne Wong -  Her biodata is posted in the pre event release, HERE, so I shall not replicate it in this post.  Basically American (of Chinese descent), no 4 winner in first season of Top Chef, with a list of accolades and experiences with a string of restaurants, we were certainly in for a treat that night. 

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That familiar bottle adorned the classy holding area, as passengers waited to embark on the culinary voyage.  Decked up like an English drawing room, the glitterati in their tuxedos and gowns mingled, with air kisses and muah muahs, as some lounged on the Chesterfields puffing away their cigars, as the sweet young Hennessy girls sashayed around serving the rich glorious liquid.

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(Photo courtesy of G2 PR)
The first surprise that greeted us was that the dining room was decked totally above the swimming pool, to give the effect of a cruise ship, and the side aisles of the dining area were also transparent, and beyond, the ship windows to facilitate the scenery change as we embarked on the voyage. 

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Ladida Menu...

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1870, just slightly before I was born....

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Mathieu Ducemin, giving his inaugural speech at the launch of the voyage. 

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First stop, Paris, for the Parisian Regalia, tender foie gras baked custard infused with cognac and served warm with brioche toast fingers, treatments of green apple, and crisp frisee lettuce. Oh, and I meant the picture below, not those Can Can Dancers above, though they might have also been infused with Cognac...I would, if I had to perform a Can Can...

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Amazing, some people I spoke to who weren't foie gras fans even loved it.  The texture, a bit like a firm baked custard, with the subtle sauces and complemented with a neat XO, truly quite sublime.  Already the first dish left us craving for more. 

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Luckily the voyage was a virtual one, because a journey from France to China back in the day would have taken half a lifetime, probably.  But surprisingly, Hennessy arrived in China before it did in America, in 1872 to be exact. 

Next on the menu, the ever familiar "Oriental Enchantment" which actually, sounded like your normal crabmeat, chicken and egg drop  soup which only foreigners order in a Chinese restaurant.  But it turns out its a noble soup that originated from the southlands of China, blending sweet ocean crab harmoniously with golden corn, egg whites, sesame and coriander with a hint of lime, with the added royal touch of caviar.

Seriously, this soup was EXCELLENT.  There was a lovely crunch of corn, and that dollop of crabmeat that you stir into the soup, gave it that wonderful seafood flavour, and globules of salty caviar popped in the mouth like a prepacked instant seasoning.  The best surprise of the night, because of course, being the cynic that I am, I was wondering, "crab meat soup?  Really?"

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Can you guess where we are now? Arriving at the most opportune time in American history, the Gilded Age saw Hennessy X.O make its timely debut in the United States of America in 1873, as an elegant and sophisticated way to enjoy values of luxury and heritage. Presented as a tribute to cowboy culture, Western Allure, a dish of spice-rubbed American salmon, incorporated true American flavors and ingredients as they would have been at the end of the cowboy days, and partnered perfectly with Hennessy X.O and ice.

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Western Allure - Okay, a tad complex for my simple palate.  Each component on its own is actually very good, but if you're meant to eat it all at once, together, I think there was too much to process, for me personally anyway.  So, I ate each component separately after giving it the once over.  And it was pretty good.  The salmon was pan fried adequately, not over cooked as is oft the crime here, I LOVED those crunchy nuts, and the cajun type sauce.

 I can't remember if we had any American entertainment, but perhaps the organizers felt that we are already exposed to so much of it (American entertainment) there was no real need to show an excerpts from Dallas or Dynasty to the guests, although it would've been age appropriate.

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Ah, appreciation grows indeed....I have come to love this drink in recent years.

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The Wonderful People from MHD...

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We sail across the Atlantic to Italy, (I thought we might have stopped here from France to China, but maybe we took the North Pole route)...and dock in Venice.  Italy welcomed the Original X.O with open arms in 1893. 

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Venetian Ambrosia; handmade pasta in a sumptuous sauce of summer truffles, cognac, and cream, finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table – a dish fit for Italian nobility, accompanied by Hennessy X.O and water.

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This dish was superb.  It encapsulated what I imagined to be decadent Italian.  Shaved truffles, creamy goodness, and lovely homemade pasta.  And accompanying this dinner, the most surprising performance the night, a local opera singer, that really made the stadium resound with a wonderful tenor voice.

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(Pic courtesy of G2 PR)
I think many were caught by surprise by his Nessun Dorma that resonated throughout the hall, and I almost wanted to give the man a standing ovation. 

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Amid cultural and economic evolution, Russia became the fifth nation to enjoy and appreciate the refined taste of success that is Hennessy X.O in 1898

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The traditional Russian dish, Mazurka Splendour – lightly fried fresh cheese curd fritters accompanied by a light sour cream sauce, a rich cognac infused dark berry sauce, and sugar crusted currants –supposed to be eaten with a neat  Hennessy XO.

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Hennessy X.O's arrives in Japan in 1900. Nihon Grandeur, a jewel-like presentation of fresh ruby red grapefruit segments encased in a delicate grapefruit and cognac gelee, covered in a light layer of cognac-vanilla whipped cream, frozen grapefruit granite, and topped with a sesame seed-cognac wafer, brought guests’ journey with Hennessy X.O to a resounding conclusion with a spirited drum performance by the Wadaiko Syo troupe.

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Loved this dessert.  The cornucopia of flavours that formed the finale for the night (well, excluding the chocolate ganache) was a fitting conclusion to a night of tantalizing, saporous feast.  The tang of the grapefruit with the sweetness of the whipped cream...ah, superb, superb.  I approve. 

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(Pic courtesy of G2 PR) 
Really, hats off to Chef Lee Anne Wong for a wonderfully crafted dinner  which obviously was prepared with much thought and love and passion. 

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(Pic courtesy of G2 PR)

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(Pic courtesy of G2 PR) 

1 comment:

Flabby Less said...

very interesting read...especially the history bit...