Saturday, November 22, 2014

Scottish Single Malt Pairs With Scottish Salmon - Glenlivet Guardians

Glenlivet Guardians, that lucky group of people who get invited every month to sample that gorgeous nectar that sails down the throat so smoothly, (yes, I am referring to the Glenlivet Single Malt Whisky), and usually paired with the most novel of ideas.  The last one was a cigar pairing at WTF in Avenue K, and prior to that, an exclusive gentleman's haircut at Truefitt and Hill..

This triumvirate is always a sight for sore eyes, especially after having to brave the jam to the destination. 

One thing for sure, the surprises never stop.  This time round, at Starhill Culinary Studio, a pairing with Scottish Salmon, which probably came from the same waters anyway, as the whisky. 

Lionel Lau, the host for the night, tells us about the various pairings, starting of course with the 12 year old, notes of summer fruit and aroma of spring flowers, which went wonderfully with the various smoked salmon canapes

The fifteen year old, finished in limousin French oak barrels, is the perfect pairing for these wonderful slabs of premium tea smoked salmon.  You could almost feel the salmon spawning on your palate... if you know what I mean. 

I have to say, the smoked salmon served that night was really top notch.

If you ever read this, I owe you a big big apology for organising dinner and then disorganising it.  I hope to get the chance to meet you again in Malaysia someday.  :(

Chef Wai explaining how to cut salmon...

And the grand finale, a twist indeed, smoked salmon ice cream.  Well, it isn't as bizarre at it sounds, and tasted very nice actually.  That savoury sweet combination is superb, it's just that I'm not sure it actually does anything for the whisky, or vice versa. 

Tumpang Glamour, ... was actually there at that same studio earlier in the day for another event.

Welcome to our new Guardian..... Richard Sughanda...

Thanks as usual to Pernod Ricard Malaysia and Millennium for the invitation!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Maison Francaise Revisited, Under Chef Thierry Le Baut

I know Abba is Swedish, but everytime I hear "French" I think of that song, "Our Last Summer"....walks along the Seine, laughing in the rain....(a rhyme cheesier than camembert)...And my last visit to Maison Francaise (on Changkat Kia Peng, not gay Pareeee), WAS probably last summer.  Actually, yikes, how fast time flies, it was in July 2013, HERE.

With such fond memories, needless to say I was thrilled to be reinvited back to sample the new offerings of the new Chef Thierry Le Baut who hails from Britanny, France.  (I must research into that name, it's like naming a town in Malaysia "Singapory")

Nothing like a little tipple to give that slight buzz, from wherefore cometh the dormant wit for interesting dinner repartee.

The goat's cheese basket is amazing.  Creamy goat's cheese, beautifully presented in a crispy taco like shell, but of course, not a taco, with rocket, an olive tapenade quenelle.  The visual itself is so stunning that it almost seemed a shame to dismantle the entire assembly just for the sake of eating.

Seared Burgundy Snail, rocket, blini and garlic butter.  Alright, this is really an acquired taste.  And since it was prepared by a French chef, I am assuming that this is the normal way the snails are eaten, as opposed to the way we are more accustomed to eating them here, which is normally drowning in sauce so you really can't tell if its a snail or a clam or what not.  These Burgundy snails have a very earthy taste to it, almost as if they were partying in a nearby garden just before they were cooked.

Grilled French Foie Gras, crispy provencal, Figs Filo and Figs Sauce.  A truly inspired dish by Chef Thierry.  The melt in the mouth decadent Foie, with that subtle sweetness of the fig, I can only dream of it now, as a FIGment of my imagination... .  That Fig Filo added a fabulous dimension to the dish.  That crispy filo, the firm fig, and the soft foie gras, a symphonic orchestra of flavours and textures.

Turbot Charged!!! Turbot and Asparagus Puree.  I love asparagus, and I loved this puree.  That asparagus mousse crowning the slice of fish was absolutely delicious.  The fish was well seared, crisp skin, and moist flesh.

Dover sole on Herbed Raviolis.  This particular dish we felt was a bit overcooked, rendering the sole a bit lost.  Get it? Lost sole?  But yeah, perhaps our need to photograph the dish cooked the fish itself in its residual heat, but by the time it entered our palate, it was rather overcooked.

Grilled beef tenderloin, sichuan pepper sauce and potatoes.  No mis-STEAK here,  it was  perfectly grilled, loved the bits of crimson red, implying that it was mooing quite recently.  Okay, didnt really care much for the foamy bits.


Because we still looked hungry after those first SIX dishes, Sainy Chun, the gorgeous proprietress, ordered some extras for us, and their signature Lamb which was oh so good.  Sitting regally (albeit regally dead) on a bed quinoa, Baby potatoes and baby tomatoes giving birth to ratatouille.  I always say I am not a lamb fan, and as I age, even less so, but this lamb was sublamb!!!! (sublime)

Pistachio and Amaretto Entremet (classy word for "cake"), with Pistachio Ice Cream.  Elegance on a plate, I say.  Light ethereal sponge sandwiching a silky rich mousse paired perfectly with the creamy ice cream.

Mango Mousse and Mango Sorbet. Okay, the mango mousse is like a richer version of the mango pudding you get at dim sum places, but is really mango packed.  As the flavours of the sorbet are totally refreshing.

That's us happy diners with Chef Thierry..

Check out my earlier post for the various spaces available in Maison Francaise, which makes it a perfect venue for events, etc.  They even have an outdoor pool area for poolside parties.

5 Jalan Changkat Kia Peng
50450 Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia
Tel: 03 21441474


Tuesday to Sunday: 11.00am - 11.30pm (last order)
Monday : Closed.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Pio Cesare Masterclass

It's somewhat staggering when you walk into a wine masterclass and see FIFTEEN different types of wine for tasting, ...staggering because I wondered if I would be staggering out later...  Clearly, for the more refined palate, one does not finish the entire glass, but take elegant sips.  But to me, that's a darn waste of good wine, so as a matter of principle, (of not wanting to waste), I usually finish whatever is put before me.

The event in question was the Pio Cesare Masterclass, hosted by Asia Euro, at Soleil Restaurant.  I believe "Cesare" is pronounced Che Sir Ray... I know this because I have been watching The Borgias, a mini series about a naughty Pope, and his son was named Cesare, so yeah, I'm cultured that way.

An interesting nugget of information, Pio Cesare Winery is the only winery allowed to use the crest of the town.

The Pio Cesare winery was founded in 1881. One hundred thirty-three years of Barolo history handed down from father to son are a long-lasting heritage that a few wineries can be proud of.
Pio Cesare was a among the first who believed in the great potential of Barolo and Barbaresco and the winery has now been producing its wines for 5 generations in its historical cellars in the historic center of Alba.

Today, the estate is managed by Pio Boffa, the great-grandson of Pio Cesare. Under his stewardship, the wines of Pio Cesare have become famous throughout the world.

Images of scenes from the movie the Godfather spring to mind, with that symphonic score by Nino Rota and the rolling plains of the vineyards... 

We start with their range of whites, the "PIODILEI" LANGHE CHARDONNAY D O C, from a 100% Chardonnay Grape variety, which had a spicy, creamy, intense, persistent taste. You can smell and taste the ripe fruit with a long finish.  This was a vertical tasting, whereby we get to try the same wine from different years.

The purpose of starting with the whites was to prepare the palate, and apparently, Chardonnays went out of fashion and was only brought back in the 80s to take advantage of the soil in that particular region.

Last month the prestigious American publication founded by Robert Parker awarded great scores to 2 new Pio Cesare Barolo wines, vintage 2010.
- 95 Points to Pio Cesare Barolo docg 2010.
- 94 Points to Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato docg 2010.

The real star of the show, the Barolos.  The difference between Barolos are where the grapes are grown.  Barolos are not blended with anything and are made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes.

Barbaresco & Barolo can be so called "brothers and sisters" as the make up of the wine is the same, ie, the Nebiollo grape, but hailing from the Town of Barbaresco.  The "magic" grape, Nebiollo requires atention, work and has a lot of leaves from June to Auguest and is costly to ripen, as it be mechanized because of terrain.  Difference between Barbaresco 2009 and Ornato 2009 is the weather.  Barbarescos and Barolos have potential to age well.

The Ornato 2008 aged well, and the tanns not as bitter and astringent as the 2010.  The 2008 Barolo is described as a billiard ball that doesn't touch the tongue, because it is silky smooth, despite only being 7 years old.  2006 was a vintage year for Barolo lovers, and very tanine dominated. The 2006 Nebiolo shows distinction that cannot be confused with anything else.

Of course, after several tastings, bearing in mind that it was still daylight outside, I must have eventually been derailed in my train of thought and ability to take down notes, afterwhich everything just became delightfully buzzy.  The last nugget of information I gleaned before mentally passing out is that 2003 was the hottest summer evah, and people died.  But the champion Nebiolo has roots that go deep deep into the soil where there is moisture....and that is WHY the 2003 Nebiolo didn't suffer, when all around else withered...

Pio Cesare exports to Asia-Pacific countries twelve wines embodying the significant and diverse terroirs of Piedmont.

- Four wines are “vineyard designate” : Barolo Ornato, Barbaresco Il Bricco and Barbera D’Alba Fides,
Chardonnay Piodilei
- Eight wines are “classico” wines : Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba, Nebbiolo d’Alba,
l’Altro Chardonnay, Gavi and Moscato.

Asiaeuro, has its headquartes in Kuala Lumpur, as sales and marketing company for Fine Wines in Malayisa.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Moet Gourming Workshop at Starhill Culinary Studio - A Fun Bubble Filled Morning... And Afternoon

I knew I had heard that word somewhere before... Gourming... described by myself actually, in this post, here, as the unholy spawn of the words GOURMET and TASTING, a word created so that participants in a gourming workshop can learn how to pair various foods with Moet & Chandon Champagnes.  Perhaps my only grouse would be that the event started at around 11am, which meant drinking before noon, ah, the trials and tribulations of life that we have to put up with.  In addition to that, because I did not want to drive after the event, I would have to risk the stares of the pious and saintly on my journey back on the monorail....GASP....

Despite appearing reluctant to imbibe that wonderful beverage at so early an hour, I was secretly pleased, cos there are precious few bragging rights that can top an instagram post or fb status update showing one holding a glass of Moet at noon.  We gathered at the Starhill Culinary Studio, in ..Starhill, all set and ready for an afternoon of fun fun fun.  Bottles of Moet, good company, good location, gorgeous French lady hostess, what more can a person ask for.

The gorgeous French lady is question was Elise Losfelt, who despite feeling under the weather and having flown god knows how many hours the night before, looked like a glamorous beauty out of a society magazine.  She was the Oenologue (quiz question...NAME A WORD WITH THREE "O", none of which are together?!) of Moet and Chandon

There is something alarmingly distracting about that wonderful French accent...
Elise Losfelt was appointed Winemaker in September 2012 by luxury champagne house Moët & Chandon and works closely with Chef de Cave Benoit Gouez and his team of winemakers. She is also a spokesperson for the oenology department, communicating Moët & Chandon’s technical wine messages to the markets within France and abroad. She is based in Epernay.

The beauty and brains obtained a Masters of Engineering with majors in Life Sciences and Economics at Paris’ esteemed Agro Paris Tech in 2008, followed by a Masters in Viticulture and Oenology from Supagro in Montpellier in 2011. She holds a National Diploma of Oenology as well as having economics and financial experience gained whilst working for Prime View and for Mendoza’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry early in her career.

Elise is a sixth generation winemaker hailing from a family of talented female winemakers. She was exposed to the industry at a very young age at her family vineyard in Grès de Montpellier.

How I wish I could say that, I can only say I am the third generation booze appreciater hailing from a family (paternal) of equally appreciative booze lovers.

Drinks of the day!!! Actually the purpose of the day's event was to launch, promote and pair the Moet & Chandon 2006 Grand Vintage Rose 2006.  Juxtaposed with the Grand Vintage is the Rose Imperial, for contrast.

We take our places, and that Number you see at the bottom of the name card is the group to which we are assigned for Masterchef With Moet....I wasn't counting on having to WORK for my drinks actually, and was totally not dressed for it.

Thankfully, the wonderful organisers think of everything, and before you can say "chandon", we're kitted up in our battle gear.

Chef Wai briefs participants to help understand how the different flavours in a cuisine – bitterness, sweetness, sourness, saltiness – can be harnessed to complement and perhaps even enhance enjoyment of Moët & Chandon champagne

Chef Wai puts the finishing touches to his dish, which was fried prawn with a simple but delicious sauce.
The lovely Thrishie, who took pains to REMIND me about the event, seeing as to how I totally forgot about the previous one!!! (blush).

So anyway, we were divided into groups, and I had the good fortune of being paired with Cumi&Ciki (CC Food Travel), more so because of Cumi, who is a meticulous and organised cook in the kitchen.  Ciki just hovers around looking pretty, but to her credit, she did manage to fry some very delectable bread.
Our task was to prepare two dishes to pair with each of the champagnes.  The first being the Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial, which according to the tasting notes, is the most extrovert and seductive expression of the Moët & Chandon style. It reflects the diversity and complementarities of the three champagne grapes and the richness of the region’s best vineyards

Rosé Impérial’s assemblage is built on the intensity of Pinot Noir (40 to 50%, 10% of which are red wine), the fruitiness of Pinot Meunier (30 to 40%, 10% of which are red wine) and the finesse of Chardonnay (10 to 20%). The use of 20 to 30% of carefully selected reserve wines complete the assemblage and enhance its intensity, subtlety and consistency.

It's actually a very girly drink, the color is pink, almost a light purple, and to put it in layman's terms, the flavour, fruity.

We were dazzled by the array of ingredients, with smoked duck, raw scallops, prawns, chicken, an assortment of herbs, fruit, like peaches, mangoes, strawberries, raspberries and pears, spices like pepper, paprika, creme fraiche, mascarpone, salt, ...and no sugar.  (more on that)

As the Rose Imperial is very light and fruity, we thought it would complement the smoked duck, and within the dish itself, some peach puree to complement the saltiness of the duck, basil for that aroma and kick, and some seared peppers for crunch.  I have to say, it paired rather well.

Our second dish, scallops seared in butter, with a mango creme fraiche sauce.  Well, actually apart from looking pretty, Ciki does have gorgeous photographs taken by her able assistant, Cumi, so for a picture of our award winning seared scallops, click HERE....afterall, I couldn't be cooking as WELL as taking pictures.  These industrial kitchens can be quite daunting.

Clearly, paying rapt attention to Elise's discourse...

People from the "other" groups tumpang glamour.

Grand Vintage Rosé 2006 is the perfect embodiment of the Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage spirit, a spirit founded on three essential values:
- Freedom of interpretation.
- Selection of the year’s most remarkable wines.
- Individuality of the vintage to create champagnes distinguished by their maturity, complexity and charisma.

Oh, what the heck, there's so much champagne, let's just pour it into the food.

Wheeeeeeeee... look at the curry bubble!!!

As the Grand Vintage is a more "serious" champagne, more matured, it needed to be complemented by something a little bit more complex than just searing a scallop, or a prawn and plonking it on a piece of baguette.  So, we brilliantly came up with the idea of a curry.  Given the constraints in ingredients, as best we could, we used pepper and paprika for heat, onions and garlic sauteed for fragrance, (even Chef Wai commented, "wah, chee mutt yeh ah, kum heong geh" ..what are you cooking, so aromatic), pear for sweetness, olives and parmesan for saltiness, creme fraiche and mascarpone for thickness of sauce.  And of course, champagne for class.

Evidently, we were rather bubbly that day...

For our second course to pair with the Grand Vintage Rose 2006, summer berries with a cream cheese topping, sweetened by peaches and syrup to unthicken it...

Chef Jo putting the finishing touches.....

Ta dah, our final masterpiece.

The moment of truth, as the judges made their rounds, and tasting.  Clearly, as you see from Elise's expression, she was totally wowed by our curry....
Alright, so we didn't win Round 2, but obviously, it was all in the spirit of fun anyways.

And to wrap up a wonderful afternoon, a group shot for the road... and no, we didn't get to take home those sexy Moet aprons.

I wonder if she finally nicked those pink cushions.

More info on the Grand Vintage 2006 Rose
The year’s climate and harvest
After particularly cold winter, spring saw periods of frost and early summer brought hail, causing damage that, fortunately, was limited. Summer saw contrasting conditions: a heat wave in July followed by a cool, rainy August resulted in differing degrees of maturity across vineyards, but the hot, dry weather of early September facilitated ripening. Extending from September 7th to September 25th, the starting dates for the harvest indicate a determination to allow the grapes to reach a proper state of ripeness in every sector. The relatively abundant yield (13,000 kg/hectare) enabled selective harvesting and the avoidance of several areas affected by bunch rot as the end of the season turned rainy and grey. In the end, the sugar content of the grapes was relatively high (10.2% potential alc/vol) with an acidity level close to the average for the decade (7g H2SO4/litre), a balance similar to that of 2002.

The assemblage reflects the diversity and complementarity of the three grapes varietals:
the intensity of Pinot Noir: 47%
(of which 23% red wine)
the roundness of Meunier: 20%
the elegance of Chardonnay: 33%

Dosage: 5 g/litre (extra-brut)

Aging time in the cellars
7 years

Aging period after disgorgement
6 months minimum

Tasting Notes:
The House’s 40th vintage Rosé, Grand Vintage Rosé 2006 is a mature and generous wine. Initial notes of biscuit and spice bread preceding aromas of cherry, prune and damson plum enriched by botanical nuances of wild herbs, rosemary, saffron and dried rose petals, along with resinous, saline-inflected finish, come together to make this champagne a powerful, expansive, gracious wine.