Monday, May 27, 2013

Glenmorangie Tasting With David Blackmore, Global Master Brand Ambassador

Drinking at 2.30pm in the afternoon, on a weekday can be hard work, but when it's Glenmorangie, one of my favourite single malts, it becomes sheer pleasure.  What more when it's an afternoon spent with the Master Brand Ambassador, David Blackmore, a native Scotsman, who now resides in New York, who shares about the whisky with such genuine warmth and enthusiasm, I swear, if Glenmorangie was a religion, I'd have converted there and then.

Some interesting facts about Glenmorangie, it was founded in 1843 hen the founder, William Matheson was granted a license to distil, and to save money, he started with using tall gin stills, (apparently the Scots are as frugal as the Chinese), until shortly after they started to make money, very quickly.  The distillery is in the far north of Scotland, in the Royal Burgh of Tain, Ross-shire.  The eight elegant Glenmorangie swan neck stills are the tallest in Scotland, which allows for the lightest and purest of vapours to ascend and condense (much like how distilled water is obtained).  Water used is from the Tarlogie Springs, and barley is lightly peated during malting.

Another fascinating fact is Glenmorangie uses ex bourbon (American) casks, and has piopneered the use of bespoke casks made from slow growth, air dried oak from the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. 

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Anyway, I was first introduced to these babies a few years back, when a friend kindly brought a bottle of Quinta Ruban for a dinner party.  Since then, I have managed to sample all of the above, at various occasions, and I'm just grateful that I discovered these relatively late in life.  When you've sampled the good stuff, there's only one direction left to go, and that's upwards.  And if I was a youth in my 20s, I'd have to be drinking 30 year single malts by the time I am my age now.  That would be painful, to the wallet.

Joy is seeing all these babies lined up, in the comfort of Arthur's Bar & Pub, in Shangri-la, KL. 

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My heart leapt with joy ...18 Years very rare.  Indeed!

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We begin with the tasting, starting with the basic 10 Year Single Malt original, which is the mother of all the rest, as it is from this fine drink the other three are spawned.  As David Blackmore put it, they all have the DNA of the 10 year original.  It's a pale lemony gold color, with aromas of mandarin, lemon, vanilla.  Strange how adding a dash of water changes the tastes, and floral notes of lemony bergamot, geranium etc, assail the palate.  Okay, to be HONEST, my plebian tongue isn't such a sensitive radar that can pick up on all these senses, but suffice to say, it was very titillating. 

The Lasanta, which USED to be my favourite of the three, until David said it was a preferred drink amongst the older folk, is extra matured in Spanish Oloroso Sherry Casks, after the original 10 years, and has notes of toffee raisins, and walnuts.  Aroma wise, it has burnt caramel, ...and rum and raisin ice cream.  It has that sweet flavour typical of Spanish sherry.  A lovely lovely elegant classy drink by any standard.  In fact, I just procured a bottle from the DFS. Incidentally, Lasanta is gaellic for Warmth and Passion. 

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The Quinta Ruban (Kwinta Rooban)...sounds terribly exotic.  And it is.  Extra matured in port pipes, shipped from the "Quintas" or wine estates of Portugal, it is a sensuous smooth spirit, that really dances on the palate with myriad textures.  Ruban is scots gaellic for red (ruby).  Apparently, according to David, you cannot really SMELL sweet, but rather, the stuff associated with sweetness. The aromas are supposedly reminiscent of traidtional Christmas dinners, but the taste, my oh my, silky velvet ...words to colorful to describe.  He also says that these whiskies are "unnecessarily" well, it exceeds expected standards. 

The Nectar D'or, (nectar of the gods) interestingly, I learnt, is the most "feminine" of the three. And d'or is not french, though understandably gets mistaken.  It's actually gaellic.    It's extra maturation in hand selected Sauternes wine barriques probably is the reason for the "sweetness", and I guess the name Nectar also conjures up some preconceived notion of sweetness.  The aromas are supposed to be like that of a french patisserie with freshly baked pastries, taste of melting creaminess of lemon tart, with a languid finish of sweet lemon zest and hints of ginger and nutmeg. 

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By this time, after elegantly finishing all my tasting portions, with the speed of a drunken sailor taking a swig from his hipflask, I was feeling a slight happy buzz. 

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Had to line the stomach with some of the finger food provided.   

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That there is the numerous faces of David Blakmore, and also Michael, the local brand ambassador for Glenmorangie.  That in David's hand is the 18 year old, a truly elegant and class act of a whisky.  Slowly matured for 15 years in the finest ex bourbon casks, a propertion is transferred to Spanish Olorosso Serry casks for the final three years, (like the Lasanta, I suppose).  A honeyed gold rich colour, it has an aroma of overflowing abundance, and to put it in layman's terms, it smells classy! The palate is mesmerized by the kaleidoscope of flavours, grapefruit, orange, honey, nuts, the brains neurons just have a field day identifying all the various combinations. 

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And finally, the piece de resistance, Glenmorangie's Iconic THE SIGNET.  It is of course, a secret "recipe", and it is considered the love child between bourbon and glenmorangie.  Amongts the secrets revealed, it is created from high roasted "chocolate" malted barley which deliver depth and intensity, and is matured in exclusive casks. 

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Just look at that glorious dark seductive colour, and a swirl coats the inside of the glass like a viscous fluid clinging onto dear life.  It really is a treat to the palate, and I just wished I didnt have to drive back that afternoon, so that I could imbibe more of this distinguished drink.  Just reminiscing about it sends shivers of joy down my spine.

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The dashing men of Moet Hennessy Diaego. 

There you have it, the 10 Year original, Lasanta, Quinta Ruban, Nectar D'Or, the spectacular 18 year and the inimitable Signet.  I've already placed my order for the 18 years. 

Thanks again to MHD and G2 for yet another wonderful event. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Peruvian Grilled Chicken, Right Here In Our Backyard...

With the world getting smaller, less places and less cuisine sound exotic.  I mean, when I was a kid, there was like one or two Japanese restaurants in town, and to go to those places meant my dad having to save up a whole year kinda thing, AND we only went on special occasions.  That was about the extent of exotica in our local dining scene.  Slowly, as time went by, we had Italian, (I'm not sure if any real Italian will endorse them as real Italian, but well, for the less travelled, it will have to do, to vicariously sample the food beyond our borders), Northern Indian (surprisingly, quite rare back in the day), Thai, (again, baffles the mind that they weren't here like forever), almost the whole of ASEAN is represented here, except Singapore, which really, has no cuisine of its own so to speak (running and hiding for cover), ...but yes, Indonesian (from Balinese to Javanese, and antara Anyir dan Jakarta), Thai, Vietnamese, Myanmarese, Laotian (hmm, got ah? But I guess that would be covered under Indochina), Philippines (actually, is there one, or are the Filipino instant noodles their only representation here...or is La Manila really pinoy?) ..

But, mention South American, and wow, it IS still rather exotic to me.  Apart from Argentinian steak houses, and Brazilian Wax, that continent is really still quite mysterious.  So, when I got an invitation by Alice Yong of Jom Makan, to try Peruvian Grilled Chicken, I could not refuse.

Okay, before you set your expectations to Machu Picchu heights, and expect some Mayan Mayonnaise or  Fujimori Teriyaki,'s simple everyday fare, which is what makes it rather appealing, and judging by the fairly impressive crowd size on a weeknight, it seems to be a cuisine that identifies with the Malaysian palate.

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Non alcoholic sangria. me non alcoholic sangria is like giving me bread without butter.

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A very hearty comforting chicken soup, kinda like the ones you use for the soul.  Since I was last to arrive, the soup wasn't as piping hot as I'd have liked it to be.  But flavour wise, definitely comfort food.

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Those are live size models of the chickens Peru, I presume. 

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This was taken before the crowds started, as you can see from the daylight outside.  By nightfall, most tables were filled.  It's located right next to Penang Village, in Lrg  Rahim Kajai 13, TTDI.  You can't miss it. 

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There is a staggering array of side dishes, far more than the actual choice of chicken.  And unlike fast foods, there are many healthy options, such as this prawn ceviche...

Anyway, these sidedishes are referred to as sidelines, and an order of quarter chicken with three sidelines only costs RM15.90.

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The naked burrito is worthy of mention, because unlike the normal burrito which has a wrap, this one doesn't, for the gluten conscious.  The flavours of sour cream, and cheese, and all the other stuff like beans etc do make a lovely combination.

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Their signature Chicken Salad is actually rather filling, and substantial, for RM14.90. 

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The grilled chicken comes in two types of preparation, original and spicy.  The chickens are lovingly "finished" in the grill just before serving,  so it comes out piping hot, with that char grilled flavour.  Another item worthy of mention is their Aji Amarillo sauce, which is a minty, spicy, tangy concoction that is really quite a universal sauce that can pair with anything.  It must be the sambal belacan equivalent of the Peruvians. 

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Chips, sausages and the Aji Amarillo Sauce.  Perfect beer food, unfortunately though, the place doesn't serve alcohol in any form.  Ta-pau and eat at ...hahaha, there's a whole row of pubs behind really.

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Desserts with a twist, Crema Volteada Con Quinoa, ie a baked custard with Quino, that seed that seems to be the darling of all health food enthusiasts.  The quinoa give the custard a lovely crunch, without the guilt.  I liked this dessert.  

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Arroz Con Leche – cinnamon and vanilla rice milk pudding with raisins. It's like our sweet buburs, and if you like the idea of sweet rice, then this might be your thing.

Prices are very reasonable, you can easily fill your tummy for RM20 or less.  I should bring the kids there soon.

Peruvian Grilled Chicken
1 Lorong Rahim Kajai 13
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-7725-7223

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir Duck Trail - Part 2

Further to Part 1 of the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir Duck Trail, HERE, which runs till 31st May, there were a few more restaurants that we got to try along the quacky trail. 

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At WIP, the Xiang Xu Duck, very elaborate preparation because the duck is cooked for hours, before being fried to give it that crispy finish.  Wrapped in that peking duck style pancakes, slathered with hoisin sauce, not unlike peking duck. 

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And our final stop, Ril's....that newish steak joint in Bangsar.

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Peking Duck Foie Gras wantan, very innovative, and actually, one isn't enough. 

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The Crispy Slow Cooked Duck leg with lotus root mousse was very good.  In fact, this dish alone makes me want to see what other stuff Ril's has in store. 

ACME Bar & Coffee
Pulled Duck Open-faced sandwich with orange BBQ sauce on grilled bread & green salad paired with a glass of Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2011, RM59++

ACME Bar & Coffee
Ground Floor at The Troika, 19 Persiaran KLCC, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
T. 03 2162 2288

NEO Tamarind& Tamarind Hill Pan roasted duck served with chocolate sauce & red cabbage puree paired with a glass of Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2011, RM85.00++

Crispy duck in garlic sauce paired with a glass of Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2011, RM75.00++

NEO Tamarind / Tamarind Hill
19, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur (Opposite Equatorial Hotel)
T. 03 2148 3200 / 3700 W.

Magret of duck with Pinot Noir sauce & roasted potato and caramelized apple garnish paired with a glass of Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2011, RM75.00++

Lot C3.10.01b, Pavilion KL, Level 3, Fashion Avenue, Kuala Lumpur
T. 03 2141 6151 W.

Orange and Juniper marinated Duck Breast, Smoked Duck Quinoa, Stewed Brussels Sprouts, Spiced Cranberry Sauce paired with a glass of Cloudy Bay
Pinot Noir 2011, RM130.00++

Level 24, Troika Sky Dining, Troika, 19 Persiaran KLCC, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
T. 03 2162 0886

Monday, May 06, 2013

Revisiting Nosh, And Wowed By Their Splendid Dessert Selection.

I cannot believe it's been six months since they opened...I have since been back and was again swoonified by their Valrhona Platter which is literally chocolate heaven, and I would not bestow such accolade on many establishments.  But ingredients are everything, and it seems to be the philosophy of owners Ann Lee & Judith, so, half the battle is won.

Recently, Ann asked me to come over to sample their new dessert menu, but yelling and screaming and throwing a hissy dramatic protest, I could not make it due to a prior commitment, but she graciously offered me ANOTHER opportunity to come and sample the new menu, so yay, I did not miss out.  And boy, I was glad I didn't. 

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For starters, a smoked salmon salad.  Very healthy, I suppose, all that leafy greens, and smoked salmon, (was a bit on the salty side to me, but I duly gave my feedback), with a tangy olive oil based dressing. 

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Yummy lamb and sweet potato gnocchi.  The use of sweet potato instead of normal potato I felt was a fabulous idea, cos it didnt feel as "carby", (you know how carbs are the evil du jour of the the world these days, poor carbs.  Bet you a few years down the line, they'll discover that proteins are actually the evil ones), nor was it lamby.  I find my tolerance for all things ovine deteriorating with age, so it was pleasantly surprisingly palatable.  But hey, if you are a sheep fan, go for this....

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Potato risotto with beef bacon.  Lovely crunchy bacon bits (albeit kosher) paired with the soft risotto, a good combination. 

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Someone had ordered this pretty coffee drink...that sounds so amateur, coffee drink, but I think it must have been a cappuccino.  Lovely artwork, which after a sip, kinda resembled a sexy lady's bottom if you ask me.

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Got resemblance? Or is my mind just warped. 

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Isn't she beauteous? Chocolate orange.  Layers of jaffa flavoured cake and ganache, orange and chocolate really must have been a couple in a previous life. 

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Earl Grey Creme Brulee - The wonderful bitterness of earl grey tea complements the caramelized sugar topping.  Silky eggy creme brulee that just slides down your throat

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Creme au chocolat with a hint of strawberry mousse, the tang vs the sweet.  Again, I stress, their ingredients are excellent, so really, paired with the creative flavours, it is really very very good.  Oh, and wait till you hear the fabulous deal they offer.  Read on...

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Coconut Panna Cotta ...such an elegant looking dessert, if it was an actress it would be like Audrey Hepburn.  Distinct coconut taste, so if you like coconut, this would be great for you.  I found it to be a bit on the sweet side, probably with the syrup.

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For some reason, this reminds me of a shaggy dog, or a soft toy.  But actually, it was one of my favourites.  Sweet potato azuki gateaux.  I LOVE AZUKI, and I'm not talking about large red kidney beans that cheats use in their ice kacang these days.  Azuki, or the equivalent of our hong tou, red beans, lovingly boiled and cooked into a paste.  It was a dark day when Haagen Daz stopped that line of flavour in Malaysia.  So yeah, azuki, green tea cake, and sweet potato.  That reminds me, I better head over to Nosh pronto to have this again. 

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Walnut Tiramisu, contains alcohol.  No complaints, not wow, but tiramisu is a comfort dessert, and this version is definitely in a class above the usual stuff you get elsewhere. 

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Strawberry Cheesecake, because I think people like familiar.  Offer them too many new novel things, they go mad.  Not to mention, it IS a very photogenic cake. 

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Ooh, ooh, my other favourite.   Deconstructed lemon and peach tart.  Sorry, I am gonna have to make this myself at home once your offer is over.  I just love it.  Lemon curd, cream, crumbly tart bits, peaches, and crispy filo pastry.  So so good.  The variety of textures and flavours, simply amazing. 

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 Blackforest pavlova.  Contains alcohol.  I'll be honest, not my thing.  Not a pavlova fan.  Too airy.  Like a blonde. 

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Apple Cinnamon Cake - I likey.  Solid cake, chunks of apple, moist and lovely. 

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Here's the fabulous deal. 
RM19 for 2 desserts
RM29 for 3 desserts
RM39 for 4 desserts
RM43 for 5 desserts.

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We were given some homemade ice cream to try, but since it's not on the regular menu, it's no point torturing readers by telling them what they can't have.  Needless to say, it was superb.

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Second round of coconut panna cotta for some who missed out.

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The very affable Chef Joe, executive chef at Nosh.

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No 7 Jalan Telawi 3
Bangsar Baru
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-22013548