Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Monday, July 2, 2012

IWFS Dinner IL LIDO April 25th 2012

IWFS IL LIDO April 25th 2012

Held at the Li Lido Restaurant on Jalan Yap Kwan Seng in Kuala Lumpur. The IWFS Kuala Lumpur has had a number of functions here, though this occasion would be the first under the new management and chef that had been installed.

The wine committee had raided the cellars and pulled out a useful looking range of Italian wines to pair with the evening's fare. Being a great advocate of pairing wine and food from the same neck of the woods, the choices of the IWFS Wine Committee looked extremely promising.

As before, reception was held on the restaurant verandah which, with the Petronas Twin Towers in the background, offers one of the best photo opps in the city. Better caught just as the sun is setting, around 7pm. The wine committee had selected the Nino Franco Faive Rose brut NV as both the aperitif and accompaniment to the first course.

As an aperitif, it served its pleasant purpose for the assembled to toast the sunset and nibble on some delightful crispy lamb meatballs Il Lido had provided for the occasion. Moving into the restaurant, it appeared darker than previous visits would have suggested, though remained sufficiently lit. Forty plus members were seated around long tables ready in anticipation of a delightful evening.

The Amuse Bouche was a somewhat petrified and tiny red baby octopus that seemed a shade lost in the vast expanse of what must have been a fourteen inch soupbowl. Better maybe make that a Souperbowl. 

The first course followed fast, and the Burrata Cheese was smooth and creamy melt in the mouth delightful. The broad bean puree and caviar added some useful salt and a fibre base for the Burrata, but it was lovely on its own. Not sure that the Nino Franco Rose was the best match - the cheese kind of flattened the fizz for me. I might have added a cracker for texture and taste. Indeed, loading some of the burrata, bean and caviar mix on a chunk of the bread roll from the side dish proved an experiment worth the undertaking.

The Rose gave way to a 2004 Barbera set up to pair with the Goose Liver Brioche. Eventually. The staff somehow missed me and had to be somewhat loudly reminded they were still one short. The one inch square slab of goose liver was presumably baked inside the brioche and served with onions and apple sauce. Nice visual, more large plates. The dish washer must have been trembling. Texture wise, the brioche was a shade crumbly and cake like, though the combination made for a full bodied mouthful. The onions and sauce blended well with the brioche, though somehow the liver got a bit lost in all the tastes. Double the size would have helped and indeed it did, thanks to my nearest and dearest sacrificing her food to the cause of this written commentary. The Barbera was lovely - smooth tannins and nice fruit balance after eight years in the bottle. 

The kitchen was clearly on a roll, since no sooner had the plates been cleared was the Yabbie Risotto on the table. This proved to be somewhat of a problem since the staff had not had sufficient time to get hte next wine to the table. Granted that a chef needs the food to get out of the kitchen hot, but this was a food and wine dinner. Both should be consumed at the same time. I feel it is not too much to expect that the wine should be on the table before the food gets there. To have to wait for the wine allows the food to cool so that the experience has the potential to be somehow diminished. The maitre d' may need a firmer hand and greater communication with the chef for large events in the future.

Notwithstanding, the risotto was pleasant, with the yabbie and asparagus presenting well on the tongue. The Gavi was a surprise, good fruit and length and well up to what traditionally is a wine killer in the asparagus. 

By this time, the noise from the assembled was heating up nicely, with banter and ribbing across tables getting louder. It was time for the big boys of the night to get poured. One of my favourites came first, Le Serre Nuove 2008. This second wine from the Ornellaia stable presented beautifully, full blooded body with loads of cherries and berries exploding in the mouth. I felt that pairing it with a Sea Bream was quite a bit of an ask, and so it proved. It did, however, prove to be delightful perfection with the lamb, the juices just cutting through the acid to blend mellifluously in the mouth. 

The Pujana Barolo came across as sleek and restrained, reasonable fruit with good tannin structure. Could maybe do with another couple of years in the bottle for its peak, but a splendid wine nevertheless. Better with the bream than the Ornellaia, the Barolo's tannins made for a good pairing with the lamb. 

Food wise, the combo of bream, herb sauce and vegetable went well, though the prominence of the herbs in the dish might have lent a better match with a creamy white. The lamb with mint pea was texturally pleasant in a creamy way, with the crisp duck chip adding a level of salty firmness to the ensemble. As said, matched nicely with the Ornellaia. 

Dessert of Wild berry mille-feuille and a potent limoncello would normally end the night on a sweet note, were it not for the extra glasses of Nuove and Barolo. The party was now in full swing, quietly rambunctious in that unique IWFS restrained sort of way. And so another most pleasant evening with the IWFS came to an end with fond farewells and wishes for safe drives home. Can't be sure if I'd return to Il Lido as the food came across as a bit more fusion than I am comfortable with for Italian style tastes and textures. Even so, it made for a pleasant new experience nonetheless. Little bit slower on the food coming from the kitchen would have made for more lingering conversation over the wine. 

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