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.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another memorable night at Prime

Kuala Lumpur October 28, 2013

Got a late email from the Doc notifying about the wine dinner.  Billed as "Appreciate the Timeless Taste of MITOLO" it would pair Mitolo wines with the Chef's best. Also got the same email from El Presidente but also saying that IWFS members would get 20% discount. So tough to say no when these people are being so boozer friendly.

The blurb from organiser Albert Wines said the Mitolo grapes are sourced from McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley, and that the wines are apparently "praised by some of the world's toughest critics." Okay. Given the 20% discount for Prime food and the wine, the gig was definitely worth a punt.

Lenglui had originally declned but changed the mind when she saw the traffic snarl that would have lay ahead of her to get where she was scheduled to be. It was bad - at least an hour for it to clear. That's KL sometimes - the traffic can snarl for little to no apparent reason. Often a breakdown or a bump in the absence of heavy rain. Like this, better to hole up for an hour somewhere and let it pass.

Doc and friend Sunny were there though we shifted tables to accommodate El Presidente in a group of five. Maitre d' Elan was on hand to make sure all glasses were filled and everyone was comfortable. Difficult not to be comfortable at the Prime with their huge enveloping chairs. Really is a warm, comfortable restaurant. Lovely ambience, maybe a bit corporate but great lighting and lots of cheery browns. The modern touch is the kitchen staff all dressed in black. Gives an efficient sheen to the place. 

Palate Teaser
First on the table was a light amuse bouche style starter that was supposed to pair with something that looked cocktail like in a whiskey tumbler and which was way too sweet. Soda water with something called Aperol. Okay I guess, though not sure what it was supposed to do. In contrast, the Palate Teaser was dleightful. All the litttle bites were brilliantly tasty. Of particular note was the tomato and strawberry Gazpacho, a spoonful of sourish sweetness that had zing and verve and cheekily tickled the, er, cheeks.

The scallop was freshly firm and crunchy, and topped nicely with the Celeriac Espuma and truffle to taste. Paired with the Jester Vermentino 2012, a light Pinot Grigio style wine that nicely stayed out of the way of the food. Quite refreshing, not much in the way of fruit, but most pleasant.

Seared Sea Scallop
Next up was the Chicken Galantine with Foie Gras and Duck Confit. This looked similar to a Roulade of rolled chicken breast sandwiching a wedge of FG and DC. The chicken had that good firm succulent tenderness in the mouth, though the volume of meat meant that we couldn't really taste the Foie Gras - there was just too little of it to do anything to the meat. The strip of Duck Confit fared slightly better and lent the ensemble a salt crunch zap that got nicely sweetened by the fig chutney which, with the pickled shimeji mushroom, made for a full on sweet rubbery bite. 

Chicken Galantine with Foie Gras and Duck Confit
The matching Jester Shiraz 2011 was pleasant and balanced, with full sweet berry, medium body, quite supple and an overall easy drinker but with teeth and a slightly metallic edge. It drinks more like a slightly mean Merlot with some pepper in the aftertaste. With the food it paired well enough, with the food dousing the edge on the wine, though not really enough to elevate the pairing beyond "nice enough". Neither brought out any extra qualities in the other. 

The lamb was very sweet with great taste and texture and WAY better without the avocado which basically messed up the lamb! Didn't seem to add anything other than a neutraliser of the juices in the meat. But it did softens the texture which perhaps was the aim. Okay, but the avocado left a fruit oil sheen in the mouth which tinted everything that went in with it. Carnivores who prefer the juice of the meat would leave it to the side. Carnivore. 

Slow Cooked Sous Vide Seared Lamb Loin
In contrast, the dried Olive Tapendade was genius. it gave a textured taste of the olive to the lamb without that oily throat coat that often accompanies meat basted with olive oil. The biscuit wafer veil lent a crunch texture to bed the whole thing and fill the mouth with total pleasure.

The GAM is a sleek, supple, well made Shiraz of class and breeding. A very easy drinker. Full and firm, though it got a bit thin when drank next to the Samitar which came out quite quickly. This is a powerful beast with a kick like a filly that's just had a jab with a vet's dart. Brambles, bit of spritz on the tongue. Rich, full, layers, chocolate, berries, zapzap pinches on the tongue tip. Great balance across the tannins and high-ish alcohol with the big fierce fruit. Good grip going down. Quite masculine - vinous version of macho Aussie outbacker playing footie in the vineyard.

The beef is lovely. Great sear, clean meat, leanlean beef. The eggplant puree is cute, taking off the purine in the beef. These chefs really know their food molecules, and some of us are generally happy they don't deconstruct them too much. Sometimes Momma Nature puts molecules together in a certain way for a reason, and messing with this can get, er, messy. Not here, not with this. Nothing but grilled juicy meat that does so many wonderful things on the tongue. 

The Serpico. Absolutely one of the best single Cabs I have tasted. They dry some of the grapes amarone style and then crush. The smoothness is amazing - like a best blend of whiskies, only way smoother. Got supple, sleek, great fruit and balance and a mellowing sunset heat as it goes down. Be a devil to match with food though - it tastes too good on its own. Having it paired with the dessert seemed a bit strange at first, but tasting it made sense. Eat the dessert then drink the wine. An after dinner Cabernet - silky, chewy tannins, most pleasant coffee notes with chocolate. A thoroughbred stallion rather than some of the tannic monsters out there. Oh, so very, very nice. Belter belter belter. Drink this all night thank you very much. Must buy.

The dessert was lighter than it looked. Great light texture, bit of a chocolate sorbet taste with lots of sweet fruit. Zippy but smooth. Far better with the coffee than the wine. 

A most excellent evening of great food matched with some really lovely quality wines. And the traditional takeaway of Prime's brilliant cookies is always a nice aftertaste to take home and enjoy the morning after. Always happy to go back to the Prime - it consistently makes for memorable evenings. 

The Mitolo Wines for the evening

Marinated Chicken with Tapenade and Cold Ratatouille on Piota bread
Cold Smoked Salmon and Crab Roll on Russian Blini's, Creme Fraiche
Strawberry and Vine Ripe Tomato Gazpacho with Yoghurt and Olive Oil
Greek Feta Olive, Preseved Roma Tomato and Bell Pepper Drizzle with Virgin Olive Oil

Aperitif: Aperol Soda Ice

Celericac Espuma, Seared Sea Scallop, Crispy Filo Pastry, Black Shaved Truffle

Chicken Galantine with Foie Gras and Duck Confit, Fig Chutney
Caramel and Sea Salt Walnut Crumble, Pickled Shimeji

Slow Cooked Sous Vide Seared Lamb Loin with Sweet Amoled Paprika
Avocado Puree and Dried Olive Tapenade
Hazelnut Veil

Provencal Crust BBQ Charcoal Grilled Black Angus Tenderloin
Eggplant Puree with Orange Zest and Pimento Polenta Cake
Creamy Shaved Asparagus Tzatziki Salad
Porcini Sauce

Deconstructed Black Forest
Cherry Gel, Dark Chocolate Cremeux, Cocoa Nibs, Cherry Tuile, Vanilla Bavaroise, Moist Chocoklate Cake, Amarena Sornbet and Cherry Foam

Illy Coffee or Selections of Dilmah Tea
Prime Cookies

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