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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

IWFS Bottega Lunch - Hot, man…

August 23rd 2015

Interior of Bottega Mediterranea
Boozy lunches always crease me. Noon start for a 3pm finish means the rest of the day is hungover with headache and listlessness and generally feeling yuck. Which is why I normally avoid them - I find them not worth the pain of feeling your brain getting mashed with a hammer. Especially when you need to be on point with a vocal rehearsal at 4pm the same day. 

But this was the IWFS and a new place and a fair price - the Bottega Mediterranea on Jalan Ceylon in KL at RM150 a throw. David had proposed this place some time ago and I thought he might have forgottten about it. But then an email came through with all the details and could I please let the members know. It came together quite quickly and at the end we got 31 plucky punters up for the beano. Mostly from the expat side of the membership for some reason - not sure if this was a cultural thing (ie boozy lunches being more a western activity) or whether most members prefer a lazy Sunday at home. Possibly both. There you go. 

Pinky and Peter
David had billed it as "A Hot Italian Affair at Bottega Mediterranea" and in the end it turned out to be a very hot one. I had assumed an actual restaurant of indoor sorts with a porch area - turned out not to be a restaurant at all. It was basically one of the old townhouses on Jalan Ceylon which served as a storehouse for the import and sale of meats and cheeses and other bits from Italy. Seems the owners like to offer a monthly lunch to showcase their foods and cheeses and have a cook out in the house for alfresco consumption in the midday sun. 

The serving area with the kitchen at back
So in essence it became a race to find the coolest spot in the outside front porch area at which to sit and chug the wines and scarf the food. The early ones bagged their seats and enjoyed the fanblast. Others made for the sales area where the food was being prepared and where there was some lifesaving aircon for respite from the brain searing and fierce heat. Having said this, there was only one really brutal spot which we all managed to avoid by some judicial table and chair shifting. 

Notwithstanding, the lunch would prove most pleasant indeed. We each got given four plastic tickets, one for each glass of the different drinks of a very pleasant Prosecco, a thoroughly delightful Chardonnay, a firm Red and a sweetie to finish. 

Foodwise all was very tasty and delightfully tapas style - loads of prosciutto, pepper salami and porchetta with both soft cheeses and parmeggiano, herby oiled and chopped tomatoes for bruschetta, and the most amazing olives - total salt whack and crunchy fig like texture for which I would return in a second. The cured meats were all on a table from which members could help themselves whilst the pastas and cooked meats were panfired on a gas burner inside the house reception area. 

"Your wine - I take two cases!"
The charming ladies came around with these different dishes as they got cooked. We had a creamy paella style dollop of what I guess was Fregola followed by some chili flaked Gemelli (or "twins" - little twists of wonderfully fresh pasta), all of which helped the magnificent Chardonnay and the last of the bubbles on their merry way. Big Tony was in total praise fo the Chard and when the Kiwi echoed we figured there must be something there. There was - crisp fruit, loads of tropicals, enough oak to tantalise which quickly disappeared in the presence of food, excellent acidity and firm texture, brilliant balance and a refreshing summertime finish. Parked in the shade of the townhouse in the blazing sun with a couple of fans blowing at the other end, it was total Italian farmhouse lunchtime. All was well with the world (even though the currency and markets were crashing) and peace was upon us. Delightful.

The meats came out to join with the bold and somewhat not quite in balance red, though it proved a good partner for the venison, the duck and the roasted pork. In fact it proved a great partner with everything left on the table inside. Everyone praised the duck and rightly so - firm meat perfectly roasted with a tea smoke skin. Excellent.

Doc Stephen checking the prices
I grabbed a plate of the wonderful prosciutto to share with the table. The table seemed to have had enough so I was left to face up to the task of scarfing the lot.  All salt and fat and thin shavings of Italy's best. O belter. Then David came around with a plate of his favourite - it was either the Panchetta or the Mortadella, can't quite remember which. And it was lovely - light and featherlike slivers of cured sweetness that pricked the cheeks and slipped into gastric oblivion - total delight.

We were rapidly running out of wine - the Gaffer was being true to form and sucking down a goodly amount of any holy juice that remained in bottle. I managed to persuade Mr Corkscrew to open a bottle of his Pinot and he poured the lot into four glasses. Top man. All pourings should be like this. I also grabbed our allocations of the sweetie - it turned out to be very light in texture with the taste buds finding it more Gewurtz lychee and Turkish than full on whack your chest with a spoonful of double syrup dessert style (though very cheek pinchingly pleasant - one for the ladies as Mr Dogballs observed). 

President David and Chef Riccardo
The nice ladies then came around with a digestif sort of thing which tasted like burnt oranges and perhaps not quite right for a hot afternoon finisher. May have fared better had it been poured over a slug of gelato. 

As said, IWFS does not normally do lunches, and in fairness this was more a picnic with wine rather than a lunch. But for all that it was a brilliantly impromptu, no ceremony, sit down and eat in the lunchtime open air at someone's home where the food was hearty and wholesome and the company and wine were excellent. Worth the pain, though perhaps more shade is necessary to avoid the mild booze induced sunstroke bleuugh hangover I seemed to get. An awning or industrial fans to keep the cool and dent the ferocity of the midday sun. And more water to cut the booze. And no vocal rehearsals. Maybe I need training? Or better preparation for the heat - anyone got some shorts and a pith helmet?

Bottega Mediterranea Sdn.Bhd. 
1A Jalan Ceylon 
50200 Kuala Lumpur 
+60 173 651051

The Food:
Cold Cuts & Cheese platter on free flow.
Risotto with Saffron and Porcini.
Seared French Duck Breast  / Roasted Iberico Pork Rack
Pickle and Olives.
Ice Cream Soft served with Napolean Baba' (it may be change to Mascarpone Cream with Savoiardi).

The Wines
Principessa Sparkling, Champenoise Method.
Selin D'Almari Chardonnay winner of Chardonnay du Munde 2014/2015.
Carabas Barbara.
Pantera Cabernet Sauvignon or Malvasia (Sweet Wine)

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