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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Nicolis Wine Dinner at Stoked - Nice!

Monday August 21, 2017

This ended up as a fun and light hearted evening full of noise and chatter and good food and wines. This is being written a full two months after the event, thanks to rescuing some photos of the evening from a phone purge and finding a copy of the menu with some notes thereon. The memory of the food is a bit fuzzy, but the photos speak for themselves. Well tasty food and well tasty wine!

The well tasty veggie chips and horseradish dip
Oyster Gelee - yum!
Yin-How excels at bringing in very tasty wines from a range of producers to the restaurant to pair with the food output of the kitchen. And naturally we are very happy to support! Especially with two Amarones on the table. Has to be said, though, this is not a style I tend to buy, mostly because the ones previously tasted have been sweet fruit bombs that sent my dopamine cells ecstatic and snapped the gauge off my sugar level tester. Also the prices make me squeak. I get it that the labour intensive production and holding times for maturation require a higher premium; it's just that I don't really want to pay through a duck's butt to die faster of sugar related overload. Already doing a good enough job with the wine sales that seem to be cropping up with increased regularity and the irresistible prices that some of the distributors seem to occasionally offer. There is only so much wine one can drink and store, n'est-ce pas? Yes.       Actually, no - everyone I know is a sucker for a wine bargain, myself included. Have to find more occasions to share the good stuff. 

The August adventure for Stoked brought the wines of the Nicolis family from the Veneto region of Italy to the table, and Giuseppe Nicolis, the second generation owner of the winery would be hosting the dinner. Nicolis is one of the established smaller sized producers whose wines have consistently been well received by critics, and Giuseppe would showcase the full range of his Valpolicella, Ripasso and Amarone wines, and would also include one from the rare single vineyard Ambrosan. 

Herbs Foccacia and Balsamic
In his promo email, Yin-How shared that the Amarone of Nicolis was one of the first wines that piqued his early interest in the grape, showing him the depth and complexity that wine was capable of. He says that "the name Amarone instantly conjures up a classically powerful, slightly off dry and unique style of red wine." He has clearly tasted the good stuff - as said, my previous Amarones had been boozy blackberry jams in consistency and taste. I was hoping for enlightenment on my road to Damascus. Well, Damansara if you live in KL...

So it was that a full house of 32 sat at 7.30pm for our canapes. We were with Mr and Mrs Texas who had quickly got stuck into the bowl of foraged flowers and vegetable chips that went belter when dipped in the horseradish dip and washed down with the welcome white. Wine Searcher says that the Sasso Bianco is a bit rojak in terms of the varietals that go into the blend, though indicatives include Trebbiano, Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc. The Mantellassi website also notes that this producer makes many wines including those from grapes Grenache (Garnacha), Vermentino (Rolle), Chianti Blend, Cabernet - Sangiovese, Sangiovese, Eau-de-Vie, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine Searcher also says that this is one of the least expensive Maremma Toscana wines, circa RM33 as exchanged into Euro (about E6). It was a bit meh on its own but perked up nicely at the sight of food. Nice easy poolside pizza white. For the dishes, the flowers were chewy, the chips had lovely salty bite, the oyster was zippy in the spice and the bread was wafer crisp and melted on contact with the mouth. Lovely stuff. Calls for more horseradish went unanswered. 

Sweetbread and Tomato Sofrito
Don't really have much in the way of notes for the dishes and the wines, but the standouts were the tomato herb sofrito and the sirloin. The Softrito was whisper light and wonderful texture and salty sweet across the tongue and made for a good mush contrast with the sweetbread. The sirloin was beautifully cooked and full of tender meaty bite and chew though the kale on the dish felt somewhat raw and a shade earthy. My Monkfish was a touch overdone yet still tasted good, though I didn't quite get the gnocchi; dusty grey balls looking like moonrock or whale's balls and drenched in a sicky sweet soy sauce. Tastewise it made for a good pairing with the fish, but it didn't leap off the plate into the eyes or the camera. As ever, can't remember dessert. 

Winewise, the 2008 Amarone was the acclaimed star and I saw a little of the light with this one. Way less jam and far more welly than my previous samples, this one had full firm fruit, lovely tannin and structure, balanced alcohol and a decent but not overwhelming thwack in the chest. The 2010 felt a shade less powerful up against its big brother, though still did enough to merit three ticks on the menu. Sometimes you need a taste of class to understand the fuss and bluster. We ended up buying the 2013 Seccal for its overall friendliness of approach, firmness of body and texture, and ease of sip and drinking. A versatile drop that will stand with ease in the company of manly boozers or fine bibbers across a steak table. Regret to say that the Amarone is still a bit the wrong side of price friendly to the Scot in me. Just as well it was sold out - Scotsman could make the excuse "ah, that's a pity, would LOVE to have bought a couple..." Maybe next life. 

Monkfish and gnocchi. Yes.
This was my first introduction to the culinary offerings of Stoked's new master at arms in the back room. Somewhat different in approach from the previous chap whose real passion (I feel) remains the fish. This one shows more integration in what is on the plate and the scavenge, er, foraging bent in his background is clearly en vogue. Whatever, he can certainly cook a decent steak. And there is always some good thought put into what kind of offerings will go with the wines being presented, rather than the slight feeling of wine clearance one occasionally gets at some of the other pairing dinners. 

Sirloin and Laguiole Bone utensils
Nice to see a range of plates being used and the addition of Laguiole bone cutlery for the beef was most pleasant. Staff were well controlled and wine pours across the room looked fair. Though perhaps Yin-How's glass got a shade more attention given his long association with the producer. Nice to remember old wines and their makers. Some of them do indeed come to be friends. 

Sgr Guiseppe Nicolis explains his wines
Nicolis Wine Dinner at Stoked Restaurant & Bar

Foraged Flowers, Tamarind
Chips of Local Vegetables
Oyster Gelée, Spicy Herbs
Herbs Foccacia, Balsamic Leather
Mantellassi Sasso Bianco Maremma 2015 RM105

Veal Sweetbread, Tomato Herbs Sofrito
Valpolicella DOC Classico 2015

Mushroom-Glazed Cod, Gnocchi, Port Jus
“SECCAL” Valpolicella DOC Classico Superiore Ripasso 2013 RM145

Dry-Aged Ribeye, Grilled Onion & Kale
Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico 2010 RM280 (Vinous 90 points)
Ambrosan Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico 2013 RM375 (Vinous 91+ points)

Mixed Berries, Yoghurt Sorbet, Filo Pastry
Coffee / Tea

Petits Fours

NB wine prices were after discount but with GST

No comments:

Post a Comment