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, December 4, 2017

Food Adventures January to July 2017 - May 2017

Prior to the two month sojourn around Wales, France and Sicily across August through to mid October, I had been a bit taken up with a project that took me away from the food and wine writing (and the songwriting and recording) but I then got a bit of a breather to try and reflect over where the Lengui and I had eaten over the previous couple of months (well, seven actually). So I figured rather than try to document them individually, better to just load them all into a single narrative and see how it looked. So this is a full-ish listing of where, when, and with whom we ate and drank over this period. Some are barely one liners, others have a bit more detail. Whatever, it made for a more than usually long read so it got broken down into months for ease of, er, digestion. Not sure if it will prove useful, but when taken in total it does represent quite a litany of gluttony. Phoooooooo....

May 3rd IWFS Committee Dinner at Stoked
At our monthly IWFS Committee meetings, everyone brings a bottle to share with everyone else. At the end of the year there is usually a surplus of bottles so a dinner gets organised to drink them up. This year was decided to have it at our regular meeting place and Yin-How came up with the menu. We also brought extra wines to fill out the spectrum (ie fizz and white - seemed to be a preponderance of reds in the surplus bin). Didn't take any notes, and having just consumed a glass or four during the meeting was pretty much in no state or mood to do so. We stood around for a while quaffing more fizz before seating to some lovely glassware and excellent wine service all night. Some lovely wines came and went. Foodwise was mostly good, ranging from the usual excellent seafood dishes to the grim Rossini which needed a second heating from most of our table. At around RM350 a pop, felt a shade stiff but then I am half Scots. I can probably claim Irish because of my name spelling - should I go for an Irish passport in view of Brexit??
Trio of Canapes - Sainte Maure Goat Cheese and Dried Apricot, Chicken and Mustard Seed, Amaebi and Caviar
Octopus - Baba Ghanoush, Pomegranete
French White Asparagus - Slipper Lobster, Fine Leaf
USDA Prime Rossini - Mash Potatoes, Spinach with Perigord Sauce
Chocolate Sable - Frozen Berries, White Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Ice Cream
Coffee Tea Petits Fours
Roll of Honour

Glass and Flower at Flint
May 5th Flint with Amanti della Cucina Italia
The Amanti Della Cucina Italia has their monthly bash at Flint in Ampang. Which was a bit unusual since it normally prefers Italian places rather than meat houses. Nevertheless, nineteen Amanti braved the rainy Friday night traffic and parking, possibly due to the value on the food and getting a fair deal on booze (25% discount on purchases). Took two fucking hours in the car to get there - brain dead by the time I arrived. I recall sucking down a bottle of St Clair SB just to regain some brain function. Desperate. It felt a bit cramped inside the Flint with all the people milling around, though not overly so. Was a bit disappointed with the Wagyu skirt (or rump as I understand it to also be) - seemed to be a bit of a tough chew. But the minestrone and pasta ragout were excellent. We initially opted to pair it with what turned out to be some mid range metallic and teeth enamel removing Chianti. The replacement Barbera was better - smooth , black cherry jam on the nose and mouth, frisky tannins, slightly tart on the swallow, but a great palate and finish. Service was excellent throughout the night - very attentive, young and efficient. Food details follow:-

Minestrone - with Lentils and Grana Padano - a bit overpeppered but great taste. Rustic, authentic feel - soul soup, like a good bowl of Campbells but without the salt. The bread is magnificent. St Clair SB a bit bitter on first blush but brought into balance by butter on bread and pepper in soup. Yum.
Tajarin Pasta - with Smoked Beef Ragout - rich and full on the mouth. Well seasoned, but somehow needed a visual and zesty lift - looked like a Mee Pork dollop of pasta with ragout sauce and meat. I would have added some lemon, but then I would. 
Charcoal Grilled Wagyu Skirt - with Garden Salad and Balsamic Glaze - portions were generous and well seared and cooked. Good salt, well pink on the inside. But as said, the cut a bit tough but not so that it wouldn't go down. Just needed a bit more work than usual. Made a good sandwich for lunch the following day. 
Deconstructed Apple Crumble - with Strawberry Basil Sorbet - didn't work for me. The apple was a massive cruncher Granny Smith, total sharp green in taste and almost citrus. Brought tears to the eyes. Paired with a sorbet made for a double sharp dessert. I would have softened Granny with some plain vanilla ice cream. Perhaps a bit too Spanish experimental Mugaritz on this one - sometimes plain is best. 
The excellent Minestrone
Charcoal Grilled Wagyu Skirt - bit of a firm chew this one...
Deconstructed Apple Crumble - dam sharp
May 6th Marco Polo Wedding
Just for completeness, we were here. About ten tables in the back room of the Marco. Was a family occasion so the food was superb. Their Iberico ribs are total business. 

May 7th Marco Polo Pig Nick 
Phoo - sometimes it all comes in a rush, eh? But how not to go to the Marco when the Pig Nick has been ordered and the wine kaki are all fired up for it? Another good boozy night of food, wine, friends and chit chat. Total fun.
Marco Polo Combination
Peppery Bork Bone Soup
Suckling Pig with Glutinous Rice
Minced Pork Ball with Sugar Cane
Baked Iberico Ribs
Yunnan Ham on Tofu with Vegetable
A Twist on Noodle and Rice
Cool and Sweet Ice Cream on Egg Tart

May 11th Grand Imperial BSC Bangsar Birthday gang
One fo the gang claimed to be able to get special discount here so naturally we went along with it. Got a semi private room shared with one other group. This included a long table on which we could park our wines and the restaurant's ice buckets and get fair to good wine service through the evening. Lots of Prosecco and Sauvignon Blanc and Italian Reds paired with the Grand Imperial Four Seasons, Iberico Pork Ribs and various other dishes nicely enough, though the food did not leap out as stunning.  

May 13th Char Siew Kelvin
This was at some stall off the backroads somewhere toward Kepong. We were first to arrive and commandeered some tables. Darned good food washed down with various SBs and easy reds. The Money brought her Zweigelt which went gangbusters with the Char Siew - picked out delicate floral violets in the mouth with the sticky caramel goo on the Char Siew. Wish I could remember where it was and how to get there...

Me looking amazed that people ask me to sing..,
May 14th Steven Fung 60th Birthday Chinese Restaurant in PJ
The Unique Seafood is a place I have occasionally visited in previous years, though not in recent past. It seems to have fallen off the map as a place to go eat. Marco Polo is nearer and does well enough for us. Though the Unique remains hugely popular amongst the community for its big fish and value preparations. There is a banquet hall at the back, which was a first time for me - previous visits had been to the restaurant front side of things. 

The Birthday Boy is a Wedding Planner of many years experience and we first came to know him through singing with the Philharmonic Society. Lenglui's Line Dance kaki (friends) all know him from various weddings he has planned for their progeny's hitchings. The evening showed his brilliance at maintaining relationships through the years - he had people there from all over the block. And so many we knew from other circles. Amazing. It also showed his sense of show - four roast pigs were waiting at reception to be carved up and served to guests. After a quick soundcheck (I was singing Green Green Grass, Lenglui and her line dance kaki were to do a couple of dances for the Boy) we sat down and opened a bottle of Oyster Bay SB to whet the whistle. Someone went out and grabbed some pork and brought it back to the table. Delightful. The guests were wandering into the hall and when they saw we had tunpang the pork, some went back out to grab a plate or four. We finished our SB and stole a bottle of red from the bar for the table. 
Lenglui and the Siew Yoke Four
The food would prove to be standard Chinese banquet. Was good enough, though nothing stood out as stunningly memorable. The hall was long and white, the tables and chairs were white - I think the floor was light coloured too. Wondered whether this was how someone involved in the organisation thought that this might be what heaven looked like. Well, and maybe. Though I am pretty sure heaven does not have bigass loud Chinese Drum groups there - we were fricking DEAFENED when these boys got underway. People were very kind to my singing of Green Green Grass of Home. The Lenglui's dancers died - they were on too late in the bill and not really rehearsed enough. No one cared. 

May 18th Albert Mann wines dinner at Grand Imperial at BSC Bangsar
Ah, this was a cracker. Excellent dishes on show at the Grand Imperial - stunning tastes and beautiful presentations. And the Mann wines facilitated by Singapore Alsace Society President Julian Teoh and Romanee Petrus Ivy Lim were spectacular. Twenty people sat on two tables with the Mann winemaker Mr Maurice himself able to tell us something about his Alsace winery and production techniques. Finishing touch was that Ivy had brought her glasses and some staff from her Tinto operation to help serve the wines which helped bring the whole evening into wonderful focus - aways good when you don't have to worry about whether the wines are getting poured into wrong glasses or in wrong order. Have to look for the menu and wines and photos - a truly excellent evening. Found the notes, will look to write this one up.
Roll of Honour
May 20th Yoong Char Siew lunch House of Pork
Organised by Lenglui, the Char Siew here is the total business. This place of legend is a roadside shophouse in Cheras, which made its name on Peel Road before it moved to its present location, though not before absorbing the Peel Road legacy into its name. We got here at noon and the place was already rocking. Sat with The Money and her squeeze, Princess, Texas and squeeze, and had lashings and lashings of Char Siew washed down with Money's amazing Austrian whites and a repeat of her Zweigelt red from the May 13th outing that was again total gangbusters with the Char Siew. Match made in heaven, and I hope there is Char Siew and Zweigelt when and if I get there. There was Siew Yoke with the usual Cloudy Bay which sucks up the salt a treat. Patin Fish in sauce came out at some time, but we were all topping up at this time. Everyone ordered takeaway. So. Very. Good. 
Food got whacked before photos could get taken. Hungry lorrrr...
May 20th Bonfire friends 40th Anniversary
Talked about the Bonfire previously in this series. Not much new to add. Manager wanted to levy corkage of RM50 on me per bottle. Good thing the host was also the owner of the place so got it dismissed. Had some huge prawns, chewy and peppered lamb, and as before the gratin potato was stellar. I guess you have to like the Australian barbeque style of preparation and cooking. I have yet to acquire the taste. Smoky and charred food to me all tastes smoky and charred, and one course of it is usually enough. Company was fun and boozy, which meant that the Baron's 2008 Sassicaia got sucked down in double time and my attempts to be extra judicious in the pourings to the non afficionados proved in vain. They whacked it absolutely. I have learned - keep two bottles in the covered cooler wine bag; one for the bibbers and one for the chuggers. Wine is wine, and no pearls before swine, n'est-ce pas? Oui. 

May 22nd Sanctuary7 Dombeya wine dinner
Owner Operator of Sanctuary7 and Winedaddy (and Petdaddy) Prakash had snagged visiting winemaker Rianie Strydom to grace this dinner and talk about the Dombeya and Haskell wines on show.  Sanctuary7 is a house in Damansara with a Balinese and Thai Garden setting in which private wine dinners take place before partying through the night to the video collection indoors. Food is generally good, though for me often lacking a degree of finesse given the calibre and pedigree of the wines Prakash puts on the tables. Ryanie proved a delightful ambassador of her wines - her passion, knowledge and commitment shone through the evening and her table stories of winemaking in South Africa were peppered with wonderful asides. We found we had mutual friends in Yngvild Steytler of Kaapzicht Estate and neighbour Louis at the Mooiplas - Yngvild and Louis were in Singapore and KL some years back as part of a South African wine mission exercise and Ryanie promised to pass our best to her. Always good when this happens. 

I had bought both Dombeya Chard and Haskell Aeon from Prakash on a previous showcase at the Sanctuary7 and they were both on show again. Dombeya-wise, we had the 2014 Chardonnay and 2013 Merlot, and for the Haskell we had the Haskell II 2010 (62% Shiraz, 33% Cab and 5% Mourvedre) and the Aeon 2012 (95% Shiraz, 5% Mourvedre). The Chard is magnificent - sleek tropical fruit and lovely balance across alcohol and acidity. Full, mouthbomb, sparky chewy wine but finishes like a thoroughbred. Match this easily with anything that the big name Chard producers can come out with. Lovely wine. We bought six. The Merlot was…  okay, but I confess to not being a great fan of the varietal. Blend it with the Cabs and yes, the mouth waters. But on its own…   it lacks a bit of body and whack for me. The Dombeya was clean and crisp and enough fruit to enjoy but not one for the home wine fridge. The Haskell II was a full on South African blend, all earthy brick soil and clean entry and finish. Can't remember much else. In contrast the Aeon is the business - power, elegance, drinking now but with a lot more time available in bottle.  We bought some more. Most pleasant evening. 

May 27th IWFS AGM
Held at the Impiana Hotel in KL for the second year in succession. They give us a nice room in which to conduct the annual business, great glass service for the flutes, and good staff behind the bar who listened and responded intelligently. Shame that the food was pretty grim. Salted and stodgy pastas, cold meats and sauces, painfully small oysters. I seem to remember the potatoes and vegetables were the only edible thing for me. Hope we are not back there next year. Awful. Got ubered there and home by Princess. No Lenglui - on birthday duty in Tacloban. 
Princess, Kiwi and Ajeet the Bohemian Rhapsodist
 May 30th Noble House In Laws birthday lunch
This was a birthday of a Lenglui in-law and with Lenglui overseas I was the representation. A Roasted Pig was carved and distributed in celebration. Standard Eight Course banquet for lunch. No wine, but someone poured a whiskey toward the end which somehow went quite well with the noodles. Or perhaps it was just the hunger for some booze. Can't remember much about the food. Think it was good, but I find the banquets at the various restaurants do get a bit ordinary after a while and tend toward all tasting the same. Don't remember any standouts. Birthday cake was massively creamy and sweet. 

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