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, December 15, 2017


DECEMBER 9th 2017

Short Version

What a fantastic evening at the President's Dinner held at the newly renovated Sage last week! Superb food, excellent wines, and a wonderful ambiance created by the attending members who were clearly in the mood to enjoy everything. Clinking glasses, string quartet, lots of laughter - a wonderful way to ring in the Festive Season. 

The President's Dinner is the Premiere event of our IWFS Kuala Lumpur Calendar, and is always a fantastically fun evening. Wines were selected for pairing by the Wine Sub Committee team, with WSC Chairman Dr Stephen Hall for the wine notes. Especial thanks to Dato Jeremy Diamond for his key role in the organisation and for his kind donation of some XO Cognac to help our attendees enjoy a perfect nightcap to the evening.

Dato Jeremy and President David
And thanks to the tremendous generosity of our members and our suppliers, the IWFS Kuala Lumpur PD Wine Auction once again was able to raise RM200,000 for our target charities. IWFS KL President David Teh was overwhelmed at the response: "I personally thank all of our members and suppliers who found it in their hearts to support our Society's drive. Our charities this year are all in deep and serious need of funds," he said. "The contributions and donations will massively help to support their various missions. Thank. You."

Well done to the IWFS KL President's Dinner team for organising yet another hugely successful event! 

Follow that Star...  and get the party started!
Long Version

The IWFS President's Dinner – the Society’s black tie gala dinner – was once again be held at Sage Restaurant at the Gardens Hotel at Mid Valley in Kuala Lumpur. There was again discussion as to whether to have the dinner at a different venue, but again the alternatives just did not measure up to the service and quality of Chef Daniel's kitchen. The organisation of the President’s Dinner has been honed to quite a fine art and, as the saying goes, “if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it”. The team know us and what our requirements and expectations are, and whilst we still go over the finer points, Sage continually delivers above the line performance across the board. The Governor once again took the lead in liaising with the Sage. Perhaps this is why things go so smoothly - no one wants to incur the withering silent glare of a disgruntled Governor. 

The friendly wine auction to support designated charities (see below) was once again held, and again the delivery of all the booze was expertly handled by the staff of Vintry under the supervision of Committee Member Wong Yin-How. His team also handled the compilation, notes, and printing of lists for the auction. No small job, I can tell you. Kudos, peeps. 

Steven, Paul and Sanjeev
In his speech, President David noted the award of a grant to the IWFS KL from the regional supervisory body, the IWFS Asia Pacific Zone (APZ). Such grants are apparently available for (among other things) the purchase of special wines for special occasions. It was felt appropriate to buy some special fizz to recognise the generosity of the IWFS KL members for their continual and massive generosity in giving to the charities every year. Which they did. And so lovely it was - the Billecart-Salmon Brut and Rose went down a total treat. Lovely, lovely bubbly, clean and slaking and rich chewy mouth with an effervescent ring through the alimentaries. 

Ria, May and Chris
It was one of those nights when both food and wines were exceptionally good. You could not pick a winner out of all of them. Though perhaps the Chateau Leoville Las Cases, St Julien 2008 took it by the finest of noses. And finishes. Without taking anything away from the Chablis (Domaine Jacques Carillon, Puligny Montrachet 2014) or the Burgundy (Dom Dubreuil-Fontaine, Corton Bressandes Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2012) the Bordeaux was darn near perfect - clean, full, darkly fruit driven, excellent balance and with a finish like Lewis in the rain. 

Foodwise, the first course stunned nicely with the hit of wasabi mayo and cheek nipping parsley with the ultra fresh Prawn, which got contrasted with the mouthful of beef cheek in rich Madeira sauce for total squidgy yum which the fizz destroyed to leave a perfect numb gunky film which needed more fizz to scrape off.

Tempura of White Shell Prawn and Mijote of Beef Cheek
Second course of cold Somen noodle was the carbo hit with scallop that felt a bit underdone, though the caviar sparkled with the Rose.

I didn't initially get the Royal of Snow Crab - it felt ordinary, like out of a tin and into the soup for a lumpy heated result. But looking back, I see that the miso pulled it together, and set off the firm crab with excellent umami. It is a taste that has remained with me - umami crab of texture and bite and somehow resonating even now. Odd - nothing at the table yet echoes in the sensory memory. But the wine wasa stunner here - the Puligny was total business, all honey apple and oak whack and crisp as a late frost in spring. Wonderful wine. 

Hotate and Somen
I missed the cleanser and went straight into the lamb. Two magnificent ribs generously caked with tender meat. Felt like it come straight off the farm and carved in the kitchen and thrown into the oven and baked to perfection. Cracking piece of meat, which went perfectly with both of the reds.Belter of a pairing, and worth the entrance fee. I actually remember eating the dessert (well, wolfing it) and thoroughly enjoying it with the Sauterne and thinking, "wow, this is good, man." Can't remember a thing about it now. 

The amazing Lamb
We were also in receipt of a donation of Fine Cognac to round off the evening by a generous donor, who wanted to remain anonymous, and it turned out as a perfect way to round out the evening. Apparently -  I have sworn off spirit; makes the heart pump like a goat in season. I contented myself with pouring off some of the criminal remains of the Bordeaux left by the attendees on the table. Two were seriously untouched, and I railed internally against the criminality of such an abandonment whilst happily chugging the precious leftover liquid down the hatch. Will have to get the staff to pour less so that those who do appreciate the larger volumes will be well stated. Mossie should be ecstatic. Well, he will be if he ever comes to one...

And thanks to the tremendous generosity of our members and our suppliers, the IWFS Kuala Lumpur PD Wine Auction once again was able to raise RM200,000 for our target charities (note:  some donations still coming in, so RM200K been exceeded). IWFS KL President David Teh was overwhelmed at the response: "I personally thank all of our members and suppliers who found it in their hearts to support our Society's drive. Our charities this year are all in deep and serious need of funds," he said. "The contributions and donations will massively help to support their various missions. Thank. You."

And everyone complied with the Formal Black Tie dress code! Even remembered the medallions!! Well done members!

Nenad, Ania and Sanjeev
Chef K K Chong a.k.a. Daniel maintains a standard in preparation and presentation that comes from his many years of dedication to the art of food. Having spent years learning from Chef Takashi Kimura at both the Cilantro and the Sage restaurants, Chef Daniel took the helm of the Sage kitchen when completion of Cilantro renovations necessitated Chef Kimura's return. 

Chef Daniel is hugely dedicated to both the preparation and presentation of food, and consistently delivers some of the finest Japanese French fusion cuisine in the region. He has said: "Food is like a work of art. The plate is my canvas. The ingredients are my paint. The customers are my critique."  

Yin-How and Wendy
Note – wines are added in the food and sauce to enhance the flavour of the dish

First Course
Tempura of White Shell Prawn
Mijote of Beef Cheek with Madeira Sauce
Billecart  Salmon Brut  Reserve NV

Second Course
Somen Noodle with Caramelised Hotate, Mirugai and Caviar
Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Reserve NV

Third Course
Royale of Snow Crab with Sea Urchin and Ohba
Domaine Jacques Carillon, Puligny Montrachet 2014

Palate Cleanser
Calpis Granite

Main Course
Fish – Oven Baked Miso Marinated Black Cod Fish with Foie Gras
Lamb - Slow Cooked Almond Crusted Hillside Lamb Rack with Blue Cheese Sauce
Beef – Black Angus Beef Striploin with Daikon Sauce
Dom Dubreuil-Fontaine, Corton Bressandes Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2012
Chateau Leoville Las Cases, St Julien 2008

Flambe of Granny Smith Apple with Shortbread Crumble and Cinnamon Honey Ice Cream
Chateau de Farques, Sauterne 2006

Coffee or Tea
Fine Brandy

Paul and Molly with President David
Billecart  Salmon Brut  Reserve NV
Billecart Salmon is one of the few remaining family-owned houses of a significant size. The house style is described by Antoine Roland Billecart as “freshness, elegance, a fruit style and wine style. We always want to remind you that champagne is a wine. We are not about alcohol chasing for maturity, we are more into freshness.”(www.winesearcher.com). The cold fermentation, zero dosage and higher than usual Pinot Meunier percentage produces delicacy, a fine bead and a long complex finish enjoyed by numerous aficionados, wine writers and Champagne lovers.

Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Reserve NV
An elegant and super refined mousse bursts with wild strawberry aromatics, while being crisp and refreshing on the long and broad palate. The pale salmon colour is a notable feature of this complex rose, which unusually includes 50 percent chardonnay. James Halliday rating this renowned drop at 94 points says ” I cannot remember ever having a glass of Billecart rose that disappointed me.” A shared experience. Decanter, 95 pts (Dec 2016), James Suckling 94 pts, Wine Spectator 93 pts, Wine Enthusiast 92 pts.

Domaine Jacques Carillon, Puligny Montrachet 2014
From the heartland of Burgundy’s finest Chardonnays comes a village level classic, stretching beyond expectations. Since 2010 Francois and Jacques Carillon, Louis Carillon's sons, have created their own labels they are making a name for their well- crafted approach to all vintages. Hints of nectarine and white peaches nestle in a linear framework now knitting together in a taut, yet intriguing style.  Antonio Galloni 90 pts, Tim Atkin, 93 pts, Burghound, 90 pts.

Dom Dubreuil-Fontaine, Corton Bressandes Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2012
While still young for a classic Pinot Noir, the nature of the challenging vintage makes for a rounded, less linear style than one may ordinarily expect from this pedigree. Growers were rescued by September sunny days, so that the small quantities of Beaune 2012 are usually rewarding in their youth. The wine is light in appearance, while more opulent in the strawberry and gamey notes. The elegance should satisfy those who can be a little patient as the layers of this Grand Cru unfold.

Chateau Leoville Las Cases, St Julien 2008
I quote from Wine Doctor Chris Kissack, as he has had a chance to crack this beauty. Classics like this have sparked debates about whether 2008 is under rated compared to the much praised 2009 and 2010 vintages .
“The wine is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 12% Merlot. The ultimate yield for the estate was 37.9 hl/ha. What a captivating nose! Intense black cherry fruit, minerally and pure, crunchy but rich, layered with cream and vanilla. Pure, but as the nose suggests stunningly rich and intense, and broad. Elegant tannins, firm yet silkily textured, really stylish yet with real depth and concentration. A great tannic core which is only really evident at the finish. Great length. A fabulous effort”.  Numerous 90 point plus ratings.

Chateau de Farques, Sauterne 2006
Sauterne from a non-interventionalist winery which is awakening desert wine lovers’ and wine writers’ interest with great value and complex, honeyed purity. Wine Enthusiast rated this at 94 points describing the ‘stickie’ as : A firm, densely structured wine, with the sweetness turned as much into richness. The flavors are of Seville orange zest, the richness coming from honey and almonds, balanced with dry botrytis. An impressive wine that needs time for aging. 

Many thanks to the Wine Sub Committee team for selecting the wines and WSC Chairman Dr Stephen Hall for the wine notes. 

Ania and Kit
If you would like to see the Auction Wines List and details of the charities supported, please click here>>

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