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.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Wine and Dine with Chef Olivier at Lafite - excellent food!

January and February 2018 - This was a promotion extending across January, February and March and being done to (presumably) introduce new Chef Olivier to a wider Malaysian audience. Though I do recall my mate and fellow foodie Julian raving over him from about nine months previously and urging me to go and buy him lunch there. Didn't quite seem to happen - think I was travelling across August to October and the months seem to flit past like dust ghosts in the wind.  It was only on the suggestion of an overseas visitor (and long term fan of Lafite) that we got around to going. This became the last Friday in January 2018 outing and we all had a fair time of it (though we had brought our own wines for the nonce). We shared the experience with other friends who urged for a repeat with them - how to say no to a fun sounding get together? And so it was on - Hans booked the table and the date was set. 

The blurb said:
"Experience an evening of pure indulgence with a 3-course French cuisine with wine tasting, canapes and a bottle of wine and more on every last Friday of the month." January was Australian wines, February was Amrerican wines and March was Chilean wines. 

Goat Cheese Tortellini
It was going out at RM320 per person. Perhaps not cheap, but it did include a half bottle of, okay, supermarket wine which eased the decision somewhat. Buy a bottle from the wine list with the GST and plus is easily RM200, so the deal gets a little less of a whack. And it is the Lafite - arguably still the best in town for what it does (or at least what it used to…  regular readers will know of my crusade against the Shang and the slipping of the mantle as compared to my memories of it over nearly thirty years - do a search for Shangri La in the search box for more). 

The wine tasting at the bar at the entrance featured some American hopefuls as brought to Malaysian shores by one of the heavyweight distributors. I seem to recall fierce alcohol on the Riesling and fierce mind creasing Oak on the Chard (you know that feeling in the forehead when you eat very cold ice cream? I get the same on the temples with massive oak. Weird…) The Pinot was more approachable whilst the Cab was far from - at least for another five years and then, maybe. Fair prices - we didn't buy (NB the four tasting wines were Wente Riverbank Riesling, Sterling Vintner's Collection Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Louis Martini Napa Valley Cab. no indication of the vintages).

Atlantic Sea Bass
The wines on offer at the table (one bottle for every two diners) were Chardonnay and Merlot from the Chateau St Jean winery in Sonoma, California. I had half a memory of visiting this winery in 2005 on a visit with Lenglui and the other half of the memory got remembered on finding some digital photos of us at the place (we were in our wine drinking infancy at the time and writing about travel was not anywhere in the imagination). Again, no indication on the vintages, but presume fairly young. Someone (either the Shang or the wine distributor - I suspect the latter) had printed very spanky wine notes on photo quality paper for both the tasting wines and the table wines. Having spent some years dealing with printing agencies, I know these are not cheap. So for me it was a thoughtful touch to have such quality information sheets available. 

The wines were… not wonderful, but far from undrinkable. Pleasant in body and taste, they made for drinkable companions to the food (there were eight of us so four bottles got swigged). The CSJ are usually on the wrong side of value for what they are in the supermarkets which is why we rarely buy. But as said these were pleasant enough and we opted to stay with them rather than break open some lovelies I had brought just in case. The Company was wonderful, with lot of stories and jokes and conversation about the world and its future (or lack of it). 

Hazelnut Joy
Chef can clearly cook very well. As said, this was our second time in his company and he was able to create some tittilating taste bombs for the table. Indeed, in talking with us after the dinner he shared that he had spent time in one of my all time favourite places - the Chevre D'Or in Eze on the Cote D'Azur (got a blog post here>>). The Goat Cheese Tortellini was initally a bit on the stodgy side but this got quickly lost in the squirmingly creamy lush and delightul Butternut Puree. I think there was a hit of chili oil in the thing to give some vim and vigor to the foamy puree. The fish was nicely seared and the accompaniments made for interesting herbal and vegetal combinations. Dessert was brilliant -  like total hazelnut puree getting wafered by chocolate layers and being whipped by sweet acidic raspberry. Well wicked. For small groups like this, there is clear control over the kitchen and its output. Visually cute and marrying some cute taste combinations, would happily go back for more. And we are - April 9 sees an IWFS Wine Dinner with wines by Joseph Drouhin and sponsored by friends from AsiaEuro. See how Chef and the team deal with the full house of 52 that we will bring. Watch this space. 
Driveway to Chateau St Jean, Sonoma Valley, California USA

Wine and Dine with Chef Olivier Pistre and his team at Lafite

Goat Cheese Tortellini
Butternut Puree / Pecorino Romano / Black Truffle Emulsion

Atlantic Sea Bass
Sicilian Gamberoni / "Ratte du Touquet" Confit Potato / Slow Cooked Fennerl / Parsnip Puree / Aioli Emulsion / Thyme Brioche Crumble / Bouillabaisse Jus

Hazelnut Joy and Raspberry Sorbet
Layers of Milk Chocolate / Hazelnut in 5 different ways

NB found the menu for the January outing - notes say the walnut and grape with the egg were "genius". Also recall the Millefeuille as being hugely good. Beef was a bit bold and powerful as I recall - the jus and age and cohiba char were muy macho and felt a bit like chewing and sucking on a cigar. Which can be an acquired taste. 

Chateau St Jean winery, Sonoma Valley, California USA
63 degree Egg Parfait
Sorrel Cream / Wild Mushroom / Walnut / Pecorino Romano / Grapes / Crispy tuile "Brioche"

Slow Cooked 120 Days Aged Beef Fillet
Wood Grilled & Cohiba Smoked / Wagyu Beef Tenderloin / "Ratte de Touquet" Potato Puree / Granny Smith & Chestnut Ragout / Beef Jus

French Millefeuille Edition 2017
Caramelised Cruspy Puff Pastry / Blanc Manger / Vanilla Ice Cream / Vanilla Creme Anglaise / Vanilla Reduction

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shirax Cabernet

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