Saturday, 28 April 2012

Michel Sarran - World Gourmet Summit Dinner, 28 April 2012

I must admit I had misgivings about attending this "Epicurean Delights" dinner with Michel Sarran, chef and co-owner of the two-Michelin starred Restaurant Michel Sarran in Toulouse.  Firstly, I tend to be wary of visiting chefs doing food festivals, on the basis that they end up cooking in unfamiliar kitchens with an unfamiliar kitchen team whose members are unfamiliar with the chef’s food.  Secondly, he was being hosted in My Humble House, a Chinese restaurant.  Thirdly, I found out that Sarran only arrived yesterday from France, meaning he was probably suffering a mean case of jetlag – hardly conducive to churning out precise, star-worthy French food.

Chef Michel Sarran
Well, put all of those worries out of your mind, because Sarran is here for real and he means business. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Australia's Most Expensive Wine

I had a remarkable dinner last week at Au Jardin in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, at which the following wines were served:

·         1999 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet;
·         2001 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin-Clos de Bèze;
·         2007 Parawa Estate Ingalalla Grand Reserve; and
·         1982 Château Trotanoy.

Can you spot the odd one out?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

db Bistro Moderne: Mondays in Alsace

On Mondays, db Bistro Moderne at Marina Bay Sands runs an Alsace dinner set menu.  While I’m not normally tempted by the it’s-early-in-the-week-so-let’s-do-a-special-to-draw-the-guests kind of menu, two things tipped the balance for me. 

Firstly, they offered a pairing with Hugel wines, to which I am rather partial (see here and here).  Secondly, db Bistro’s executive chef Stephane Istel is a native of Alsace, more precisely Irmstett, a small town 20km west of Strasbourg.  Istel is no mug, having worked with Daniel Boulud for seven years, including 18 months as a senior sous at New York’s now three-starred Restaurant Daniel and leading db Bistro Vancouver’s opening team.  When a chef of his calibre is given the chance to cook the food of his region and his childhood, it’s probably going to be pretty darned good.

(L to R): Pierre Paillard Champagne, 2010 Hugel Gentil, Riesling and Gewurztraminer Classic

Friday, 6 April 2012

A Winemaking Holiday in Burgundy (Part 2)

The door creaks open.  “Bonjour”, I smiled warmly at the old man, “Ludovic est içi?”  This gentleman, who we later learned was Ludo’s father Jean, mumbled something unintelligible, closed the door and walked back inside.  Through the glass frontage, I saw him pick up the phone.

Domaine Ludovic Belin - Home for the Next Week
Just to provide a little context, Pernand-Vergelesses, population 269, is a little medieval village 10 minutes’ drive north of Beaune.  It’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else, who’s sleeping with whose wife and what you had for dinner last night.  When you travel, all you need to write on your baggage tag is, “Jean Belin, Pernand-Vergelesses”.  No house number, no street name, no phone number.  If the local postal delivery guy doesn’t know where to return Jean Belin’s lost suitcase, he would be sacked on the spot.  Except, of course, that he’s a French public servant.

So you can imagine Jean’s trepidation when the tired, Chinese-looking strangers knocked on his door asking where his son was.  I just hoped he wasn’t calling the police.

Pamplemousse - One of the Best

A Maundy Thursday dinner at Pamplemousse confirmed what I have suspected for quite a while: Adrian Ling is one of the most talented cooks in Singapore today.

I first discovered this unassuming “bistro” in November last year, over two years since it bravely opened its doors in the dog-days of the GFC.  Just a little bit of background for those unfamiliar with Pamplemousse, Ling is a former commodities trader who decided to pursue his passion for food and cooking, training first at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa before working for a string of rather famous chefs and establishments in Singapore.  I won’t mention them because to do so would be a disservice to Ling.  While littered with innumerable reference points, his is a cuisine sui generis.  Which would not matter to me at all except that it also happens to be bloody delicious.

I have since returned thrice, making it a point to try new dishes on each occasion.  Tonight was going to be no different.  Cleo Chiang, Adrian’s partner in life and business, tells me they’ve just revamped the menu, abandoning the old prix fixe three-course concept in favour of a la carte and introducing a slew of new items.  After a quick discussion, Emily and I drafted a selection of rookie dishes.  And if there is any justice, these rookies will soon be making a big splash, the Ling-sanity of the Singapore restaurant world.