Monday, January 28, 2008

Dining with the Best

Clockwise from top left: Mandagery Creek venison with mushroom salad & smoked pomme puree; white asparagus with parmesan & onion powder; cured blue fin tuna with citrus & melon gherkin; carpaccio of local octopus with leek & marigold

Last Saturday, I was invited to dine at Eest at The Westin. If someone had told me it was going to be at Eest, I don't think I would've gone given my last experience there. However, this was no ordinary dinner. It was a wine dinner with celebrity chef from Australia - Mark Best. It says on the poster that his food is "modern French cuisine with an Asian twist". I had heard many good things from Boolicious and Lyrical Lemongrass the last time he was here (click on the respective links to read their reviews). It was rather last minute and I cursed myself for not fixing my camera. When it comes to special occasions such as these, I usually whip out my Fuji. However I am amazed by the quality of the photos that my W800i produced given the dim environment. I am so proud of my little Sony Ericsson.

If my sister hadn't been to the cooking lesson, I would not have heard about the dinner. Incidentally, she was raving on about how interesting it was and she felt it was really good value for money as they were also treated to a feast after the lesson. I would've thought they would publicise it to their advantage. After all, it can't be cheap getting a celebrity chef in. I guess a lot of people must not have heard either as the restaurant was barely half full. At RM288++ per person for a 10-course dinner with wine pairing, I am surprised people are not tripping over themselves to dine here.

To begin, chaud-froid free range egg. Hot and cold egg. The warm, runny yolk was hidden underneath creamy mousse-like egg whites. There was a hint of maple syrup and nothing else. It was such an decadent way to eat an egg. What a lovely way to start dinner! Next up, blue swimmer crab with almond jelly, gazpacho, corn custard & avruga (above) paired with Shaw & Smith sauvignon blanc. The flavours were very subtle and so delicate. The almond flavour was actually in the almost dust that surrounded the jelly. The jelly itself was reminiscent of a slab of chilled fat. Nothing wrong with that! I found the almond overpowering so I was careful to eat too much of it. I think they could've added a bit more avruga (save the sturgeons! Eat avruga/herring roe, hailed as the new caviar) to give it a little punch.

The third course was carpaccio of local octopus with leek & marigold paired with Cassegrain Stone Circle Chardonnay. Can't go wrong with sashimi. I like the contrast of crisp-fried texture of the leeks against the soft octopus. The chardonnay was lovely, crispy and perfectly chilled. Next up was cured blue fin tuna with citrus & melon gherkin paired with Cassegrain Stone Circle Merlot (I like merlots least of all the red wines). Again, it was like eating sashimi. I like the way the tiny citrus sacs burst in my mouth. There was a small trail of mayonaise which was lightly scented with orange. The melon gherkin was a nice way of balancing the salt cured tuna.

The fifth course was white asparagus with parmesan & onion powder. It was refreshingly crisp! The tendency to overcook asparagus is as sure as floods in KL. I also like the parmesan cream and onion powder. Again, very subtle. I wonder if most people would find a lot of his food bland. Especially Malaysians since we like it spicy and intense. Next up, twice cooked pigeon with pumpkin tofu, pickled onions & sesame salt paired with Cassegrain Cabernet Merlot. I've never been a fan of pigeon. So little bang for your buck. The pickled onions really lifted the dish for me. The tofu had a yogurt-like consistency and tasted faintly of pumpkin. The pigeon was too gamey for me. Thank God there was only half a mouthful from that miniscule thing.

Wrapping up the savoury courses was the Mandagery Creek venison with mushroom salad & smoked pomme puree paired with Cassegrain Reserve Shiraz (lovely, without being too spicy nor heavy for a shiraz). I'm not a big fan of venison but as far as venison goes, this was perfectly cooked but just a tad sinewy in bits. The mushroom salad was served raw and tasted woody and intense. Even with the blob of mashed potato, this dish tasted super healthy! The general concensus was that the food was very light and subtle because after 7-courses we didn't feel heavy nor sick from overindulgence.

The first of the desserts was sauternes custard. It wasn't custard like how I know it which is quite light and eggy. This had a consistency of creme brulee. Very creamy and rich with the sauternes adding nice alcoholic kick. Next up -chocolate vermicelli with lychee sorbet & yoghurt paired with Outback Chase. It was actually tagliatelle rather than vermicelli. I think it would've been nicer as vermicelli. The noodles were very chocolatey but chewy at the same time. It was a weird sensation. I guess it would be like eating really good quality chocolate dense chewing gum. I didn't really get the yoghurt thing. However, when you eat all three together, it comes together in a rather disjointed sort of way. Yes, it was as confused as I sound right now. Finally, coffee arrived with the final dessert which was a lump of chocolate salted caramel and apple jelly with lime powder each. Wow! The apple jelly, or should I say p√Ętes de fruits (fancy speak for little cubes of jam), was super sweet! I love the ones at Chef Jerome's and I love this one too. The lime powder was actually tiny particles of kaffir lime which didn't hit me right til the end. I thought the chocolate was divine! When you bight into it, sweet runny caramel floods your mouth and then the salt kicks in. Lovely! The salt neutralises the usually tooth-achingly sweet caramel. Hmmm, I wouldn't mind a box of those!

What a lovely evening! Unfortunately, his stint at Westin ended on the 27 Jan. If you ever get a chance, do attend the cooking lessons and dinner when he is here next as it is very good value for money with the wines. There was also a premier wine option which costs RM560++.

6 comments:

  1. Not bad at all. My HUbby also using that phone and I am impressed with the quality of the photo.

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  2. I'll forgo Jay Chou concert ticket for this anytime.

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  3. i will be tripping away out of the restaurant in no time bcoz of the price! hahaha..

    my my..ur hp n my hp almost the same wat..y mine so crap ar..

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  4. Not bad hor?! Maybe I don't need to upgrade to a cybershot phone after all. Hmmmm...

    Simon, haha I'm sure Mark Best will be very flattered.

    Ah, Joe my young padawan, it is not the light saber but the jedi that wields its true power. ahhhh now you know...

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  5. Your pics are certainly better than mine for the Mark Best post. Oh well, you win some you lose some.

    I can still remember the chaud froid egg from last year. It was so good! Well, everything was good. hehe.

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  6. Happy Chinese New Year, Paprika!

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