I was brought up in a household where the men were treated like demi gods; my father couldn’t even boil water or make a drink for himself. I swore to myself that my boys would not be like that. That they would be just as …
Month: December 2019
A rare whisky; a chef’s inspiration; specially sourced homegrown ingredients laid out for a night of culinary exploration.
Such was the dinner affair mapped out by Johnny Walker Blue Label recently, heralding the collaboration with chef James Won who designed a “discover rarity” culinary journey. The specially crafted four-course menu, paired with the highly sought-after Blue Label at Enfin by James Won in Kuala Lumpur, brought diners to further depths of enjoyment while appreciating the unique character of the whisky.
The Blue Label is generally described as having a dash of raisin sweetness on the nose, with notes of almond, slight bitter aftertaste of herbs, richness of dark chocolate and wispy tobacco on the palate, ending with a long finish.
According to chef Won, the general attributes of the Blue Label struck him as definitive and masculine, and so, to give a balance of flavours, he focused instead on the softer, feminine side of the brew.
Many of the ingredients he used championed social enterprise, with due respect to the environment. From the Long Semadoh settlement in the Lawas division of Sarawak to the interiors of Pahang, you get Borneo Heirloom rice grain and Semai cocoa, and there’s also Job’s Tears from Sarawak.
“For example, the dessert is based on single origin cocoa, obtained from Semai orang asli plantations, which gives a different degree of sweetness to the chocolate.
“You get different textures, aroma and a different sort of sweetness,” he described, adding that he always manages to find something new and different about the Blue Label each time he drinks it, and it is these little nuances that have inspired him to come up with his menu that highlighted notes of sweetness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness.
To kick off the night’s dinner, amuse bouche was an interesting trio of Nigiri that was aloe vera stretched over Borneo heirloom rice, prized for its light and chewy texture, beautiful colour and exceptional fragrance, dotted with tropical sturgeon caviar on top, which effectively tasted like a very healthy sushi; a recreation of the egg with parmesan tofu and sea urchin for the yolk – unusual but not too jarring on the palate; and a tartlet consisting of scallop chip, hazelnut and creme fraiche that easily disappeared in a pop.
The entre was all about texture play – briny and buttery Malaysian Tropical Amur sturgeon caviar, with daikon (Japanese radish) and kombu dashi (kelp) puree and brioche.
It’s not a well-known fact, but Malaysian caviar harvested by T’lur Caviar, is quite highly rated in the world. Hopefully, its source stays a best-kept secret, known only to discerning chefs and connoisseurs who appreciate its quality, otherwise once it’s openly thrown out there, before you can say fish eggs, it’ll be over-fished and gone!
There was also roasted Hokkaido scallop and yam bean puree, which slithered down the throat smoothly, leaving one surprised and trying to decipher the subtle flavours. The scallop was torched on one side and kept raw on the other. It was a novel way to experience scallop for sure, though I’m not quite convinced about the icy jalapeno granita. Me thinks the cold, icy tart contrast was probably meant to be a palate cleanser, except that it came with the scallops so everyone was a bit thrown off by the duo!
When chef announced the main course, he said that it was akin to fatty pork, so to expect the rich Omega 3 oils to subtly coat and and lubricate the protein.
The Malaysian sturgeon fish truffle meumere with sturgeon skin collagen sounded like it would plump up my skin immediately, given its unctuous description. It came sitting on a shallow pond of rice kouji, Bario wine sauce and exotic mushroom. It was a pretty solid block of protein, and the wine sauce provided a unique creaminess for a balanced flavour.
I always tell myself that I won’t eat dessert, but chocolate is pretty hard to resist, and especially since it’s Semai single origin cocoa mousse, Johnny Walker Blue savoiardi with Batang Kali single origin cocoa coated Job’s Tear’s, an ingredient which chef Won was using for the first time. Known as Dale Kerukub locally, it is a native heirloom grain cultivated for generations by the Lun Bawang community.
What I liked about it was that the sweetness wasn’t paralysing as some desserts are, and the avant garde plating dressed it up perfectly.
At the end, it wasn’t really the end, because there was plenty of Blue Label to keep the party going!
Thank you, Johnny Walker, for a chance to discover rarity!
The Discover Rarity degustation menu by Johnnie Walker Blue Label is available at enfin by James Won from January 1 to March 31, 2020, at RM688++ and additional RM268++ for pairing with Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
Any excuse to party, really, and Guinness’ Flavour by Fire Festival at Gasket Alley, PJ over the weekend was precisely that! But no one’s complaining as who doesn’t love a cookout, and especially if it’s a big time outdoor-sy barbecue with Guinness to quench our …
Wolf Blass began as a humble tin shed in Barossa Valley in 1966 to become one of the world’s most successful and awarded wine brands. With more than 10,000 awards received at national and international wine shows, Wolf Blass continuously strives to produce wines of …
Yes, you read right! Wolf Blass had a masterclass for a group of media members serving meatballs with its Gold Label wines!
The key element that stood out in the taste test was the distinctively different sauces used to coat the meatballs – Taiwanese basil vinaigrette, chu hou (Cantonese beef stew), masala and curry – prepared by chef Gary Anwar from Ember Modern Bistro, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.
This was based on four flavours created by Executive Chef Manjunath Mural from Song of India (Singapore), Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn from Le Du (Thailand), Chef Lam Ming Kin from Longtail (Taiwan) and Chef He Hong Ping from Da San Yuan (Taiwan), who came up with the complementary sauces after tasting the Gold Label Shiraz, Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon and Gold Label Chardonnay.
According to Wolf Blass brand ambassador Sam Stephens, Wolf Blass is taking a different lead in its ‘Find your Flavour’ campaign in partnership with Michelin Guide.
This is because dining experiences in Southeast Asia indicate that Wolf Blass wines are more complementary with local cuisines through their sauces, due to differences in preparation methods, ingredients and consumption style, rather than the proteins served.
With these curated sauces as the basis for wine pairing, Wolf Blass reinvents food and wine pairing rules and challenges consumers to look beyond the usual meat indicator, especially when it comes to Asian food.
“Experimenting with sauces is very exciting as there is such a diversity of flavours. This brings a new dimension to the traditional food and wine guides. Taste is really open to interpretation so there is no right or wrong way to pair food with wine, it’s about what works for you,” said Stephens.
“For instance, I love the Gold Label Chardonnay with the vinaigrette as it brings out the fresh green apple flavours and elegant expression of the wine.”
Personally, that was my top choice among the four different pairings too, but there were many varying opinions as well as some loved the complexities of the masala or curry paired with the Shiraz. Chu hou attracted the most diverse reactions as some really liked the sauce with the Cabernet Sauvignon while others felt it didn’t go with any of the wines at all!
A dedicated microsite (https://wolfblassFYF.com/) was also launched to help consumers explore the different tasting notes of Wolf Blass wines to match regularly consumed sauces. A series of videos featuring the partner chefs and their sauces is available across various digital and social platforms. Through this bespoke content, via multiple touchpoints, Wolf Blass hopes consumers will change their perceptions of wine with Asian food. ‘Find Your Flavour’ will be rolled out in phases from now until June 2020.