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A couple weeks ago I participated in a pretty special gastronomical event – the Martell Tricentenaire Gala Dinner at Genting Highland. I think it is safe to say that having a product on the market for 300 years is an amazing feat.

Martell Tricentenaire Gala Dinner, Genting Highland
Martell Tricentenaire Gala Dinner, Genting Highland

When the house of Martell was founded in 1715, the Ottoman Empire still exists, United States as a country has yet to be formed for another 60 years, and KangXi emperor was ruling China (there’s a joke that goes “which Chinese emporer is blind?”). Who would have thought that the same product still exists after a dozen generations later?

Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell Cordon Bleu 1912, Martell XO
Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell Cordon Bleu 1912, Martell XO

To celebrate this occasion, Martell hosted a grand gala dinner at Genting International Convention Centre, and I was very lucky to be among the invitees. The gala dinner drew from the tradition of Jean Martell, the creator of this fine cognac 300 years ago, who loved to host his friends at Chateau de Chanteloup, purchased by the Martell family to receive prestigious personalities from around the world.

As a celebration of the art of gastronomy, Martell arranged for Elegantology to prepare food. I’ve sampled their food on a previous occasion before, so you could say that I have some high expectations.

Citrus Infused King Prawn & Salmon Tartare
Citrus Infused King Prawn & Salmon Tartare

We started the night with Citrus Infused King Prawn and Salmon Tartare. The dish came with poached king prawns on skewer with avocado, and marinated salmon tartare & a side of yee sang to keep honor the Malaysian Chinese New Year tradition of “Lou Sang” (which was done on stage as well). We paired the starter with Martell Cordon Bleu.

Black Chicken Ginseng Soup with Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Scallops, and Fish Maw
Black Chicken Ginseng Soup with Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Scallops, Fish Maw

The second dish was not on the menu, but turned out to be our favorite of the night. A luxurious black chicken ginseng soup that is laden with abalone, sea cucumber, scallops, fish maw, and mushroom.

It was one of the best double boiled soup I’ve ever had, I would place it even higher than the one from Elegant Inn, which I really liked. It was complex, sweet, and yet not overly thick or complicated. If I can have one soup for the rest of my life, it’ll be a toss up between this and the best of what bak kut teh can offer.

Peppercorn Marinated Smoked Duck & Foie Gras Terrine
Peppercorn Marinated Smoked Duck & Foie Gras Terrine
Sea Bass, Steamed on Rich and Spicy Broth Infused with Tumeric & Egg

Continuing with the European theme, we then had peppercorn marinated smoked duck & foie gras terrine served on onion confit and raspberry vinaigrette. Smoked duck did not disappoint, but I had wished that they would serve foie gras as is instead of in the form of terrine. Then again, if you have to prepare food for some 1000 people, I suppose getting perfectly seared foie gras and served while hot may be a tall order.

Next up was steamed sea bass on rich and spicy broth infused with turmeric and egg white on asparagus. We paired this seafood with Martell Cordon Bleu 1912, a special re-edition of the classic cognac Martell Cordon Bleu, originally created by Edouard Martell in 1912.

The spicy broth gave the dish a hint of South Asian style, which is just as well since a slice of pita bread is served along side with the fish. Quite a bold play, and I think it worked.

Mediterranean Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb
Mediterranean Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb

Mediterranean Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb was our main dish – oven baked lamb with a medley of braised rice cake, cep mushroom essence and truffle. The lamb went really well with Martell XO, as with any perfectly prepared red meat would.

The herbal crust gave the lamb a bit of texture and character, while the truffle infused sauce made it richer, thus perfect for XO as a companion.

Ashley, KY, Haze, Garick, Sam, Michael
Ashley, KY, Haze, Garick, Sam, Michael

We did not stay for dessert as we had something planned early in next morning. The gala dinner, like other Martell gastronomy events I had the privilege to attend, was grand and impressive. I want to thank Angie for the invitation, until next time!

Right after participating as a guest speaker at “A Food Biz Workshop” a week ago where I found out that some 80% food business fails within the first two years of operation, I got to attend an event hosted by one that represents the other extreme end – the Martell Pure Gourmet event by the brand that has been in existence since 1715.

Yeap, that’s just a year shy of 300, with perhaps one of the oldest single product, the Martell VSOP being in the market since 1831.

Martell is celebrating 300 years anniversary in 2015
Martell is celebrating 300 years anniversary in 2015

While last year’s dinner was hosted at JW Marriott, Martell chose the Grand Imperial Chinese restaurant at Hartamas Shopping Centre for this year’s annual Pure Gourmet. I was very delighted and honoured to be invited to this year’s dinner again after having had a very good experience last year.

I was surprised that Malaysia actually happened to be the 2nd largest market in the world for Martell after China, and I guess this is partly due to the way we consume cognac, which, fortunately or not, was in full display during the dinner with many happily cheering each other “Happy Birthday to You” while emptying their glasses as the night went on.

P/S: It wasn’t anyone’s birthday, but we had a lot of fun.

sze chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear & deep fried scallop
Sze Chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear & deep fried scallop

Anyway, pure gourmet is about the blend of exquisite ingredients, skills, and passion in the creation of inspiring dishes, as with how each bottle of Martell cognac is created, so lets get on with the dinner.

We started out with chilled Sze Chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear accompanied deep fried scallop wrapped with German vermicelli rice noodle. A pretty descriptive dish and one that has several characters all rolled into one.

The jelly fish and pigs ear with the softer texture and a more complex taste, and deep fried scallop an explosion of seafood sweetness beneath the the crispy and rawer tasting vermicelli. This was paired with Martell V.S.O.P.

baked king prawn with cheese, paired with Martell Cordon Bleu
baked king prawn with cheese, paired with Martell Cordon Bleu

Next up was a relatively unpretentious baked water king prawn with cheese to go with the very recognizable Martell Cordon Bleu, perhaps the gold standard of cognac.

The execution of the prawn was on the dot, I really dug into the head and savour the juices out of this. Though this is probably the only dish I could come close to replicating at home, it was also one of my favorites.

deep fried airflown  Japanese Ayor fish with lemon
deep fried air flown  Japanese Ayor fish with lemon

Third dish of the night was deep fried air flown Japanese Ayor fish with lemon (also known as Ayu fish).

Found in the rivers and lakes around Hokkaido, this fresh water fish is famous for the sweetness of its flesh, which was brought out to its fullest potential when paired with Martell Cordon Bleu.

pan fried lamb cutlet with chef's special sauce, paired with Martell XO
pan fried lamb cutlet with chef’s special sauce, paired with Martell XO

Following the fish, we had the pan fried lamb cutlet with Chef’s special sauce to go with Martell XO.

Perhaps I was more accustomed to Western style of lamb cutlet preparation, it took a while to appreciate the more traditional Chinese preparation method of the red meat that is inherently more cooked. In this instance, the sauce takes center stage with the meat playing supporting role.

braised spaghetti with sliced abalone, black truffle n mushroom, Martell Chanteloup Perspective
braised spaghetti w/ sliced abalone, black truffle & mushroom, Martell Chanteloup Perspective

Last dish before dessert was the braised spaghetti with sliced abalone, black truffle and mushroom. The hint of black truffle went well with abalone, and the fine angel hair spaghetti was the right choice to soak up the flavour. We just wished that it was a whole abalone instead (who doesn’t?).

The aroma and elegance of Martell Chanteloup Perspective complimented the dish perfectly.

Grand Imperial special dessert paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra
Grand Imperial special dessert paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra

Finally, we end the dinner with a host of three desserts prepared by Grand Imperial and had the pleasure to pair them with Martell Creation Grand Extra, the silky smooth and yet very powerful tasting cognac. A unique taste to end a pretty unique and special dinner.

and we were cheering to each other "happy birthday to you".. yes, it's a "trend"
and we were cheering to each other “happy birthday to you”.. yes, it’s a “trend”

A big thank you to Siew Kheng for the invitation, and hopefully we’ll have the privilege to be a part of this again next year!

map to Hartamas Shopping Centre

Address:
Grand Imperial
Lot F33 – F35, First Floor,
Hartamas Shopping Centre
No. 60, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1,
Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.163480, 101.656136
Tel03-6201 9777

Late last month, Haze and I were invited to one of the most prestigious gastronomy event we’ve ever attended – the sixth Martell Pure Gourmet event, held at JW Marriott KL.

Martell Pure Gourmet 2013, at Marriott KL
Martell Pure Gourmet 2013, at Marriott KL, some limited edition bottles & glasses

Martell Pure Gourmet features ingredient led cuisine paired with Martell cognacs.

With cutting edge culinary techniques and using only the finest quality produce that enhance the overall flavor as well as texture of a dish, the dinner series embodies the method of cooking inspired by Martell’s creation of its cognac.

Martell infused cocktails and some interesting pre-dinner bits
Martell infused cocktails and some interesting pre-dinner bits

Chef Ryan Clift from the world acclaimed Tippling Club in Singapore showcased his cutting edge culinary techniques in the bespoke menu specially prepared for this event.

the beautifully decorated dining hall at Marriott KL for Martell Pure Gourmet
the beautifully decorated dining hall at Marriott KL for Martell Pure Gourmet

Before the start of the main event, we were treated with a variety of pre-dinner nibbles such as white truffle foam, soup in test tubes, and other tiny one-spoon full dishes involving tofu, foie gras, truffle, and more.

There was also a bar serving four different variations of Martell cocktails to set the mood.

Ocean Trout, Apple Puree & Sorbet, Horseradish, Bronze Fennel and Dill Flowers
Ocean Trout, Apple Puree & Sorbet, Horseradish, with Martell Cordon Bleu

First dish of the night was ocean trout, apple puree & sorbet, horseradish, bronze fennel and dill flowers. According to the chef, only 4 person (at least one of which is his friend) are awarded the permit to fish these trouts from certain part of New Zealand.

The preparation fish was exquisite, and while combination of apple puree & sorbet with seafood takes a little getting used to, it was quite a marvellous combination. The rich aromas of Martell Cordon Bleu accompanied the dish.

The technique used here was salt curing and enzyme separation in preparation of the fish.

Carrot Gnocchi, Ginger Flower and Carrot Broth; Martell Cordon Bleu
Carrot Gnocchi, Ginger Flower and Carrot Broth; Martell Cordon Bleu

Second course was pure vegetarian – carrot gnocchi, ginger flower and carrot broth with pistachio and wild stems of fragrant herbs. Vacuum distillation technique is employed, resulting in a very soft and tender texture of carrot that has about the same consistency of very well boiled potato boiled.

The end result is an adventure in the different texture the dish provides. We continued with Martell Cordon Bleu as the cognac of choice for this dish.

Foie Gras Coulant with Spiced Wine, Cherry, Cocoa & Spices; Martell XO
Foie Gras Coulant with Spiced Wine, Cherry, Cocoa & Spices; Martell XO

The third course called for Martell XO to be paired with foie gras coulant with wine, cherry, cocoa & spices.

The technique used here is one that I’ve never heard of – sound homogenization. It is a process to reduce small particles in a liquid so that they become uniformly small and evenly distributed, which resulted in a foie gras dish that has almost the consistency closer to that of desserts, but at the same time carrying a taste that is unmistakably foie gras.

A very interesting experience, the XO with its dominant characteristic of Grande and Petite Champagne worked well with this stronger tasting dish.

Venison with Black Turtle Beans, Dashi Emulsion and Black Radish; Martell Creation Grand Extra
Venison with Black Turtle Beans; Martell Creation Grand Extra

Forth course called for red meat that came in the form of venison with black turtle beans, dashi emulsion and black radish. Low temperature cooking technique is employed here to achieve a very tender texture of the meat while not having to scorch any part of it.

Martell Creation Grand Extra was chosen as the cognac to pair with this dish. The roasted aroma with a hint of bitterness goes well with the red meat.

By the way, the venison is sourced from deer that’s hunted in the wild using helicopter. As chef explained that there’s a believe that if the animal didn’t see it coming, it tastes better than those that has to go through the slaughterhouse.

Textures of Milk; Martell Chanteloup Perspective
Textures of Milk; Martell Chanteloup Perspective

The 5th course – texture of milk, was perhaps the most simplistic looking dish, but one that is hardest to prepare. Using the technique of dehydration & nitrogen, Chef Ryan Clift manage to prepare a meringue that comprises of nothing but milk alone. It was very interesting and absolutely wonderful.

Martell Chantelop Perspective, classed in the Extra category, with eaux-de-vie that may be aged for up to 50 years, provided the perfect ending to this most excellent meal.

The good chef also created “tiramisu capsules” as an additional dessert to go with coffee and cognac as an additional final item for us. Most interesting, I want to have this on my computer desk!

Haze, KY, Lex & Weizhi from kampungboycitygal
Haze, KY, Lex & Weizhi from kampungboycitygal.com

Martell Pure Gourmet dinner proved to be a gastronomical experience unlike any I’ve experienced before, I want to thank the good people from Martell for the invitation, and hopefully my name is on the list again for next year. 😀

A couple weeks ago I was invited to the Patrón XO Café and and Patrón Silver launch at Ritz Carlton Penthouse. Now I’ve been to Ritz Carlton quite a few times, but the penthouse on the 27th floor is quite something else. The suite has three bedrooms, a magnificent hall, and even an open air swimming pool on the 3rd level, quite a charming place for sure.

Patrón XO Café and Silver at Ritz Carlton
Patrón XO Café and Silver at Ritz Carlton

My very first time tasting Patrón tequila was actually at Frontera, where the owner Larry swore that this was one of the best tequilas you can get. Made with 100% agave plant, this is the real thing, it is smooth, clear, and if you drink it neat, not watering it down with mixers. Adding salt or lemon with the shot would be seen as an insult to the liquor too.

If you think tequilas are nasty (which many do due to the usually poor quality of tequila we get here), give Patrón a try and I’m sure you might start to think otherwise.

tapas prepared by Chef Carmela de Ponte
tapas prepared by Chef Carmela de Ponte

The drinks were served with some fantastic finger foods prepared by Chef Carmela de Ponte, who is of course, from Mexico.

we were obviously having a good time
we were obviously having a good time – Ciki, BangsarBabe, Haze

While Patrón Silver was smooth as it gets, I actually prefer Patrón XO Cafe, simply the best coffee liquor I’ve tasted. It too was smooth, and has a distinct coffee taste that isn’t overpowered by its sweetness. The XO Cafe has 70 proof, a higher content than most coffee liqueur.

Patrón XO Café and and Patrón Silver
Patrón XO Café and and Patrón Silver

It was a great night throughout, good company, great drinks, but that is to be expected from a brand has its products sold in hand-blown, individually numbered bottles

Early last month boo of masak-masak called me up for a year end dinner with a few other food bloggers at Favola. As it turned out, it was a food review session at the new Italian outlet of Le Meridien KL. Thank goodness I had my newly acquired S90 handy with me.


the capable chef Antoine at Favola

The restaurant has a very cheerful mood with its spacious tables, comfortable chairs, and light music further compounded by a very jolly chef Antoine who loves to mingle with diners. Meena, Ciki, and Fatboybakes were among the bloggers who were there.

Like most proper Italian restaurants, we started off with some lovely breads. Other than the standard olive oil with balsamic vinegar, there were guacamole and the very flavorful potato truffle dips. I had to stop myself from eating more of these to save some stomach space, but if you’re on a shoe string budget…


cold (freddo) antipasti, bread with potato truffle dip, and crispy pizza dough

There’s a pretty good selection of antipasti available at Fivola. We had the sampler of five antipasti (RM 35) which had the following:

  • octopus – with garlic and chili flakes
  • caprese – buffalo mozzarella, tomato, basil, anchovies, garlic confit and oregano
  • bresaola – shaved dried beef with rocket salad, figs, lemon and olive oil
  • bruschetta – cured salmon, portobello mushrooms
  • seafood salad – garlic, chili-olive oil, lemon juice and italian parsley

Of course, the descriptions and names were copied from the menu as there was no way I could remember all of them. I particularly like the beef as well as the octopus, they were tasty and had a nice texture to it too. This was sorta parellel to the old Chinese cold dish, I think.


warm (caldo) antipasti, Conchiglioni Marinara al Cartoccio

Warm antipasti came next, and we had these little curry puff look alike items that were made with pizza dough calledpanzerotti. They were filled with marinated mushroom, mozzarella and grilled bell pepper and makes perfect beer snacks.

We also had cod fritters, but my favorite has got to be the sardines. Unlike the canned version we’re familiar with, the sardine’s sauteed with onions, raisins, pine nuts, and bell pepper to a crispy texture. They were absolutely delicious.

For pasta, we had the conchiglioni marinara al cartoccio (RM 40), in laymen’s term – shell shaped pasta with seafood, extra virgin olive oil, herbs, and tomato sauce. I’m not a huge fan of conchiglioni, but this tasted pretty good.


lobster risotto, roasted lamb shoulder, wagyu beef lasagna, veal osso bucco

They were quite a few main dishes to share among us. For a taste of luxury, we had the risotto con argosta (lobster risotto, RM 45) and lasagna al forno (wagyu cheek lasagna, RM 40) and both dishes didn’t disappoint the ingredients used. The lasagna was especially the yums, Garfield would have approved.

The two veal dishes – veal escalope (one pan seared, one coated with bread crumbs, RM 60) and veal osso bucco (RM 70). They were decent, but to be frank I’m not a huge fan of veal and would probably opt for something else (the lasagna for example) if I had to choose. I prefer the pan seared veal and could give a pass to the bread crumb preparation method though.


veal osso bucco, scallop with cauliflower, mussels with chicken, veal escalope “due modi”

Another two antipasti dishes we had (in full serving instead of sampler) were roasted scallops (RM 20) and fresh mussels (RM 20). The scallops came on a bed of cauliflower and truffles and were absolutely delightful. The mussels had minced chicken stuffing, garlic and tomato sauce. I am quite sure suan would have loved to have this, they were quire good too.

The roasted lamb shoulder (RM 50) was the other meat dish we had. I remember it to be quite rich but couldn’t really recall much otherwise. I think my stomach was already over stuffed at this point.


panna cotta, fruitti di miso, illy coffee inspired tiramisu

Then of course, there were desserts. Illy coffee inspired tiramisu (RM 20) was nice, and the fruitti di miso (ricotta cream and mixed red berries RM 20) gives a jolt to the senses after the heavy meal. However, the panna cotta (RM 20) had to be the recommended choice – almond custard cream, minestrone of fruit sugar veil and orange wafer might not mean anything to me, but it was very delightful. The contrasting tastes of custard with the berries and sugar was just perfect.


Meena, KY, and ciki; potent Grappa

To finish off the dinner, we ordered some grappa, basically grape based pomace brandy (or distilled wine) with alcohol content as high as 60%. These drinks cost anything from RM 20 (Grappa Limonico) to RM 50 (Alexandar Red Rose Grappa). The red rose grappa was quite good, but I can’t say I’d be able to justify the price for it though.

The Grappa Platinum (RM 40) was especially nasty and left a grimace to anyone who’d tasted it. Perhaps it was an acquired taste, I don’t know, and probably wouldn’t ever order this particular type of drinks anytime soon.

By the time we wrapped up, it was already 11pm. I think I still felt full when I woke up the next morning. It was definitely a nice session and Fivola would make a pretty good place if you’re looking for some authentic Italian food. The ambiance is good, the food did not disappoint, and the price is fair too.

Address:
Favola
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7753