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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / chardonnay

Previously under the Jacob’s Creek portfolio, St. Hugo Wine now stepped out from the shadow and stake its claim as a stand-alone brand, we were invited to the coming-out party held at Las Carretas, USJ.

During the event, we got to sample wines from St. Hugo as well as Jocob’s Creek and Wyndham Estate.

St. Hugo Wine at Las Carretas, USJ Taipan
St. Hugo Wine at Las Carretas, USJ Taipan

Incidentally, I last went to Las Carretas at USJ a little more than 8 years ago. It was the first proper Mexican restaurant I’ve visited in Klang Valley, and I believe I actually had my first taste of margarita there.

I am glad that the restaurant still thrives, and now even spots a branch at Ampang.

Steve Meckiff, Global Wine Ambassador at Pernod Ricard Winemakers
Steve Meckiff, Global Wine Ambassador at Pernod Ricard Winemakers

Our night started out with a variety of appetizer, including mille feuille of tuna spread, baked tartlet of Emmental cheese, and cream puffs. The bite size snacks were good, especially when you had Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir  to wash them down. I like the sparkly’s crisp finish and citrus flavour.

Steve Meckiff, the global wine ambassador at Pernod Ricard Winemakers, then told us about the story of St. Hugo wines, and how it rose to prominence for a brand that started in 1983, relatively young for this industry.

baked Norwegian salmon with George Wyndham Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012
baked Norwegian salmon with George Wyndham Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Our first course was baked Norwegian salmon presented on a robust lemon butter sauce. The fish is paired with George Wyndham Semillon Sauvignon Blanc – 2012.

I’ve always like semillon sauvignon blanc, with semillon giving it that extra fruity taste that goes very well with fish or poultry. The pairing is definitely spot on and  very easy to drink. The fish was expertly prepared and not overly baked either, almost as good as those prepared sous-vide.

crab meat chowder and a sorbet as palate cleanser
crab meat chowder and a sorbet as palate cleanser

Next we had crab meat chowder with Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2012. The chowder simmered in root vegetable and thickened with Idaho potatoes with a hint of aged cherry. I’m not so sure about the cherry part but the chowder was most excellent, something that I can have for breakfast at least twice a week.

The chardonnay has attractive aroma that pairs well with the chowder.

slow cooked grass-fed Australian lamb rack, St Hugo Barossa Shiraz
slow cooked grass-fed Australian lamb rack, St Hugo Barossa Shiraz

Our main course was the slow cooked grass-fed Australian lamb rack, presented with on a ginger and thyme infused sauce that was so irresistible. We tried the St. Hugo Barossa Shiraz 2010 as well as the St. Hugo Connawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 to go with the red meat.

I like the Shiraz with the slightly spicier note, while the Cabernet Sauvignon will suit those who enjoys elegant fruit characters, toasty oak and long, fine tannins. You can’t go wrong either way.

KY, Latha, Evelyn, Dennis, and Steve Meckiff
KY, Latha, Evelyn, Dennis, and Steve Meckiff

It was certainly a most enjoyable wine and dine session, thanks to the good people at Millennium Associates and Pernod Ricard for the invitation. You can find St. Hugo’s wine at major wine retailers.

map to Las Carretas at USJ Taipan

Address:
Las Carretas
No 29 USJ 10/1F
47620 Subang UEP
Selangor

GPS: 3.047943, 101.583163
Tel: 03-5637 3058

Nook at Aloft KL is a pretty funky all-day dining restaurant that serves international and Asian cuisine.

The restaurant set up reminds me of those futuristic movies back in the 80s, little squarish pods that has a bench, chairs, and even come complete with artificial turf. Among the three Starwood hotels at KL Sentral area, this one is definitely the most hip.

Nook at Aloft, playful & hip
Nook at Aloft, playful & hip

Earlier this month, together with a couple other reviewers, we were invited to sample the MIGF (Malaysian International Gourmet Festival) menu at Nook.

MIGF is about bringing the best out of the world class chefs who are already working at the restaurant (instead of one off “import” from overseas). It is about paying a little extra to get a more pleasant fine dining experience with quality ingredients and first class service.

At Nook, Chef Steven Seow flexes his creative mind and came up with this very interesting set of dishes. The festival runs throughout the entire October, 2013 (yes, this blog post is way late.)

smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ
smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ

The starting dish is smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere. A two part dish that is served with the soya sauce on the little plastic drip thingy.

The sushi rice is coated with a fine layer of ebiko, and the scallop prepared with method inspired  by umai (a traditional Sarawakian seafood preparation method, I had it over Mabul/Sipadan trip thanks to Irene). Duck confit with yogurt sphere provided a different texture and savoury taste, I particularly liked the bit of fried duck skin on top.

We had Villa Maria Chardonnay from New Zealand to start the dinner. Lovely pairing.

Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde
Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde

Next up was the Sarawak lobster & abalone laksa with organic soba noodle. This was a dish unlike any I’ve tried, a sort of traditional hawker dish meet fine dining.

The soup is sourced all the way from Sarawak to ensure that it was authentic and just right. Lobster and abalone definitely provided a huge dose of luxury to this dish, and I thought the use of soba noodle was a clever touch to lighten up the dish a little bit too. Some of us asked for extra soup cos it was so delicious!

A glass of cold Leffe Blonde went well with this spicy dish.

p/s: the hawker version at Bangsar is one of my favourites.

wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia
wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia

Continuing with the same philosophy, the next dish was Wagyu beef cheek rendang with farm vegetables, archar jelatah, and turmeric coconut rice.

Last I had something similar to this dish was the big lunch box at EEST, Westin back in 2009, and this definitely brought back the memory. The beef cheek was superb and as per Wagyu standard, super tender and flavourful. The turmeric coconut rice carries a nice and not overly strong fragrance, with two quails egg sitting on top of some sambal should you want to spice it up a bit.

Red goes well with beef, so we had Madfish Chiraz from Australia to wash down the meat.

Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang
Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang

Concluding the dinner was another playful invention by Chef Steven Seow – the 8 treasure ice kacang. Basically shaved ice with 8 different ingredients such as lychee, blackberries, nangka, peanuts and so forth with 5 different syrup served on the side in syringes. Mix and match it the way you want and be responsible if you ruined your own dessert.

We had fun with this but my advice is to mix it up quick cos the ice tends to melt and create a hardened outer layer if you spend too much time taking photos.

me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL
me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL

The menu is priced at RM 280+ per set for what you see here. The version without alcohol is RM 180+ per person, and for those with smaller stomach, you can go light for RM 160+, which exclude the wagyu dish but does come with a glass of Chardonnay. Every set comes with coffee or tea too.

I’d want to check out Nook’s normal menu too.

Aloft KL map

Address:
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.13295, 101.68619
Tel: 03 2723 1188

Several weeks ago I was invited to a wine tasting event by Cape Mentelle at Neo Tamarind in KL. This was my second time to Neo Tamarind and my very first time trying Cape Mentelle wines. The invitation promises a great night of food and drinks, and delivered them magnificently.

Cape Mentelle wine and food pairing at Neo Tamarind, KL
Cape Mentelle wine and food pairing at Neo Tamarind, KL

Cape Mentelle is one of Margaret River’s ‘founding five’ wineries, and pioneered many of the region’s wine styles. The brand is a benchmark for the quality of wines from Margaret River, or in short, if you aren’t exactly well versed in wines but want to make sure you get something that’s appropriate for gifts for a party, this would be a good choice.

For the night, we were presented five wines from Cape Mentelle’s collections – Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012, Chardonnay 2011, Cabernet Merlot 2010, Shiraz 2011, and Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 in that order.

this is how you do pre-dinner correctly, with finger foods & wine
prior to dinner, finger foods & Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012

We started off with Sauvignon Blanc Semillon as apéritif and there were several canapes to go around. Black ink risotto with salmon roe, deep fried crisp calamari cajun, spicy sauce Angus beef, tataki with chili roasted rice, and tomato bruschetta. I think I had 2-3 servings of those Angus beef.

The Semillon was sweet and proved to be fitting as the first wine for the night.

steamed white cod with coconut reduction, Chardonnay 2012
steamed white cod with coconut herbs reduction, Chardonnay 2012

Unknowingly, I seated myself right next to the viticulturist of Cape Mentelle himself – Ashley Wood. His job is to ensure that Cape Mentelle grows quality grapes which directly affects the production of the wines. This requires extensive knowledge of soil type, diseases, pests, when to harvest grapes and more. Not exactly your backyard grape grower.

Our first of the four-course dish was the steamed white code with coconut herbs reduction, paired with Chardonnay. This was an easy pairing, citrusy and well balanced wine contrasts well with the coconut based sauce of the craft-fully prepared fish. I enjoyed this, and oh, the skin of the cod is faced down and was my favorite part of the dish.

roasted chicken with garlic bulb, Cabernet Merlot 2010
roasted chicken with garlic bulb, Cabernet Merlot 2010

Next up was roasted chicken served with garlic bulb, whipped potato, apple sauce & chicken jus. Cabernet Merlot was the wine of choice to go with the poultry.

The wine was plenty fruity and carries a hint of red fruits, aniseed and tobacco bouquet. The chicken was perfectly prepared, smooth and smoky, and that garlic bulb was easy one of my favorite part of the entire dinner. It was just excellent execution that brought out the flavor of garlic without any of its harsh characteristics. I managed to convinced Eiling to eat almost half her portion even though she normally wouldn’t touch it.

The one other place I know which serves garlic bulb this way is the old school ramen shop at Wisma Central by the name of Tenka Daiichi.

roast duck breast with red cabbage puree & mustard sauce, Shiraz 2011
roast duck breast with red cabbage puree & mustard sauce, Shiraz 2011

Duct breast is one of my favorite ingredients ever, and while the roast duck breast with red cabbage pureer & mustard sauce here looks excellent, the meat itself was a slight disappointment. I think a combination of having a very thick cut and slight under cooking contributed to the chewiness of the red meat. Good potential, and quite easily fixed though.

Shiraz is one of my favorite red wines, and the version at Cape Mentelle did not disappoint at all. The peppery and spicy palate has good depth and carries a rich nose of pepper and aniseed with berries. With this, I somehow finished the duck breast anyway.

grilled beef tenderloin with Eryngii mushroom, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
grilled beef tenderloin with Eryngii mushroom, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

The fourth course was the grilled beef tenderloin with Ergyngii mushroom, scallion oil & beef jus. Medium rare and plenty juicy, the beef was a welcoming redemption after the disappointing duck breast, even though if I were to be critical, it was just a tad slightly overcooked.

Cabernet Sauvignon accompanied us for this last dish, a full bodied wine with good complexity, with black fruits, subtle flavours of chocolate, plum and aniseed and hint of oak on the palate. A very fine ending.

with Eiling & WeiZhi, green tea creme brulee
with Eiling and Wei Zhi, the dessert

No course dinner shall end without dessert, and so we had green tea crème brulee as the final dish.

This was also probably the last food review session that Eiling and I are sharing before she makes a permanent move to Belgium. Interestingly, she is also the one of my first “blog friends” when we met for the first time and went to Peony Garden 5 years ago (unfortunately that place has since closed down).
map to Neo Tamarind & Tamarind Hill

Address:
Neo Tamarind
19, Jalan Sultan Ismail,
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.15292, 101.70829
Tel: 03-2148 3200
Web: tamarindrestaurants.com
Hours: lunch and dinner daily except Monday