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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

AFC’s latest foray in their long line of food & restaurant themed series comes in the form of  “Reality Bites: Rise Above with Style”, featuring two celebrity chefs – Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian of Elegantology.

I was invited to the premier of the show followed by a dinner at Elegantology, and since I’ve yet to have a taste at this rather unique restaurant that I’ve heard so much about recently, it was an opportunity I had to take.

Reality Bites premiere at Publika
Reality Bites premiere at Publika

Reality Bites is a six part series starting 10th December, at 9pm every Tuesday on AFC. The show takes part in Elegantology Gallery & Restaurant, featuring not only the glitz and glamour of running the kitchen of a higher end restaurant, but also the day-to-day challenge and many issues faced by the two chefs and their crews.

Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites
Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites

During the event, we were shown the first episode of Reality Bites in its entirety, alongside with an on-stage session with Chef Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian, the director of the series, as well as the creative director of Elegantology, Beatrice Looi.

So if you want to see a restaurant themed reality series that is closer to home, tune on your TV Tuesday 9pm on AFC!

some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter
some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter

After that of course, is what I was even more interested in, the degustation menu at Elegantology.

We started out with Elegantology Baker’s choice, served with truffle butter florets, paprika chickpeas hummus, and EVOO (olive oil & balsamic vinegar?). I think we must have asked for extra truffle butter at least twice, it was very good.

Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom
Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom

Next up was ceviche scallop, paw paw kerabu, nam pla influenced Ponzu sesame drizzle. A dish that has some similarity in Sarawak’s umai, both using acid to lightly cook the seafood. Scallop was huge, juicy, and delicious, I can hae this often. The kerabu was an interesting experiment, tho one that I wouldn’t care too much for.

Foie gras cube, olive lemon soil, soy bean milk braised shimeiji mushroom is similar to chicken liver pate, but undoubtedly a lot more luxurious and sophisticated. The mushroom adds a welcoming change of texture which I do appreciate.

oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber
oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber

Continuing our course was a much needed soup dish in the form of oxtail broth with brandied sea cucumber. The oxtail is de-boned while sea cucumber provided the texture that’s similar to beef tendon, but with a dash of seafood sweetness. The soup itself carried a nice herbal aroma.

tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY
tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY

Tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved was chosen as a sort of intermission to the degustation dinner course. It was cold, sour, and a tad sweet, perfect as a palate cleanser before we continue with perhaps the most important dish.

kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise
kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise

Which was the kobe beef skewer with miso pineapple bearnaise. This was the first time I tasted kobe beef (well at least that’s what they claimed), and yes, it was every bit as awesome as the sterling reputation it carries. The meat was super tender with superb marbling, a melt-in-your-mouth feeling that somehow does not compromise on texture.

It was so good we jokingly asked for second servings from the waiter, who actually complied! Sometimes you can achieve a lot more in life by just asking. 😀

barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau
barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau

The penultimate dish was barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice. While the fish was fresh, it was perhaps just a tad too cooked for my liking, the glutinous rice was perfect though, goes especially well with the sambal-like sauce. Also, after the beef, nothing feels the same anymore.

The rather funky looking dessert was the replated black forest gateau, a bit of sponge, chocolate, ice cream, cherries, and cream all carefully arranged in a careless appearance. It was acceptable but perhaps did not live up to the capability of the restaurant. 

I really appreciate the idea behind Elegantology and their bravery in always experimenting with different dishes and menu. The overall dinner experience was very good, and while a couple dishes did not wow, they were mostly excellent, and most importantly, provide diners a different and unique gastronomic experience.

It was a wonderful night overall and I’m grateful for this opportunity.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Elegantology
35 Level G2, Publika, 

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel: 03-6206 5577

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. 😀