Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hennessy X.O. Appreciation Grows

"Appreciation" ranks among my favorite words, for all the positive vibes that it triggers. And there was enough to appreciate & give thanks for at this Hennessy Appreciation Grows event.

Coming here to the Equatorial KL's shell of a hotel, emptied of tourists & travelers, made me remember happy nights at Chalet, way back when I'd book that restaurant's corner booth for special occasions, meeting folks whose friendship helped sculpt my future.

Chef Edward Lee of Kentucky's 610 Magnolia was the architect of our Hennessy X.O. menu, with courses punctuated by performance art, speeches & toasts, laughter & inebriation, nurtured with the professionalism of which this evening's hosts can be proud.

Lee's opening salvo proved to be Warhol-worthy patchwork on a plate. Slim squares of ahi tuna & kona kampachi, slid into a checkerboard of sliced tropical fruit & slicked up with ginger, watercress, yellow blossoms, roasted banana puree & rice vinegar. Might have nevertheless lingered in the kitchen, wilting while waiting, for 10 minutes too long.

Paprika-spiced chilled sweet corn soup, creamier than condensed milk, varnishing a vector of lobster, sea urchin & salmon skin. The shellfish could have been more succulent, but this recipe's intricacy meant each mouthful revealed new secrets _ the herbaceous subtleties of shiso leaves, the nuttiness of black sesame seeds & the low-burning tickle of red chili.

Murmurs of "overcooked?" echoed on my left & right for the seared scallops, flavored with a lemongrass-chili vinaigrette that bore the power of a trumpet blare. Tangled with pickled jicama & Japanese eggplant, accentuating the Asian flourishes spliced into Lee's culinary DNA.

Demi-glazed tenderloin cooked with chocolate, with notes of jalapeno singing through the meat, studded with toasted sesame seeds on a cushion of spinach & mushrooms. Not the triumphant tableau of tenderness that some of us wanted, but still serviceable.

Does true appreciation require us to trust our hearts, especially when our minds are unsure? The duck breast, generously carved & glazed in tamarind, partnered with precious foie gras, pureed smoked sweet potato & Chinese cabbage, seemed to command admiration but not awe.

Brioche-crusted dark chocolate genoise cake, baptized in red beet syrup, exorcised of excess sugar, with a soft smoothness scrupulously sandblasted with pistachio & walnut sprinkles. Enjoyable, but my memories drifted elsewhere, to Les Deux Garcons' truffled mascarpone tart & Bistro a Table's mangosteen pavlova.

The cognac of choice flowed freely & disarmingly, keeping us in a two-hour thrall.

Appreciation should be recorded: thank you to the folks of G2 Public Relations for this invitation.

Hennessy X.O. Appreciation Grows 2012,
Equatorial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
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28 comments:

  1. Regardless of the taste, the presentation looks very nice. The problem these overseas chefs face is that they sometimes find it hard to adapt to a different kitchen, working in a different environment and also not being able to get the ingredients that they need to do a meal properly hence not at their best.

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    1. Baby sumo: ya, I think u're right. it feels like he & his team still did very well under the circumstances, dishing out food to dozens of guests at the same time. Must have been a real pressure cooker of a kitchen! I guess for a taste of this chef's true brilliance (and I have no doubt that he's brilliant), we'd have to visit his restaurant in Kentucky state :D

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  2. Food looks gorgeous. They must have tasted just a\s good. With the accompaniment of cognac...you must have been a happy boy:D

    Gone are the days of Equatorial. Loved the place...

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    1. Missyblurkit: the food was the best meal i've had this week, but not this month, heh =) here's hoping that the equatorial that'll open in a few years will be a place we can all fall in love with over again :D

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  3. the dessert looks interesting but you seemed not blown away by it.

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    1. Michelle: it tasted quite beautifully prepared, and it was easy to finish =)

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  4. Free flow of cognac....u hail a cab home? Kekeke....

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    1. Simple Person: heheh, nah, didn't have to. ended up not drinking as much as i had expected to :D

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  5. You surprised me again, not with the food but by attending the event! LOL

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    1. Another surprise is how easily this reads, without having to read between the lines... ahem. ;)

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    2. CK: hahah, i surprised myself too! i enjoyed myself, including by meeting the other bloggers whom i've not spoken to for so long. but probably no more events for me for a very long time after this :D

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    3. Kenny: ahem. reading between the lines is so 2011! time to usher in a fresh writing style, heheh :D

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  6. Very poetic post! :P hmm.. maybe the pressure of getting out so much food at the same time got to him but I must say... that dessert looks good!

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    1. Vien: actually all the food was still very good. i think maybe my/our expectations were higher though, and i guess i shouldn't blame the chef & his team for that. i'd love to try the food in his restaurant someday. i have a feeling that i'd really, really enjoy it =)

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  7. yes i agree with using our heart to taste the food, instead of the mind :) the dessert looks good!

    Latest: Best Milk Ever

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    1. Fish: i guess the ideal balance would be to use both the heart and the mind (besides the taste buds, of course) to decide whether we like what we're eating, heheh :D

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  8. Replies
    1. Loveforfood: just a couple more hours till dinnertime! have a good one =)

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  9. I only know the guy from his stint on Top Chef. Entertaining, to say the least.

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    1. Synical: ooo I should go check out if there are YouTube clips of him in action, tnx :D

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    2. Shouldn't be that hard. He was in the recent season - the Texas one.

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    3. Synical: i just read some of his interviews after he was eliminated. he sounds like a really astute and witty and down-to-earth dude :D

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  10. Concur concur.. though I must say that different kitchen or otherwise.. scallops aint supposed to be leathery. :P

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    1. Tng: I guess scallops can be tricky sometimes. But hopefully there were others in the hall who managed to get more enjoyable scallops :D

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  11. one of the cognacs that I will drink is the Hennessy XO. and the food presentation looks really nice too!

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    1. Eiling: i'm not usually a Hennessy buff, but it was definitely pleasant to sip it that night :D

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  12. Can't fault the appealing visual feast eh? Such a riot of colours!

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    1. Pureglutton: oh yeah, hats off to the chef for making a great effort to make the dishes so enticing :D

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