2012
11.21

COGNAC & CUISINE: MARTELL DISHES UP ANOTHER UNIQUE INGREDIENT-LED GASTRONOMIC EXPERIENCE

The invitation arrived, and it was unlike any other I have ever received!

A spice rack containing ingredients used in classical French cooking. Juniper Berries, Vadouvan and Fleur de Sel, housed in a box that contained information about the event. Terribly clever, and it smelt so good my pooch couldn’t resist taking a sniff!

The fourth edition of the Martell Pure Gourmet signature dinner series happened last week at the House of Bufori in Kepong. What an unusual location to host a dinner – in a luxury car warehouse and workshop where those handcrafted, elite cars were assembled. The bare, industrial room had been transformed into a haven of luxury, showcasing the fine ingredients to be used in the meal, strewn across our tables and hanging delicately from the makeshift racks.

To add to that already impressive venue, Martell further lured me in with famous names like Chef Emmanuel Stroobant and Chef Antoine Rodriguez who teamed up to create and cook the menu for the night.

Mr CK Tan, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Malaysia, which markets Martell among other wine and spirit brands, commented: “The Martell Pure Gourmet philosophy is one of origins.  Just as it is impossible to make a good cognac without a good grape, the Pure Gourmet recipes stem back to its origins – the ingredients.  Essentially, Martell Pure Gourmet focuses on pure, real food with quality ingredients as the star. ”

- extract from Press release

Pure indulgence paired with the exquisite Martell blends, Martell VSOP, Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell XO and Martell Creation Grand Extra. The actual physical menu itself was a little notebook that contained sketches of the dishes scribbled down by both Award Winning Chefs and they were very hands on at making sure each plate was impeccable.

Amuse Bouche

Ratte Potato Espuma with White Truffle and Ikura

It was like eating a cloud. Or creamy cotton candy. The texture of the Potato Espuma was so light it almost floated off the little spoons.

The infusion of shaved white truffle brought out the natural earthiness of the potato, while the second version with salty salmon roe complemented the creaminess.

First Course

Bay Scallop Mousse with Radishes, Persimmon, Crystallised Plum, Toasted Almond and Lobster Oil

Paired with Martell Cordon Bleu

This was an incredibly clever dish, where not only the mousse was fashioned to look like a scallop, but also the radish. I was constantly surprised at the delicate shellfish flavour that was enhanced by the fragrant lobster oil. The Persimmon was vacuum packed and pickled so it had a lovely sticky-crunchiness, while the crystallized plum was sweetish, and the toasted almonds smoky and brittle.

The more I continued eating the more the flavour of the bronze coloured Martell Cordon Blue evolved, going first from sweet spicy, to fruity with hints of vanilla, and finally to a bold chestnut finish.

Second Course

Slow-cooked Chicken Ballotine, Foie Gras and Duck Confit, Fig chutney, Walnut Crumble

Paired with Martell XO

It was a beautiful, moist roll of chicken stuffed with rich and buttery foie gras and duck. Again, the balance of flavours was impeccable, exuding a rich earthiness from the decadent ingredients. The tiny little Chanterelle Mushrooms were such a cute touch and together with the drops of fig chutney, really lifted up the visual appeal of the plate.

I loved how the fruity Martell XO gave the dish a very wholesome flavour and was smooth to taste, warming up my throat like liquid gold. A true luxury item, you can tell just by looking at the iconic bottle.

Third Course

Roasted Quail with Orange Peel-scented Endive, Date and Juniper Berry-Chocolate Reduction

Paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra

The progression from seafood to a lighter meat like chicken, then on to a heavier, robust quail was very well thought out. I love quail. It reminds me of the lovely dark meat you find on turkey, or even a rabbit, richer in flavour than chicken but less so than duck. It’s very tender if cooked right, and that it was. This dish blew me away, for its creativity and sheer flavour.

I mean, who thinks of scenting your Endives with Orange Peel? Who thinks of making a Date an Juniper Berry-Chocolate reduction? These chefs do, and just the aroma that wafted up as soon as the waited put the plate down was intoxicating – a heady scent of meat juices, bittersweet chocolate and fresh, zesty fruits. I was so focused on eating that I forgot to sip my Martell Creation Grand Extra, which I’ve read is created using some of the oldest and most delicious eaux-de-vie.

Dessert

Caramelised Sarawak Pineapple with Candied Lemon Zest, Ginger Bread Ice Cream, Almond Custard and Passion Fruit

Paired with Martell Chanteloup Perspective

Ah, dessert. In ze words of ze French, Magnifique! The sweetest pineapple cooked to sticky perfection, with fun, childlike candied lemon zest. Cooled down by the creamy ginger bread ice cream and light as air almond custard, with tangy passion fruit. Sweet, sour, savoury… I loved it! And it tasted even better with the hints of honey and tropical fruits that I found in the Martell Chanteloup Perspective.

 Chef and cellar master are craftsmen at the core as they carefully select ingredients to create a masterful blend of tastes in cuisine and cognac respectively.  The perfect pairing of both these two elements is what made the Martell Pure Gourmet dinner an evening of pure indulgence.

- extract from Press Release

There was a Tea Master in the house, and he made his rounds with his trolley and our meal was rounded off with a lovely hot Cuppa.

The entertainment for the evening, Karen Nunis and her awesome band playing soothing sounds of Jazz and Blues.

We got a taste of the luxurious life as we got more familiar with the Bufori cars, or should I say, works of art. Blink and it was over, but the memory of that decadent meal still remains.

Yes, indeed, both Martell and the two talented chefs, Emmanuel Stroobant and Antoine Rodriguez, had outdone themselves to spoil us that evening and I’m fine to forego the car for more of Martell’s Pure Gourmet evenings!

Thank you very much for having me and for my delicious ‘goody bag’! I’ll certainly be experimenting with these delicious ingredients soon.

MORE ABOUT MARTELL PURE GOURMET AND THE  CHEFS

-Extract from Press Release

Martell Pure Gourmet

From the day that Martell was founded in 1715, it has always had close links to gastronomy, and hence decided to further develop its culture of flavour and define the bases of the perfect Martell gastronomy. Out of this culture and passion, Pure Gourmet was born, derived from Martell’s philosophy in creating its cognac by the purest means – from its precise choice of crus (vineyard), eaux de vie filtered of lees (the process), distillation of clear wines only, then the ageing process in fine-grain oak barrels.

Martell Pure Gourmet emphasises on quality ingredients as the principal characteristic that defines its unique gastronomic experience. Three pure ingredients are chosen from renowned terroirs worldwide and are then prepared in a skillful and unpretentious manner masterfully crafted in symphony with the internationally versatile and luxurious range of Martell cognac including Martell VSOP, Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell XO and Martell Creation Grand Extra.

Martell cognac has long been linked with the French sense of refinement, and every bottle embodies the experience of unrivalled craftsmen: cellar masters, growers, distillers and coopers all, who have handed down their expertise from generation to generation.  It is the skill and vision of these craftsmen that has made the House of Martell an icon of French excellence and resulted in Martell’s latest incarnation of pure luxury.

Chef Emmanuel Stroobant

Emmanuel Stroobant started his career at a tender age of 16 – cleaning dishes in one of the best restaurants in Belgium.  At 23, he opened his first restaurant in his hometown, Liege. It was an overnight success and after three summers, Stroobant wanted another adventure. He travelled to various places, and finally settling in Australia for a period of five years before moving to Asia.

Stroobant has written two cook books, ‘Cuisine Unplugged’ and ‘Vine Dining – White’ which has won the Gourmand World Media Award for “Best in the World Matching Food and Wine”. Plus, he also has his own TV series titled, ‘Chef in Black’ and subsequently ‘Chef in Black II’.  Other than authoring books, filming for TV shows and consulting for food and beverage establishments, Stroobant also owns a series of restaurants.

Chef Antoine Rodriguez

Antoine Rodriguez is the Executive Chef of Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur.  Born in Bordeaux, France, Rodriguez has a wealth of 30 years of experience in culinary knowledge.   As the hotel’s Executive Chef, Rodriguez is responsible for the overall culinary operations, food conceptualization, promotions, menu planning and ensuring high quality service delivery standards of 110 kitchen professionals.

He recently won the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards 2011-2013 Regional Series for the ‘Executive Chef of the Year’ and ‘King of the Kitchen’ when he defeated 16 other nominees. He also won the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 for the ‘Best Executive Chef’ in a row and a first for an Executive Chef.

Be in control. If you drink, don’t drive.”

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