Random Note: Halloween has just rolled past and we now have an avalanche of pumpkin recipes off the food blogging world. Somehow, I feel like we are missing out in Asia / Singapore. Dear chefs, cooks, patissiers and bakers, please give us more pumpkin-ed dishes!
Last week, I attended a New Zealand focused degustation lunch, organised by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and EASTWEST PR. The lunch event highlighted the use of New Zealand produce in Asian cuisine, and showcased a variety of New Zealand wines.
The amuse bouche featured a fat scallop seated on homemade Jade tofu, adorned with black bean and fava bean puree and a squid ink tuille, a mesh cookie. The scallop had extra crunch thanks to the kelp-speckled rice crisp top, while the bean puree provided that appreciated oomph of flavour. The squid ink mesh cookie lent an interesting touch - its flavour only surfaced when it made its way down the throat.
This dish was paired with the West Brook Riesling Marlborough 2008 and Lawson's Dry Hills Gewürztraminer Marlborough 2008.
I liked the olive oil poached salmon more than expected. A gentle fork through the seemingly-cooked salmon revealed coral-pink raw insides that sashimi-lovers dreamt of. The fish was accompanied by a swoosh of cauliflower tatua crème, an equally lovely peeled tomato fondue that had been dipped in something and a "Moi Moi crisp".
Moi Moi crisp?! Apparently, 'moi moi' is the pet name for purple potatoes. How cute is that!
This dish was paired with the Te Mania Sauvignon Blanc Nelson 2008 and Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2008.
I was mildly embarrassed by the goat's cheese and kalamata mousseline, whose texture would make chawamushis around the world weep tears of envy. Bearing the same amount of love that most foreigners have for the durian, I shuddered with every bite, causing those near me to crack up. The Port reduction, thyme and toasted hazelnuts proved no much for the cheesiness. In all earnesty, the fact I managed three bites without falling head first to the ground proved the goat cheese was relatively mild.
This dish was paired with the Tussock Pinot Gris Nelson 2007 and Mount Riley Pinot Noir Marlborough 2007
The thinly-sliced Manuka smoked venison came littered with kikorangi blue cheese and West Melton walnuts, armed with a heady nuttiness that built up my appetite for red meat. Too bad I wasn't feeling the Manuka here.
See that coiled carby-looking thing? It's a "kawa kawa damper". Moi Moi. Kawa Kawa. No, we aren't on the set of Hello Kitty's newest blockbuster.
This dish was paired with the Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir Central Otago 2007 and Fairhall Downs Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Marlborough 2007. I'm beginning to sound like a broken tape recorder.
Duo of New Zealand Lamb
The big kahuna of the afternoon was the New Zealand Lamb. A spot of blush inside, caramel brown on the outside. It might not have been fork-tender but I loved the gaminess that made lamb, well 'lamb'.
Asian inspiration came in the form of a nub of baby bok choy and the carrot-pickled-ginger-and-potato-layered terrine. And the most unexpected feature? 5 spiced caramel popcorn. Super fun.
This dish was paired with the Villa Maria Cellar Selection Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon Hawke’s Bay 2006 and Fromm La Strada Merlot/Malbec Marlborough 2002.
Our trio of desserts saw us digging into pavlova sandwiched between kiwi and L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) sorbet; strawberry and raspberry pave, layered with strawberry mousse, cookie middle and brownie-like bottom; and Pohutukawa honey snap.
Pohutukawa - another so-cute-it-hurts word.
This dish was paired with the Forrest Estate Botrytised Riesling Marlborough 2005.
The Petit Fours, consisting of New Zealand favorites, arrived on a darling little elevated dish that I wanted to keep for myself. We had mini Anzacs (coconut oat bicuits) and Afghans (chocolate cornflakes biscuits); lamingtons, furry cubes of sponge cakes, coated in chocolate and dessicated coconut; Zespri Turkish delight (right up till today, my exposure to New Zealand food had been restricted to the Zespri kiwis Dad buys); and -sweet- handcrafted -too sweet- fudge.
Service was great, it seemed like the staff at Fullerton Hotel had taken time to rehearse the procedures and were not just a bunch of last-minute-hires paid by the hour. I had a great time, psyched when I found a Chinese Takeway Box of Anzac bicuits from Cellar Door and a bottle of Gewürztraminer 2008 in my goodie bag.