The butter. It was superb: unsalted, unpasteurized, from contented cows basking in the sun and grazing on organic grass just south of Alsace (in France, you ignorant cochons!), and it was hand-churned. IKYN. E@L doesn't know which he was more impressed by, the butter itself or the twenty(ish) minutes of description that came with it - but you had to ask about it to get Stepan (we have his card), our Czech waiter, to start spouting forth. And he was thrilled to exposit; he'd been keeping this knowledge in his head and not sharing it until someone like E@L was inquisitive enough to ask.
Why/who would you ask about the butter? Someone like E@L? That would be no-one.
Because Andre is not the type of guy who would merely toss some freshly shaved truffle into a pan of warming (organic, etc...) butter and pour them both over some perfectly al dente spaghetti. No no no, he is the guy who would seep the butter in said shaved Tasmanian - off season in Europe - truffles for two weeks prior pouring that warmed, aromatic butter over the hot pasta. Then he'd come out himself and shave more truffle on top.
Butter. Lots of people, not just Andre, are genuinely pernickety about their emulsified triglycerides. In E@L's cholesterol-rich days of his head-strong youth, his family always used Western Star butter; giant impersonal machinery-churned from the giant machinery-sucked teats of grumpy, kick-you-if-they-could cows, huddled in the chilly breezes, grazing on the organic (50% cow shit) grass in the environs of Colac and the Western District of Victoria. E@L's flatmate eats New Zealand butter - he is an escapee from the East Isles of Australia. Some people like Danish butter, there's a lot of it in the supermarket.
The bread rolls were nice too. E@L won't start.
Stepan, by the way, used to work with Gordon fucking Ramsay.
Andre Chiang, Taiwanese, married to a stunning Singaporean(?) lady who officiated on our seat placements, is obviously food-obsessed to a degree well beyond sanity. His molecular-food (as opposed to atomic-food? elementary-particle food?) restaurant is in the Hotel Majestic, in fucked-if-the-taxidriver-can-find-it Bukit Pasoh (ah, pronounced PAY-so, not PAR-so), near to Maxwell Rd, Duxton Hill, that area...
He offered a ten-course degustation dinner last night for Amex card-holders who needed to max out their cards on the one evening.
Yes, dinner cost the equivalent of Greece's national debt and it was allegedly wine matched to various drops from a French vineyard that best remain nameless. (E@L has the marketing manager's card. He is called Stephane, no wonder E@L was confused). The buzz word here is biodynamic (antonym: biostatic?). Only a short time in oak, none of this micro-oxygenation bullsheeeet. Just the grape, the terroir and the wine-maker. Baumé? Why the fuck? We have winemakers with tongues, palates, with noses. Get them to blow them clear, thinks E@L.
Three different types of shiraz. One was called a Syrah, one a Hermitage and the last one an 'Ermitage thank you very much, and this last one decanted. Stephane informed us that to decant the other wines would make them - purses lips, raises eyebrows, rolls hand over hand, shrugs - change too quickly (into a more potent poison one assumes). A little bit of oenological engineering might have helped these ones, they were nice, they were OK, but... The viognier (that'd be white wine) was a more interesting drop, but the 100% Grenache could have done with some shiraz and mondeuse. Sweet red at the end, Hungarian style. Tattinger champagne at the start, that was nice. Somelier Ken-san was, E@L thinks, a tad stingy, but luckily, as we are all quite aware of having had some drink by the end, so he was a wise uncle to us unruly kids. Kids who had paid a shitload of money to get drunk...
Not a completely bad set of wines, but was there any one that stood out as stunning, exceptional, memorable? No way.
As is to be expected in the El Bulli, chemically-inspired restaurants, things were never quite as they seem: what looked like ice-cream was once tomato, the crisp-breads were previously mushroom, that clear gel was once a strawberry or two... That thing poking out what seems to be earth is a carrot-shaped carved fish, wrapped in its skin and quickly fried (E@L thinks) - it was called deconstructed fish and chips. That earthy stuff the fish and the "chips" were sitting in was made of garlic and grated chocolate - OMG, E@L could eat that all night. Already forgotten a lot of the other stuff, oh, yeah, is that popcorn asks E@L - Yes! was the surprised answer, good guess seeing as how you are not wearing your glasses, sir - vanilla mousse and coarsely chopped popcorn. But the truffle spaghetti was E@L's highlight. (btw, what is an octaphilosophy? - check the website.)
Small servings of course: like bikinis, the less material, the more they charge. The steak, about the size of a meat chunk you might get in a Four-And-Twenty pie, was paired to the decanted 'Ermitage. E@L didn't mention it last night, but Andre did managed to squeeze a small chewy bit of gristle into his thumbnail of meat. The fourteen grains of mustard were exquisitely placed however, IKYN. Meh. The single flat spot of the food menu was the unfortunate piece of gristle - E@L was expecting butter-soft wagyu meat, but, OK, move on...
Coffee or tea? Latte for E@L. Black sambucca, no only Pastis, ok, all around. Green tea and a hot chocolate, please, say the others. Hot chocolate? (What the hell is E@L doing with these people? Just accept what's on the menu, FGS.)
Hot chocolate? Stepan hesitated for a second. But when the cogs linked in, he smiled, sweet boy that he is. We shall find some hot chocolate for you sir, he says, certain that this can done. Somebody downstairs (Andre was chatting with Stephane and his guests on their table) grated some of that chocolate used in the earth mixture (not with the garlic hopefully), melted it in warming milk and brought it up in a wonky-shaped cup. You gotta try this guys, says our mate Wally. Bruce and E@L ordered our own wonky cups. Good move. It was sublime. We were, naturally enough, the last to leave.
Change the highlight - not the truffle spaghetti, it was the ex-tempore hot chocolate!
Would E@L go back? Not for a quick, greasy brunch as a Saturday morning hangover cure ($180 for lunch), but for a special occasion, sure. Really, really special.
Bruce had been on the verge of ringing in to ask if he might bring a bottle of his own plonk in (it was a )Relic), but E@L talked him out of making such a fool of himself. Now he wishes he had let Bruce bring it.
He didn't see a wine menu (obviously, this was a pairing) but E@L would be interested to see if anything better, biodynamic or not, was on offer.
Brilliantly interesting food; Andre is a complete wizard and it is not without good reason that this place always rates in the top restaurants in Asia. There is no Michelin ratings in Singapore (Miele Guide -#4 in Asia), but if there was...
Last night, sadly, Stephane's wines let it down - they were just too... pedestrian? Boring? What a pity.
Tonight E@L might whip up some vegemite on toast with a poached egg on top and crack a bottle of Hill of Grace.
Quickly becoming a foodie/wino, what?
We had some of the fancy dishes photographed here, but certainly not all as Andre cooks/deconstructs whatever he fancies each time.
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