Apologies for the dark and blurry photos. My DSLR doesn’t exactly fit in a suit pocket, and the dim lighting at the Amara Sanctuary on Sentosa was not so S95 friendly. This World Gourmet Summit event had one of the most interesting meals, food-wise, that I’ve had in quite a while, made even more amazing given the size of the dining crowd and the relative complexity of the courses. The meal was almost a perfectly executed banquet feast by guest Chef Michael Ginor, co-founder of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and chef/owner of LOLA, New York.
The occasion, umm… well it doesn’t really matter. It was a fête that I had the opportunity of attending instead of G. There was a long ceremony at the start involving the well-heeled in a scene that I can best describe as: the Free Masons threw a party and invited the “party
-goers from Eyes Wide Shut. This lasted well over an hour… and no food was served. Fortunately for us, we had unwittingly stood near the kitchen entrance before the start of the event and were treated to first choice of all of the mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres.
There was not a single “miss” with the canapes, and I tried each one- all eight in fact. It was a trove of diverse ingredients from sea perch to guinea fowl, caviar, truffle, and mango salsa. Having gorged on the starters, I was definitely excited for dinner.
While I provided a description of each course in the following paragraphs, neither lengthy descriptions nor darkened photos adequately do them justice. Feel free to skip the rest of this post. My summary is that aside from a few service related issues, this is what fine dining should be. Beautifully crafted dishes with flavor and texture combinations that surprise epicureans and inspire home-chefs. There was really not a single dish that I was thinking, I should even try attempting at home. I love experimenting with cooking, but this was way out of my league. For the owner of the largest foie gras provider in the world, there was remarkably little of it in the meal. It wasn’t missed, that’s how good this meal was. Mmmmm.
First was a tuna tartar with a seaweed croquant, mirim soy glaze, and wasabi scallion oil. A waiter then came by to individually microplane generous portions of nori-cured foie gras. The distinctly Japanese flavors blended very well with the tuna and shaved foie gras.
Next was the “Lola” crab and scallop cake with a shellfish bisque and yuzu creme fresh. The cake was flavorful and moist, and the dish while fine, felt a bit ordinary when compared to the other courses of the evening.
My favorite of the evening was a shiro miso marinated black cod over a Thai forbidden black rice (gluttinous rice) with lemongrass-kafir emulsion and topped by a Japanese pickled lotus root. Chef Ginor managed to create a very Southeast Asian/Thai combination in the slightly sweet and tangy rice that paired very well with miso.
A seared breast of duck, parsnip mousseline, foie gras flan and mustard followed. Again a well constructed course with the one negative being the food was a bit cold, more of a service issue. At this point, I began to feel a bit overwhelmed by the items on each plate. Coupled with the increasingly slower service times, and the meal began to drag on like a culinary death march. It also didn’t help that it was already well-past 10 o’clock and we still had our “main” to come.
Our main was a roast rack of lamb that I’m still in awe of, wonderfully cooked, soft, moist, flawless. I tried my best to finish the dish, but the sides of eggplant caviar filled pequillo pepper, polenta truffle cake and arugula mint pesto and lamb-fig glaze was just simply too much.
Finally dessert was served sometime past 11pm. A subdued crunchy hazelnut cake with chocolate and gold syrup, hazelnut ice cream and peanut butter dust. I pried myself out of the chair, skipping the petit fours. It was way too late in the evening for coffee or tea. Had the meal not started so late and dragged on past a good 3 hours, I could have said this was the best meal I’ve ever had in Singapore.