VIAJANTE (Nuno Mendes) @ LONDON

VIAJANTE Restaurant in London – Chef of the cuisine “Nuno Mendes”

The restaurant made it this year into the top 100 on the San Pellegrino list, placed 80. Absolutely justified!

The restaurant is located in East London @ the town hall hotel, check out the homepage if you want to know more about Viajante or their team. http://www.viajante.co.uk

let’s talk about food…

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the entrance to a very unique and interesting lunch….

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Clean & proper kitchen: Well equipment and most importantly, open concept.

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Simple clean interior – nothing too fancy. Clean cut.

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Snack: Thai explosion – marinated chicken confit between layers of chicken skin. Massive flavours, great taste – perfect to start a meal or have couple of beers with it. The thai explosion will be served without plate – picked up straight from the servers tray, therefore it needs to be eaten with the fingers (no cutlery). I think that’s great – as we have lost the sense of eating with our hands in fine dining places.

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1st Amusebouche: Puffed amaranth with sorrel

Interesting textures (crisp, powder, gel, fresh leaves). Again, no cutlery – get your fingers dirty….

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2nd Amusebouche: Squid and its own ink

Fresh & delicate! Nothing much to say about it.

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3rd Amusebouche: Young potato with bacon, yeast & olive

A very interesting combination – especially the yeast creme. Everything goes very well together. Its one pop in the mouth / a kind of explosion of flavours on the palate.

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Once more, to be eaten with its fingers…. the yeast creme is finger-licking good!

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Bread was served after amusebouche… that’s the way bread should be served. Wooden board – freshly baked from that morning – served with 2different types of spreads.

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Butter with walnuts & black olive…

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…and brown butter with pork floss (crisp) & bacon bits! Want more!

Only after that – we actually started our lunch (chosen the 6course menu for Lunch). Viajante offers a 3 & 6 course menu for lunch / 9course only on request. Dinner is 6 or 9course.

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1st Course: Pea custard with morels and green aspargus

A light and simple tasting delicious salad. The freshness of the products can be tasted very strongly at Viajante.

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2nd course: Crab-meat with egg yolk and rhubarb

One of my personal favourites. Great texture between the egg yolk and the crab-meat, the rhubarb gives its tangy & sour flavour to it.

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3rd course: Bream with dill chicory and fennel caramel

My favourite dish on this day. the texture of the bream was absolutely perfect. crisp on top, a bit raw (sashimi style) on the other side. the fennel and chicory flavours were great & lots of different textures. Memorable!

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Kitchen team – relaxed but fully concentrated.

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4th course: Turbot with spring vegetables and mussels

A very complex plating – fresh spring vegetables / a perfect cooked turbot (very fresh!) and a sauce / foam of mussels (not in the picture). Good stuff!

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5th course (main): Lamb with goats curd and black quinoa

Great dish!!!! the lamb was cooked to perfection via sous vide – curd, quinoa & sauce – everything was spot on and worked well together.

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Pre Dessert: Pickled & raw cucumber granite with milk sorbet

A great refreshing – as by then we had already 9dishes + bread and butter. I liked the combination between the cucumber and the milk – its rather simple but exactly this fact makes this dish a success.

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Dessert: Jerusalem artichoke ice cream, frozen pear with cider and pecans, chocolate soil and orange segments (freshly frozen in liquid nitrogen)

An surprising dessert – long time ago that I have eaten Jerusalem artichoke ice cream (i’m a big fan of Jerusalem artichoke / topinambour / sunchoke). Very interesting components – I liked it very much / a little bit to much, as I finished another portion of it, as my wife realized that she has eaten already too much. A small feedback in the end – the dessert had dried pears or something similar – anyway, thru the temperature of the ice cream, the texture of this particular dried item became so hard, that it became unpleasant.

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Last finish touches…

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Petit fours for the end: Chocolate truffles with porcini flavour (very interesting combination).

It was a memorable lunch – a lunch i’m looking forward to have again, maybe next year – a different season, to follow the progress of Nuno Mendes.

A big THANKS to Nuno Mendes and his team – we had a great lunch at Viajante, should we be back in London, we definitely will be back again.

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St.John Restaurant & Bar (Fergus Henderson) @ London

A quick dinner at St.John….

St.John (Fergus Henderson) is famous for its simple, straight forward food. Great seasoning, great execution – great place.

The place is an all day kinda feeling place. No matter how dressed, how old – or with kids – St.John offers everything.

We came after an 4 1/2 lunch – not that hungry anymore (as I guess, quiet understandable…) But once in London – St.John is a must!

Simple setting & great vibe. Waiters are talkative and joking ard… A place to get drunk & to enjoy stable (home) food with great company. St John does not know the word “stiff” – its more or less a big eater place of fun.

A bread basket with butter and sea salt is served upon arrival…

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we were surrounded by people who celebrated birthday, a wedding was going on, family reunions, friends who met to hangout on a Friday night, couples who dated,…. A good mix…

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Cockles, bacon & lavabread – gosh! – It wasn’t my choice but I would have loved to finish it straight away. Once served…It took only seconds to understand that we will be served damn tasty food. No chance to take a photo in the first place…to good !

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The famous roast bone marrow with parsley salad – nothing much to say; it’s delicious! it’s bone marrow! Bone marrow, salt and parsley salad – nothing wrong about it, except the part that its quiet a bit unhealthy,… a bit.

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Not a nice shot, but – that’s the cockle dish once more. Crisp bread, soaked in all that marination with crisp bacon and cockles. I would order it one more time! ahh, maybe two times, 3times, 4times,…… its that good.

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When the cuttlefish made it onto our table, I couldn’t get the photo fast enough (for the second time), damn good that cuttlefish. Braised cuttlefish with redwine & aioli. Cuttlefish was tender and full of flavour – the aioli is homemade and has the right kick of garlic,…good that there is always bread on the table. Soak up the juices from the plate, with some aioli sauce and – i’m in foodie heaven.

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A simple side salad – fresh market lettuce, might a bit to big leaves – but hey, I got a sharp knife…no complain at all. Crisp lettuce & and well marinated.

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Simple greens as a side – freshly cooked. Huge portion. I finished the whole bowl – i’m a big fan of greens!

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Roast Middlewhite & white beans – simple, delicious & crisp skin !!! Good stuff!

… after that,…no more – dessert! would have loved too, but after such a long day of eating (putting on 2kg on a day) – it was time to rest,…fall asleep in the cab…. Good Night!

A bit THANKS to the team of St.John – we will be back again, but next time I would make sure I haven’t eaten that much before.

St.John is an institution – having their own bakery, bar, restaurant,….. its almost like a life style! Hope they continue all the way.

Time to rest,…as the next days lunch will be at Viajante (Nuno Mendes) – one of the best meals in 2012! Report will be up soon, maybe already out. Check it out!

The Fat Duck @ Bray, United Kingdom

This is my second visit to the Fat duck. I had Lunch in 2010 once there. Last time I was by myself to fully focus on taste, texture & service. It was a very interesting lunch (being all by myself, and to experience a 4hours meal.)

This time, i brought my wife and a friend… but the duration wasn’t shorter. We arrived at 1.15pm and left the restaurant at 6pm.

Let’s start:

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The famous but humble building of the fat duck…

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…the simple decor inside. Its a kind of homey feeling. It a kind of place you can feel comfortable even if you wear a simple shirt. We are talking about one of the best restaurants in the world. Most other restaurants in this kind of class are to stiff and too show-off. This does not happen here at the fat duck.

Let talk about food:

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Snack: Dehydrated beetroot & horseradish creme

Crisp, sweet and a bit sharp from the horseradish.  A good way to wake up the palate.

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Palate cleanser: A nitro foam ball. 3choices: Campari Orange, Vodka Green Tea or Gin Tonic. The mixture will be set in siphon to create a foam/ aerated texture. After that, placed in liquid nitrogen to set the outside. Once placed on the tongue – the cold ball more or less burns/cleanse the palate, with a great aftertaste – in my case, Gin Tonic.

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Amusebouche: Red cabbage gazpacho, cucumber, whole grain mustard ice cream

Good start, I like all components.

1st course: The Forest interpretation. Covering the next 3photos.

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The oak film – served on real moss. Underneath is dry ice (can’t be seen).

The oak film has to be taken first – to get the full aroma from the forest… the oak.

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once oak film is popped into the mouth – there is a small truffle toast (truffles are living in a symbioses with oak trees), in the bowl is a jelly of shellfish / chicken stock / peas / foie gras / foie gras parfait / chives / shellfish crisp) – the jelly is my personal favourite (its the best dish of the meal)…. before start eating, the service team will pour hot water over the moss to enhance the oak flavour what is hidden underneath the moss. 10points for the dramatic. 10points for flavour & texture.

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The dry ice installation covers the whole table.

Next, was the all so famous….

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2nd course: Snail porridge

2years ago I had not the fortune to eat this dish. So good to cover it this time. Good taste.

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I love good bread (i’m a person who orders lots of bread, if the bread is good)…. In this case – I have bread on my side plate for the rest of the meal…till dessert.

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Artisan butter – fresh one! needed to order a second serving.

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3rd course: Foie Gras, seaweed, rhubard

Perfectly cooked – great flavours and texture.

Next is the mad hatter tea:

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4th course: Mad hatter tea (special consomme made from chicken, beef and pork), served with a faked egg made from turnip, ox tongue

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the mad hatter tea … served as a golden watch… once placed in the tea pot, hot water will be poured on top,… the soup will dissolve and its up to the customer the pour the soup into the cup.

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the finished soup.

Delicious ! and great entertainment.

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Serve with the mad hatter tea is a special mad hatter plate with small sandwiches.

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One of the great details at the fat duck… the detailed and well executed art works.

5th course: Sound of the sea

 a shell served….hidden inside – an Ipod nano. playing the sound of the sea…. it takes couple of seconds to forget to be in a restaurant… drifting towards the beach / sea side…

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The sea side is served… one of the most creative dishes. eatable sand (made of maltodextrin), cured fish and seaweed, seaweed foam

Lots of different flavours & textures.

 drifting towards sea side!

6th course: Liquorice salmon, green asparagus, vanilla mayonnaise, grapefruit

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Salmon cooked to perfection. Stunning dish.

7th Course & Main course:

Barbary duck breast, blood pudding gel, potato mash, crisp duck roulade

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Perfectly cooked, juicy and great flavours….

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…side dish – potato mash (with lots of butter incorporated), crisp duck roulade…. by then – more then satisfied and full.

Start of dessert: Hot & cold ice tea

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to start the dessert… theme is “picknick” – the hot & cold ice tea is served. A very interesting drink. As on one side the fluid is cold, on the other it is hot. It is more about the sensation in the mouth, as it is unusual to have a fluid giving such a reaction.

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A mini cone with earl grey ice cream is served….

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..followed by the picknick… marinated strawberries with a white chocolate blanket. Nothing better then wild strawberries (the small ones on the left).

Then came the main dessert: In our case, we were a bit more lucky as we got 2different ones. My friend asked for the famous bacon ice cream served on pain perdu and bacon chip, myself was up for the black forest gateau.

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The ice cream was made last minute in front of our table – with liquid nitrogen of course.

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BFG – Black forest gateau.

As by then everyone would have been happy – there is still more to come…

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WHISK(E)Y GUMS… small bottled shaped gums – in different whiskey flavour. Served on a  mini map, for explanation from which area / country originated.

Last but not least… the Sweet shop bag (petit fours)

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The card has its own smell like candy shop.

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The many details throughout the whole meal make this experience an outstanding one.

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Aerated chocolate.

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Apple pie caramel – with eatable wrapper.

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Queen of hearts – white chocolate card, filled with raspberry jam. Magical & delicious!!

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The coconut baccy: coconut flavoured with tobacco

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As usual in England – Tea time… a big selection of teas to choose from. In this case – White tea is served;

The last sip of tea was taken ard 6pm – after having an amazing afternoon of delicious food, creative work, good drinks/wines and great company.

The food is top of the world – as well the service. The best entertainment you can get. And I would consider it cheap for what you get, I had lots of other restaurants who charge the same amount but haven’t delivered such a complex show/meal.

If there is any complain to make… might, that I have been there 2years ago – and not much has changed (menu wise). Most of the dishes are the same. For me – personally, I wouldn’t want to cook permanently the same dishes,…. BUT, I absolutely can understand why Heston Blumenthal and his team do so. The fat duck is “in search of perfection” – once a dish is perfect (and couple of the dishes I ate – are perfect) it needs to keep going and to showcase them. There are only 40seats per serving. That’s about 1600 customers a month… About 20k a year… I’m sure that there are more people who want to taste these dishes… to be soaked into the wonderland of Mr Heston Blumenthal.

We want to thank here, the whole team and see you in a couple of years…. THANKS!

….. in the end… there was sunshine ard Bray and London! … this needed to be mentioned. It doesn’t happen that often.

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CHEZ NICO @ INNSBRUCK / TIROL / AUSTRIA

Chez Nico – a vegetarian Restaurant in the heart of Innsbruck. Chef Nico traveled and worked around the world (born French) and settled down in Innsbruck, Tirol Austria.

His Food is 100% vegetarian – with new approach and technics of modern cooking. Fresh produce and selected premium products. The menus change frequently – seasonal to availability on the market.

Chef Nico shows that vegetarian food can be delicious (great taste and different textures), thoughtful, creative, ..I even would say: some dishes are mind blowing. A must stop in Innsbruck. 

Here we go: 

A small look into the restaurant. Got about 20seats..

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Chef Nico and his kitchen.

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Homemade bread and butter (with sea salt) to start. 

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Starter: Iced cucumber soup, coconut &white chocolate

Absolutely stunning dish (might be the best dish of the whole dinner – hard to tell, all food tasted delicious). Cucumber, white chocolate and the granite of coconut – an outstanding combination. Definitively a signature dish.

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Pouring the cucumber soup…

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All the elements come together… 

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2nd course: Wild Asparagus, white asparagus, rhubarb, mint

A very interesting take on an asparagus salad – great flavour, great textures. A mix between cold and hot, well balanced flavour. By then I was already impressed.

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3rd Course: Goat cheese Ravioil, Noilly Prat Sauce, clover (hand picked by the chef from the forests around innsbruck) 

Well balanced dish – great flavours. The sauce has a refined richness, perfect combination with the goat cheese.

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Palate cleanser: A granite of pine tree, apple & smoke

Stunning, outstanding, out of this world….. Nothing much to say. The unusual flavours went well…Loved it!

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Main: Tart of seasonal vegetables 

Good taste… might not be the star of tonight’s dinner BUT great taste. A more usual kind of vegetarian dish. 

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Dessert: Poached rhubarb, choux pastry, vanilla creme (espuma), fromage ice cream, gold leaves

A successful ending for a stunning meal. Great flavours, great textures,… Want more. 

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A big thanks to Chef Nico and his team (Chris) – WE will be back. 

UNDERGROUND DINNER # 1 – SINGAPORE

Hosted by Crystal Chua, the woman behind “my private chef” (www.myprivatechef.com.sg), she came up with the underground dinner for Singapore….and me being the host chef that night – gave me an opportunity to leave my kitchen and exchange it to an very interesting night service under the sky of Singapore. The menu was inspired by Singapore as well – as we had such an interesting venue.

Underground Dinners (by Crystal Chua)

Expand your gastronomic and social horizons at our monthly Underground Dinners for fun fine food lovers.

Each month, one of our Private Chefs will host an exclusive dinner at a very special venue. He or she will walk you through the preparation of the fabulous feast, which you will then get to enjoy.

Come with an empty stomach and an open mind, we are sure you will leave sated and stimulated having savoured new food and made new friends.

Sssshhh…..Details will be disclosed to the confirmed guests 48hours before so SIGN UP, at no charge, now to get little whispering invitations for our upcoming Underground Dinners.

You will get the chance to specify your special dietary requirement when you confirm your seat later.

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910)

…………………………………………..lets get started!

Welcome to the Reflection Museum of Singapore @ Bukit Chandu – a monument of Singapore’s history (one of the long lasted battles in World War II – before the British army surrendered to the Japaneses)

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A great setting under Singapore’s sky…… (the Reflection Museum in the back)

Table settings….

Getting started for Canapes ( white asparagus cones, Singapore soil, autumn leaves)

guests arrived, mingled, wines & canapes are served….

And then,…. dinner commenced

We started with Duck tea (a consomme of duck) and Singapore laksa “my take on it” for amusebouche….

Starter that night: Tuna tartare, with oyster leaves (see note below), soy caviar, wasabi, red radish, borage

 Note: Oyster leaves (vegetarian oyster). One of the most interesting product to work with. Its an leave with an natural taste of oyster. Found on the coast of Scotland (distributed via Koppert Cress around the world). Actually found by accident – as a Scottish fisherman once discovered this leave at their coast, not knowing what it was. But as he popped it into his mouth…. a new product was up for the market. Ferran Adria was the first to get his fingers on it…. from there – history.

Second course was Foie Gras (Goose liver) Anglaise. A custard made from duck consomme, milk and heavy cream – but instead of using egg yolk to set the custard, I’m using Iota Carrageenan (a nature gelling agent made from red algea).

Served with Parmesan foam. (the photo below is not from that night – forgot to take)

Fish course: Cod “black & white” – cod fish marinated with squid ink (set under vacuum) and cooked in the thermo-circulator by 60degrees. The fish looks like a piece of charcoal – but once eaten, the inside of the fish is still white and moist. Served with golden cup mushrooms from Singapore, wild amaranth and saffron sauce.

Main course: Chicken breast (63degrees), Italian parsley infused barley and pickled kombu.

Pre Dessert:

Yuzu “treated like a drama” / yuzu sorbet with Hibiscus gazpacho (haven’t got a good shot of that)

For the dramatic elements – A dry ice installation with hibiscus was done to create a strong scent of the flower,… and to cool down our guests, was quite hot up there. Meanwhile the servers pour the hibiscus gazpacho onto the yuzu sorbet.

Dessert: 

“Inspired by red” – a composition of raspberry and strawberry in various textures (fresh fruit, sorbet, ice cream, jelly, espuma (foam), freeze dried, liquid)

To finish the night – pop cakes in local flavours (Durian & Kaya Toast).

I’m in Singapore since about 4years now, being a person who eat / tries everything – as well Durian, but still to today’s date, I do not understand why Durian is such a delicacy for locals. The flavour and smell is just too strong for my taste. Must be something u need to grow up with… Like AngMo and their blue cheese…

Some photos behind the scene to finish my post of the underground dinner #1.

The outside area – to transfer into a mobile kitchen ….

transformed into kitchen…

Storage…

Hot prep area..

Hot prep II

My assistance & Sous chef that night. Ms Vanny.

…….. A big thank you to Crystal Chua for organizing the event, Vanny for helping out in the kitchen and Uncle 8 – our Driver at Novus.

EARTH DAY 2012 @ NOVUS SINGAPORE

Earth day is celebrated every year on the 22nd of April. This particular day should be more important to all of us – as we should appreciate mother earth far more then we currently do.

My idea for this year – create a menu with only Singapore produce…. and here we go:

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Here is a Vimeo link of the video – in case the Youtube one is banned (as I got some feedback from Germany, as there are some serious internet policy issues)

http://vimeo.com/38897494

Amusebouche I

FROM THE SHORE

Oyster, clam, mussel, coriander, seaweed foam, eatable sand

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Amusebouche II

FROM THE PERANAKAN CULTURE

Laksa – a complete different take on the original

Prawn tartare / laksa espuma / prawn cracker

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(the army of prawn crackers….)

Amusebouche III

FROM UNCLE WILLIAM’s FARMS

Quail egg & chrysanthemum infused quail tea

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(infused quail consomme with chrysanthemum)

1st course

FROM THE GARDEN

Avocado espuma, crabmeat, eatable soil, assorted sprouts

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2nd course

FROM THE HAWKER

Pork rib soup, pork bun & red radish

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(pork bun – stuffed with pork rib farce)

3rd course

FROM THE SEA

Pearl Garoupa en sous vide, golden cup mushrooms, wild amaranth

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Garoupa, rolled and prepared sous vide, sauteed golden cup mushrooms, chips from golden cup mushroom stem & wild amaranth (chinese spinach), light broth of fish stock , kombu and chives – lightly thickened with xanthan gum

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(12kg garoupa from Kranji, Singapore) what for a piece of work

4th course

FROM THE LAND

Farm chicken & rice

Chicken breast, 63degrees egg yolk, rice paper, sesame powder, soy gel, coriander leaves

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(chicken cooked sous vide 63degrees, poached egg yolk on creamy rice congee, soy gel and spicy chilli sauce from the tube)
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(behind the scene: egg yolks in clarified butter, waiting for their action scene)

5th main course

THE FAT OF THE LAND

Crocodile, spring onions, cactus, black fungus mushroom, homemade rat tail noodles

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Roast crocodile with homemade rat tail noodles (Lou Syu Fan, Mee Tai Bak), black fungus mushroom and veal jus/stock.

6th pre-dessert

THE SWEET SIDE OF SG

Hibiscus flavoured tofu, melon gazpacho, compressed melons, aloe vera

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homemade tofu with hibiscus, cold soup of melons…..just needed some scent to get this dish going….
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…..dry ice installation with hibiscus – to generate the flowery scent… very strong.
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(after the dry ice bath..)

7th dessert

SG BACK IN TIME – in black & white

Black sesame micro sponge, soy bean ice cream

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(black sesame sponge made with a siphon & baked in microwave in 60seconds, sesame custard paste & soy ice cream)

Petit fours

Lollipops (durian & kaya toast)

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(the classic flavour of Singapore – Durian & Kaya Toast in mini lollipop cakes)

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Take away… mini meringues in red & white for give away…

In the end,… here is a short video from the dinner itself. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL7CAvOt9ig

http://vimeo.com/41132490