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DEX N MUT: BEST BULALO IN TOWN
Bulalo with rice all you can
Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments


What can $250 get you nowadays? Not much when overpriced sneakers cost as much or when you’re the type who just has to have the latest gadget as soon as it comes out. A seat at a one-night only gala dinner with dishes by four masterchefs—one of whom with a Three-Michelin-Star attached to his name—at the Venetian in Macau could be one though.

Consider it an audience with four master artists, only, the “artworks” are served on plates and are able to please the five senses. While the price may seem relatively hefty, it certainly is a matter of opinion for any gastronome who have ever wanted to experience dining on what the world’s best chefs have to offer would realize that it’s well worth the admission fee.

For starters, there are the canapés by the Venetian’s own Chef Karlheinz Ritter. This native of Germany has been throughout Asia, Middle East, USA, and the Caribbean before settling in Macau. Which is probably why the canapés he prepared—eight in all—featured a mixture of various influences.

Overflowing champagne courtesy of G.H. Mumm made for a terrific palette cleanser to the hard-on-the-outside-soft-in-the-inside sweet Goose Liver Lollipop, the interesting taste of the Drunken Quail Egg with Edamame and Wood Fungus, the Scallop Tartar with Caviar, the Beijing Duck and Foie Gras Wrap, the Minted Pea Velvet with Poached Prawn, the Porcini Mousse Crostini, and the tender and quite filling Wagyu Sirloin wrapped with Arugula, Parmesan, and Black Truffle.

As the guests began to fill their respective seats inside the dimly-lit Florence ballroom, servers moved like clockwork as the dinner formally began.

The Venetian’s Executive Chef Alen Chow, who has been part with the hotel since its pre-opening phase, prepared a cuisine that can be considered timely. His Gold, Silver, and Bronze Appetizer—served with a 2004 Chateau Villa Bel Air, Graves Blanc—certainly deserved Olympic-size accolade for mere presentation alone. Deciding on which to eat first required very little logic. The Bronze, which was actually Marinated Local Snapper with Sea Urchin, was pleasantly fresh. Moving up to the Silver, which is Hairy Crab with Crab Coral, only increased the anticipation for what is yet to come. And it didn't disappoint as the Gold, which is Foie Gras with Japanese Plum Wine, satisfied with its buttery and sophisticated goodness.

It was then the masterchefs’ turn to delight, starting with Portugal’s Vitor Sobral and his Braised Black Grouper and Tasmanian Black Mussels with Eggplant and “Hortelã da Ribeira”, which, roughly translated means mint of the river or mint of the stream.

The black grouper, which is more limited compared to the red variety, was definitely thick and meaty and could be a main course by itself. The mint, also quite difficult to find in the marketplace, gives off a wonderful scent that doesn't overpower. As a whole, the dish—served with a 2006 Marziano Abbona, Cinerino—is probably as close as anyone could get to authentic Portuguese cooking.

Masterchef Sam Leong of Singapore then provided a deservingly light break with his Crispy Prawn coated with Lemon Citrus Dressing and the Mango Salsa with Baked and Chilled Tomato. This dish was served with a 2005 Maison Champy, Bourgogne Pinot Noir Signature.

Leong is the Corporate Chef and Director of Kitchens of Tung Lok Restaurants and has multiple honors from the World Gourmet Summit (WGS) Awards of Excellence including Executive Chef of the Year for 2005. Earlier this year, he won the International Star Diamond Chef Award by the New York-based American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.

The name of his dish for this dinner spoke for itself as the skinned prawn was made unusually crunchy with the dressing adding the fruity and lingering delightful taste. The mango and the tomatoes were probably added to play with the crispy prawn’s ability to produce different new tastes once combined inside the mouth.

“The prawn used must be very fresh and coated with corn flour and deep-fried until crispy,” Leong explained. “After deep-frying, wok-fry the prawn with carnation milk, lemon jus, honey and curry powder.”

Three-Michelin Star Chef Jean-Michel Lorain of France must have been in a very cheerful mood that night as his Angus Beef Tenderloin, together with the Truffled Jerusalem Artichoke, Green Pea Cream and Bacon, and Arabica Flavored Veal Jus brought a smile to just about everyone on the table, a nod for others in the room.

The richness in the taste of the Angus beef is already a given although it could have been made just a little bit easier to chew. But that’s just a personal opinion. What made the main course extra special were the combined sweetness of the artichoke, the saltiness of the green pea cream and bacon, and the hint of coffee fused with the veal jus. All combined with the Angus beef, the result was an explosion of tastes better experienced than described. Paired with the dish is a 2004 Roquette E Cazes, Xisto.

Following a main course by a three-Michelin star chef may be challenging for any pâtissier. But not for Masterchef Paco Torreblanca of Spain. Widely regarded as one of the best—if not the best—pastry chef in the world, Torreblanca focuses on the purity of flavors. Coupled with his imagination and innovation, he produces revolutionary dishes that are both modern and elegant.

Torreblanca has also said that he is looking to create desserts with less calories and sugar for it to be healthier yet remain delicious. Such was his Ceylon Tea Infused Chocolate Cake—served with a Quinta de la Rosa, Finest Reserve Port N.V. Taking into consideration the crisp aromatic flavour of the Ceylon tea, Torreblanca was able to come up with a less chocolaty and more of a deceivingly light dessert conclusion.

The Gala Dinner was the highlight of the Wine and Gourmet Asia 2008 organized by Koelnmesse Pte Ltd.

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