Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The best of Spain at Mandarin Oriental KL, Aziamendi and Vega Sicilia.

As we walked towards Mandarin Oriental KL, the huge poster greeted us. As you've already known, or perhaps the city of Kuala Lumpur....the pop up restaurant of Aziamendi 88 is here in KL for 88 days. Each day during the low season in Phuket, the entire team of Aziamendi travels the world with this pop-up restaurant concept. My oh my and Malaysia is the lucky one to be selected in this project collaboration.
The other important highlight for us is this gentleman. Mr. Pablo Alvarez.....the owner of Vega Sicilia, equivalently to the King of Spanish Wines. How befitting :))) we have the youngest 3 Michelin starred Chef Eneko Atxa cooking and wine tasting with Mr. Alvarez :))) can't get any better than this and would be the one of the main highlight.

Mr. Pablo Alvarez flew in just for this lunch and some quality time spent with us before heading back to Singapore, his bigger market for more tasting events with his clients.

Joining us that afternoon from Spain was Mr. Antonio Menendez Puente the commercial director of the winery. If u were wondering why the name Rothschild is being imprinted here on our lil wine tasting booklet....Both Vega Sicilia and Rothschild have collaborated in a joint venture to produce and even more unique partnership between this 2 huge maisons.

The icon of Mandarin Oriental around the world :))))

and Peakie D had to emphasized it by bringing her fan which she used constantly. If not bcoz of Peakie D we would not have been able to secure a reservation in such a short notice....like a few days notice??? It was quite impossible for me when everything was fully booked till end of August.

Peakie D: "Don't thank me.....thank Mr. Avarez...his name is important enough to secure this reservation."
But really thank you so much for trying and to Wei Bel of MO KL :)))

and we got a rather lovely table next to the garden...it's even more lovely during the day than at nite!!! Monkey bz chatting with Antonio whom like me, just joined this industry 4 months ago. :))) Yep indeed a very refreshing change for both of us and we already have exciting plans for the brands ahead. :)))

Peakie D and Mr. Pablo Avarez

Vega Sicilia started out in 1864 on the Northern part of Spain, which is about 2 hours drive from Madrid. Its top range - Unico was  Spain's first great wines and until today, it still is with no one close to be compared with. Today it is so much sought and Monkey was really lucky to be introduced to Unico 10 years ago by a friend and the bad thing is, when u were already introduced the very best on the first sip, u can't turn back. However it is not the case for Vega Sicilia, I was rather amazed with its other cuvees too :))

Our very first Amuse Bouche was the Bonsai Tree with "red fruits". Upon its presentation Mr. Alvarez said in Spain, Chef Atxa used the olive tree but with similar concept. I like that he innovated accordingly to the culture of specific countries....bonsai tree definitely more relevant here plus it ain't easy to look for olive tree!!!!

The cherry tomatoes were infused with raspberry juice injected to it...so if u look carefully the jus were almost dripping out from this forbidden fruits.

underneath it were edible barks...which were made from earthy root vegetables. With flavours of savoury and earthiness, it was good enough to tantalize our tastebuds.

Next is his signature picnic basket, usually this will be served at a special corner for this pop-up restaurant. It's a beautiful corner, all decked with greens and benches, it's as though u are goin for picnic...but bcoz we were so engrossed in our conversation about the wines and terroir...this group moved straight to the table to further discuss more. So if u do come here to dine, you will be having your lil "picnic" at that specially created corner.

here we have the Mojito Bon Bon...pop it whole in your mouth to let the flavours of tangy lime coats your mouth for a further sensory experience. The flavours were quite Thai to me :))) and brought back memories of Phuket :))

beautiful Anchovies Mille-feuille with almost-butterflies liked petals, sandwiched in thin wafers...made from the very best anchovies in Spain. It was at this juncture that Mr. JS started to complained about me.

JS to Chef Takashi
"I have this expensive anchovies which I procured from Spain...."
Chef Takashi: "Itu paling best!!"

JS: "Yes and someone threw it away for me."

Chef Takashi O.O "Itu mahal!!"

eyes turned to me and I felt them snarling at me....yes I did....I threw it away bcoz it was inside a container looking like some old overnight food coated in olive oil. Moral of the story is, please label ur ingredients. JS swears he's gonna get another fridge just to store his ingredients.

those black lil crackers were corn toastead crackers....topped with generous dollops of caviar...and sea urchin creme...The salty brine of the sea...all in one single crackers. I don't mind this everyday as snacks. Tee Hee Hee...

Pintia Toro 2008 from the arid region. When it's so difficult to survive, the vine works harder to extract and nutrients off the ground. However thanks to cooler climate during the night - bcoz it lies 500m above sea level....it somehow balance off the acidity and the ripening of its grapes.

The nose of deep dark berries, plums and cherries were really pronounced. A bottle that can be enjoyed for its fresh fruity nose.

Truffled egg is another signature of Chef Atxa.
Prollie this pic did not justice bcoz it was cooked inside out and we could see some dark liquid inside the egg yolk. *u can't see it from this pic*

the hot truffle jus or consomme were carefully injected into the egg yolk hence it was cooked inside out. Well I don't have to say much...truffles and eggs are best friends anyway. :)))

Sommelier Guillaume and Michelle H were the lucky few...we were indeed so blessed to be invited for this luncheon gathering.

It's called The Garden...
with miniature herbs, tomatoes, carrot and sliced zucchini.

The soil were made from dehydrated beets and paired really well with the soft sweetness of tomato emulsion. Just that personally for me, it did not transition well bcoz the flavours were quite clean as compared to the previous dishes.

this is a superb partnership between Benjamin Rothschild and Vega Sicilia....it's a collaboration from the best of both world...the Spanish and the French. This bottle is really very drinkable and being from Rioja it would have the profile but with a balanced subtleness - this was wat I liked the most....Structured and well balanced. I'm a big follower of wines with similar profile :))

favourite for the day :)))
Valbuena 2010, it's really very approachable bcoz the profile is really close to Burgundy wines. Labelled as the best Valbuena we can't deny the terroir rules here. The number 5 signify the numbers of years aged in various casks before release.

Based on the colors, u would have thought that the palate would be quite powerful but don't be fooled. It's really voluptuous with such precision and pureness. I guess bcoz we love burgundy wines, this was our favourite.

For this pairing, we had the Japanese Tuna with garlic cream, croquettes and flowers.

There can only be one and only....Laguoile knives :)))

Main course was sous vide lamb shoulder with rosemary. It was prepared for many hours to give the melt in the mouth texture.

I was introduced to Vega Sicilia with a bottle of Unico many years ago...the crown of the winery. On that beautiful Saturday afternoon we had this berries scent dark red wine. With its good acidity, this babe can age for another 10 more years to be enjoyed in 2025. Made from the oldest grapevines in the Ribera del Duero this is definitely really complex but with a good structure.

Chef Eneko Atxa came out to say hello to Mr. Alvarez and Antonio and they spoke Spanish so none of us understood. :P

Michelle H and Monkey.....we are really blessed and lucky for the experience of such stunning wines, paired with amazing creations from Chef Atxa.

Chef Atxa, Peakie D, Pablo Avarez...
and then everyone queue up to have their pic snap like a photobooth....hahahaha

Chef Atxa, JS, Pablo and Monkey
with Ellen and Antonio

Chef Takashi and Sommelier Guillaume 

I'm a Chef

I'm a chef too!! *hahah just kidding*

in fact Chef Atxa mentioned that he has heard about Cilantro Restaurant...that's really an accolade to be mentioned this way by an international chef.

thank you so much to Ellen for organising this :)))

Guillaume decided that he's gonna be shorter than me for once.

our dessert which I forgotten to eat....was too bz talking and enjoying the Tokaji...the final dessert wines presented on the table.

Oremus Tokaji

The Oremus was purchased by the Alvarez family in 1993, thus further expanding their wine empire. Sweet intensity and yet balanced. 

Final line-up for the afternoon
Sorry about the Dom Perignon

As we were enjoying the remaining of the afternoon.....Mr. Alvarez and Antonio had to rush off to the airport to catch their flight....the rest of the men were gone too. We were wondering where have they been?
They went on a lil tour with Behzad the GM of Aziamendi Phuket. He will be based here for 88 days to manage the operations side of the pop up restaurant.

Thank you once again to Ellen for flying in the two gentlemen for a beautiful afternoon. We are truly blessed. 

For more info on Aziamendi88:

Visit the official website of Vega Sicilia to discover more: