Andrew: Yes, we know we have been neglecting our blog a lot recently because there have just been too many transitions this year – new job, new house etc. We’ve still been exploring interesting food places, though not to the same extent as before and I do hope that we revive this blog again, because it has always served as a place for us to store great memories.
One of the more interesting food adventures we went for recently was for Savour 2012. Savour is an annual event where world-class chefs are invited to set up a booth for a 3-day food fair at the Gourmet Village at the F1 Paddock and Pit building.
Jasmine: I’m so grateful to my resourceful husband for always being on the lookout for interesting new concepts and places that we can experience. Despite the midday heat, our afternoon at Savour ranks as one of my favourite culinary experiences of 2012 so far.
Andrew: How it works is that you pay a certain amount to enter the Gourmet village – it’s much cheaper for lunch than dinner, but of course, if you go for lunch, you have to contend with the scorching heat! It was really quite funny seeing all these gourmet chefs from all over the world sweating profusely while trying to sell their dishes. After you enter, you purchase ‘Savour dollars’ which you can then use to buy the various food items.
We had the most fascinating gastronomic journey for about half the price we would normally pay if we visited these Michelin restaurants. Here are the amazing offers we enjoyed that day, categorized according to chef:
Chef Alvin Leung, Bo Innovation (Hong Kong)
Andrew: I had heard about Alvin Leung before, especially his approach to ‘deconstructing’ dim-sum, so I was quite keen on checking out his booth. His most well-known dish is:
Molecular Xiao Long Bao
This little ‘egg-yolk’ just bursts with all the flavours of Xiao Long Bao when you slide it into your mouth. There is no meat inside, but the flavours are nicely captured and because the skin is so thin, you don’t have the ‘floury’ taste of the xiao long bao skin that flattens the flavours. A good start definitely!
Jasmine: Yes, the xialongbao was such a surprise, with an explosion of warm, soupy broth on one’s tongue.
Egg waffles with black truffle and vanilla ice cream
Andrew: Yes, our 2nd course was ice-cream because the weather was just so unbearably hot! This was a winner as well – the waffles were crisp and the black truffles brought a hint of saviourness to the dessert. A good take on a traditional HK street food.
Jasmine: Another really enjoyable, luxe interpretation of a ubiquitous HK dessert. A perfectly crispy waffle, enhanced by aromatic black truffle. Many people seem to love truffle oil but that is a cheap and overpriced substitute for the real thing. Be not fooled!
Har Mei Lo Mein, with har mei oil and powder
Andrew: Unfortunately, these noodles didn’t do it for me. I think the main problem was that the dish wasn’t hot enough, hence the fragrance of the har mei didn’t come out at all and the whole dish had an overall weak flavour.
Jasmine: Yes, agree with Drew that this was the weakest of the three. I thought I could have cooked better spaghetti, and I’m not exactly the best of cooks (as the husband will readily attest to).
Chef Hans Valimaki, Chez Dominique Finland
Cod 2.0 for all your senses
Cod brandade flavoured with ‘dashi’ stock and served with cod-skin crackers
Potato and Malt
Sea buckthorn potato icecream with malt
Andrew: I liked the potato and malt dish much more than the cod, though both were good. The cod was very fresh and cooked to a good, firm texture. The barley layer below was interesting too. The potato and malt had a really unique taste. The combination of textures was great too.
Jasmine: When we were browsing the menus online,we were both intrigued by the sea buckthorn potato ice cream. It did not let us down: the crunchiness of the malt added more textural dimension to an unusual, earthy dish.
Chef Douglas Tay, Osia Singapore
Polenta Crumbed Foie Gras
Andrew: Ironically enough, this dish made locally was my favourite savoury dish of the day. Dearie and I just couldn’t stop going ‘mmm…’ as we savoured each bite of this delicately prepared foie gras. The polenta enhanced the flavour of the foie gras by providing a light crunchy outer layer that absorbed and helped spread out the flavours.
Jasmine: We often have the impression that expensive delicacies should be served in its ‘purest’ form, but this polenta-crumbed foie gras proves otherwise. The polenta crumbs, far from obscuring the taste, served as a layer of insulation during the cooking process, helping to preserve the juicy fattiness of the foie gras. And once again, the contrast of the crispy polenta and smooth, creamy foie gras was a match made in gastronomical heaven.There were two standout dishes at Savour. This was one of them, and the second is just below.
Chef Alain Pasard, L’Arpege France
Chaud Froid of Egg, with maple syrup and xeres vinegar
Andrew: This was another dish that both Dearie and I loved lots. An amazing combination of sweet, sour and egg yolk – this would be a great appetizer.
Jasmine: Still, still dreaming of this perfect example of nouvelle French cuisine from three Michelin-starred Chef Alain. Perfectly poached till runny, and the mixture of silky egg white swirled with rich warm egg yolk demonstrated how brilliant simple (in concept that is, not in execution or skill) dishes can be when executed flawlessly.
Chef Tatiana Szeles, Boa Bistro Brazil
Coxinha – Brazilian Chicken Croquettes, with pepper jelly
Andrew: The croquettes had a firm and chewy texture and the pepper jelly went very well with it.
Picanha – Brazilian-style top sirloin cap, with farofa and vinaigrette
Andrew: This dish was alright. I was having a meat craving at this point – as you notice, the dishes we’d tried so far had been rather light, so this steak was a nice change. The chillis you see at the bottom were rather potent though – more powerful than our chilli padi.
Chocolate Brigadeiro, truffle candy, with cupuacu
Andrew: Cupuacu is supposed to be a kind of tree bark, so we thought it’d be fun to try it. This dessert was a nice mix of textures, but not that unique in terms of flavour.
Jasmine: The cupuacu had a firm, jelly-like consistency to it and was mildly sweet, so it went well with the molten chocolate and nuts.
Chef Virgilio Martinez, Central Restaurante (Peru)
Cacao, Corn and Chilli
Cacao Peru 64% and corn with rocoto pepper oil
Andrew: The cacao was rich, with strong flavours but the dish as a whole didn’t quite work for me as it just seemed rather normal. The pepper oil, I felt, should have been spicier to give the dish a greater kick – like the amazing spiced hot chocolate we tried at Chelsea Market in NY.
Chef Sasha Kutuzova, Buyan Russian Haute Cuisine and Caviar Bar
Beef strips with creamy mushroom sauce, served with mashed potatoes
Andrew: A nice meaty dish to end off our time at Savour!
Jasmine: Not a fan of the plating (which was not to do with the fact that the plates were plastic, because we’d seen other dishes that still managed to look classy sitting on disposable tableware): it made a supposedly rich and hearty Russion favourite look no better than the “mystery meat” served in a school tuckshop. It looked like canteen food and tasted only slightly better.
Satisfied after an afternoon of fascinating cuisine!
Andrew: After finishing our dinner, we went upstairs to the supermarket (to get some aircon) and had such a great time sampling different kinds of cheeses, caviar, French cookies, wagyu beef, fresh organic fruits.
Am looking forward to Savour 2013, though we will consider coming for dinner the next time.
Jasmine: Actually, the supermarket alone is worth blogging about, because of all the exotic foods on display and available for sampling. I got to try Iberico ham carved on the spot, apple pork sausages, purple carrots and my favourite- smoked salmon! And the array of cheeses has sparked off another food-related sub-interest: cheese platters!