There are many official food societies and organizations in Singapore. None more secretive than the Chaîne des Rôti-Prata; which I am told, via hearsay, is so exclusive that only brother members of the Chaîne des Rôti ala Canai know about. However when it comes to age, the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs de France is the oldest food society in the world.
The term “Confrérie” means “Brotherhood” in French which conveys an almost religious gravity to the whole affair. Quite unlike a Convivium which has a less serious outlook and we accept and enjoy the company of women. 😉
Nevertheless, dinners with the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs de Singapour is a grand and fine affair. And this event called “Let’s Pig Out” was the first official dinner with the new Bailli Délégué, (pronounced, with some gravity, “ba-yi day-lay-gay”), Ted Lee.
Being a serious – is there any other? – pig-themed dinner affair, there was Piper-Heideseck Premier Brut Champagne and nibbles in the foyer. And since my good friend Henry had to see to last minute details, I sought conversation by the nibbles table.
It seriously good nibbles.
Pan-fried handmade (by the hotel) sausages stuffed with lobster meat served with a thickened Lobster Bisque as sauce. The sausages were stuffed with lobster meat as the hotel caters to a large Muslim clientele.
Accompanied by cold Champagne, this could actually be served as dinner and nobody would have minded.
You do realize that I am only joking, right?
One of the features of a Chaine dinner is the decor. It is always spectacular and this time it was more intimate with a different table setting for each table.
The first course was a buffet of cold appetizers. This was done in a very classy way where each table had the buffet spread on a Lazy Susan. I think this is a very elegant way of serving buffet.
We were certainly doing a European tour of the pig with Parma ham wrapped around honey melon and Pork Terrine with Gelatin. It was announced that we were also doing a tour around the pig with the appetizers too. All parts of the pig, from head to toe, they said, were used to create the appetizers. It’s a good thing I did not pay close attention to what’s in the terrine. 😉
But what was intriguing was the cold bean salad with shredded pig’s ear.
Cold, chewy and full of crunch delicately flavoured with olive oil (I think). Not bad. Not bad at all.
With the appetizers done, we were treated to a palate-cleansing double-boiled consommé of Pork Neck and Abalone with Cordyceps. It was very elegant and very refreshing. While the Cordyceps dominated, it did not overwhelm the clean, light taste. It was awesome, one of the best herbal soups I’ve had in a very long time.
The best and most tender part of any animal are the cheeks, so Hannibal Lecter found out during his early days. The Poached Pork Cheeks with White Asparagus and Morels was an interesting combination where the cheeks provided the texture while the Morels stood out against the milder White Asparagus.
And while this blog loves bacon and anything lovingly wrapped in those perilously delicious strips, the Pan-seared Monkfish Wrapped in Bacon, Savoy Cabbage and Mustard Sauce suffered because of it. This is because Monkfish is very mild in flavour and cannot hold up to something as strong as Bacon.
And speaking of flavour, it is common for menus to list meats marinated or poached in “jus”. This is one of those dress-up words whose usage gives the dish a touch of sophistication. Most of the time, it’s “brown sauce”. Needless to say, when the Braised Pig Trotter Filled With Sweetbreads, Turnip Puree and Braising Jus arrived it was in an almost uniform shade of brown.
But that’s was ok as the skin was springy and added some texture to the sweetbreads, the turnip puree added some weight to the whole thing but it did not really do much. I guess brown sauce gets a little boring after a while, especially when everyone is doing it.
All this while, I was slightly distracted by the warm sound of an acoustic guitar pouring out the sweet sultry sounds of jazz. It was accompanied by an equally awesome jazz vocalist. Sarah Wee and Alvin Khoo. I was told that the two are very talented musicians that appeared on local TV recently. They were simply outstanding.
And speaking of outstanding, the highlight of the meal, the Pièce de résistance was the Suckling Pig With Mangoes.
Having had quite a few roast pigs, I thought it was going to be another so-so swine. Of course, I was wrong. It was not exactly crackling on the outside, the skin was crisp but the meat inside was very juicy. And I’m sure you can imagine how caramelized Mangoes taste like.
Interestingly, everyone had the same serving, a toe and the “fist” (“hock”?)of the trotter. So you can imagine how many pigs were
sacri required for this.
The wines that night were, like all Chaine dinners, excellent that night. While the Ch. Montrose was excellent, what I really enjoyed was the Leoville Barton 1994; while it was still a little young, one taste and you know that the Barton is an old-school wine that requires much aging. Still, the 1994 was an fiesty youngster with the potential to mature into something elegant yet powerful.
Finally, the table was quickly cleared and the table was treated to a buffet of the Hyatt Pastry Chef Gottfried Schuetzenburger’s master creations.
Chef Gottfried is a quiet person but gets a little intense, in a good way, when explaining his creations to a rapt audience.
One of Chef Gottfried’s proudest desserts was the Kaiser Pudding. According to him, one night the Kaiser of Germany (Wilhelm I, I think) got lost while hunting in the forest and he chanced upon a family living in a hut and asked for some food. Being very poor, the family scrapped togther everything they had and put it into a pan.
And it turned out that the Kaiser loved it so much that he had the concoction declared “Kaiser Pudding”. Served with a homemade strawberry and raspberry marmalade, it was definitely a favourite with the table too.
The fruit basket was amazing too. There is something to be said about mutant Strawberries.
With Muscat grapes…
And finally, just as we were leaving the dinner, the hotel decided to give a demonstration of the “molecular gastronomy” prowess by freezing lemon cream in nitrogen. It tasted exactly like frozen lemon cream.
The Chaine dinner was outstanding; one of the best dinners for 2007 I’ve attended so far. Executive Chef Brian Cleere and his team did a superlative job on all points from the decor to the fine points of the dinner.
Wine & Dine Asia was present to
ambus take a poll from the guests on the way to the washroom and the favorite adjective used was “Outstanding”.
Dinner at the Hyatt may cost a little more, but you can be assured of quality and fine service.
Oh my, what a luscious spread! These secret societies really know how to enjoy themselves.
But I can’t help but picture a turbaned and heavily bearded+mustachioed guy of a certain predilection when you say “ba-yi day-lay-gay” – sorry, Ted.
P.S. This is the first time I’ve seen pig’s ears done angmoh style in Singapore!
@Camemberu: Oh yes, that’s why they have to remain secret. The pig ears were my first time too and hopefully not my last. 😉
You guys are just making me jealous!
How does one go about becoming a member of this esteemed brotherhood of gluttony?
@kleer: You need to be a professional in the F&B industry first. I was just an invited guest. 😉
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