TGA Events Highlights – May 2013 (Updated)

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MAY 2013

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Please note that some of the venues may serve alcohol or non-halal ingredients.

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SEMANA GASTRONOMICA COLOMBIANA at CAFE GRAN VIA, GRAN MELIA JAKARTA

After several times attending interesting culinary show off at Gran Melia Jakarta from countries of Latin America and Spain, finally it’s time for the Colombians. Chef Nicolas Montoya is designated to lead this festivity which will be held only in short period time until June 2nd.

It’s only natural that Latin American cuisine, with the exception of Mexican, employs a certain high degree of sweetness in its dishes. Be it using brown sugar, plantains, and also the legendary dulce de leche. Without doubt, Chef Nicolas used these wonderful ingredients on his dishes. After a long due of speeches and traditional dances, I got the opportunity to taste interesting take on proteins that we’re actually familiar with.

Gran Melia - Semana Gastronomica Colombiana - Traditional dishes of Colombia

Firstly, it’s the indulging beef ribs soaked with brown sugar but retains a good savory flavor as well. There’s also the prawns with tamarind sauce, chicken, arepa or the corn cakes, beef flanks, fried plantains, and the rich coconut rice with plenty of raisins. Chef Nicolas did well and fits in directly with our Indonesian tongue in terms of sweet dishes, although it’ll be more interesting if we saw spicy dishes as well like what I love from the Mexicans, but what’s quite surprising was perhaps the coffee cream dessert which was only fit for Middle Eastern people in terms of its high degree of sweetness. It was a good experience nonetheless and another new entry for my culinary dictionary. Ay ay Colombians!

Ongoing promotion until June 2nd.

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TRUE THAI FLAVOURS at CINNAMON, MANDARIN ORIENTAL JAKARTA

It has been several years since I last visited Vimanmek Mansion back in Bangkok and accidentally found a really, really delicious pad thai inside the employee’s canteen. A particular oba-san cooked it by putting all the ingredients bare handed and also did transactions at the same time. But we couldn’t care less and in the end, it was one of the best pad thai I ever had.

Having this rare chance to again experience the best from native Thai back at Cinnamon was a blissful opportunity. Although ultimately the oba-san’pad thai remained as the undisputed champion, but Chef Sumet Sumpachanyanont from Mandarin Oriental Bangkok presented us with a vast array of beautiful Thai dishes.

Chef Sumet’s mastery of Thai cuisine has helped him to preside over a variety of Thai food promotions and training in many different countries including Australia, England, Japan, Macau, France, Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong. He now teaches at Mandarin Oriental Professional Thai Chef Programme and is the host of a popular TV cooking show in Bangkok.

The best part of that night were these two pretty creations of stir fried prawn with cashew nut and spring onions, plus also the opor lookalike – green chicken curry with eggplants and Thai sweet basil.

Additionally, the Thai take on soft shell crab with salt, chili, crispy garlic, and shallot was also challenging and went really well with the hom mali / jasmine rice. Initially though, I started with Thai-stylized salad of spicy grilled beef with grapes and mint. Other than that, several mouth-watering fritters such as the deep-fried marinated chicken wing and prathad lom or the golden crispy prawn rolls dipped with sauces native of the country were also very appetizing.

Mango Salad

Until finally in the end, I found the perfect tub tim krob or the famous Red Rubies made from water chestnut, syrup, and coconut milk, although some found it too sweet. Apart from that, the mango season finally arrives and Chef Sumet put this beautiful fruit with delicious sticky rice and steamed pumpkin cake. It was a very deserving night in a time when I really miss strutting the streets of Bangkok and its majestic landmarks, plus of course, the great Thai cuisine! Really looking forward to one day again enjoying Chef Sumet’s creations straight from his kitchen in the city.

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WHITE ASPARAGUS AFFAIR at SCUSA, INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL JAKARTA

The precious white asparagus has finally come this May and sparking some competitions among hotels and fancy restaurants in Jakarta. One of them who decided to enter this tournament is Intercontinental Hotel with its famed Italian restaurant, Scusa.

You may wonder what’s the real difference between the usual green asparagus and this one. During the process of planting the asparagus, the shoots were deliberately concealed with dirt to avoid the process of photosynthesis, depriving them out of lights. Thus the asparagus cannot have the ability to produce the green color.

Well, jokingly, I don’t know whether this is similar with animal abuse process such as harvesting the shark fins or force feeding for foie gras. Anybody can share about it perhaps?

In the end, white asparagus is considered to be milder, tender, and less bitter. It’s even called as ‘the royal vegetable’ or the ‘edible ivory’. Aside from the white and black truffles, I suppose this type of vegetable comes next in terms of exotic.

White asparagus with fried egg, parmesan, black truffle, rosemary butter sauce

The preliminary rounds consisted of fried egg with parmesan and shaved black truffles over the asparagus with rosemary butter sauce. It was nice and it’s all about the good mixture between the egg and the asparagus. The sauce, I think, could have been infused with bolder elements of spicy or acidic, thus making it more appetizing for the palate.

On the other hand, the white asparagus soup, which relied heavily to parmigiano reggiano cheese, was more lively. Although in overall still mild in flavor, but I can still sense the good saltiness and that helped a lot to move on for the real deal.

Steamed Sea Bass

My choice for steamed sea bass was okay, but I guess I’m kinda jealous with other bloggers who opted for the beef tenderloin with béarnaise sauce. My fish was quite nicely arranged with julienned vegetables, potatoes, and capers. Even so, I was hoping that the sea bass to pan-fried instead steamed so that I can have that crusty salty skin and the lovely sealed flavor of the fish. For the sides, white asparagus risotto and boiled white asparagus with arugula, brown butter sauce, and poached egg were indeed appeasing. I should say that in the end, I am really fond of the vegetables!

Although the melted chocolate cake didn’t have anything to do with white asparagus, I found the dinner was indeed quite pleasant. I had to fight against the traffic at first and then found my first ever encounter with these lovely edible ivories. Hopefully next year I’d be having the same opportunity again to meet with them.

Ongoing promotion until June 2013

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Some images are courtesy of respective establishments

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