Friday, May 30, 2014

Croisette Café, Bangsar: New Swine Additions with Classic French Favorites!




Croisette Café Goes Oink-Oink!


Here’s another reason to visit Croisette Café if you haven’t. The French café has taken on the hog and vamp up its menu with new pork dishes. Of course there are many reasons as to why one should visit this café hidden in Cascadium Condo in Bangsar besides the new swine attraction.


Croisette Café is helmed by Chef Pierre C. with his wife, the lovely Michelle. It is a cozy and personal place to enjoy French soul food whipped up by Chef Pierre himself. The dishes are hearty and delicious and dining at Croisette won’t burn a big hole in your pocket. The biggest reason for me would have to be the desserts. The desserts are handmade by Chef Pierre and they are just so damn sexy and good. Saving room for desserts at Croisette is a requirement and not an option!






Our evening meal kicked off with pate on toast… Pork Pate to be exact. This amuse bouche is a French classic turn miniature bite. The homemade Pork Pate is cut thick and lies on a golden piece of crostini before being crowned with baby gherkin, tomato and herb. Despite its miniature size, the flavors of the pate are marvelously rich, creamy and nutty.

A brilliant amuse bouche that left me wanting more…


Savor the Pork Pate with wine and your senses will be elevated even higher… after all, the French savors the very best of their cuisine with wines.

If I can raved a whole paragraph about their amuse bouche, imagine what other dishes would entail. So please bear with my mad ravings of what Croisette has to offer…


The Salad Landaise served with duck confit, gizzards and smoked duck looked so pretty at sight. All at once, I can see colors and textures in the salad. Mixed mesclun greens provides a soft bed for slices of pink smoked duck, crunchy gizzards and shredded rich duck confit. Cubes of croutons, tomatoes and a light citrus dressing seals the deal. Despite all the meat and offal, the salad is light and easy to enjoy.



We moved on to another French dish that uses butter to its maximum effect. Baked Mussels with Herb Butter, Escargot Style is just as good as I had remembered on my last visit. Plump orange mussels literally swim in a glorious pool of luscious herb and garlic butter. A light squeeze of fresh lemon juice brightens up the rich butter sauce and the sweet mussels.

Simple and so good!


There really is nothing to hide with scallops. If cooked well, the bivalve mollusk is a sea treasure to enjoy. Here, the Pan Fried Scallops with Leeks Fondue has nicely seared scallops enjoyed with slow braised creamy leeks. One can feel the love in this dish. Pretty on the plate, the flavors are sweet and creamy with a delicate leek fondue that is so yummy.

You may not want to share this dish… I know I didn’t.


Bavarois Prawn Bisque, Avocado Cream and Cream ‘Grelette’ seems to be a mouthful. And yet, it is simply a dish that has three main components. Savory chilled prawn bisque set with gelatin is accompanied by pureed avocado cream and a cold savory cream sauce.


Texturally unique, the bavarois has a mousse consistency and a bit of crunch from crushed cracker base. The dish overall is very creamy from the prawn bavarois to the avocado cream and another cream sauce. I don’t mind the richness of the dish and find myself spooning a few happily. I do like the intense flavors of the prawn in the bavarois. This dish could be debatable since many may not succumb to its chill savory factor of mousse since we are used to sweet ones.


Grosse Raviole Crèpe is one big ravioli stuffed with mushroom and duck foie gras, scented with truffle oil cloud. It’s a dreamy dish… one that I could just keep savoring endlessly.

Thin soft pasta enrobes earthy sautéed mushrooms with creamy and nutty foie gras. What takes the ravioli to another level is the highly prized truffle oil and perfumed the dish as we savor it bite after bite. The sauce has earthy mushrooms essence and goes well with the ravioli, making it extra juicy. This dish won the thumbs up among our table that night.




Chef Pierre’s Duck Confit with Potato Sarladaise and Mesclun Salad is a proven fact that the French does the best duck confit. I have enjoyed this several times and each time is always a delicious moment. The duck leg is rendered slowly in its own fat till it is soft and rich in a wonderful meaty duck flavor. Just before serving, the leg is crisp up in a pan till golden brown.

As what I had also raved previously, the Potato Sarladaise is really good. Cooked in duck fat with lots of garlic and parsley, the potato is flavorful and a perfect accompaniment for the duck.


We also enjoy the Salmon Fillet with Braised Green Lentil du Puy and Merlot Reduction Sauce. The salmon is nicely cooked but I would have love a crispy skin. The lentils are braised till just tender and cooked with a deep robust sauce. It’s pretty much a comfort dish that evokes French fair cooked with lots of care.


Another main course that really exudes French soul is a piece of good beef prepared well. Our Beef Rib Eye Flambéed with Brandy, Black Pepper Sauce and Gratin Potato has all the elements of a great dish.

Rib eye with a little fat is seared to medium raw and flambéed with brandy for the oomph flavor note. Though the rib eye is already good enough as is, the black pepper sauce gives the meat another flavor. It is creamy and rich, peppery and bold. The last check would be the potato gratin. Baked till tender, it has a lovely crust and is creamy and tasty.

Simply a beautiful plate of flavors…


We finished our main course of the night with a Fillet Mignon Pork with Grain Mustard. Using the fillet mignon of pork, the eye fillet is cooked to a medium pink. The pork is tender and moist. The grain mustard sauce really goes very well with the pork. I like the bold mustard sauce as it gives the pork such a punchy note. Another dish that takes minimal ingredients and elevates them into a scrumptious dish.





Desserts are definitely Chef Pierre’s forte. Choosing one would be almost impossible. So why not savor a few? We had Bavarois Pear and Chocolate, Gateau Fraisier and Chocolate Parfait with French Macarons. The Bavarois Pear and Chocolate had a dark rich chocolate mousse with a light ginger cream while the Chocolate Parfait oozes with dark bittersweet chocolate cream and candied orange peels. The Gateau Fraisier with Patissiere Pistaches has sponge sandwiched with fresh plump strawberries and a pistachio crème pâtissière.


There are more awesome desserts on Chef Pierre’s repertoire so make sure to try as much as possible. I still remembered fondly of his Passion Indulgence where passion fruit meets chocolate indulgently.


I like Croisette Café a lot. Having a meal there is always a pleasure. Everything is laid back and inviting unlike most French restaurants where they tend to go fine dining. Now that Croisette Café has taken on the oink, there is even more reasons to visit. In addition, Croisette Café is heading up north where Chef Pierre and son are opening a branch in Penang. So folks up there north, do follow their Facebook for updates on the Penang branch… you won’t want to miss this!




CROISETTE CAFÉ
Level 3, North Block Cascadium Condo
28, Jalan Penaga Bukit Bandaraya
59100, Bangsar Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 016 330 4477 / 014 665 7944





Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Gastro Project, Section 17 Petaling Jaya: Food with Attitude!



Back for a Taste of Old and New…
 




 
I was impressed with The Gastro Project (TGP) from my previous visit here and I still am with the restaurant that combines two of my favorite passion of movies and food. Based on the concept of British gastro pubs, The Gastro Pub is the place to dine on great pub food and catch a movie while one is there. The Hollywood themed restaurant has recently had some new dishes added to their menu and so a few of us foodies were invited to have a first taste of it.
 

We certainly had a feast that evening and the ambience is pretty cool as usual. The Gastro Project is like the neighborhood’s favorite place where one feels absolutely at home while dining. The food has bold flavors and features an interesting list of fusion dishes that has attitude.
 






We started the evening with their signature appetizer of Mushroom Tart where caramelized mushrooms and onions sit on a bed of golden crispy polenta cake. Earthy and sweet, both mushrooms and onions are the perfect duo to go with the crispy corn polenta. The polenta is very well executed and I really enjoyed the contrasting crispy outside and sandy creamy inside. A little green lightens up the dish. The dish is perfect for those who wish to go meatless and it is quite filling as well.
 

Our two salads were equally delicious! TGP Mozzarella Salad and Japanese Salad prove that salads can be flavorful and good for you. I had the Japanese Salad before in my previous visit and am still pleased with it this round. Mix mesclun salad has cucumbers, avocado, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds are all tossed with nutty and light vinaigrette. I like the lightness and the texture combinations of the salad a lot. The Mozzarella Salad is a hearty combination of luscious creamy hand torn buffalo mozzarella, basil, fresh tomatoes and pine nuts drizzled with balsamic reduction. I love the creamy mozzarella and the balsamic combination as it yields a beautiful and rich flavor combination.
 

There was also a Lamb Kebab platter featuring skewers of grilled minced lamb kebab served with a light vegetable salad and a sauce of tasty pesto twist.
 







The pastas at TGP is really good. Previously, I had their Crabmeat Aglio Olio and love it a lot. This round, I had the Orrechiette and Fettuccine Grilled Chicken. Both pasta dishes are cooked to a perfect tee! Cooked al dente, the Orrechiette pasta or often called ‘ear pasta’ as it resembles one, is baked with cheese and came piping hot. Underneath the blanket of ooey gooey cheese sauce is pasta with homemade meatballs and tomatoes. The flavors are just so inviting and comforting. The silky smooth cheese sauce makes me want to lick the plate clean. The Fettuccine Grilled Chicken took me by surprise. The spiciness in the pasta sauce is lovely and so addictive. I like how the sauce coats every strand of the fettuccine and keeps the pasta moist and tasty. The chicken is tender and moist too. Extra point to TGP for incorporating spicy flavors into their dishes.
 

Now what I had also previously raved at TGP was their TGP pizza. Simply unforgettable, the TGP pizza had a spicy pesto sauce that rocks. TGP pizza is still available in the menu so make sure to order that. Indian Pizza and Moroccan Pizza were the pizzas we tried that evening instead. The Indian pizza features spicy chicken perratal sauce with pieces of chicken and cucumber raita. Personally, I love how spicy the chicken perratal is and the cucumber yoghurt that toned down the heat. There are also cubes of paneer cheese and sliced red chilies on it. The Moroccan Pizza is so pretty with its pink jewels of pomegranate seeds. This one has tiny lamb meatballs with mint and pine nuts in a cheesy tomato sauce. We really enjoyed both pizzas as the crust has the perfect thickness with a crisp base while the flavors are really unique and tasty. It seems that TGP has mastered pizza creations to near perfection!
 







The Hearty Beef Pie was the only dish that I thought could use a little adjustment on the pastry. The short crust pastry was a little hard and didn’t have the melt-in-the-mouth pastry that evening. The filling of the slow cooked beef and caramelized onions in black pepper gravy was good and flavorful though. I also like the fact that they serve extra gravy on the side.
 

The TGP Cheese Burger features a thick patty of lamb nicely charred. It comes with beef bacon, melted cheese, the regular burger condiments and a side of potato wedges. The lamb patty is very flavorful and well-seasoned. I would love more sauce on this burger to make it even more succulent. TGP is quite generous with the portion and this burger is quite a substantial size.
 







I love Duck Confit. When it’s executed slowly and beautifully, Duck Confit will win the hearts of many. TGP’s Duck Confit looks a tad shade darker than the usual and comes with mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and a beautiful orange reduction. The meat is tender enough and quite flavorful though I did wished for a crispier skin. The orange reduction sauce is just so good and compliments the duck really well with its sharp sweetness and sourness.
 

Our Sirloin Steak was delicious too. 220gm of sirloin well grilled to medium pinkness and serve seasoned with salt and pepper. I like the way it is done here as I can taste the beef flavors. If you must have your sauce, try asking for one but a good beef should be enjoyed for its beefy flavors.
 

Our last main dish was Stuffed Chicken Mascarpone. Looks are deceiving here as it looked rather plain. One bite of the tender moist chicken with oozing mascarpone cheese will surely have you hook… at least I was despite being so full. Rather unique as I have never had mascarpone cheese with chicken. Simply and delicious, I would order this again.
 







We ended on a high note with Intriguing, a tall martini dessert that really had us intrigue with its combination. Learn something new that day, pumpkin and mango goes superbly well. Add on a big dollop of whipped cream and yes… your taste buds will be intrigue!
 

I like how we really ended that night. Bubble Yum is the bomb! Fresh strawberries, sparkling wine and elderflower syrup is blended into a delicious fresh and vibrant cocktail. I wouldn’t mind have several glasses of this cocktail while catching a movie.
 

What I love about TGP is their bold flavors in their fusion dishes. I like how they take local favorites and amp it up like the pizzas and main courses. If only TGP was nearer to my house, I would visit them more often since I really enjoy their food. Of course a movie thrown in would make my day even better…

 


THE GASTRO PROJECT
No.25, Jalan 17/56, Section 17,
46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: +603-7931 6465
Email: info@thegastroproject.com






Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hennessy Appreciation Grows 2014: The First Installment at Danga Bay, Johor Bahru



Hennessy X.O Conquers Johor with the World’s First and Original X.O Cognac







Life is made a little sweeter with all the fine things in life. A recent voyage took me on a gastronomical journey all over the world at the first installment of the Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows 2014 that took place at Danga Bay, Johor Bahru from the 16th to the 18th of April 2014. From my previous post here, distinguished guests and media experienced the ultimate Hennessy experience through an evening of fine cognac paired against the culinary brilliance of three times James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southwest and “Iron Chef Winner”, Chef Viet Pham.


The journey took off with a short air trip to Johor where the magnificent dinner was held for three days consecutively. Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows is a series of intimate engagements aimed at creating a core of true connoisseurs of the World’s Number One cognac through immaculate gastronomic experiences enhancing guests’ true knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Hennessy X.O.


As this was my first experience at the Hennessy Appreciation Grows 2014, it was pure adrenalin running through my veins that evening as I put on my best evening frock to set sail on the event themed the ‘Spirit of Conquest’. Gastronomical connoisseurs set sail in an elegant journey charting the birth of Maurice Hennessy’s Original X.O in 1870 in France, to its global conquest of iconic countries around the world that evening.







We had a short cocktail hour where guests were then invited to join Mr. Chong Wai Keng, Moët Hennessy Spirits Brand Ambassador for an intimate technical tasting of Hennessy X.O, where guests deepened their appreciation for the world’s most loved cognac Hennessy X.O.


As we were ushered the holding lounge of the ‘ship’, I couldn’t help but notice that there were screens around the room. Our Spirit of Conquest was further heighten by the replication of the dining room of an early 19th century steam liner, filled with Chesterfield sofas, paintings from Maison Hennessy, illuminated with chandeliers, and completed with a vibrant arrangement of flowers on each table.







As the event kicks off, the screens come alive as we set sail off into our voyage that evening with our host for the night, Mr. Will Quah. We set sail off for France, the birthplace of the Original X.O in 1870 as our ‘ship’ moored in France next to its famous landmarks.


Mathieu Duchemin with Chef Viet Pham

“Just as Hennessy X.O took to the high seas in 1872 to explore new horizons, this year's Appreciation Grows platform explored new grounds, venturing to Johor for the first time - providing connoisseurs there with more than just a food and cognac pairing, but rather an unforgettable platform for where their appreciation for life’s opulent experiences deepens” expressed Mathieu Duchemin, Managing Director of Moet Hennessy Diageo Malaysia.







Our first course of Sweetness on Seine makes its debut on the romantic notion of France. Sweet diver scallops lightly roasted over embers are accompanied with an onion almost ‘burnt’ cream and is a romantic starter to tease our appetite for more. The subtle caramelized flavor of the onion burnt cream is very well controlled as it did not over power the gentleness of the scallops. The melodious flavors of the sea and the onion meld beautifully with the Hennessy X.O cognac’s smooth and luscious notes.


And what better way to bring a little France to us than a performance of French Cabaret… oo la la! These ladies had almost everyone’s attention that evening for their elegant and glamorous dance routine and costumes.







Moving along from the chic French waters, our Hennessy X.O gastronomical journey set sailed to East towards the Orient where China sets the next course with Yellow River Richness. Chef Viet’s ingenious use of Chinese classic ingredients of mushrooms and duck eggs is obviously a tribute to the Chinese cuisine. The dish looked contemporary and reflects a gorgeous barely poached duck egg yolk sitting on a bed of intense shitake mushroom mousse. The mousse has a luscious silky texture albeit its saltiness. The lustrous egg yolk flows over the mousse, making it even richer in flavors. Every spoonful lends a robust earthy note with bits of crunch from the lightly toasted sprouted grains. The richness of the dish seemed to intensify the tasting notes of the elegant cognac, served neat, to another level, rendering an even longer finish of spice and fruits.


Our Oriental excursion was accompanied by a mesmerizing performance of Shanghai jazz.







After its stint at the East, the Spirit of Conquest headed back West to the land of the free, America where our third course of the night awaits. Arriving in a period of American history- known as the Gilded Age, Hennessy X.O made its timely debut, as an elegant and sophisticated way to enjoy values of luxury and heritage. The Mild Hudson, a tribute to the Great American Dream, showcased a luscious piece of sea bass wrapped with savoy cabbage and sauced up with tiny black pearls of Osteria caviar. The sweet delicate sea bass is partnered with fondant potato and pretty pink pickled shallots. The salty burst of caviar pearls matched well with the powerful complexity of the Hennessey X.O cognac.


A jazz quintet belts out smooth and silky tones of jazz as guests enjoyed the third pairing of the night with the finest cognac.







The Spirit of Conquest moves on and arrived at Italy where she welcomed the Original X.O with open arms in 1893. Italy, famed for its passion for culture, fashion and food is represented by Spicy Mediterranean, our fourth and final savory course. A dish that truly represents Italy, Chef Viet serves crispy crumbed chicken parmesan topped with a vibrant tomato and mushroom ragu to be paired up with the Hennessy X.O.  Though not as elegant as the other courses, the rich tangy sauce does provide a strong match with the cognac.


What won the hearts of many was the outstanding performance of an opera performance that had the whole room experience the passion of Italy together with the cuisine and the Hennessy X.O.







As the night draws near, the Spirit of Conquest set its course back to East towards the Land of the Rising Sun where traditions and customs exist seamlessly within modernity - just like Hennessy X.O, a perfect counterpoint for all those who acknowledge that with time, Appreciation Grows. Our gastronomical journey completes its course of the night with Osaka Bay Freshness, where Japanese plum Umeboshi sorbet is married with Yuzu mousse. A match-made in heaven, the salty sweet notes of the plum sorbet is heightened with the vibrant tang of the creamy yuzu.


The triumphant voyage with Hennessy X.O concluded with a spectacular Japanese drum performance by the Wadaiko Syo troupe that ended with a big bang.







MHD team


Photo session with Bok, KampungboyCitygirl, Missyblurkit, myself and Brand Ambassador







A night to be remembered, this year’s Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows 2014 truly takes everyone on a journey of gastronomic and entertainment around the world. Echoing the elegance and class of the finest cognac by Hennessy, the Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows 2014 exudes no boundaries but rather a class finer than the finest of its own and sets the bar for future installments to come.

A Priceless Experience…




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