Following the Four Seasons Event that noted the launch of new wine-paired menus around the city, Team Gingerclaps invited a number of bloggers to sample menus and talk about the experience. As some Indian red wines are becoming my favorites, I could not let go of the opportunity go, and together with fellow blogger +Sanoli Ghosh who blogs from Sanoli’s Kitchen, we decided to go to The Wall.
Tucked away at a lane parallel to Lake Road, The Wall serves up Boutique Chinese food. I wrote about The Wall a couple of years back, and it was one of the first places I blogged about, and I have been there a few times since then. The quality of the food had gone through some ups and downs, so I was slightly unsure about our visit. However, as soon as we entered, we were greeted by Dibyajyoti Chaudhuri, who was there to meet us up. After a warm welcome and some much-needed cold water, we settled down to discussing the wine pairing event, the food, and what we were going to be served that day.
A plate of fresh Kimchi and Pickled Vegetables was served immediately, and we nibbled on those as we waited for the food to come to us. Dibyajyoti explained that the menu was part of a three-course meal which was served to the diners accompanied by two glasses of wine of their choice, either red or white. We were going to experience a brief taste of South East Asia (Malaysia and Thai, specifically), designed by the chefs, keeping the flavors of the wine in the mind.
We were given the set menu cards, and asked to choose from it. I am putting in a copy of the menu here for you too, readers. I would have liked it more if there was some explanation about each dish and why it was chosen, though.
|Set Menu Card.|
As both of us were inclined towards meat, and were not much into fish, we both opted for the same thing as starters. Pork addict me greedily chose the Satay Babi with the peanut dip and waited eagerly as our host, Dibyajyoti, indulged in a light salad of lettuce with a spicy mayo and chilli paste-based sauce.
|Satay Babi (Pork Satay)|
Our glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon was delivered to us in glasses. I would have preferred the glasses to be larger, more spaced out. This glass did not allow me to swirl the wine enough to release its flavors. However, at that point, the Satay Babi was deposited in front of us, and we perked up immediately, taking the skewers of pork onto our plate, and adding dots of the peanut sauce on the side, which came to us in a small bowl.
Tender cubes of pork, marinated in a spice mix that was chiefly turmeric and garlic, were grilled and served to us. The meat was absolutely soft, with small slivers of melting fat that added to the buttery quality of the pork. A purist, I did not care much for the accompanying peanut sauce that came with the pork. Rather, I enjoyed small sips of the tart and slightly sweet red wine which added that little hint of sweetness that was needed to release the flavors of the pork to the fullest. Personally speaking, the Cabernet Sauvignon, with its hints of spices and an underlying hit of tannin was a very good match for the pork.
|Kari Kapitan (Front) with the Khaw Pad Ching Kai (Back)|
After the first striking success, we waited eagerly for the mains to arrive. Our server had talked about the Kari Kapitan, a Nyonya curry dish that evolved during the 19th Century in Malaysia, when a local cook made a curry for the captain that was mild, nutty and fragrant at the same time. I have tasted this dish before, and wanted to see how the chef executed it here. It was accompanied with a mildly spicy fried rice, Khaw Pad Ching Kai, which was actually pretty tasty all by itself.
The Kari Kapitan was a dish with boneless cubes of lamb, soft but still with a little chew in them that made it perfect for a bowl of steamed rice. Our server added steamed rice to the platter, and we mixed the coconut-milk and nut-infused gravy, which faintly smelled of ghee to me, but was actually my nose being deceived by the combination of nuts and coconut mingling together with lemongrass and galangal. A subtle but very elegantly made curry, it invited you to use your fingers to mix everything into the rice and scoop up the effects to your mouth, and sniffing your fingers afterwards to remember the effects of the curry. I would recommend this to anyone who loves lamb, because it is a celebration of soft meat, mild flavors and delicate spices. Lamb and red wine went fantastically, the sweet note of blackcurrants perfectly showcasing the robust lamb and the sweet, smooth gravy.
|Khaw Pad Ching Kai|
The Khaw Pad Ching Kai was filled with pieces of chicken and tasted nice, but it was no match for the flavors of the Kari Kapitan. I ate this solo with the lamb, and liked the light flavors of the rice contrasting with the wine, but I would have preferred eating the lamb with the wine, frankly speaking, as the Lamb totally stole the show at that time.
I was slightly resigned to the dessert, as South East Asian desserts have never floated my boat. Too much coconut and sago and okay, I might have generalized. However, this was a revelation. Although I forgot to ask the origin of this dish, it was a fantastic end to the lunch, with the last dregs of my wine. A quarter of crisp, tart, slightly sweet green apple encased a rough paste of dates and almonds, smeared with a sheet of fine caramel and sprinkled with toasted white and black sesame seeds. The smoothness of the date, the crisp nutty sesame and the caramel were all perfect in harmony with each other, and the drops of wine that added the strength to the flavors was what I thought was a very good ending to a well-structured dinner.