What We Feasted On At The Singapore Tatler Ball 2019
The notion of fusing Oriental and Western influences has remained quite irresistible, evident in the imaginative and varied interpretations we continue to find in both the visual and culinary arts. It was also the inspiration behind this year’s Singapore Tatler Ball, which was themed "Chinoiserie", and the anticipated feast that ensued.
It was, as such, tempting to explore the possibility of welcoming guests with a prized sparkling wine from Ningxia, China. But we decided to stick with something more familiar and chose to revisit a favourite from a couple of years back—the always pleasing Delamotte Brut. It could be the generous feature of grand cru Chardonnay used in its proprietary blend that we seem to enjoy, or the simple fact that it makes for a delicious aperitif—it is rich, yet fine and fresh on the palate, with a dry and fruity finish.
It is a versatile wine that went well with the specially curated canapés, whether it was a bite of Wagyu beef tenderloin topped with pickled kumquat, or the mini lobster roll that was finished with a little tarragon and marigold.
Suffice it to say, this bubbly was also good with the appetiser—an accustomed coupling of cold soba and poached Boston lobster, but this time dressed in a bright, sweet-savoury soy vinaigrette piqued with hints of wasabi and yuzu. Those looking for a slightly more adventurous pairing had the choice of switching to a uniquely aromatic, succulent and expressive sauvignon blanc from Trentino-Alto Adige in Italy. It, too, boasts an elegant palate and bright acidity.
The duck consomme that followed, however, didn't require an accompanying wine. It was, by itself, a shining and abashedly moreish example of East meets West—its light, yet deeply flavourful clear soup was the perfect foil to the duck rillette-filled wantons it was served with.
This was an unconventional idea, and partly the point. As was the decision to drop beef in favour of lamb for the main course as an alternative to the fish dish. But this wasn’t just an amazingly fine cut of lamb, this was free-roaming lamb from New Zealand’s iconic hill and high country. Dubbed “the Wagyu of lamb”, this is lamb that has been raised by 17 committed founding farmers on their remote South Island stations.
Unlike the gamier meat we are used to, the flavour of the Te Mana lamb is subtle and clean. It was prepared medium-well and still succulent, and served atop pearl barley risotto alongside shiitake and celeriac mousseline, crispy enoki mushrooms and a lighter, but still punchy, black pepper sauce.
Of course, we needed a wine to match. Finding one with plenty of blackberry and cherry notes was easy, but we also desired wine with complementary notes of herbs, liquorice and a touch of minerality. We found just the sort in the 2015 Fantini Farnese Edizione Cinque Autoctoni, a rare and elegant blend of five varietals (including Montepulciano, Primitivo and Sangiovese) showing soft, smooth tannins and loads of freshness.
(Related: Here's How You Can Master The Art Of Food And Wine Pairing, According To Experts)
The choice of fish was another bold one, which steered away from safer options like cod and sea bass. Instead, diners enjoyed a steamed fillet of coral grouper, served with baked green asparagus, some scallop mousse, a squid ink tuile and French black truffle, all further enhanced with a drizzle of oyster sauce that had been infused with bonito flakes for that surprise umami bomb.
(Related: How Singapore Restaurants Keep It Interesting In A Competitive Dining Scene)
Desserts this year were divided into a live station serving crepes Suzette flambéed with Grand Marnier, and a buffet of tartlets, mini peach buns, pandan-gula melaka cake and a souped-up cheng teng that was, as they say, fit for royalty.
In short, the menu was chinoiserie gold in the most tasteful way, indulgent yet fashionably restraint.
We we have to say, though, the annual serving of our popular Teochew porridge buffet for supper—featuring a smorgasbord of familiar favourites, such toman fillet with ginger and salted plum, minced black bean pork stew, and braised pork belly with preserved vegetables—was never more apt.
Read more Singapore Tatler Ball 2019 stories: The Fashion | The Bling | The Full Story | #Tatlergram | The Party Photos | Photobooth Moments | All The Guests | Dressing Room Sessions