My husband is quite the drama queen. Last night, I came home a mere 15 minutes later than my promised time, bearing some packed dinner for him, only to find him sprawled on the floor semi-naked, in a dead-body-at-crime-scene position. He then whispered hoarsely, “If…you….had arrived….15 minutes later *cough cough*, I would…have died…of starvation,” then resumed his pose while I stepped over him to go to the bedroom.

I just had to share that.


Our dinner on Friday, the 21st of May, 2010 may have depleted our Hermès budget, but it turned out to be one of our most memorable dinners ever.

From the moment we sat down, we were served warm breads with Beurre Echire butter, what the New York Times labelled a butter with a pedigree.   Imagine French cows grazing on French soil meugler-ing (mooing in French)…if them cows could sing, they’d be bellowing we have no stench, we are French, deal with it, you wench to the tune of La Vie En Rose (hip hop version) ala Edith Piaf, although I’m not saying that she sounds like a cow, but I digress…butter…oh, the most delicately textured butter with a whipped consistency (alas, images of Piaf are in my mind again) and a richness attributed by its higher butterfat content.  We learnt later that all the cooking was done with the same butter.

As we supped on bread and butter, Mr Michel Rolland, consultant and owner of the Rolland Collection introduced the wines which he had paired with our meals, starting with a complex white wine, with an oaky nose, produced from one hectare of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle from the Lussac-Saint Emilion estate. All the wines featured were from Mr Rolland’s Bordeaux properties, namely La Grande Clotte in Lussac-Saint Emilion, Rolland Maillet in Lussac-Saint Emilion, Chateau Le Bon Pasteur (Mr Rolland’s family estate and where he was born) and Fontenil in Fronsac.

Chef Mathieu Pacaud of l’Ambroisie, Paris, tantalised our palate with the amuse bouche, a vibrantly coloured multi-layered concoction consisting of steamed foie gras royale (custard) which was covered with a green romaine lettuce velouté which derived its gorgeous colour from the use of the outer leaves.  This was followed by a dish which I will probably never get to try again – chaud froid d’oeuf mollet with golden caviar.  I’ve cooked eggs mollet before, and the trick is to boil the egg such that the white is firm but the yolk runny, and this is achieved by plunging the egg into cold water to arrest the cooking process.  The egg, cooked to perfection and probably one of the few ingredients procured locally, was covered in a watercress sabayon and served with Robert Blanc asparagus (the queen of the asparagus world), the herbaceous flavour adding another dimension to an already rich dish.  The clincher was a heaped spoonful of golden ossetra caviar, the mother of ossetra caviars, second to beluga, and harvested from wild sturgeons found in Eastern Russia.  A kilogram of this type of caviar easily costs RM20,000.    It was a meal that was as hedonistic as it could get.

From our conversation with the Chef d’ Cuisine of Senses, Michael Elfwing, we learnt that Chef Mathieu Pacaud had strictly insisted on using ingredients according to his specifications.  The next dish served to us, a lobster stew with potatoes, sounding deceptively ordinary, was far from it.  He chose to serve the Brittany Blue Lobster, a superior tasting lobster which had a rich sweetness in flavour, its flesh more chewy than what we were used to.  The sauce, reduced from a stock made of sauted lobster heads was amazing.  The Noirmoutier potatoes which were served with the lobster could have been a meal on its own.  The potatoes are known to be the most expensive in the world and are harvested by hand.  When cleaning the potatoes, I was told that they were not allowed to soak them as the potatoes would lose their flavour.  Instead, the potatoes were cleaned with a piece of cloth.  The potatoes looked almost delicate, the size of garlic, and possessed a sweet nuttiness in flavour.

The Kobe tenderloin, cooked medium rare, was lovely – the acacia honey and crushed black peppercorn crust provided a sweetness to the dish with a hint of butter that added some richness.  I loved the fact that every ingredient, no matter how humble (in the context of this meal!), served a purpose.  The confit of shallot was painstakingly roasted, pressed and sieved, and this paired so well with the fillet by providing an unbelievable smoothness to the dish.

We were blown away by both desserts.  The first, a heavy sticky meringue that literally melted in the mouth upon contact (served with Gariguette strawberries), and the second, a chocolate tart with a crisp surface and a dark chocolate sabayon centre served with Bourbon vanilla ice cream (made at a ratio of 12 vanilla beans to a litre of ice cream).

And the price for such an amazing meal?


But worth every cent.

Chaud froid d’oeuf mollet au cresson, asperges vertes au caviar golden
Hot-cold boiled eggs, watercress, asparagus and golden caviar
2006 Chateau La Grande Clotte Blanc, Bordeaux

A different view

Navarin de homard, pomme de terre nouvelles au romarin
Lobster stew and potatoes with rosemary “Noirmoutier”
2007 Chateau Rolland Maillet, St. Emilion

Filet de boeuf de Kobe en croute de poivre et miel, confit d’echalote
Tajima filet of beef, honey and pepper crust served with confit of shallot
2006 Chateau Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol

Selection de fromages de Herve Mons affineur
Cheese selection from affineur Herve Mons
2006 Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac

Meringue perlee a la chantilly, fruits de saison
Pearled Meringue with Chantilly cream and seasonal fruits

Tarte fine sablee au chocolat, glace a la vanille de Bourbon
Chocolate pastry tart with Bourbon vanilla ice cream

Golden Osetra Caviar
Golden Osetra Caviar

Chef Mathieu Pacaud – bottom picture, with LL; Mr Michel Rolland – top centre picture, with Aly; M.Balbis and Michael Elfwing – top picture on extreme right, Spencer and Bald Eagle – centre picture (Asian boys)

What’s heaven in French?

Footnote: Chef Mathieu Pacaud is from 3-Michelin starred l’Ambroisie in Paris.  He was down in Kuala Lumpur recently for the Douce France (Hilton Kuala Lumpur’s French Fair) which was held from 21 to 27 May, 2010.  He has worked with some of the most outstanding Michelin starred chefs such as Joel Robuchon in Le Jamin, Eric Briffard and Alain Ducasse in Le Regence.