World Gourmet Summit
KICKING off the second week of the World Gourmet Summit (WGS) was the Gala Reception ($198 per person) on Sunday night.
Held for the first time in the Sentosa Pavilion at Serapong, it was the usual smorgasbord of small bites from local hotels and restaurants. There were some nice items too, such as a slow-cooked pork belly from Shangri-La and tomato juices in three different colours served in test-tubes from Mandarin Oriental.
But what most people were talking about the next day was the warm weather and how crowded it was.
The reception was held on two levels: an air-conditioned room downstairs and an open-air terrace on the second floor. But most of the 900 guests were drawn to the air-conditioning like bees to honey, so it was quite buzzing downstairs with little elbow room.
I didn't think the weather was so bad though, and the venue upstairs was quite charming with its view of a rolling golf link.
The second week also brought in the first batch of visiting masterchefs hosted by local establishments.
Renowned dessert chef Pierre Herme from Paris was at the mezza9 till yesterday with two different menus of six items each - one for the restaurant and the other at the martini bar and supper club.
I had a taste of the restaurant menu and was bowled over by a creation called revelation ($22).
It comprised puff pastry served with tomatoes, mascarpone cream, olive oil, pieces of black olives and strawberry compote. The mix of sweet and savoury flavours was truly a revelation of how the most unexpected combinations can create magic.
As for the chef's famous macarons, I tried three flavours: white truffle with Piedmont hazelnuts, milk chocolate and passionfruit, and vanilla. The truffle was the best, the passionfruit was refreshing and the vanilla was too sweet.
Still, the macarons had the best texture I had experienced: As you bit into it, your teeth first cracked a thin brittle coat before it sank into the softness within.
I also enjoyed French chef Chris Salans' work. Salans, who owns the Mozaic Restaurant in Bali, is cooking at Prive till tomorrow, and he is presenting three set menus ($120, $150 and $180) of dishes that work Indonesian spices into Western cooking in surprising ways.
For example, the wagyu beef carpaccio is marinated in Sumatran rendang oil, with just enough spice to create an intriguing sense of familiarity.
And the venison tenderloin comes with a spice crumble made with brown sugar, black pepper, juniper berries and crushed almonds.
You may still get a table for tomorrow's dinner (tonight's is fully booked). Call Prive on 6776-0777 to book.
Global Kitchen at the Pan Pacific Singapore is hosting two Michelin-star French chefs in one go: two-star Stephane Carrade who cooks the savoury dishes and one-star Eric Dequin who is in charge of the desserts.
There is a $68 lunch menu and a $138 ($198 with wine) dinner one.
I had a very nice duck foie gras poached in beetroot juice served with balsamic and basil-marinated strawberries from the lunch menu. But what charmed me most was the dessert of orange-flavoured white chocolate mousse with raspberries marinated in lemon caramel and citrus ice cream.
The chocolate came as squares with a thin brittle shell and the mousse inside was silken smooth.
The dinner menu is still available today and you can call Global Kitchen on 6826-8240 to book.
Another highlight of the week actually had little to do with food but was very enjoyable nonetheless.
It was Ian Wright (right) Uncensored on Tuesday night at the InterContinental Singapore.
The one-night event had the lively host for Discovery's Travel & Living channel entertaining diners with tales of his travels - from Morocco to Mongolia and even the Arctic Circle - while they dined on British comfort food prepared by the hotel's chefs.
The menu that included fish and chips, roast beef with 'bubble and squeak', and spotted dick was decent as a whole. Except that it was perhaps not a very good idea to serve fish and chips to 250 people at one go; the batter was no longer crisp when it got to the table.
But the biggest disappointment of the week was Monday's An Evening With Chui Lee Luk at the Mandarin Oriental ($298 per person).
The Australian chef who owns Claude's, a top-rated restaurant in Sydney, was one of the most anticipated attractions this year. But this was the first time she was cooking for a banquet and her nerves must have got the better of her.
Her freshwater crayfish with mulligatawny sauce would have worked if it hadn't been overly salted.
And the semi-cured breast of duck was excellent on its own, except that she paired it with a fat slice of monkfish liver that just didn't match.
Even her best dish, abalone broth with crocodile floss, had an aftertaste of being gimmicky. The crocodile floss, which was added into the soup by the diner himself, did add a nice sweetness to the soup - but so would ordinary pork floss, which was what the crocodile tasted like.
Which just goes to show: The most expensive is not always the best.