I got to be honest here - before the event, I have not heard of Chef Virgilio Martinez nor his restaurant Central in Lima, Peru. True it's voted top on the Latin America's 50 Best Restaurant and is number 4 in this year's world ranking, something that should be in my radar naturally you would expect, but I guess Lima just sounded too far away for me to pay any serious attention to. But that's exactly why I was particularly interested in this dinner event, because otherwise it may be hard to try his food in the foreseeable future.
|Spiders on a Rock: Sargassum, Limpet, Crab, Sea Snail|
|Marine Soil: Razor Clams, Sweet Cucumber, Lime|
|Amazonia Colors: Doncella, Bahuaja Nut, Pijuayo, Huito|
|Low Andes Mountains: Quinoa, Veal, Airampo|
|Green Highlands: Lucuma, Cacao, Chaco Clay|
I think the dinner was eye-opening in many ways. To outsiders including us, Peruvian cuisine was often misunderstood as all about everything ceviche, or fusion, Nikkei style, or everything served with quinoa. It's good to have someone like Chef Virgilio now with his worldwide fame giving us a brief introductory lesson of true Peruvian cuisine through his contemporary style of cooking and interpretation of local dishes.
I also enjoyed trying out many of the exotic ingredients presented, some from the sea, some from the mountains and some from the river bank of the Amazon, celebrating the diversity of landscapes in this small country so far away from us, and to taste the many ingredients that were rarely seen and used here. We often boast our city having easy access to any ingredients around the world given our geographic location, but I guess now at least there is one blind spot to that claim. My only regrets were we didn't get to spend more time hearing Chef Virgilio introduces the ingredients in more details, or shares more of the findings from the Mater Initiative, an organization he founded for the research of indigenous food ingredients in Peru, similar to what Slow Food does in Italy and some other parts around the world. That would have been an inspiring educational experience.
What a night to remember - it's indeed a true blessing that we got to try the food from two of the world's best chefs in quick succession without having to go on a long journey - first in Singapore with Chef Massimo Bottura, then back in Hong Kong with Chef Virgilio Martinez. Of course it wouldn't completely replace the joy and excitement to dine at their actual restaurants in Modena and Lima respectively, but we enjoyed these pop-up experiences nonetheless.
More pictures in my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157661170001389
When? November 30 2015
Where? Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Low Andes Mountains: Quinoa, Veal, Airampo
2012 Ulrich Langguth, Riesling "3 Terraces" Trocken, Mosel
2010 Tement, Gelber Muskateller, Styria, Austria
2011 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet, Meursault AOC
2009 Aristos "Baron Grand Vin", Central Valley, Chile
2011 Chateau des Fines Roches, Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC
2011 Joh.Jos Prum, "Graacher Himmelreich" Riesling Auslese, Mosel
Demonio de los Andes Pisco, NV
Central Restaurante: centralrestaurante.com.pe
Landmark Mandarin Oriental: www.mandarinoriental.com/landmark