Saturday, July 20, 2019

Marathon Meal

I was recently eating at Aurora at Altira Macau when their chef Helder Amaral joined hands with Chef Eric Raty of Arbor from Hong Kong to present a four-hands menu as part of the Michelin Guide promotional series. I had a hard time trying to draw a connection between the two chefs and their cooking style, but since I have enjoyed Chef Eric’s food previously at both his starred restaurant and at events where he’s a guest chef, and this did give me an opportunity to visit a new restaurant, I went along and made a short trip over.

Turned out the meal took much longer than I expected, with both chefs taking turns to prepare the 10 courses that were served. Starting with a couple bite-sized canapes including a cute kumquat granita and a king crab tartlet, we started with a couple dishes by Chef Eric. What simply described as “New Potato” turned out to be much more than just potatoes, but tuna and potato served two ways – one with the whole piece of marinated tuna with mini potato served with a vichyssoise sauce, than a potato crisp topped with chopped tuna. Same ingredients, but two totally different style, textures and flavor. That’s followed by the Langoustine dish served with a fruit tomato wedge and dressed with ume vinaigrette. This is one of the signature dish at Arbor and it’s brilliantly done, with a touch of smoky flavor from the langoustine combined well with the umami taste and the hint of acidity from the sauce.

Next were Chef Helder’s turn with his two seafood courses. First a giant carabinero ravioli with red prawn meat and mousse stuffed inside, then it’s a sauce made with bell pepper and foamy mint and olive oil “broth”. Worked perfectly well with the bottle of white from Portugal with good minerality. We continued with the Mediterranean theme with the seafood nage, with red prawns, lobster, bamboo clams served in a glass bowl with a creamy bisque-style sauce and topped with golden caviar. Lighter than a bouillabaisse but with just as much flavor.

The next two courses of Abalone and Kinmedai showed off Chef Eric’s ability to make use of unusual ingredients in western cooking, with the slow-steamed abalones served with the liver sauce plus barley and morel mushrooms stuffed with scallop mousse. Then it’s a piece of kinmedai (golden eye snapper) fillet served with a kimchi-chilies sauce with black olive puree on the side.

The pigeon seems to be the only non-seafood savory course served during the entire meal. Classic cooking by Chef Helder with pigeon breast and leg prepared separately and served with cherry, cocoa nibs and black truffle shavings for that combination of earthy and sweet flavor.

Of the two desserts, I actually like the first one more, with a quenelle of coconut lime ice-cream served with a light olive oil sauce and a dab of caviar on top. Interesting combination but worked brilliantly. In comparison, the white peach was more predictable, with the wedge candied and served with peach sorbet and meringue on the side. It’s delicious nonetheless and seems right for something seasonal. And I was glad we ended with the freshly baked madeleines which were another memorable dish at Arbor.

Food was paired with a few wines. Like the white from Portugal that went with the seafood courses, and the dessert wine were perfect with the last white peach dessert, with the floral nose and marmalade like taste on the palate. Feels like having two meals at the same occasion, but all the dishes were done really well and guess that’s the most important.

(Event was by invitation and based on a special tasting menu)

More photos here:

When? June 29 2019
Where? Aurora, Level 10, The Altira Macau, Av. de Kwong Tung, Taipa, Macau
Menu Highlights? Langoustine with Fruit Tomato and Ume Sauce
Champagne G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut NV
2017 Soalheiro "Primeiras Vinhas" Alvarinho, Portugal
2014 Richard Kershaw Clonal Selection Chardonnay, Elgin, South Africa
2014 Craggy Range "Te Muna Road Vineyard" Pinot Noir , Marlborough, New Zealand
2013 Vigna Paronza Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Tuscany, Italy
2016 D'Arenberg The Noble Wrinkled Riesling, McLaren Vale, Australia
Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau:

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