Sunday, 27 December 2015

Wining and Dining this Festive Season

Company: Pernod Ricard

It's a few short days till the close of the year and I hope that you have met your goals better than I have. My resolution to have a quiet, wallet-preserving December have so far been for naught. Dinner at the Michelin starred Qui Plume La Lune in Paris far overshot my budget, but their rendition of roast pigeon was as good as it gets. Juicy, oh so flavourful and accompanied with a rosemary jus that shows how good the French are with sauces. Closer to home, a Christmas dinner at Snack Culture brought out the playful side of dining. The sous vide and deep-fried chicken breast was a pleasing contrast in textures and exemplified owner Tat Hon's creative approach to cooking (he promises "fun dining, not fine dining"). If you lament the profusion of soulless franchised restaurants in Singapore, do try out this place, located in the convenient and yet obscure CT Hub along Kallang Avenue.

With festive temptations galore I am taking a different view of Ebenezer Scrooge, now revealed as a man of great fortitude who resisted the commercialism of this particular month for so many years until brought low by a particularly lucid dream. Probably caused by indigestion, and if only there was Zantac then, he might not have squandered his wealth on pigging out and ending up unable to meet his CPF Retirement Sum. I shouldn't be complaining though, as others have it far worse. Particularly for those working in the wine and spirits industry, every day this month must be passing in an alcohol-induced haze and far too much turkey. It never fails to amaze me how these professionals can get by on five to six hours of sleep a day and still be so upbeat and enthusiastic when showing their portfolio to clients at events.

Recently at Pernod Ricard's Private Sale I had the opportunity to taste their range of wines and spirits which includes Perrier Jouet champagne, Jacob's Creek, Aberlour, Royal Salute and Chivas Regal. Aberlour is a premium single malt from Speyside which has been matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks, both of which contribute different flavours to the spirit. The Aberlour A'bunadh cask strength bottling, made without chill filtration, was rich and satisfying with notes of dried fruit and surprisingly the alcohol was pleasantly warming and smooth. Also very smooth was the Absolut Elyx, a copper-distilled premium vodka, although in this case I am not convinced if it is worth the hefty price tag. Maybe if it came with a tin of caviar.

The real kicker of the tasting was the limited edition Martell Cohiba cognac, specially crafted to go along with a fine Cuban cigar (so you can indulge in two vices at the same time!). It is a blend of 40-50 year old eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne crus in Cognac. These vineyards have nothing to do with the production of champagne, but the soil in Grande Champagne and Champagne are similar*. An impressive tipple, it boasts rich, dark notes of dates, dried fruits, walnuts and caramel. Pure class. It was available at a price of SGD888 at the sale but will only be officially launched in Singapore next year. If you have a father-in-law you're aiming to impress this may be just the ticket, although you may have to pawn off your wedding ring to do so.

*Confusingly, both cognac and champagne refer to a place and a drink. To differentiate the two, when spelled with a lower case it refers to the drink and when capitalised it refers to the region. Thus you would go to Champagne to enjoy a glass of champagne.

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