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Dr Chiang-Yin Wong writes about a memorable dinner at Iggy’s, 9 June 2006.

August 10, 2013

You’ve read about famous manuscripts being chucked away, hopelessly lost, only to be discovered centuries later. Well, something similar happened at RWJ, where a fully written-up account of a memorable evening by renowned oenophile and gastronomist , Dr Chiang-Yin Wong, was re-discovered this evening, buried amongst thousands of files, from the Editor’s hard drive. Read on… 

The Cast

Kieron Lim: Gastronomic and Gastroenterology Registrar

Richard Chen: Consultant Male Performance Clinic (sounds a lot sexier than “Viagra Peddler”)

Victor Lim: Heart Plumber, Acting Head, Cardiology, for 2 hours (long story)

Daniel Tan: Medical Trainee, Oncology, aka ‘squirt’, passed MRCP 2A, the reason for our proceedings

Wong Chiang Yin: Recently retrenched Ag CEO

Quotes of the Night

 “I think Hiok will slit his wrist when he reads about this”

 “Dr Tan, your son has collapsed in a pool of First Growths!”

Introduction

 The Wine List was unabashedly Burgundian (my kind of list). And since we were told that corkage would be waived on a one-for-one basis, Victor decided to get a bottle from the list. It would have to be a white (as you would soon see why) despite the protestations of Squirt “Do we need a pansy white?”. The list was dominated by Vincent Girardin, which frankly I don’t like. His wines are too manipulated and terroir doesn’t show well. Iggy concurred “it’s almost New World Burgundian. Its perfect winemaking but all his wines taste the same. But we stock a lot of it because his bottles never get sent back by the customers, especially the business people” Basically, its wines with no personality, manufactured rather than bred – but very well manufactured. We then rattled off the four Bordeaux that we had brought along for the wine. Ian was a bit stressed and got Iggy to come over and sort out the vinous conundrum that awaited. He stood there for a full two minutes, juggled the wines to and fro 3 times before settling down to a sequence on how his food would go with the wines. We sat there in silence. Never disturb a man at work. All the wines were opened at about 7:30pm and decanted and served between 8:30pm and 10:30pm. Dinner lasted four hours from 8pm till midnight.

Act 1: A Leflaive BBM off the starting blocks….

 Wine #1: But something stood out from the mass of Girardins Grand Cru Whites (it has to be a GC, as you would soon see why) – a sole Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues Batard Montrachet Grand Cru 2000, the smallest GC in Puligny, but certainly no weak link in the Montrachet family of four GCs. The nose was stupendous – a symphony of yellow fruits, honey and lest you think it new worldlish, it is not. Maguro CarpaccioReining in all this power was great minerality, acidity and a certain transparent almost ethereal structure. And this was in the nose, folks!The wine was equally mesmerizing in the mouth, a certain weight, silkiness that entwines impeccably with the fruit and acidity. Still has some way to go, notwithstanding it’s a 2000. At SGD415 (off the restaurant list of Iggy’s back in 2006, mind you – Ed), it was a bargain, thanks to Victor, our heart plumber. He now has to plumb a lot over the next few weeks. This was no pansy white. In fact, the only thing pansy at the table was Daniel’s liver (Please read on…). 

Food #1 to #4: We started off with a trio of starters: a semi-cooked yolk topped with a slice of black truffle. It was heavenly stuff, the yolk was described as “a kiss on your girlfriend’s lips” by Iggy (wonder why not ‘wife’?). There was also a foie gras pate on a block of silken tofu. Refreshing approach. Prawn paste, Shiso & DashiThe last was somen topped with black caviar which I thought was disappointing – the somen was too sour which sort of blacked out the intricacies of the caviar (pun intended). The Tuna Carpacio topped with a drizzles of mayo and sliced aged parmesan was an elegant expression of simplicity and harmony. The freshness of the maguro was well accompanied by the salty bite of the aged parmesan and the creaminess of the mayo. Heavenly! Then we came to prawn meat steamed in dashi and shiso stock. I wasn’t too impressed with this one (probably biased because it was essentially quite easy to do, from my point of view). Fried SnapperThe last dish that completed our starter line-up was a pan fried snapper on a bed of miso concoction (normal plus moromi miso, I think). Again, I wasn’t too impressed but it was a good rendition of the extremely fresh snapper.

Act 2: Tweety Bird Meets Maximus

 Wine #2: As usual, I brought my favourite chateau for the evening – a 1986 Ch La Mission Haut Brion. The nose was indisputably Pessac! Powerful farmyard aromas which slowly gave away to the classic La Mission description of wet granite nose. The nose leapt out at you even if you nose was a few inches away from the rim of the glass. In the mouth, power and finesse in a glass. The huge fruit and large tannins had mellowed with time into a wine of regal proportions. Only the ’82 La Mission was better, a ’76 I tasted recently was sublime but less powerful. Still very young and not at peak, at least another 10 years easy. And RP gave it only 88 points (idiot). The palate was just forever, a big wine that was lithe and luscious at the same time. As the night went on, the wine did not falter and went from strength to strength. In fact the nose got better after an hour and had the sweet tertiary notes reminiscent of the Lafite. Best of all, I have another 5 bottles.

 Quail pastaFood #5 (Tweety Bird on Strings of Pasta):  This was accompanied by roasted quail on a bed of pasta. The quail was seasoned well with spices but still not as good as the quail at Yubar at New Asia Hotel. The pasta was good, had shades of truffle oil cooked al dente. An excellent dish, simple, unpretentious and the gaminess of the quail went well with the weight of the La Mission.

Act 3: Narcotic High in a bottle. Then a Obtund Number

 Wine #3: 1989 Ch Lafite Rothschild (courtesy of moi – Ed). The nose was ephemeral. A sweet anise-seed tertiary nose coupled with just the right balance of red and black fruit. So seductive it brings a man to his knees. The type of nose that makes you unknowingly want to lean back and rock the chair, only to realize Iggy’s chairs didn’t permit rocking. A certain stream of sweet note hits the back of the throat that gives you something like a narcotic high. “Gives you goose bumps” was how Kieron described it (the benefit of an English Public School Education, I suppose). We were truly waxing lyrical about this one. In the mouth, the wine was at most medium bodied, a contrast to the monolithic La Mission that preceded it. Amid the cedar and anise-seed notes, the tannins flirted with the fruit flawlessly while the acid pirouetted at the tip of the tongue. A moderately long finish. Elegance defined. This bottle was showing a lot better than the one I had opened two weeks ago after the SMA dinner (either that or I was pissed drunk two weeks ago and had no idea what I was drinking). But a note of caution here. At about 11pm, we all agreed that the wine was fading a bit in nose and flavour. 

Wine #4: 1995 Ch Leoville-Las-CasesThe nose was dark fruits, toasted oak typical of the chateau. But we had opened this wine 10 years too early, quite closed, impenetrable if not inadmissible. But Iggy’s comments at the end of the dinner was instructive – he liked this best because it is an extremely well made wine with enormous potential, although the ’86 La Mission was drinking best that night. I am supposed to take some vicarious responsibility for this wine brought by Kieron. I had originally intended to bring a ’79 Margaux but thought that we should open when Hiok is back from Kimchi-Land (see what friends are for, Hiok?) You owe me at least one angio, 3 stents and an ultrasound FOC.  Then I thought of the ’95 Cheval Blanc. But I thought that was too young, so I brought the ’86 La Mission. Kieron brought the ’95 Las Cases to pair with my ’95 CB but he said “I played him out”. What the heck, I stand by my choice – the La Mission was right on target that night.

Lamb on Zucchini TempuraFood #6: The next course was a lamb filet dish. The lamb was excellently accompanied by what I was thought was bone marrow rosemary sauce. What was exceptionally thoughtful I thought was the stuff under the lamb – the tempura-style zucchini, its lightness a perfect foil for the opulent lamb.

Act 4: Detour for VD (Victor & Daniel, Not Venereal Disease)

 Our conversation turned to what makes a good white Burg. We said that often a Leflaive Village or even a Bourgogne (witness NK’s [the venerable Dr NK Yong – Ed] ’99 Bourgogne served at the SMA Wine Chapter dinner) was better than other makers’ wines of higher grade. Victor wasn’t too convinced and Daniel continued with his ‘pansy white’ rhetoric. At this juncture, the others asked me to share with them my retrenchment benefits (there are none). I asked for the wine list and alamak (colloquial language, Singapore – Ed), 1er Cru and Village lists don’t have no Leflaive….. Only Girardin….(*&^%$#@!…..) We called Iggy and asked for any Leflaive off the list (we will not be denied). Ian the sommelier was happy to report they have a bottle of 2003 Les Pucelles stashed away. Wow. What the heck, I was feeling generous. 

Wine #5: Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles 2005The nose was ripe++ with honey, melon and ripe pears. Not quite as powerful and complex as the BBM of course. An almost unctuous weight with a velvety mouthfeel supported by good minerality. A long, rich finish. An atypical Les Pucelles but meant for drinking young, no doubt a result of the 2003 heatwave. Lacks acid for the long haul though but outright delicious right now. A very classy wine accessible despite its youth

 Food #7: Angmoh Haemee Dry (literal translation: the Englishman’s prawn noodles without soup – Ed). Kieron then asked for Iggy’s signature Shrimp Capellini Pasta. This was true fruit de mer stuff with the shrimp leaping out at you in flavour. Angmoh Haemee DryI have only tasted one version better than this – a hedonistic version at NK’s done by his wonderful wife Melina, but that’s not for sale, folks. This was a more restrained version with a linear flavour structure which blended remarkably well with the Les Pucelles. Possibly the best pairing of food and wine for the night, I thought.

Act 5: Long Live Femininity and Serving Kong Bak Sauce to Kong Bak King!

 Wine #6: 1983 Ch Margaux. This was Daniel Tan’s contribution for passing MRCP 2A. (Well, actually a contribution from his father, Dr Tan Chue Tin, my ex-colleague in SMA Council. Dr Tan will forever be remembered by us as the man who left Council a few years ago and left behind a bottle of 1990 DRC Echezeaux for the rest of the Council – which sort of showed how desperate he was to get out of the rut life of a SMA Council member). Just for info, the ’83 Margaux is widely recognized to be a better wine than the ’82. And this was probably the most highly rated wine of the night. The nose was classic Margaux, supremely elegant and feminine, with notes of spice (I call that ‘fresh cut chilli’ nose, typical of the commune). Red fruit with tertiary notes of sandalwood and figs that fans out to a wide expanse on the back palate. A wine that caresses and not coats the palate and tongue. Imperceptible tannins yet possessing a clean well defined structure. Still fresh and vibrant with good acidity. Can go a long way still but why wait? An Audrey Hepburn of a Bordeaux. This was when Richard said “I think Hiok will slit his wrist when he reads about this”.

 Food #8: Wagyu Beef on Kong Bak Sauce. The wine was accompanied by two thick strips of Aussie Wagyu grilled to perfection. The beef was frankly not as soft as some of the top grade Wagyu I have eaten but good enough. It was accompanied on the side with a stuffed spinach parcel. What intrigued me was the double glaze that lined the plate. Holy smoke, there was cinnamon stick and star anise in this stuff! Wagyu on Kong Bak sauceIt was kong bak sauce. I called Ian over – “is this kong bak sauce?’. He said “er, it’s a pinot noir reduction”…

“But got star anise and cinnamon, yes?”

 “Yes, there is. Your palate very sharp”

 At first, I was a bit nonplussed if not irritated. Gee, World’s No. 98 restaurant serving me kong bak sauce? I can make this by the tub. After all, I am the kong bak man (not bak chor mee man). But then again, I thought about it, the acidity of the reduced pinot and the spicy attack of the star anise and cinnamon did cut through the oiliness effortlessly like a katana through toro. At this juncture, Daniel aka “Squirt” sort of collapsed and said he was too full and can’t take the beef. Thanks kid. He had held out for as long as he could until his Margaux was served and he had finally reached the rather shallow ends of his pansy liver. Cheese SouffleNow, he was gone, listing against his chair like a happy penguin after a big meal and genuinely stoned. I picked up the phone and called his dad, ““Dr Tan, your son has collapsed in a pool of First Growths!” Fathers, as fathers go, panicked “Does he need me to pick him up?” What, the boy can pass MRCP 2A and cant find his way home. Naarh.

Act 6: Let’s get cheesy

 Food #9: Cheese Souffle. At this juncture, we were honoured to have Iggy at our table. We revisited all the red wines we had and see how they had developed. The cheese soufflé was incredibly light and savoury, a relief of sorts from the relentless barrage of heavy flavours we have had from the last 4 main courses. Iggy polished his off like in one minute flat!

We're joined by IggyBordeaux Wine Summary: We all concluded that it was meaningless to choose the best wine of the night. The Lafite nose in the beginning was without peer, the Margaux was a complete wine in every sense of the word and the La Mission was lusciously hedonistic that got even better and better with time. All three were grand vin – to borrow a term from Clive Coates. The ’95 Las Cases will be one too, given time.

 Act 7: Driven Sweetly off the Cliff 

By now, Daniel was truly gone. But we were not done yet. Kieron’s 1989 Ch Riesseuc beckoned. The half bottle was showing beautifully, – the normal acrylic nose of young Sauternes had given away to complex notes of honey, lychees and even hints of grapefruit and ginger. It was a magnificent sample of what a sauternes could be – a unctuous wine yet not cloying, refreshingly acidic at the end with complex gripping minerality. 

Dessert was a again a trio of sweet bites: A scoop of vanilla ice cream that went well with the sweet pudding and a really sinful liquid centre chocolate torte (as good as Ember and Hiok’s Spinal Needle Chocolate Torte). 

Epilogue

 These two photos – ipsa loquitur

The WinesThe Clowns

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Wrist slitter permalink
    August 12, 2013 15:26

    This was a generation ago. I now feel the need…. the need to drown in a puddle of 1st growth.

  2. Kieron Lim permalink
    August 12, 2013 19:20

    Bravo! A great review from the maestro to commemorate an epic dinner. Can’t believe that was 7 years ago. Think it’s time for an encore and revisit that 83 Margaux! K

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