Monday, September 7, 2009

Iggy's: Degustation dinner

with good friends

Follow-on to the excellent lunch I had at Iggy's, I decided this was the place to host a few of my watch collecting buddies and their wives to an excellent dinner.

I spent some time mulling over the wine selection. The restaurant had made their suggestions, but I was not quite satisfied, and since I wanted to focus on Burgundy wines, I consulted Jeff Kingston. Jeff is a good friend and companion to many fine meals, and an expert on the wines of Bourgogne. He gave his suggestions. And while mulling over his selection, I spotted the Domaine Fourrier Gervey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques 2004, which seemed to be reasonably priced. A quick reference to some online guides, and a bounce off Jeff...who gave his endorsement: "Jean-Marie Fourrier makes great wine. And this is a 1er cru in addition. This selection is MUCH better than the other two." I was all set.

We started the aperitives with the Jacquesson Cuvee No 730 magnum.



I am not familiar with this champagne, and this was suggested by the restaurant. It turned out to be excellent. Floral accents were detected on the nose, and on the palate, it was creamy, mature, complex and great elegance. Very nice indeed.

The amuse bouche



Sea Urchin, cauliflower mousse, ponzu jelly – Braised beef tongue, sancho pepper. Very interesting to tease the palate. The sea urchin was in the shot glass...the ponzu jelly providing a respite to the rich umami of the sea urchine and mousse. The beef tongue was very savoury, extremely tender.

The first course was a black truffle summer salad:



Slices of black truffle adorn the summer salad pile of potato, onion, tomato, avocado and a sprinkling of truffle jus as a dressing. The truffles did their aromatic magic, and was consumed in double quick time. The greens were fresh and crisp. Well matched.

The Duo Foie Gras:



Unusually a creme brule of foie gras pate. And a lovely piece of foie gras was perfectly pan fried, crisp outer, fantastic explosion of fat inside.

Some preferred the creme brule of foie gras. The creme brule was a pate of foie gras, topped with a typical caramalised top, and a sprinkling of chopped, lightly candied pears. The top cracked open to reveal the rich oppulence of the foie gras pate. But I preferred the pan fried foie gras:



Glistening in its crisp outer jacket, the liver shone with exquisite taste, and wonderful mouth feel. A sprinkling of chopped spring onion not only added to the taste, but also provided a feast to the eyes. The foie gras exhibited a soft after taste, with the foie gras flavour lingering after the swallow. Perfect with a quick sip of the Jacquesson.

We opened the whites next. I originally opted to go with Jeff's choice of the Domaine Pierre Morey Mersault Les Tessons, but they ran out of stock, so I went for the restaurant's selection of Domaine de l'Arlot Nuits St. Georges Clos de L'Arlot Blanc 2001.



Despite being only a Village appelation, the wine outdid itself. On the nose it was fruity, with citrus notes. On the palate, it exhibited good structure, with hints of butter, and a soft finish.

The chef served up a sanma as the next course:



The skin was perfectly seared to a crisp, fragrant result. The fish, extremely fresh, and moist, juicy inside. The fish was served on top of wild rice and olive, and complemented each other very well.

Next course was the pasta:



The cappellini was freshly made, and topped with zuchinni and smoked mullet roe. The roe provided the umami attack, and the pasta was done just softer than al dente. I found the cappellini at Gunter's signature dish to be much finer not only in the strands, but also tastier than Iggy's version. There the pasta seemed to have been infused with either chicken or beef broth, and was flavourful. The Iggy's serving was milder, being a bit more neutral in taste.

At this point, we decided to bring out the reds. The Domaine Fourrier 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques 2004 was an excellent wine. Initially I wasn't very sure of the vintage, and would have preferred an older vintage or the 2005. But the 1996 which was available, was Armand Rousseau instead of Fourrier. And it was S$599 a bottle. But my worry was unfounded.



The Fourrier not only redeemed itself but brought much glory to the Domaine. On the eye, the colour was wonderful...a light ruby red, thinning out at the rim. On the nose, aromas of blackberry and cherry. On the palate it was indeed most agreeable. A bit understated, medium body, but intense. Indeed the mid-palate exhibited complexity and a multi-dimensional quality lacking lesser burgundies. Very impressive indeed.

The next course was a suckling pig:



A small serving of suckling pig, mainly the very crispy skin on a bit of lingering puppy fat, and a small sliver of meat clinging to it. The taste was quite exquisite. Very rich. Crisp and fat providing counterpoint to the palate. It was served with a spear of asparagus, apple, potato and tumeric. The ensemble came together very well - a testament to the ingenuity of the chef.

A palate cleanser was served before the wagyu piece de resistance.

Made from tomatoes, this was the very same amuse bouche I had during lunch some weeks back.



Then, drum roll...the wagyu:



What looked like tenderloin of Blackmoore Full Blood wagyu, was roasted, and sliced into serving sized pieces, each about a cm thick.



The sides showed Maillard reactants. The inside, still almost rare. The meat was very tender. So tender that I could almost cut it with a fork. Wonderful. I only wished it was larger, perhaps triple the size? On second thoughts, perhaps only double would suffice, as this was a very rich dish. The taste, needless to say was superb. The beef was well marbled, but the fat so evenly distributed that I can almost see no marbling on the meat. The effect of the marbling was to be experienced in the palate...each mouthful was tender, rich, and a mild mild foie gras richness and flavour was tasted. C'est Magnifique!

A curious pre-dessert followed:



A tofu/mozerrella like piece of white jelly, presumably made from soursop floating on a shot glass with gin and lime. The waiter adviced to down it in one go, like a shooter. The soursop provided a nice sour kick to the gin. Nice.

Dessert was a chocolate concoction:



A scoop of home made coconut ice cream, with a small slice of chocolate cake, basil, milk and what looked like pandan jelly balls. Suffice to say, it was delicious.

Petit fours of lemon and bananas were then served to round up the magnificent meal.

Indeed an excellent meal. Each dish was spectacular, and even as I realize that serving 21 diners at once is no mean feat for the chef, the quality of the cooking and food was outstanding. As was the quality of the service. Always unobstrusive, always available, and the waiters were very knowledgable. Wine glasses were topped up, water goblets kept full. Food served with no fuss, and very efficiently. One of my friends decided to drop by unplanned, I had invited him to the dinner, but he had to keep his clinic open till 9pm, so he declined. But he decided to drop by mid-way through dinner, and the kitchen and serving crew did not miss a step. He was promptly served the wagyu and subsequent dishes. No fuss.

So after two major meals at Iggy's in quick succession, do I think it deserve Miele's Best Restaurant in Asia title? I don't know, but it certainly is one of the best I have eaten, equalling many 2 and 3 star establishments I have tried in Europe, Japan and Hong Kong. If it were up to me, Iggy's would deserve at least one Michelin star, perhaps even two.
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