28 April 2012


We don't usually follow up on any of the expensive extravaganzas advertised by the Ritz-Carlton, but when a shiny card appeared inviting us to a five-course wine pairing with food and drink from the Margaret River areaWestern Australia, we decided "what the hell — why not?" was the right response.

Glad we did. While our blowout meal in Barcelona still ranks as the best ever, the cheerful, informal Aussie atmosphere, highly quaffable wine, and amazingly good food for a banquet made this a night to remember. For various reasons we felt we needed a treat and this was exactly that.

Photos from my Lumix are a bit out of focus — turned out a few settings were mysteriously altered on the camera; how did I, who always leave it on "intelligent auto" for the unintelligent, manage this? — but you can still get a sense of atmosphere and what temptations showed up on our plates. Most attendees were part of a group, but because we were on our own, we had table 10 to ourselves — with friendly Australians (and one Philadelphian with a wife from Down Under) stopping by periodically for a chat.
 Celebrity chefs Tony Howell and Dennis Mifsud, flown in from their restaurants in Margaret River to preside over the kitchen.
 The Ritz-Carlton's resident chef, also from Australia, and Karim Tayach, the hotel's German-Tunisian general manager. Just to keep us all humble, I'll note that the latter speaks "Arabic, French, English, Italian, German, and Tagalog" (from the Indonesian Tatler article linked above — he's not the sort of person who would ever mention this himself).
The menu. Although you can get larger images by clicking on photos, I'll still type the relevant description above each dish. Don't strain your eyes here.

"Yabby Tortellini, Silky Creamed Corn Puree, Burnt Truffle Butter." Served with 2011 Ashbrook Estate Semillon.
"Seared Grouper, Ginger Compressed Waltermelon, Green Papaya, Nahn Jim [Thai dipping sauce], Wonton Wafer." Served with 2010 Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Vineyard Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.
 "Crispy Boned Braised Duck, Master Stock Consomm√©, Asian Mushrooms, Cabbage." This was our favorite course. Served with 2008 Edwards Chardonnay.
"Sous Vide Red Wine Poached Beef, Sarladaise Potatoes, Horseradish Cream, Roasted Beef Reduction." Served with 2010 Moss Wood Amy's, a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Merlot.
 "Baked Chocolate Tart, Beetroot Variation, Foam, Glaze, Confit." I'm not convinced that beetroot was the ideal accompanient for these delicous ganache-like chocolate cubes, but it was certainly exotic. Served with 2008 Voyager Estate Shiraz. Michael's personal opinion (I was defeated by the quantity of wine well before the fifth course) was that this Shiraz didn't really go with chocolate.
 "Macadamia Fig Pan Forte," coated in chocolate, served with coffee.
 My date.
The staff who made all this possible.
The distinguished gentleman talking here to Michael is Western Australia's trade representative in Jakarta. He has promised to send MW a bottle of chilled wine if he texts him from the sandy wastes of his June desert expedition. Little does he know that Michael probably will contact him, not that he actually expects any wine to arrive in the middle of nowhere. 

Below is the article published in the Jakarta Globe in anticipation of this week's Ritz-Carlton/Margaret River events.

Australia’s Best Wining And Dining, in Jakarta
Sylviana Hamdani | April 24, 2012

Margaret River is a destination blessed with scenic mountains, good waves, warmhearted people and fertile land. Only a few hours from Perth, the capital of Western Australia, the lush green valley boasts some of the nation’s best produce, from black truffles and olive oil to fine wines.

In celebration of these exquisite offerings, the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place will present some of Margaret River’s best dishes and wines in an event that begins today and runs through Saturday.

“The region has a cold climate that gives you wines that take a much longer time to mature,

and because of that, you get wines that are much finer than the ones produced in a hot climate,” said Patrick Weder, the hotel’s executive assistant manager of food and beverages.

Nearly 60 top wineries in the Margaret River area produce premium Australian sauvignon blanc, semillon, cabernet and merlot. The region is also home to Australia’s best Angus and Wagyu beef.

“We want our guests to experience the best that Margaret River has to offer right here in Jakarta,” Weder said. Celebrity chefs Dennis Mifsud and Tony Howell, both from Margaret River, will be on hand to share their culinary expertise.

Mifsud is the chef and owner of the prominent Wino’s Margaret River, while Howell is the resident executive chef of Cape Lodge, a multi award-winning gourmet restaurant. He was also a finalist of MasterChef Australia last year.

On Wednesday, the duo will share some of their secret recipes in a Masterchef Class at the hotel’s banquet kitchen from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Indonesian food enthusiast and writer Petty Elliott, who has a column in the Jakarta Globe, will be part of the event.

“It’s going to be a casual and intimate event,” Weder said. “Guests are welcome to mingle with the chefs and enjoy the lunch after the class.”

On Thursday evening, Mifsud and Howell will prepare a five-course gala dinner for the guests. The meal will include yabby, a type of crayfish, served over tortellini pasta with a soft, creamy, corn sauce, as well as steak poached in red wine and garnished with sweet potato paste, sour cream and a king oyster mushroom.

A “special dessert” will also be presented, “but I think I’ll keep it a secret for the evening,” Mifsud said.

Each dish will be paired with premium wines from Margaret River.

“We’ll start with the sauvignons and chardonnays and then move on to the cabernets and shiraz of the region,” Mifsud said.

On Friday, the hotel will also host an open-air wine market from 5 to 10 p.m. Guests can sample the offerings and make direct orders from suppliers at special prices.

“Top winery owners and winemakers from Margaret River will be present during the wine market, so the guests can learn about the wines that they produce, how they produce them and what makes them special,” Weder said.

The wine market will offer about 35 top Australian wines, and customers can request home deliveries for special orders.

A second wine tasting on Saturday will also feature owners and winemakers from Margaret River. The formal event will offer another chance to sample some of the world’s finest ingredients, with a range of miniature meat and fish dishes and chili chocolate truffles to go with the wine.

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