An amazing journey of taste
THIS is an Odyssey for the ages, indeed.
It’s that time again, when Cognac-loving bon vivants embark on a journey of taste, stopping in at various ports of call – the faraway seas off Japan, home to meltingly sweet botan ebi and delicate snow crab ... or perhaps a fantastic farm on our own home shores, raising organic fowls of legend.
In other words – it’s time for the Hennessy XO Odyssey. A seven-course gastronomic journey, with the Cognac served in various incarnations at every step, to showcase its many facets – neat, over ice, with a splash of water, cool or warm. And then paired with fine cuisine to elevate the entire experience.
With the Odyssey now in its second year, the chef helming the epicurean ship for 2017 is Darren Chin, the chef-owner of DC Restaurant, in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.
If you don’t already think that Chin is one of the best and most cerebral chefs in the country, the Odyssey should convince; every element on his plate is a tightly-plotted chess move, a building block in a dish greater than the sum of its parts.
He’s an experienced proponent of applying classic French technique to a dazzling, exciting array of ingredients and sensibilities, and is stringent when it comes to sourcing the best produce.
Each course in the meal is titled with the nuance the dish will help to elicit from the Cognac. The experience begins with a play on Sweet Notes, with creamy botan ebi accompanied by the umamirich heirloom tomato granite and flecked with touches of konbu, chilli and citrus freshness from a touch of grapefruit foam.
For this course, the Hennessy XO is served on the rocks, notes of honey and candied citrus creeping to the fore. “The botan ebi draws out the sweetness of the Cognac,” said Chin, at a special media preview. “But every course is designed to showcase its versatility.”
The Spicy Edge is probably my favourite – snow crab presented in two acts. The delicacy of the crustacean necessitates both careful thought and gentle handling, and both are apparent in the presentation.
Part one is a broth of snow crab and prawn, with hints of herbs from DC Restaurant’s own garden. Briny and fresh, a meld of land and sea. And then part two arrives, a generous mound of silky snow crab strands with white asparagus and complex culantro nam jim (a complex Thai dipping sauce), cradled in whisper-thin slices of freshly-shaved summer truffles.
The Cognac is served with a splash of water this time, and reveals fragrant, spiky pepper notes, playing against its signature rich roundness.
Ending with a Chocolate Lull, Chin serves an ice cream made with Arabica coffee, spiced hairy bananas with the serpentine pastry coils of Moroccan m’hencha, concealing spice, nuts and citrus, and a lemon chantilly. The night ends with a glass of Hennessy XO neat, its weight comfortingly silky on the tongue, with dark chocolate notes making their presence felt.
These are just a few of the wonders of the gastronomic world that await. Mathieu Duchemin, managing director of Moet Hennessy Diageo has the final word: “Each drop of Hennesy XO is an odyssey in itself,” he said.
Worlds within worlds, and quite the last word on gastronomic intertextuality.
Botan ebi with heirloom tomato granite, konbu, lemon basil and chilli oil, paired with Hennessy XO on the rocks.
Chin, in the elegant confines of DC Restaurant. — Photos: Moet Hennessy Diageo
Summer truffle slices hide a precious secret – silky strands of snow crab, white asparagus and culantro nam jim.