COGNAC and CUISINE: Martell Pure Gourmet signature dinner with Emmanuel Stroobant and Antoine Rodriguez

I was honoured to be a guest of Martell during its fourth edition of the Martell Pure Gourmet signature dinner series recently.

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Featuring ingredient-led cuisine paired with Martell cognacs it was a dinner where only the finest quality produce are used, for Martell Pure Gourmet embodies the pure method of cooking as inspired by Martell’s pure method of the creation of its cognac.

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This slightly differs from my Martell first pairing dinner where it was ingeniously paired with Chinese cuisine. I find Martell a rather versatile cognac as it was as smooth and enjoyable on its own, excellent when matched with the complexity of flavours in Chinese cuisine and brilliant with the carefully crafted bespoke menu I sampled tonight.

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The Martell Pure Gourmet dinner also highlighted the essence of craftsmanship, both in the 4-course menu created by award-winning chefs Emmanuel Stroobant (Singapore) and Antoine Rodriguez (Executive Chef, Le Meridien KL) as well as the Martell cognacs that were carefully paired with each course.

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Mr CK Tan, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Malaysia commented; “The Martell Pure Gourmet philosophy is one of origins. Just as it is impossible to make a good cognac without a good grape, the Pure Gourmet recipes stem back to its origins – the ingredients. Essentially, Martell Pure Gourmet focuses on pure, real food with quality ingredients as the star.”
And indeed that evening the 2 chefs held court to ensure our tastebuds are taken for a fabulous, indulgent ride with dishes that are fitting of a cognac of Martell’s reputation.

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To begin with, I love the pictorial menus that was on our tables. A trademark of Chef Emmanuel, the sketches of each dish made the understanding of our dinner much easier. 🙂

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Amuse Bouche:
Ratte Potato Espuma with White Truffle and Ikura. These were served one after the other; the earthy luxuriant white truffle first, followed by the briny ikura.

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While the truffles potato mousse was predictable, the light potato mousse with Ikura surprised me. The brininess of the Ikura blended smoothly with the potato mousse, adding a fishy but not unpleasant profile to the overall dish.

If you have noticed, each of the amuse bouche was served in a different cup; espresso cup for the truffle and chinese teacup for the ikura version. I’m guessing its a representation of Asian and Western respectively. This is a minute detail but it shows attention to specifics that are often overlooked; something a gourmet like myself appreciate.

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Then the Martell flowed. The spicy, rich Cordon Bleu was to me, the opposite of the smooth, gentle flavored scallop mousse. Light in the mouth, the accompanying sides ranged from sweet (persimmon & the crystalized plum ), to salty (radish slices), to strong ( lobster oil).

Textures wise it toyed with our palate coyly; with a frothy feel from the mousse to the hard crunch of the whole radish and tender softness of the persimmon and plums.
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First Course

Bay Scallop Mousse with Radishes, Persimmon, Crystallised Plum,

Toasted Almond and Lobster Oil

Paired with Martell Cordon Bleu

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This was a very memorable dish and proved to be a good prelude to the evening.

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Martell Cordon Bleu, one of my personal favourites.

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Second Course

Slow-cooked Chicken Ballotine, Foie Gras and Duck Confit,

Figs chutney, Walnut Crumble

Paired with Martell XO

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It would be redundant for me to say the Martel XO with notes of candy fruits, figs and chutney paired very well with this course. This is after all, a specially crafted menu to bring out the best of flavours of both the food and cognac.
In general I’m in favour of chicken stuffed with anything, be it in the form of roulade or galantine or ballotine. Foie gras are predictably paired with something sweet; but here it was given a sweet twist (pardon the pun) in the form of fig chutney; pleasurably tangy and sweet. It was a plate of familiar components; the foie gras with chicken paired with something fruity but the accompanying sides really bought out the essence of the dish.
This was paired with Martell XO, which provided a long staying flavor in the mouth. Key notes of the Martell XO are figs (no surprise here right? 🙂 ) with a mild nutty finish.

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Third Course

Roasted Quail with Orange Peel-scented Endive,

Date and Juniper Berry-Chocolate Reduction

Paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra

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Being a versatile foodie, I eat anything and everything. But doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of all ingredients and the quail is one of the fowls that I can’t seem to acquire a fondness for.

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But Chef Emmanuel and Chef Antoine proved that in their capable hands the quail is possibly as enjoyable as any other meat. The usual complaints I had with quail; stringy meat, dry textures and gamey smell was thankfully absent. I trust one of the main reason would also be the quality of the bird to start with, for the usual quails are skinny while these were quite plump!

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Don’t you just love these pictorial menus? I hung on tightly to them the whole night as I prodded, smelt, licked and chew on each component of each dish that night. As each component of the dish are not easily identifiable, these menus are God sent! 🙂

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By now you would have noticed that the ingredients in each dish are carefully crafted to match the notes of the accompanying Martell. The quail dish did have orange peel , chocolate jus and a touch of curry powder; almost similar to the Martell Creation Grand Extra.

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Dessert

Caramelised Sarawak Pineapple with Candied Lemon Zest,

Ginger Bread Ice Cream, Almond Custard and Passion Fruit

Paired with Martell Chanteloup Perspective

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Even desserts were paired with Martell. The Martell Chanteloup Perspective was an entirely new drink to me til that night.

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The desserts were an explosion of flavors; sweet, ginger-ish, nutty meringue , zesty lemon and tangy passion fruit. Amazing for some and confusing for others. Again it was explained that the notes of almonds and ginger in both the dessert – almond custard, ginger bread ice cream and meringue and in the Martell Chanteloup Perspective are complementary and thus the choice of the cognac for the dessert.

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From the day that Martell was founded in 1715, it has always had close links to gastronomy, and hence decided to further develop its culture of flavour and define the bases of the perfect Martell gastronomy. Out of this culture and passion, Pure Gourmet was born, derived from Martell’s philosophy in creating its cognac by the purest means – from its precise choice of crus (vineyard), eaux de vie filtered of lees (the process), distillation of clear wines only, then the ageing process in fine-grain oak barrels.
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Martell Pure Gourmet emphasises on quality ingredients as the principal characteristic that defines its unique gastronomic experience. Three pure ingredients are chosen from renowned terroirs worldwide and are then prepared in a skillful and unpretentious manner masterfully crafted in symphony with the internationally versatile and luxurious range of Martell cognac including Martell VSOP, Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell XO and Martell Creation Grand Extra.

Thank you Pernod Ricard Malaysia for the opportunity to savour such finesse,  it was indeed a unique gastronomic experience.
And to Chef Emmanuel and Chef Antoine, thank you for the goodies too! 🙂

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