It is always an honor to be part of the invite only, exclusive Hennessy XO Appreciation Series.
And since this is my fourth invite; I was already certain of a few aspects of the night; fine cuisine, free flow of fine cognac, meticulous execution of the flow of the evening while being entertained by well orchestrated performances and superb hospitality.
But the MHD team proved that they are still able to spring some surprises even to their regular guests. This round, we were staged to be dining aboard a ship, and by the first course, we were cruising through by the French river.
We were literally dining on water as we were seated on top of a floating platform over the swimming pool of Chin Woo Stadium.
For each of the country we traveled through that night, famous landmarks were projected on the screens flanked on three sides of the dining hall, making the experience even more surreal.
Such attention to details is a trademark of all MHD events.
Our “captain” of the evening’s culinary journey came on stage, signalling the start of the first sail with a short introduction of our first dish; Parisian Regalia. And thus we bid Kuala Lumpur farewell (for now) and welcomed the French Riviera and can-can dancers.
As my fork cuts into the soft centre of Chef LeAnne Wong foie gras flan, almost pureed form of Hennessy infused foie gras oozed out delicately, and I instinctively mopped it with my toasted brioche. But it was so good that I abandoned the brioche; and polished it off on its own, savouring the richness but yet light foie gras custard, in between sips of Hennessy X.O neat.
Biding adieu to French we anchored next in grand China. Our soup, though essentially traditional had a western twist with the cold crab meat at the side on a porcelain spoon. This was supposed to be added into the soup right before consumption . I did exactly that, gave it a good stir & from the first sip the heady aroma of Hennessy hit me. But no worries, it didn’t overpower the soup at all and in fact added a subtle sweetness to the broth.
Between sips of Hennessy with water & Chinese instrumental performance, we warmed our insides with the marvelous broth, and the Empress Dowager herself would have approved.
The chinese orchestra played evergreen songs on traditional Chinese instruments while the screen displayed ancient temples along the river.
America : We made our way to New York and was rewarded with beautiful jazz quartet playing as a buttery salmon appeared on our table.
The Statue of Liberty.
Presented as a tribute to cowboy culture, Western Allure, a dish of spice-rubbed American salmon, incorporated true American flavors and ingredients as they would have been at the end of the cowboy days, and partnered perfectly with Hennessy X.O and ice.
There were many components to this dish and as expected every bit paired harmoniously as a whole. The fish sat on a pool of a lovely “homely, made-from-scratch” BBQ sauce that I literally dipped my finger onto the plate to mop it up into my mouth. Yes, it’s the perfect example of finger-licking goodness.
Okra was a funny inclusion, not a vegetable commonly found on plates of fine dining menus but Chef LeAnne has this done to a wonderful sweet chewy crisp, almost like dehydrated vegetables. Even the slivers of sweet fresh onions on top of the salmon was good to eat, not just another garnish to be relegated to the side of the plate. And the peanuts, though of an unexpected texture of hardness, but provided a nutty interlude to the overall dish.
From brash America we sailed to romantic, elegant Italy. In a country where cuisine and culture ignite strong passions, Hennessy X.O is a cognac worthy of equal passion with its strong character.
The Venetian Ambrosia; handmade pasta in a sumptuous sauce of summer truffles, cognac, and cream, finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table was really, well, ambrosial.
Reggiano cheese are a personal favourite of mine. We know Italian pastas can get cloying but in my books this was an epitome of a pasta dish – creamy but balanced, rich but satisfying This was accompanied by Hennessy X.O and water.
And the Italian tenor sings; his powerful vocals serenaded us as we dined in silence, savouring each mouthful while listening in awe of his voice.
An unexpected choice of destination, exotic Russia was next. Similarly, an unfamiliar dish, but fittingly a traditional one was chosen for us.
The traditional Russian dish, Mazurka Splendour – lightly fried fresh cheese curd fritters accompanied by a light sour cream sauce, a rich cognac infused dark berry sauce and sugar crusted currants paired exquisitely with Hennessy X.O neat.
I was really stuffed to the brim but I couldn’t resist savouring every bite on my plate again. Tonight was one of the few meals I had in recent times that I actually cleared EVERY plate. Other than Jaan that’s it.
In The Land of The Rising Sun the Nihon Grandeur, an icy dessert with fresh grapefruit segments encased in a delicate grapefruit and cognac gelee, covered in a light layer of cognac-vanilla whipped cream, frozen grapefruit granite, and topped with a sesame seed-cognac wafer, brought guests’ journey with Hennessy X.O to a resounding conclusion with a spirited drum performance by the Wadaiko Syo troupe.
Thank you so much Chef LeAnne Wong for such a fabulous meal!
And my deepest appreciation to MHD and Hennessy for making Hennessy XO Appreciation Grows happen year after year, each more successfully and enjoyable than the last!
More on my experiences with Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows Gastronomy Dinners:
Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows begun with Chef Susur Lee – November 2011.
Hennessy X.O. Appreciation Grow with Chef Edward Lee – April 2012
Hennessy X.O. Appreciation Grow with Chef Micheal Han – September 2012
*Non- watermarked pictures are courtesy of PR.