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The WGF in Bangkok

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October 8 – Michael Ginor, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, New York

If you ask me about my favourite things to eat and drink, I’d probably go on for quite some time. But, in that first flurry of enthusiasm, you’re going to hear the words “foie”, “gras”, and “champagne” somewhere in there.

Is it little wonder that Michael’s dinners are something I look forward to every year?

We opened with Piper-Heidsieck’s Brut N.V. as our initial champagne. A good, standing around and gossiping bubbly. A bit of a bite to it, some toast, and butterscotch (according to M), and an acceptable finish.

And there was a bit of standing about to do, as there’d been such demand on this dinner that they’d moved us over to one of the function rooms to accommodate the crowd.

Yoonhi, M, E, and myself took up part of a table, the rest filled out with a group of mainly Scandinavian origin.

If you’re planning on eating and drinking well, this is a good crowd to be part of. You’ll regret it the next morning, but you’ll have a great time while it’s happening.


Torchon of Hudson Valley Foie Gras

With Duck Prosciutto and Mostarda di Cremona

This is a traditional terrine, full of fat and buttery on the palate, the mostarda giving a contrast with its sharp fruits. I love that feeling of sumptiousness (is that a word?) in the mouth, the crunch of the brioche, the tang of the fruit, and a nibble of the cured duck breast to bring some smoke and salt.

As you can tell, it’s a good start. If I contrast this with last year’s opener, it’s a much more conservative approach, similar in philosophy to the layout at The Latymer dinner we’d eaten a couple of weeks before. Discrete elements laid out for tasting.


Truffled Kobe Beef Tartar

With Shaved Foie Gras and Quail Egg Tempura

Michael’s truffled Kobe beef last year was one of my favourite dishes, and I was salivating at the mere mention of it. Last year it had been a fetching lump of tartare on top of a carpaccio-thin layer of the same, but this year it arrived as one slab, the crispy quail egg (also from last year) now perched in one corner, rather than as a crown.

Both were fine approaches, but where this excelled over the previous year was in the theatre.


Last year, the cured foie gras had been shaved over the tartar in the kitchen as part of the plating, and we never had the opportunity to see it in its pristine state.


This year Michael had brought David Britton back with him, and Itay Skoropa, who's with David at Lola. The three of them, for this course, were busy about the tables shaving foie gras onto the servings, moving table to table with their baskets like aggressive Easter bunnies.


Microplaned butter is almost what it was.


Freshly dropped, with no time to congeal, this had a beautifully light, lifting feel to the dish (if you can imagine that in conjunction with what is almost total fat).


Yeah, I could eat this most any day.


Our next champagne arrived (we’d continued to punish the brut throughout all of this). This was the Brut Reserve.


Finer bubbles, a little bit softer on the palate with more fruit discernable. I could be very good friends with a bottle like this, as could Yoonhi.


Citrus Butter Poached Lobster

With Sea Beans and Potato Cream

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

Butter poached lobster was once more on the menu, this time presented on a backdrop of foam, rather than last year’s solid green puree.

This was one of the courses that Michael did in his class this year. The lobster was initially boiled, then cracked and the meat cooked in citrus butter for 10 minutes at 170F. The citrus butter was a mix of butter, white wine, cream, butter, orange, and lime.

The potato cream underneath is an ultra-smooth blend of potatoes, stock, butter, and some more butter.

The greens (the sea beans) were prepared with a warm vinaigrette to give a sea tang to the lobster.

And there’s a hint of foie gras under there, just to bring the fat content up.


As we worked through the lobster, the rose came out.


I enjoy a rose. They just look so….festive. This one is clear on the palate, with a cheerfulness about it that’s hard to ignore. ( I asked for more of the Reserve. The rose was to cheerful to be lonely).


Roasted Squab and Foie Gras

With Celeriac Mousseline and Rhubarb Tarte Tatin

Piper Heidsieck Rose Sauvage Brut N.V.

Last year it was roast squab and parsnip mousseline. This year we’ve kept the squab and brought in celeriac to replace the parsnips. I guess its just a matter of rooting about for the right combinations (both of these are very traditional European vegetables, whose light has dimmed since the advent of the mighty spud).

The handling of the foie gras is much different, though, as last year it was present as a sabayon, whereas now there’s a very satisfying bit of roast foie gras.

(Aside: my favourite, still, of Michael’s various treatments of foie gras was his roast foie, a lovely, meat like thing served at the opening party)

The rhubarb is, of course, perfect with the foie gras. That biting, bitter stalk from my youth, stewed and served with a mound of sugar.

A good bird, done a bit beyond the point of bloody, in deference for the mainly Thai audience here tonight.


Roasted Venison Loin Bordelaise

With Truffled Foie Gras Flan

This went both ways. Yoonhi had a beautiful piece of venison, just off of rare, with a muted flavour of game. Perfect.

But mine was not quite right, and came away with a strong tang of iron, as if this particular beast hadn’t been bled out properly.

In any case, the flan was a good match, the soft richness going with the vibrant game element. (I just wish mine hadn’t had that liver-flavour).


Halva Parfait

With Silan Date Honey and Sesame Croquant

Remy Martin, VSOP


For dessert, a touch of the Middle East. A parfait flavoured with bits of halvah – the sesame based favourite of the Levant. Underneath, to anchor its tehina biography, a croquant of sesame seeds.


We strayed from champagne to cognac to finish up. I would dearly love to have a Remy Martin Iceboxx for my home when I grow up. I’d not paid attention when I arrived, and had thought this was a stand for the champagne.

As an aside, I’d met up with David and Itay in the pool earlier in the trip. Hudson Valley foie gras continues to do well, and, as David says “that’s good, as it pays for the other stuff”. But he’s having a lot of fun with his restaurants -Tel Aviv and Lola, in Great Neck - where he’s cooking what he feels like cooking.

“We can probably only get away with it for a while longer, but it’s a lot of fun for now.”

And he’s doing poutine, but with foie gras and black truffle. Man, that is something I’d like to see here next year.


Chillled cognac made for a fair enough finish. If there was anything to complain about, it was that the glasses were so small. Still, it just means that you grab a lot of them, and, given the demographics of our table, we were soon weighed down with little shot glasses.

The conversation, I must say, was captivating. One of our comrades had worked both sides of the Korean border for several years, and it’s not often that you get to break bread with someone with that sort of experience.

It became apparent at some point that the staff were hoping to get home this evening. We repaired to the lobby, and continued our discussions, comparing the two Koreas.


I looked down to my left, and, magically, a near-full bottle of champagne was there. That just helps the conversation even more. Miraculously, bottles of champagne and cognac continued to appear, until, finally, we parted company and we made our way back to our room.

A good meal. It would be a bad headache, but a good meal.

But I’ve really got to try that poutine of his some day.

Next – The Mourning After

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  • 4 weeks later...

October 9 - The Morning of The Gala

The less said about that morning, the better.

Champagne and cognac both have a hateur that keeps them from mingling well with other spirits. While my theory that two negatives should make a positive did have a certain elegance to it, in practice it failed to play out.

Luckily, being the day of the Gala, we had no other commitments, and so could stay in bed and wait for the world to stop trembling.

Of course, M had to phone and ask about lunch.

It would be Korean. Of all cuisines, Koreans seem to have done the most in addressing the after effects of alcohol poisoning. Restaurants across the Peninsula proudly proclaim themselves as “hangover soup” specialists (hejangguk).


M had a place she wanted to try up in Lad Prao. Hanyang was the name, and they did have kopjang (intestines) in a stew – my own personal favourite as an ally in these challenging moments.

”The enemy of my hangover is my friend.” Somebody must have said that. And if they didn’t, they should have.

The jongbul (as mentioned above), kimchi chiggae, haemultang, a couple of cheon. I could post more pictures, but, honestly, "they're all just pots of red" (as Yoonhi says).

The food was passable, but it lacked the “ajima in the kitchen” element. Still, it had accomplished its function, and we arrived back at the Four Seasons somewhat better off than when we had left.

A swim, a shower, some time in the lounge (and perhaps a glass or two of wine and some more food), and then it was time to try and fit into my tux.

Next – Showtime

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October 9 – The 10th Gala Dinner

I’ve become very familiar with this foyer. This is a good thing, as I now know all of the best spots to stand for maximum air conditioning. This is the sort of life knowledge that can come in really handy in Bangkok.

Paola had prepared the canapés, which were served with a Stony Peak, Brut Reserve N.V., Australia. The Stony Peak was quite pleasant, a good, dry cut to the mouth. I’m afraid I never pay enough attention to the canapés. I’m challenged enough by just trying to hold a champagne flute, a camera, a pen, and a notebook, let alone add a food item and a napkin into the juggle.


(Lots and lots of flower petals. In Thailand, you can do this.)

Our table was a very good mix. M & E were there, which is always a good thing there were also two young ladies, sisters and very blonde. The elder had been on the way back to the Philippines to have her child, the first blush of pregnancy upon her, when the hurricanes stranded her in Bangkok. Her sister was also stranded in Bangkok, but not in an international sense. It had been raining (it was October, after all) and, dressed to the 9’s, no taxi driver would stop for her.

Another couple with us, Canadians, had likewise had a fun time of things. He’d arrived the day before from the beach, his wife coming in from the UK. They’d booked the package (which is an excellent deal) but he’d arrived with nothing but beachwear.

The Four Seasons was quite concerned. He needed to have his meal. Especially in Thailand, it’s important that you not go without food. But he had nothing to wear other than beach gear, and he wasn’t going to be caught in a proper dining room dressed like that.

The compromise? The Four Seasons had had the meal catered to his room, a waiter on station with him to pour the appropriate wine as each course arrived. Sitting at a table in his room, watching television, with a collection of wine glasses in front of him, wearing shorts, and being tended to by uniformed staff…..I think he used the term “surreal”.

But, enough with the local colour. What of the food?

Graham Elliot Bowles

Deconstructed Caesar Salad

Baby Romaine, White Anchovy, Parmesan Fluff, Brioche Twinkie

Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2007, New Zealand

Our same opener from the Monday, and still an excellent way to do a Caesar. My photo of this was horrid, so either go back to my Monday dinner with Graham, or else I’ll have to hunt up Austin’s pictures and see if he did it.

The Kim Crawford was a bit astringent, very forward on the palate. A good wine on its own, but it went a bit crossways with the flavours in the dish.

This was a very good start, regardless of my fussing about matchings. The Caesar works well for repeated eatings, which removes it from the realm of novelty dishes and puts it to the comfort side.

The next dish was stunning. Mind you, I look stunned most of the time……


Christine Manfield

Woodbridge Smoked Ocean Trout, Tea Smoked Oysters

Blood Sausage, Celeriac and Apple Salad

George Dubouef, Puilly-Fuisse 2007, France

I’d read ahead, and loved the sound of this. Blood sausage and oysters. Now there’s a combination.

The dry, mildly ferric taste of the blood was there, and you could taste the tea in the oysters and that funky, pulpy mouth feel that smoked oysters get. Add a hit of salt with the ikura, tang from the pomegranate seeds, and you almost forget the fact that there’s a smoked fish in there somewhere. (Don’t ask me about the celeriac and apple. I was in the midst of blood-lust).

The Puilly-Fuisse came across a bit tart, on the back of the teeth sort of feel. But there were enough different elements in this dish that it would match up with something.

Having seen and tasted this, I was pained all the more that I’d had to miss her dinner (but then I’d never have had that wonderful meal by Luke Dale-Roberts).

Next they returned to Oz and poured out a Wolf Blass Chardonnay. I might have preferred this with the last dish, and Wolf Blass was the wine that Christine had been working with at her classes.

Then Kazumi Sawada did a wonderful thing.


Kazumi Sawada

Fried Pike Conger, with Foie Gras

Chrysanthemum Sauce

Wolf Blass, Chardonnay 2007, Australia

The man deep-fried foie gras. Okay, he wrapped it in eel, but that’s okay. It was still deep fried foie gras.

We’ll talk more about this tomorrow when we get to his class.

Like I said, the Chardonnay was fine with this, but I was slightly disappointed that there was no sake.

I made up for it by having them refill my last few glasses.


Michale Ginor

Citrus Butter Poached Lobster

With Sea Beans and Potato Cream

Springfield Estate, Firefinch Rip Red 2004, South Africa

Michael did a play on the lobster from the previous night. I’d have to say that the previous night’s presentation was prettier, but that was for a smaller crowd.

Different from the last night, however, tonight it was the lobsters turn to get the scraping, the chefs coming out from the kitchen with the cured foie to be planed off on the dish, as opposed to having the foie directly in the dish.

The Firefinch was an acceptable Cabernet Sauvignon. It was light, but this worked with the lobster and the fat that had been liberally shaved.

But now it was time for soup.

David Kinch

Pumpkin Veloute “Potimarron”, Pop Corn and Brown Butter Ice Cream

Catena Alta, Malbec 2006, Argentina

Where do we start?


What a pretty thing is a scoop of ice cream, dressed in flower petals and crumbles of popcorn and pistachios.


And then there’s the drama of the pour. The warm orange of the pumpkin just makes you feel secure, in an oversaturated sort of way.

Now, from the naming of the dish, does it also include the potimarron? That would the gourd I mistook for something dropped by Boris and Natasha at the Or Tor Kor market.


It holds all the comfort you expect of ice cream and of pumkin soups. I do admire David’s soups. Both this and the tomato of the other day.

The wine was a bit discordant. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see a Malbec, but this would have been more at home with a champagne. Something to lift and celebrate.

The Malbec – which I do so admire – was like, well, bringing Hannibal Lector to my daughter’s birthday party. It just seems a tad brutal.


But it is a nice wine. Compare the Malbec on the right, with the softer, paler Firefinch.

Fulivio Siccardi

Caramelized Vinegar Leg of Goose, Braised Endives

Lungarotti, Sagrantino Di Montfalco DOCG 2004, Italy


Someday, I must return to Italy. This is a wonderful example of good, solid Italian cooking. A beautiful leg of goose, the gaminess lifted away with the vinegar. The endive gives just that right bitterness to contrast the deep, sweet flavours of the goose.

Damn, I’m getting hungry again.

The wine, as expected, just kept getting better with more time in the glass.

But, side by side, my heart (and spleen, kidney and liver) was with the Malbec.

But, now for a note from the podium.

This was, after all, the Tenth, and it was time to quantify things. There must be a reckoning:

There have been:

109 chefs

21 countries represented

74 days of festival

365 event

20,752 guests (how many times was I counted?)

2700 lobsters


500 kg of foie gras served by Michael Ginor.

Francois Payard

Palet d’Or with Hot and Cold Chocolate

Yamazaki, Malt Whisky, Japan

As many of you know, I’m not a dessert man. But I put that behind me when it comes to the WGF.

Payard’s chocolates are a fine, fine thing. And a bit of gold leaf just makes one feel so much more noble.


Of course, having a 10 year old Yamazaki is a good way to enhance the flavour of chocolate.


By now the crowd was, like my hair, thinning. Hal Lipper was still here, and Austin, and a few of the other die-hards. This was the time to consolidate my whiskey glasses and catch up on the blow-by-blows.


But, all good things come to an end. We may not have been the last out the door, but we probably weren’t far off.

As we left, the staff, who had begun to dismantle the hall, had become distracted.


They were busy throwing the flower petals.

I do like this country

{b]Comment - As a matter of full disclosure, Christine did present me with her chef's whites. Somehow, they'd done then up for her as an XXXL, which is something of an overstatement. Everyone figured that it would probably just fit me better. I'll wear her stains with pride. End of disclosure.

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October 10 – “Knives are for pros”

Kazumi Sawada – Banrekiryukodo - Tokyo


Of all the classes, this was perhaps the most anticipated. The room was packed out, with extra tables brought in, a total of 64 covers patiently waiting.

We talked, of course, of where to get Japanese food and products. Tensu on soi 16 was mentioned, and there was word of the tofu at Suiryu (soi Tonson, I believe). Aoi came up again (at the Emporium, and I made a note that I’d have to get there sooner rather than later). Isetan seemed to be taking pride of place over Fuji, and the Emporium was still holding its own.

And the issue of mochi came up. Somebody thought they’d seen peanut butter mochi around somewhere. That’s something I have to find.

Meanwhile, to the side of the room, the sake representatives stood - bright happi coats and appreciative smiles. I had hoped that they might be discussing their products, but there was an issue of communications, unfortunately.

With a minimum of delay as things were put in place, Chef Sawada arrived from the kitchen in back, and was introduced by Malcolm.

Chef Sawada was originally from the Kwanto, but trained in Kyoto under Maruyama Yoshizakura in Gion, developing a feel for the traditional Kyoto mthods. After a decade in Kyoto he’d moved back to Tokyo, and is now the exec at Banreki-Ryukodo, which took a Michelin star in the first edition, and has hung onto that star.

Reading the Red Book (1st edition, page49), Banrekiryukodo “cultivates a seasonal sensibility, bringing out the essential flavours of ingredients…”. That doesn’t seem that out of place with Kyoto cuisine. “The menu includes meat and foie gras. While respecting tradition, the chef’s new take on Japanese cuisine draws on Tokyo’s resources, as a cosmopolitan food capital.

I mentioned the foie gras thing yesterday, didn’t I?

Our first dish was Chlled Soup in Gingko Nut Tofu

Matsutake Mushroom and Smoked Duck

With Citrus Flavoured Japanese Yuzu

Ingredients: For gingko nut tofu

750 ml kobudashi (kelp stock)

45 g kuzuko (arrowroot) starch (this will “dry” things”

200 g gingko nut paste (he used fresh gingko nuts here and made the paste separately)

a bit of sesame paste

a pinch of salt

a bit of usukuchi shoyu (light soy sauce)

While making paste of the gingko nuts, he put the kelp into a pan to heat, making up the stock. A touch of salt went into this.

He spoon stirred this until the stock hardened up from the kelp, getting a blobby, gooey texture, and then put in the gingko paste and mixed it up with his hand. This was then put into the dish/mold, covered with wrap, and put into the fridge.

Ingredients: For matsutake mushroom soup

900 ml ginan stock (kelp or dried bonito flake stock with kuzuko starch)

2 or 3 pc grilled matsutake mushroom (or enoki)

a pinch of salt

a bit of usukuchi shoyu (as we said above, “light soy sauce”)

The hot ginan stock was blended with the mushroom. With this the arrowroot starch congeals, and the result is a smooth paste. Add 2 tsp of mirin, a touch of salt and the usukuchi shoyu to taste, and then refrigerate.

For the duck, there are two things on the go. One is the dressing, and the other the duck itself. Watch the timing here. You could make up the marinade in advance, but you’d lose a bit if you did so.

Ingredients: Spiced Beetroot Dressing

for marinating sauce for duck

250 ml sake

50 ml mirin

50 ml koikuchi shoyu (soy sauce)

1 piece sliced ginger

1 diced beetroot

Put all the ingredients into a pan, and bring to a boil in a steamer.

Ingredients: For smoked duck Japanese way

2 pc duck breast (cleaned, pricked)

a pinch of slat

Sugiita (Japanese cedar wood board)

Meanwhile, the duck breast was poked and prepped with some salt, and the cedar soaked. This had been going on earlier, as it needs some 30 minutes for the cedar.

Slice the skin of the duck, and then wipe the skin side into a hot pan. You want to sear your duck. No oil is used, just the fat that you draw out of the duck.

The duck is steamed lightly (3 minutes and 30 seconds) with the marinade. I must admit, it made me sad to see good sake being left behind in the steamer, but it was for a noble cause.


The sugiita – the cedar - is different. This is a paper thin sheet of cedar, sold tidily (of course) in small plastic envelopes (contrast this to the large cedar planks popular now for salmon).

I snagged a piece and brought it back home as a sample. A little springy, if anything it reminds me of the outer layers on the neapoliton wafers we used to have as kids, waffles sandwiching edible petroleum by-products.

The duck breast (with that bit of salt) is placed between sheets of the cedar, and then popped into the oven at 180C for a couple of minutes, just enough to draw out the aroma of the cedar.

Retrieved from the oven the duck is finished with a light torching of the skin.

To assemble, spoon in the soup, and then place the block of “tofu”. Position the duck on top of the tofu, and dress with some lightly grilled mushroom.


Traditionally, you would finish with yuzu, appropriate for Autumn to Winter. Here he zests it, and then adds a bit of green onion, and puts one of the cedar leaves on the plate to pretty things up, reinforcing the aroma slightly.


It’s a strong dish, with the citrus notes and the duck. The mushroom flavour in the broth is very solid, and you get that slight bitter of the gingko. Traditionally, this would be served in a bowl, but I like the presentation here, the cocktail glass giving a good view of what’s underneath.

Skewered Fried Pike Conger

And foie gras, chrysanthemum sauce

Ingredients: For chrysanthemum sauce

Syungiku chrysanthemum

Chicken or dashi stock

Kuzuko starch

A pinch of salt

Hanahoshiso micro shiso blossom

Usukuchi shoyu (light soy) – a dash

Mirin – a dash

First, blanch the chrysanthemum in a pot of water, then squeeze it the hot water and transfer to an ice water bath.

Next, boil the stock, put in the chrysanthemum, and then add the kuzuko and some salt. Set it to cool overnight, and then mix it carefully with a mixer, avoiding any excess motor heat that would affect the colour.

Ingredients: For pike conger

1 pc Hamo pike conger

150 gm foie gras

Kuzuko (arrowroot) starch or katakuriko (potato starch)

Fine panko bread crumb

Sansho green pepper

A pinch of salt


The eel was introduced to us, in less than flattering terms. ”Quite a grotesque face.” Still, despite the upsetting appearance, this is a summer favourite in Kyoto and Kobe.

”Trim the pike conger and slice meat in half.” That’s an easy thing to say. This was the main part of the demo, with Sawada gracefully wielding his blade to separate first the meat from the spine, and then latitudinally to remove the bones from the body. With his head down, he used his left hand to pull the eel through, while the blade in his right cut in and spread and butterfly’d the eel.


To remove the bones takes a special technique and a change of knives. You need to slice between the skin and the meat to avoid the bones, knifing crosswise to the fish.


He does move quickly.

Finished, the meat is sprinkled with salt and sansho, and then the skin dusted with kuzuko.

The foie gras, cut to serving size, was seasoned slightly with salt and the sansho, and, as with most tempura, kept very cold before use. This will help it retain its competence through the frying.

Then the eel rolls over the foie, an embrace the covers the top and bottom. This is then floured, dipped in egg, and rolled in the panko.

At this point you deep fry it. The oil should be at 170C (a quick finger check under the lips). Use a bamboo skewer to see that it’s done properly.

Retrieved from the oil, it’s slice as a roll, and then quickly dish and serve.


To put this together, first put down a puddle of the sauce, then place the eel on top, and garnish with the hanahoshiso.

Persimmon Paste and Pear

Ingredients: For Persimmon and Pear

Kaki (persimmon)

Yonashi (pear)


350 gm Wasanbon (Fine Japanese brown sugar)

40 gm Mizuame (Glucose – to make it shiny and sticky)

Shiroan (Strained white navy bean paste)

2 tbsp lemon juice

Koshian (Strained Red Bean Paste)

Communications had been a bit of a challenge, and by this time we were starting to lose it. So, bear with me a bit here as I struggle through my notes.

He’s put the persimmon, skinned and chopped, into 1.8 l of water with sugar and glucose. This will come out as a compote. Set aside a little of the persimmon paste for later.

The shiroan is worked up as a paste with sugar, and the persimmon is mixed into this, cooking it while you work it solidly with a spoon. The same is done with the pear.

They’d done this up the night before to work within the time frame of the class. With the two finished products we see a hard mix for the persimmon, and a softer result for the pear, given the higher water content in the fruit.


To do the dessert, we use a Kyoto took – a straining basket. The approach is a hand strain to produce a noodle look. It’s important not to break the paste in doing this in order to get the proper aesthetic.

You place the persimmon down as a nest, and the pear, which comes out more as a ball, rests in the middle.


Take that small amount of persimmon paste from before, and paint the plate with a stroke of this.



Shirataki Junmaidaiginjo Jozen


There were two sakes served with lunch. The first was, as expected of a Niigata, very pleasant. This came across as mild and generally dry, but with a bit of sweetness there. Overall, a nice mouth feel to this, a lingering haunt hanging on.

I enjoyed this with the duck and particularly with the eel. If I had any complaint, it was that the reps had only brought two bottles of each with them for the whole room.


Still, at about 3000 baht a bottle at Isetan or Fuji (around $100) maybe it wasn’t something to be guzzled.

Ichinokura Himezen Sweet Sake


This was a bit of a disappointment on its own. This was an ume flavoured “dessert sake” from Miyagi. Very soft, sweet, and fruit forward, with a light alcohol content of 8.5% (and a relatively light price tag, at only 1800 baht).

The Himezen wasn’t something I was thrilled with, but alongside the dessert it worked well enough.

Overall, it had been a difficult class, with the issue of translation making it hard to draw the most from this. But that's always a risk when you draw an international group of chefs.

Still, the food was good, the first sake was excellent, and I was content with the display of knife skills I’d seen. It's always refreshing watching cold steel.


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October 10 – To a Tea

Francois Payard – Payard New York – NYC (with a caveat here)

I did a drive-by shooting of the tea in the lobby. Yoonhi, M, and an interesting new friend of M’s were taking tea, as proper ladies shall do.

Of course, being a repeat by Francois Payard doesn’t hurt, either.

Let me run through the glitz.

Scion of the house of Payard of the French Riviera, he’d made his name amongst the bright lights of New Yok, and has settled comfortably there. He made his name at Le Bernardine, and then at Restaurant Daniel, and then opened his own place in 1997, and has since franchised around the world.

My caveat above is due to the fact that the NYC venue had closed, due to lease issues. He’s since reopened as Francois Chocolate Bar (but in a limited manner), on Madison Avenue on the fourth floor of Mauboussin's jewelry store

But enough of such things (You have to imagine Ruby Rod from the 5th Element here). What were the sweets like?


Consider, in the foreground, raspberry litchi chocolate.

And then there was a bowl of chocolate truffles.


For some reason, this makes me want to start quoting Romeo and Juliet.

I do have some self-restraint, but at this point I was sorely tempted to reach in and grab one. I know the hotel wouldn’t complain, but I do have some ethics about paying for things, and I wasn’t part of this tea. (Stop gasping, you lot)


To the far right: pecan chocolates. The tray in the top middle are milk chocolates, and below those are marmalade chocolates. Tucked into the upper left corner are Tant Tatin chocolates.


A table of meringues, aglow in the first blush of Autumn.


Coming from class I was late, of course, and so the Montemarte Cake I found already ravished, it’s fresh berries peeking out from underneath the disarray of the savaged marzipan.


And a selection of teas. This is a “tea” afer all.


Crab cilantro gelees in the foreground, perkily at attention; and salmon rillette, cream cheese, and poppy seed in the back.


And a favourite of mine – cauliflower panna cotta with ikura, mint, and a nice tuile for a bit of crack. Mind you, I do prefer this with sevruga.


Some foie gras; foie gras-sauterne gelee.

I was tempted to nab some, but, as I said, I’m a man of ethics.

Not much of a man, but……


And, finally, a pretty little croque monsieur sat alone on a plate, the last, unchosen for a dance.


There was much more, but I was merely a gawker in this affair.

Yoonhi’s opinion was more telling, and less influenced by shiny colours and the gleen of chocolate in the afternoon light.

She felt the tea to be acceptable, but disappointing in contrast to Laiskonis’ tea of last year. Interesting. Both Laiskonis and Payard have Le Bernardin to their credentials. And, to me, there seemed a heavy overlap in the dishes proferred.

Take that as you will. For myself, I was growing hungry again.

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  • 6 months later...

Given that I’m sitting in the lounge, waiting for the flight that will take me to WGF11, I suppose it behooves me to finish up WGF10.

I’ve been distracted.

October 10 – Fulvio Siccardi & Lungarotti

We take no umbrage with Umbria

Our penultimate dinner was a break with tradition. I would not finish in Biscotti, as was my wont, but rather take the final meal in Shintaro.

This was necessitated by the lunch class with Shintaro earlier in the day. I wanted a day to mull over what happened on the stage, before taking it to the table.

But Shintaro and Sawada is another story (for which I am madly searching for the photos. They may not be on the laptop).

Biscotti was as welcoming as ever. Abuzz with conversation, packed out, with the draw of a Michelin starred Italian chef having filled the billet.

Fulvio Siccardi is a Piedmont lad. He’d moved around Italy a bit in his years, but has come to rest at Ristorante Conti Roero at Monticello d’Alba, being both the chef and owner. He’d already earned one Michelin star at Le Clivie, and he took another when he opened Conti Roero.

For wine tonight we’d be drinking Lungarotti, from Umbria. This winery was influential in landing the Torgiano (the old Etruscan town) their DOC back in 1968. A good reputation for their product, and, honestly, Italian wines usually shine when taken with their foods. I always admire their earlier insistence when the wine tastings were more common that they would only do tastings if these were followed by the matched meals.


First we opened lightly with a prosecco Spumante Rustico N/V. As I said “light”, but cooling given the temperatures we’d been dealing with outside. And,honestly, with the amount I drink at these things, I don’t need to load up in advance (well, except for the exec club, but that’s just late afternoon tweensies).

I’m growing very fond of Italian sparklings, with their small, crisp bubbles.

Oh, and check out the stemware, I’ll come back to that later.


Lightly smoked and marinated beef tenderloin with grain mustard and chives emulsion

A pretty dish, reminding me of Lucille Ball in pancake make-up, a tangle of shredded carrot atop the ruddy meat, the carrot giving some crunch and sweetness. The beef was very lightly smoked indeed, with just a trace of the wood in there. Very pleasant as a dish, and an interesting way to take the meat – not tartar, and also not so tangy as to be a carpaccio.

Our first wine of the Lungarotti’s was a Pinot Grigio dell Umbria IGT from 2007. It did everything you’d expect of a pinto grigio, giving a bright contrast to the carnivorous rendability of the flesh on our plate.

Good start, I was enjoying this.

Next up was ”EGG in Jail”


Egg with Black Truffle, Scented Parmesan and Milk sauce

With a cabernet sauvignon DOCG 2005. A nice enough nose, and a reasonable match for the truffles and fats.

Now, while I didn’t attend his class (it would have meant missing a dinner) I did snag the class notes. So here are the details:

The eggs are steamed first, then cooled with ice in order to peel them.

The sauce is worked up from butter with chopped truffle, and then a bit of corn starch to thicken. Milk, cream, and parmesan is added in and the whole thing is cooled on ice.


Then the truffle cream goes into the plastic wrap (which is in a mold) the egg drops on top, and you put more sauce on top and grate some parmesan. Tie it off with a string, and serve with croutons on the side. Simple.


Opened up, you get that big hit of truffles full-frontal, with the fat from the cream and cheese sneeking in after the truffles have opened up your mouth through the nose.

Why haven’t I been doing this at home?


After this, Potato gnocchi with bra sausage and veal ragu, served with a Cabernet Sauvignon DOCG 2005.

Yoonhi really, really likes gnocchi. Yoonhi really, really liked these gnocchi. The bra sausage is traditionally veal cuts with pork fat, so you get the best of both worlds, with a slightly granular texture from the sausage filling in around the softness of the gnocchi.

And lets hit that with some parmesan. Everything tastes better with parmesan.

As much as Yoonhi likes gnocchi, I like goose. I love the way it’s almost like ham when cooked right, that reddish meat that flakes away.


Caramelized vinegar goose leg withBelgium endive and chanterelle mushroom


Served with a Rubesco Vigna Monticchio Reserva DOCG 2000. Good nose, and it had been open for a bit.

Nice wine. Great goose. The tang of the vinegar, the bitterness of the endive, and the dirt of the mushrooms.

Yoonhi wasn’t as taken with this dish, so I ate hers.

It’s good to have a spouse. I suggested to our friend M that I could help her with hers, too.


With the main attraction out of the way, we settled into the Panna Cotta Trilogy, a selection of a chocolate panna cotta, panna cotta foam, and traditional hazelnut panna cotta. While the chocolate, with its abundance of berries was attractive (red currant, raspberry puree, fresh raspberry, blueberries, blackberry, and strawberry), and the foam clean and refreshing on the palate, I still leant towards the traditional hazelnut.

It had cognac in it.

We finished with a dulcis vino liquoroso from 2005, the smell of anis lurking over the table as we wrapped up.

As we departed, every guest was presented with a piece of the stemware. I’d mentioned it earlier. Schott Zwiesel 1872. Beautiful shape, and way light. These are a branding of Schott’s titanium magnesium crystal glass. Replacing the lead with titanium lightens them up amazingly, to the point that you get really nervous about handling them. But, having recently dropped one, I can attest to their resilience.

I use the two regularly at home, and adore the feel of them in my hand. My only concern is tippage if on a tablecloth, but somehow they never fall over.

Our housekeeper is still terrified of washing them.

Our gifts collected (and no more glasses to be wheedled) we stumbled back to the elevator.

Next…..once I find the photos…. Sawada and the Sake finale.

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