Monday, September 03, 2007

Food Blogger's Annual Dinner 2007 @ le papillon

Blogging is never easy. It takes time, effort and discipline. Food blogging, or flogging, is even less easier. But we press on, holding the urge to eat before taking the photos to share our food experiences with all out there. The numbers of floggers have been increasing too. Last year, a group of 16 floggers met up at Sage for the Food Blogger's Annual Dinner. This year, a total of 31 of us made the event. And I'm happy to be one of them.

The Food Blogger's Annual Dinner 2007 was held at Le Papillon in the Red Dot Museum. The whole building is painted in an arresting red but I'm thankful the interior of the restaurant wasn't. It had a clean, modern feel with plain-coloured walls and large glass windows. The beautiful motifs on selected walls added charm while dangling bulbs of light on one side of the restaurant gave off a warm glow. Not to mention, the bulbs became almost hazardous as a few people decided to gain enlightenment.

I was excited to meet many new people but regretted not being able to speak to everyone due to the large numbers. Now, I can finally put more faces to the blogs I read. And also discover new food blogs. A pity Chubby Hubby was overseas.

Dinner started with warm bread rolls and whipped swirls of butter. Both the multigrain and the white rolls were nicely soft and weren't too dense. This rolls were like God-sent especially for cleaning plates.

A spoon with the Chef's signature Feta and Pesto on Watermelon served as amuse bouche. The taste from this was a really good mix of flavours- creamy, salty feta cheese, herby, savoury pesto and juicy sweet watermelon. Big flavours for such a small cube.

Then came the cold appetiser of Hokkaido Scallop Carpaccio and Barracuda Fish Mousse with Miso Cream. I found the thinly-sliced scallop a tad fishy but nothing too repulsive in the 'unfresh' sense. The mousse with miso cream tasted light and a welcome crunch from the French bean imparted subtle sweetness.

Soup that night was Jasmine Tea Perfumed Duck Consomme made with Fiji Water Foie Gras Tortellini. The first spoonful of this consomme jolted my taste buds. There was a slight floral nuance followed by duck essence but the taste on the whole was very clean. This could be due to the use of Fiji Water.

The people over at Fiji Water were very generous and kind to sponsor the night's water as well as provide a bottle each in every goodie bag.

For the hot appetiser, we had Escargot with Herb-Garlic Butter Crust on Button Mushroom Gratinee Parsley Oil and Arugula Salad. This was delicious with the appetite-whetting herb-garlic butter proving too good to waste as a few people started mopping up the liquid with the bread rolls. More about mopping later. I like the fact that the fresh button mushroom wasn't cooked till mushy and soft. It held its own, with a firm texture and an earthy taste.

Due to dietary preference, the Chef specially prepared Grilled Avocado with Goat's Cheese and Nuts for Mia instead of the escargot. This piece was courtesy of Mia. I'm not a fan of avocado but this one here was warm, creamy and had a nice salty touch from the cheese. It tasted pretty good from a non-avocado fan's point of view.

This pasta blew me away. Another of Chef Anderson's signatures, the Rigatoni Pasta Tossed in Crustacean Oil, Tiger Prawn, Shaved Bottarga and Parmesan Cheese was easily my favourite dish of the dinner. The solo Tiger prawn was succulent and paired well with the sharp Parmesan and baby spinach. The single shaving of Bottarga, a cured fish roe (thanks to Wikipedia), imparted soft savoury notes.

The firm Rigatoni tubes that held delicious crustacean oil in their hollows drove me mad... because there's only five of them! The crustacean oil was truly yummy. I had to get another two bread rolls to clean the plate.

Looks like my mopping skills aren't too bad. This shot seemed to have fascinated the manager as well as those at my table. Too delicious lah.

While I was still licking any remaining crustacean oil from my lips, the Char-Grilled King George Whiting Fillet with Toasted Mustard Seeds and Saffron-Tomato Sauce made its appearance at the table. The colours of this dish looked really cheery. Unfortunately, I didn't quite take to this dish. The delicate fillet was soft but seemed lacking in flavour or perhaps my crustacean-oil-primed taste buds have yet to return from heaven. The tomato was too tart for my liking and similarly, I couldn't taste any mustard influence on the fish. Could the crustacean oil be the King George whiting's curse?

A Blood Orange Sorbet was then served to cleanse the palate. This sorbet was wonderfully sweet and fragrant and had an almost syrupy edge to it.

For mains (yes, like after six courses), we were served a Slow-Cooked Oxtail in Feuille de Brik Parcel with Truffle Butter and Jus Gras. This looked really interesting.

The thin parcel contained super tender oxtail which broke up into fibres upon tearing the parcel with my fork and knife. My only gripe was that the parcel was a little too oily. While I wasn't impressed with the truffle butter, I certainly was with the jus gras. It was a powerfully flavoursome sauce.

At the end of the meal, the Passion Fruit Symphony, a dessert of Souffle, Creme Brulee and Macaroon provided a sweet (and sour) touch. Passion fruit was the main ingredient and flavour of all three items. I like the creme brulee even as the custard was more like wobbly tofu in texture. The tartness of the passion fruit countered any sugary sweetness.

The macaroon was a small cube of sponge cake sandwiched between two macaroon shells. I overheard someone urging another to pop the whole thing in his mouth. Out of curiosity, I did the same. I was surprised that the normally very sweet macaroon shells were tamed by the sponge cake which packed a sourish tang.

As for the souffle, it was served in the hollowed-out shell of the passion fruit. Pleasantly light and airy, I hardly felt it enter my stomach. Overall, desserts were nothing really to shout about. I have to admit that their small servings were a good move. Not because the desserts were bad but rather they would have been boring as they tasted relatively similar. Only their texture differentiated each one.

After desserts, tea was served. Everyone had a choice of tea to pick from a wooden box containing an assortment. Tea was sponsored by Premier. I chose the Marsala Chai and drank it without sugar. Primarily a black tea, it was rich and had slightly spicy notes.

For wines, I had an Australian GSM, German Riesling Kabinett and Australian Tokay thanks to Zhi, June and Ivan respectively. This was my first brush with Tokay (pictured above). It was rich, had a honeyed bouquet and tasted intensely of raisins.

Towards the end, the Chef in Shining Armour, Chef Anderson, brought out and introduced his kitchen team to much applause. I have to hand it to them. It's certainly no joke having to toil in the kitchen over an eight-course dinner for 31 people. The fact that the people are food bloggers and that it was the Food Blogger's Annual Dinner would have only added more stress. So here's a big thank you to Chef Anderson and his kitchen team for the fantastic food. Not forgetting the Maitre'd and his wait staff for their generally good service too. And on the topic of service, I personally find that the service here could be more polished and attentive. Such a place deserves it.

Besides the food and company, the lucky draw also added an element of fun and excitement. Thanks to our very generous and kind sponsors, prizes included a Les Amis dining voucher, a Mario Batali cast iron pot and a saute pan, $200 Cathay Photo vouchers, a Spyder (not those eight-legged creatures but the monitor calibrating gadget), cooking class vouchers, cook books, 2 a.m. dessert bar vouchers, a 10-inch err knife from Razorsharp among others.

I was secretly hoping for the Les Amis voucher which later went to Leslie, the Mario Batali cast iron pot which went to Ivan, the saute pan which went to Mia while the Razorsharp knife which went to Cheryl. But I still feel equally blessed to have won a pair of cooking class vouchers (sponsored by at the upcoming Singapore Sun Festival. I'm excited about this as it'll be my first formal cooking class. I do cook but it's been from helping out in the kitchen from young as well as inspirations from eating out, watching cooking shows, recipes and basically learning from experience. I'll sure to be blogging more about the cooking class to be held at the Corriander Leaf after attending it next month.

Finally, a big thank you to June for all the hard work and planning that went into organise this dinner. Fantastic job!! I can't wait for next year's.

After dinner, I managed to catch Ratatouille with Ivan, Daphne, Colin and Yixiao at Orchard Cineleisure. But not before a round of hot yuanyang, iced holicks, iced milk tea, iced milo and iced yuanyang at Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe to pass time. Although it was my first time meeting Daphne, Yixiao and Colin, we chatted away comfortably and the one hour plus flew by really quickly. Foodie chemistry was certainly in the air. As for the show, it was pretty entertaining even at 1.30am!

Le Papillon
28 Maxwell Road
#01-02 Red Dot Traffic Building
Tel: 6327 4177
Opens: 12 to 2.30pm (Mondays to Fridays)
6.30 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays)
Closed on Sundays

Chew On This: Le Papillon is French for 'the butterfly'. And I sincerely wish that Le Papillon will take off to greater heights. So please drop by and check out this cool place.


Colin said...

The Tokay was an Australian port, not the Hungarian dessert wine.

Only one L please!

Anonymous said...

It was great meeting you and finally putting your face to your blog although we met briefly only just before the dinner last Sat.
Probably have to wait til the next time before we chat more. Til then.. Happy eating!

The Hungry Cow said...

colin: Ahh. I've made the changes. Sorry about the extra L. I'm bad with names. Thanks for informing.

sooks: The pleasure was mine. I'm happy to also finally put your face to your blog. :) Yep, we'll chat more the next time.

Colin said...

No problems, it's a common mistake. It was great meeting up with you as well, and I'm sure we'll meet again next year

Chocolate Reindeer said...

Lovely meeting you Leroy. Sorry our interaction was so short. My 2 year old baby needed to sleep you see!

The Hungry Cow said...

chocolate reindeer: Ditto. Babies should sleep as much as they can. Not much of this luxury as one grows. :p Till the next time!

Bottomless Pit said...

Nice to meet you at the dinner Leroy, Good luck in ur studies! keep it up

The Hungry Cow said...

bottomless pit: Hey, thanks a lot man though I think I need more than luck. Haha. Hope to see you in future gatherings.

Anonymous said...

Aiya, did not get to meet you!

The Hungry Cow said...

ieat: Yeah man. Tables apart and I was too busy cleaning the plate with my bread roll. :P I'll make a mental note to chat with you the next time an opportunity comes!

Anonymous said...

was nice meeting you leroy! enjoyed your company that night. hope you enjoy your cooking class. Let us know how it goes!

The Hungry Cow said...

theskinnyguywhoblogsaboutfood: Wah. That's like the longest nick I had to type. Finally this mysterious 'food blogger' appears. Haha. Thanks for the wine and it was nice meeting you too. I'll definitely blog about the cooking class. I'm so excited man!