Monday, December 25, 2006

10 degrees of Christmas @ Basil Alcove

This Christmas also marks in a way, the trial by fire for Basil Alcove which I first visited back in September - in the culinary sense. The chef with the mischievous grin, Xander Ang has taken upon himself to deliver a 10 course Extravaganza menu. So erm....I have some photos for you here of the dinner if you are so inclined to continue reading.

Carpaccio Beef

Paving the road to the extravaganza was the carpaccio of beef with cipriani sauce, topped with honey roasted figs. This is probably one of the largest servings of cappacio I've ever had. And in honesty, also the ugliest. And despite being much thicker than how carpaccios normally are, it turned out to be quite appetizing and edible. The treat in this dish for me were the honey roasted figs.

Trio Mitili
In the Trio Mitili, there was a trio of half shelled New Zealand mussels, accompanied by diced green and black olives. The common thing about the mussels are that they were succulent and fresh tasting. More than one of us at the dinner though the salty baked cheese was smile etching good and the pesto packed with a very decent punch of garlic.

Borscht Asparagus e Beet Cappucino
Foam seems to be the thing these days. I must admit that I'm generally agreeable with them. This beet cappuccino came with a huge dollop of asparagus foam which I enjoyed, reminded me faintly of a nothing cappuccino of cauliflower which I once had at Sage. In the same capacity, they were both a vehicle of an almost ethereal creamy milkiness accented with a shade of flavour of their said vegetable. The cooling foam washed down with the warm beet soup was strangely arousing.

Tacchino Lampone
Most western Christmas dinners don't get by without turkey, so this I guess isn't an exception. The Tacchino Lampone comprised of slices of pan fried turkey accompanied by a cranberry, walnut and yoghurt sauce. Easily one of the favourites for tonight.

Mezcolanza Funghi
This appears to be some kind of mushroom burger. A ménage à troi of a button and two shitakes under pink pepper sauce. Nothing dried or canned from this.

Strawberry Sorbetto
This 6th course of the strawberry sorbet topped with homegrown mint pesto is as explained to be the palate cleanser. Refreshing, the citrus in sorbet helped in gearing up for the upcoming duo mains of red and white meat. Actually, I wished there was more of it to go round.

Marmellata Lamb

And this as explained by the server of tonight is the toasted lamb cutlets with whale sperm. Naw...I jest of course. It's really an orange and cherry marmalade which comes as a very nice accompaniment to the lamb. Done somewhere between medium and medium well. I thought that it would have been great to have more of the marmalade. But I suppose with restrained portions, it did provide the opportunity to savour the natural flavour of the lamb.

Lobster Thermidor
I generally do not have much expectations of lobsters unless I'm forking out and arm and a leg for them. In Christmas, one would undoubtedly have to top it up with a few vitals just to be sure because it's a crustacean which most of us know can get ridiculously costly. This KGB Lobster Thermidor came across as passable, compensated by the toasted cheese which was again as in the mussels, really good. It's a KGB lobster because in the shooter on the side is an almost Molotov Kalua, Granmania and Baileys. Yes, it is flaming. I've not much complains on the shellfish here, but I'm sure it could be much better.

Panna Cotta
Their Panna Cotta as I understood was made with pineapple, but I was almost positive that there was also coconut in there? Or maybe, after a couple of beers, the subtleties of flavours were lost to me. The texture of this was coarse and very different from what I have expected. Accompanying chocolate gravy at the bottom was a plus and in this rare occasion, this worked in small portions. Enough to be enjoyed, not enough to make one start to grow sick of it.

Torta Fromaggio Mango
Deconstruction as I understand of the term comes into light of two applications. Desserts and architecture. The Torta Formaggio Mango is a deconstructed mango cheese cake with warm Baileys topped with a generous portion of fresh cream.

So there you have the 10 degrees of this festive year end, courtesy of Basil Alcove. As much as I can relate to, it was likely a daunting task for a small kitchen to stretch themselves for such a menu. It's probably quite doable in a expensive restaurant, but we'll probably not see the likes of anything else similar in terms of effort and delivery based on the creativity of a small family run business here.

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