Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Absinthe

Absinthe Singapore2
Bukit Pasoh, I was told by Hairy, is the trendy, newest area in Singapore where many good restaurants have opened at the start of this year.

Absinthe looks quiet and unassuming from the outside, but stepping inside you will see that even on a weekday, the place gets filled up around dinner time, pretty quickly.

When I get there, Hairy and XLB are already sipping champagne. A platter of starters sits before them.

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Oh, how did they guess? This is one of my favourite starters.
Iberian ham, also called pata negra, is a type of cured ham produced only in Spain.


Absinthe Singapore3
Apparently the finest iberico is called jamon iberico de bellota (acorn). This ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns during this last period. The exercise and the diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat - the ham is cured for 36 months.

I am not sure which iberico we had that night, but I sure hope it was the acorn eating sort. Actually from the generous amount of intramuscular fat, smooth texture and the rich, smoky, savoury flavour, I would guess probably, top grade. Anyway, the handsome Chef Francois Mermilliod did an excellent job carving it!

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Also, when Hairy heard that the degustation menu had recently been changed, he hardly needed much persuasion to try it.
The Degustation menu consists of five dishes - three starters, a main and a dessert.

Sounds like the kind of mammoth eating challenge that Hairy loves to take on, if you ask me;)


The three starters were the Tartare of Hokkaido Scallops with Citrus, Wakame and Seaweed Tuile,
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the Terrine of Foie Gras and Smoked Duck Breast with Herb Salad & Toasts,


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and the Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly, Shimeji and a Fennel Salad, Star Anise Scented Jus.

We tried a bit of each and all were equally good. My favourite was the tiny morsel of pork belly - succulent, sweet flesh of the pig ,with just the right amount of melt in your mouth fat to give you small delightfully sinful mouthfuls of flavour, without overwhelming you.

Absinthe Singapore
The main of Grilled Grain Fed Beef Tenderloin Served with Parsnips Mash & Black Truffle Sauce. Cooked to perfection you can see the look on Hairy's face to know that it was good - he looked like a kid in a candy store;)


Here ends the first two parts of the degustation menu. Only dessert left to go. (Hairy said that he was still hungry and might consider supper later. I swear Hairy has four stomachs).

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For the petite in size and appetite, there is always the Bouillabaisse. This is a classic French shellfish and fish stew. According to tradition, there should be at least five different kinds of fish in a proper bouillabaisse. In Marseille, considered the mecca of bouillabaisse, they use at least seven, not counting the shellfish! Anyway, the bouillabaisse was delicious.. if I closed my eyes, each mouthful transported me back to the city of Marseille, the first place I ever tried this stew.


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Finally, dessert! The Coconut Panacotta with Jubilee of Fresh Berries was exquisite. The black dots you see are the authentic vanilla beans and that's what made this dessert a winner. Fantastic taste with the smoothest texture.

At this point there was further talk of going in search of a Hokkien mee supper, but I chose to dismiss the crazy ramblings...

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Valrhona dark chocolates to cleanse the palate. Lovely!

Recently Updated4
Finally no meal would be complete without paying tribute to the namesake of the restaurant itself - Absinthe! The restaurant manager Philippe Pau, prepared it for us himself. Philippe has got to be one of the most knowledgable, charming managers I have had the pleasure of meeting. It is true what scientists say - Absinthe drinkers you are not hallucinating/seeing the green fairy.. you are just truly drunk! (with concentrations as high as over 70 percent, I can see why.) In just under 3 minutes, Philippe gave us the entire history, fact/fantasy lesson on Absinthe. Oh, he's good.

What does that greenish liquid taste like? It tastes like liquorice. For the complete way of preparing Absinthe, go here.

Anyway, we had a fantastic dining experience at Absinthe. We highly recommend this place to anybody who appreciates good French food!


Add:
48 Bukit Pasoh Road.
Nearby Stations: Outram Park
Tel: 02-6222 9068

Degustation Menu: SD98++
Average price per head: SD150.


I have run out of things to write so I will end by telling you that the three great French poets of the era, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, were all prodigious absinthe drinkers, although direct references to the drink in their poems are surprisingly rare.

By far the most prolific of all absinthe-influenced poets was Raoul
Ponchon (1848 - 1937). Originally a bank employee, he quit his job
after his father's death in 1871, and set himself up at the age of 23
in a garret with the words "Painter and Lyrical Poet" written on the
door. Ponchon was astonishingly prolific, writing
150 000 verses, of which over 7000 were about food and drink,
including many dealing specifically with absinthe.

Here is the English translated Sonnet de l’Absinthe, for your reading pleasure (may you be sipping absinthe as you read it!)

Absinthe, ô ma liqueur alerte,
Il me semble quand je te bois
Boire l’âme des jeunes bois
Pendant la belle saison verte.

Absinthe, O my lively liquor,
It seems, when I drink you

I inhale the young forest’s soul

During the beautiful green season.


Ton frais parfum me déconcerte
Et dans ton opale je vois
Des cieux habités autrefois
Comme par une porte ouverte.

Your perfume disconcerts me
And in your opalescence

I see the full heavens of yore,

As through an open gate.


Qu’importe, ô recours des maudits,
Que tu sois un vain paradis,
Sit tu contentes mon envie;

What matter, O refuge of the damned,
That you a vain paradise be,

If you appease my need;


Et si, devant que j’entre au port,
Tu me fais supporter la vie,
En m’habituant à la mort.

And if, before I enter the gate,
You make me put up with life,

By accustoming me to death.


RAOUL PONCHON


Read another great one here entitled Five o'clock Absinthe.


THE END.

24 comments:

sc said...

everything looks so delish! excellent meal you had there..wish i could take a bite too. hehe

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

of course hairy not enough..thats a degustation menu for 1 fitting 3!

looks awesome..so jealous..

backStreetGluttons said...

As in the very elegant this post capturing the suddenly exuberant hairy one becoming wild , it surely once again makes us KLites blush with embarrassment how that tiny little discard downunder is moving fastet than lightning to high heaven , while we biker about 6 canes and many strokes

Paranoid Android said...

If you love absinthe, you must read "Wormwood" by Marie Corelli. She wrote about the little green fairy there.

"Let me be mad, mad with the madness of Absinthe
The wildest, most luxurious madness in the world.

Let me be mad, mad with the madness of Absinthe
Give me the fairest youth that ever gladened his mothers heart

Let me be mad
Let him be hero, saint, poet - whatever you will

Let me make of him an Absintheur.
And from hero he shall change to coward
From saint to libertine
From poet to brute.

You doubt me?
Come then - to Paris."

Ha ha...

The spread looks lavish and lovely. Sigh!

Wilson Ng said...

the ham looks amazingly delicious...

did i spotted Alvin in one of the pictures?

thule a.k.a leo said...

70% alcohol content??? Damn... more than our very own chinese samsu... lol!! And I hardly could down those 40% whisky... let alone Absinthe?? Thanks.. but no thanks!
But then.. the acorn looks absolutely delicious...

Sean said...

i've always wondered about that acorn diet. usually pigs eat just about anything (or so i've heard)! :D
bukit pasoh... will remember the name

My Taste Heaven said...

everything looks perfect, i am going to singapore at the end of this year, will give it a try if possible.

thanks for sharing!!

thenomadGourmand said...

LOL! all tht for 3 pax? No wonder la Hairy hungry... hehe

genuiness said...

Hi,
Glad to see another pata negra enthusiast. just a quick correction on the pata negra. The finest jamon iberico de bellota is fed ONLY acorns throughout its lifespan (wiki is wrong on that last bit) that is the key difference between that and the lower grades where they are fed a mixture of grain and acorn. Thats the whole point of allowing the pig to roam free in the woods so they are able to graze on acorn!

To further confuse things, jamon iberico bellotas are then graded according to the marbling (much like how u have wagyu grade 1-9 and 9*) termed Jotas. While it is standard that iberico bellota is cured for 36 months minimum, depending on the amount of marbling of the piggy, it can be cured even longer (I've tried 48 month ones)

Oh and you forgot to mention that these pigs have black feet ;)

qwazymonkey said...

ur sure enjoying life there! :)

David Jr said...

Goodness, I HAVE to check out this area when I next visit S'pore. Thanks for the great review and awesome pics!

David
Malaysia-Asia

流浪汉 瑜伽 Yoga Tramp said...

hai friend i would like to share my happy lifestyle to u,u r welcome to my hse, thk

Keropok Man said...

are u sure hairy only has 4 stomachs? LOL...

foodbin said...

Iberian ham are world class-from black haired free range pigs.

Selba said...

Whoaaaa... I'm amazed with all the food and pictures! Fantastic! :)

Xiu Long Bao said...

Great meeting u ciki! LOL at us picking food from Hairy's degustation set =P

Timothy Low said...

Absolutely delicious looking although I have never heard of "Iberian Ham" before. Forgive my ignorance ... but I googled for it and found this 10 Commandments to Spanish Ham.

http://www.lopezortega.com/files/knowwhat_decalogo.php

CUMI & CIKI said...

sc:
yea, great time, thanks to hairy

Joe:
haha, we also ordered our own portions la.. not all from hairy, poor guy:P

bsg:
LOL, ya la.. wet n wild:P

PA:
yea, oh but for the wormwood!
Apparently the hallucinations more due to copper poisoning than the absinthe itself. back in the day, copper was employed to gv that greenish tinge coz the absinthe was of inferior quality (so no color change). over the ages, copper poisoning of the brain gave rise to hallucinations and perhaps seeing the green fairy;P

CUMI & CIKI said...

wilson:
who's alvin?

thule:
yea, before the water is added.

sean:
yea, really looks like your sorta place!

MTH:
welcome!

TNG:
was not that bad.. we had our own portions too (same as his starters)

genuiness:
cheers:)

munkey:
next time, u LL and ahpa must join ler:P

CUMI & CIKI said...

David Jr:
cheers


Keropok Man:
why? five? six? lol

foodbin:
yup2

selba:
TQ!

XLB:
yar.. as it is, the boy eats like a pig rite?! haha

Tim:
so cute! Thx for the info!

Nic (KHKL) said...

it's always nice to see you in sg! and this is one in-depth post, i tell ya. great stuff.

i sometimes wonder if my stomach has been replaced with some super elastic rubber my the aliens that abducted me...hehe

fatboybakes said...

sigh, i am greener than absinthe now.

CUMI & CIKI said...

nic:
so u admit u were abducted by alien la? hah.. i knew it.. did they have a karaoke machine on the spaceship?!

fbb:
LOL.. GFBB! hehe