Food Tales


Katnook wines

I would like to think that Chef Mathew Macartney was preoccupied with the food prep during his one-night culinary event that he could only address one section of the diners at Il Mare at Hotel Mulia. It would have been nice to exchange pleasantries with him even just to say how I enjoyed his dinner. Nonetheless, Theresia and I did have the pleasure of meeting Alison from Katnook vineyards, the night’s supplier of red and white wines for the five-course wine-pairing dinner. I am not much of a wine lover, but Katnook took my palate by surprise. Unfortunately, Katnook is not yet available in Indonesia said Alison. However, she assured us before moving on to the next table that their wines will be on the shelves of stores, bars, and hotels in Jakarta soon.


A bowl of an assortment of freshly baked bread got the ball rolling for the 7 pm culinary journey. Chef Macartney’s opening salvo was Eggplant “Tofu” with pickled vegetables and burnt bread paired with Katnook Founders Block Sauvignon Blanc 2015. Creativity is a strong suit of Macartney. I was fooled by what I thought were mushrooms, which turned out to be cream cheese balls after I’d popped them into my mouth. His creative juices went into high gear in the next course. The plating of the Shiso Cured Salmon with kohlrabi, passion fruit, and roasted sesame resembled a miniature Japanese garden that had me forget my heart’s ache. Its taste had a light, minty flavour to it that complemented the Katnook Founders Block Chardonnay 2014 that was light on the palate as well.

Eggplant tofu
Eggplant “Tofu”
shiso cured salmon
Shiso Cured Salmon

Segueing into the third course, the strong – at least to my taste – Katnook Estate Merlot 2014 provided a good partnership to the succulent Canadian Lobster with avocado, chicken dashi, and kombu. There was this unfamiliar, but merry tap dance of flavours on my tongue that egged me on to take sip after sip of the merlot.

Canadian lobster
Canadian lobster

Chef Macartney veered away from seafood for the fourth course, opting to serve duck that brimmed with succulence just by looking at it. The Roasted Grimaud Duck Breast with banana purée, foie gras, and Pedro Ximenez glaze had this sweetish taste that jived well with Katnook’s stellar wine, the Cabernet Sauvignon 2013.

duck breast ver 3
Roasted Grimaud Duck Breast

As the night rushed through the hours, my table teemed with glasses of white and red wines that Akhsin, a staff of Il Mare, made sure was never empty. At one point, I forgot which wine paired with which dish, but it didn’t seem to matter anymore. Each sip of wine and each bite of the dish engaged in a thrilling dance of flavours that put a zing in Macartney’s culinary journey. My conversation with gal-pal Theresia circumvented the tedious trials at work – without effort – and focused on the positive such as the food, the ambience of Il Mare, plans for the future, and hopes as well.

Keep the wine coming

Akhsin made certain our wine glasses were always full.
Katnook ShirAZ
Akhsin presents the Katnook Estate Prodigy Shiraz 2010

Chef Macartney wasn’t done yet. His second main course was Char-grilled Black Angus Sirloin – the braised short rib with morel purée and onion jus was any meat-lover’s delight with its juiciness. This dish was partnered with Katnook’s Prodigy Shiraz 2010, which went well with my alternative dish of chicken. The kitchen was, unfortunately, way too busy to even tell me how the chicken was done. Was Chef Macartney miffed that I eschewed his Angus sirloin?

chicken-alternative to Angus sirloin
an alternative to the Char-grilled Black Angus Sirloin – chicken

The chef brought his culinary journey to an end close to 10pm with his sweet coup de grace of a quartet of desserts that would more than satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. Led by the caramelised white chocolate mousse, the foursome was completed by the chiboust, Mandarin, and chocolate sorbet. It was a merry-go-round of taste – chocolaty, fruity, and creamy – finished with any sip of wine of your picking.

quartet of dessert
the quartet of dessert

Bottoms up

Despite being unable to meet Chef Macartney, it was a flavourful, palate-tickling experience that changed my perception of wine as my last option for drinks. Katnook’s wines are now part of my to-go-to drinks alongside vodka and champagne.

Food Tales


Dark skies and an almost-empty gas tank weren’t enough to stop us. Even the snail-pace traffic to Jakarta from Bekasi wasn’t a deterrent. With a little bit of prayer and switching off the car’s AC, we made it to Fairmont Jakarta with time to spare to freshen up. On the 22nd floor of the hotel was the Taittinger Champagne Dinner. The last time I had flutes of the delectable champagne was two years ago when Taittinger was introduced in Indonesia at Orient 8 at Hotel Mulia.

Champagne Dinner with a view at The View
Table setting at the Taittinger Champagne Dinner

champagne at the bar
the bar at The View
It was a thrilling reunion that April night at The View, one of Fairmont’s restaurants, with its magnificent view of Jakarta’s skyline. A prelude to the eight-course dinner was a tipple at the bar where I introduced Taittinger to my gal-pal Theresia as a way to let the stresses of the mid-week hang. Dropping by the bar to say hola was Alvaro Acebal, Fairmont’s Food & Beverage manager, whom Theresia and I met at Sapori Deli last March at another one-night dinner event of guest Chef Antonio Facchinetti.

with Alvaro Acebal
Photo op with Alvaro Acebal, Food & Beverage Manager of Fairmont Jakarta
Dinner commenced with an amuse bouche of Tuna Tartare with ponzu, yuzu, and avocado that strongly whetted the appetite. You just have to get pass the eyebrow-raising hand cast it is served on.  Juxtaposed to the tuna’s savory flavor is the next course of Apple Pie (View’s interpretation) which was ingenious both in taste and presentation. There was this sweet tugging sensation on the palate between the savory and sweet flavors, and that the apple pie was shaped as a mini ball reposing on a bed of pebbles in a wooden box was simply artistic.

Tuna Tartare
Ready for your Tuna Tartare?

Apple Pie
Apple Pie – The View’s Interpretation
The champagne kept coming and Satria, our gracious attendant for the night, made sure nothing was lacking from our table including enjoyable tête-à- tête. He regaled us with stories about his one-month training stint in Makati and the incidents of being mistaken as a Filipino while Theresia and I coaxed him to put Ambon – especially Ora Island – on his travel list.

Dining with a view
Champagne and dining with a view – this is the life!
Then it was time for the Foie Gras Torchon with cherry gel and macerated mix berries which was paired splendidly with the Taittinger Nocturne, Sec NV. There was this sweet and fruity chase at the end of each bite of the foie gras after nips of the champagne; Satria, following the chef’s suggestion, advised us to quickly follow up a bite of the foie gras with champagne. This dish was immediately followed by Scallop Tartare enveloped in white chocolate foam and lime jelly that did an electrifying cha-cha on the palate together with sips of the Taittinger Reims Reserve Brut NV.

Foie gras torchon
Foie gras torchon

Scallop Tartare
Scallop Tartare

Taittinger Reims
Taittinger Reims goes well with the scallop tartare
Too much champagne is a misnomer. In fact, the abundance in champagne led to a pleasant discovery that Lobster “cappuccino” – fortified lobster bisque and foam – squirted into our cups by The View’s Chef Hans actually blended well with both the Nocturne and Reims.  Discovery 2: the lobster cappuccino was a teaser to the first main dish of Canadian Lobster with Sturia caviar, shimeji, and champignon nage that grooved smoothly on the palate as the flavors mingled with the Taittinger Prestige Rose Brut, NV. Lobster and champagne – what can go wrong?

Lobster Cappuccino
Lobster Cappuccino

Canadian Lobster
Canadian Lobster

Taittinger Prestige Rose
Taittinger Prestige Rose Brut NV
Gazing out the floor-to-ceiling window of The View, the landscape had turned a shade darker as the night danced on. The ant-like lights on the streets below had lessened, but the brightness hadn’t diminished, and there I was happily ensconced in my chair sipping from flute to flute. Life is rosier with champagne in my hand.

Norwegian salmon_The View
Norwegian salmon with glazed oyster mushroom

Satria pours Taittinger Comtes
Satria pours the famed Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc 2004
Then it was time for the main course of Norwegian salmon with glazed king oyster mushroom, champagne, and seaweed broth.  Without skipping a beat, affable Satria was at our table ready to impress us with, paraphrasing his words, the champagne set to dislodge Dom Pérignon from its pedestal. He poured the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc, 2004 generously into our flutes and bade us a hearty meal. The salmon was flavorful and generous in serving (read: it was more than a matchbox size) while the strip of mushroom melted in the mouth.  And the night drew to a close when the Stone Rose was laid on our table. Breaking the pinkish Christmas “ball” revealed a smooth cheesecake-like texture of lychee, raspberry, and chocolate that rolled effortlessly on the tongue. Which champagne went with it? Take your pick.

Stone Rose
Stone Rose
A champagne dinner is exciting. However, a well-orchestrated Taittinger champagne dinner is more than simple excitement. It’s a bubbly and electrifying dining experience that leaves wearied souls keyed up and ready to tackle the world again.

world of Taittinger
world of Taittinger