Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Monday, November 02, 2015

4xFour - Chef Paco Morales

7:21 PM By Barry Smyth , No comments

Having attended the 4xFour event at the White Rabbit, with Michelin Chef Paco Morales doing the culinary honours, I thought it was time to do a quick review of the experience. I have eaten at the White Rabbit a couple of times and could never fault the venue or service or even their own menu which is always solid and recommended for anyone to try, you won’t be disappointed.

This 4xFour event however failed to impress. In hindsight maybe our expectations of Chef Paco Morales given his Michelin status where simply set too high. Overall everyone at our table was disappointed with the meal and agreed that this was simply not money well spent. It's such a shame because it has to be said that we were all very much looking forward to it.

1st Course
Puerta del Perdón
handmade pastry, presented in the Door of Forgiveness motif with chive mayonnaise and local herbs paired with a complimentary glass of Badoit.
It was basically a poorly dressed up Chinese cracker. Tasteless and oily. Not sure what the actual goal of this little starter was suppose to be but the blank faces at our table summed it up. The Badoit never appeared. On the 4xFour facebook page they refer to this food item as legendary, clearly they need to revisit the definition of the word as it simply did not apply. It was a novelty and not much more.
(1 out of 10)

2nd  Course
Aubergine Fritter
fresh brioche with an aubergine purée, cane syrup gelee and delicate edible flowers.
This at least was interesting. The combination worked well and texture and flavour while not intense played against each other nicely. The delicate edible flowers failed to make an appearance but for this morsel we forgave. It was a unique starter, not only looking good but tasting as good as it looked with the slight sweetness of the gelee helping to elevate and balance the flavours well.
(6 out of 10)

3rd Course
Turmeric & Sea Bream
turnip pudding with turmeric, lemon and crisp sea bream.
I was looking forward to this dish and the presentation was on point. But that's where it stopped. The sea bream was not crisp at all. In fact it was simply coated in flour and fried, but badly. The taste of flour overpowered the delicate taste of sea bream completely leaving nothing but a floury aftertaste. The turnip pudding with turmeric was tasteless which had us all wondering if there was any salt or pepper in the kitchen. To top it all off it was doused in a lemon and soy sauce that was just way too harsh to the palette. The clash of lemon and soy sauce quite simply did not work at all. This dish failed to impress anyone at our table and none of us could finish it. Had the Chef used pickled ginger juice and a much lighter soy sauce  it might have worked out better as a euorpean play on chawanmushi, but as it stood it failed miserably I am sorry to say.
(2 out of 10)

4th Course
Vegetable Stew
textures of seasonal vegetables, cooked with different techniques, served in a beef broth with tahini and saffron
After the last course we were on guard. Again presentation was on point but when we looked at the dish we were wondering where the broth was, even stopping the waiters to ask if they had forgotten it. In the end it had been substituted for a sort of pork flavoured gelee (or so we were informed). Again a complete lack of seasoning killed this dish, although the over cooked vegetables didn't help it either. There was no slight crunch left in any of them and that freshness that you would expect as a result fell flat. The different techniques where also not apparent at all to any of us and too much saffron left a bitter after taste. The gelee was just that, gelee, bland and tasteless. Once again none of us finished this dish.
(2 out of 10)

5th Course
Perfect-Imperfect Corn
sphere of corn mousse filled with crab and smoked herring caviar, dusted with smoked bacon powder
This was interesting. The crab and smoked herring caviar where indeed served under a dome of corn mousse. And then a hot corn sauce was poured over it dissolving the delicate mousse shell. I'm not sure if it was suppose to be a play on hot/cold, but the main components where simply too cold, icy almost and cooled down the sauce far too quickly. While the corn sauce had full flavour the other ingredients in the dish where quite simply bland. Although we can respect the technique here and the artistry in terms of presentation, the balance of flavours was just off with the sauce becoming an over powering element so much so that the delicate taste of crab and smoked caviar were completely buried as a result.
(5 out of 10)

6th Course
Roasted Pigeon
slow roasted pigeon with handmade polenta gnocchi served in a rich pigeon broth
Elegant and simple presentation. Pigeon was cooked perfectly for me but many people in Asia are not use to this poultry and the medium raw cook turned the rest of my table off this dish. That said the rich pigeon broth wasn't rich, wasn't a broth and was instead merely a smear on the plate. I could have done with more to elevate this dish and add a counterpoint flavour to really make the gamey flavour of the pigeon stand out more. As it was, it was simply a well seasoned roast pigeon. I had much higher expectations given Chef Paco Morales Michelin status, but clearly he was aiming for simplicity here because that's what we got.  It's such a shame because given the little exposure this poultry has had in Asia this could have been a culinary sensation. Instead what we got was a very simply roast pigeon dish with no frills. Disappointing.
(6 out of 10)

7th Course
Orange Blossom & Ginger
orange cake with orange blossom water infused with basil and ginger
Without doubt the show stealer. Presentation was perfect and the touch of basil really helped the delicate taste of orange blossom to shine through. Deliciously light sponge and orange blossom ice cream added to the experience. The ginger element wasn’t' really present for me which is just as well as orange blossom is such a delicate flavour that it could have all to easily been over powered. As it was this was a perfect dish. Well balanced and flavourful. We all wanted more.
(10 out of 10)

8th Course Textures of Carob
carob 3 ways: as a mousse, as an ice cream and as a sablé served with a Pedro Ximénez slush
Unfortunately the only good element on this dish was the ice cream. Everything else just didn't work. The sable, and the small cake where both chalky and the after taste was far too bitter. One taste was enough and then it was reach for a drink as your mouth dried out instantly as though all moisture had been sucked from it. I'm not a carob fan myself, I have always found the taste to be too harsh. Apart from the ice cream that proved to be true for this dish and once again no one at my table finished the other elements. A really disappointing end to a disappointing meal.
(4 out of 10)

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