Epicurean Soiree II @ Gallery 2902, Old School

Epicurean Soiree - Dizzy Old School

This was my first time attending this sort of food and wine event and for the evening I am accompanied by fellow Moose Vinleon and fellow food lovers Liang Wei and Rui Xiong.

Sorry if the photos weren't well taken and looked very noisy. It was hard to take photos when you have to hold a plate (and wine glass) and people were waiting to get their food.

I noticed this event a few weeks ago, being a person who loves food with a budget, the Epicurean Soiree II seemed like a steal when vendors like Obolo, Roast at One Rochester, One on the Bund were being featured and not to mention the free flow of wines by Profiters International.

The event was organized by TimeOut Singapore. It is described as an exclusive tasting event in collaboration with some of Singapore’s finest restaurants where we could indulge our senses with our culinary showcase. The wine-and-dine standing buffet was held on the 21st April 2010 at 2902 Gallery in Old School, Mount Sophia where it used to house the Methodist Girls’ School.

The early bird price for the event was $49.99 which we got, the normal price was $59.99 but we were quite upset by how the price dropped to $39.99 during the last few days. Well, if the food is good then I have no complaints. As early birds we had the privilege of going down for the event earlier than others so there is less competition and plenty of food to start with.

2902 Gallery is not a big space. I cannot image how 240 people are going to squeeze into this tiny space. It was so cramped and crowded that we couldn’t focus on the food, the exhibits (which were part of the event as well) and much less move around the place. Lucky we decided to go early.

There were thirteen vendors present at the event.
1. Shiraz
2. Viet Lang
3. Peach Garden
4. One on the Bund
5. Roast at One Rochester
6. Krish
7. Brewerkz and Garage (MENU Catering)
8. Viva Mexico
9. Uluru
10. Hiroki88
11. Flying Chillies
12. Obolo
13. Profiters International (the Wine Vendor)

Four kinds of wine were being offered for the evening:
1. Le Chardonnay de la Chapelle 2008
2. Le Merlot de la Chapelle 2008
3. Le Cabernet Sauvignon de la Chapelle 2007
4. Le Chapelle de St Dominque 2006

I am a person who is into wine as much as my three companions, Liang Wei, Vinleon and Rui Xiong. So I shall leave the wine commentaries to them. However I do like the fruity and light taste of the Chardonnay (definitely better than the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc we got at 15 Minutes)

Epicurean Soiree - Flying Chillies

FLYING CHILLIES

Our first vendor was Flying Chillies. It wasn’t great but the food was satisfying. I myself enjoyed the Mango Sticky Rice the most, it was very simple. Just sticky rice with a white fluid you normally find in Thai Tapioca desserts. Pairing it with the sweet and sour mango makes it extremely tasty.

Epicurean Soiree - Flying Chillies' Mango Sticky Rice

Flying Chillies also offered the Thai Fish Cake with was too tough for me but the Thai Sweet Chilli sauce they provided was good.

Epicurean Soiree - Torch of Uluru

ULURU
Next we had Uluru. You could probably decipher that it serves Australian cuisine from its name. The restaurant is located in Duxton and I heard they even serve kangaroo filet! For the evening they presented the Paupiette of Wagyu Sirloin (Glazed Shallots Tart, Slow Cooked Truffle Asparagus, Pinot Reduction). Served in a tiny dish so you could pop the whole thing in your mouth in one go. The meat was well-seasoned and tender with a nicely charred edges, I won’t mind popping a few more of these. It reminded me of a tasty bacon wrapped asparagus in Japanese cuisine.

Epicurean Soiree - Uluru II

Paupiette of Wagyu Sirloin

Epicurean Soiree - Uluru I

Smoked Duck Breast with Foie Gras Terrine

Epicurean Soiree - Uluru III

For the first time in my life, I get to taste foie gras in this second item presented by the energetic duo from Uluru. The Smoked Duck Breast with Foie Gras Terrine was simply wonderful. All of us loved the foie gras because it does not have the livery taste some of us were expecting and the texture was extremely smooth and mousse-like.

Epicurean Soiree - Roast at One Rochester III

ROAST AT ONE ROCHESTER

Moving on, I shift my attention away from the bustling Roast at One Rochester booth. They seemed to be busy all the time. The Executive Chef, Mr Christopher James Millar was present this evening to present three dishes when there is some breathing time, he would share his culinary knowledge to those who were keen to listen. First item on the menu that evening was the Fresh Crab Meat blini with crème fraiche and ocean trout caviar. Quite a simple dish and despite the fanciful name, the taste wasn’t that great. It came across as bland (except for the sour taste of the crème fraiche) and the weakest among the three that were presented by Roast at One Rochester.

Epicurean Soiree - Roast at One Rochester I

The 2nd dish was the Roasted Boneless Baby Chicken wrapped in prosciutto, truffle, raisin and pine nut stuffing with quince and pear compote. I can’t help thinking of the Moroccan chicken at Badoque when I had this, probably because of the raisins. The chicken meat was good but taste wise, the four felt that the flavours seemed to clash in this dish. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this because it is a different take on the chicken meat. This item can be found on their ala carte menu in Roast at One Rochester.

Epicurean Soiree - Roast at One Rochester II

The 3rd dish was a tasting portion of one of their most expensive dishes. The Braised Wagyu Brisket with Creamy paris mash and red wine shallots. This dish easily stood out as one of the best for the evening (the queue alone doesn’t seem to end). The beef was extremely tender and delectable. The creamy paris mash was flavourful and it complements the beef very well. I had more than two servings of it.

Overall, Roast at One Rochester was one of my favourite vendors among the 12 food vendors for the evening.

Epicurean Soiree - Hiroki 88

HIROKI88

Hiroki88, led by Chef Hiroki Yoshitake deserved to be given the most unique food vendor award of the evening. Their dishes were very special especially in terms of presentation.

Epicurean Soiree - Hiroki 88 Patrons


To start off, they have an item consisting of a very thin, crispy brioche topped with petite cubes of foie gras and sweet potato, with a thin film of sake covering them and two miso bits at both ends. I like this item because of the contrast of textures and how it makes me feel refreshed after having it.

Epicurean Soiree - Hiroki88's Smoking Salmon

The 2nd item was Smoky Salmon, probably a word play on Smoked Salmon. It was presented in a closed jar with some sauce inside and two cubes of salmon sat inside waiting for us to savour it. As you open the jar, smoke starts to come out. We learnt from Chef Hiroki that he actually put incensed smoke inside the jar to give it some fragrance and for the salmon to absorb it. The amusement we got from watching smoke coming out itself made us quite satisfied. Liang Wei commented that tasted like tuna than salmon.

Imagine playing Wii except you have a Test Tube of Matcha Chocolate in your hands instead of the controller. That’s what you need to do to enjoy this dessert in. Firstly you have to shake the test tube for while so the jelly substance inside mix well with the matcha on the top and the chocolate mixture. While it is troublesome to eat, it was fun shaking that test tube then devouring the jelly inside. Nothing great, just good experience that brings back child hood days when you have those colourful jelly packets

Epicurean Soiree - Hiroki88's Egg Surprise

Hiroki88 grabbed the Most Unique Vendor Award for the day with its simple-looking dessert. The Egg Surprise. It was served without informing you what is inside and a drizzle of soy sauce was added before you could start eating it. Within this dessert we could taste chocolate mousse and some sort of puree with mango flavour inside. Sweet, slightly sour and very refreshing, this is a dessert I would really want to try again. However, the dessert is not in the menu of Hiroki88, you might have to book a reservation in advance in order to get this as part of the menu. Interesting and delicious.

By this time, the crowd has picked up, it was getting more cramped and our taste buds were getting tired from the food and no water was being served. I hope the next soiree will take this into consideration.

Epicurean Soiree - Hiroki 88

The people of Hiroki manning the booth, along with Chef Hiroki were very friendly and helpful in offering explanation about the food.

VIVA MEXICO

Viva Mexico did not fare well for the evening, their Tamale with Chicken that resembles our local Otah was too tough and tasteless. Rui Xiong gave up finishing it. Their Mushroom Quesadilla wasn’t impressive too, just normal if not below average.

VIET LANG

Viet Lang was tended by two individuals. The lady manning the booth was very courteous and friendly I had the Young Mango and Papaya Salad, something like Achar but lighter in flavour. Nice for a canapé party. The Lemongrass Spiced Grilled Chicken was average, too dry for my liking but quite fragrant. The Fresh Rice Paper Roll with Shrimp was average, another light bite that is great if paired with some nice tea. The food here seemed to be on the lighter and healthier side.

Epicurean Soiree - Krish 1

KRISH

It was one of the restaurants being featured on Restaurant Week, so we had some expectation for the food. What was served was the Eggplant Samosa with spicy eggplant filling, topped with basil aioli. These tiny samosas are not oily and it can be a good comfort food. The aioli seemed redundant though.

Short Rib Roti John (Pulled Beef Short Rib with Bef Paise Cheese Red Onion Chutney), despite the description, it was rather average. Tasted just like plain bread with meat.

Epicurean Soiree - Krish 2

Duck Confit Murtabak (Slow Cooked Duck with Honey Thyme Aioli) was normal.

Epicurean Soiree - Obolo

OBOLO

Obolo was one of the featured stars for the event. I had a go at the Shooter Foret Woire, it was normal but not impressive too, it was something you would get at a hotel buffet.

Epicurean Soiree - Obolo's Shooter Foret Woire

The cakes did get my attention either, I didn’t enjoy the cakes in general because I felt there are too heavy on the palate and rather plain. The texture was quite rough, probably because I am for lighter cakes or was my tastebuds too tired? However judging from how the cake looks after slicing it, it appeared to be too dry and dense for me.

Epicurean Soiree - Obolo Macaroons

However, Obolo performed well with their macaroons. Their macaroons were yummy and extremely soft yet firm enough for you to hold it. I like their Macaroon Pistachio the best, the sweet nutty aroma can be felt even before you pop it into your mouth. The resulting cream of pistachio makes it a very savoury of item. In the process of eating the macaroon, the Obolo macaroons and cakes were cleared by hungry people.

Their Sable au diamants macha were very delicious too.

Overall I like Obolo for their macaroons and the matcha sables. Presentation wise, their food does look very enticing. Looking at their menu, their macaroons are not cheap.

I almost destroyed a few New York Cheese Cakes when my fork slid off my plate while I was trying to get the tongs for the cake. Luckily, I grabbed it in time before it dropped onto those sweet looking cakes. The girl manning the booth had a fright of her life. Terribly sorry =p

Epicurean Soiree - Peach Garden

PEACH GARDEN

Liang Wei was quite disappointed with Peach Garden’s performance today. Their dishes doesn’t looked attractive and a go at their Fried Prawn with Wasabe Salad Cream gave us the impression that the food was just average. Supposedly, the Peking Duck is their forte.

Epicurean Soiree - One on the Bund

ONE ON THE BUND

The people manning One On the Bund deserved the Best Dressed Vendors Award for the day. They were dressed in classy contemporary Chinese garb that made them looked very elegant and set them apart from the more casually dressed vendors.

Their food set them apart from the rest with their minimalist and simplistic presentation. Presented on a gorgeous display of ice were Prawns in Cold Style / Butterfly Prawns with Onion and Green Pepper. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the dish, these chilled prawns packed a punch with the accompanying onion and green pepper. It was very refreshing, yet extremely spicy. It is simple and delightful.

Another of their dish is this Thinly Sliced Pork with Peanut and Soybean Dip. This tasted like popiah to me.

You can find One on the Bund at Clifford Pier. Very pricey place to dine, not for a person like me.

SHIRAZ

Their booth was next to One on the Bund’s. Nothing spectacular, the homemade pita bread is too bland and slightly too rough in texture. I prefer the one at Amirah’s Grill.
The Spicy Chicken Sausage was quite okay.

BREWERKZ and GARADE (MENU CATERING)

This vendor did not seem to do well judging from how their burger patties were being thrown away. The four of us did not enjoy Brewerkz the most for the evening.

Epicurean Soiree - Food Talk

FEEDBACK FOR TIMEOUT SINGAPORE:

Some feedback for them:
Provide Water to cleanse our Taste buds. I got a feeling we didn’t like the food from some of the vendors probably because the food was too heavy on our tastebuds on that evening. The only beverage provided was wine. I cannot imagine how nobles of the past can get past food with just aperitifs, ale, wine, champagne etc…alone.

The Time Out waiters seemed to be very short-handed that day, poor fellows. They couldn’t clear the plates in time (If you play the Sims before, you know how it is like when you got a huge party and one dishwasher or sink). Some of the guests actually left their plates on the vendors’ tables.

More space or fewer guests. The place was fully packed, I doubt the food was enough for everyone that evening, if you paid $59.99 and didn’t get to try at least a bit from each vendor just because there wasn’t enough food, it is quite unfortunate. For safety reasons and ambience, the place was just too packed and there was only one exit in 2902 Gallery, I couldn’t imagine if one of the vendor accidently burned the table cloth with a blowtorch and a fire broke out, a very nasty stampede might just occur.

Ticket Price Inconsistency. The price cut nearing the ticket (to clear tickets probably was understandable but the fact that it was lower than an early bird’s was upsetting).

Designate an area to place unwanted plates, cutlery etc. This is to facilitate the collecting of plates and cutlery and clear the clutter that is piling up at the dining areas.

These are honest feedback that I hope TimeOut Singapore will take into consideration to improve the experience in the next soiree probably.

There were also praises for TimeOut Singapore. The people of TimeOut Singapore were very friendly when we reached the place. The positive attitude enhanced the experience for us.

And most importantly, making a food plus wine tasting event more affordable giving opportunities for people who love food to experience a food tasting event. Not to mention an effort to promote local photographers’ works by conducting it in a gallery was also a welcomed effort to cultivate interest in the local arts scene.

Epicurean Soiree - Wine and Dine

Overall, I think spending $50 nett for this event is still a worthwhile experience because you get to pair wine and food and you also get to taste so many kinds of food from vendors that you might not be able to afford unless you struck lottery like One on the Bund, Roast at One Rochester and Hiroki 88.

Therefore I would still consider going for Soiree III if there is any next year. At the same time, you get to interact with the chefs in person and see creativity in the food realm like what Chef Hiroki did.

If you want an example, just take these two for comparison, World Gourmet Summit ($50-$600++?) and Slow Food Gatherings ($100 - $120?). Simply put, tasting events (with wine especially) is not cheap.

At of the day, the event would not be enjoyable if not for the company of Rui Xiong, Vinleon and Liang Wei. Food is best enjoyed with friends and fellow food lovers.

Epicurean Soiree - Gallery 2902


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