Dinner Prep Routine
Happiness is waking up and discovering one has an unexpected day off. As this came on the back of a series of tough evening shifts last week, I was sorely in need of it. Ecstatic, I texted some friends to ask if they would join me at a wine dinner featuring Sine Qua Non at Art Restaurant. Serendipitously, the stars were aligned and we managed to gather a party for our spontaneous date.
As it turns out, I spent my entire day eating. After lunch at Coriander Leaf hosted by Sara Taseer (October’s Opulent Opals), I was treated to some tasty Mexican fare at El Mero Mero. I guess some people prep for dinner by grooming and dressing up. Well, my dinner prep is lunch and tea. Despite how much I had eaten, I was looking forward to dinner.
When I eagerly arrived at Art Restaurant on 55 Market Street an hour early, they were setting the dining hall up. I arranged place cards for Drs Sharon & Elton, Carrie & Chong, Elyn & Paul, Jen & myself. There were 11 wine glasses for each guest, as well as a trolley of various vintages of Armagnac & Cognac. Photographers unfolded their tripods and carefully adjusted lighting conditions. Meticulous Chef-Restauranteur Beppe De Vito walked about, giving instructions to his staff, pausing only to greet guests warmly. I’ve known Chef Beppe since his Garibaldi days and he has grown from strength to strength. As I watched the action build up in the kitchen, I felt confident dinner was going to be phenomenal.
I love it when I’m right, for dinner was absolutely fantastic. Jeanette, from Taste of Tradition, http://www.tastetradition.com gave welcomed us all. The theme of the night was The Indispensable Dinner, on account of Sine Qua Non being Latin for indispensable. The menu was also a produce-driven, artistic interpretation of Italian cuisine. Here’s a run-down of what we ate and drank.
Our amuse bouche was sweetbreads croquette, and home cured ham with parmigiano crostino. After these tasty morsels, we enjoyed the eggplant cannolo with white miso bagna cauda. Both these courses were served with white wines from Tablas Creek, a Californian vineyard whose roots are literally from Chateau de Beaucastel. Jen, pictured below on my left, preferred the Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc 2009 as it had a richer honeyed taste. Jen has young kids similar in age to my small ones, so we totally get each other. Although I suspect she knows a lot more about me because I reveal a lot about myself when I discuss gems with her. I couldn’t help but wonder if I might in turn, learn more about her from her wine choices. If so, she is sweet with hints of spice, richly-textured and very popular!
The ravioli with dorper lamb, pistachio and robiola cheese was divine. This was closely followed by the guinea fowl. Each of these dishes were paired with two different types of Antica Terra Pinot Noir. I found it interesting that while these four wines paired well with the meats, they each had distinctive tastes. I read that Antica Terra is the result of unusual geology, arising from a prehistoric seabed in Oregon. Elyn, Jen & I all selected different favorites.
Lillian & Sine Qua Non
The Sanchoku Wagyu with hedgehog mushrooms and black garlic was served with a flight of four Californian wines from Lillian and Sine Qua Non. Carrie enjoyed the Lillian wines. Interestingly, the backstory is that Maggie Harrison of Antica Terra started her own Syrah project in Santa Barbara, called Lillian after her granny. My favourite wine has got to be Sine Qua Non, which I love for its Rhone-style wine blends. This was also one of the wines served at our wedding so I have fond memories.
Castarede & Delamain
Dessert was a splendid composition of chestnut, chocolate, espresso & hazelnut. I discovered a bottle of Armagnac Castarede from 1978, the year before Dr Sharon & I were born. We take silly photos next to it, feeling good about being younger. Drs Sharon & Elton were my classmates in medical school. This essentially means we’ve made complete fools of ourselves in front of one another, whether it’s from academic mishaps or growing pains. Now we’re all grown up and 20 years wiser, whenever I meet S at work it’s usually over a code blue. This was a lovely spontaneous big night out. We giggled some more while M1, Elton & Chong politely ignored us, concentrating on sampling vintages of XO Cognac from Delamain.
The last couple to leave with me were Carrie & Chong. Although I see them infrequently, whenever we meet, we can pour our souls out, fantasize about dream collaborations or just giggle about silly stuff. Aside from being the designer of eponymous jewellery brand Carrie K, she also supports Singaporean designers through her set up, Keepers, or variations of it. Her ability to execute collaborative showcases on a large scale is incredible. One of the Singaporean designers she’s featured is Elyn and her brand, Stolen.
Elyn & I were neighbors years ago, seeing one another through major milestones in our personal, professional & family lives. Both of us have hectic schedules, so it’s difficult to make time to see each other or even message each other. But it doesn’t matter. We appreciate each other enough to give and take the space we need. If all we can spare is a hurried hug in the middle of a big day or a busy street, we’ll take that gladly. Despite the big night out, we met up again next morning with another friend, Kate for a leisurely breakfast.
Good food & fine wine are best enjoyed with family & friends. You know what they say: Finders keepers! So I keep my friends close even if we have our differences. Surely authentic friendships are the sine qua non for a good life!