Is it any wonder that our dining scene is buzzing again?
With nowhere to go but around our tiny island, most of us have turned to food for comfort. Just as well, restaurants in Singapore have been busy coming up with exciting new ways to whet our appetites. Menus have undergone revamps, novel flavours have found their way into the kitchen, deliveries and takeouts are now more diverse than before, and we’ve seen a number of team-ups amongst industry folks that resulted in culinary experiences that thrum with spirit.
One such collaboration is the tie-up between The Balvenie and Michelin Guide, which sees chefs of Michelin Guide restaurants create exclusive limited time dishes inspired by The Balvenie 14 Year Old Carribean Cask and The Balvenie 21 Year Old PortWood. Madame Fan kicked off the partnership in November with two alcohol-infused dishes: soup dumplings (xiao long bao) are laced with the 14 YO Carribean Cask, while Bridges, a soul-hugging seafood soup featuring Alaskan king crab, is accentuated with the 21 YO PortWood.
For the month of December, the Scotch distillery moves to Italian dining stalwart Garibaldi, where Chef Roberto Galetti draws from the complexities and richness of The Balvenie whiskies for a four-course pairing menu that we wish was a permanent fixture. It starts off with a texture-rich plate of lightly smoked Scottish salmon with fresh burrata cheese, lemon zest, toasted almonds and fresh figs that’s inspired by the fruitiness and nuttiness of the 21 YO PortWood (my favourite of the night), which is considered by many to be malt master David Stewart’s finest creation.
The Balvenie 12 YO Doublewood makes its appearance at the dinner with the oh-so sublime spaghetti aglio e olio, which has pan-seared hokkaido scallops and Bafun sea urchin. What, uni with whisky? Hey, they both lie on the same colour scheme, and I’ll gladly have another round of oaky-spiciness mingling with the creamy, briny mouthfeel of the orange shellfish — it’s a riot. But what really intrigued me, in a good way, is the roasted Chilean sea bass. This disconcerting plate smells like a dessert yet tastes nothing like one, thanks to the hazelnut crust on the fish and the vanilla-scented potato gnocchi with mascarpone cheese. The vanilla and toffee notes in The Balvenie 14 YO Carribean Cask heightens the sweet aromas emanating from our third plate. Don’t get me wrong; it’s delicious and comforting, though the best thing about it is the realisation that much of what we taste is derived from our sense of smell.
Because we all know how chocolate and whisky are amazing bedfellows, we finish with a Valrhona Guanaja 70% chocolate mousse accompanied by hazelnut praline and The Balvenie 17 YO Doublewood, which has a gloriously long finish with notes of vanilla and honey. If you want to end the year strong, you now know where to go. But don’t procrastinate — this whisky-powered menu only has a small window of existence.
Garibaldi, 36 Purvis Street, #01-02, Singapore 188613, 6837 1468
(Main and featured image: Lightly smoked salmon/Garibaldi)