Friday, September 21, 2007

Primehouse, Singaporeans and the second bottled-water event in a week

September 21

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Greg Lindsay is one smart bastard.
We were both at last night’s opening party of Primehouse New York. That made sense since since we met during a press trip to meet the progenitor of Primehouse’s meat.
Greg’s one of those people who can follow a conversation on any topic, participate intelligently in that conversation and probably add something new to it without seeming like a smartass. It’s a quality we all should cultivate.
Now Greg’s working on a book about airports and how they are like the railroads of the 19th century. Spurring development wherever they crop up.
Somehow, as I sampled a couple of Eben Klemm’s cocktails — a drink that was like a Manhattan, but gin-based, and another made from vodka, blackberry and sage — the topic of the Bangkok airport, an ongoing project, came up and Greg talked about the corruption surrounding it. I pointed to the airport of my hometown of Denver, and how it was built on a tornado-prone flood plain in the middle of nowhere on land owned by old monied Denver families — something that everyone in the city seems to know and that no one seems to mind, even though it’s a display of corruption every bit as profound as what can be found in Bangkok.
The notion that widespread corruption only exists in developing countries astounds and annoys me, and yet people assert it a lot.
But Greg didn't. Instead he went into fascinating detail about developments around DIA (Denver International Airport) and also about the sociology of people who had settled in the new housing developments where the old Denver airport, Stapleton, once stood.
When Greg was there he knocked on the doors of new homes that resembled Brooklyn brownstones and asked the people why they’d moved there.
Anyway, it should be a good book, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
And that was just stop #1 of the evening.
Remember how the other day I went to a cocktail party at Daniel sponsored by Evian and then heard from some visiting chefs from Singapore while I was having lunch with them at Nobu that Fiji water also was hosting a dinner party at Daniel?
I said that I hoped it was true, and I e-mailed a Fiji representative to see if it was true. I just meant to check the facts, but they asked me if I would like to attend that dinner.
“No thank you,” I said. “I don’t want to dine at Daniel, because i’m retarded.”
Oh wait, I’m not retarded, so of course I went from Primehouse to Daniel to take them up on their offer for dinner.
There I was with all the Singapore chefs with whom I’d had lunch at Nobu. They were still guests of the poultry and egg board, but Fiji wanted to have them for dinner at Daniel.
At lunch I’d sat between Milind Sovani, a chef from Bombay who lives in Singapore and owns a high-end restaurant called The Song of India, and Christophe Megel, the head of The Singapore Culinary Academy and Spice Garden, which has some sort of affiliation with Johnson & Wales. One of his school’s graduates will be externing at Daniel soon.
At dinner, I sat between chef agent, Tufts alumnus, self-proclamed decent poker player and all-around nice guy Jeff Allen, and a Singaporean chef by the name of Mr. Puk, who specializes in Chinese seafood. He was born in Singapore, but his ancestors were from Hainan Island, so we talked about that island’s most famous dish, Hainan Chicken, which I think has been perfected in Thailand, where it is called khao man gai.
The dish is poached chicken served with rice that is cooked in the poaching broth. A bowl of the broth is also served on the side. The Thais' addition is a chile-ginger sauce.

Daniel did not serve khao man gai. After sipping some 1999 Dom Pérignon, we had:

Pressed poulard and foie gras terrine ith black truffles, young turnip salad and port reduction
2003 Au Bon Climat “Hildegard” Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley

Warm salad of sea scallop with matsutake mushroom, Meyer lemon confit and chive oil
2006 Au Bon Climat "Daniel" Chardonnay, Santa Barbara

Duo of striped bass, slow baked with Champagne sauce, and tuna-wrapped tartare with fried oyster
2004 Au bon Climat “Old World Rules” Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley

Red king salmon baked in clay with roasted black mission figs and fennel confit
2005 Au Bon Climat “Le Bon Climat” Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley

Wild Scottish grouse with foie gras “cromequis,” rutabaga-parsnip purée, Seckel pear and black currant jus
1998 Au Bon Climat “Knox Alexander” pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley

Tahitian vanilla bavarois with mango-cilantro gelée and passion fruit-banana sorbet
2005 Au Bon Climat “One Hand Clapping” late harvest Pinot Blanc, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley

Chocolate sablé with Colombian coffee cream, coffee ganache and hazelnut-macadamia ice cream

Chocolates, Madeleines (of course) and petits fours.

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