The idea of a Whisky Dinner itself came from The Common Room in Melbourne, Australia, which during 2012 held a year-long movie-inspired dinner, all named after famous movies. As its name implies, Whisky Business -- taken from a famous 1983 movie "Risky Business" -- aims to create a dinner that paired dishes, not with the usual liquor: wine, but with the seldom paired Whisky. To cook for this dinner, it's no less than The Common Room head chef itself, Brook Petrie was flown from Australia to work side by side with Soori's own Executive Chef Dwayne Cheer; and just FYI they're both Kiwi chefs!
This sashimi-like dish is made out of snapper cuts, scallop floss, hard to see but it's there avocado, in a tangy flavorful dressing sauce. While it looks like your regular appetizer, an Amuse Bouche (French for "mouth amuser") is an important part of a Nouvelle Cuisine dinner. An Amuse Bouche can never be ordered from a menu, because it's picked by the chef and served free to all of the guests on the dinner.
An Amuse Bouche therefore, serves as the chef's statement of his style, thus usually gives a good insight on how the rest of the dinner experience will be.
While the snapper tasted very mild, the combination of creamy avocado, savory floss, and the tangy dressing creates this interestingly fresh flavor mixing. As Sarah, another guest for that night dinner puts it "it's not about the fish, it's the sauce".
Lobster, Black Pudding, and Jamon Dashi
Next came the controversial plate, as black pudding is sort of an acquired taste, and the idea of eating blood is quite challenging for some. It is however, one of a classical British dish, and with his approach of Modern British, was kind of expected from Brook Petrie; after all it's part of the original Whisky Business dinner back at The Common Room.
The Black Pudding itself was paired with plump, savory lobster chunks, and bathed in Jamon Dashi; a stock made of dry-cured Spanish ham; three different nations' cuisine in one plate. As with the taste itself, the dashi was kind of light and only moderately flavors the lobster.
Fish 'n Chips
Imagine having a plate of fish 'n chips from your favorite American restaurant, keep that in mind, steady, and let them fall apart when this dish arrive.
Fish 'n Chips is among the guests' favorite back in The Common Room, and I can see why. First and most important: it looks nothing like a fish 'n chips.
Second, using horse mackerel (skipjack, tongkol) as its centerpiece, the taste is awesomely milky. Since Tuna is my favorite saltwater fishes, surely this dish fits easily to my favorite list.
Third, to top the lovely mackerel experience, the dish also presented pieces of chips, yuzu mayo and seaweed salad; and they're nothing ordinary.
The bonito chips, while tasting very much like potato chips, it has however an intense flavor of seaweed, making it a delicious treat on its own. And the seaweed salad, has this rich, tangy taste making each bites a wonderful journey. Three quite different flavor combo; it will wipe completely your initial perception of what Fish 'n Chips is, and how far it could go. That's the highlight of the dinner for me.
Rolled Boneless Quail
Served with smoked freekeh; roasted cereal made from green wheat, sprinkled with pomegranate bits, the quail tasted rich, flavorful, with chunky meat that gives you good bites. The pomegranate itself provides bursts of sourness that compliment the quail, and put spikes in between the mellow freekeh.
Since I don't eat pork, the Pork Belly that ends the main dishes for the dinner was substituted with a beef steak for me. "Medium well" I answered the server upon questioned how I wanted my steak to be cooked.
While I eat carpaccio, steak tartar, and can accept blue-rare beef, I found out that the best moments for a steak to have a good balance of beefiness (that meat taste), and the flavorsome (that savory taste), is between rare-medium and medium well; if it's too early it's better to eat sushi, and if it's too late then I'd better have gepuk or empal. So I just do a mental check every time I ordered steaks: am I in the mood for beefiness or flavorsome? And made my order accordingly.
And it was a blast; the steak was very good I'm thinking to order another round. That satisfied my week-long craving for a good meat.
Wild berries dessert
As it's not on the menu we almost think there's a last-minute change. However it wasn't, it's a surprise dessert before the big one came out. Since I also don't know what it's called let's just talk about how it taste: tart, sweet, creamy. While the first two came from the berries and the jam, the last came from the solid white bits which to my best guests are dehydrated coconut milk, because it tasted like that.
Last and certainly not least, a bowl full with tidbits of delicacies, ranging from sweet, sour, creamy, starchy, gingery, together created a delicious taste journey. A nice closure to this dining experience.
After a light chat with our host for that dinner, we then got introduced to the duo chef who created the wonderful dishes of that dinner: Chef Dwayne Cheers from Alila Villas Soori, and Chef Brook Petrie from The Common Room Melbourne, Australia.
While the conversation among the dinner's guest was still going on, it was then already quite late for those not staying at the hotel, considering the 1 hour drive; so we have to bid farewell.
It was one insightful dinner to say the least, where we got a chance to be introduced to how Modern British cuisine looks and taste, and the talented masterminds behind them all. Thank you Alila Villas Soori for the invitation. (byms)
Alila Villas Soori
Banjar Dukuh, Desa Kelating, Kerambitan Tabanan 82161, Indonesia
+62 361 8946388
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