The Chalet Swiss Restaurant in Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur is truly one of the grand dames of continential fine dining in the city. Located on the mezzanine floor of the hotel, this signature restaurant, with its elegant cosy ambience, has stood the test of time very well in its 38-year history… placing its inception way back in the early 1970’s.
I remember when I first came out to start working in Kuala Lumpur, The Chalet was like THE place to go to, perched high up on the list of fine dining restaurants in the city and famed for their traditional Swiss cuisine. For me… I love the old-world charming decor and band of singing minstrels 🙂
So… when I was invited to try out a Wine Pairing Dinner at The Chalet, there was no way I would say No. I was introduced to wines from the Valentin Bianchi Winery from Argentina.
Valentin Bianchi is one of the oldest and most important wineries in South America – it’s a symbol of tradition, nobility and quality of Argentine wine. According to Federico Nino, their Regional Manager, their vineyards are in south Mendoza at higher grounds of about 700-1200m above sea level. The land there tends to be desert-like so lots of irrigation is needed. Generally their wines are Italian-style with New World expression.
I had their Valentin Bianchi New Age White while being served a delicious canape – Shrimp & Scallop Ceviche with Guacamole. I like this light wine for its vivacity – it’s sensual with aromas of fresh flowers and fruits, crisp yet soft in the finish. This New Age White is a delightful mix of Chardonnay and Torrontes. I said it’s “light” because the alcohol content is only 9% and it has this lovely “frizzante” twist… very lightly bubbly but not bubbly bubbly like champagne 🙂
Dinner started off with fresh breads served with the trademark Chalet butter. Spoilt for choice, I had a hard time choosing the warm freshly-baked breads in the basket offered. Eventually I picked the foccacia, which, according to the lovely Carol Chin (Director of Marketing Communications) was a “dangerous bread” because one tends to gorge on that and usually one piece is never enough!
House-made Squid Ink Capellini with Langoustines, Majii & Oyster Leaf with Saffron Sauce…
… was paired with 2007 Valentin Bianchi Elsa Chardonnay, with bright medium-intense aromas of honeyed-lemon, peaches and tropical fruits. Its soft entry and light crispness makes it an excellent aperitif and accompaniment to lighter dishes.
Corn-fed Organic Chicken Galantine with Pea Puree & Micro Salad
was served with Valentin Bianchi New Age Rose. Its medium to dark color was accentuated with dried strawberries with flavours ripe with cranberry, cherry and raspberry. Federico explained that the darker-than-usual rose hue was due to the longer contact time of the pulp with the skin of the grapes, for that particular vintage. Alcohol content: 9%.
Dinner progressed delightfully with darker meats…
… paired with the 2007 Valentin Bianchi Elsa Malbec. Sipping this wine, I experienced aromas of ripe plums and violets in the nose with hints of vanilla. The beauty of Argentine Malbec is its ability to combine rich weighty mouthfeel with soft silkiness which went so well with the cherried duck breast meat, leaving a supple lingering finish on the palate.
At this point we had a palate cleanser as there were more dishes and wines to be served.
We had the Argentinean Grilled Beef Hanger Steak with Chimichurri Rojo, Mushrooms & Haricots Verts Salad in Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette & Purple Potatoes…
… paired with the 2007 Valentin Bianchi Elsa Syrah …
Serious wine lovers would welcome the fine aromas of sour cherries standing out from a background of smoked spices in this full-bodied Shiraz. There’s a complexity of French and American oak in its firm balanced structure. The cherry flavours blended well with the grilled (slightly chewy) beef and lingered on the palate with a pleasant finish.
We all had huge portions of the Ganaja Chocolate, Caramel Tile with Banana Creme Brulee & Pineapple Coulis… I think none of the diners could finish the entire generous serving!
The Chef de Cuisine of The Chalet came and chatted with us for a while when dessert was served…
Left: Chef Hafizzul Hashim; Right: Federico Nino with Alan Ong (General Manager, The Equatorial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur)
Being a light wine drinker, my favourites are the New Age White and the New Age Rose (obviously!). With 9% alcohol content, I could drink endless glasses of those, whole night long! 😀
My wine education certainly went one notch higher that evening, thanks to Marian Eu for facilitating the invitation and Carol Chin & Alan Ong for being such wonderful hosts. An evening well-enjoyed, filled with good food, good wine, good music and excellent company … ahhh, life is good 🙂
The Chalet Swiss Restaurant
Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2161-7777 Fax: 03-2162-3848
Valentin Bianchi wines in Malaysia are distributed by:
Westport Intertrade Sdn Bhd
Block D 805, Dataran Usahawan Kelana
17 Jalan SS7/26, Kelana Jaya
47301 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7880-3277 Fax: 03-7803-9366