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Malta Gala Dinner

Portomaso, December 4, 2011

The Patronal Gala Dinner is certainly the highpoint of the Chaîne’s calendar here in Malta and so it was lovely to see a good crowd including several new members present.

The elegant Portomaso Suite of the Hilton Hotel was again the setting for this very special and convivial occasion, which started as usual with a champagne (Alfred Gratien) reception and canapés.

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A member of long standing commented that the excellent menu had been finely produced and that it was a joy not to be overwhelmed with food but just to be able to enjoy the nuances of the many delicate and delicious courses … and many and delicious they certainly were!

We started with succulent roasted quails, accompanied by an onion marmalade with passion fruit dressing and an incredibly light goat’s cheese tart. This was followed by an unusual medley of venison. The savouriness of the meat in this course was delightfully complemented by the sweetness of the accompanying pistachio cheese cake.

The spicy citrus sorbet refresher which followed was made even more special by a garnish of dried lemon. Chef Joseph Vella and his brigade are known for their unusual treatment of fruit and vegetables and I was reminded of a Patronal Dinner some years ago when we were served crispy, dried beetroot. For once one would have liked bigger portions!

The fillet of Angus beef was the highlight of the dinner. Simply presented with a Barolo wine reduction, a confit of roast vegetables and a veal liver pumpkin parcel, it contrasted well with the more sophisticated dishes which had gone before.

 

 

An unexpected gourmet’s intermezzo presented before the main pudding, fulfilled at least two of Confucius’ strictures on food: the egg custard with a swirling biscuit made the dish both sweet and crispy. However, in its simplicity it was an excellent introduction to the opulence of the rich chocolate fondant with raspberry mousse and toffee chocolate ice-cream which followed.



For the wines, the first was a Chablis 2010 by Jean-Paul and Benoît Droin which in everyone’s opinion was an excellent choice. Of the two red wines which followed: the Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009 and the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Pieluni 2007 from Illuminati some preferred the gentler Pinot Noir, whilst others preferred the more robust Montepulciano. It is common wisdom that chocolate and wine do not make good bedfellows but the fresh tasting Lustau Emilín Moscatel Solera Reserva Sherry went a long way to disprove this theory.

Candida Hasselman d’Alby-Ball                                                                      [1] Photo (c) Hilton Hotels & Resorts        
Chargée de Presse


 

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