The Manor’s Connoisseur’s Table series brings collaboration with different winemakers to the fore in order to create distinguished dining experiences.
For its current iteration, the restaurant has joined forces with The Flying Winemaker – one of Asia-Pacific’s leading boutique winemakers. Founder Eddie McDougall’s manifesto is to produce great wine from around the world that is easily enjoyed by all.
The process of bringing the wine dinner to life started with McDougall sharing notes on each wine with The Manor’s Executive Sous Chef Michele Dell’Aquila. Based on those notes, the chef has designed a menu that succeeds in enhancing the true-to-varietal, award-winning wines by the maker.
A refined balance between food and wine is the ultimate purpose of the Connoisseur’s Table. Neither outshines the other. Instead, they are brilliantly paired to play to each other’s strengths.
The six-course menu has the unmistakable touch of Dell’Aquila: a creative fusion of his Italian roots, with the refinement of French culinary technique and Japanese ingredients, which the chef not only loves to cook with but has deep knowledge of.
“I think that this fusion is what makes my talent and the work I’ve been doing unique,” Dell’Aquila says.
“When we had the food testing for this menu, most people were particularly impressed by the Reblochon tortelli and with Kabocha pumpkin and the wagyu beef cheek, which we’re using for the first time,” the chef says, referring to the second and fifth courses, respectively.
A wine dinner in crescendo
The six-course menu commences with Hokkaido scallops served with a classic butter sauce and fish emulsion. The scallops, which hail from the northern part of Japan, are one of the country’s most celebrated delicacies.
The scallop course is beautifully paired with the 2021 Sauvignon Blanc from a small wine region called Wairarapa, in New Zealand. According to McDougall, the region is “very well suited to growing high quality grapes,” and the result is a sauvignon blanc is “voluptuous, tropical and soft on the palate.”
Next up, a pasta dish that is really so much more: the Reblochon tortelli on a creamy bed of Kabocha pumpkin (Japan’s version of a winter squash). The tortelli are filled with Reblochon mountain cheese, from the alpine region of Haute-Savoie in France, and served with white asparagus.
A bubbly rosé – The Flying Winemaker’s 2022 Little Pig Rosé, from Margaret River, in Australia – complements the dish. The wine’s moniker has a McDougall family tale behind it. Born in 1983, the year of the pig, the vintner was lovingly called “little pig” by his grandmother, or “po po” as a kid; the rosé pays homage to her.
The third course is an acquerello mushroom risotto with Jerusalem artichokes, green peas and generous shavings of black truffle – a quintessentially Italian dish. And to enhance its hearty flavour, a 2019 Pinot Noir, also hailing from the Wairarapa wine region in New Zealand. It’s an elegant wine characterised by red fruits and cherry notes.
The risotto is followed by a French chicken breast served with its own flavourful jus, chanterelle mushrooms and potato millefeuille. The dish is balanced by a 2019 Syrah from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, which features hints of blackberries, red and black currants.
“Sadly, the Hawkes Bay region has been completely wiped out by cyclone Gabrielle, so this year there is no crop for us at the Hawkes Bay vineyard,” McDougall laments.
The six-course dining experience reaches a peak when the wagyu beef cheek reaches the table. “The wagyu beef cheek is just like butter – it melts in your mouth. It has great texture and flavour and it matches beautifully with the Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon,” chef Dell’Aquila says.
For maximum flavour, the Japanese sweet potatoes served along the wagyu beef cheek are roasted in the oven over low temperature, before being blended into a silky-smooth cream. “Once roasted, the perfume of these Japanese sweet potatoes reminds of chestnuts” says the Italian-born chef.
The Cabernet Sauvignon’s woody flavours – think cedar and oak – make it the perfect wine for the tender beef cheek.
A Valrhona dulcey (a kind of blond chocolate) with pistachio sponge, vanilla chantilly and a scoop of hazelnut ice cream is the sweet finale to the wine dinner experience – a clever combination of flavours and textures.
The Manor will serve its “Connoisseur’s Table – The Flying Winemaker Wine Dinner” experience every evening through 15 March. The six-course menu is priced at 1,388 patacas per person or 1,888 patacas if you’d like to complement each dish with handpicked wines by The Flying Winemaker. To make a reservation, email [email protected] or call (853) 2882 8898