Wednesday, November 6, 2013



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Seasonal Tastes
Dining on a Magical Island
Situated some 30km off the north-western coast of Malaysia is the Jewel of Kedah, otherwise known as Langkawi. The archipelago has aptly been referred to as the Caribbean of the East and is home to a raft of luxury resorts that draw visitors like bees to honey. Leading the way is the idyllic retreat of The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, an establishment that has, for the fourth consecutive year, won the Best Luxury Island Resort in Asia award (World Luxury Hotel Awards). It is only fitting then, that the final review in this year’s Malaysia International Gourmet Festival was an island dining experience that was full of surprises, each one trumping the previous and wowing diners as the evening progressed.  

The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa
The Westin’s Seasonal Tastes Restaurant is one of Langkawi’s very best. A past participant of MIGF in 2008 and 2009 it was a joy to welcome Seasonal Tastes back into the Festival fold and to once again experience the wonderful cuisine of Sarawakian Chef Chandran Narayanan. 

Seasonal Tastes serves cuisine with an emphasis on health-enhancing "Superfoods"
Gathering at the lobby with the General Manager of the Westin Langkawi, Michael Schlueter (fresh from Phuket where he had picked up the Westin Langkawi’s award for Best Luxury Island Resort in Asia) the group began the night with their first surprise, a selection of colourful cocktail shooters presented on ice: blue lycheetinis, yellow illusions and red bloody marys all of which eased the guests into island mode
Mr Michael Schlueter, Mrs Maria Schlueter, Mrs Evelyn Pils and Dr Gerhard Pils

Colourful shooters of lycheetinis, illusions, and bloody marys

Ms Ming Ho, Mrs Sooria Perera and Mr Jeffrey Perera

Mr Ricardo Gomez and Mr Uwe Ahrens
As cocktails were imbibed, Mr Michael Schlueter announced that dinner would not be taking place in the restaurant, but at an undisclosed location, causing a ripple of excitement through the group. With the enthusiastic General Manager leading the way, the guests were then ferried by car to the Westin foreshore to access ‘The Float’, a villa-like hideaway on a private pier that strikes some 150 meters into the emerald Andaman Sea. This enchanting dining venue, only recently rebuilt, is otherwise used for romantic, butler-assisted dinners organised by Seasonal Tastes.  As they made their way along the pier, guests paused to take in the beautiful sunset.  They then stopped in front of the Float to enjoy a variety of cold canapés on cocktail tables on the platform, while being serenaded by the harmonious sounds of Djava, a three piece female band.  Mr Michael Schlueter then invited guests to take their seats at the unique square shaped table set up on the Float. Candle-lit and bedecked with tea-lights, the table was picture perfect, surrounded by rhythmic waves and cooled by the ocean breeze.

The dining location - The Float, sits at the end of a private pier

Canapes of beef carpaccio/honeydew/cherry tomato, tuna/mango, cream cheese/melon, and cheddar cheese/turkey ham/olives 

The Djava girls serenading guests in front of The Float

Welcome to our magical venue – Mr Michael Schlueter introducing guests to The Float
With guests at their seats, dinner was called. Festival Master Chef Chandran Narayanan, however, was nowhere to be seen. Jesting that he was at the market buying last minute ingredients, Executive Assistant Manager Rajiv Kapur then prepared the group for what was arguably the hippest entrance this Festival. Sat atop a Harley Davidson, Chef Chandran was the epitome of cool as he thundered down the length of the jetty before alighting in front of the guests and introducing himself to deafening applause. With Chef Chandran now preparing dinner, dinner, MIGF Organising Chairman, Dato’ Steve Day took the opportunity to make some amusing guest introductions before the first course was served.

Chef Chandran Narayanan's super cool entrance on the Harley
MIGF Organising Chairman, Dato' Steve Day, introducing the guests

Ms Shaza Iman Ridzwan, Mr Nick Lough, Mrs Merina Lough and Mr Kee Hua Chee
Chef Chandran’s Festival Menu began with a decadent foie gras terrine with fig marmalade and port wine sauce on toasted brioche, paired with a prosecco superior from Italy. Velvety and luxurious, the appetiser paved the way for the creamy pumpkin soup with pumpkin oil and roasted pumpkin seeds – a pumpkin extravaganza in the Austrian style, that coated the palate with a fruity-rich flavour profile.

Chef Chandran putting the finishing touches on the appetiser
Fig and Walnut Foie Gras Terrine, Toasted Brioche, Fig Marmalade and Port Wine Sauce, Miniature Salad LeavesPumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Oil and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
The main course, dubbed ‘Sun and Sea’, was Chef Chandran’s take on a classic surf and turf, and was served on black slates, elegantly plated like a piece of modern art: lobster roulade and lamb loin stuffed with dried fruits accompanied with truffle mashed potatoes, carved miniature vegetables, silky cream cheese sauce and onion balsamic-flavoured compote, paired with a well-rounded Pinot Noir from New Zealand, that brought out notes of chocolate and raspberry. 

Chef Chandran proved to be as much an artist as a chef

Sun and Sea Viva Langkawi - Lobster Roulade, Organic Lamb Loin stuffed with Dried Fruits, Mashed Truffle Potato, steamed carved Miniature Vegetables, Cheese Cream Sauce and Onion Balsamic-flavoured Compote

Westin Langkawi F&B Manager, Antonio Ostuni, also doubled as sommelier for the evening
Easily the most lavishly put together dish, the ‘Double Tropical’ dessert mirrored a tropical beach garden, complete with seashell, sand and flowers, and with multiple shot and martini glasses containing the mango flavoured crème brûlée and tropical coconut tiramisu. 

Double Tropical - Tropical Mango flavoured Crème Brûlée, Tropical Coconut Tiramisu

Ms Ming Ho; Dr Beh Chor Kim; Mrs Soon Poh Lin and Mr Uwe Ahrens

Executive Assistant Manager of Food and Beverage, Rajiv Kapur, wishing guests "bon appetit"
After dinner the guests were full of accolades. Dr Gerhard Pils, Managing Director and CEO of BMW Malaysia Sdn Bhd, thought the experience a truly extraordinary one, stating, “This is a very special experience as we are dining over water. I think it’s the first time there has been a Festival dinner within the elements, between water and sky, so to speak. The chef’s artistic work has been of an exceptionally high standard this evening and the fellowship equally so”.

Mrs Andrea Ahrens, Dr Gerhard Pils and Mrs Maria Schlueter
With the evening drawing to a close, notable foodie Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ridzwan Bin Abu Bakar was asked by Dato’ Steve to say a few words of thanks on behalf of the guests. Tan Sri did not disappoint and delivered a humorous closing speech, touching on the fellowship of the evening and the Festival dinners as a whole and commending all involved for a remarkable and truly breath-taking evening. There was nothing to be faulted with such a fantastic setting and stunning menu, the group cheering with agreement.

Datin Su Wai Fun looks on as Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ridzwan Bin Abu Bakar praises the team for an excellent evening

Happy diners – Mr Alfred Poh Sin, Mr YK Lim, Ms Woon, Mrs Nupur Kapur, Mr Jeffrey Perera, Mrs Sooria Perera and Mr Rajiv Kapur
After dinner, a final surprise stunned guests as they strolled down the pier towards the hotel, giving new meaning to the phrase ‘going out with a bang’. Plume after plume of fireworks coloured the night sky, the trails hanging long in the dark, lighting up the surrounding area with an array of colours, an entirely appropriate finale to the paradise dinner.

Fireworks to end the final MIGF Menu review with the Westin Langkawi in the background
Arriving back in the Westin, the evening, as it turns out, was not over. Guests were invited to the Breeze Lounge where, after a short pause for a group photograph, they enjoyed drinks and dancing with the fun and fellowship lasting well into the wee hours. As all agreed, Seasonal Tastes provided a magical island experience and one which proved a fitting and upbeat end to what had been a month of fabulous festival dining.

The fun continues - the group pose for a photograph at the Breeze Lounge

Photo Gallery


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