Chalet was that iconic Swiss restaurant at the Equatorial Kuala Lumpur, where sabayon, that classic Italian dessert of egg yolks, sugar and marsala wine was whipped to a lively dance beat and singing at the end of dinner. Now Sabayon at EQ Kuala Lumpur sits tall on the 51st floor, with the Petronas Twin Towers as a stunning backdrop.
We are here for “An Italian Summer”, with Thomas Ling, a seasoned certified sommelier and specialist of wine from Entwine, leading us through a sumptuous wine dinner. We may not be in Tuscany, where folks would be enjoying a glass under the starry skies at this time, but the skyline looking out from Sabayon is still an amazing setting.
First we sip on Zonin Prosecco, Veneto. It’s a dry and fruity sparkling wine, with hints of citrus and cut apple. “ Prosecco is the No 1 sparkling wine in the world, whose demand has overtaken champagne in the last six years. Half a billion bottles are sold every year,” says Thomas. “Prosecco is affordable, adds pizzazz to any celebration.” Zonin is the longest and largest family-owned winery in Italy.
It was a perfect pairing with the delicate amuse bouche of sweet scallop and foie gras sitting on a piquant radish slice and encased in a thin gelatinous bubble.
Then there was the lovely foccacia bread, crusty and studded with cherry tomato, olives and garlic, served with an extra virgin olive oil dip.
From Veneto Thomas takes us to Piedmont in the north west, famous for its truffles and cheeses, arriving at a family-owned, Unesco World Heritage vineyard that’s more than 100 years old. It produces the Marchesi di Barolo, Roero Arneis, Piedmont.
The Arneis (little rascal) grapes are harvested by hand. “It’s a difficult, stubborn grape to grow, produced by a few dedicated wine growers.” Notes of citrus, hazelnut, marmalade and chamomile distinguish this wine from the 2015 vintage but it can be kept longer. The Mild Smoked Spiny Lobster on a tangy and citrusy yuzu and starfruit sauce was a sublime and excellent fit for the Marchesi di Barolo, Arneis.
Di Cervo e Cantarello had papardelle with pulled venison and chanterelle in a complex and flavourful sauce that wrapped round the pasta ribbons. Paired with this scrumptious pasta was the Marchesi di Barolo Coste Rose Nebbiolo, Piedmont 2012. The Nebbiolo grapes are harvested in October/November. “It’s the best vineyard as it always faces east/south-east and enjoy the longest sunshine hours for a good ripening of the grapes,” said Thomas, who has worked in a Barolo vineyard before. “The wine is made in a classic style, a robust wine with poise and grace, with top notes of cherries and raspberry, and crushed mint . It’s only eight years old but can go on for 10 to 12 years.”
A divine Red Berry Granita set a refreshing pause before the Roast Prime Rib with Tuscan Beans (Bistecca con Fagioli di Toscana). It’s a traditional main course that’s hardly seen in restaurants of this class these days. A slice of luscious beef is served, and the San Felice Chianti Gran Selezione Sangiovese is poured.
Chianti is an iconic wine from Italy, made from the finest Sangiovese grapes grown in Tuscany. “It’s deeper in hue than the Barolo and often described as the blood of Jupiter,” said Thomas, who recalled working in the vineyards in Chianti in 2005 for a wine trading company, and had his first taste of Sangiovese grapes.
The 2014 Chianti we are drinking showcases 80 per cent Sangiovese, with the remaining 20 per cent from indigenous varieties to add lustre to it. It’s still a young vintage, with a long way to go.
We move to the Sky51 Lobby for the dolce, and the lightly sweet and aromatic Marchesi di Barolo Zagara Moscato d’Asti . White Coffee Choux, Ricotta Cannoli, Pistachio Bon Bon Lolly, Lemon Tart and Citrus Milk Olive Panna wrap up an amazing evening at Sabayon. There will be more of such wine events at Sabayon. Stay tuned.
On other days there is a 5-course degustation menu at Sabayon, at RM538, beginning with amuse bouche, appetiser of Hokkaido Scallop with leek fondue, tropical caviar, Chicken Pot-au-Feu with braised mushroom and foie gras and Sous vide Skrei with miso beurre blanc, salmon roe, Black Angus Tenderloin with oxtail brioche, artisan vegetables.Dessert is Citrus Air, olive oil creme, cumin crunch. Lobster Laksa can be an add-on for RM118. You can also dine on 3 courses (RM338), or 4 courses (RM438). An a la carte menu is also available.