It was a truly memorable event, for which Chef Philippe Gaudal had prepared a crowd-pleasing menu featuring beef, beef, and more beef.
On arrival, we gathered in the bar and lounge area to enjoy an aperitif, Kellerei St. Pauls Plötzner Weissburgunder 2020 (Südtirol DOC, Italy), along with a selection of
delicious canapes. Wine Spokesman Alex Fisken appreciated this Pinot Bianco's fruity bouquet of green apple, peaches and pears. He also thought it went very well with the canapes, that included Tuna Pizza, Tomato Avocados Tacos and Chicken Wing Lollypops.
All of these were beautifully presented and extremely tasty, but the Tuna Pizza in particular was praised for its uniqueness by Food Spokesman Thomas Nowak.
We then moved for seating at two long tables overlooking the open kitchen, where we were served our first starter: Grilled Romaine Cos Lettuce, with French and Korean Beef Tartar, and Beef Tendon. What appeared on our plates prompted lots of discussion, especially as people tried to decide which item(s) were made of Beef Tendon. As our Food Spokesman Thomas Nowak explained, it was the crispy shrimpcracker-like base upon which the French Tartar was served.
The unmistakable flavors of the Korean Tartar were in turn complemented by the sheet of nori (dried seaweed) on which it was served. But perhaps the most surprising were the subtle flavors that resulted from lightly searing the Romaine Cos Lettuce, which was served like a miniature Caesar Salad. This was served with a second white wine, Kellerei St. Pauls Chardonnay 2020 (Südtirol DOC, Italy). Alex noted some people were surprised to learn it was a Chardonnay, perhaps because it lacked a heavy oaky finish typical of some other Chardonnays. It had a scent of exotic fruits, banana and honeydew melon, and was juicy on the palate, with a balanced body and a fruity finish that nicely complemented the food.
The next course was Beef Consommé with "Raviole du Dauphine' and Ox Tongue. It was an exquisitely tasty soup course, as the rich clear broth contrasted with the chewy bits of ox tongue and the creaminess of small raviolis stuffed with comté cheese that even those pursuing a low-carb diet could not avoid.
This was served along with our first red wine of the day, Casanova di Neri Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2016 (Italy). Alex really like this wine, despite its being a bit on the lighter side compared with other Italian reds. It has a charming fruit bouquet with hints of cherry, soft and elegant tannins in the mouth, and a long and elegant finish.
At this point, we took a short break to recognize members and guests who had achieved milestones in attendance over the years. Norman Green, Jim Morrison, Michael Schulz, Graham Brain, and Stanley Gierlaszynski were each recognized for having attended over 25 lunches.
Those attending more than 50 lunches were Henny Beeber, Peter Johansson, and Alex Fisken. The milestone of 75 lunches was exceeded by Graeme Fox, Alan Rankin, Wine Master Thomas Boedinger, and Secretary Mark Guthrie.
President Tom Whitcraft and Andrew McDowell (both sadly absent this day) were among the small group attending at least 100 lunches to date. Danny Arn and Jake Meerman had each attended over 125 lunches, while Food Master Thomas Nowak led all with over 150 lunches to his credit.
The break also gave us the opportunity to re-shuffle our seating arrangements, with half the people from each table swapping with people at the other table. As a reward for their cooperation in successfully completing this challenging task, and to cleanse our palates before the main course, everyone was given a Frozen Mojito Sherbet. Thomas said it was not only very tasty, but also did do a great job of refreshing his palate. However, like many others, he felt a more generous serving size may have worked even better.
Our main course was 60 Days Dry-Aged Grain Fed Australian Beef Prime Rib served with Romesco, Hasselback Potato, Beef Jus and Pepper Sauce. Romesco, a rich Spanish sauce made of charred tomatoes and roasted red peppers, puréed and thickened with toasted almonds and bread, provided an interesting alternative to the tradition Beef Jus and Pepper Sauce. Along with a choice of mustards and horseradish, it ensured an ideal pairing with the perfectly-cooked meat and deliciously crispy potatoes. And as usual, there was plenty of extra meat for those wanting to have seconds (or thirds).
Wine Master Thomas Boedinger was pulling out all the stops for this meal; with the main course he served up a huge red wine: Renieri Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 (Italy). The results of an extra four-plus years of aging in wooden barrels - which mainly distinguishes a Brunello from a Rosso (such as we had earlier), even though both are made from 100% Sangiovese grapes grown in Montalcino - were evident to all. The younger Rosso wines are usually lighter, fresher and easy to drink. In contrast, this Brunello had a deep, intense, inky ruby-red color; a broad bouquet that opens up with ripe fruit such as prune, followed by small fruits such as currants and blueberry, and tertiary notes of spices and vanilla due to the aging in wooden barrels. The palate reveals grippy tannins balanced by a strong yet not excessive alcoholic component (14.5% ABV), and the well-balanced acidity results in a finish that grows in flavor. It is not surprising that all major professional wine reviewers have given this Brunello ratings that range from 92/100 to 98/100. Alex certainly didn't offer any differing opinions, but did declare that it made a great pairing with the beef.
As the service staff began clearing the tables for the dessert course, we took another short break to recognize some special guests of the Club, whose loyal friendship and support has contributed to our success over the past 20 years. The following individuals were given with Certificates of Appreciation:
Chef Rene Kuhn of Chesa Swiss Restaurant for hosting the Club at over 18 lunches.
Chef Hans Peter Kaserer, formerly with Amari Watergate Hotel, for hosting us at 10 lunches. Chef Philippe Gaudal, on the occasion of our 8th visit to the Landmark Rib Room & Bar Steakhouse. Mr. Oliver Schnatz, GM of Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit Hotel, for helping us organize over 10 lunches. Chef Miguel Gonzales, for hosting the Club six times at his two restaurants, Jamon-Jamon and Arroz.
Khun "New" Shuashard Vongsawad, owner of New's Pizzazo, for hosting us for five lunches.
Mr. Colin Hastings, Editor of the BigChilli, for his long-time support by publishing our lunch reviews. For dessert Chef Philippe's crew made a beautifully decorated 20th Anniversary Red Velvet Cake to honor the occasion. Thomas was surprised that it tasted even better than it looked - moist and not too sweet. More than a few had seconds. With the cake came another big red, Mastroberardino Naturalis Historia, Taurasi DOCG 2014 (Campania, Italy), which is produced from 100% Anglianico grapes. The Mastroberardino family were largely responsible for reviving wine production in the Campanian region of Southern Italy after World War II, and for resurrecting the use of native grape varieties.
Their Naturalis Historia has been characterized as complex, full,
intense and persistent. Its bouquet features aromas of violets, black currant, blackberry, strawberry, black cherry, vanilla, and chocolate. Its taste profile is warm and enveloping, with great structure and softness, and notes of plum, bitter cherry, raspberry, strawberry jam and spices on the palate. This wine also received 90+ scores from all the major professional reviewers.
While the Naturalis Historia was perhaps not perfectly paired with dessert, it was very nice on its own and it went very well with the subsequent Cheese Course, consisting of Stilton and Comté with Fig Bread. For those wanting something a wee bit more substantial to finish, the Club had also brought along several bottles of Arran Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 10 Years. Being part Scottish, and thus an expert on single malts, Alex waxed on regarding the origins and character of this lesserknown brand that Malt Advocate in its 20th Anniversary edition called a "must have" in anyone's collection of single malts. Alex then continued by expounding on the etymology of the word "whisky" - noting it comes from Uisge Beath, a Scottish Gaelic translation of the Latin term for distilled alcohol, acqua vitae - which means "water of life".
Fortunately, there was also some coffee and tea on offer, making the perfect and predictable) end to a spectacular meal. To conclude the festivities, we called on birthday boy Brendon Winter, along with two of the Founding Members of the Club, Henny Beeber and Pat Brett, to present our thanks to Chef Philippe, GM Francis Zimmerman, and all their highly proficient kitchen and service staff for making our 20th Anniversary lunch such a special event. We eagerly look forward to our next visit.