Tomorrow marks the start of the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF). In conjunction with MIGF 2011, Chef Michel Karam and the team at Al-Amar Lebanese Cuisine Restaurant have come up with a special festival menu available throughout the month of October 2011.
"It's Raining Chefs!" is the theme for this year's Festival and Al-Amar has creatively created a menu adapted to the flavours of the four seasons of Lebanon. Lebanon has a moderate Mediterranean climate and what the Lebanese eat is dictated by the seasons.
A 5-course menu, it is the most affordable MIGF Festival Menu (RM98++ per person without wine and RM138++ per person with wine).
The Festival Menu (MIGF 2011)
Chef Michel Karam appreciates French-style presentation and Japanese healthy cuisine. He sees MIGF as a great opportunity to showcase authentic Lebanese cuisine to Malaysia.
I was really impressed with the food presentation for Al-Amar's MIGF menu, Chef Michel's creative flair clearly shines through. I certainly had a great time admiring and feasting my eyes on his creations. After all, I'm a firm believer that "food is to be enjoyed with both our eyes and mouth".
For a Sunny Start
We started off with the Trio of Authentic Labneh with Lebanese southern tapenade and a brush of thyme. Labneh is a type of strained yoghurt with the consistency between that of a yoghurt and cheese. Each ball of labneh has been coated with a different herb; chilli powder/paprika, mint and thyme. The labneh had a tart taste, perfect eaten on its own or with the breadstick. The olive tapenade added a little texture to this trio.
A visually attractive dish, it certainly had a great summery feel to it. I especially liked the fact that the chef has used edible flowers as part of the decor. If you look closely, you will also find a piece of herb leaf sandwiched between two layers of lotus root to create a gorgeous (and interesting) piece that sits on top of the beetroot tartar. The apricot glazed beetroot was nicely balanced by the slightly bitter rocket coulis, when eaten together it yielded a bitter-sweet taste which I found very refreshing.
(Btw, I recently posted that a man and woman sharing a beetroot will fall in love. Three men and two women shared this platter, I wonder what will happen!)
Apricot glazed beetroot tartar on mango leather and rocket coulis
A beautiful summer dish
A work of art
Spinach bonbon, Soujouk mille feuille and herb crust filled with hommus and grass fed baby lamb fillet
The next dish consisted of three different components. The smooth hommus (which I enjoyed during my last visit to Al-Amar) makes an appearance here; it is stuffed inside a baked herb crust.The herb crust had a nice crunchy texture. This ensemble is completed with studs of grass fed baby lamb fillet (sitting in the hommus).
Soujouk is a type of spicy lamb sausage with special Lebanese seasoning, which is made in-house.It is very flavoursome and moist. At first when I read the menu, I was expecting the soujouk to be sandwiched between some pastry ("mille feuille") but turns out it just means the soujouk is arranged in layers. It is topped off with a crispy lotus root chip and some tomato salsa.
The final component of this dish is the spinach bonbon, spinach encased in lovely, flaky pastry.
For the main course, you can choose between braised rack of lamb or red mullet fillet. We got to sample both main courses during our review.
First up was the Pan seared red mullet fillets with sayadieh rice and drops of fish jus. The star of this dish surprisingly was not the fish, but the rice. Flavourful and fluffy, sayadieh rice literally means "fisherman rice" whereby the rice has been cooked in fish stock. It is topped with crispy caramelised onions, tahini sauce and even a deep fried fish tail! Purely for decor, but you can eat it if you like :) The red mullet fillet is also very good, moist and sweet.
Another pretty dish.. I'm loving the food presentation
Red mullet fillet
Awesome sayadieh rice
I really love that the chef uses brightly colored vegetables to add colour to his creations, just like he did in the Braised rack of lamb with stuffed baby marrow and vine leaves. The lamb is simply amazing, we could tell as soon as this plate was placed in front of us. At first we thought it was lamb loin, but turns out it was rack of lamb. The meat is beautifully cooked, still pink in the middle and the texture is just fantastic - so moist and tender, it was effortless to cut and eat! Baby marrow, also known as zucchini or courgette was stuffed with a mixture of lamb and rice. I would personally pick this dish as my main (the other one is superb as well though!) simply because the lamb is that good.
Stuffed vine leaves
Stuffed baby marrow
Beautifully cooked braised rack of lamb
Sunshine After the Rain
And just when you thought the food presentation couldn't get any better, this is placed before us. I felt like I was transported to a place with fields of yellow flowers on a summer day. So beautiful, it was a shame to "destroy" this work of art but a blogger's gotta do her job - taste it! Pour some of the pineapple sauce over the nougat glacé and dig in. The nougat glacé was the perfect ending, light and fluffy. And the cardamom ice-cream (yes, cardamom!) was interesting and unexpected, but I loved it. It was aromatic but not overpowering.
Nougat glacé laid on a bed of vanilla pineapple confit served with pineapple sauce and spiced chocolate shell
Spiced chocolate shell with cardamom ice-cream
Pineapple sauce over the nougat glacé
We were also treated to some canapés before the MIGF menu review. For your information, Al-Amar also provides catering services.
There you have it, a very well-executed MIGF menu by Al-Amar. The presentation, in particular reminded me of the many fond Michelin-starred meals we have eaten in the past. The MIGF menu is available from 1st - 31st October 2011.
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Price: RM98++ per person without wine and RM138++ per person with wine. Click here to read more about Al-Amar's Festival Offers.
Location: Al-Amar Lebanese Cuisine, Lot 6.10, Level 6, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2166 1011