Meats, Mustards and Merlots – mmm!


The Pattaya Hilton Hotel produced a daring experiment for the food and wine lovers of Pattaya – a dinner featuring five meats, five mustards and five merlots.  To my knowledge this has not been tried before by any of our up-market restaurants, and at the reception F&B manager Simon Bender was rather quiet and Chef Supoj was even looking a little apprehensive, while the Flare restaurant manager K. Sunny was literally trembling, at the beginning of the night.

Flare restaurant, if you have not been there, is Hilton’s top fine dining venue.  Small, select, with peerless ambience and service, it has become, in a very short time, one of Pattaya’s top restaurants.  It has a hushed ambience, and the staff respond noiselessly as they carry out their duties (including handling the largest pepper grinder this side of New York City).

After being escorted to our table, the first item of difference from the more usual wine dinners was the fact that the five glasses on our table were named individually with the particular merlots we were about to drink – not just numbered.  The five merlots were chosen by wine expert Ross Edward Marks, vice president wine and spirits, Central Food, and were a 2009 Chateau Lacroix, Bordeaux Superieur, France; a 2009 Merlot, Sacchetto, Veneto, Italy; a 2009 Merlot, Les Jamelles, Vins de Pays d’Oc, France; a 2010 Nero d’Avola-Merlot, JOY, Sicily, Italy; and finally a 2009 Cabernet-Merlot, Wildcard, Peter Lehmann, South Australia.

There was also another glass which was filled with a very enjoyable sparkling water from Speyside in Morayshire, Scotland and bottled by the Glenlivet distillery.  I was informed by the Hilton GM Harald Feuerstein that this is the Hilton’s preferred spring water, and it is very refreshing.

The wines for the evening and we began with a reception wine, a “Grapes in a Glass” 2010 Pinot Grigio, JOY, Pavia, Italy (incidentally, Ross Edward Marks donates B. 30 to Fr Joe Meier’s charity in Klong Toey for every bottle of JOY sold).

Wondering if we were going straight into the meats, we wondered no more when an amuse-bouche of steak tartare on Himalayan salt, fried quail’s egg, sweet honey mustard sauce, anchovy, shallot jam and parmesan cheese toast was presented.  So many flavors to definitely ‘amuse’ the taste buds.  We remained with the Pinot Grigio for this and the following two courses.  First was a hot appetizer of caramelized cod, citrus powder, celery root and whole grain mustard aioli, and a soup of an artichoke cappuccino with seared spicy chorizo, king crab salad, mustard leaf and parmesan foam.

After those excellent starters the wines were poured and the mustards arrived all named to dispel any worries over which was which, though I expect that everyone at the dinner would soon have identified each one.  They were Colman’s English, American Yellow, Pommery, German Mild and Horseradish.  A good spread of English and continental choices.

And so to the meats, which were presented on one plate, comprising of grilled Australian wagyu strip steak, Tournedos Rossini, 12 hour braised short-rib, Australian lamb chop, and a Kurobuta pork confit.  What an excellent opportunity was being supplied to us diners to sample these five meats along with the five mustards and five merlots.  A new experience for everyone.

It was difficult to reach a consensus with so many variables at our table, but the Tournedos Rossini (beef fillet) was just superb, with the meat just falling apart.  I could have used a spoon!  Many at our table also praised the lamb chop.

The mustards to go with the meats also had many enjoying the Colman’s English, whilst I felt that the French Pommery went with everything, and was not overpowering as Colman’s can be.

We finished with some cheeses and a dessert with fresh strawberries, strawberries soup, chantilly cream, meringue and balsamic caviar.  Wow! 2000 calories in a glass!

It was a brave concept and it did “work”, and a tribute to all at the Pattaya Hilton for thinking just that little bit ‘outside the box’.  When is the next one?

The Flare restaurant, 15th floor Hilton Pattaya, 333/101 M9, above Central Festival, with Second Road and Beach Road entrances with secure valet parking, telephone 038 253 000.