|Chef Jordi Gimeno Prepares a Feast for the Flavours of Spain Promotion at Eccucino|
The Many Flavours of Spain, Eccucino
Words by Kirsten Durward
Photos by The Yum List
Described as a ‘culinary master bringing the best of the sea and its produce’, guest chef Jordi Gimeno teams up with Chef de Cuisine Jason Manson this November, creating ‘The Many Flavours of Spain at Eccucino. The evening is offered as an opportunity to be immersed in Spanish culture and history and authentic Spanish cuisine! We’ve been promised mouth-watering Spanish food, live cooking demonstrations and a taste of Spanish wines. All of this holds intense promise for a fun evening, and we’re all excited to partake.
Chef Jordi, a former lecturer in Catalan language, culture and gastronomy, earned his stripes through 20 years of Spanish restaurant experience, including several ‘Michelin Guide’ restaurants, and while Executive chef of Oberoi in India developed the idea for his new passion: Spanish International Food Festivals, as far apart as India, U.A.E., Ukraine and now Malaysia. A published writer he’s known for saying ‘cooking, like life, has to be understood like a long, opened voyage to the world of experiences and flavours.’
The Spanish influence is immediately apparent with the gentle strains of gypsy guitar filling the ample room. Discreet, simple stylised silhouettes of dancers and bulls adorn the walls and hang gracefully in the stairwell. It’s a relaxed and informal attitude. If you’re the kind of diner who likes to learn about your food you’ll love the individually crafted food tags, which also hold the recipes for these delectable dishes. Quick, scribble down your favourites or snatch a photo so you can try your hand to recreate at home! A bounteous feast greets our eager eyes, and as per usual with buffet, I have but one problem, where to start! I decide to nibble on the three types of marinated fresh olives, while I consider my options, ooh yummy, tangy and plump.
First to try is the colourful and unusual Gazpacho de Melon con Gambas al Ajilo, Watermelon Gazpacho with garlic prawns and toasted almond flakes is very chilled, and surprisingly sweet. Monica’s munching on Montaditos Vascos de Queso Azul, Surimi, y Atun, neat little toasted breads, the blue cheese topping in particular has Mon oohing. I nibble on a sexy skewer of prawn, olive, tomato, and anchovy savouring the salty sea taste. Ostras con Salsa de Alcaparras are very fresh and creamy Oysters and we enjoy the drizzle of fresh salsa on them, while Tuna Escabeche salad is a firm cube of dense Tuna with oil and a little pimiento pepper. I liked this little bite. Other tantalising seafood tastes abound, Salmon Gravlax y Caballa a la Pimienta, Salteado de Calamares Alcachofas y Aceite de Picado…
|A Plate Full!|
But I’m off on a different vein now. To the back left hand corner, Trio de Tortillas Espanolas con ‘Pa Amb Tomaquet’ awaits in thick tempting slices. Choose your favourite from three flavours of Spanish Tortilla. This is a thick egg tortilla nothing like the flour tortillas of Mexico. Don’t confuse your cuisines. Personally, I’ve enjoyed these pan baked tortillas ever since an early trip to Barcelona.
I decide the only sensible thing to do is have a fish course and then a meat course, but before I can even begin on that tiny Croquetas de Queso Azul, demand my attention. These little bomb croquettes with a burst of blue cheese are a quick favourite for Mon and me. Yum.
Atun con Aceitunas Negras y Sateado de Tomate, Melocton y Cebollas Tiernas al Tomillo – freshly seared tuna slices impress with a seasoning of with crispy black olives, peach spring onions and tomato thyme sauce. Surprisingly juicy for a buffet though, my favourite fish dish is the sole with mushrooms artichoke and clams in greens sauce; I loved this creamy sensuous dish.
Top tip for the fish course though is back to the upper left hand corner where Gambas al Ajilo are freshly prepared. Sizzingly seared in a pan, take these piping hot babies back to your table and enjoy them with a quarter of lemon.
|Gambas al Ajillo Hot in the Pan|
For the meat eaters a big attraction will be Pierna de Cordero Rellena de Setas, a very tasty mushroom stuffed leg of lamb that is carved to order. If beef is your preference, take a taste of Tiras de Buey a la Salsa de Anchoas y Trinxat, Beef strips with anchovies, cream and garlic vegetable omelette. Mon and I both enjoyed the sweetness of Pollo al a Catalana, where soft chicken is rolled in pine nuts and sweet fat sultanas within a very more-ish creamy sauce.
There are varying accompaniments but the two I recommend you try are Patatas Bravas and Esparragos a la Brasa con Ailioli (Grilled asparagus). I’ve always loved the Patatas Bravas concept, the idea of brave being spicy, is enough to set me off, even before tasting potatoes with spice!
The energetic and verbose chef Jordi joins us, gesturing enthusiastically as we chat about food flavours. He is originally from Catalunia, hence the prevalence of those type of dishes amongst the array. His personal favourite is Paella – Marisco Mar y Montana y Arroz Negro, the black rice Paella, which he says is fun to make here because people don’t recognise the black rice, however the flavour is deeper. He tells us how important it is to toast the rice and not cook with water, better to absorb the flavours of the fish and the sauce. We love the toasty bits on our pan and the exuberance of seafood.
A tumble of teeny choices tempts on a pedestal. I find some of the tastes quite fresh and unusual.
Menjar blanc con Manzana al Aceitie de Oliva, features slender slivers of apple in olive oil and a clear light jelly. Attain de Naranja y Melocoton is a neat piece of orange and peach tatin, while Catalan Panellets are marzipan balls coated in almonds. ‘Interesting,’ says Mon. Crema Catalana turns out to be very similar to a vanilla cream with a biscotti style almond crisp to serve it. I love creamy desserts so this was my personal pick.
Just before I leave a plate of hot Churros with chocolate sauce is plonked down. What a way to end a feast!
Throughout our tasting we are sipping on Sangria, a fruit infused wine cooler, beloved of many a tourist in Spain can be prepared in many ways, using red, white or rose wine, and a range of fruits and additives. My personal recipe calls for brandy soaked fruit, but hey, that’s another story. This one has a chilled red wine base, a ripe cherry flavour and slices of orange to add a zing – very refreshing indeed. Wine is also available from The Tapas Wine Collection, by the glass. Cava, the Spanish bubbly, is also served by the glass.
The Many Flavours of Spain is priced at the great value price of RM98++ per person, with one child under 12 eating free with every paying adult. Caramba! Hurry on down there as this ‘espectacular’ is only running until the 9th of November.
Prince Hotel and Residence
50450 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2170 8888 ext.8119
Eccucino opens daily from 6:00am until midnight.
Buffet breakfast 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Buffet lunch from 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Monday – Friday)
Buffet dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
À la carte choices are available throughout the official business hours.