We came, we saw, we ate. Lots of offal. To cap the Star2 Monthly Challenge #Squealmeal, we held what was arguably the first of its kind in this city, an offal-only degustation dinner, the aptly titled Offaly Good Feast.
Helmed by chefs Jean Michel Fraisse and Mickael Cornutrait, the dinner popped up in the kitchen of the French Culinary School in Asia where a long table was set up for a communal and convivial evening of wining and dining.
A score of intrepid diners turned up, including Star2 readers.
The eight-course menu took ‘head to tail eating’ to liberal new levels. Animal parts that made it to the table included veal head, ox tongue, foie gras, duck hearts, veal kidney, chicken crest, feet and gizzard, veal sweetbread, oxtail and bone marrow.
Najwa Halim, 29, a music teacher was excited about the dining experience and said, “This is such an adventure, I don’t think you can find this sort of thing anywhere in Kuala Lumpur, especially something like chicken crest!” she said.
Ken Siong, 37, a respiratory physician who attended the dinner loved the Condensed Chicken Crap (yes, that’s really what it was called!) that comes in a can. Basically, a concoction consisting of chicken crest (also known as cock’s comb), liver, feet and gizzard in a smoked tea consommé, the soupy mixture was alive with contrasting textures – the slightly rubbery crest, the slippery slivers of liver and the tiny, taut pieces of gizzard.
“The dish embodies the entire offal feast; it has all the bits and pieces of offal with a lapsang suchong tea consommé which brought out extra flavours, added smokiness to the dish and perfectly complemented the other ingredients,” said Siong.
For Frenchman Fabrice Godeau, 44, a corporate advisor, the Veal Head with Asian Ravigotte took him on a nostalgic journey back to his grandmother’s kitchen. Cooked for six hours, the slice of head meat and skin was tender and slightly gelatinous.
“Tonight is like a flashback to my past. Jean Michel is a French cuisine time machine!” exclaimed a very excited Godeau.
Godeau also was impressed with the scale of the offal dinner, which introduced several carnivorous entrails all at the same time.
“It’s the first time in 15 years I’ve been in Malaysia that I’ve had this kind of menu. Even in France, this is a unique dinner. You would have one of them, but not all of them,” he said.
The French kitchen’s excellence at stock and sauce making showed up at every course; most offal come with deep and complex tasting sauces.
For others, there were some setbacks in getting through the menu. Amanda Loh, 28, a product manager who attended the dinner with boyfriend Siong couldn’t stomach the Veal Kidney with Grain Mustard Sauce.
Despite the effort put into cooking the kidney, a tedious process which involved frying it in oil, re-moving the veins, draining blood and urine, washing, sautéing and saucing – it still reeked of urine when it arrived on the plate.
“I couldn’t take the aroma. I appreciate the chef’s efforts but it didn’t come through – for me, at least,” said Loh.
Boyfriend Siong agreed with his girlfriend’s assessment. “The kidney was my Kryptonite. I thought I might be able to come through the meal successfully, but the kidney defeated me,” he said.
Dinner ended on a most agreeable and thrilling note when a giant white chocolate eyeball melted before our very eyes to reveal passionfruit mousse when warm chocolate sauce was poured over it.
Overall, diners agreed the Offaly Good Feast was a unique experience that lived up to its name. “You seldom, if ever, get the opportunity to try something like this. I thought it would be a good experience and it did not disappoint,” said Siong.