The Tasting Room Focus
How must it feel to breathe in crisp forest air while savouring an unforgettable combination of steak and champagne? To brush aside dry, parched earth to uncover a fragrant underground truffle, as you crouch under the warmth of the sun? To taste, for yourself, the cooling sweetness of a young cucumber cut straight from the vine, or a melting shard of perfectly aged cheese offered by the very master who nurtured it?
“This trip has taught me new things,” says Fabrice Vulin, the executive chef of The Tasting Room in Macau’s City of Dreams. “Things I learned from my suppliers—their love of their work and the attentiveness and care they put into their produce.” Following a journey through the length and breadth of France, where he met with his oldest friends in the industry and sampled the very best ingredients of the land, Vulin is fully inspired to recreate the awe he experienced during his travels through his dishes.
The Tasting Room is currently one of T.Dining’s Top 20 Best Restaurants, noted for its unwavering standards and inventive take on classic Gallic gastronomy. Vulin’s modern classics include a dish of Brittany lobster layered with watermelon and enlivened with yuzu vinaigrette and pops of Kaviari caviar; or beef tenderloin (a 2004 “vintage” by famed butcher Alexandre Polmard) served with foie gras, a cheeky macaroni gratin with Burgundy black truffle, and red wine sauce. The notable cheese trolley boasts selections such as fresh goats’ cheeses, Comté, Mimolette, and Roquefort, sourced from the very best in the business.
During his time abroad, Vulin got hands on, rolling up his sleeves to learn the art of butchery from Polmard himself in Saint-Mihiel, north-eastern Lorraine in France, intently removing fine sinew and carving the perfect piece from a whole. His efforts were richly rewarded over an unforgettable feast of barbecued beef (with Polmard taking the reins) paired with exclusive vintages of Henri Giraud champagne—enjoyed with the company of Michel Giraud of the house. In Avignon, he prowled the grounds owned by his long-time collaborator Jerome Gallis, searching for truffle beneath the cracked soil, and tasted the sweetest tomatoes, cucumbers and butternut squash farmed by Thierry Boyer at La Ferme des Cailloux.
One day, Vulin took a six-hour round trip to a little commune called Vieux-Ferrette, simply to call at the maison of Bernard Antony, purveyor of some of France’s finest cheeses. In Paris, too, the eating itinerary was no less impressive—an early start at the city’s famed Rungis Market saw Vulin reconnect with Olivier Metzger, noted meat master and his friend of more than 17 years, over a daybreak meal of aged steak and charcuterie at a worker’s canteen, before an elegant brunch of caviar and smoked salmon with Karin Nebot—executive director at Kaviari—at her family business’ headquarters in the fourth arrondissement.
"For me, the best moment of being a chef it is when you receive all those beautiful ingredients from all those amazing producers," recalls Vulin. "I remember all those moments. For instance, when I have a piece of meat from Alexandre Polmard, I remember all the moments of being with him in the forest, looking over the roaming herd. When I have chicken from Bresse, I think about my friend Olivier Metzger in Paris who always selects for me the most beautiful chickens to send to me. The truffle is the same. When it's freshly sliced, you think about everything, from Jerome, to the smell of the undergrowth, to my childhood memories. These are the good moments, the great moments of being a chef."
Back in Macau, all of these moments come alive on the plate, flavours shining through the prism that is Vulin’s unique culinary experience.
The Tasting Room, 3/F, Nüwa, City of Dreams, Estrada do Istmo, Macau; +853 8868 668; cityofdreamsmacau.com
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