Bukit Pasoh, I was told by Hairy, is the trendy, newest area in Singapore where many good restaurants have opened at the start of this year.
Absinthe looks quiet and unassuming from the outside, but stepping inside you will see that even on a weekday, the place gets filled up around dinner time, pretty quickly.
When I get there, Hairy and XLB are already sipping champagne. A platter of starters sits before them.
Apparently the finest iberico is called jamon iberico de bellota (acorn). This ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns during this last period. The exercise and the diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat – the ham is cured for 36 months.
I am not sure which iberico we had that night, but I sure hope it was the acorn eating sort. Actually from the generous amount of intramuscular fat, smooth texture and the rich, smoky, savoury flavour, I would guess probably, top grade. Anyway, the handsome Chef Francois Mermilliod did an excellent job carving it!
Also, when Hairy heard that the degustation menu had recently been changed, he hardly needed much persuasion to try it.
The Degustation menu consists of five dishes – three starters, a main and a dessert.
Sounds like the kind of mammoth eating challenge that Hairy loves to take on, if you ask me;)
We tried a bit of each and all were equally good. My favourite was the tiny morsel of pork belly – succulent, sweet flesh of the pig ,with just the right amount of melt in your mouth fat to give you small delightfully sinful mouthfuls of flavour, without overwhelming you.
The main of Grilled Grain Fed Beef Tenderloin Served with Parsnips Mash & Black Truffle Sauce. Cooked to perfection you can see the look on Hairy’s face to know that it was good – he looked like a kid in a candy store;)
Here ends the first two parts of the degustation menu. Only dessert left to go. (Hairy said that he was still hungry and might consider supper later. I swear Hairy has four stomachs).
For the petite in size and appetite, there is always the Bouillabaisse. This is a classic French shellfish and fish stew. According to tradition, there should be at least five different kinds of fish in a proper bouillabaisse. In Marseille, considered the mecca of bouillabaisse, they use at least seven, not counting the shellfish! Anyway, the bouillabaisse was delicious.. if I closed my eyes, each mouthful transported me back to the city of Marseille, the first place I ever tried this stew.
Finally, dessert! The Coconut Panacotta with Jubilee of Fresh Berries was exquisite. The black dots you see are the authentic vanilla beans and that’s what made this dessert a winner. Fantastic taste with the smoothest texture.
At this point there was further talk of going in search of a Hokkien mee supper, but I chose to dismiss the crazy ramblings...
Finally no meal would be complete without paying tribute to the namesake of the restaurant itself – Absinthe! The restaurant manager Philippe Pau, prepared it for us himself. Philippe has got to be one of the most knowledgable, charming managers I have had the pleasure of meeting. It is true what scientists say – Absinthe drinkers you are not hallucinating/seeing the green fairy.. you are just truly drunk! (with concentrations as high as over 70 percent, I can see why.) In just under 3 minutes, Philippe gave us the entire history, fact/fantasy lesson on Absinthe. Oh, he’s good.
What does that greenish liquid taste like? It tastes like liquorice. For the complete way of preparing Absinthe, go here.
Anyway, we had a fantastic dining experience at Absinthe. We highly recommend this place to anybody who appreciates good French food!
48 Bukit Pasoh Road.
Nearby Stations: Outram Park
Tel: 02-6222 9068
Degustation Menu: SD98++
Average price per head: SD150.
I have run out of things to write so I will end by telling you that the three great French poets of the era, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, were all prodigious absinthe drinkers, although direct references to the drink in their poems are surprisingly rare.
By far the most prolific of all absinthe-influenced poets was Raoul
Ponchon (1848 – 1937). Originally a bank employee, he quit his job
after his father’s death in 1871, and set himself up at the age of 23
in a garret with the words “Painter and Lyrical Poet” written on the
door. Ponchon was astonishingly prolific, writing
150 000 verses, of which over 7000 were about food and drink,
including many dealing specifically with absinthe.
Here is the English translated Sonnet de l’Absinthe, for your reading pleasure (may you be sipping absinthe as you read it!)
Absinthe, ô ma liqueur alerte,
Il me semble quand je te bois
Boire l’âme des jeunes bois
Pendant la belle saison verte.
Absinthe, O my lively liquor,
It seems, when I drink you
I inhale the young forest’s soul
During the beautiful green season.
Ton frais parfum me déconcerte
Et dans ton opale je vois
Des cieux habités autrefois
Comme par une porte ouverte.
Your perfume disconcerts me
And in your opalescence
I see the full heavens of yore,
As through an open gate.
Qu’importe, ô recours des maudits,
Que tu sois un vain paradis,
Sit tu contentes mon envie;
What matter, O refuge of the damned,
That you a vain paradise be,
If you appease my need;
Et si, devant que j’entre au port,
Tu me fais supporter la vie,
En m’habituant à la mort.
And if, before I enter the gate,
You make me put up with life,
By accustoming me to death.
Read another great one here entitled Five o’clock Absinthe.