Mmmm! Iberostar Chef on Tour more than satisfies
Rummaging through the pantry at the Iberostar Grand Hotel in Montego Bay, St James, Swedish-born two-star Michelin chef Emma Bengtsson found something called 'ackee' and another plant called, 'sorrel'.
By the way she pronounced both ingredients, it was obvious they were new to her Swedish/New York City tongue. But that didn't matter because when it comes to food, all the ingredients need are creativity, fearlessness and love, not pronunciation.
In photo: Two-star Michelin chef Emma Bengtsson of Aqauvit NYC shows Iberostar Grand's pastry chef Gabriel Diaz a thing or two in the kitchen. -Ashley Anguin
Bengtsson, who was born in Sweden and has now made her name known at the Aquavit New York, went outside the box, taking patrons of the sold-out Iberostar Chef on Tour series on a journey that allowed them to experience a combination of flavours that popped in the mouth.
Her opening dish, caviar, smoked beurre blanc and fennel, was salty, savoury and smoky.
"The fennel brought the freshness to the dish. It was like a whole lot of happiness in the mouth," noted Tryall Club's Patricia Henry, who was seated at Table #9 with other foodies, who inlcued Dr Claudine Lewis, who likes to experiment in the kitchen, and April Parchment.
In photo: Cured salmon, sea urchin, sea buckthorn and dill.-Ashley Anguin.
For the second dish in her seven-course presentation, Bengtsson obviously placed her thinking cap in the right place because the cured salmon, with sea buckthorn and dill, was an orgasm multiplied by more than 100 per cent. "It was like being in Sweden. The salmon was perfectly smoked," noted Hugh Logan, seated at table number 14 with chefs and wine experts.
Bengtsson paired a Sauvignon Blanc with the salmon — a very nice wine, but a tad too buttery for the salmon.
Scallops, ackee and sorrel followed, showing this chef was fearless.
Smoked lobster, trout roe, bonito and juniper.-Ashely Anguin.
However, it was when she gambled on the smoked lobster that she won big. Pairing the lobster with caviar was the type of courageousness needed in the kitchen. This dish was first-rate.
For the next course, the chef, who completed her professional education at the Culinary Cooking School in Sweden, introduced a red snapper served with cauliflower, gooseberry and pistachio to the taste buds. White Robert Mondavi Private Selection was the wine of choice.
In photo: Grilled beef with endive, apple and rapeseed.-Ashley Anguin.
Grilled beef, endive, apple and rapeseed (also known as rape), paired with a Chilean red wine was the perfect combination, agreed the energy-filled food aficionados. "She (chef Bengtsson) is adventurous, and this was evident in her presentation. She is unafraid to enter the unknown," noted Joan Lee.
It was easy to give Bengtsson and her culinary team a standing ovation at the end of a tremendous gastronomic experience, which saw her mango, rice and coconut ice cream dessert being the icing on the cake.
Obviously, Philipp Hofer and his team have found a winning formula to bring out foodies hungry for gastronomy that awakens the senses.