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This is the situation that I walked into at the Balmoral Club recently - people were still raving about the Burns House wine dinner at the Old Fort Bay Club - which I'd missed. Words they were using to describe the food included fabulous and delicious. It seemed as if they were still having orgasmic fantasies.
After missing Old Fort Bay, I certainly wasn't going to miss the Balmoral Club dinner. Having never been to Balmoral I really wanted to see what their kitchen was producing.
With advance knowledge of the menu, I was excited - tuna sashimi with wasabi soy sauce and sesame seaweed paired with a Louis Jadot Chardonnay; mesclun salad with toasted pecans, dried cranberries, Bermuda onions, grape tomatoes with a mango vinaigrette paired with Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse; blueberry breast of roasted duck or a grouper bon fem with creamy corn and pancetta polenta, stir fried bok choy and pickled carrot paired with Louis Jadot Pinot Noir and flambéed guava crepe paired with Taylor Tawny Port.
For most people at these dinners, it's the wine that takes center stage. For me, it's all about the food. And I was excited about the menu, it sounded - heavenly. After the last plate, was served as I reflected on the meal, I concluded, actually as each course was set before me, I knew that the wine had stolen the show. The majority of the meal was a complete let down.
Actually, Balmoral Club started off really well, with a deconstructed tuna sashimi appetizer. It was really fresh and delicious, so much so that I gave my neighbor thumbs up, signaling that the meal was off to a great start. (He was one of those people that had dined at Old Fort Bay Club and was still raving about the food). I was eager for the remainder of the courses.
Up next, was the salad, but that proved to be disappointing. The brightness that I expect to get from the mango vinaigrette just wasn't there. It tasted really bland. And I searched and searched for at least one pecan and the miniscule piece I found I actually had to put on my spectacles to find. (Actually I only need my glasses to see distance, so that's really saying something).
I selected the blueberry breast of roasted duck with creamy corn polenta, stir-fried bok choy and pickled carrot for my entrée. My bone of contention with this dish was that the duck skin was not crisped at all and my meal was cold. To make matters worse, two of the people at my table did not like the grouper bon fem (they felt the fish was dry and overcooked) and sent them back to the kitchen for the duck. All-in-all, the meal was edible, even though I saw quite a few entrée plates being taken away by the wait staff with food barely touched.
One of the main draws to this dinner for me was the thought of flambéed guava crepes -- crepes stuffed with guava, you really can't mess that up. But of course, the plate set before me had whipped cream slathered all over the side when it should not have been. (I actually had to wipe the plate, so I wouldn't get the cream all over me). Despite, the appearance of the plate, the dessert turned out to be delicious, and I dare say, next to the tuna sashimi course was the best thing on the menu, next to the wines of course.
While that was my first experience dining at Balmoral, I've spoken to quite a few people who have told me of wonderful dining experiences that they've had there, so for now I won't be ruling them out, because people can always have off days, so you should not either. Always give people a second chance. But, when they get that second chance, they've got to get it right.
From the presentation to the creativity and the incorporation of tastes that Bahamians love, ensures that Munasan is a different Japanese experience than what people have become accustomed to.
The newest Japanese fusion restaurant at Superclubs Breezes on Cable Beach will make a sushi lover out of everyone that crosses its doorstep according to Superclubs Breezes executive chef Nigel Clarke. He believes people won't be able to get enough of what they are doing.
"What we're trying to do is make [the food at Munasan] a little more local," said Chef Clarke of the restaurant that officially opened its doors two weeks ago. The restaurant offers the standard Japanese restaurant sushi fare -- shumai, seaweed salad, miso soup, sashimi and sushi. But they have upped the ante with signature rolls -- spicy coconut shrimp roll, BBQ conch and pineapple roll, corn flake encrusted smoked salmon roll and their soft shell crab California roll -- that Chef Clarke said will entice people who aren't already sushi connoisseurs, but who are interested to try sushi, but are afraid, or hesitant, to try it.
"These rolls will draw them in to love sushi. When we did tasting, some of my staff had never tried a sushi roll until then. The perception was that it was raw, so they weren't going to try it. And now a lot of our guys have fallen in love with sushi rolls. Now they know that some rolls are actually cooked," he said.
An added feature that will make Munasan stand out from other Japanese restaurants around town is that Munasan has a create your own stir fry station. You choose your protein -- beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or tofu; choose your vegetables -- the server advises on the vegetable choices of the day; then you choose your sauce -- chili garlic, black bean, sweet and sour, Mongolian spicy ginger, Asian barbecue or Thai coconut curry.
It's a feature that Chef Clarke says makes for a lot of work and is risky, but he said they want to give a different experience because they realize people don't want to be limited.
And on the scope of different, where most folks would anticipate tempura (fried) ice cream for dessert, at Munasan they do a brownie roll (rolled with ice cream to look like a sushi roll), and they offer a mango-misu as opposed to a tiramisu.
"We wanted to be a little different ... a little unique. When people come in we want them to be able to say this is not what we'd get down the road. When people talk about coming to the Munasan, it's different and the taste has to be there," said Chef Clarke. He also said that presentation is important to them, but they want people to be able to see the plate, taste the food and want to come back.
"This is one of the smaller Japanese menus on the island in terms of what we offer. So for the create you own stir fry station, we have quite a number of sauces, and of course it can be a bit tedious, [especially if] you have a big table and everyone's having the same meat but different sauce. But people love options and we want to give them those options," he said.
Paramount to their decision on the menu he said was for them to understand the Bahamian taste buds and incorporate those tastes into what they would offer.
While the menu is indeed different from other Japanese offerings around town, Chef Clarke said it did not take long for Japanese chef Takeshi Tanabe to conceptualize their specialty rolls.
Edamame, shrimp and vegetable tempura, soft shell crab, agedashi tofu (deep-fried tofu with agedashi sauce) and yaki hotate (sauted scallop with clear garlic-soy butter) are on the appetizer menu.
Green salad, seaweed salad, tofu salad and miso soup round out the soup and salad menu.
The Nigiri sushi is comprised of maguro (tuna), ebi (shrimp), unagi (eel), hamachi (yellow tail), shake (salmon) and kani (crab).
Hamachi, tuna and salmon comprise the sashimi offerings.
California roll (crab, cucumber and avocado), kappa maki (vegetable roll), spicy tuna roll (tuna, tobiko and spicy mayonnaise) and tempura roll (shrimp tempura, avocado and cucumber) are the maki sushi offerings.
Beef negimaki (grilled rolls of sliced beef with scallions), lobster tempura (lobster deep fried in batter) and ebi chili (sauteed black tiger shrimp with Japanese chili sauce) are served with white or brown rice.
Meal finishers offered with the brownie roll and mango-misu are the layered chocolate mousse and profiteroles.
Munasan is the brainchild of Mona Issa, daughter of John Issa, chairman of Superclubs Breezes Bahamas.
"Japanese is something she loves," said Chef Clarke. The Superclubs Breezes properties in Jamaica all have Japanese restaurants.
Presently, Munasan opens two days per week, Fridays and Saturdays, 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
I promised to keep you posted on those wonderful Burns House Group Wine Club dinners, so I'm holding true to my word. And the fourth wine dinner in the eight-dinner series is coming up. I just found out that the next wine dinner is be an evening of elegant dining at the Balmoral Club on Sandford Drive, featuring the fine Burgundy wines of Louis Jadot, France. And the four-course menu sounds heavenly.
To start with, tuna sashimi with wasabi soy sauce and sesame seaweed is being paired with a Louis Jadot Chardonnay. A Mesclun greens salad with toasted pecans, dried cranberries, Bermuda onions, grape tomatoes and mango vinaigrette paired with Louis Jado Pouilly Fuisse follows. And there will be a choice of entrees. You can either choose a blueberry breast of roasted duck or grouper bon fem served with creamy corn and pancetta polenta, stir fried bok choy and pickled carrot follow. A Louis Jadot Pinot Noir is paired with that. A flambéed guava crepe rounds out the meal paired with a Taylor Tawny Port.
It's a meal that sounds absolutely divine because everything on the menu I'm a fan of. I love tuna sashimi. And the salad - just imagine the flavors and textures you get with the addition of pecans, cranberries, crisp tomatoes topped with a sweet mango vinaigrette. And blueberry (or any kind of berry for that matter) seems to go hand-in-hand with duck breast. And the thought of a perfectly cooked crepe takes me back to my days in Paris. This does indeed sound like a fabulous meal. Not to be forgotten of course is the cocktail reception, at which the Louis Jadot Macon Villages wine will be featured.
For the wine connoisseur, or people that just want to learn more, Larry Nocera, the Caribbean director from Kobrand Corporation for cruise lines for the Caribbean and Latin America will host the event and answer any questions relating to the wines.
The Burns House Group wine dinner will take place on Thursday, April 26 and a ticket costs a mere $90 per person, inclusive of gratuity and a complimentary bottle of Louis Jadot wine. If there's a better value for your money than these wine dinners that features a multiple course meal paired with wines - I'd certainly like to find it. This type of dining gives you the opportunity to sample different foods, paired with different wines and allows you to determine what you like and what you don't like, and to see how the wines complement the food.
The Burns House Group wine dinners have so far been staged at Graycliff Restaurant, Compass Point and Old Fort Bay Club. If you want to hop on to this latest ride that stops at the Balmoral Club, contact Therese Demeritte at 397-1454. From experience, seats are limited, so you have to reply early. Trust me.
Freeport, Bahamas - Flying Fish Modern Seafood in Grand Bahama Island continues their successful Educational Series this Sunday, April 7th with Modern Tricks & Techniques. Learn from Chef Tim Tibbitts. The menu for Sunday is:
Compressed Watermelon Sashimi; Deconstructed Shrimp Cocktail...
As a host of retail shops and restaurants sign the dotted line, the 21.5-acre commercial development in western New Providence is expected to generate close to 400 jobs when completed.
The multimillion-dollar Old Fort Bay Town Centre project has now entered the second phase of construction. According to Jane-Michele Bethel, sales and marketing manager at New Providence Development Company Limited (NPDC), all tenants will start interior buildings by the end of September, if not before.
An interior design store, spa, nutritional beverage company and a veterinarian have made commitments, while a sports store, computer shop and two boutiques have reserved spaces.
This second phase already joins an already extensive list of shops now taking up tenancy in phase one.
Bethel provided Guardian Business with no less than 10 establishments either open or in the process of outfitting their stories. Included in the list is the first restaurant at Old Fort Bay Town Centre - Sushi ROKKAN.
"Sushi ROKKAN will have a modern Japanese interior design, approximately 60 seats, including a comfortable sushi bar and outside patio seating. They will serve traditional sushi, sashimi, appetizers, charbroiled grilled meats (Japanese style) and seasonal signature dishes. All to be enjoyed with a huge sake selection," she noted.
The second restaurant to be included in the project's first phase has committed to signing a lease soon, with a planned opening date of November or December. A third restaurant has yet to be selected. Royal Bank of Canada also broke ground on their pad to the west of the Old Fort Bay Town Centre roundabout last week. Its anticipated opening date is set for Spring 2013.
In phase two, Bethel said stores will have 60 days to complete their build-outs, and restaurants have 90 days. As for phase one, Bahamas Design Centre, featuring indoor/outdoor furniture and home accessories, and The Gallery at Old Fort, are both set to open next month. HIS Fashion, stocking brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Nautica and Kenneth Cole of New York, has proposed a September opening date. The Keg Ranch liquor store and Going Places Travel are working on a similar timeline.
Sat Sound and Benetton are two retail spaces that are already open. Your Friendly Pharmacy is set open its doors at a later date.
The entire project, comprising seven one-acre pads, two anchor stores, and just under 60,000 square feet of retail and office commercial space, is expected to employ between 375 and 400 people.
"The degree of investment from the business community is of a very high caliber and we expect to see some spectacularly well designed stores, and a good variety and complementary mix of products and services," Bethel added.
Sushi -- it's the latest trend that has taken the country by storm, with persons flocking to sushi bars to get their fill of this Japanese dish which consists of cooked vinegared rice, commonly topped with other ingredients such as fish or other seafood, or put into rolls. Sliced raw fish by itself is called sashimi.
The common ingredient across all the different kinds of sushi is sushi rice. The variety in sushi arises from the different fillings and toppings, condiments and the way the ingredients are put together.
And while you may be one of those persons that trek to the sushi bar at China Beach restaurant at the Our Lucaya Beach &?Golf Resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama, making sush ...