This is an invited tasting. Deep gratitude to the hosts.
When food comes to me, I eat it. Makes sense, right? It’s a reflex – like holding your breath when your face is wet – that I have to fight every time I review a restaurant to get the photos you see on this here blog. Even then I often forget and am a spoonful into the meal before fumbling for the iPhone.
It must be because I’m relatively new to this whole blogging gig, though. For the fellow bloggers at the Morganfield’s Christmas tasting, many of whom are veterans, don’t have any problem holding in their appetite. As the food, dish after wooden board, is placed on the well lit long table, there is no reaching for the food, no surreptitious taking of fries. There isn’t even drooling, besides me. Instead the DSLRs and the phones circle obsessively as if it was Martha Hunt reclining on the table. It takes an hour before everyone is satisfied, by which point the food is room temperature and I was just about to put sauce on my left arm and eat it.
No doubt this suits Morganfield’s just fine, though. I know, I’ve already covered them before; but it’s the holiday season, and they’ve produced a Christmas menu with most of the requisites. The ancient reason that people had year-end feasts – to celebrate getting through a year in a time of uncertain agricultural yields and plague – doesn’t quite exist in Singapore anymore, but simple hunger works as a justification too.
Being situated at the tip of the horseshoe in Star Vista gives Morganfield’s certain advantages, not least the al fresco area with a view over the glittering towers of Biopolis; dusk is probably the best time to be here, sipping drinks. The white sangria, with its sharpness mostly masked by a good helping of peach juice, is sweet and refined, even if the fruits are cut a little too finely for my taste. Then again, as the host circulates the menu to us, it becomes clear this is as delicate as the evening is going to get.
The starters quickly prove that point. Pork trio is a nice little tribute to the versatility of the hog. A finely ground, pale sausage is perky with pepper. Popcorn pork – little dice of loin floured and fried, the meat still moist in its light brown shell – is my personal favourite, but I’m in the minority; my commensal friends are more inclined to the candied bacon, which manages to be both snappy and sticky. My only issue with it is that it is advertised as hazelnut candied bacon, using Hazelnut Brown Nectar ale from Rogue in the syrup – but I can hardly taste the hazelnut, and anyway there are better ways to use that good ale. Applied directly to mouth, for one.
Morganfield’s main line of work has always been barbecued ribs, or ‘sticky bones’ as they call them, and the seasonal menu features two new flavours. Once again the hazelnut beer is in one of them, but this time it is a lot more successful. Basted onto the ribs, it forms a layer of almost black char, and caramelisation brings the nuttiness across more strongly. Cranberry ribs look about the same as the normal sort, except with dried cranberries waiting in ambush with their tight sourness.
The dish I feared for most during the photoshoot was also, perhaps, the most beautiful of them all – a golden brick of roasted pork, not unlike our cherished siu yuk but even lighter in colour. Being left out for the lenses also meant being left out for humidity to turn the treasured skin soggy. Turns out I was just paranoid, though – even after cooling, the crackling maintains its composure, standing firm before shattering into little flakes and crumbs, rich but not greasy.
There are also options for large tables, among which the leg of ham stands out for its initial impression, gleaming, reddish brown with charred edges, and huge. Roasting has given its skin a bright sweetness and a nice spring. But for variety, the platter beats them all, mainly because it has them all. Two cuts of the roast pork and two half racks, in seasonal flavours, are accompanied with several other things. Besides more meat in the form of bratwursts and cold ham, the roasted, brown-tinged cauliflowers are beautifully sweet and juicy, and a potato gratin that’s proudly, pungently cheesy.
So, with wine and sugar and plenty of meat, Morganfield’s goes into the holiday season with its usual spirit of relaxedness and very generous portions. And the relaxedness is just as well, because you will probably need to sit around for a while after the meal. Well, I’d say it’s all in the right spirit – this food is the sort of thing that leads to goodwill towards men, right after the burping and just before the slumber.
1 Vista Exchange Green
Star Vista, #02-23 (map)
Sun – Thu: 11am – 11pm
Fri – Sat: 11am – midnight