Could there be a more suitable start to an island getaway than a wine paired degustation menu on the beach? Arriving from KL on the Friday afternoon flight we reach Pantai Cenang, Langkawi just in time for sunset, which is a flawless interval to begin our night at La Luna – a signature dining experience designed exclusively for two by Casa del Mar. Foregoing a visit to our room, we head directly to the sand where white linens and red rose petals dress a place for two. Feet in sand, the sun paints the heavens an assortment of fiery oranges, reds and golds, and as the descending star bids its farewell to the day the sound of popping Champagne sets the mood for the evening’s merry making.
The gratifying pop hails from a half bottle of Moet Chandon: a sound we never seem to tire from. It’s the opening to our premium wine paired degustation menu, which promises six very well lubricated courses with all the fine dining trimmings.
Not usually without words, the Seared Scallop with Wilted Spinach, Feta and Pomegranate Reduction, our entrant, leaves me speechless for a good few moments. The elegant coalescence of gentle ocean breeze caressing my skin, a mild buzz from the bubbly, birds cooing, sea lapping the shore, and the wonderfully flavourful acquisition of my mouth by tender flawlessly cooked scallops, is an immensely pleasurable emotion. Hubby’s moans of “mmm mmm” validate my case.
A petite teacup holds the Pumpkin Soup with Coriander Pistou, rendering it a beaut portion for a few sips of its richness (the secret is the addition of sweet potato to the blend), allowing us to discern its finesse without overfilling our tummies too early on in the meal. A crisp garlic crouton topped with herbs and cheese is served separately in a shot glass, adding crunch to the liquid but totally unnecessary for flavour as the soup packs a delicious punch all on its own.
A switch of wines signals the next course. Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, with its green apple bouquet and mild mineral whispers, is the consummate playmate for our Grilled King Prawns on Salsa Verde with Chili Prawn Jus. A trio of lightly charred crustaceans crown a rich mélange of vegetables, with the freshness of the seafood being clearly evident in their crisp texture and clean mouthfeel. The fruity youth of the wine harmonizes with the subtle saltiness of the sea.
The Watermelon and Mint Sorbet goes beyond what is usually offered in a palate cleanser with its pleasing presentation and layers of complexity. A mini popsicle of frozen watermelon goodness is held by a bowl made of fresh ripe melon. Salt and wasabi fringe the plate, and a nip of the ice in both award immense satisfaction.
Herb Marinated Cod Fish on Celeriac Mash with a Blood Orange Glaze is a dazzling combo with mango and white dragonfruit contributing tropical flare. The chef is clearly a master with seafood as each dish up to this point has been impeccably cooked with exteriors softly seared, caramelizing the edges and leaving the core moist and terrific. An equal commendation goes to the sommelier, who has provided noteworthy couplets throughout – the Spanish Castillo Rodafuerte from this twosome a laudable example. The taste of spring tickles both the nose and palate with young white peach on the nose and a juicier, more mature fruit on the palate.
Tender hunks of Australian Beef (for hubby) and Lamb (for me) sit aside a flavourful round of sautéed new potatoes. Pink in the middle and charred on the exterior, hubby gives his carnivorous nod of approval to the medium cooked flesh. Cilantro and lime grilled asparagus and foyot sauce elevate the overall profile. We don’t really need much more wine at this point, but the Jacobs Creek Cabernet Shiraz comes in a half bottle, so we don’t refuse – that would be bad manners right? This South Australian drop complements its compatriot and reminds us of winter with its muted smoky fireplace aromas. Dark berries, subtle spice, and a touch of wood in its goût de terroir augment the bucolic impressions of the meat.
First impressions of the Chocolate Souffle are, well, overwhelmingly chocolaty. Upon closer contemplation however we detect a murmur of cinnamon and creamy caramel in the sauce. We’re appreciative of the 2010 Peter Lehmann Botrytis Semillon, a lovely dessert wine that couples the finale. Dessert wine is oft forgotten in Malaysia, but for us an essential part of a wine paired dinner. The level of sweetness of both dessert and wine parallel each other rounding off the meal with stellar appeal.
Coffee or tea, with chocolate pralines concludes the magic.
Bookings at La Luna are limited to one couple per night, so advance reservations are highly recommended. The package is priced at RM1200 net per couple including a degustation menu and selected premium wines throughout the evening.
Reasons to visit: beautiful setting; fine wine; excellent food; superb service; a fantastic way to kick off a weekend getaway with pizzaz; ideal location for romance, proposals or any number of special occasions.