My entire experience that evening at the Macalister Mansion, Penang could be summarized into one word. Engaging.  The evening was defined not only by epicurean indulgence and luxurious wines but casual and fun interactions with fascinating people who became an instant personal inspiration.


I was honored and pleased to be invited as the only blogger by the sophisticated and incredibly charming lifestyle destination in George Town, Penang, the  Macalister Mansion. The event’s invitation came perfect to end a tiring week at work, as receiving it on a Friday afternoon surprisingly made me look forward to a Monday! How often do you wish for Monday to come soon? Despite the short notice, I gave it a nod with a bright green light; it was that irresistible! Anticipating for Monday had never been that thrilling! 😀

The Torbreck Vertical Wine Dinner last 18th March 2013 was hosted by one of the finest exports from Australia, Torbreck Wines and Macalister Mansion, the newest boutique hotel in Pulau Pinang that’s intricately restored to maintain its rich heritage of being an English Mansion, fused with contemporary designs that transformed it into a stylish food & beverage outlets within an 8-room-hotel.

If you must know, back in the last month of 2012, my family and I initially fell in love with Macalister Mansion and chose it to be the venue where our family portraits were taken (blog posts here & here). Not long after, it felt so special just to experience this tasteful elegance again.

First priority when I arrived at Macalister Mansion that Monday night : to know where to go and who to go with. I was told the guests were having cocktails at the Bagan Bar.

Bagan Bar 2
Bagan Bar, Macalister Mansion
Bagan Bar 1

Amidst sleek interiors and low lights, it didn’t take a minute for me to recognize few familiar faces -there’s a chef from Czech Republic whom my family and I met recently. I was so flattered while he was showing my blog via his iphone to his friends (what an introduction!), and of course, I was glad to see again the one who did our family portraits last year whom I considered as one of the most brilliant young Malaysian photographers in Penang, Sunny Tan! He generously shared one of his precious captures that night; Thank you, Sunny!

*With Director & Owners of Macalister Mansion, Dato’ Sean H’ng (far left) and his wife, Datin Karen H’ng. With us is Australian Export Director of Torbreck Wines, Andrew Tierney. Photo taken by by Sunny Tan.

After those Bagan Bar-moments, everyone was ushered to Macalister Mansion’s Dining Room.

Its immaculate and almost poetic interiors is an absolute visual treat! It’s stunningly beautiful!


It wasn’t my first time to see the Dining Room but it was difficult not to marvel in awe once more! Unbelievably, such quaint place exists in Penang!

*The fantastic dinner was opened by AsiaEuro Regional Sales Manager, William Chong and brief but interesting talk about Torbreck Wines and its history was done by Andrew Tierney; both sat on the same table I was assigned.

The 6 Torbreck wines. The 6 gourmet courses creatively prepared by Macalister Mansion’s very own, Chef Lance. The new friends I’ve met. The fun filled talks about wines, food, travels and whatnot in my table. Every minute, delightful!

*Amuse Bouche paired with Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2010.

What a crisp and refreshing start! I was in Nirvana in a heart beat!

*Bergamot Smoked Salmon, Beetroot Dye, Thai Cucumber Pickle, Avruga Caviar & Olive Soil paired with Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2010.

Given the fact that I’m a huge fanatic of anything-salmon, plus this appetizer was prepared smoked, and wrapped with thin strips of pickled cucumber; I almost forgot my name, baby!  Then it was paired with the very fruity and subtle Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2010. A match made in heaven!

*Know more about Australia’s Torbreck Wines via

Wine and food pairing was brought to a higher level when the next plate was served. Drum roll, please!

Torchon of Foie Gras, Crumble, Gastrique Pearls
*Torchon of Foie Gras, Crumble, Gastrique Pearls paired with Torbreck Cuvee Juveniles 2011.

This plate of foie gras was too gorgeous to eat, it took me several minutes after staring aimlessly, to start savoring its rich flavor. Beautiful!

Perhaps, the only little disappointment on the menu according to my palates was THIS.

*Veloute of Spinach Soup, Hay Smoked Black Lip Mussel, Creme Fraiche, Pommes Brunoise and White Truffle Oil paired with Torbreck Cuvee Jeveniles 2011.

So much drama was put to the presentation of this seafood-spinach soup but unfortunately, fell flat on my tastebuds. I’m not that familiar with French cuisine and I truly appreciated Chef Lance’s efforts but I can only imagine if instead of spinach, a creamy and velvety pumpkin soup was poured on my bowl instead. Or probably, I’m just partial to my wishful thinking.

The time to cleanse the palate came.

*Sorbet. We’re guessing that night if it’s cranberry. One can tell easily.

Have I told you the service at the Macalister Mansion’s impeccable? The multicultural wait staff had a ready smile that night; everyone’s quick and efficient. Good job!  After finishing my sorbet, I was asked by one of them of the main dish I prefer. It was choice between :

Pan Seared Halibut, Savoy Cabbage, Gold Miso & Cauliflower Floret
*Pan Seared Halibut, Savoy Cabbage, Gold Miso and Cauliflower Floret.


Chargrilled Wagyu Oyster Blade
*Chargrilled Wagyu Oyster Blade, Creme Fraiche Polenta, Carrot Puree, Grilled Cauliflower and Perigueux Syrup.

I had the beef instead of the fish not because the former’s better than the latter; as a matter of fact, guests were raving for the fish plate! However, I had a nice salmon-appetizer already, so I thought it’s but logical to try the meat dish which, in my opinion complemented the Torbreck wines effortlessly! Tender, nicely grilled, flavorful Wagyu. I loved it! 😀


Torbreck ‘The Struie’ 2010.

Torbreck Descendant 2008.

Torbreck Run Rig 2007.

I’m no wine connoisseur but I know my palates so well. Between Torbreck ‘The Struie’ 2010 and Torbreck Descendant 2008 which are Shiraz, I like the Descendant more. While Torbreck Run Rig, despite it’s only 6 years to date and a suggestion to the wine maker, Andrew was raised by my tablemates, that with 2 more years, Run Rig will be so much better tasting, it’s the most aromatic and dense among the wines served that night.


Great food, vivid wines, wonderful ambience, commendable service and most specially, fascinating people. Excellent combination.

*Torbreck Run Rig 2007. 

Just when I thought I might be feel alienated by going to this event solo, serendipitously, I was assigned to sit beside this pleasant German lady, Evelyn.

Evelyn, German, guest MM

“I’m sorry, Gelo but WHAT IS A BLOG?” Evelyn asked me.  Then she burst into infectious laughter and from then on the great food, vivid wines, wonderful ambience, commendable service and most specially, fascinating people, those excellent combination was made livelier with my fun-filled chat with Evelyn.

Who would have thought that I’d meet a German woman who came with her equally friendly husband, Klaus, who’d tell me that they lived in my country, the Philippines for 8 years since 1963? Evelyn spoke how she and Klaus miss their lives in the Philippines. In between Torbreck wines and Chef Lance’s masterpiece plates, I’ve listened to Evelyn when she shared a bit of their interesting stories about Martial Law in my country duing those times, and on a lighter note, they professed how they miss Philippine mangoes and pineapples and how they enjoyed their home in San Lorenzo Village in Makati and their holidays in Cebu. Who would have thought that two souls from this awesome event could speak so much about the country where I am from? Amazing!


Must have desserts.
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the most uniquely delicious jam I’ve tasted. No, it’s not Durian! 😉

*Brie, Jackfruit Jam and Sable Breton.

Don’t be fooled with the simplicity of the plate. The tug of war between the saltiness of the cheese with that sublime sweetness of Jackfruit jam was one of the many reasons why this event’s memorable!

While I enjoyed Brie, Jackfruit Jam and Sable Breton, the next dessert plate was even better!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Bitter Chocolate Ganache & Praline
*Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Bitter Chocolate Ganache and Praline paired with Torbreck ‘The Bothie’ 2011.

The sweet and chilled, bitter and salted and textured flavors simply overwhelmed my palates. I loved it!!!

*Petit Four.

Simple and sweet ending that brought me back to my senses. I wasn’t in heaven, yet. Not yet.

Macalister Mansion, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

*Special thanks to Macalister Mansion for the invitation. I am eternally grateful. 🙂


Macalister Mansion

228 Macalister Road, 10400 Penang, Malaysia | website :



  1. Wow! this must have been a sensory overload!
    The dining area reminds me of The Champagne Room of the Manila Hotel.
    Wines produced in Barossa Valley are very good since this region of Southern Australia is their wine capital.
    Another wonderful post Doc Gelo! Makes me want to have a vacay in Penang this summer

    1. Hi Attorney Ingrid! You really know the wines and great places!
      Bravo! 🙂 Come visit Penang and let’s have some Torbreck wines or TWG tea time in MM. 🙂

  2. Doc Gelo this is my kind of dining – multicourse tasting menu (not buffet hehehehe) with wine pairings. I lost count of the courses you had for this impressive dinner.

    I have never heard of this wine. Here in America the well-known Aussie wine is Charles Shaw fondly called Two-buck Chuck, because each bottle is sold for $1.99. It’s actually good for a cheap wine. They have raised their prices for this year, haven’t bought one lately and I don’t have any bottle of it in my house.

    This was a solo gig? No Tina or Gabby?

    1. Hi Maria, yes, I was invited solo here, no worries as the people I met were a great company. 🙂

      Wow, $1.99 for a bottle of wine? Social drinking made so affordable. How’s the quality? With that price, it’s hard to beat in the market.

      This Torbreck Vertical Wine Dinner at Macalister Mansion was really impressive.
      It exceeded my great expectation. 🙂

  3. Wow…the food plating is impeccable! Everything is photogenic there. Happy to read that Madam Evelyn talked good memories of her stay here in our country.

  4. I have to echo the same question as Bert haha! Drinking different wines in one setting will get me tipsy, no matter how good they are.
    From the pictures alone, I could tell you had a grand time. C’est la vie!

    1. i certainly came home tipsy and the not-so-good-part, i had to go to work the following day! nonetheless, it was my pleasure to be invited in such event. 🙂

  5. Amazing event , ambience and gallery of pictures. I pictured myself there precisely thanks to your vivid images!

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