November 10, 2017

Peru in the Valley

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A few weeks ago I received a message from The Specialist.  She had received news from the Hong Kong Jockey Club about their next guest chef, and wanted to know whether it was worthwhile to go.  As soon as I found out that it was Virgilio Martinez from Central, I told her that we should go together.  She rounded up the Alcoholics and booked us a table for tonight.

I am still recovering from my cold, but at least I felt fine.  I needed to be in good shape for all the wines as well as the food that would be at our table tonight...

Due to a bad traffic jam, I was almost half an hour late.  Thankfully my friends seemed fairly forgiving, and I was glad to finally have a chance to see Virgilio again after missing each other at the end of August.  It would be my third time having a taste of his cuisine, and a good opportunity to get more exposure to Peruvian ingredients and flavors as I prepare for my expedition to Peru next year.

Although the menu didn't specify the altitude or a particular Peruvian region/ecosystem, Virgilio explained that all their menus begin below sea level.

Shrimp, avocado and kiwicha - the crackers are made with sargassum, and paired with raw shrimp, mashed avocado, and kiwicha.

One is meant to spoon the contents of the bowl onto the cracker, which creates a colorful and delicious bite that is at once creamy (avocado) and crunchy (sargassum cracker and kiwicha), and the raw prawns delivered both a soft texture together with a light crunch.

November 8, 2017

Swedish durian

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It has been a looooooong time since I caught up with a certain friend over a good meal, and he's never even had occasion to meet Hello Kitty.   After multiple rounds of attempts, we finally managed to pin down tonight as a date we could all manage, and we even roped in The Great One.  As it's been a while since my last visit to Frantzén's Kitchen, we ended up choosing it out of a short list.  Thankfully the restaurant was able to accommodate us at a time slot that worked for us.

It always amazes me when I am greeted by name at the door of a restaurant, especially when I'm neither a frequent customer (although I did manage to visit 3 times within 3 months) nor anyone particularly important.  I am grateful, though, that Chef Jim Löfdahl always takes good care of me when I'm around.

The seasons have changed since my earlier visits, so we now have a number of new dishes I haven't tried.  My goal tonight was to try each and every one of them.

Noble scallop (桧扇貝) - from Oita (大分).  Dressed in lavender emulsion, some sea salt, rosemary, and almonds soaked in Sichuan peppercorns for 24 hours.  I saw this on Jim's Instagram earlier today, and was pretty excited that we'd be able to try them.  These were really, really fresh... and really sweet.  The texture was just amazingly soft - probably one of the best scallops I've ever had.  I loved the almonds, which were slightly sweet, delivered some nutty flavors, yet carried the delicate fragrance of Sichuan peppercorns without blowing my head off.  What an awesome way to start!

November 7, 2017

Monster white Burgundies with tarts

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It's no secret that a few of the chefs in town do their best to pamper me, and I feel very loved when that happens.  My friends, of course, realize that they're likely to get better food when they dine at certain restaurants with me - apparently they think there's something called the "Peter Chang menu"... Well, maybe...

Quite a few of us are fans of Chef Uwe Opocensky, and when they found out that I had been given a preview of his new restaurant Uwe, a few of them wanted to go with me.  Knowing that the restaurant was fully-booked for the next few weeks, I asked Uwe to find me the first evening available, and here we are.

Our little party had the whole place to ourselves, and of course Uwe, Luke, Ken, and the kitchen team took very good care of us.  There was never any doubt in my mind that we would leave with our bellies stuffed...

Autumn landscape - as I learned from my last visit, this "first course" consists of many, many different parts...

Fermented sourdough bread sticks - with homemade Branston pickle.  Pretty tasty.  With sweet potato leaves on the side.

Finnish reindeer moss - I have actually grown kinda fond of eating this... and this one came with grated horseradish.  The flower on top did taste a little like wasabi as Uwe described.

November 5, 2017

Losing at the Derby

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I had missed out on the last MNSC dinner due to the Parental Units being in town, so I was really looking forward to dinner with the boys tonight.  Unfortunately I managed to catch myself a cold a couple of days ago, so I found myself at a blind tasting with a runny nose.  Not a good place to be...

Lord Rayas chose to host tonight's dinner at the Derby Restaurant in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Happy Valley Clubhouse.  I've been here a few times in the last couple of years, but my visits have all been meals with guest chefs... so this would be a good time to see what the resident chef can do.

Smoked salmon cannelloni - pretty nice.

Deep-fried crab ball - lots of potato inside and a dab of wasabi on top.

November 2, 2017

Durians and truffles

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A friend was in town for a short trip and in need of a good meal.  After debating over a few restaurants, the choice was eventually narrowed down to - where else? - Neighborhood.

Given that we only had one day's notice, we ended up getting seated at the bar - and displacing The Man in White T-shirt from his regular seat.  No big deal, since the two of us would be able to finish dinner quickly and have an early night... or so I thought.

First things first - we needed to pick out our white truffle.  The crop is down significantly this year and I have been hearing complaints about prices going up.  I know that the pricing is reasonable here, but we were still looking at about a 50% increase from last year - if memory serves.  So the two of us settled for a small piece weighing just over 21 grams.

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