July 31, 2008

Spontaneous dinner

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Tonight a colleague and I decided to have dinner at the Mandarin Grill + Bar on a whim. Believe it or not, I haven't been back to the Mandarin Grill since the hotel's renovation, so I was pretty eager to check out the quality of the cuisine.

We started with the 2006 Sigalas Santorini, made on the famed Greek island from a local varietal called Asyrtiko. I had a chance to try this wine last year on a visit to Pierre, and I was sufficiently impressed. The nose packed quite a punch, full of toasty oak and minerals. The wine was full bodied, ripe and sweet on the palate, but there was also enough acidity on the finish - and it was a pretty long finish.

For starter I chose the veloute, intrigued that the dish was named after a sauce. In particular I was interested in the 65 degree egg that was in the description. I wasn't quite prepared for it when the dish arrived before me. Long, thin slices of green asparagus lay at the bottom of the shallow soup bowl, surrounding an egg yolk. The waiter proceeds to pour green veloute into the bowl, scalding the egg yolk and covering it entirely. I guess I'm having soup! Or to be more correct, I'm having sauce as a starter...

Actually, the soup/sauce was pretty delicious, and I am reminded of the veloute of green peas from my meal at Al Muntaha at the Burj Al Arab. Here the soup was thick, and when you roll the liquid around your tongue, you can kinda feel the texture and consistency coming from the flour. The egg yolk, however, was disappointing. It wasn't as liquid as I had hoped.

I chose habilut as my main course since I hadn't had this fish for quite a while. The fish was poached and sat on a bed of green pea mash, surrounded by more green peas. There were even a couple of green pea "ravioli" made in the style of El Bulli - green pea puree enclosed in the calcified exterior. There were also three langoustines - grilled and de-shelled - which were so sweet and delicious. The shellfish was so full of flavor...yummy!

Back to the fish...the chef had added a crusty layer on top, made of small, square croutons. What was interesing was the "glue" that binds this crust to the fish - it was a sauce that reminded me of lemon meringue pie. It was sour as you would expect lemon to be, but at the same time there was plenty of sweetness as well as a bit of je ne sais quois - eggwhite perhaps? - that just brings to mind one of my favorite desserts. It certainly added a very interesting dimension to the whole experience. I'm still having an internal debate about whether this worked for me or not.

We were both pretty stuffed at this point, so no desserts for us. After a shot of espresso and a nibble of petit fours, it was time to head home - pretty satisfied overall and happy to have finally made it back to the Grill.

July 28, 2008

Anniversary dinner

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Tonight I attended a dinner to celebrate the fifth anniversary of a wine shop I frequent. Although I am by no means a big client, I do know the staff quite well and they were kind enough to invite me for this celebration. The dinner was held at the Kiangsu and Chekiang Residents Association (蘇浙同鄉會), a popular local members' club well-known for its Shanghainese cuisine. With 7 tables and mikes hooked up to the broadcast system, it got to be a bit loud, especially when you factor in the fact that alcohol was being consumed...

The food for the evening was OK, not spectacular. In fact, it was interesting because some of the dishes weren't Shanghainese, but more Cantonese. The things that stood out in my mind were the deep fried eel, whose acidity from vinegar was perfect; shark's fin in chicken soup, since the chicken soup was absolutely delicious; and tiger prawn with sweet and sour salsa.

Of course there was plenty of wine supplied by the shop, but a few of the regulars had talked about bringing our own bottles to dinner to supplement the standard offering. This made for a more interesting evening.

I didn't taste the Charles Heidsieck Mis en Cave 2003, since I didn't want to get buzzed on an empty stomach. I am sure that it would have been a pretty decent drink.

Instead I grabbed a glass of 2003 Barratt Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay, which was ripe and oaky - very New World but not so interesting. No refills on this one...

A friend brought along the 1996 Billecart-Salmon Grande Cuvee, which had a very yeasty nose and reminded me of - would you believe - Kellogg's cornflakes... The wine was sweet on the palate but had a decidedly sharp finish. I normally go for either the NV or the NV Rose, so having the Grande Cuvee was certainly a treat.

I brought along a bottle of 2005 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Abbaye de Morgeot, which really showed its colors about 1 1/2 hours after popping the cork. While others finished their glasses early, I left my glass untouched until the eastern star garoupa steamed in soy sauce was served. The wine tasted a little "hot" on the palate at first, with nose of toasted oak, minerals, buttery corn. There was good balance of acidity and sweetness, and the wine was so round and smooth on the tongue, with a very long finish. Yummy! I don't think you can go wrong with any 2005 white Burgundies right now. 

The 2003 Haut-Brisson was on offer, and despite having heard so much about the wine in the Greater China wine world, I had never had this wine before. The proprietor is Elaine Kwok, daughter of Peter Kwok. Peter is a senior figure in the Greater China finance world, having made the rounds at my old shop Bankers Trust and later at CITIC Ka Wah Bank as well as CITIC Resources. The wine has a large following in the region thanks to Peter. The wine was pleasant to drink, with lots of minerals - almost reminding me of blood - and a good amount of sweet fruit.

I also brought along a bottle of 1990 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru les Saint Georges. As the domaine is relatively new, this bottling is actually a negociant wine. I was a little worried since my last experience with this wine, the 1999 vintage, was quite disappointing. At first I was unable to detect much from the nose, but as the wine opened up I noted mint and sweet fruit, and eventually a hint of wet chalk. There was good balance between the tannins and acidity. Quite enjoyable and better than my initial expectations.

To finish off the evening, a very old bottle of Hennessey Cognac XO emerged. This bottle is reputed to be more than 30 years old, judging by the import label on the back of the bottle. While I do not normally drink Cognac, I was blown away by the brown liquid sitting in my glass. There was lots of salty preserved plums (話梅), salty preserved orange rind (陳皮), and caramel. There was no more burning of the throat than a single malt whisky would have delivered, and the spirit had aged and oxidized beautifully. Now if only I could find a case of this stuff...

Finding myself very stuffed and having had quite enough to drink, I bade farewell to the shop staff and friends, making plans to get together in the very near future for an evening together.

July 26, 2008

Sevva-ing the dish

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I've been wanting to try out the food at Sevva, since it's been the talk of the town for the last few months. Review in general has been mixed - with most people recommending it more as a place for drinks and not for food. I figured trying the food out at lunch would do less damage on the wallet, so I grabbed a colleague to give it a try.

The view of the place is pretty gorgeous. I had a view of the terrace outside and some of the buildings across the harbor. The aircon, however, was blasting and I pretty much froze for the entire length of the meal.

The menu was relatively simple. I only saw one item that I could remember being a remnant of the Joyce Cafe days, but I wasn't in the mood for rice crackling in soup. I thought about trying out the Taiwanese beef noodle soup that I had heard about, but decided against it. I'd go back to my favorite joint in Taipei for that one...

In the end, what caught my eye was the wagyu beef cheeks and ox tongue pot pie. I am always up for beef cheeks and ox tongue, and putting the two together in a pot pie sounded fantastic. It came in a piping hot bowl, covered with a huge pastry top that just screamed "yummy!" After piercing the top with my fork, I discovered large cubes of ox tongue, along with chunks of beef cheek and smaller cubes of carrots and potatos in a tomato-based gravy. The ox tongue was really, really tender, just the way I like it. The wagyu was juicy (more like fatty) and also very tender. The whole thing was just very satisfying, and I thought that the quality of the dish was very high.

Despite being reasonably full from the heavy dish, I decided to have affogato for dessert. Unfortunately, after pouring everything on top of the delicious vanilla ice cream (you can see the black vanilla powder), I had to step out on the terrace for a conference call. When I am done with the call more than 10 minutes later, half the ice cream has melted... But nevertheless I found it very delish.

I must admit that I thought more than half the items on the dessert menu looked delicious. I think next time, I will just come and order 3 or 4 desserts. BTW my colleague thought her pappardelle with chorizo was good, and ditto for the lemon meringue. Must try next time.

July 20, 2008

Fragrant chicken from the heavens

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Last night I returned to Tien Heung Lau (天香樓) as a bunch of us went out for dinner with JS and her parents, who were in town from Korea. We wanted to introduce them to something Chinese, but not the typical Cantonese one finds in HK.

We started with a pitcher of their aged Shaoxing wine (紹興酒) - actually Huadiao (花雕) - but this time at room temperature without heating it up. In retrospect perhaps we should have drunk it warm, as heating would help hide the defects and impurities of the wine. Served cold, there was a distinct vegetal nose, and a bit moldy. I can imagine that the wine sat in ceramic jars for years, aging and the top of the wine acquiring its layer of mold (the Spaniards would call it flor).

In terms of food, we had three starters. The vegetarian goose (素鵝) was good. Malantou (馬蘭頭) - a dish prepared by finely chopping the shoots of Indian aster (馬蘭) and mixing with finely chopped tofu - was as good as it gets. Our Korean guests took a liking to this. Finally we had drunken pigeon (醉鴿) - a dish that I prefer over the soy-marinated duck (醬鴨) that I had last time. The balance was just right between the alcohol and the saltiness of the meat.

I ordered the freshwater shrimps stir-fried with Longjing tea leaves (龍井蝦仁) again, hoping that the restaurant would improve on its poor performance from my last visit. Nope. There is still too much salt and I still can't detect the subtle taste of the tea. I guess this will be the last time I order this...

We have a reprise of the deep-fried freshwater eel (爆鱔背) with garlic brown sauce. We traded a few jokes about the ubiquitous "garlic brown sauce" that one finds in American Chinese food, but the eel was just as good as last time.

I would never dream of not ordering the smoked yellow croaker (煙薰黃魚) while I am here, but the waiter decided that a medium-sized fish would be enough for the 7 of us. Does he not know how much I love this fish, and can probably take down half of it on my own?! Anyway... the fish arrived and the smokiness filled the air immediately. Our guests find that they, too, enjoy this fish in Korea. The flesh was moist and tender, and the taste delicate. In fact, I thought the skin could have used a tad more flavoring to achieve perfection. But this was good enough for me!

I pre-ordered the beggar's chicken (叫化雞/富貴雞) a few days ago, but when the restaurant called me to confirm my reservation, they found no record of this and told me that I would have to do without the chicken. I kick up a fuss, and end up talking to someone who apologized and promised me that I would have my precious chicken. Anyway, the waiter lays the large pot on the floor next to our table, and proceeds to remove the chicken from its lotus leaf wrapping. The fragrance hits us immediately, even before the chicken is laid out on the table before us. The meat is soft and moist, full of the fragrance from the spices and the lotus leaves. This is truly wonderful stuff, and I'm glad I ordered it.

The veggie with salted pork (鹹肉塌窩菜) is served out of order, but receives a warm welcome. Unfortunately for the pork it doesn't see much lovin' today. The Dong Po Pork (東坡肉) comes in its small ceramic jar, and is much smaller than I expected. I guess all the pictures on Open Rice are taken with wide angle lenses so the size is exaggerated. I am not impressed by the dish. There have been many detractors on the net, and I tend to agree with them. I can find a number of restaurants that do a better job on this one.

We finish up with the stir-fried hairy crab roe with noodles (蟹粉撈麵). Absolutely no complaints here, and after drenching my bowl with vinegar mixed with finely chopped ginger, I wolf down the entire bowl as I was unable to stop myself...it was soooo delicious. It was a heavy dish, and I find myself with a very packed stomach.

As usual the restaurant served us the complimentary glutinous rice balls in fruity fermented rice soup (什果酒釀丸子). This is a good way to end the dinner.

During dinner we did enjoy 2 bottles of the 1999 Chateau Musar. It's so curious that I would have friends bring bottles of this wine twice over the last 3 weeks, since I probably haven't had the Musar red in about 3 years! The wine was wonderful, with a big nose of minerals, sweet red fruit and even a hint of caramel towards the end. I was so happy to have the opportunity to drink this.

What a wonderful dinner! I never thought I'd return to this restaurant so soon, but I'm glad to have had the opportunity to dine here again.

July 11, 2008

Fabulous chicken...again

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Last night a few of us got together for another long-awaited dinner at San San Trois, one of my favorite restaurants in Hong Kong. In the past, I had heaped lots of praise on the food here, and it was an opportunity to show my colleagues what it was all about.

We started with small selection of sashimi, with hamachi (はまち), shima-aji (嶋鰺) and uni (雲丹) on the plate. While the hamachi and shima-aji were OK, I didn't like the dark brown color of the uni. Normally I would only eat uni whose color was very light orange, indicating that it was fresh and creamy. Well...I wasn't wrong. The uni was very disappointing. I shall stick to my principles in the future...

We also had the usual pan-fried sushi: kama and foie gras. These are normally among my favorites. However, I felt that today the chef had overcooked both pieces (at least for me). There was a bit more charring on the edges than usual. They were still delicious but not top-notch today.

I had reserved a portion of grilled kama (tuna neck), and this was done fairly well. There was the usual mix of tender and moist flesh with the slightly drier bits on the outside. Using the ponzu and oroshi to balance out the oily flesh was just right.

We also had some matsutake (松茸) mushrooms grilled on a small flame in front of us. I know this to be considered a delicacy in Japan, but I'm not quite convinced that grilling brings out the best in the shroom. A dab of salt adds to the taste, but it was still a little bland.

Finally, the piece de resistance! The roasted Bresse chicken arrives in front of us, and the manager quickly starts carving it up, demonstrating his expert skills with the knife. We were first served the legs of the chicken, which I enjoyed as is and without additional condiments. The free range chicken has just a small amount of fat, and this imparted the right amount of flavor to the meat. And the skin was roasted to perfection... As usual, I dipped the rest of the meat into the teriyaki sauce, and it was just gorgeous.

For the first time in quite a while, I was able to enjoy desserts at this restaurant. Usually I am already stuffed beyond belief at this point. We shared a portion each of the Japanese mask melon, yuzu ice cream, mango parfait and the signature dessert of the restaurant. While I enjoyed the refreshing taste of the yuzu, most of the pleasure came from the signature dessert - a concoction not unlike the usual sago rice with coconut milk.

I did bring along my own wines today. We started with a half bottle of the 2003 Schlumberger Gewurztraminer Kitterle. This was consumed with the sashimi. While I normally expect the Alsatians to ferment their Gewurz with some residual sugar, this wine was much sweeter than I expected. Perhaps I should have remembered that 2003 was a very ripe year for French wines...and brought something drier for the food. Anyway, the typical Gewurz characteristics were all there - lychee, minerals... But I must admit that I still find something in Schlumberger wines not quite to my liking.

During most of the meal, I enjoyed drinking the 2001 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. We had another bottle of this in the office just last Friday afternoon, but I thought it would go well with both the kama as well as the roast chicken. Indeed the wine opened up very well after 1 1/2 hours, and the usual grilled meats, minerals and very sweet red fruits were all present in the nose. Gave it a little more time, and even caramel started showing up. Full-bodied but not overpowering. Despite this being Kistler's cheapest offering, I still found it very enjoyable.

We thought we could finish another bottle, so we decanted the 1997 Beringer Merlot Private Reserve Bancroft Ranch. I still have a few cases of this wine because I enjoyed it so much, but this bottle was definitely off. The fruit in the nose was masked by the unpleasant smell of wet chalk and other aromas, and I think it even suffered from a bit of heat damage. Not great and we did not finish the wine.

I was falling asleep at the end of the dinner, from a combination of the alcohol and the fatigue over the last couple of weeks catching up with me. I went home fairly satisfied, with fond memories of the Bresse chicken fresh in my mind...yet again.

July 8, 2008

A less-than-perfect clone

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Another dinner to celebrate an upcoming birthday. The birthday girl heard me rave about my last meal in Taipei at Da Shan Wu Jia (大山無價), and was looking forward to dining at Shi Yang Shan Fang (食養山房), a restaurant serving similar cuisine on Mount Yangming (陽明山).

We arrived just after 7pm after winding our way up and deep into the mountain. From my experience at the other restaurant, I know that they would like us to arrive early (before 6:30pm) and they want to serve the same course to all diners at around the same time. By arriving a little late, I knew we would have a bit of catching up to do at the start of the meal.

We were seated at a table in the long hallway section, which comprises 14 or so "private" cubicles. The long and narrow hallway, decorated with paper lanterns, actually looks quite pretty. Outside the window, the green leaves on the maple tree in front of us look particularly green thanks to the lighting.

Small cups of mango juice appear in front of us, with passion fruit seeds floating on top. This is a nice way to start the meal.

Before we had a chance to taste the delicious juice, the waiter lays out a long, rectangular plate in front of us with three morsels on top. We have a small piece of yamaimo (山藥) tofu topped with a smudge of wasabi and passion fruit seeds. Honestly they put a bit too much wasabi for my taste, and my eyes started to moisten. There was a small salmon roll topped with blueberry, on a bed of mashed potatoes. Finally there was the tofu skin roll with cucumber and alfalfa sprouts, drawing flavor from the sesame seed paste inside. OK so far.

Now we have chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し), with shredded conpoy (乾貝) and a dollop of yamaimo mash on top. I am starting to get flashbacks of my meal from 2 weeks ago, as the progression of the courses are very similar. It's dried scallops vs fresh scallops at the other place.

The inari zushi with lotus root and fish was an interesting blend of flavors. The rice is naturally a bit on the sweet side as you would expect from an inari zushi (稲荷ずし). There is then the savory taste of the smoked fish, plus the slightly sour taste of the dab of guacamole. The sides included fresh broccoli flowers as well as very sweet chunks of pumpkin. This dish was paired with a small glass of pineapple vinegar on the side. Unlike the other restaurant - which served the vinegar after a certain course as a palate cleanser - it seemed that we were to drink the vinegar alongside. Hmmm....

A large bowl is placed in front of us - our sashimi course. In addition to the sweet shrimp (甘エビ), scallop (two thin slices only), calamari and salmon roe (いくら), we were offered green asparagus, bamboo shoots, eggplant and seaweed. As in the other restaurant, an onion vinegar sauce is presented as dressing for the veggies. I would have preferred if we each got our own little container with our own portion, instead of having everything served in one large bowl... Another glass of vinegar appears, this time it's rose vinegar.

A block of deep-fried gaozha (宜蘭高渣) is served with a steamed baby abalone. The abalone was a little overdone, and is a bit tougher than I normally prefer.

Before we dug into the gaozha, the waiter brought us our salami handroll. It actually looks less like a handroll and more like a rice ball with a piece of salami wrapped outside. The rice is flavored and has diced mushrooms mixed in - very much in the style of the gomoku rice of the other restaurant. Slices of sauteed eringi mushrooms are served on the side, with chickpeas and black fungus.

Finally, we have the piece de resistance - the lotus chicken soup. Unlike the other restaurant, here the waiter served us the pot of soup, then placed a rather sad-looking dried waterlily flower into the pot. In terms of taste and ingredients, it is almost identical to what I had 2 weeks ago.

Reasonably full now after the soup, we manage to finish the fruit as well as the desserts. The small piece of panna cotta was only so-so, although the sweet barley topping was very interesting. The small cup of mulberry and strawberry juice was also nice.

By this point, you would have thought that I had a reasonably good meal. So why is it that I have decided never to return to this restaurant?! Very poor service.

First, they really rushed us through everything. To me, it is absolutely unacceptable to be placing multiple courses on your diner's table during a meal like this. You are giving pressure to the diner and asking them to hurry up and swallow the food. This is not the kind of experience that people would pay money for.

Second, they botched up the wine service. Now I understand that most of their clients probably don't expect to drink wine with a meal like this. But I did bring a half-bottle of 1994 La Mission Haut-Brion for the occasion and wanted to drink it. The waiter brought a sorry-looking corkscrew - the type with two handles on the side that you buy in any neighborhood supermarket for nothing - and proceeded to break the cork. He simply didn't know what to do with the corkscrew. They also didn't have any wine glasses - unlike Da Shan Wu Jia - and we had to use tall ceramic cups to drink the wine. This meant that the wine never had a chance to show.

Third, they basically booted all their customers out the door! Around 8:15 pm, about an hour into the meal, they brought us the check and asked us to pay. We were still having the soup! Then they told us that their hours are only until 9pm, and proceeded to remind us of this later on. Basically, they wanted all their clients out the door at 9pm. And indeed, when we did leave the restaurant around 9pm, we were the last ones on the premises. I haven't been shown the door by restaurant staff in quite a while now... and I don't intend on repeating this experience.

Finally, the food is a poor copy of what I had at Da Shan Wu Jia. Many of the courses - and the ingredients - were similar. But the quality here is only about 80% of the level compared to the other place, and the price is exactly the same at both restaurants. When the quality of both the food and the service is inferior, why come back?!

As a footnote, I asked the staff whether there was any relationship between the two restaurants. While the answer I received was an emphatic "No, we do not have any branches," judging by the reaction of the staff I sense that there is more to the story. I have heard from multiple sources that this restaurant had relocated from Xindian (新店) - where Da Shan Wu Jia is also located - it is entirely possible that one is a "copy" of the other, opened by a former chef or something of that sort. If that were true, then I believe that Da Shan Wu Jia to be the original, and that Shi Yang Shan Fang would be the copy. After doing a quick search on the net, it seems that Shi Yang Shan Fang was the original restaurant in Xindian which moved to its present location in 2005. However, apparently the chef did not move to the new location, and instead opened Da Shan Wu Jia in the original spot...

July 1, 2008

Casual wine tasting

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Last night I was invited by my friend Michelle to her lovely home for a casual gathering. She had finished renovating her place, and invited a few friends for a get together. She would serve us some delicious food while each of us brought 1 or 2 bottles of wine for the evening.

I arrived at a decent hour - some 40 minutes before dinner was supposed to start - only to find that the first bottle of the evening was already finished! I could not believe that I didn't get a chance to taste the 1986 Guigal La Landonne! It was obviously such a good wine that the early birds didn't want to leave anything for the rest of us...

I started with the 2004 Dagueneau Silex, from one of my favorite winemakers for white wines. The wine had a very nice, lightly mineral nose -interestingly almost like muscat grapes. The acidity was higher than I expected. Not what I expected from a Pouilly-Fume but I liked it.

Next was a German Riesling from the 1992 vintage, which I believe was a QbA and not a QmP since it was not designated as a spatlese, kabinett...etc. This had a hint of tropical fruit, not quite lychee but something else. Some people thought it had the nose of a pina colada, but I didn't quite get that...

A rare gem - 1997 Bollinger La Cote aux Enfants - appears in the line up tonight. This is a still, red wine from Pinot Noir and designated Coteaux Champenois, made only in exceptional vintages from a small vineyard plot and in small quantities (5,000 bottles in this vintage). I found it fruity and like a light Burgundy, without much body. It's really more of a novelty, and I'd much rather drink a nice Burgundy from the same vintage...

Staying with Pinot Noir, I move on to the 1997 Roumier Chambolle Musigny. This was a really nice bottle of wine, especially considering that this is only at the village level and not a 1er or grand cru. The nose was explosive and had lots of sweet fruit, smoked meats and bacon fat. Wonderful stuff.

Something I haven't had in a while is the best wine out of Lebanon. The 1998 Musar was just about my wine of the evening - with an explosively sweet nose, some minerals leading to a hint of blood, and some raspberries and leather. The wine had medium weight on the palate, which made it easier to drink. I was so glad that we had this bottle tonight, and I went back to it at the end of the evening.

Back to France with the 1995 Pegau Cuvee Reservee. I had this wine some years ago when it was much younger, and this time it has evolved a bit more but my enjoyment was far less than I remebered last time. The nose was a bit vegetal and primarily of green peppers. There was a little fruit but somehow I felt the wine was a bit off.

Pinot again, now with the 2004 Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Les Marchais. A nice wine to drink with a very sweet nose.

Finally I get to the 1998 Artadi Grandes Anades that I brought, which had been decanted for more than 2 1/2 hours. Once again the nose was explosive (do I use this term a little too much?) and full of sweet fruit at first. Later on I detected a hint of acetone, then stewed prunes. A little bit of heat damage, perhaps?

My last wine of the evening was the 1996 Arlot Romanee-Saint-Vivant. This was a grand cru Burgundy from a good vintage, and it showed as a typical Burgundy. The nose was farmy, with smoked meats and also plenty of sweet fruits. A nice way to round up the evening since I didn't think I could drink more... 

Our hostess Michelle provided us to plenty of delicious food for the evening, starting with yummy plates of roast pork (燒肉). The crispy skin and the caramelized fat were just wonderful. For starters we also had some salad, smoked salmon and also roast beef. Later we moved onto some roast duck (not the Chinese way), spaghetti alla Bolognese (which I did not partake in), delicious crab cakes, and finally a wonderful chicken curry. The last dish was my favorite, but I'm not sure it went very well with the wines... I had to drink a bit of water to cool off my burning tongue.

It was a very relaxing and enjoyable evening thanks to Michelle, and I look forward to our next gathering!


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