March 12, 2009

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Tonight's dinner has been a long time in the making. It all started last year at the Acker pre-auction tasting, when two of my friends met each other. My colleague who isn't a wine geek remarked to the other friend how enjoyable Chateau Latour was - a statement I think many people would agree with. Upon hearing this comment however, my wine geek friend retorted that - I'm paraphrasing here - "Drinking Bordeaux wines are like driving a Mercedez. It's a nice car, but you know what you're getting into. Burgundies are like Ferraris. You get a lot more excitement out of them."

With that, the invisible gauntlet was thrown. Someone would need to show that a Burgundy can indeed blow away Chateau Latour. And so it was that a dinner was set up for tonight, where I was to bring a bottle of Chateau Latour (from 1999) and my wine geek friend would find a Burgundy that would blow my colleague away. The venue for this showdown was the Legends Concept, the private kitchen in Wanchai we visit from time to time.

A couple of hours before dinner, however, my collegue informed me that he needed to bail due to some pressing engagements. Initially I was at a bit of a loss: the dinner was originally set up for his benefit, so the showdown need not take place without him. But I was loathe to cancel the reservation with the private kitchen, as I know the owners and it wouldn't be nice to cancel at the last minute. So the remaining two of us decided to have dinner by ourselves anyway, and it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable evening!

We drank the bottle of Burgundy that was to be the "Latour killer" - 2004 Dujac Clos Saint Denis. From the very first pour after popping the cork, this wine just had a big, beautiful nose. Lots of game and smoked meats, with heavy minerals. With some aeration we started getting sweet fruit like plum, plus bacon fat. Then some incense smoke. Medium bodied with a short finish, it was all over about 2 hours after opening when I sensed that the finish had turned a bit acidic. A very enjoyable wine, and once again showed that 2004 Burgundies are drinking beautifully right now.

In terms of food, I started with the pan fried duck liver with caramelized apple. It's been a while since I found this dish done just the way I like it - a thick hunk of liver browned slightly on each side, leaving it soft, wobbly and creamy. I was a happy camper at this point.

Cream of broccoli with cheese - I usually find the soups here pretty ho-hum, and tonight was no exception. The soft cubes of Emmental in the soup did provide an interesting texture, though...

Baked scallop and pea sprouts - the whole scallop was baked inside a round, flaky pastry together with pea sprouts (豆苗). Pretty nice except for the use of rosemary, which always overpowers the natural flavors and leaves me wondering why it was used at all... A dab of the honey mustard on the side made things kinda interesting.

Lemon-lime sorbet - a nice, zesty palate cleanser which necessitated the use of water as a cleanser afterwards, so that the red Burgundy doesn't taste completely awful following the sorbet...

French confit of duck - I learned long ago that if duck confit was offered on the menu here, one should definitely take it. The leg sat on a bed of diced mushrooms and was garnished with radish sprouts. The first cut into the leg yielded crispy skin and a yummy layer of fat... It's all good! Initially I wondered why the meat was so juicy - almost too juicy for a confit - but as I got closer to the bone it became slightly more dry. In any case it was really enjoyable to have this dish again.

We finished with a nice chocolate mousse, and I needed a cup of coffee to help digest the food...especially after the confit!

All I can say is that my colleague really missed out on the Ferrari today...

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