May 18, 2010

A little tongue n cheek

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I finally got a chance to check out Otto e Mezzo Bombana tonight.  Umberto is one of Hong Kong's first "celebrity chefs", and many of us were sad to see the old Toscana close down, and eagerly waited for his next venture.  The Drawing Room opened some time ago, but doesn't really count in my book.  Now with his name displayed at the restaurant's entrance, this is the place to come and get a taste of his cooking.

We were here for a celebratory dinner of sorts, so I brought out a little something special.  I've been cellaring the 1996 Gaja Sperss for a little more than 10 years, and this seemed like a good occasion to pop its extra-long cork.  Lots of fruit right from the start, with a little mint, a hint of floral and some forest notes.  Very sweet on the nose, and it just kept on giving... Full-bodied, elegant and smooth on the palate, but gained weight after aeration and became a little tart on the finish.  The alcohol level became pretty apparent after about 2 hours.  A very beautiful wine, which can only get better with another 10 years of aging.

For a first visit, I wanted to stick to something simple and classic, so I deliberately stayed away from their tasting menu.  Instead I chose to start with one of the classics from Toscana - pappardelle: lamb ragout, porcini mushroom, rosemary.  This was as wonderful as I remembered from the old days... the lamb ragout with mushrooms, highlighted with some rosemary to bring out another layer of flavors without being overpowering.  I could have this all day...

I saw beef tongue and beef cheek: braised in red wine with orange and spices compote on the menu and knew instantly that this was what I needed.  I love beef tongue, and can't find enough restaurants in the city that serve it.  Mom loved her braised beef cheek at Robuchon last night, so it was perfect that this should be on the menu.  I got two little cubes of tongue and a slightly bigger block of cheek, but I was definitely expecting more!  The tongue was very tender, and I liked the thick cut.  The cheek was as tender as could be, with the collagen giving that nice and smooth mouthfeel.  The mash was decent, but how could it possibly measure up to what I had last night at Robuchon?  It just wasn't as creamy and smooth...I could still feel the graininess from the potato.

I had my eye on pina colada: passionfruit cream, rum granite and coconut sandwich, served with lemon tart... as I wanted something cold and refreshing.  Interesting how this combination was kinda similar to something else I had at Caprice a few weeks ago.  The combination in the glass was not bad, but I thought the coconut ice cream sandwich was more interesting.  I also liked the lemon tart, with the acidity cutting down some of the fatty food I had earlier.

My friends and I were pretty happy with our meals, and I made a mental note to try the rack of lamb - a recommendation from a fellow blogger which I passed on to one of my friends.  I'm actually coming back in 4 days!

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