July 19, 2013

Bling-bling Krug

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Besides my love of food, there is a reason why the Growing Boy keeps growing - my group of kind and generous friends, who for reasons unknown to me seem to enjoy dining with me.  Some of them are generous enough to buy me dinner for one reason or another, and birthday (regardless of how belated) is as good a reason as any.  This was meant to be a quiet weekend, and up till Thursday morning I had absolutely no plans whatsoever.  However I've learned long ago that things can change very quickly.

In spite of his unflattering moniker, BM has always been a kind and considerate person at heart - when you peel away the layers.  For as long as I can remember, I have never failed to receive a greeting from him on my birthday.  As we weren't able to get together last month, and owing to him wishing to settle a bet with some other mutual friends, he very kindly invited us to dinner at the Krug Room the very first evening after it re-opened following its renovation.

A few weeks ago Chef Uwe Opocensky had chastised me on Twitter about my eating spree, after I had told him that I was "on a diet" and didn't want to eat too much.  Well, tonight I was definitely going to be eating too much, and I blame BM and Uwe for that entirely...

My first reaction when I walked into the new Krug Room was "HOLY BLING!"  It's now meant to resemble a luxury railroad dining car, and in place of the roses in tubes above our heads we now have crystal chandeliers... BM jokingly said that the place now reminds him of my beloved Caprice, and I think he's got a point there...

As is customary for this particular package - and there are several options on wine - we start with flutes of Krug Grande Cuvée upon arrival.  It's my go-to Champagne and I've always enjoyed this particular non-vintage blend, but not tonight.  Tonight I could barely smell anything, other than noticing that it has a yeasty, heady mousse.  For some reason they decided to flood the room with a floral fragrance, not unlike what one finds in many hotels and stores nowadays.  Well, unfortunately this turned me off before dinner even started.  Do I just have really bad luck when it comes to Krug?  Why must the beautiful nose of these wines be killed by some offending fragrance?  And unlike my last experience, this time I couldn't simply move to another part of the room to escape the fragrance.  It was EVERYWHERE...

Soon we were hit with a couple of nibbles to start us off...

Cep Gruyere - I know the menu board says "Gruyère", but did they not mean "gougères"?  Anyway, this was full of shroomy flavors from the ceps.  Yum.

Branches - this beautiful floral arrangement included bread sticks that resembled branches.  Pretty chewy and delicious, either on its own or...

...with this very yummy herb dip.

Oyster - the Shigoku oyster was served with apple/lemon gelée and apple sorbet.  Not such a fan, as I thought it was way too cold and a tad too sour for my taste.

Hand - a playful nibble I tried out a few months ago.  A tiny lump of caviar sits on top of a melba toast, stuck to one's hand with a dollop of sour cream.  Lick in one mouthful.

Clam - Japanese razor clam on a bed of potato (and pea?) cream, garnished with leeks, dill and flowers.  The razor clam was one of the best I've had in recent memory, although it's pretty hard to top the beautiful creation from Philippe Rochat

Chicken - I heard about this from a couple of friends who attended Krug Room Echoes, the series of popup previews staged recently.  The skin of a whole chicken was roasted into a delicious piece of crispy "chip", and diners are encouraged to use the accompanying scissors to cut off bits for themselves.  Well… I could have just grabbed the whole thing and nibbled on it by myself… and in fact probably ended up polishing off easily 40-50% of it…

2000 Krug - nose a little toasty.  Acidity higher here.

Vivaldi - Krug Room Echoes was staged in conjunction with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and apparently they thought Krug reminded them of Vivaldi's Le quattro stagioni.  So instead of artwork such as Warhol's Marilyn Monroe like last time, we are now eating music.

I can't quite remember which was which, so I'm gonna assume that the pumpkin purée at the top right corner - garnished with poppy seeds - is Spring.  The pea mash garnished with mint leaves is Summer.  The bell pepper purée at bottom left is Fall; and the empty branches garnished with caviar has got to be Winter.

The tree trunk and branches is cauliflower and truffle purée; and the soil is made with bread crumbs and shredded black truffle.  The "cherry" is actually a very smooth foie gras pâté encased in gelée.  Another masterpiece from Uwe.

Afternoon tea - we were presented with two levels of nibbles much like one gets with afternoon tea, except the treats were mostly savory.  There were 6 different items on offer:

Pea marshmallow - didn't like the texture of this… way too soft and mushy.

Pumpkin marshmallow - slightly firmer but still too mushy.

Beet root marshmallow - the best texture out of the three, and the flavors were more prominent, but the ones I had back in May still had better texture.

Caviar and crab croque monsieur - pretty interesting.

Seaweed and oyster macaron - with oyster "ganache" that was full of metallic flavors.

Foie gras and chocolate opéra - pretty good.

Grapes - they may look like grapes, but were actually chunks of ripe and sweet melon.  Served with very thin slices of jamón ibérico, although I thought they looked and tasted like prosciutto

Scallop - French diver scallop, with chicken consommé and shredded truffle.  As he has done in the past, Uwe poured sea water on dry ice so that we could smell the ocean.

Of course the scallop itself was very nicely done.

Summer - the summer soup had cucumber panna cotta at the bottom, which partially dissolved once the tomato essence was poured on top.  Served with basil, perilla leaf and a flower that tasted somewhat like garlic…

Morocco - we were first presented with a plate of gold foil… and Uwe apologized as I had told him about my disdain for chefs using this in their dishes.

The sea bass came wrapped in cellophane and had been cooked with dates, figs, pistachios, almonds, saffron, asparagus and cauliflower.  Definitely very Middle Eastern flavors, like a tagine or even reminds me of the halwa I had in Oman.

We were then instructed to transport the sea bass out of the bag and onto the plates, mixing with the ingredients sitting on top of the gold foil.  Very delicious and wonderfully fragrant.

Krug Rosé
Kiev - this ain't like any chicken Kiev I've ever had…  As expected this has been deconstructed into cubes of chicken, chicken liver, herbs, bread crumbs and garlic powder.

Chicken jus was poured into the bowl, and we were asked to use our wooden spoon to mix the ingredients as much as possible.  Wonderfully delicious and fun to eat at the same time.

Lawn - the beef from Britain was dry-aged for 84 days.  Delicious, and served with foie gras mousse and deep-fried strands of potato on the side.

Cheese cake - the little lump of Babybel was actually a very yummy cheesecake.

Together with the crumble, it really was just like eating a piece of cheesecake!

The Brick - finally we get our chocolate fix… A piece of opéra served with coconut sorbet, raspberry sorbet, sponge cake, marinated cherries, a pair of pliers made from chocolate… all served on a chocolate "brick".  The cherries were really delicious, and so was the brick… which was basically a layer of chocolate-covered corn flakes.  Oh and there were some chocolate-coated coffee beans, too.

This was an absolutely wonderful meal… but way, way too much food.  We ended up packing the chocolate bricks because it would have been such a waste to chuck them, and the pliers were given to those who have kiddies at home.

A big "Thank You" to BM for his generosity.  And yes, I got killed by Uwe again…  Will I ever be able to have his food without bursting?!

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