December 13, 2013

Losing mojo

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It was supposed to be our last lunch with him.  There had been persistent rumors that Jeremy Evrard, our beloved mâitre d' at Caprice, would be leaving Hong Kong.  We had recently heard that Jeremy would be leaving at the end of the year, so we hurriedly booked a table at our beloved restaurant so we could see him one last time.

I was greeted at the door by a hostess who knew me by sight, which is always a nice touch.  Once I stepped foot in the restaurant, I saw Peter and was immediately relieved.  Another familiar face who could take care of us.  But there was no sign of Jeremy, the person we had come to see, and we were sad to learn that he was taking the day off.

The plan had been to do a cheese lunch, but with Jeremy MIA we eventually decided to stick with the set lunch and have cheese in lieu of dessert.  I do have to say, though, that there weren't many dishes on the set lunch menu that jumped out at me... and minutes later I would be accused of being a "copycat" by No Fork Use as I ordered exactly the same dishes as she did...

"Crispy puff pastry" with Mimolette powder and creamy jamón ibérico filling - not bad, but the éclair was not very crispy.  I had to chuckle when my chef friend at the table commented that it tasted like Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers...

Wild mushroom consommé, forestière ravioli and beetroot reduction - I ordered this with memories of the wonderful consommé that No Fork Use and I had at Amber.  Not exactly as I expected... as I expected multiple, smaller ravioli given the use of the plural form of the word.  The beetroot reduction was smeared on the bowl, and part of it blended with the consommé.

To be honest, the raviolo tasted really Chinese.  It's as if my mom made a dumpling (餃子) with pork, shiitake and other mushrooms, but mom's dumpling would have been a little softer.  The consommé had tons of intense, mushroom flavors and was slightly more heavily seasoned than the one at Amber.  Very nice, though.  My untrained palate wasn't able to pick up any beetroot, but maybe I was meant to have rubbed the raviolo with the reduction...

The kitchen sent out something unexpected, and we all thought the kitchen had made a mistake with our orders!  As much as we appreciated getting extra dishes from the kitchen, in reality this interfered with our plans today of having cheese...

Chilean seabass with carrots and Brussels sprouts fricassée - have to say that I'm not a fan.  These days I find Chilean seabass incredibly boring and bland, and the kitchen didn't do a whole lot to infuse it with flavors.  The steamed carrots and Brussels sprouts were OK, although I didn't think that the cumin-laced tomato purée tasted like curry fishballs like some of my dining companions...

Braised wild boar shoulder, taglierini pasta and seasonal vegetables - no surprise that 3 out of the 4 people at the table voted for this... the lone exception being the chef who knows where to get his own boar.  These were brought to us in Staub coccottes, then plated table-side.

But this was also a little disappointing.  Yes, braising had made the meat tender but it was simply too dry.  I wasn't expecting pork belly fattiness - there were actually cubes of lardon on top - but could they have done something to keep the moisture in?  The pearl onions were a nice touch, the croûtons were OK, and the pasta... about as expected from Caprice.

We were all pretty full thanks to the extra course, so the four of us asked for two cheese plates.  Of course the staff would be overly generous with the portions, knowing we are huge fans of their cheese cellar...  Here's a sample:

Anneau du Vic-Bilh - been a while since I had this goat's cheese.  Acidity not too strong here.


Brin d'Amour - ended up not touching it.

Époisses de Bourgogne - very ripe now, and salty as expected.

Fourme d'Ambert - didn't touch this, either, as I was staying away from les bleus today.

Vacheron Mont d'Or - oh so yummy...

Coulommiers fermier - nice and liquid.  Yum.

Comté - easily our favorite cheese here at Caprice.  Today we got a lot of it, and they looked like slices of bamboo shoots...  Nice with full flavors from aging, but not too salty.

Cabri Ariégeois - not as ripe as it could be, but we were happy to have asked for some.

Now I was really full, and that's despite having had a long time to digest.  It was good to be back at Caprice after such a long absence, but I think it sorely needs its new chef.  Good news is that the new chef is meant to arrive in Hong Kong tomorrow, so I look forward to coming back when he's all settled in.

Meanwhile, we must pay another visit and say goodbye to Jeremy, before it's too late.

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