November 22, 2015

Le meilleur pigeonneau

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While lunching together last week, The Man in the White T-Shirt asked whether I'd be interested in joining him for lunch at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.  Apparently one of the chefs from La Bouitte - the newest three-star from the Guide Michelin 2015 for France - would be in town.  Since I am unlikely to travel to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville anytime soon, I figured it'd be a good idea to join this lunch.

As I was due to bring a few bottles of wine for dinner tonight, I decided that it would be prudent not to take the suggested wine pairing and stay sober.  I think it turned out to be a good idea...

Our amuse bouche was huître Gillardeau, voile d'eau de mer, perle yu yuzu, croustillant à la noisette.  We were instructed to take the thin hazelnut crisp first, then move on to the Gillardeau oyster - taking care to pop the yuzu (柚子) pearl in order to release the flavors.  Gotta say that the oyster was incredibly sweet and tasty.  A very good start, and my mouth was amused, indeed...

Caviar Alverta impérial, neige de petits pois, noisettes fraîches - the white sturgeon caviar from California sat on top of a mound of "snow" from petits pois peas, with pea shoots as garnish.

But there's more to this than meets the eye, with more caviar at the bottom of the mound, and a layer of sour cream in between.  Bits of crunchy hazelnuts, too.

Very interesting combination of the salinity from the caviar, the sweetness of peas, and the acidity from sour cream.

Filet de bar pané d'une fine feuille de pain croustillante, cœur de salade, vinaigrette - the sea bass came pan-fried not with a layer of crispy skin but a thin layer of crispy bread.  Served with an egg yolk vinaigrette that came with a flower petal.  The salad of lettuce heart came with a dressing which included very finely diced cubes of beef.

Pigeonneau rôti, ragoût sur toast, champignons, coulis de pousses d'épinards - O-M-G.  This alone was worth making to trek all the way to Shatin.  The squab was less than 20 days' old.  The breast sat on top of some potatoes, with a layer of spinach coulis in between.  A thin filet sat on top of the breast.

The execution was rosé - as it should have been - and was so, so, so, so tender...  It may, in fact, be better than what I feel is the best pigeon in Hong Kong.  How unfortunate it was that due to the young age of the bird, the size of its breast could not be any bigger...  And I was left lamentin I can't have it more often.

The ragoût made of the rest of the bird - including liver and some mushrooms - sat on top of a piece of "toast".  Then they put a thin layer of foie gras on top.  When the staff tell us that some of their customers preferred this part of the dish over the squab breast, it's not difficult to understand why.

I was left lamenting the fact that I would not be able to have this beautiful dish on a regular basis...  Sniff...

Lait dans tous ses états: coulis, meringue, sorbet, biscuits... - so we've got milk... and milk... and milk... made into various forms.  There's a sorbet, then a soft meringue/foam, then a layer of milk biscuit, topped with small meringues.  No surprise that this was very creamy...  The interesting thing was that Hello Kitty - who doesn't normally like desserts - liked it so much that she gobbled this up.  Very yummy.

Rissoles au safran des Hurtières - this traditional Savoie puff pastry shell was filled with saffron-flavored cream.  Pretty interesting... and it's been a while since I've had something with such strong saffron flavor.

This was such a perfect lunch for me... delicious enough to make me yearn for more, but not too much food so I can still be mobile and productive for the rest of the afternoon.  More importantly, I don't need to spend the next few hours trying to sober up for dinner!

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