October 20, 2016

Burgers and wine, episode 2: Tuscan Lambo

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It's been almost exactly 3 months since my friend Uwe Opocensky left his position as Executive Chef of the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong to pursue other interests.  A few of us were lucky enough to be in the Krug Room for his last service, but I haven't seen him since then.  As has been reported in a couple of local media outlets, he's gone over to "flip burgers" for a local restaurant group.  While I was invited to taste some of his new creations earlier, I wanted to wait till Uwe was off the wagon again before catching up with him.

So we agreed to meet up at the new Beef and Liberty in Lan Kwai Fong.  I had read a few posts about the new bar snacks that he had put together for the joint, but the main event was the new burger.  As usual, I was responsible for fishing out a bottle from my cellar, and this wouldn't be the first time that I sat down to have a burger over a nice bottle of wine.

No sooner had I sat down and pour ourselves some wine than the food started to arrive...

Chicken liver parfait - chicken liver paste with crispy shallots on top, maple syrup, spread over toasted sourdough.  Can't say no to liver spread...

Crispy olives - these Nocellara olives were stuffed with pistachio, Parmesan, herbs, and deep-fried in Japanese panko (パン粉).  I didn't have the heart to tell Uwe that I don't actually like olives... but I ate them anyway.  Pretty decent for olives.

Vegetable crudités - seasonal vegetables in garlic aioli and smoked paprika.  This is basically a shrunk-down version of the garden pot salad that Uwe used to serve at the Mandarin.

Sausage roll - pork mince and fennel compote in puff pastry.  I looooove sausage rolls, and I've eaten a couple hundred of these things from SSUX SBUX over the last few years.  This was certainly a more refined version, but the flavors were a little too restrained for my taste.  I really loved the little pickles on the side, though.

Lambo - this was it.  The pièce de résistance.  The burger that I had come to taste.  The lamb shoulder has been slow-roasted for 8 hours, before being shredded and pan-fried to add the crispy texture.  Seasoned with plenty of cumin - which I think is an unbeatable combination.  Dressed in hummus, with a cumin, mint, and parsley coleslaw, and garnished with pickled breakfast radish and jalapeño.

I.FUCKING.LOVED.THIS.  I love lamb, and as I said earlier, once you put enough cumin on roasted lamb - with that crispy texture - I would just be chomping down hard.  The hummus also seemed to work well with the lamb - not too surprising, I guess.  The only thing that threw me off a little was the kick from the jalapeño, but I didn't mind it too much.

Damn.  I want another one.
Sweet potato fries - I can't resist sweet potato fries, and I ended up taking down most of this...

I was also treated to another burger that was still in development, and was asked not to write about it.  It was delicious, but the flavors were a little bold.  Thankfully I shared it with Uwe, because I don't think I could have had two burgers by myself!

I asked Uwe to think about what wines he wanted to drink, and I was a little surprised that he came back asking for Super Tuscans.  Well, ask and ye shall receive!  I just happened to have a couple of these babies within (relatively) easy reach in my overstuffed cellar...

1997 Ornellaia - double-decanted 30 minutes prior to serving.  Very ripe but not jammy, more like a little stewed prunes.  Minty and a little eucalyptus, sweet fruit, a little smoky and woody.  Still plenty of concentration on the palate.  Drinking beautifully right now.

2000 Sassicaia - decanted immediately prior to serving.  Ripe but not at the same level as the Ornellaia.  Smoky notes.  A little more tannic (probably a decanting error), but acidity on the palate was significantly higher.

This was a pretty good evening.  I had brought the Sassicaia as a backup in case the Ornellaia turned out corked, and when we finished the first bottle, I asked Uwe whether he'd like to drink the second one anyway.  Well... this was the night before Typhoon Haima hit, and we both knew that tomorrow would be a day off for us.  So... 2 bottles between the two of us, over a simple meal of burgers, turned out to be perfect.  Many thanks to Uwe for the treat.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Now that's a cool way to enjoy chicken liver.


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