It was finally my turn to host a tasting for the MNSC boys, and it took us a real long time to come up with a date that worked for everyone. I was racking my brain to come up with a venue, when I remembered that it's been a while since I was last at Duddell's (都爹利會館). Given the ownership, of all the Chinese restaurants in town, you would think that this place would have a sommelier who knows how to handle fine wine, right?
So I got Pineapple to set me up, and arranged to drop the wines off earlier in the day with the team at the restaurant. With full confidence (which, as it turned out, was in fact misplaced) in the team, I showed them the order of the different wine flights but left them to decide on when the wines should be opened, and whether the wines should be decanted.
Given I'm not real familiar with the strengths of the kitchen here, I was more than happy when Pineapple asked the chef to put something together.
Duddell's appetizer combination (都爹利拼盆):
the ones at Tien Heung Lau (天香樓), because they were so plump and so satisfying to bite into. Yum.
Fish maw broth with chicken (古法雞絲魚肚羹) - a very good substitute for those who don't eat shark's fin soup. The fish maw has been cut into strips, and the shredded chicken was fairly tender. Thankfully the chef went easy on the starch, although the broth was a little saltier than I had expected.
The other crime that the kitchen committed was to overcook the beef. Wagyu is meant to be marbled and tender, so imagine how disappointed I was when the most premium dish on the menu ended up being the worst dish. It was just tough and I couldn't taste any of the marbled fat. There was really no excuse for this execution fail.
a few tiny eggs of caviar on top of dim sum items, dabbing on a bit of gold foil, black truffle, or even matsutake (松茸) mushroom.
Very often, these additions don't actually have much substance, as there was so little of the ingredient that it didn't add much to the actual flavor profile. Tonight the black truffle was clearly visible, and I understand that the chef only added a little in order not to overwhelm the delicate flavors of crab meat and egg white. But then why add it in at all? I thought the whole point of truffles (black or white) was to just hit the diner with the amazing fragrance? You either go big and pack a punch, or there's no point.
Petit fours (美點薈萃)
1970 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - obviously mature, with lots of Chinese licorice, very sweet, lots of caramel and sugary, but also savory and mineral notes, some salted plum. Big on the attack. Sooooo beautiful.
Slightly disappointed that a couple of bottles didn't show well, but very happy that I got to serve the pair of Cuvée Speciales together. While the blind tasting performance of the gang was pretty consistent (and dismal) across the board at the beginning, I think Curry finally breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn't getting shafted again at one of my tastings...
I do think, though, that we should put an end to our fully blind tastings after more than 10 years. The performance tonight - especially during the first flight - should leave no doubt as to our abilities in this department.