Tonight I had the privilege of attending the first gala dinner organized by the Michelin Guide and Robert Parker Wine Advocate for the launch of the 2017 Hong Kong Macau Red Guide. Word came two months ago that a dinner had been organized to feature 7 chefs - 6 of them with a collective 20 Michelin stars at their restaurants - with decent wine pairing to boot (now that RPWA is in partnership with Michelin Guides).
The price of MOP 5,750, while not exactly eye-popping, was certain to make people think twice - at least for mere mortals like myself. It wasn't the most expensive dinner I've ever attended and paid for, but it certainly came in at above average. I considered the concept of a dinner where each chef only contributes one dish - one chance to impress the diners - then the fact that each chef would be serving a large quantity of the dish at the same time, and decided that the cost (together with the time required to travel to/from Macau) was above my comfort level. The chance of not performing up to my (admittedly high) expectations was too great. So I was happy to sit this one out.
Then I received an unexpected email from the PR team at City of Dreams, with an invitation to attend the gala dinner at Studio City. I would have to leave the office early and take the ferry across to Macau, but this wasn't an invitation one turns down lightly. So I happy accepted their kind invitation, took Friday afternoon off, went home to change into my penguin outfit, and boarded the ferry.
We were told that there were upwards of 600 guests coming for dinner tonight. I was glad to see a few familiar faces, but we were all toning down our expectations for the food, given that each chef would have to churn out some 600 servings of his dish... and none of these chefs - with the possible exception of Chef Tam from Jade Dragon (譽瓏軒) - would have the experience to do something like that. Some of these chefs would serve less than 1/10 of the covers in one evening at his restaurant.
The gazpacho itself was a combination of sour, sweet, savory, and spicy.
Some of my friends at the dinner who know of my dietary preferences wondered whether I would eat the tuna, and the answer is YES. I ate the fatty tuna belly (大トロ), because I wasn't gonna ask the hosts to change the ingredient for me if a change wasn't offered. But I did find the shreds of yellow pickled radish (沢庵) - wrapped inside a slice of what I thought was plain tuna back (赤身) - curious.
I was talking with my friend Maxime when the dish was served to me, although the server very kindly left the glass cloche covering the dish and left me the small pitcher containing the broth on the side. It would be quite some time before I finally sat down and got to the dish, and although the temperature had cooled, I must say that the marbled beef was cooked perfectly. The beef tendon was pretty good, too. While the broth was on the salty side for my taste, the spices used turned out to be a real interesting combination with the slices of white truffle shaved on top. To be honest, was the white truffle really necessary for the dish, or was it there just to make it seem more luxe? Well... you're looking at somebody who would buy a whole white truffle at a restaurant and go crazy by shaving it over just about everything, so... SHAVE AWAY, BABY!!!
Sensation of Infiniment Chocolat Pure Origine Brésil, Plantation Paineiras, by Pierre Hermé - Pierre Hermé has no Michelin stars, but it doesn't make him any less of a rockstar to many of us. I finally had the chance to make his acquaintance, after having been a fan for quite a long time.
1888 Quinta do Vallado ABF Old Tawny Port - very sweet, very concentrated on the palate, with plenty of nutty flavors as well as raisins, along with a little preserved tangerine peel (陳皮).