October 27, 2017

Writing the dissenting opinion

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A few weeks ago I received a kind invitation to a media tasting of a "collaboration" between Chef Agustin Balbi of HAKU and Chef Matsuo Hideaki (松尾英明) of Kashiwaya (柏屋).  Being a "freebie preview", it's completely understandable that this had been scheduled in the middle of the afternoon in order not to take up valuable revenue-generating seats during regular business hours.  These types of events have always been a pain in the backside for people like myself who have a regular day job, but given that this particular event was on a Friday afternoon and I was assured that "this is worth it", I somewhat begrudgingly got out of the office and crossed the harbor for this "lunner"...

October 24, 2017

Plagiarism and social media part 2: jfkhndwine/jamescavs is a FRAUD

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After finding out a couple of years ago that a person by the name of Jo Soo-Tang - a marketing professional and socialite who is currently the Chair of the Board of the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation - plagiarized my pictures and posted them as her own on Instagram, and subsequently discovering that this photo I took of the Bimmah Sinkhole in Oman has literally been stolen by hundreds of websites, I was alerted to another case of plagiarism involving my work.

Photo credit: @jfkhndwine on Instagram / James Michael Cavanaugh
Here he is.  Someone who goes by the handle of @jfkhndwine (changed from @itstheoenophile after I reported him) on Instagram.  I don't know who this person is.  I don't even know if this is actually a picture of him.  This is James Michael Cavanaugh (@jamescavs), a spoiled brat who apparently holds an American diplomatic passport.  What I do know is that he has been stealing my pictures and posting them as his own on Instagram under the aforementioned handle.  And he has stolen a lot of them.

I was alerted to this by one of my followers on Instagram, whose own picture has been stolen and used by this character.  Interesting, this person has actually blocked me on Instagram to prevent me from finding out what he has been doing, and I needed others to send me screen captures of my work on his Instagram.

This was the first picture I received.  Let's be frank... there ain't too many bottles of 1940 Latour floating around on the market, which was what caused the kind Instagram follower to take notice.  Sure enough, this is my picture of the bottle I opened for dad's birthday on September 25, 2011 at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Taipei

Eventually I logged myself out of Instagram so I could see every post he has made.  There are a total of 127 posts, and I counted 25 of them as being pictures I have taken.  That's 20% of his posts!  STOLEN FROM ME!  And doing a quick search using his Instagram handle reveals many other reported cases of pictures being stolen by him.

So what the fuck was going on?  Who is this guy?  Does he even drink wine?  Why is he going around stealing everyone's pictures?  Just so he can get lots of followers and 'likes'?!  So he can pretend he's living the good life while in reality he's sucking on Two Buck Chuck?  This is the sad state of social media, where people like him are pretending to have a life by stealing the work of others and passing the experiences off as their own.  I'm sure there are plenty of others.  What a bunch of sad fuckers!

My message to this guy?  FUCK YOU AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON!

So I'm filing a formal complaint to Instagram, and I'm not gonna stop until his account is deactivated, and we find out who this person is and make sure he can never steal another picture from someone else again.  Please help me in that effort.

(Update: I reported the violation to Instagram and the 25 pics were removed within the hour.  And the fucker has changed his handle.  I wish Instagram would just de-activate this account for good!

Here are the rest of the pictures that he stole, along with links to the blog posts where the pictures were originally posted:

October 23, 2017

Snake and reptile season starts

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The Hungry Tourist is back in town, and I made a booking at my favorite private dining space a couple of months ago.  As we have now passed Mid-Autumn Festival and the weather has actually cooled down in the last couple of weeks, I checked with the chef about the availability of our favorite snake soup.  When a positive response came back, I did a little "happy dance" on the inside...  This was the start of game season, then!

Bamboo piths stuffed with bird's nest (官燕釀竹笙) - I've only had this dish once before and really enjoyed it, as the superior broth - thickened with corn starch - left its beautiful fragrance in my mouth.  I did think, though, that the flavors of the bamboo piths were slightly pungent and unpleasant.

October 20, 2017

A happy introduction

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As unbelievable as it sounds, I still have a number of friends who have never been to Neighborhood.  So once again, a couple of us regulars were tasked with initiating a couple of newbies.  We were surprised to find The Man in White T-shirt in the house, but happy that we could spend a little time with him on a busy evening.

Needless to say, we didn't do any ordering and just waited for the kitchen to start sending us our food...

200 day aged rump / Hokkaido melon - the beef from Rangers Valley was marinated in classic Chiuchow masterstock (滷水), and rubbed with black truffles.  The chunks of Hokkaido Yubari melon (夕張メロン) were very sweet.

October 17, 2017

Meet the Fockers: VIP birthday

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This would be the first time that dad is spending his birthday in Hong Kong, and I have the rare pleasure of taking him out to a nice restaurant.  While a number of restaurants in town could have done a good job for the occasion, in the end I decided to go back to Caprice and let Hairy Legs and team take care of us.

As usual, mom would not be able to take in a whole set menu, so I asked for the à la carte menu and explained each dish to mom, gauging her interest for each dish while trying to make sure that mom gets in the new experiences that would bring her so much joy.  In the end we decided to order 3 appetizers for her, while Hairy Legs put a menu together for us after I requested that he not send us too much food...

Victor offered us a little bubbly to help kick start the evening...

1995 Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires - warmed up a little in glass and showed a nice, toasty nose, and also citrusy.  Ripe on the palate and slightly bitter on the finish.

Then, a few nibbles...

Egg sabayon with mushroom and sabayon

October 16, 2017

Meet the Fockers: Cantonese fine dining family meal

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It's been too long since the Parental Units' last stay in Hong Kong, and I have many, many places I would love to take them to.  A nice Cantonese dinner is a given, and I decided to use this occasion to return to Lung King Heen (龍景軒) and visit my sommelier friend Bernard Chan.  In spite of my past misgivings about the cuisine here, I remain hopeful that one day I will finish a meal here and tell myself that, YES, this was truly a 3-star experience.

Needing to balance out the dietary restrictions of two moms who are sensitive to MSG, spice, and excessive salt with my own needs, I tried the best I could to walk a fine line while ordering.  They had literally just switched to a new menu today, so a couple of the dishes would be seasonal.

But before I had a chance to warm my seat, Bernard came over to offer me a little pour of bubbly that they are currently serving by the glass. I know he really like this one, and I'm very thankful that he saved me a little before they ran out of stock...

2008 R. Pouillon Chemin du Bois, dégorgée en 3ème trimestre 2016 - a lovely blanc de noirs with a nose that seemed fairy mature, nice and interesting and full of character.  Good acidity at the beginning, but palate was very short when it warmed up in the glass.

Tonight's amuse bouche was a cuttlefish ball with crispy almonds (杏香墨魚丸).  The deep-fried ball - surprisingly with pieces of cartilage inside - was covered in crispy, toasted slices of almonds and served on a hollowed cucumber ring.  Pretty tasty.

October 14, 2017

Meet the Fockers: long dim sum lunch

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The Parental Units are here for a few days, and we decided to have lunch with Hello Kitty's extended family. Trying to find a venue for Saturday lunch on a Friday afternoon is no easy task, and I probably called around 7 or 8 Cantonese restaurants from Tsim Sha Tsui to Hung Hom before getting ourselves a table at Hoi King Heen (海景軒) at the InterContinental Grand Staford Hong Kong.  It has been a long, long time since my one and only meal there, so I was looking forward to trying out some of Chef Leung's creations.

But when I was browsing through the menu after our arrival, I noticed that a few signature dishes - including braised winter melon balls stuffed with black olives mustard (欖菜玉珠) - needed to be ordered a day in advance.  I did ask the staff with to check with the kitchen, but the answer was still no... they simply didn't have enough ingredients on hand.  Oh well...

Vegetarian steamed rice flour rolls (羅漢上素腸粉) -  this was alright, and worked well for the old fogeys who had dietary restrictions.

Pan-fried fish head with garlic and soya sauce (家鄉生煎魚咀) - I ordered this for dad and didn't expect many others to want to eat this.  How wrong I was!  Not bad, actually... and I think dad was pretty happy sucking out the goodies.

Shrimp dumplings with fungus (羊肚耳香茜餃) - pretty tasty with Chinese celery, morels, and crunchy wood ear.

Shrimp dumplings 'har gau" (海景蝦餃皇) - in comparison, this seemed unremarkable... and I could taste the MSG.

Baked barbecued pork buns (香焗叉燒餐包) - very, very good.  The Parental Units have been away from Hong Kong for about a decade, and this was the first time for them to taste char siu bao (叉燒包) done with a "Mexican bun (墨西哥包)".

Glutinous rice dumplings filled with peanuts and chicken (狀元茶粿) - didn't really taste much peanuts, just minced meat and crunchy pickled radish.

Pan-fried rice flour rolls with X.O sauce and bean sprouts (X.O醬銀芽煎腸粉) - this was alright.

Pork dumplings with matsutake (松茸菌燒賣) - the siu mai (燒賣) wasn't much to write home about, and I definitely had lowered my expectations regarding the limp slice of matsutake (松茸) on top.

Wok-fried assorted mushroom with lotus root and lily bulb (蓮藕百合炒菇菌) - this was always gonna be a hit with mom, and it turns out there were other fans, too.  Together with the crunchy lily bulb, carrots, lotus roots, and sugar snaps were maitake (舞茸), oyster mushrooms, and straw mushrooms - all in a ginger sauce.

Crispy chicken with black truffle and black fungus (黑松露脆皮雞) - this, too, was a surprise.  The slices of black truffle were OK, and I expected them to lose their fragrance after cooking.  But the chicken was really, really good.  The skin was crispy as advertised, the meat was tender and moist, and I didn't find it too salty the way I find Lung King Heen (龍景軒)'s chicken.  Even Hello Kitty - who normally stays away from tasteless chickens - thought this was good.  The crunchy wood ear at the bottom was nice, too.

Fried rice with egg whiter and conpoy (瑤柱蛋白炒飯) - nicely done at high heat. 

Sweetened peanut and wheat cream (花生麥米粥) - I'd never had this dessert before, so I decided to order up a bowl and try it out.  The soup base was pretty clear and not too sweet, with peanuts which were a lot more crunchy than I had expected - they weren't mushy at all.  The glutinous rice grains had been boiled until they were falling apart, while the millet groats (麥米) also provided a crunchy texture.  Overall, though, this isn't something I'm a fan of.

This was a long and relaxing lunch, and a pretty good start to our own version of Meet the Fockers.

October 13, 2017

Pizza fight

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So... the last few weeks have seen a few "battles" from The Great Pizza Bake Off  - where a few chefs and food writers pair up and pitch their special pizza recipes against each other.  The actually cooking is then done by the team at Mercato, and diners "vote" for them by ordering the one which appeals to them the most.

And now it was Da Jam's turn as he goes up against Chef Butterfingers Satoru Mukogawa, who was filmed dropping half his pizza while presenting it at the restaurant on Monday.  I wasn't able to join the publicity festivities on Monday, so I decided to rope in Fergie and try it out for lunch today.

Of course the two of us would order both pizzas and decide for ourselves which one tasted better.  We know both of the creators behind the pies, so there should be no favoritism here...

Bacon jam pizza : bacon jam, farm egg, wild mushrooms - BUT OF COURSE it has jam on it!!!  This recipe is from a guy named DA JAM, after all...

October 10, 2017

Assholes for neighbors

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A friend is back home for a few days and misses Cantonese food dearly.  I have, unfortunately, been stuffing my face a little too much lately... so I wasn't able to spend more time with her.  But I did promise to take her to Tasting Court (天一閣) for some nice Cantonese, so we grabbed a few accomplices and got ourselves a table, tailoring the menu a little.

Deep-fried pork fat stuffed with prawn (金錢蝦餅) - the chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves gave off a lovely fragrance to go with the prawns wrapped inside deep-fried caul fat.  I also liked the pickled cucumbers.

October 7, 2017

Occupy Amber: Prima Donna In Da Haus

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It's Hello Kitty's birthday, and once again I asked her to choose the restaurant for her birthday dinner.  Having gotten word that Amber has put together their "Amber Classics Menu" in advance of their renovation, she decided that we should go and check it out.  After all, it's been a while since we were last able to taste Chef Richard Ekkebus' signature Hokkaido sea urchin - thanks to it being taken off the menu last May.

We arrived a little late, but were greeted warmly by the staff.  Once seated we were shown the menus, and John brought the wine list so I could choose something before our red wine was ready.  Imagine my surprise, then, when Hello Kitty informed me that she fancied the seasonal degustation menu instead.  So... I've come all this way back here and we won't even have the one dish that I miss so dearly...

We started with a glass of Alfred Gratien Brut, whose nose very caramelized, quite mineral.  Very full on the palate, with very high acidity and a grippy finish.  Definitely showing the meunier side.

October 5, 2017

A sticky holiday

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It has been waaay too long since we met up with Birdiegolf, so when we found ourselves with not one but two days off during the week, it seemed like the right time to have a meal together.  Hidden (秀殿) was suggested as the venue, as our friends have not yet had the pleasure of dining there.

Once seated, I immediately inquired about the curry rice that The Man in White T-shirt was photographed with recently.  I was saddened to be told that it was not available.  I would have to settle for something else, then...

Fruit tomato (フルーツトマト) - these were more ripe than the Amera (アメーラトマト) we had on our last visit.

Fried cheese bites (一口チーズフライ) - it still amazes me how much we enjoy these deep-fried pieces of Camembert... And yes, we ordered a second serving.  Again.

October 3, 2017

The flowery Chairman

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We promised to take Mikacina for a Cantonese meal while she's in town (she's already had another Cantonese meal before tonight), and we decided to take her to The Chairman (大班樓).  Neither The Great One nor I have been there in a while, so this was a good opportunity for a refresher.  Since The Great One made the arrangements through Danny, we knew we would be well taken care of.

We started with some cold-brewed Oolong (烏龍) tea, which had amazing floral notes as if they came with osmanthus (桂花) - the way some tea merchants like to combine them.  Just as Danny said, this was almost a little sweet on the palate.

Pickled mid-summer ginger root (大班樓子薑)

Sweet vinegar pickled tomatoes (醃漬蕃茄)

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