March 15, 2018

Eating with chefs: that Cronut guy

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It's been almost 8 years since I first met Dominique Ansel in Hong Kong.  At the time he was still in the kitchen of Daniel, and we showed him some classic Cantonese cooking before going off to do a little partying.  After he started his own bakery, I managed to catch up with him a few years ago in New York - after lining up for hours for his famous Cronut.  It was good to see him before he expanded his empire to include Tokyo, London, and L.A.

He's back in town for a couple of days after a long absence, so The Great One and I rounded up a few friends, and took him for more classic Cantonese.  I passed up the opportunity to have the suckling pig with him at Seventh Son (家全七福) yesterday, but that was because I was already taking him to my favorite Cantonese private kitchen tonight.

But disaster struck before dinner even started.  I had recently switched to shooting with a Sony A9 from my old Canon 6D, and the battery life on Sony just sucks.  While I normally have a habit of bringing a spare battery, for some reason it wasn't in my bag today.  So when I turned on my camera to find that the battery was at 7%, I knew I was gonna have to shoot with my iPhone tonight...

Pan-fried medallions with birds' nest (琵琶燕窩餅) - I told Dominique that these were "savory madeleines", which weren't far from the truth.  These were made with egg white, crab meat, birds' nest, and some finely diced ham and spring onions.  The texture was fluffy as usual, but tonight they seemed more wet and greasy than usual.

March 8, 2018

A tale of two livers

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Following an epic wine dinner last year, a few of us decided to get together to catch up.  After rescheduling a few times due to conflicts (it's surprising how tough it is for 4 people to find a date for dinner...) we finally met up tonight at Neighborhood.  I couldn't believe that I hadn't been back here in almost 2 months!

I didn't pre-order anything, and figured I would just pick a few items off the menu.  For the first time since I started coming here - and I've been here a few times - I discovered that I had pretty much tried every single item listed on the menu.  And this was in spite of The Man in White T-shirt frequently rotating the offerings based on seasonal ingredients.  So... for the first time, it would seem that there were no new dishes for me to try.

Thankfully, The Man in White T-shirt did have a couple of extra tricks up his sleeve...

Fried padron peppers / dried flounder salt - I've had padron peppers here plenty of times, but tonight instead of having a cheese dip, these came with bits of dried flounder.  Pretty interesting.  I still didn't get a spicy one, though...

March 4, 2018

Bday in Macau: no more Bordier

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After a reasonable night's sleep for once, we got up and went out for our morning rounds.  Knowing what was to come once we sat down for lunch, we wanted just enough nourishment to keep the hunger pangs at bay.  Margaret's Café e Nata is just a stone's throw away from the Grand Lisboa Macau, and seemed like the perfect place for us.

It had started to rain this morning, and we were pretty lucky to get ourselves seats at one of the tables under the awning.  We were pretty disciplined and decided to take just one pasteis each, washed down with coffee.

March 3, 2018

Bday in Macau: suckling pig maki

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A few hours after we kicked off the weekend with a delicious lunch, and after the ladies had finished their spa session, it was time for dinner.  For this we would pay a visit to Chef Tam Kwok Fung (譚國峰) at Jade Dragon (譽瓏軒) in the City of Dreams.  The restaurant very kindly seated the four of us in one of the private rooms - in fact the same one that I was in on my last two visits.

I had pre-ordered a couple of items with Chef Tam, and picked out a couple of dishes from the menu, and then left the rest up to him.  One is usually not disappointed when such arrangements are made by a top chef.

First to arrive were two amuses bouches:

Corn spherification - with pop rocks on top.

Pan-fried radish cake (香煎蘿蔔糕) - with a sakura shrimp (桜海老) on the side.

Bday in Macau: dim sum menagerie, part 2

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It's My Birdbrain Favorite Cousin's birthday, and I decided to organize a weekend of wine and dine for her.  We would revisit 3 of the best restaurants in Macau and get pampered the whole time.  And to make it easy on ourselves, we decided to stay at the Grand Lisboa Macau for the night - my third stay this year...

Our first stop would be at The 8 (8餐廳) in the Grand Lisboa.  Hello Kitty had suggested that we come here for dim sum so that we could order a particular item for My Favorite Cousin.  I was, of course, only too happy to oblige...

Given that there were only 3 of us today, I figured we wouldn't need to be tucked away in a private room... and I would finally have a chance to sit in the main dining room.  But as usual Nigel was too kind to me, and we ended up in a private room anyway.

I ordered mostly dim sum today as I wanted to try out a few more items, but first we started with the usual two amuse bouche:

Stir-fried minced chicken with pine nuts and capsicum in crispy bird's nest

Abalone with yuzu jelly

Steamed "Shanghainese" dumplings with chicken essence and vintage dried tangerine peel (老陳皮雞汁小籠包) - I've always loved this both for the delicate wrapper and for the smoky flavors coming from the aged tangerine peel.  Slurp.

March 1, 2018

Pizza fight: sausage edition

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So... there are a few more rounds of chefs vs. food media battles in the The Great Pizza Bake Off.  I supported a friend during one of those rounds last year, and this time around I'm here to support another old friend.

Believe it or not, I showed up at Mercato Hong Kong two days in a row for this.  I had dinner here last night, but chose to show my support for Gourmet KC by only ordering the pizza from his team.  It was good enough that I roped in Fergie for another round at lunch today - which was exactly what I did last year...

So the current battle is between Olivier Elzer - formerly of Seasons by Olivier E., L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and Pierre - and the team from Fancook Productions (飯局製作公司).  Coincidentally, both teams used Cantonese preserved sausages on their pizzas, so this should prove interesting!

Yun cheung pizza, by Fancook Productions - with foie gras sausage (鵝膶腸, actually made with goose liver), marinated Japanese Nanko plum (南高梅), preserved pork belly (臘肉), and Mozzarella.  This was so good that I had to come back for another round.  I looooove liver sausage, and I already have a stash of the same goose liver sausage at home.  The flavors are heavy, but nicely balanced by the sweetness and acidity of the marinated plums.  It also helped that there wasn't a whole lot of cheese on the pizza, so the crust stayed crispy and crunchy.


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