March 22, 2007

The best Italian restaurant in Hong Kong

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That was a pretty provocative title, but yes, after Monday's dinner we all agreed that Toscana is certainly the best restaurant in town if one was looking for refined Italian. The occasion was our monthly MNSC gathering and I was the host for the evening. I had asked that Chef Bombana create something to match the wines I was bringing, and regardless of whether that goal was attained, the menu was simply fantastic.

We started with lobster on leeks, avocados, new potatoes and black truffle. This was pretty good and the black truffle complemented the lobster, but many of us left the new potatoes in anticipation of a heavy meal.

Next was Jerusalem artichoke cream, black truffle and organic egg yolk cooked in extra virgin olive oil. This was simply divine...the half-cooked yolk sat on top of the green artichoke cream that was so delicious...and enhanced again by shavings of black truffle. Some of us would have liked a second serving of this...

The tagliolini with green asparagus and black truffle was equally yummy, cooked to perfection and the finely chopped black truffle was just so full of flavor. Would have wanted a second serving of this, too...

The Barbarie duck on mushroom risotto and pumpkin cream was really nice. The small cubes of duck, with its gamey and slightly fatty flavors, worked well with the mushroom and the sweet pumpkin. It was the only course without black truffles.

We had wagyu beef tenderloin, ragout of radicchio and foie gras with black truffle as our main course. This was done very well, but by this time most of us were pretty stuffed.

Dessert was a delicious classic Italian style parfait in pistachio sauce. The parfait had ground pine nuts (or was it pistachio?) and was very interesting. I think most of us didn't finish it...

Now onto the wines I served for the evening. The theme was 92 horizontal, old world vs new world.

1995 Tattinger Comte de Champagne - bought this from the restaurant so that they would waive the corkage. Pretty delicious but we only had half the bottle before moving onto the reds.

1992 Philip Togni - this was drinking very nicely without too much aeration, with a big nose of fruit. Interesting the wine died fairly quickly in the glass, but each fresh pour from decanter brought out the incredible nose.

1992 Leoville Barton - I was expected this to be a dud with no fruit whatsoever. I was pleasantly surprised although I can't say this was the best wine of the evening. At one point we were talking about "sugar water" in the nose

1992 Mouton Rothschild - this was almost the biggest surprise of the evening, that a wine from a famously weak vintage would be drinking as well as it did. Lots of coffee and classic pencil lead in the nose.

1992 Colgin Herb Lamb Vineyard - I always expected this to be the wine of the evening, and it did not disappoint. A huge nose, lots of sweet fruit, a blockbuster of a wine.

1992 Penfolds Grange - how could this wine be anything other than a Grange? It's got the classic knockout punch nose that you get from just about every bottle of Grange...tons of sweet red fruit, almost cotton candy...

1992 Guigal La Mouline - I think this was the biggest surprise for the night. No one expected the '92 La Mouline to drink this beautifully and everyone put high scores on it. For the price this is a very good La Mouline!

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