August 9, 2008

The best suckling pig ever

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Last night I had dinner with a group of friends at the Kimberley Chinese Restaurant (君怡閣) in the Kimberley Hotel. The venue was chosen because I had been dearly missing the stuffed suckling pig, and also because we could get a room with TV to watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics while we dined.

We brought our own selections of wines as is customary, but this time some of the friends actually brought their own wine glasses. We counted 9 1/2 bottles of wine, and decided not to open all of them as there were only 7 of us...

We started with the 1999 Moet and Chandon while a couple of us waited for the others to arrive. Very nice and easy to drink. As the rest of the crowd arrived the bottle count increased.

There was the Jacques Selosse Brut Initiale NV, a very nice blanc de blancs Champagne. I had never heard of this producer before, but was very pleasantly surprised by the quality. The wine tasted yeasty and a bit sweet on the palate, but at the same time very crisp. The nose was a little toasty, and reminds me of aged Champagne that I love so much.

We moved on to the next pair of whites, and what a pair they made!  The 2003 Comtes Lafon Meursault Charmes 1er Cru had the sweet and ripe nose of Japanese pear, with straw, buttery corn and hints of minerals and melon. A beautiful wine. However, it was blown away by its elder sibling...

The 2001 Comtes Lafon Meursault Perrieres 1er Cru had a knockout, explosive sweet nose, with tons of caramel, marshmellow and a hint of sweet corn. Despite the nose being so sweet, the wine was surprisingly acidic on the palate. What an amazing wine!

I brought the last white wine - the 1999 Sine Qua Non Tarantella - for Elen as she always loved the wines from Sine Qua Non. This interesting blend of Chardonnay, Roussanne and Viognier always produces interesting results. With the first pour, the Chardonnay was more evident and you get loads of minerals, toasty oak, as well as honey and some of the floral notes from the Viognier. Later on beeswax and sweet corn emerged, and as the wine developed further the Viognier became dominant, and it was floral all the way. The color was now golden and I must say that I really enjoyed this wine, and it's a much better showing than the last bottle I had 4 years ago.

The last pair of reds was also my contribution. The first bottle was more of a curiosity as the wine is no longer being made, and I'm pretty sure many people never knew of its existence. The 1991 Kistler Cabernet Sauvignon turned out to be much, much better than any of us had expected. In a blind tasting many of us would have marked it as a Left Bank Bordeaux, and probably a Pauillac! The nose was classic Pauillac with lots of smoke and a bit of grilled meats. There was no hint of the concentrated sweet fruit that would give it away as a Californian, except of the minty nose which would have pegged it as a Cabernet Sauvignon. Given the bottle age, the tannins have now become very smooth and yummy. This could have just been an off-vintage Bordeaux classed growth. I think most of the crowd really enjoyed this one.

The second red was the 2002 Red Car Sugar Daddy - which I opened around 7pm and only got to taste after more than 3 hours. It was without question a Californian Syrah - the nose was totally sweet and sugary, like alcoholic Ribena as I like to say. There were tons of minerals, again to the point of smelling like blood, and lots of sweet strawberries. Even after being put into a decanter, there was very little softening of its massive concentration. Not sure that this is the style of wine that this group enjoys, so maybe I should refrain from similar types of wines in the future...

Some words about the was excellent as usual and I again left the restaurant well stuffed. We had two starters: the braised pomelo skin (柚皮) and the deep-fried fish skin (炸魚皮). Both were excellent, although I missed the shrimp roe in the first and rather enjoyed the added spiciness of the second. After the prawn and fresh fruit salad (大蝦鮮果沙律), the pig entrail soup with salted vegetable and bitter melon (鹹菜涼瓜豬肚粉腸) was really enjoyable, with some black pepper and spices to pick up the taste. Then there was garoupa done two ways (大海中斑兩味): stir-fried with vegetables (菜元炒斑球) and deep-fried head and tail (鹽燒頭腩). This was also pretty yummy, especially the deep-fried portions.

After cleansing our palates with the veggies (上湯炆大芥菜), it was time for the piece de resistance - the stuffed roast suckling pig (金陵全豬烤金苗). OH MY GOD it was good! The piglet today had only a thin layer of fat underneath the skin, which made the whole experience even better than the last time. I drizzle sauce over the pig and the sticky rice stuffed inside, and I was instantly in heaven. I had seconds. Then I couldn't put another piece of food in my mouth.

For the rest of the evening, I felt like the guy in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life who would explode if he ate even just a wafer-thin mint. By the end of the evening, I was well stuffed and very, very drunk...and when I started falling asleep at the table, I knew it was my exit cue.


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