May 31, 2009

Shanghai surprise

Pin It

A bunch of local foodies gathered tonight at a Shanghainese private kitchen. We had never been to Gong Guan (公舘), but it looked interesting enough. I don't usually go to Chinese private kitchens, but it's fun to do it once in a while with a group of people.

First we popped open a bottle of white. The 2005 Bannockburn Chardonnay was not bad at all. Nose of lemon citrus, honey and butter. A little ripe on the palate with a "hot" and long, spicy finish. Quite a big wine on the palate.

We began with a series of cold starters, as is traditional for a Shanghainese meal. These were all rolled out at the same time, making our task of tasting them a bit tougher.

Jellyfish with zucchini in sesame seed oil - the jellyfish came in thick cuts, making it slightly chewier than normal. The combination with strips of zucchini was interesting, as it's not a traditional ingredient in Shanghainese cuisine.

Eggplant with pork floss (豬香茄子) - this is another interesting combination. The sauce was sweet and there were sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Pretty decent.

Cucumber in sesame paste (麻醬黃瓜) - at first glance this was nothing but some strips of cucumber that came with some regular sesame paste. But there's actually some honey mustard mixed in with the sesame paste, giving it an extra dimension and a slight kick.

Cold tofu (涼拌豆腐) - this is the traditional block of tofu that is drenche in soy sauce and topped with bonito shavings and spring onions. Pretty ho-hum.

Stir-fried gluten with mushrooms (烤麩) - the classic Shanghainese starter, but the taste of star anise is a bit more prominent here.

Before we had a chance to go through all the starters, the staff put a bowl of soup in front of us. This was tofu and fish maw soup, with egg drop and spring onions as garnish. Everything was diced up and the fish maw (花膠) makes for an interesting texture.

As there were still lots of food on the table, we asked that the kitchen slow down a bit so we could have enough time to properly enjoy our food. This was met with the unfortunate response in the negative. As this was Sunday night, the chef wanted to finish cooking all the dishes so that s/he could go home! So the lesson is...don't come on a Sunday, and start your dinner earlier!

I brought my last bottle of 2005 Guigal La Doriane. I wanted to give this wine one last try, but it still wasn't what I wanted out of a Condrieu. Color was golden and indicated advanced age, but the wine is less than 4 years old. Nose of straw, paraffin, a bit burnt and clearly oxidized. A little spicy and ripe on the palate, but surprisingly not sweet and a little metallic. Waaaay too ripe for a Viognier. What happened to the crispy freshness, and beautiful floral notes I was supposed to get out of this wine?

The traditional ham in honey (蜜汁火腿) came with a twist. Instead of the ham being soaked in a puddle of honey-based sauce, it was the deep-fried tofu skin that had a coating of osmanthus honey. Not bad.

The steamed fresh abalone sat on top of a block of radish, with a generous sprinkling of dried scallops. The usual chewy texture applies for the abalone, but the crunchy dried scallops made it even more interesting. And I really liked the pairing with radish...the flavor was light.

Sweet and sour chicken with Chinese crullers was absolutely divine, and my favorite dish of the evening. We were thinking that the chicken was local and free range, and it was drenched in this wonderful sweet and sour sauce made from Chinkiang vinegar (鎮江醋). This is the vinegar that I grew up on, and it is so fragrant. Totally awesome!

The deep-fried yellow croaker was pretty disappointing. The fish was sliced and diced into little cubes and then deep-fried. It came with lots of deep-fried chillies, garlic and some water bamboo (茭白筍). The only flavors really came from the garnish, and they actually had the gall to put a plate of sauce on the side that was based on fish sauce...

The 2003 Kirwan was a surprise. Nose of lovely tangerine on top of classic smoky and brett notes. The wine is still young but the tannins are already very silky on the tongue.

The braised fatty layered pork came with preserved plums and Chinese hawthorn (山楂). This was really soft and melts in your mouth. Lovely combination of sweetness and the acidity from the plum and hawthorn. Very nice.

Stir-fried mung bean flat noodles (粉皮) was really good, and came with mushrooms, dried shrimps, ham, bamboo shoots and sesame. Love the soy sauce flavoring and the texture.

Stir-fried Chinese cabbage with wolfberries and bamboo tips was a nice way to finish. Very refreshing and palate-cleansing.

The dessert was glutinous rice balls with fermented rice and coix seed. The soup was flavored with ginger sauce and the traditional osmanthus sauce. Kinda different.

This was a really enjoyable dinner. Other than the yellow croaker, most of the dishes were very, very good with a few clear winners. I look forward to coming back with another group of friends...

May 30, 2009

Acker Hong Kong IV: pricing gets silly

Pin It

I stopped by the Acker auction today for a few hours, and sat through about half the lots. Contrary to the last couple of auctions, I decided not to show up until after lunch, and also didn't stay till the end. Quite a few friends had decided not to show up this time, so I didn't have much of an incentive to hang around.

In view of the results from recent auctions at other houses, it appears that bargains were no longer to be had. The hammer prices before buyer's premium were already more than what one can get from reputable merchants in London. So I went to the auction more to observe the action and to keep my finger on the pulse of the market.

The room was noticeably emptier than previous auctions. I did arrive towards the end of lunch so that may be one reason, but the reserved tables were not full and the back was virtually empty.

The action was slow. John was running behind schedule as usual, as he tried to work the room to ensure that the lots received every bid out there. The addition of internet bidding made a lot of difference, as many lots were pushed up by bidders not in the room, and there were plenty of times when an internet bid came up "on the hammer" and bidding continued. 

Prices went the way many of us expected, with very few bargains to be found. By my estimate most lots sold for above the low estimate, with many changing hands near or above the high estimate. Irrational bidding - spurred on by ego - has returned to the room. When wines not considered ultra-rare and desirable sell for double of the low estimate (or more), it makes you wonder.

There were no superlots this time. The highest-priced lot was 6-bottles of 1985 Richebourg from Henri Jayer, who is being described in the Chinese press as the "wine god of Burgundy". No doubt the Japanese comic Les Gouttes de Dieu (神の雫) had a big hand in this...

I didn't stay till the end of the auction, as it was taking way too long to finish more than 1,100 lots and I had other commitments. Having failed in several attempts to bid on small lots of good Burgundies, I had to be content with one small lot from a birth year vintage that I bought just above the high estimate... I guess I didn't want to walk away empty-handed...

May 29, 2009

A Spanish evening

Pin It

It's Friday and I'm drawing a blank on where to go for dinner. I told my friends that I would come up with some ideas, but by early afternoon I still had nothing. I discussed with my friend and we decided to continue with the Spanish theme of our last couple of meals. Tapeo was full, I was told. I called up Uno Mas, which had just been reviewed by the South China Morning Post. Of course they were full, too...on the Friday after the review came out.

As a last resort, I called Olé. Yes, they could accomodate us right away. And what did I say to that? Olé! of course... We were seated at a small table by the door, which turned out to be the only table free for the evening. Lucky us!

We started with a 2007 white from Marqués de Cáceres. Made from Viura, the wine was a bit minerally, oaky, and smelled even a little of cheese mold.

Of course we would order a string of tapas, and the first one that showed up was boquerones en vinagre. The anchovies were marinated in vinegar and topped with lots of yummy garlic. Not bad.

Croquetas de bacalao has always been one of my favorites. Always soft and creamy inside and nice and crispy outside.

The salpicón de mariscos was excellent. Clams, calamari and shrimps were chopped up and mixed up red and green peppers, onions and drizzled in olive oil. Fresh and wonderful.

The highlight of the evening was surely the gambas al ajillo. The bowl came with shrimps buried in hot, bubbling olive oil. The shrimps were fresh and delicious. The oil was something else entirely. The olive oil was infused with the flavors of shrimps, garlic and chilli peppers, making it pure nectar in my world. I kept scooping up spoonfuls of this oil so I could soak it up with bread. I would have happily given up eating the rest of the dishes just to finish drinking the oil...

Pimientos rellenos de bacalao is another favorite of mine. Once you cut open the pepper, all the melted cheese and bacalao comes out and mixes with the garlic and pepper sauce. Yummy yummy.

We pop open the 1998 Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin Combe-du-Dessus, and it was beautiful as always. Minty nose with grilled meats, smoke, bacon and other smoked meats, chocolate, a bit of forest and sweet fruit.

A plate of jamón de bellota "JJJJJ" was delicious. The restaurant had just broken out a new leg, and it was fresh and moist. You can always count of these guys for good jamon

The conchinillo asad a la Segoviana was awesome. This was just about the best suckling pig I could find outside of a Chinese restaurant. The meat was incredibly moist, falling off the bones as I poked it with my knife and fork. The crispy skin and the layer of fat underneath were heavenly. I was happy.

The manager offered us an after-meal drink, and I chose the Pedro Ximenez. Wonderfully sweet and grapey. A perfect ending to a perfect meal.

We walked over to Tapeo for our second round. These guys were still fully loaded close to 11pm on a Friday night, and we congratulated Piero on their success.

We ordered some churros for dessert, and I greedily scooped up the yummy chocolate sauce and coated the churros. At this moment, nothing beats the combination of fried dough, sugar and hot chocolate sauce...except the addition of a glass of Nectar Pedro Ximenez!

Finally satiated, I bid my friends goodnight and headed home to dream land...

May 28, 2009

Some good ol' classic French

Pin It

It's the season to try out restaurants I haven't been to, and tonight I went to Green Mouse. It's an odd name for a restaurant, and I'm not quite sure of the origins. Well...the decor is a bit green and the chef has a squeaky voice...

We sat down and chatted while the waiter brought us the menu. I used the singular form because, for the three of us, we were initially given just one menu. This soon became two, but I was still puzzled by their refusal to give each one of us a menu, when there's clearly a whole stack of them by the door!

We were presented with a pork and mushroom terrine as the amuse bouche.

I decided to pass on the seafood specials as well as the foie gras that the chef is famous for, and instead start with venison tartare. I've always liked venison, but was a little hesitant because I wondered how this gamey meat would taste in its raw form. The venison came in cubes like the salmon and tuna tartare commonly seen, instead of beaten like steak tartare. Thankfully the taste wasn't too heavy after the chef mixed in some spices.

I saw duck confit on the menu and immediately went for it. The leg that came before me surprised me a bit. There was a lot of fat here, and while the skin was still crispy and yummy, it wasn't as "dry" and crunchy as I had pictured in my mind. But hey, that meant the meat was moist so it's a good thing. I also liked the numerous condiments on the side - especially the caramelized shallots and truffled scallop potatoes.

I again went for something classic when it came to dessert - tarte tatin. As this wasn't a big restaurant with a dessert cart, they produced an individual portion instead of giving me a slice of a larger tarte. The apple came in chunky cubes instead of really thin slices, so overall the tarte was wet and became a bit soggy. I would have much preferred the thin and crispy type, but I understand the difficulty of doing that at a place like this.

I brought a bottle of 2001 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Rochioli Riverblock. This was a little disappointing. Nose was metallic with iron rust, mint, a bit of caramel and some red fruits. Finish was pretty short.

I think overall my meal was a pretty satisfying experience. The impact of having Green Mouse right across the street from Chez Patrick was pretty evident, as the former remained open with customers while the latter was dark and closed by the time we left at 10pm. I'll be sure to return and try out the foie gras offerings another day...

May 22, 2009

Say cheese...

Pin It

I'm back at Caprice tonight for a cheese fest. I had promised a group of friends that I would introduce them to the awesome cheese cellar kept by Jeremy, the restaurant's maître d'. And so it was that on this Friday night, we convened in the private room located behind the kitchen to forget about our troubles for a few hours...

Once again the table has been beautifully decked out, with milk bottles, steel milk cans, antique butter churner and even a cow bell! Some of the candles on the table were placed inside hollow halves of Mimolette. This only added to the excitement and anticipation.

We would have two flights of four cheeses, similar to last time, but would not have a main course in between. From the experience at my last cheese dinner, just the cheese and bread would be enough sustenance. The size of the cheese is deceptive as they are very, very rich...

First flight:
Brillat-Savarin - this triple-cream Brie with 45% fat is a little acidic on its own, but still very delicious. Jeremy decided to spread a bit of the cream of Saint Félicien on top, using the light saltiness to neutralize the acidity. A little nutty in flavor and the finish becomes sweet with the blanc de blancs Champagne.

NV De Sousa Brut Réserve - the blanc de blancs has lots of smooth little bubbles, a slightly yeasty nose and surprisingly low acidity despite being 100% Chardonnay.

Picodon - from the Rhône valley. Jeremy dunked the wheels of this goat cheese in olive oil for three days with thyme and juniper berries. The taste of the olive oil is absolutely yummy, and the cheese is only slightly salty.

2003 L'Esprit de Chevalier Blanc - ripe nose of minerals, a bit nutty, citrus, chalky and gravel. The ripeness of the vintage shows through, especially in the alcohol...

Munster - we were presented with a bowl of boiled grenaille potatoes, and the cheese is placed on top to let it melt. Cumin seeds have been sprinkled on top of the cheese. The saltiness of the cheese made the new potatoes taste especially sweet.

2005 Albert Mann Pinot Gris Hengst - very fragrant nose of sweet grass, apricot, minerals and gravel. Ripe and sweet on the palate. Very classic pairing with the cheese.

Tomme de Brebis Corse Bio - this time the organic cheese was paired with black cherry jam. Reasonably mild tonight with a hint of mold. We were given a sniff of the cheese rind, which smelled strongly of ammonia as it isn't washed during the aging process.

Harvey's Bristol Cream - nutty and creamy as one would expect.

Second flight:
Anneau du Vic-Bihl - this goat cheese from the Pyrénées is very runny, with nutty flavors and high acidity.

2007 Pierre-Bise Savennières Roche aux Moines - now in its third vintage, the wine showed nose of sweet grass, a little citrus, orange rind and minerals.

Gruyère Suisse Etivaz 2007 - Although it has its own AOC, Etivaz is essentially Gruyère made the way it was in the old days. Our wheel was made 2 years ago, and had really strong grassy and farmy flavors with a nutty after taste. This was really, really yummy.

2006 André Perret Condrieu Chéry - nose of lychee, orange, apricot, osmanthus...incredibly floral. Ripe with a slightly bitter finish.

Petit Fiancé - like Munster, it's washed with goat's milk during affinage. This is sooo rich...and a bit salty. The rind is pretty bitter. Production is very small and it's from the Pyrénées.

2004 Auguste Clape Cornas Renaissance - made from younger vines, this wine was a perfect partner for the cheese, with a bit of sweet grass on the nose.

Bleu de Termignon - made in the small commune of Termignon in the départment of Savoie in the Rhône-Alpes region, the production is extremely small with only 4 producers and less than 60 cows. This blue cheese is not made with the penicillium mold as is done with other blues. This cheese was really strong, really rich and really salty...smells of walnut and stinky sweat. As someone remarked this cheese really "blew my head off."

2006 Lunzer Golser Strohwein Vin de Paille Cabernet Sauvignon - this is the second time that Jeremy has served me this wine with cheese. This is really liquid strawberry jam with some orange marmalade, figs and straw. The combination turned out to be really amazing! Sipping the wine with a bit of the blue in the mouth, I swirled the wine around the cheese on my tongue, waiting as the two gradually blended together. The strong, salty taste of the blue really highlighted the strawberry flavors of the wine. It was really, really awesome and definitely eclipsed the Mimolette/Hoegaarden combination from last time.

By now I was stuffed with all the wonderful cheese and lots of delicious bread, but I wasn't gonna pass up dessert and neither were my friends. While they enjoyed the wild strawberry millefeuille, I decided to try out the salted caramel opéra, arabica coffee, dried fruits biscotti and cappuccino ice cream. This was really wonderful and all my favorite elements just worked so well together. And I even managed to put away one of those yummy yuzu macarons...

A wonderful evening made possible thanks to Jeremy's passion for cheese...

The incredible shrinking sandwich

Pin It

I met up with a couple of friends for lunch today because I wanted to introduce them to the Reuben sandwich at Dakota Prime. We all had the Reuben at Main St. Deli a few weeks ago, and I wanted them to be able to compare the very different styles between the two.

I haven't been back since the very public spat between the owner and the former chef came out, and I've been worried that things would be changing for the worse. There have been comments that the portions have shrunk since then, which would be a real pity since their lunch was always a very good deal.

We all ordered the Reuben, and lo and behold the thing did get smaller. I was pretty shocked when I saw it. There was a noticeable difference between what's on my plate today and what I had a couple of months ago. So the rumors are true...

Fortunately they still use the same thick-cut corned beef, which is succulent with lots of flavor. But they burnt the cheese and the sauce tasted a bit funny today... which made the whole experience slightly less enjoyable. But it's still a pretty decent Reuben.

They were apparently doing a 10% off promotion, so we got a little break. But I must say that the lunch here is no longer as good of a deal as it used to be...

May 21, 2009

Bordeaux X Italian

Pin It

I met up with a couple of friends for dinner tonight to drink a few bottles of wine. I booked a table for us at Tuscany by H since it's been a while since I was last there, and it's nice to have Italian for a change.

Harlan himself was there, and came over to make a few suggestions for us regarding the menu. He's affable as usual, and I'm always happy to let him point us in the right direction. He's doing a four-course "Cheer Up Menu" which is pretty good value, and since he's happy for us to substitute his specials, we were happy to take him up on it.

I brought along a bottle of 1994 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. It's not often that I get to drink an old, dry Bordeaux white, so I was kinda looking forward to it. Oxidized nose of pear, honey, a hint of chalk, butter, toasty oak and even pollen. Once it opened up the nose was very ripe and sweet, but the wine had a long, acidic finish.

36-month aged Parma ham, French black and yellow organic tomatoes, Burrata cheese and truffle honey - Harlan showed us the organic tomatoes before we ordered, and they were certainly yummy. The Burrata was also milky and good, with just a touch of black peper seasoning. The little bit of truffle honey on the side was simply divine.

My friend was extremely generous tonight, having brought two bottles of '82 Bordeaux. Initially I was told that they would be from lesser chateaux, and the first bottle was the 1982 Gazin. This was not the Gazin from Pomerol, but the one with the same name from Graves. The nose was very smoky, with classic brett, black pepper, a bit of sweet grass and - I'm very serious - smelly armpits... A medium-bodied wine with a short finish. Definitely a bit over the hill so it's good that the bottle was opened and drunk.

The tagliatelle with Italian wild boar ragout and black pepper crusted pecorino cheese was excellent. I remembered the awesome wild boar ragout pasta from my last visit, and there was no way I was gonna miss out on this! It was very, very yummy...but I do have to say that I preferred the bowl from last time as the pancetta just took it one notch higher. 

The second red of the evening was the 1982 Pichon Lalande. This was totally unexpected, and was the second bottle of this wine that I would drink in the space of 6 weeks, and a much better bottle than the last. Classic nose of red fruits, smoke and sweet grass. A beautiful wine.

My tomato crumble crusted sea bass, smoked bacon and leek ragout, caviar sauce was beautiful. The thick chunk of fish came with a tomato and pesto crust that one friend remarked was like the fish with crunchy bean crust (豆酥魚) that we'd find in Chinese cuisine. The texture of the fish was slightly drier and chewier than I expected, which I felt was a nice surprise. The combination of the fragrant bacon, leeks and caviar in an acidic sauce was the perfect partner for the sea bass. Bravo!

Initially the dessert surprise didn't look like much. But the mint and chocolate ice cream was made with fresh mint leaves, and was sooo refreshing. A very nice touch.

I'm glad I went back to the restaurant after a prolonged absence. The quality of the food was certainly high, and I reminded myself that my next visit should come sooner rather than later.

May 19, 2009

My new global top 10, 2009 revision

Pin It

It's been a year and a half since I decided to put out my own "Top 10" list, and I've dined out quite a bit since then. So it is only fair that I revise the list to account for the new dining experiences as well as changing tastes. Of course, this list is purely subjective and I have only had one meal at some of the restaurants, so it's not really "fair". But hey, this is how I'm calling it...

1. El Bulli (Roses, Spain) - 3-star
I don't think I will come across another restaurant that can knock El Bulli from its top spot anytime soon. My birthday dinner at the No. 1 restaurant in the world (according to some, anyway) was simply unforgettable. Last visited June 2006.

2. Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville (Crissier, Switzerland) - 3-star
My lunch at Philippe Rochat's restaurant was simply mind-blowing. Everything was just so nicely done, with lots of Asian elements which actually worked really well. I have to thank my friend B for the wonderful treat. Last visited October 2008.

3. per se (New York, USA) - 3-star
I always thought per se would stay in the No. 2 spot for a long time, but I think Rochat just barely edges it out. It was still one of the best meals I have ever had, though, and the whole ambiance was lovely. Last visited March 2006.

4. Michael Mina (San Francisco, USA) - 2-star
My solo dining experience here was absolutely perfect, with a great wine-pairing to boot. Every single dish was superbly executed, and the service was really impressive. Last visited December 2008.

5. Pierre Gagnaire (Paris, France) - 3-star
Yes, I actually ranked a Michelin 2-star restaurant in the US above a 3-star in Paris! Don't get me wrong, I really loved my lunch at Pierre Gagnaire. It's just that my dinner at Michael Mina was a teeny bit better. As always, Pierre's desserts are truly amazing and he's another chef that can get it right when it comes to fusion. Last visited April 2009.

6. French Laundry (Yountville, USA) - 3-star
As I mentioned in the last ranking, my dining experience here actually wasn't as good as per se, even though many of the dishes were the same. But it was still a really good meal. Last visited March 2006.

7. Kyubey (Tokyo, Japan) - no longer starred as of 2009
This is still my favorite sushi restaurant in the world, as I haven't had a chance to go back to Japan and try out some others. I've never walked out of here without a big smile on my face. Last visited August 2007.

8. Caprice (Hong Kong, China) - promoted to 3 stars Nov 2009
This has now become my favorite French restaurant in Hong Kong. This is perhaps a bit unfair because, after getting to know the chef, the maitre d' and the sommelier, it is now easier than ever to get them to create something special for me. Last visited May 2009.

9. La Tour d'Argent (Paris, France) - 1-star
I haven't been back for a few years and it'll probably be a while before I have another meal here, but my two previous meals here have both been unforgettable. The classic cuisine, the enormous wine cellar and the history of the place all come together to make it difficult for me not to include it in my top 10. Last visited August 2002.

10. Yung's Club (Hong Kong, China) - 1-star for the main restaurant Yung Kee
This was the best Chinese meal I've had in a long time, where just about every dish was very, very well done. The steamed fish was especially awesome. Of course it was also the most expensive Chinese meal I've had in a while, too... Last visited January 2009.

I'm sure that many people would disagree with at least part (if not all) of my rankings, but as someone once said in a movie: "Opinions are like a**holes - everybody's got one." This is mine and I hope you respect it...

May 17, 2009

The mountain is still priceless - for now

Pin It

To celebrate their ruby anniversary with the extended family, my parents took us back to Da Shan Wu Jia (大山無價), the restaurant where we celebrated my birthday last year. As it's been almost a year since my last visit, I was curious to see how much things have changed.

As it turns out, just about nothing has changed. The menu was almost exactly the same as last June. Perhaps it was because both visits were during the same season, so we get served the same seasonal items... My enthusiasm waned a little.

We started with a small cube of red wine jelly, acting as amuse bouche. I made quick work of this.

The peanut tofu topped with wolfberry (枸杞), pinenuts, a dab of wasabi and served with bamboo shoot on the side. This time the tofu was a bit more like Chinese boiled peanuts than I remembered, with some Japanese bonito sauce for flavoring. The summer bamboo shoot was still nice and sweet, but the little bit of aiyu (愛玉) jelly underneath was new.

Once again we had the poached scallop in burdock (牛蒡) soup, garnished with fresh daylily (金針) and tomato, with a sprinkle of paprika. The scallop was really delicious, being fresh and tender and cooked perfectly. The thick burdock soup, with just a little amount of kick, was good enough for everyone to have seconds.

The glass was filled with assorted sashimi such as amaebi (甘エビ) and a mackerel/herring roe (鯖/数の子) combination on top. Underneath the fish was a salad of red and yellow capsicum, cucumber, lily bulb, lettuce and strips of cuttlefish. The onion vinegar for the salad was again very delicious.

A small shot glass of black plum vinegar came to clear our palate.

A bamboo basket came bearing some steamed pork ribs in rice powder with fermented red bean paste (紅粬粉蒸肉), topped with scallions , fresh corn with some taro. This was different from last time and pretty delicious. We were also served some nice pu er (普洱) tea to go along with the pork。

The Yilan gaozha (宜蘭高渣) was as yummy as last time. The deep-fried tofu-like jelly made from mushroom and chicken stock had lots of flavor, nicely complemented by the veggie puree. The addition of celery made it particularly fragrant.

A stack of grilled tiger prawns came out like last time, with grilled eggplant, green beans, pumpkin and deep-fried sweet potato on the side. There was a sprinkle of salt and pepper on top of the prawns, helping to bring out the natural sweetness.

Iced osmanthus vinegar came for some more palate cleansing.

A bowl of mushroom gomoku rice came with a thin slice of deep-fried mullet roe (烏魚子) on top. The mullet roe was incredibly fragrant after being fried, and really made the dish.

The pot of waterlily chicken soup (蓮花雞湯) was much larger this time since we had 3 times the number of people as my last visit. Once again there was a large waterlily flower floating on top, with bamboo shoots, lotus seeds, chickpeas, ginko nuts and chunks of tapioca roots inside. Everybody loved the soup, and we packed up the unfinished portion to take home.

The waterlily tea that followed was a great way to cleanse our palates, and at the same time it served to "cool" our systems.

Finally the fruit and the dessert were served - mashed sweet taro in a soup with longan (龍眼), red jujube (紅棗) and candied kumquat (金橘). It was very, very good - so much that some of us had two servings!

It was a really nice, long lunch on a lazy Sunday. The food was just as good as last time, and I can see that the execution level has not slipped from a year ago. However, given that the menu has remained almost unchanged, I probably wouldn't be coming back in the near future...

May 16, 2009

Ruby anniversary

Pin It

I'm back home in Taipei this weekend, celebrating my parent's ruby wedding anniversary. Forty years is a long time to be married, and is obviously one of the big ones as far as anniversaries go. While I did ponder about doing something different for the celebration, in the end I opted to return to our tried-and-true venue - Paris 1930 at the Ritz Landis Hotel.

Both Jack and Rolf - old hands who know us and really know what they're doing - were there tonight, which made things a lot easier for us. Given how precious tonight's wine was, I felt a lot more at ease having Rolf do the wine service for us.

So what did I bring for the special occasion? Why, something from the anniversary vintage of course! I had been saving up the bottle of 1969 DRC Grands-Echézeaux - Reserve Nicolas - for this evening. Expectations were high, and I had Rolf chill the bottle a bit before serving to ensure optimum temperature.

The wine was superb. Loads of fruit like raspberries and black cherries, with lots of sweetness in the nose. Farmy with lots of smoked meats and bacon fat. A little bit plummy with some floral and rose notes. Despite using the Schott Diva Burgundy glasses instead of the Riedel Sommelier Burgundy Grand Cru, the full-blown experience of the beautiful nose was still amazing. The wine was just so elegant, with enough concentration and power yet not overwhelming. One of the best bottles of red Burgundy I've had recently.

As for the food, I was initially worried that the quality has deteriorated since the previous chef departed last year. But I need not have worried. The standard was still high, albeit the style has changed. Chef David Chauveau's cuisine is a bit more traditional, but still with a modern touch.

We started with a cup of gazpacho as the amuse bouche. It's actually very delicious and just the right thing to prep one's appetite. Perfecto!

My first course was mackerel roll with white wine marinade, fresh cream blinis and arugula pesto. This was interesting as the roll had mackerel on top, scallop mousse for stuffing below, and it was made into a roll that reminds me of Kansai-style hakozushi (箱寿司). The strong taste of the mackerel was paired with the softer scallop mousse, and the arugula pesto was a good complement.

The next course was the only sub-par element of this meal. Sautéed snails, sun dried tomato and parsley ravioli, truffle oil and corn cream was not what it should have been. The snails were OK, but the raviolis were too dry with too little stuffing. The truffle oil was of course fragrant and made the corn cream very yummy, which became the dish's saving grace.

The roasted scallop and black pudding, mashed potato, pine kernel and garlic cream was originally not part of the Landis Menu I ordered. But I just couldn't pass up a chance to have boudin noir and asked f0r the substitution. I'm sure glad that I did. The scallop was OK but the boudin noir was so yummy, pan-fried so that the edges were a bit charred. Garlic cream hmmmm...

Pan-fried grouse, "gaufrette" potato, broccoli flan, pineapple ketchup sauce - this was really delicious. I expected the grouse to be a lot more gamey, but this tasted more like quail (and was translated as Champagne quail in Chinese). Part of the meat was just a tad overcooked, though. The dollop of pineapple ketchup was pretty tasty.

Roasted loin and braised tongue of lamb, ricotta eggplant cannelloni, "harissa" jus - the lamb loin was tender and juicy, but the real star was the tongue. I love all kinds of tongue but have never had lamb tongue before. It tasted kinda...well...lammy! It was very, very tender as it was braised, and it definitely looked like tongue given the way it was cut to preserve the muscle texture. The cannelloni was really nice, too.

Dessert came and I quickly devoured the almond panna cotta. The raspberry sorbet and the cream was OK, but those three little berries - no idea what they were - had soaked up so much alcohol they were really yummy.

Jack came over and offered each of us a personal vanilla soufflé. Given that this was a complimentary last-minute order, what came out wasn't the best. The top crust was just a little hard where the high heat had hardened the sugar.

Rolf introduced the chef to us, and I chatted with him about a number of things, including andouillette which is also one of his favorite dishes. Much to my surprise, he tried to introduce the dish in the restaurant but most of his cooks didn't take to it. I would have thought that with the Taiwanese passion for intestines, it would be a no-brainer for them to love andouillette...

Tonight's meal was very, very good. I'm glad I stuck to our old favorite, as mom and dad were both happy with the meal. As far as I'm concerned, Paris 1930 is still at the top of the game in Taipei. We'll see what happens when and if Robuchon opens later in the year...

Puppet with a bowtie

Pin It

I normally keep my rantings on politics to my Chinese blog, which is mostly about all the crap that goes on in Taiwan. But what transpired this past Thursday infuriated me so much that I had to vent my anger here.

During a session in Legco, our bowtie-wearing puppet tried to downplay the events on June 4, 1989, saying that - I'm paraphrasing here since he spoke in Cantonese - it happened years ago, the country's economy has seen great progress, and that the HK people would evaluate the country's development objectively.

WTF?! Hello?! What does economic progress in the last 20 years have anything to do with the government suppressing peaceful demonstrations by students, resulting in the deaths of hundreds (perhaps thousands)? Are we now making a direct link between the two, saying that by stopping the demonstrations with the killing of students, the country's economy was able to grow at a fast pace?  And are we now advocating the practice of sacrificing the few for the good of the many, even if it involves killing people? How would Bowtie like it if HE were on the receiving end of this judgement?

Then he has to gall to add that his opinion represents that of the general population in Hong Kong. Dude, just because you were elected by a small group of privileged people (some of whom themselves were not really elected by the general public) with the blessing of Beijing - don't let that fool you into believing for one minute that you are actually a democratically-elected leader. You're a puppet, and the puppet masters live in Beijing. I had hoped that despite being a puppet - it's in the job description, after all - that Bowtie would be an improvement over his predecessor. I no longer harbor any illusions to that extent.

The Tiananmen Massacre happened, 20 years ago. I watched it on TV from halfway around the world. I remember. The government decided that they liked staying in power, and killing a bunch of students (and hoodlums) was no big deal. They were dead wrong, and I and thousand like me will make sure that people around the world do not forget what happened.

May 14, 2009

Led astray down the Rhône

Pin It

Tonight was the first MNSC gathering of the year where scoring took place. Our host Kevin has chosen his favorite venue - Amber - where Chef Richard Ekkebus had put together a Rhône-themed tasting menu. While other guests were to sample this menu paired with the wines of Michel Chapoutier, we would of course be drinking something else...

As always we started with a glass of Champagne, this time the 1969 Veuve Cliquot Brut Rose. What a beautiful wine...the nose was at once both sweet and salty, which calls to mind immediately Chinese preserved plums (話梅). The oxidized nose was just wonderful, and the wine was nicely balanced on the palate in terms of acidity and sweetness.

The trio of amuse bouches included the signature foie gras Chupa Chups, a croquette with liquid center, and an asparagus soup whose flavor was dominated by the cream and chicken stock.

Smoked eel and foie gras ballotine, with first Rhône Valley Burlat cherries - this combination seems to be getting more and more popular. I guess this particular version was not bad, using the sweetness of the foie to counter balance the savory and smoky eel. The sweet cherries also worked well with the eel.

Pike quenelle inspired after "Mère Brazier's" recipe with yabbie crayfish & "bouchons" in Nantua sauce - the center is a poached mixture of pike and egg, which gives it an airy texture not unlike an île flottante. Crayfish must be in season as I'm having it here in Hong Kong, even after leaving France. They were really yummy though, as was the Nantua sauce. Everything was rich and I wanted to use soak it all up with bread, but I had already run out...

Bresse poularde with poached oyster and spring leek in albufera emulsion - the Bresse chicken is nice and soft, but I've always preferred it roasted like the way it's done at San San Trois. Not sure why it was combined with the oyster, though...

Short rib braised in Gigondas, purée of white onions, stuffed morels and "lard cul noire" - a lovely chunk of fatty short rib, possibly from wagyu, that has been braised in a nice Rhône red till it's tender. The onion purée was just delicious, too, and so much better than mash potato...

Rhône Valley cheese - Saint Félicien was runny, a bit nutty and acidic. Saint-Marcellin was very similar in taste, again with nutty taste. The harder, goat cheese was not too strong, but reminded me of the Chinese lotus seed paste (蓮蓉) one finds in moon cakes...

White peach from Rhône Valley, poached; vin de paille crème & Jell-O - this was really, really nice. The rice crispies looked and tasted like dried bits of chestnut mousse (à la Mont Blanc). While the poached peach slices were delicious, the real surprise was the crème underneath. The strong caramel, straw and oxidized flavors of the vin de paille clearly came through. It was also quite rich and egg-y. Yum!

Now the wines...The first pair of wines could not have been anything but Left Bank Bordeaux, but the MNSC members kept trying to bluff each other at the outset, mentioning regions such as Rhône due to tonight's menu. I chose to stick to my guns, though, and went with my guesses of Bordeaux.

1953 Pichon Lalande (Nicolas bottling) - sweet and grassy nose with smoke, lead pencil and green peppers. A very nice and elegant wine. 92 points.

1953 Grand-Puy-Lacoste - very sweet and grassy with a bit of smoke. 92 points.

The second pair was where we were totally led astray by our leader, although to be fair there was a bottle of Rhone here...inserted by our host as a ringer.

1959 Angelus - very sweet and concentrated, with a bit of forest and a hint of medicine. Orange notes emerged later.

1959 Chapoutier Hermitage - fruity, a bit of orange and smoked meats. The elements were there, but just a bit closed and weren't coming out. 94 points.

We continued to lose ourselves in the wrong region for the third pair, even though I thought the Las Cases should have been a Left Bank wine with grassy character... Guess I was too chicken to stick my neck out...

1961 Beychevelle - what a beautiful wine! Very farmy with big nose of bacon fat, smoke, a bit minty, a bit orange, peppery and very sweet. 97 points.

1961 Léoville-Las Cases - very vegetal and full of green peppers, with some cooked fruit and smoke. Sweetness emerged in the nose later. Dry and acidic on the palate. 88 points.

What more can I say about an evening of wonderful old wines? It is always a privilege to drink them, especially something as beautiful as the '61 Beychevelle...

May 8, 2009

A Hong Kong classic

Pin It

It's my first meal out back in Hong Kong, and I'm meeting up with some wine lover friends at Luk Yu Tea House (陸羽茶室), a Hong Kong institution. I've never been a fan of this place, having visited only twice in over 10 years of living here. This would be a chance for me to really see what this place can do.

We started with some crispy honeyed ham (蜜汁火腿), kinda like crispy bacon. This was OK. We followed with a whole series of dishes, which included:

Almond pig's lung soup (杏仁豬肺湯) - this was very, very good as the almond soup was thick and rich.

Braised fish maw and goose web (花膠炆鵝掌) - this was OK but the goose web was a bit sub-par.

Tiger prawns sautéed with superior soy sauce (頭抽煎老虎蝦) - very, very yummy...I was sucking on the head to get all the flavors out. But why did they have to cut the prawns in two?!

Braised abalone and mustard green (鮑魚芥膽) - the abalone was pretty good, with the centers deliciously soft and succulent.

Roast goose (燒鵝) was not bad.

Sweet and sour pork was pretty decent.

The kale in suprior stock (上湯芥蘭) was actually very sweet and delicious.

The stir-fried glutinous rice (生炒糯米飯) was honestly a disgrace... The rice was soggy and all stuck together. I haven't had it so bad in a long, long time, and sums up the experience of dining here.

Luk Yu is indeed living off its reputation and no longer deserves our attention. The kitchen staff knocked off at 9:45pm on a Friday night, and the only reason we got some decent service was because our host knew the place well. I'm pretty sure that my third visit will be my last...

But of course the wines were the focus of the evening, and here is the lineup:

Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle - a bit of green apple, toast with a hint of sweet grass.

1996 Jacquesson Signature - clearly a step up from the last wine, with huge nose of straw, toast, sweet grass, very wheaty and yeasty. A very lovely wine with a slightly more acidic attack.

2002 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne - sweet grass, anise, lemon with a touch of sweetness. Ripe on the palate with good acidity balance.

2004 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge - I've been buying this wine since I joined the mailing list, and this was the first time I'd crack open a bottle to try it out. It's young but pretty damn good... A classic Cali Chard and typical of Kongsgaard style, with loads of toasty oak and vanilla. With the second pour came lots of sweet butter, tropical fruit and smoke. Very ripe on the palate with a slightly spicy finish.

2000 Anne Gros Richebourg - very powerful nose with mint and iron notes upfront. Very elegant on the palate with a long finish. Unfortunately the wine died in the glass pretty quickly.

2005 Comte de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru - lots of sweet fruit and iron in the nose. Acidic on the palate. Disappointing.

1995 Angelus - a classic Bordeaux with smoky, medicinal and farmy nose.

1998 Harlan Maiden - this is the oldest vintage of the Maiden that I own, and it's certainly nice to drink it after 10 years of cellaring. Lots of orange tangerine, a huge, sweet nose with lots of ripeness and slightly high in alcohol. I thought it was a beautiful wine.

1996 Clos Mimi Syrah Shell Creek - I've always loved Clos Mimi for being really quirky. My first experience 7 years ago with this wine - same vintage - yields notes like "tangerine orange, alcoholic Ribena"... and it did not disappoint today. Nose of mushrooms, smoky, grilled bacon, soy sauce, grilled meats, wax, orange and sweet fruits. A lot more mature and toned down since my last bottle, but very interesting nonetheless.

1990 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel - huge petrol nose with orange rind plastic. Kinda sweet but has an acidic finish. A perfect way to finish.

We had 10 bottles between the 11 of us, which meant that I was pretty well-buzzed when we were done. I must say that it was a great way to spend Friday night...

May 4, 2009

Wedding in Reims day 7: victory!

Pin It

It's the last full day of my trip, and I received a call in the morning advising me of the presence of two Birkin bags at the Hermès store on Avenue George V. I was on my way out the door anyway, and I rushed over immediately.

I was met by my very helpful friend who knew one of the salespeople at the store. He had arranged to "hold" two bags for me, and I pretended that I was keen to buy one for the gf. Gf played along, looked over the two bags, and eventually settled on the one in "ciel", the new color for this season. Thanks to my kind friend who has gone the extra mile for me, my dear cousin would now have her very first Birkin.

Victory having achieved, we moved on to the Hermès flagship store on Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where we spent time exchanging the 28cm Kelly purchased on Saturday for a model in 32cm. Here we were making another friend happy.

I took my friend out to lunch at Hotel Le Bristol. We wanted something quick and casual, so we dined at in the lobby instead of the 3-star restaurant. I grabbed a simple steak tartare, which was OK. While I cannot imagine it to be otherwise, I wondered about whether the beef was really fresh...

We had another mission to complete after lunch, so we strolled down Avenue Montaigne for a tour of the boutiques. At Chanel, we finish our final mission of purchasing yet another handbag for a friend. Then it's back to the Left Bank around Saint Germain. We are back at Madeleine Gély to pick up the tassle we ordered for the umbrella. It wasn't ready, unfortunately. But we end up chatting with the saleslady who offered us a glass of Champagne, and before you know it, I was shelling out some more Euros for another pretty umbrella.

We booked the first seating at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and stepped in soon after the restaurant opened. We were seated at the counter with our backs to the window, true to the L'Atelier style, and I chose to go with the menu découverte to see what the chef could offer.

I ordered a bottle of the 2007 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis 1er cru La Forest. The wine was a little disappointing. Lots of oak and very ripe, with some lemon citrus. A little acidic on the palate.

The amuse bouche was an eggshell filled with foie gras mousse at the bottom and parmesan foam at the top. It was pretty tasty, but may have benefitted from the paprika on the side.

Le crabe royal aux fines lamelles de raves épicées - this is a good crab meat salad, topped with slices and strips of turnips. Pretty Japanese in terms of both taste and presentation.

L'asperge verte en cappuccino et ses jeunes pousses d'oseille - the asparagus cappuccino was pretty good, with young sorrel shoots and some cream on top. Pretty easy to pick up the cup and just drink it down...

Le foie gras de canard chaud, griottes, lamelles de rhubarbe rose et jus acidulé à l'hibiscus - perfect execution, still soft and juicy inside. The oily taste was delicious. Perfectly balanced with some rhubarb and arugula on top, added with some black pepper to give it some kick.

L'œuf cocotte et sa crème légère de morilles - pretty yummy stuff. Parsley cream at the bottom of the glass topped with a steamed egg foam with morel mushrooms. Very nice and just what I'd expect from Robuchon.

Le bar cuit sur sa peau aux jeunes asperges vertes avec un jus d'écrevisses - seabass is always popular, because the texture is just so nice. Here it's served with some green asparagus and crayfish foam. I'm beginning to notice the popularity of crayfish on this trip, as I've had so many meals involving one form or another of this shellfish.

Le ris de veau clouté de laurier frais à la feuille de romaine farcie - I normally love veal sweetbread for the creaminess, but in this case I think it may have just been a liiiittle too creamy. But taste-wise there was nothing to complain about.

Les herbes parfumées en saveur de printemps, sabayon à la Chartreuse - a very yummy melange of basil sorbet, raspberries with some sabayon cream.

Le dôme glace à la vanille de Tahiti, crème gianduja, coque au cœur de guanaja - these days chefs seem to think it's amusing to put out chocolate shells and then pour hot chocolate on top to melt them. I guess it's visually amusing...

We walked out feeling satiated without being stuffed or drunk, which is a nice change. I do have to say, though, that while every meal at L'Atelier (including Hong Kong) has been pretty good, there was never any WOW factor. I guess Joël just wanted to create something casual and good, without trying to blow you away. Hence the casual counter seating and pricing.

May 3, 2009

Wedding in Reims day 6: playing tourist in Versailles

Pin It

We had a late start to the day, both due to the late night and our decision to change rooms at the hotel. Fortunately room 62 was available with no smelly bed, so we didn't have to worry about changing hotels on a Sunday.

We walked north on rue Vieille du Temple deeper into the Marais, passing by a popular boulangerie/pâtisserie where we picked up a giant sablé aux fraises and a giant palmier. We would save these for the afternoon. But first, gotta find somewhere casual for lunch...

We settled on Les Philosophes, a café with some outdoor seating facing rue Vieille du Temple. It looked busy so the food couldn't have been that bad. And sure enough, we weren't disappointed.

I started with assiette de rillettes - whose size I underestimated along with the amount of bread that I would consume. This was slightly less fatty than what I'd normally find at Brasserie on the Eighth in Hong Kong, but delicious nonetheless.

For main course I would order - yes, you guessed it - andouillette de la ville de Rodez! I figured that this would be my last chance to have it for a while, so what the heck... The sausage was yummy, and just about the best out of the three on this trip. I do have to say, though, that the look of this thing was a little disturbing...

The surprisingly thing about this place is the wine list. For a café of this size and calibre, the list was disproportionately heavy in Guigal LaLaLa's. What's more the prices for these wines were very reasonable, too, especially for a restaurant. If it had been dinner time, I would have seriously considered opening a bottle...

Fully stuffed, I hopped on the RER C5 to Versailles Rive Gauche. It was getting late as we arrived and started lining up to purchase our entrance tickets. I haven't played tourist in Paris for so long, I forgot how crowded these places can get. The sky was gray so I was totally not in the mood to take pictures of the exterior... When we finally got to the ticket counter, we were told it was too late for us to visit Marie Antoinette's Hameau de la Reine next to the Petit Trianon. It's a pity...maybe I'll just have to come back another time.

We enter the palace and go through the big maze that it is, initially bypassing the halls filled with paintings of the nobility which I found boring. Not that I don't like art, but I didn't come to Versailles to see a bunch of paintings of dukes and duchesses who were full of themselves...

But the palace IS grand - a full reflection of the Sun King's stature and the power of France at the time. Massive paintings on the walls and ceilings. Of course everyone came to see the Hall of Mirrors, the grandest part of the château where Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles to end WWI. A detour leads to the Queen's Suite, where we see the bed of Marie Antoinette which has been beautifully restored.

At this point I was suddenly hit with exhaustion. The lack of sleep over the last few days - plus carrying around my heavy camera bag - just overwhelmed me. It felt like I'd been hit with a giant hammer, and all my energy just drained away. From this point on I would stagger around, barely wandering around the gardens outside, before taking the return journey back to the hotel.

I dropped my camera gear at the hotel, change into a jacket and tie, and head off to the Four Seasons George V for a dinner at Le Cinq. I've been looking forward to this dinner for a long time, as everyone seems to be in love with this place. It had never been high on my list since it is "only" a 2-star, but I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

I knew that we weren't going to go for the tasting menu - which was a bummer - so we had to pick something a la carte. Our server Franck offered to split the starters for us so we could share them - which was a great idea.

I went through the wine list and picked out something that would be tough to get in Asia: 1973 Trimbach Riesling Clos Saint-Hune - France's single best Riesling. I wanted to see what this wine tastes like after aging. It was so elegant and subtle, not overpowering as I expected. Nose of minerals, lemon, petrol, plastic and honey - all typical Riesling elements - came at you with a velvet glove and gradually opened up. What a wonderful wine.

We were presented with a small basket of calamari and crayfish fritters, which interestingly came with bamboo skewers traditionally found in Japanese yakitori joints. I guess that's another sign that chefs are getting their inspiratons from around the world. Then there's the trio of amuse bouche: marinated octopus with red olives, onions and sundried tomatoes; a small, salty puff pastry that begs the question "Why?"; and an interesting gazpacho made from watermelon, avocado, sesame seeds, cumin and some pop rocks buried at the bottom which tickled our tongues.

Interestingly, this was the second restaurant in Paris which served seaweed butter. It's really, really yummy and I can devour a whole box of this easily...

Green asparagus from the Lubéron region blanched with poultry juice, gnocchi/Jabugo ham, sour ewe cream with matcha tea - this was the "hot and cold" plate that I had heard about. The asparagus was indeed yummy as it is in season. The hot spears had slices of jamon and red olives on top, with some lemon zest gnocchi. It's a classic combo of ham and asparagus.

The cold asparagus spear rested on top of some crème fraîche and there's a dab of caviar on top with lemon zest. The shot glass with the asparagus cream was kinda interesting.

Abalone from the Brittany seacoast wth seaweed butter, watercress fondant, hen broth flavored with lemongrass - I was intrigued by the presence of abalone on the menu, and decided to see how they would do it. One sits on top of a buttered mash with carrots; the other is topped with a nice watercress fondant. The texture of the abalone was pretty nice, not unlike what I've had elsewhere here in Asia.

The cold abalone was chopped and marinated like a tartare, which was pretty nice and sweet. The broth was flavored with a stick of lemongrass, which was a nice combination.

For main course we decided to pass on the roast leg of lamb for two recommended by Franck, which was probably a good thing because the whole thing looked huge. They did it with a whole load of herbs and spices, and I could smell the rosemary and pine leaves from 2 tables away...

Instead I took the suckling pig "Basque Race" from the Aldudes Valley: rack roasted with sage, trotters and cheeks slowly-stewed with spring vegetables. The plate looked lovely - three, actually four different ways to do the pig. But I was suddenly hit with fatigue again, this my appetite waned. Despite the delicious piggy, I just wasn't able to shovel it in. The veggies on the side actually had a hidden treasure: stuffed pig cheeks. I think we were definitely surprised by the size of the portions here.

I've been dreaming about enjoying the cheese selection here at Le Cinq, as it could only be even better than what Jeremy has at sister restaurant Caprice in Hong Kong. But there was no way I could fit that in without doing some serious damage.

We decided to skip dessert, but still got a pre-dessert of raspberries and cream. I couldn't pass up the petits fours, though, and got myself a canelé and some nougats.

I'm exhausted, stuffed and drunk, so what else can I do but ride the métro back to the hotel and collapse?


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map