October 27, 2010

Creatively recycling food

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For a big fan of molecular gastronomy such as myself, I could hardly believe that it's taken me this long to make my first trip to the Krug Room.  It took a double birthday celebration - one of them 40th - to get me to this wonderful venue.  Uwe is on vacation but his kitchen staff managed to execute all the dishes flawlessly.

To get to the Krug Room, one goes through the back door of the Chinnery to the maze that is the kitchen, and pushes open a discreet-looking door.  The room is lavishly decorated without the bling, and a large windows running the length of the room provides a view to part of the kitchen.  It wasn't exactly the busy part of the kitchen and I had my back to the window, so I didn't see much going on throughout our meal - only the three large stockpots immediately on the other side of the window.

The theme of the meal is "recycling" so one of the diners joked that "we're eating garbage tonight".  Definitely very playful and creative.

Fish bone : rice / crisp / dip - the bones of a sardine and rice flour were deep-fried into a cracker, and dipped in a XO/tartar sauce. 

Can : Kumamoto / caviar / tomato - opening the top of the can reveals the contents: 2 creamy Kumamoto oysters each topped with a little bit of sturgeon caviar, sitting on a bed of faux salmon roe made from Bloody Mary.  The oyster leaf is always an interesting element.

After picnic : salad / vegetable / plastic bag - I was a little disappointed that I didn't get the "flower pot" for my salad, but I guess the chef needs to mix things up a little.  This reminds me a little of the "Sex on the Beach" dessert at Bo Innovation with its play on discarded items... In addition to the greens, there were two "half-consumed" burgers, a couple of "plastic bags" containing freeze-dried corn and other goodies, chips... all sitting on a bed of "dirt" and "grass" - the latter made with mashed peas.  The lower level of the box was filled with panko and other fun stuff.  The chef told us that we didn't need to eat the contents at the bottom unless we were really hungry, but curiosity got the best of me...

Tea : buillon / wrap - I initially thought these were two cubes of foie gras, but it turns out they were made of mushroom powder.  Pouring the liquid (vegetable stock?) from the glass tea pot meant you had mushroom consommé in your cup.
Fish market : prawn / fillet / seaweed - an interesting mix of ingredients.  The protagonist was the Scottish langoustine, complemented by some baby eel, baby squid, razor clam and seaweed garnish.  Everything was fresh and delicious.  There was also a block of freeze-dried potato, although I couldn't really taste what it was...

Soap : lobster / bubble / macaroni - the "soap" in the soapdish was actually shellfish bisque that has gone through "spherification".  The chef came and deposited a "wet towel roll" - made with layers of egg white around a cheese center - into the bowl already topped with foam/bubbles.  There were chunks of lobsters in the bowl underneath the foam.  Essentially this turned into a lobster/seafood bisque. 

Chicken bone : foie gras / smoked / skin - honestly I thought this was a waste of Bresse chicken, as I really didn't think the shredded chicken was anything special.  But the real star here - as the name clearly states - was the "chicken bone" made from frozen foie gras.  Absolutely delicious they were.  The small piece of chicken skin was pretty yummy, but I wish there was more of it.  The sauce was interesting, as I could have sworn it was a teriyaki sauce spiced with some ginger...

Lamb's wool : Rhug Estate / ragout / mint - the dish arrived covered in candy floss, which melted as sauce was poured on top, infusing the sweetness into the sauce.  Underneath were two distinct pieces of organic lamb from the Rhug Estate in the UK: the top piece looked to be lamb loin (or did the waiter say it's actually lamb shank which looked like lamb loin?) and was very tender - probably sous-vide.  The bottom piece was definitely minced lamb shank.  Both were pretty yummy.

Leather : sirloin / onion / truffle - O-M-G this was an amazing dish.  The "plate" arrived first with a thin layer of cowprint purée - where the pale area had been made with onions and the black spots with black truffles.  Both were absolutely delicious.  Then came the hunk of sous-vide Matsuzaka beef (松坂牛), which melted in the mouth and gave us such wonderful flavors thanks to just the right amount of charring and salt.  Let's not forget the black truffle sauce that was poured on top of the beef.  When you have all of these ingredients together in one mouthful, one can get a little glimpse of heaven.

Light bulb : coconut / ginger / electric - these looked like a lot of fun.  Break open the sugary shell and reach in for the coconut foam.  The ice cream in the bowl was made with ginger, tickling and waking up one's tastebuds.

Chocolate engine : silver / cylinder / oil - the dark hunk of chocolate lying in the middle of the "road" didn't look really attractive, but cut open to find the chocolate raspberry mousse and cherries inside.  The decorate pieces of chocolate on the side were meant to look like engine parts.

Metal : nails / screws / bolts - the crowd cheered the arrival of these plates.  The chef has fashioned everything out of chocolate, and they looked amazing.  Being a bunch of juvenile boys, we joked about picking up the wrenches and whacking each other over the head...  I took some of them home just for fun.

This being the Krug Room, the drink of choice is of course Krug Champagne.  Each diner gets a total of 4 flutes of 3 different wines, but we also decided to bring our own...

Krug Grande Cuvée - always my favorite and did not disappoint.  Honey, lightly toasted oak, yeast and a little sweet on the nose.  Kinda acidic.

Krug Grande Cuvée en magnum - I figured we wouldn't have enough alcohol so I brought the magnum that I was dying to get rid of...  Definitely more "fresh" and lively compared to the 2 bottles we drank up earlier.

1998 Krug - pretty sweet and toasty nose, with lots of ripeness and caramel later on as it opened up more.

1970 Montrose - given to the birthday boy as a present, the condition of this bottle (sourced from my friend at Altaya Wines) was impeccable.  Exactly what I would want and expect from this wine.  Mint, sweet grass, sweet fruit, cigar smoke and even some savory notes.  The wine has clearly aged and developed but it tasted incredibly fresh and vibrant.

Krug Rosé - minerals and oak, with some salty preserved plum (話梅) in the nose.

Estrella Damm Inedit - this was the famous "El Bulli beer", as it was made by Estrella Damm especially for Ferran Adria and his team.  The label says it's brewed with spices, and I definitely thought it was a floral, fruity version of Hoegaarden.  After all, the beer was brewed from hops and wheat, so there are similarities with the famous Belgian white beer.

This was a very, very, very fun evening for all of us.  I really appreciated and enjoyed the creative dishes, and there was clearly too much Champagne for me.  I'm pretty sure all of us had way too much to eat.  There's always hell to pay after a night like this...


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Tom said...

The chef knows how to imagine food in a new way.


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