December 21, 2010

Winter games

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It's been a few months since my last visit to Caprice, and I've been dying to try out Chef Vincent's seasonal game dishes.  I finally got around to arranging a quiet dinner at my favorite French restaurant in Hong Kong.

Amuse bouche - the deep-fried potato ball stuffed with foie gras had a tangy flavor not unlike ginger, which was pretty nice.  The rillettes I think was made with mackerel.  The lentil velouté was surprisingly good.

I had asked for the chef to put together a tasting of his game dishes for me, which turned out to be a series of three:

Paté en croûte: wild game, foie gras, green leaves in black truffle dressing - this was a recipe Vincent has used for many years.  The various chunks were made from venison, pheasant, pork and foie gras, and I loved the different textures. The gelée was made with wild game consommé.  Very yummy.

Wild venison fillet, cocoa Viennoise, vegetable roots and cranberry jam in poivrade sauce - I like my meats on the rare side, and venison is a tough meat so it needs to be cooked rare.  Unfortunately I did not specify how I wanted it, and it came out medium and chewy.  Apparently the kitchen had already larded the meat - and it's true that the fillet was juicy and not dry - but still not quite to my liking.  The cocoa crust on top was pretty interesting, although I also detected a hint of cheese or something a bit "smelly" for some reason.  The use of crosne tubers (寶塔菜根莖) was interesting, as I haven't come across it since another dinner around the same time last year.

Beauce hare à la Royale, taglierini pasta, wild mushrooms and celery purée - this was definitely the number one reason I came tonight... to try Vincent's lièvre à la Royale.  And what an amazing dish it was!  It was exactly what I wanted: rich and full-flavored with blood, liver, truffles and more.  The consistency was perfect.  The half-portion on the plate was good enough for me tonight.  Vincent was very happy to have been able to serve 16 of these hares this season, meaning the clientele has increasingly been receptive to it over time.

I wouldn't dream of leaving without some cheese, so I asked Peter to set me up with a selection which included Vacherin-Mont d'Or, Cabri Ariégeois, Epoisses, Saint-Félicien, Bûche de Pyrénées and Anneau du Vic-Bihl.

I loved all of them.  For the first time I could remember, I did not ask for the Comté I still had some at home.  I eagerly scooped up the cheese with my fork, and for the Cabri Ariégeois I only used my fingers to scoop it up.  I think I did a pretty good job of cleaning the plate...

I was too full to get dessert, but we had a Piña Colada sorbet with coconut crumble and pineapple to refresh our palates.  Lovely, fruity and tropical.  Perfect.

The petit-fours were also very interesting.  There were quince marshmallows, chocolates with yuzu cream and raspberry, mandarin macarons, milk chocolates with a tonka(?)/cinnamon ganache, dark chocolate with cassis(?) ganache, and caramels.

1993 Chave Hermitage Rouge - nose was open and fragrant, with lovely notes of prunes, floral and violet later, followed by dusty and black pepper notes. Fabulous to drink now.

What a wonderful evening!  Earlier in the day, someone had asked the usual question of "What's your favorite Michelin-starred restaurant in Hong Kong?" and I had answered "Caprice!" without any hesitation.  I can't believe I've stay away for so long, and I definitely want to be back very soon in the new year and try out the next menu change!


Anonymous said...

those dishes look great, especially the lievre and pate en croute. Those must be two of the greatest French dishes ever.
I also loved Caprice after you recommended it to me, thanks a lot for it. It was great.

BTW, the hare was probably from Beauce, not from Beaune

Peech said...

oops... now you know I'm dyslexic...


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