May 31, 2011

Château Palmer tasting

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Hong Kong Wine Vault organized a tasting of the wines of Château Palmer tonight. Bernard de Laage de Meux, the Marketing Director who I met on my trip to Bordeaux, was there to meet and greet.

2006 Alter Ego - sweet and ripe, smoky, oaky. Sweet on the palate but turned a little dry on the finish.

May 30, 2011

Blowin' smoke

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The Specialist took a day off today and was in my neighborhood, feeling a little bored.  I agreed to join her for "one drink" at Tastings, not realizing that it would turn into a much longer evening...

I don't really go to wine bars - nor do I normally buy wine off a restaurant's wine list - as the margins are high and I've got plenty of inventory that needs to be drunk.  On the few occasions when I have met friends at Tastings, I went for the "tasting portion" as I just wanted to get a feel for the wines. 

As with my choice of restaurants, I would try something new but not stray too far into the unknown, for fear of "stepping on landmines".  Most wine bars carry young wines which I find undrinkable, so those are automatically scratched off the list.  I also don't see any point in going for the expensive, premium wines, as most of those are either in my collection or I'll find opportunities to drink fresh bottles with friends.  So most of the time I'm picking wines from the cheaper end... and staying more with whites than reds, because young whites are easier to drink than young reds.

May 29, 2011

Brainless and no magic

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I'm not normally in the habit of visiting new restaurants within the first couple of months of business.  Most of the time the establishments haven't worked everything out yet, and either the food or the service - or both - will disappoint.  As fellow blogger KC commented, I'm reluctant to go and step on landmines.

Unusually, I found myself joining a group of friends for lunch at Al Molo today.  Michael White is a big name in the food circles of New York, and there were high expectations when this place opened.  Legolas Jr. had worked out a menu with the chef so that we can try out a bunch of pastas in 1/4 tasting portions, which was a great way to get a feel for this place.

May 28, 2011

Acker Hong Kong XV pt 2: 3 Petrus vintages

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So here I go again... after complaining to my friends about suffering from "auction fatigue" - I did end up skipping 2 other auctions in the last week - I am back at it today.  Part 2 of the Acker auction was held at Grissini in the Grand Hyatt today, and this would be the first time I stepped foot in the restaurant for the last 5 years or so.

I arrived mid-way through lunch, and ended up having some of the antipasti buffet.  As usual I chose not to have the steak as my main course, but would go on to nibble on a selection of yummy desserts later in the afternoon and some finger sandwiches.

My friend once again was kind enough to invite me to join him at his VIP table, and I got to taste a good selection of wines:

May 27, 2011

A very long day pt 2: excruciatingly slow auction

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My friend asked me to accompany her to the Christie's auction today, as her usual escort was unavailable and she didn't want to be sitting through it all by herself.  This was a pretty unique auction, with the single consignor being Bordeaux's famed Château Latour.  The consignor had taken wines from their own cellar (an ex-cellar/château sale) so the provenance is impeccable and cannot be surpassed.  There were more than 100 vintages on sale, including just about every vintage from the 20th Century and reaching back into the 19th Century.  There were 392 lots in total.

In conjunction (and actually prior to) this auction, Château Latour and Christie's put together "The Ultimate Wine Game" and invited a small group of participants from around the world. Two of my friends were among the participants, and it was clearly a mind-blowing experience for both of them.  The friend I accompanied was featured both in the videos and the catalog, so I decided for once to dress up for the auction...

A very long day pt 1: 2 wonderful lunches

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I was planning to take my colleagues out for lunch today, and figured it was time to go back for Gold.  I was checking with Harlan on a particular ingredient I was hankering for lately, and he assured me that they've got it.  Believe me, I was looking forward to this lunch all week.

I was informed that the restaurant doesn't offer any specials at lunch, but I asked the staff to check with the chef on the item in question.  Fortunately Joe came out and offered to make the dish I came for, and also offered to do something a little special for my colleagues.

May 26, 2011

Up and down Japanese evening

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After the Acker tasting, I met up with the Resident Froggie for a Japanese evening - starting with dinner at Irori (酒処いろり).  I'm happy to see that business has returned to my favorite haunt, so I could continue to enjoy their food for years to come.

Sesame sauce tomato salad (胡麻トマト) - it's been a long time since I had this.  Still love the refreshing tomatoes with that great sesame/ponzu sauce.

Acker tasting with locusts

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Another pre-auction tasting hosted by Acker.  I normally stick to the rule of arriving before the 6pm start of these tastings, so that I would get to taste everything I wanted.  Unfortunately, I got a little busy in the office today and didn't arrive until around 6:25pm...

Upon arrival I was informed by some friends that the 2 bottles of Henri Jayer have already been emptied.  No surprise there... although one of them was apparently corked.  I was also told that the 1997 DRC Echezeaux was drinking well, so I went looking for a pour.

May 24, 2011

Judging dinner

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A friend of mine got pretty excited last month when I posted on Facebook that I was drinking a particular bottle of wine, and at the time I promised that I'd open a bottle with him.  After taking care of the logistics of removing a bunch of wines from storage, tonight I finally had to chance to share it with him over dinner at Brasserie on the Eighth.

I decided to have a light meal, having had a not-so-little snack in late afternoon on account of an expected late dinner.  Two little courses would be enough for me.

May 23, 2011

1 if by night, 3 if by day

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I had another opportunity to attend a group meal, organized thanks to the tireless efforts of KC.  The venue tonight was a special one - the 3-macaron Lung King Heen (龍景軒).  My previous two visits had both been during lunch - with the first one being disastrous while I was totally wowed by the dim sum I had last month - so naturally I was very excited about my first dinner here.

There had already been 4 rounds of small gatherings here, and the menu has been continually refined to ensure that poor dishes are taken out.  We were tasting essentially the "best of the best" from the menu, especially since very single dish was chosen from the list of chef's recommendations.

May 21, 2011

Hunks of Kyushu beef

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It's been a few months since I last went out to dinner with some friends, and not surprisingly we were back at Wagyu Kaiseki Den tonight.  It's good to go back after being away for a few months.  My friends are regulars and sometimes find the menu a little repetitive, but fortunately I don't have that problem.

May 20, 2011

Ten decades from 1900 to 1990

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A friend invited me to his birthday dinner tonight, which was celebrated in conjunction with one of his friends.  A small group of young 'uns - everyone was born in the 80s except moi - gathered at 8½ Otto e Mezzo over a few bottles of wine to celebrate the occasion.

We naturally started with some jamón ibérico and pan con tomate while waiting for everyone to arrive.  All the wines were opened, decanted and chilled during this time.

May 19, 2011

Ad hoc Burgundian evening

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I was going to Hong Kong Wine Vault for a tour tonight, as I was contemplating using them to store my wines.  About 15 seconds after I stepped foot in the place, I ran into a few fellow wine lovers who were just hanging out and drinking a few nice bottles, and they graciously invited me to join them.  I was a little hesitant at first, as I didn't have anything with me and wasn't able to contribute, but it seemed rude to turn them down...  It turned out to be a very long but enjoyable evening.

The foodie interview

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The South China Morning Post launched a new format this week, with a gazette-style section on food and wine every Thursday.  To launch the first issue, my friend Susan Jung went around town to sample dim sum at some of the city's best places for it.  I was fortunate enough to join her for 3 of those meals.

They also created a new column named "Ask the Foodie", and the editors apparently requested for Susan to interview me... Pretty shocking, eh?  I never thought there were too many people out there who'd heard of this lil' ol' blog...

May 17, 2011

The best white wine from France

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After last year's dinner, my inventory of wines from the parental units' anniversary vintage was depleted.  This meant only one thing - going out to look for more wine!  Fortunately, at an auction a couple of weeks after the dinner, I managed to pick up something from this very important vintage.

Here we are one year later, and it's time to pop open another bottle and celebrate.  We are now on a rotating schedule for these celebratory dinners - alternating between the old favorite Paris 1930 and newcomer L'Atelier de Joël RobuchonThe last dinner was at Robuchon, so this time we paid a visit to Jack, Rolf and the team at Paris 1930.

Barra barracuda

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It's been a while since I last met up with some old colleagues from Taipei, and I was looking for a place to have lunch that's not too far from the office.  For a second meal in a row, I found inspiration from the photo blog kept by Peray.  The photos here always leave me drooling, although unfortunately there usually isn't much in the way of descriptions.  Anyway, I suggested that we meet up at Fresh Station (逸鮮棧) after looking thru the pics.

We decided to go for the more expensive lunch set, and I asked to have ingredients which have been flown in from Hokkaido.

May 16, 2011

Toro 2.0

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It was 2½ years ago that I went to El Toro for some Spanish food on a friend's recommendation.  That was a pretty decent meal, but I never found an opportunity to return. Apparently the chef has moved on and opened a bigger and much fancier restaurant, and I decided to check it out with a friend tonight.

DN innovacíon looks like an upgraded version, both in terms of the space as well as the menu.  In addition to more "traditional" items, the chef apparently does a few "molecular" creations.  I am a fan of molecular gastronomy, and although I was a little weary of this chef doing something along these lines, I decided to ask the chef to throw in something from the molecular side of things along with the traditional.

May 12, 2011

Cristal clear evening

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So I was definitely, positively asking for it. I’m spending a third evening out with the Specialist in the space of a week. She-who-only-drinks-French-because-they-are-the-best-and-please-don’t-bring-any-Californian-or-Australian. Of course, we were going to a wine dinner presided over by Michel Janneau, Executive Vice President of Champagne Louis Roederer... which could only mean an evening full of French wines!  ...and she wouldn't have to scoff at my wine selection...

Dinner was arranged at Golden Leaf (金葉庭), one of my preferred hotel Cantonese restaurants in town.  There was a full range of wines paired with a 10(!)-course dinner... I knew we were in for a long evening.

Less is more?!

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I was meeting a friend for lunch today, and tasked with choosing the venue as usual.  I was trying to pick a place I haven't been to when Limehouse popped into my head.  A few of my foodie friends had positive things to say about this little joint in a quiet corner of Wanchai, and I thought it'd be an interesting change from my usual type of places.

I sat down and was given the lunch menu.  I stared at it for a while, a little in shock.  I don't think I've ever seen a smaller or simpler menu.  One is offered the daily soup (not sure there is a choice), a choice of three mains (none of which looks "British"), and a choice of beverage.  OK, so it does say "Simple Lunch" and it's not at all expensive, but it was still a little shocking... especially given that this place is classified as serving British fare and the menu resembled nothing of the sort.

May 9, 2011

The ox and the hog

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Yet another gathering with the Specialist and friends.  I had the honor of booking the venue, and since Bistronomique isn't open on Mondays, we went for sister restaurant On Lot 10.  As usual, I contacted David ahead of time and asked him to prepare something a little special...

We didn't book early enough to get a table inside, so we ended up sitting outdoors next to the street.  I actually enjoy al fresco dining and have done it a few times here, but the ladies were on their toes pretty much since the time they sat down.   The guys were tasked with looking out for anything dangerous and unsavory that can cause the ladies to scream... such as dogs, rats, cockroaches... Fortunately we were spared any disasters during our meal.

May 7, 2011

Looky, but no touchy

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I was only into my first or second course at lunch when I received a call from Tigger, asking me whether I had dinner plans for this evening.  I didn't make plans for dinner, as I didn't know how I would feel after this long lunch, so I didn't hesitate to agree to have dinner with Tigger and family.  After my infuriating experience with their go-to Japanese restaurant a few months ago, I had been meaning to introduce them to a replacement venue.  I couldn't think of a better place to show them than my favorite izakaya Irori (酒処いろり).

Dinner turned out to be a completely different experience than I had originally planned...

An offally long lunch

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I got together with a few friends for a very special lunch today.  A couple of VIP friends had set up a very special menu with Chef David Goodridge at Gaddi's, featuring a series of offal dishes.  I haven't been a fan of Gaddi's in recent years, and my sole visit in the last 10 years didn't exactly endear me to the place.  This was a good chance to check out the food and service at this Hong Kong classic.

We were set up in the private room overlooking the hotel entrance, and with the multi-course menu I fully expected lunch to last for 5 hours or so.  With a few VIPs among us, service was naturally top-notch.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable afternoon...

May 6, 2011

Cheese, lard(o) and cream

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My original dinner plans for tonight were ruined - by myself - since I had burned my oxtail stew.  I was pondering what to do about dinner when the Specialist asked me if I wanted to join her for dinner.  They had been trying to book a last-minute table without much success when I suggested that we should go to Cipriani.  My last visit was more than 6 months ago, and it seemed to be the perfect solution for us.

My Julie Powell moment

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So... after a long search for the right ingredients, I finally got around to braising my oxtail.  After prepping the ingredients for a while - including my first experience of trimming the fat off the tail - everything was dumped into my not-so-new-but-never-been-used 28cm Le Creuset cocotte.

As the original motive behind cooking the dish was to use up my leftover wine, I decided to play around and dump most of my leftovers into the sauce pan to reduce down.  This included some 2001 Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard, 1995 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection and finally some 1999 Mondavi Pinot Noir PNX.  Yes, I've mixed 3 different wines from 3 different vintages and 2 different varietals... and the wines have been sitting around from as far back as 6 months ago.  A chef friend jokingly referred to it as the "conundrum stew".

May 5, 2011

Looking for the "right" beef

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I've got a ton of leftover red wines at home, and decided it was time to use it up in a stew of some sort.  I decided to challenge myself a little by braising some oxtail in red wine, instead of the "usual" bœuf bourguignon.  The real challenge, I soon realized, was in finding the right ingredient.

Ever since Froggie introduced me to the Omnivore's Dilemma, I have been appalled at the industrial machine that raises cattle in the US.  My objection to the US cattle industry extends beyond simply the fact that the cattle are raised in crowded factories, or the heavy use of antibiotics and dietary supplements to lower the risk of disease.  My biggest objection actually lies with the cattle being raised on corn.


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