June 20, 2011

Introducing the monster

Pin It

I'm kinda doing a whole week of dinners for my birthday, and for one reason or another my schedule is completely full this week - seven straight days of dining out with friends.  To kick it all off, I've invited a few wino friends to join me at Caprice for an interesting evening.

I had long wanted to plan an evening around a group of interesting wines - getting away from the usual practice of drinking a bunch of French.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with French wines - many of my favorite wines are French - but often I hanker for the other stuff in my cellar.  To top it off, I had wanted to introduce to someone a certain wine which we had codenamed the Monster...

I put together the somewhat eclectic wine list - showcasing 5 different varietals from around the world - and asked the team at Caprice to come up with a menu to match.  Chef Vincent, Manager Jeremy and Sommelier Sebastien did a wonderful job - I was very happy with the results.

The amuse bouche came as mini burgers made with brioche, with cauliflower cream and creamy spinach as fillings.  Not as interesting as what I've had before...

Royale Cabanon oyster, yuzu lime and shallot mousse - the oyster sat on top of a layer of yuzu jelly, which I always find enjoyable.  The deep-fried shallots were a little overpowering, especially when there's Oscietra caviar around...  The oyster itself was very creamy and sweet, but the Champagne brought out the mineral and briny flavors.

Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs Mis en Cave 1983 - this is exactly my kind of Champagne... with a very oxidized nose, lots of iron and rust along with that yummy, salty plum (話梅). A lovely palate with a long finish. A very enjoyable blanc de blancs.

Spanish prawn à la plancha, croquant vegetables, marinated squid and eggplant caviar in honey emulsion - maybe someone does know about my current love affair with carabineros...  The prawns were absolutely delicious, even if the heads were missing...  "Croquant" vegetables meant they were pretty much thin slivers of the skins, making them pretty crunchy.  The squid stuffed with eggplant caviar was pretty nice, and the seafood and honey foam was lovely.  Fennel and basil provided some additional highlights in the flavors.

1970 Egon Muller Riesling Scharzhofberger Spälese - I was fortunate enough to have tasted this wine a few weeks ago when my friend served it during lunch.  Today the wine was served at a colder temperature, and just about blew me away.  There was a HUGE nose of plastic and petrol, with white flowers, a little bit of minerals and white pepper.  Slightly off-dry on the palate, but got a little sweeter as the wine warmed up in glass.  At the end the nose smelled a little "dusty", and we thought it was just like turning on one of those vacuum cleaners with a paper bag inside...  The color was amazingly light for a 40 year-old white wine - a testament to the storage conditions.

Wild sea bream, vegetable minestrone, tomato bruschetta and basil oil - the sea bream was succulent but a little bland on its own... which is where the minestrone comes in.  I found the finely diced vegetables delicious in the basil oil.  The bruschetta on top was an interesting touch.

1988 Coche-Dury Meursault Les Rougeots - what a beautiful wine! I normally find the explosive, toasty nose of Coche-Dury's young Meursaults very attractive, but this was totally different. A very big and sweet nose, with toasty popcorn, straw and sweet, creamy corn towards the end. Ripe, very round and smooth mid-palate with an acidic and long finish. This was simply a very elegant wine... as age has rounded the corners and taken the edge off the explosive toasty notes. This has to be my wine of the evening, should I be made to choose one...

Girolles mushroom fricassée, Jabugo ham and poached quail eggs in hazelnut scent - girolles are always yummy, and the jamón ibérico was good.  But the real stars were the quail eggs - cooked just enough for the egg whites to solidify, they burst in my mouth under the slightest pressure, releasing liquid yolk onto my tongue.  The hazelnut oil and toasted hazelnuts were nice, too.
1996 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard - nose was alcoholic and sharp at first, with lots of strawberries, mint and mushrooms.  As the wine opened up further, prominent notes of sweet lychees came out.  I was immediately reminded of Rayas and the 1998 Le Pin I loved so much.  There was also a little bit of orange.  Honestly, this wine is still a little young and could do with a few more years of cellaring.

Suckling pig rack, andouillette, boudin noir and buttered savoy cabbage in timut pepper sauce - I thanked Chef Vincent for this, as he knows how much I love andouillette and boudin noir...  The andouillette was diced up with mushrooms and stuffed inside a pork knuckle cube, which reminded me of a very special dish Chef Vincent made us a couple of years ago.   The rack was soooo soft and tender... naturally I stripped it bare with my teeth!  Didn't quite taste the timur pepper in the sauce, probably because I wasn't really focused on it.

The saddle was wrapped in a chewy layer of crépinette either fat/skin or intestine - I didn't ask... The boudin noir - and I received a second piece from a friend - was delicious.  Chef Vincent later told me that he felt the dining scene in Hong Kong has really come a long way in the last 3 or 4 years, as he never would have expected to be making his own boudin noir and having enough customers accepting it.

1981 Penfolds Grange Hermitage - notes of vanilla and pine forest.  Unbelievably, the nose was still a little sharp after 30 years...  As I would expect the wine was still very concentrated.  Drinkable now, but this could easily go on for another 20 years!

Benny brought out the cheese board, and I had little trouble picking out exactly what I wanted tonight:

Saint-Félicien - very nutty and salty.

Anneau du Vic-Bilh - very milky and creamy, and slightly nutty.

Mimolette extra vieille - I was talking about how this would pair perfectly with Hoegaarden, so Benny kindly brought us a few glasses so my friends could try out the pairing. 

Comté - I think this was from the 4½ year-old wheel.  Came in very thin slices so that my palate wouldn't be overwhelmed by the salt crystals. 

2003 Château Chalon - again, Benny brought us glasses of this lovely oxidized vin jaune to go with the Comté...

Cabri Ariégeois - how can I say no to this, the best of all runny goat cheese?  Not as liquid and runny as I would have liked, but it doesn't matter...

Gorgonzola - this was fresh, creamy and runny...

1998 Sine Qua Non Mr. K TBA - very sweet with lots of concentration.  Notes of honey, apricot and raisins.  Curiously made with Viognier.

Cavaillon melon sorbet with lemon jelly and lemon biscuit - this pre-dessert was very lovely.  The Cavaillon melons are in season, and the sorbet was incredibly sweet - just like eating a slice of ripe melon.  The lemon jelly provided the contrasting tart flavors, but I wasn't a big fan of the lemon biscuits...

Star anise, pomegranate and raspberry croustillant, pastis ice cream - didn't quite get the pomegranate flavors from this... perhaps it was in the coulis?  Lots of raspberries, though... and the ice cream definitely tasted like pastis.

2003 Clos Mimi Étiquette Rose - I've had this wine on a previous occasion and it failed miserably as a food wine, prompting me to nickname this "the Monster"... although I must admit it was doomed to fail with the food that evening. Tonight this was served very chilled, which helped temper the 19.0 percent stated alcohol... Nose of minerals, red fruits and yeast. There was definitely a strong resemblance to the yeasty notes in beers such as the Hoegaarden we had on the table.

This was a very enjoyable evening, with great food expertly matched to the wines, along with impeccable service.  I complimented Chef Vincent (and should have told Jeremy the same thing...) on having such a great team for front-of-house, as many other restaurants in town have fallen short on this.  I was grateful to be able to come back after being away for a few months, and to enjoy the company of friends...

1 comment:

Derek said...

What a great evening. Thanks for the notes and photos.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map