July 7, 2011

One last nibble of cheese

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I've always been happiest with both the food and the service at Caprice, which is the reason I keep returning for more.  With just a week left in the city, I figured I owed it to myself to pay another visit.  This time around, I asked a few friends to join me for another cheese dinner.

Susan and I arrived at the same time, and we were soon greeted by Jeremy and Chef Vincent.  We both felt a little bad, because we knew that our dinner tonight was really all about Jeremy's collection of cheese and less about Vincent's kitchen, even though we are fans of both.

As usual, the cheese cellar was nicely decked out with lots of knickknacks like spices, mounds of Christine Ferber jams and cheese wire cutters that look like garrotes.  Jeremy and his team have always done such a beautiful job setting up this table, and tonight is no exception.

I've done quite a few of these dinners, and this poses somewhat of a challenge for Jeremy. He's got to keep coming up with new varieties and new ways to serve the cheese.  These will come in flights that will keep us on our toes, and surprise us time after time.

They are now serving these bite-sized "burgers" as amuse bouche. Here's the one with creamy spinach...

...and one with cauliflower cream.

The "real" amuse bouche was a very ripe tomato filled with gazpacho sorbet, celery, green tomato sauce with Tabasco, topped with mozzarella cream.  The tomato flavors were wonderful, and the sweet basil was pretty strong and fragrant.  So refreshing!

First flight (goat's and sheep's milk):
Tomme d'Elgines - this cheese from Auvergne tasted kinda like a dense version of a fluffy cake... not sure how else to describe it.  Flavor-wise it was a little acidic and slightly nutty.  It really brought out the ripeness of the wine.

Bonde de Gâtine - served with a sprinkle of Indonesian black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Flavors were a little stronger, acidic, pretty salty, and definitely more "mold" thanks to the soft rind.

BTW the olive oil was amazingly good...

Galet de Bigorre - very creamy, just a little bitty acidic, a little bit of salt and a little nutty.

L'Albigeoise - from Albi just north of the Pyrénées, this was made with sheep's milk.  A little bitter, toasty and smoky.  I looooved this runny cheese... as it tried to escape in all directions.

2009 Pithon-Paillé Anjou Coteau des Treilles - from the négociant business set up by famed winemaker Jo Pithon and his stepson Jo Paillé after the former's ouster from the domaine that bore his name.  This was a little tropical, with minerals and ripeness.  Acidity is definitely there.

Second flight:
St.-Nectaire fermier - this was simply the most amazing bruschetta ever!  A slice of bread, lightly buttered, topped with fricassée of girolles, then a thin sliver of lardo di Colonnata, finally a slice of St.-Nectaire... and decorated with arugula and a drizzle of hazelnut oil.  The cheese had a slightly moldy nose.  There were ooohs and aaahs all around the table, and we all loved it!  Now what do we need to do to convince Chef Vincent to serve a few slices of this to us for lunch?

2009 Andre Perret Condrieu Chery - lovely nose of white flowers, lots of white peach, very tropical with a hint of banana.  Really ripe on the palate.

Third flight:
Chalote - this Swiss cheese was a new discovery by Jeremy, and was served in thin slices, with a drizzle of lavender honey and a sprinkle of finely chopped Australian black truffles.    Does it get any better?

Lavender honey - just a hint of lavender, not too strong.

Gruyère, 1-year old - sliced thin and served with a dollop of Christine Ferber's orange maltaises et ananas, made with orange zest and pineapple.  Dyson 2000 decided to make a "sandwich" by spreading the jam between two slices of cheese, and the rest of us quickly followed suit.  Wonderful combination.

Have I ever said how much I looooove Christine Ferber's confitures?  Especially the ones she makes for Pierre Hermé!

Comté, 4 years minus - served with 30-year balsamico.  Wow.

2003 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny La Marginale - this Cab Franc definitely reminded me of some of the Saint Emilion... Very earthy nose, with forest, smoke and some fruit.  A little cloudy thanks to the surprisingly large amount of sediment.

Fourth flight:
Munster - as Jeremy has done previously, this was served cold over some grenaille potatoes which were boiled and then put under a heater.  The potatoes were very sweet, and the skins crispy thanks to the final heat.  The sprinkle of the local cultivar of cumin is apparently traditional in Alsace.  The cheese was very salty, with a bitter finish.  With the wine it brought out the sweetness and enhanced the slight fizziness of the wine.

2003 Albert Mann Pinot Gris Pfersigberg - notes of pineapple, ripe fruit, a little sweet on the palate with a slightly spicy finish.

Fifth flight:
Colombier - hmmm... definitely got that "barnyard" nose... which is a polite way to saying it smells like shit.  Stinky and pungent.  Palate is nutty, acidic and very creamy.  Acidity of the cheese and the acidity of the wine kinda multiplied in the mouth, which I didn't like so much...

2008 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Rouge - what a wine!  Sebastien had opened two bottles of another wine which he found flawed, before popping the cork on this one and leaving it in the decanter for perhaps close to an hour.  When I received the first pour, I was blown away.  The amazing floral notes - which I only find in Northern Rhône - was in my face.  Loads of violet and rose, and sweet fruit, too.  After more than 10 years of drinking Syrah from Northern Rhône and having Côte-Rôtie as my favorite wine, I finally learned that the floral notes aren't actually the result of adding Viognier into the blend, but come from Syrah that has gone through a long maturation process.  Just shows you how much I know...

Sixth flight:
Fourme d'Ambert - served with diced fresh pear, a sprinkle of pimento and a drizzle of olive oil.  A good combination to balance out the fairly salty blue cheese.

Eric Bordelet Poiré Authentique - as a lover of French cidre, I'm lucky to have found a source for Bordelet's famed cidre, some of which are made with fruit from trees that are a couple hundred years' old.  Toasty, mineral and of course sweet on the palate.  A natural pairing with the Fourme d'Ambert and pear.  Coincidentally, I was carrying in my bag a magnum of Bordelet's Poiré Granit that I had been keeping in the office...

Finally we got to our dessert, which also had an element of cheese...  We had pistachio sponge cake, white peach coulis, arugula salad, crunchy biscuit and a white peach/mizuna (水菜) sorbet, all framed by a thin square made from cheese.  I loved the sorbet, and found the rest interesting...  Believe it or not, I think I forgot to take a picture of the dessert...

What a dinner!  Jeremy, Vincent and Sebastien have never failed to "wow" us at one of these events, and tonight was no exception.  I'm soooo happy that I was able to do it again, and grateful for the team at Caprice for another fantastic evening.  I was also glad that my friends had been able to join me, especially people like KC who had not had the opportunity to see the magic for themselves.  Looks like I need to keep flying back regularly for repeat performances...


Anonymous said...

It was a pleasure to have you with us! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with our friends. Look forward to welcoming you back to Caprice and Four Seasons Hotel in the future! Best wishes, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong team

KC said...

Thanks for arranging this amazing dinner and it's simply wonderful!
Looking forward to have it AGAIN!

Peech said...


Glad you could come. Please visit Jeremy and pretend to be a mouse again soon.


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