March 11, 2012

The wedding of the year

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Tonight one of MNSC's own got married, at what surely must be Hong Kong's wedding of the year.  Two of Hong Kong's most prominent families came together with their families and friends to celebrate the wedding of Sonia and Paulo, at the Hong Kong Convention Centre with close to 2,000 guests.

The guest list read like a who's who of Hong Kong, but what was more interesting for me were the guests from the world of wine, thanks to Paulo's relationships and his position as the founder of Altaya Wines.  I'm sure there were a number of them I didn't recognize, but the long list included Frédéric Engerer, Thibault Pontallier, Jean-Guillaume Prats, Bernard de Laage de Meux and Jean-Charles Cazes from Bordeaux; Laurent Ponsot, Etienne de Montille from Burgundy; Ann Colgin from Napa; and critics Jancis Robinson, James Suckling, Jeannie Cho Lee.

Paulo thought we might repeat what we did at the last MNSC wedding and bring our own wines to the banquet, therefore we, along with some friends at the next table, were placed at one corner of the large room - away from the adults.  I'm not sure why we didn't coordinate before tonight, but the end result was that MNSC members came empty-handed…  Our friends at the next table, however, showed up with some 7-8 bottles - most of them magnums…

The food tonight was really fantastic, especially when you consider the sheer amount of it being served.  Every single dish came to me at the right serving temperature, and just about nothing was under- or overcooked.  Very impressive, but not unexpected given who the hosts were tonight.

Whole barbecued suckling pig (鴻運乳豬全體, “珠聯壁合”) - as good as any crunchy crackling I've ever had.  Flawless execution.

Sautéed scallop and lobster served in a crispy nest (金盞帶子龍蝦球, “白玉盟約”) - very fresh, and again the execution was impressive.

Double boiled supreme soup with sea conch, conpoy and fish maw (迷你佛跳牆, “天賜良緣”) - kudos to the couple for not serving shark's fin.  The soup was absolutely delicious, with the fish maw providing collagen for the ladies.  I hope the overseas guests enjoyed the little chicken feet and the trotter from the piglet…  Would have loved to have a second bowl.

Braised whole Yoshihama abalone with goose web and vegetables (碧綠鵝掌原隻吉品鮑魚, “縷結同心”) - these were "30-head" abalone, and were braised perfectly to achieve the right texture at the center.  The goose web was extremely well done, as the skin was very soft and coated my lips with collagen.

Steamed star garoupa (清蒸大紅東星斑, “魚水和諧”) - the first dish where the execution slipped a little.  Fish like this can be really delicious, and tonight I would give the kitchen 8 out of 10 for execution.  However, given the sheer scale of the banquet tonight, I was very impressed at the level of quality achieved.

Deepfried chicken marinated with garlic (金牌蒜香雞, “鸞鳳和鳴”) - very tender and succulent, with crispy skin of course.  The candied walnuts on the side were excellent.

Baked seafood rice gratin in a crab shell (蟹蓋海鮮焗飯, “金玉滿堂”); E-fu noodles with dumpling served in supreme soup (上湯水餃伊麵, “情意綿綿”) - the seafood rice was a little disappointing… the seafood tasted fine but the rice was a little soggy.  The noodles were also a little limp, but the dumplings were really good.

Sweetened Trio: Fruity and floral Sauvignon Blanc agar, Achacha honey kiss, Deepfried chestnut dumpling (水晶花果糕, 法式香蜜餅,栗蓉牡丹酥, “佳偶天成”) - the fruit agar on the left was very refreshing and delicious.  The other two were less impressive…

There would, of course, be no shortage of wines tonight.  The wines were all from 2004, the year that the happy couple met.

2004 Pol Roger Brut - apparently this batch was released a little early specially for the wedding, as the wine itself is not yet available in the market.  Lemon citrus, slightly yeasty.  Ripe on the palate.

2004 de Montille Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets en magnum - big nose with lots of toast, roast corn and minerals on the nose.  Pretty ripe on the palate.  What an absolutely beautiful wine!

2004 Gloria - chosen in memory of Paulo's mother Gloria, who sadly left us last year.  Mint, spices and wood on the nose.  Still a little tannic.

2004 Yquem - totally sweet, with honey and orange blossoms.

1982 Mouton-Rothschild - waiters came around to some of the tables and poured us some of this.  We also received a card from Paulo, addressed to the four MNSC members at the table, saying something like "Stop complaining.  Enjoy the wine and share it with your table."  I guess he does know us well…  Smoke, grilled meats, tobacco, soy sauce, minerals, mint and dried herbs.  Pretty good, but wish I had a bigger pour…

1993 Comte Armand Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux en magnum - a friend came over with this bottle and poured me a glass, since I hadn't walked over all evening to mooch off them.  Smoky, grilled meats, mint and black fruits.

This was an amazing wedding, and I was fortunate enough to have been invited to attend.  I hitched a ride with some friends and didn't end up partaking in the many, many delicious snacks that were being served out in the reception area… which included cotton candy, macarons, yakitori and numerous local Chinese sweet and savory treats.  Nevermind… I had a great time.

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