October 18, 2012

Dinner interview

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Some time ago, I was approached by someone from the Fruit Media for an interview.  It seems that they were interested in talking to a food and wine lover, and - for reasons that remain baffling to me - they thought I would be a suitable subject.  As I'd only recently moved back to town, it took a while for the meeting to happen.

I was asked to pick 6 of my favorite restaurants, and they would choose one and do the interview there.    After I gave them the first 6 - Caprice, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Gold, Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), Tim's Kitchen (桃花源) and On Lot 10 - I realized that the majority had Michelin stars and most (if not all) were probably hard to book on short notice.  So I added Island Tang (港島廳) as #7.  I was then asked to pick one place where I would be able to order a number of off-menu items, and as Connor McLeod would say: "There can be only one!"

So I shamelessly called up David and begged for a table at On Lot 10.  I told him about the interview, and specifically - although this is nothing different from any other time I come here - asked him to prepare off-menu items.  As usual, David very kindly obliged.

I sat down and chatted with the reporter and the photog.  I guess I was pretty talkative, and even though I was getting a little hungry, for some reason I thought the kitchen was waiting for David to arrive before sending up our food.  Took me an hour to realize that they have been ready with the food…

Risotto with rice birds - now this is a real treat!  I first had these little birdies - 禾花雀 - at the very first special dinner here, when we gave David carte blanche.  The birds were marinated in Chinese rose wine (玫瑰露) then wrapped in bacon, giving them varied and lovely flavors.  So delicious.  So sinful.  To be honest, the risotto became a side show…

Razor clams and carabineros - one razor clam from Canada, and one carabinero from Spain (David knows my fetish for carabineros).  A sprinkle of piment d'espelette powder.  Simple, but oh-so-good…  I thoroughly enjoyed that creamy layer from the carabinero that got stuck to my lips, my teeth, my tongue and the insides of my mouth.  Awesome.

Soft-boiled egg with girolles and sweetbread fricassée - the lovely egg was gently covered with strips of lardo.  Sweetbread, girolles and pine nuts lend the bulk of the flavors.  Very rich and sinful.  David's hit another one of my soft spots - lardo...

Salade Lyonnaise - we hardly touched this, but how do I resist anything with lardons?!

Bouillabaisse - I don't know about you, but I've never seen a bouillabaisse like this!  Before this arrived, I was warned that it would be the size of the pot-au-feu that I had on that first memorable evening.  To be very honest, I was getting a little full and didn't have much spare capacity left…  The pan was full of local seafood that David has sourced, including a gigantic local lobster and two types of fish - large-scale grunter (鯻魚) and star snapper (石蚌).  Lots of different types of clams and crabs just seemed like tiny bits in comparison.   David joked that what we were having was actually tong za (湯渣)… the ingredients used to make Cantonese double-boiled soup that is presented on the side for diners to pick on.  Well, I don't think I've seen more impressive 湯渣 than what was sitting in front of us!

After we were done with the lobster and some of the seafood - including delicious croûtons - the pan was taken away for further processing.  The liquid was then made into the actual soup, and I added some rouille that David had prepared.  The soup was amazing.  I know there are some who wax lyrical about this amazing fish soup from the fish market, but its French counterpart tonight can definitely go head-to-head with the clearer Chinese version…

I jokingly chastised David for going overboard tonight, but of course I was simply grateful - as always - that he put so much effort to take care of us.  The photog was busy taking pictures all night… not only of the dishes but of me also…  The diners at the other tables must have wondered "WTF" at some point in the evening.  In any case there were only two of us eating, and most of the bouillabaisse ended up in doggie bags, along with a selection of cheese that we had no room for.

I wonder how the article will turn out…  I seem to love hearing the sound of my own voice tonight.  Will I sound like a crazy glutton,  a snobby a-hole, or worse?

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