December 31, 2012

Closing out 2012 with whispers

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It's new year's eve, and as usual I didn't make any plans to celebrate in grand fashion.  Up until yesterday I was content to just hole up at home and spend it quietly by myself.  Tigger then extended an invitation for me to spend the evening with them, and all of a sudden I found myself with plans.

In typical fashion, food for the evening was take-out, and decided very late in the game.  Upon our arrival by bus from Central, it was time to go and pick up the food.  ILL got her chance to ride in Mrs. Tigger's C 63 Black Series, and went to pick up our dinner from Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) while I stayed behind to prep the wines...

The menu was typical of the Tigger household… most of the dishes feature time and again during their meals at the restaurant.

December 30, 2012

Cheese on a cold winter evening

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I stopped by my beloved Caprice yesterday afternoon as I was checking up on something, and was given a quick tour of their new cheese and wine bar.  This has been a few months in the making, and something that my friends and I have looked forward to for most of this year.  It finally opened a week ago, and I decided to grab a couple of friends tonight to check out the new digs.

The paint fumes were still somewhat noticeable yesterday, but I didn't mind.  Nothing like getting a little high on wine and fumes…  Perhaps it was the colder temperature tonight, but I didn't really pay much attention to the fumes tonight.

I started with a glass of 2006 Willi Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben, because it's been a while since I last had some Grüner Veltliner.  A little mineral, ripe, muscat grape on the nose.  Sweet with saucisson, but not so good with jamón ibérico.

December 27, 2012

Lil' clique of alkies

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A couple of weeks after the last gathering, the Alcoholics met up again to welcome a visitor back to town.  After bailing on an earlier gathering, I finally had my chance to try out a private kitchen located in a cul-de-sac called The Coterie.  I had balked at the price being charged when I first heard about it, thinking that it was out of line with the pricing of other fine dining establishments in town, but I was very curious to see whether it was justified.  After all, the Specialist seemed enamored with the place…

The nondescript plain white walls outside concealed a richly decorated space.  Our room - one of two - was dominated by a long table with a mirrored surface.  I would discover later that someone had managed to scratch it.  The silverware was an elaborately decorated pattern from Christofle, and there were multiple wine glasses at each seat.  Put all of this together and the first word that comes to mind was "bling".

It took more than half an hour for something edible to appear on the table, partly because one of us arrived a little late.  But the lack of any snacks or bread meant that I was drinking bubbly on an empty stomach, and that is never a good thing…

December 25, 2012

Meat 'n potatoes for Christmas

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Woke up late on Christmas Day, after staying up late at night trying frantically to make sure the ducks were still lined up.  Went to bed with my fingers crossed, but with hope levels like the receding tide.  Checked my email as soon as I opened my eyes and got some bad news.  My train won't be running on schedule, and arrival at final destination will be delayed for an uncertain amount of time.

A little depressed, I lazed in bed and moped around the apartment on this cold winter morning.  I have a delicious late lunch to look forward to, but my spirits were a little dampened.  I need to pick myself up and just get out of the house.

After pickup up the wine from the office, I arrived fairly late at Susan's.  Everyone sitting around the table has already gone through a round of food, so I put the wine down, hurried to my seat and was immediately served with the main event on my plate…

December 24, 2012

Comesus interruptus

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It's Christmas Eve, and I'm in the office frantically trying to make sure that all the ducks are lined up.  We're just short of our scheduled launch and a few of the documents are not 100% finalized.  Trying to schedule 2 board meetings over Christmas also isn't the easiest thing, and thankfully people have been very accommodating.

So 7pm rolls around, and I finally get to leave the office and head to dinner.  My adopted family has kindly taken me in for the night, so I joined Mr. and Mrs. Tigger and their friends at the Dining Room of the Aberdeen Marina Club.  I was the last to arrive, but fortunately I was still on time.

Unfortunately I received a distressing email just as I stepped out of the taxi, and something went a little awry with the chain of events which I thought were on schedule.  I tried to contact my external counsel for a simple fix, but the person was MIA.  I guess I would have to try to fix it during dinner…

Dinner tonight was a 5-course set menu - not surprising given the occasion.  There were 3 choices for each course, which was actually pretty good.

December 18, 2012

The lunch game

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Ever since we ran into Chef Vincent at the book launch, ILL and I have been talking about going to Caprice for a meal before year end.  It's game season, and where better to get your game meat than from the man who loves promoting it in Hong Kong?

Needless to say, bookings are hard to come by these days.  We had to leverage off our relationships with the restaurant to try to move ourselves up the waiting list.  After turning down several last-minute openings over the last week or so - due to one of us being tied up - we finally managed to meet up with a mutual friend for lunch today.

I knew exactly what I wanted before I walked in.  It meant giving up on the extremely well-priced set lunch, and would end up costing me dearly as far as lunch money goes, but I didn't care.  I want what I want.

The savory canelés with olives and anchovies are always yummy, but I'm getting a little tired of this… Time to serve up something new, please!

December 17, 2012

The 4x100

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It was the end of the season, and Pineapple's turn to host the final MNSC event of the year.  As usual the fight for last place was intense, and experience tells us that anything can happen at the very end of the year.  There was a lot at stake as I headed to The Principal for dinner, and after the lesson learned from the last tasting, we had a full house present...

My first visit earlier this year made a good impression, and I was really looking forward to coming back, especially now that they've taken down a well-deserved macaron.

The snacks are always interesting, and as with last time there was some sweet popcorn, although tonight we also had sweetened deep-fried pork rinds, which I inhaled and then tried to steal from the rest of the table…  The pecans were also good.

December 15, 2012

Eighty-six this dish

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Casual lunch today.  I met up with a friend since I'm in danger of bailing out on him for our dinner this coming Tuesday.  We bounced around ideas for the venue, and he suggested that we check out Madam Sixty Ate.  The place opened up with a lot of hype last year, and not surprisingly I never found the time to pay them a visit... until now.

We were able to pick from both the lunch and the weekend brunch menu.  The very first item on the lunch menu caught my attention, and from then on my eyes were no longer able to focus on the other dishes...  Love at first sight, you might say...  Ever since my first encounter with this classic dish, it has become an instant favorite of mine.  I think I prefer the classic version, and not the more creative version that I actually had a few days prior to that first encounter.

December 12, 2012

An Alcoholic Lot

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Ever since that interview article in the papers came out, the Alcoholics have been asking me to take them to On Lot 10, with a couple of special requests.  Apparently it was thought that they'd eat better with me around, although I think that's hardly the case…  Anyway, I did make arrangements with David a couple of weeks in advance, and crossed my fingers and hoped that everything would work out like they always had.

We started with a very special bouillabaisse.  Some of us were allergic to prawns (but not other shellfish), so I requested for David to use lobster and crab instead.  A Staub cocotte showed up at the table, bearing the brown, seemingly brackish liquid that, in fact, is fit to be called les gouttes de Dieu.  We were prepared to see someone lap up 4 bowls of this…

December 9, 2012

A crispy, porky, buttery dinner

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Less than a week after singing the praises of my good friend Susan, I received an invitation for dinner at her home.  One of our mutual friends is in town, and she had decided that she would cook for our little gathering.  It's been a while since I last visited Susan in her natural habitat, and I was looking forward to the smells emanating from her kitchen…

The first thing I saw upon stepping foot in the kitchen was the pile of desserts on the countertop… but more about that later.  She was also working on a humongous piece of pork belly, which had been rolled and was well-roasted.  She was trying to get the skin crispy, and we watched as bubbles/blisters started to form on the skin…

While the pork was resting, we found ourselves with a place of three different types of saucisson.

December 8, 2012

Ready to feed Hong Kong

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A while ago Tigger posted about the partnership between Feeding Hong Kong and Pret A Manger, and asked us to support Feeding Hong Kong by channeling business to Pret.  Pret A Manger has pledged to donate 1 HKD for every Christmas sandwich that they sell, or roughly 4% of the revenue from this item.  Proceeds will go to provide hot meals for the needy in partnership with Feeding Hong Kong.

Today I had the privilege to join Tigger, Gabrielle and the team from Pret A Manger at one of their Christmas lunch events.  Christian Action hosted a luncheon for underprivileged single mothers and their children, and I was there to witness the three parties in action as they managed to feed a group of hungry moms and kids.

Pret delivered plenty of food and drinks, with 3 turkeys, stuffing, sliced ham, roasted potatoes, hot dogs, sausages, fried rice...etc on the menu.  Thankfully the experienced team from Pret were on hand and expertly carved up the turkeys.

December 6, 2012

Lil' chapel on the hill

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I was very honored to have been invited by the Specialist to a very special wine dinner tonight.  Ahead of this weekend's auctions, Sotheby's held a dinner featuring the wines of Paul Jaboulet Aîné - specifically, Hermitage La Chapelle.  Named after the little chapel of St. Christopher that sits on top of the hill above Tain l'Hermitage (which, incidentally, is also home to Valrhona), La Chapelle is one of the most iconic wines of the northern Rhône.

1961 La Chapelle is absolutely my dream wine.  I had wanted to buy a bottle or two around 10 years ago, but on the advice of someone whose opinion I trusted, I instead bought bottles of 1978 at 1/10th the price and aged them myself…  Years later, I still don't own a single bottle of the '61, but prices have of course tripled…

The dinner was held in a private function room at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with the food coming from the kitchen of Man Wah (文華廳).  I have never cared much for the food here, and despite the Specialist's efforts (she had sampled the menu a few days ago), the end result wasn't all that surprising to me…

December 3, 2012

A celebration of friendship

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Tonight a small, privileged group of us gathered for a very special occasion.  My dear friend Susan Jung, the long-time food and wine editor of the South China Morning Post, has finally come out with her very own cookbook.  A Celebration of Food is a collection of 80 recipes, which are mostly from Susan's collected works published in the Post over the years.  However, there are also 20 recipes coming from well-known kitchens around Hong Kong, including those with Michelin stars such as Caprice, 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Fook Lam Moon, Cépage…etc., as well as places like On Lot 10.  In short, places that keep coming up over and over here in my diary.

I was introduced to Susan by a mutual friend back around the time she first took up her job at SCMP, after leaving her previous profession as a pastry chef.  That's a pretty long friendship, I have to say.  There were years when we didn't see each other much, but somehow we'd manage to find each other through mutual friends.  Over the last few years, I have been particularly blessed as I spent increasingly more time enjoying both her company as well as the delicious cooking.


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