February 28, 2013

A golden Pawn

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After getting just a little buzzed from a bunch of 2010 Bordeaux at the UGC tasting, it only made sense to keep on drinking at dinner!  etc wine shops had organized a dinner at the Pawn, pairing the sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac with specific dishes.  That sounded pretty interesting to me, so I signed up to see how things would turn out.  Of course, it helped that wines from 3 of my favorite producers were being served…

NV Thiénot Rosé - nice nose of red fruits like raspberries.

UGC 2010 tasting

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The night before Robert Parker released his updated scores on the 2010 vintage tasted from bottle, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux - in conjunction with Watson's Wines - hosted a tasting of the same vintage.  2010 was the younger of the twin blockbuster vintages of 2009/10, and en primeur prices for the vintage undoubtedly shattered some records.  I haven't had the pleasure of tasting many wines from this vintage, so I was really looking forward to this event.  In retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised by how quickly tickets to this event sold out.  I actually had to pull some strings (thanks to the Specialist) to get myself a precious ticket…

I actually arrived a few minutes before the official starting time of 6pm, and there was already a big crowd waiting to get in.  I guess everyone wanted to come early and make sure they don't miss anything!

I had a wine dinner to go to after the tasting, so I was rushing to taste as many of these wines as I could within a limited time. That means I didn't really have time to delve deep into each wine, but rather just scratching the surface of each. I went through 31 wines in about 1½ hours, which I thought wasn't bad…

February 27, 2013

A midweek feast

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Believe it or not, I went to another "media dinner" tonight.  After the debacle a few months ago, I was sure that no one was going to invite me for another one of these again, but an invitation did come, through a fellow blogger.  He was trying to do his friend a favor, and I tried to do him a favor by asking him to check... to make sure that there would be no repercussions from me giving my honest opinion.  When the feedback was that the restaurant and hotel was comfortable with me writing whatever I wanted, I decided "Why not?"  Here's a place that seemed pretty confident of the quality of their food, and "fearless" in a way.  So I was thinking to myself, in Chinese: "好!不怕死的就來吧!老子看看你有什麽能耐!"  (Just kidding...)

I arrived at FEAST in EAST Hotel (un)fashionably late, and apologized for being tardy as a result of work.    The rest of the gang were already on their second appetizer, and I kinda dug in soon after I settled down and caught my breath...  I didn't know who else was going to be there, but it was good to see a couple of familiar faces.  I joked to my neighbor that, other than seeing her on a couple of occasions at Island East Markets, I only seem to catch up with her at events like this... and we live about 5 minutes away from each other (on foot)!

Prawn cocktail, Marie Rose sauce - I've never been a fan of cocktail prawns, and while the sauce was slightly spicy, I found the whole thing to be a little bland... Maybe I should have doused the prawns in lots of sauce...

February 26, 2013

An idyllic afternoon

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I'm not exactly a Macau regular, but I've been here enough times over the years.  Not long after I landed in Hong Kong in the mid-90s, I was taken to Macau to have lunch at the famous Fernando's.  For years it was the most popular restaurant with many expats from Hong Kong, and remained pretty much the first place that came to mind when asked about Macau.  I've always thought the food was pretty good there, and loved dishes like their suckling pig and pan-fried prawns.  I've made many trips to that little house at the end of Hac Sa Beach.

Today I tried out the restaurant at the other end of Hac Sa Beach.  Miramar comes highly recommended by my friend KC's Macau food guide, and as it happens it is literally a few minutes' walk from the Westin Resort Macau.  When it was time for lunch after the conference, I simply dragged my little suitcase over from the hotel.

I debated about whether to order the dishes recommended by KC, and was really tempted to order some suckling pig, but settled on a couple of my own choices in the end.

February 25, 2013

Batter up

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I'm in Macau for a conference and staying overnight.  While the free food provided by the organizers at the Westin Resort Macau seemed fairly decent, I chose to be anti-social and went out on my own.  I'm not in Macau a lot these days, and there was definitely an itch I'd been wanting to scratch for the last few years… even if I had to do it on my own.

Tenmasa (天政) has been on my list of places to go in Macau ever since it opened.  Outside of Japan, there are no shortages of sushi (すし), ramen (ラーメン), teppanyaki (鉄板焼き) or even tonkatsu (とんかつ) specialists, but it is incredibly difficult to find a half-decent tempura (天ぷら) restaurant.  When I heard that the specialist from Tokyo had opened a branch it Macau, it immediately piqued my interest.  Unfortunately I never found the occasion to come here, but that changed tonight.

I arrived at the near-empty restaurant, and eventually seated myself at the tempura counter.  For a supposed tempura specialist, it was curious that the place featured a sushi counter in addition to regular tables.  The menu was also strange.  Most of the set dinner featured tempura as just a small part of the meal, with sushi and wagyu filling up space.  The only set dinner where tempura took center stage was actually the cheapest… and this left me scratching my head.  I decided to take this set, but added a number of à la carte items.

February 23, 2013

Eat for two

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My lunch today came about as a discussion over a month ago, over dinner and wine with some friends. I had enjoyed my two previous visits to the Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market (香港仔魚類批發市場), and wanted to introduce a few friends to the place.  As I was going to be out of town for a few weekends and Lunar New Year was coming up, I planned a few weeks ahead and settled on today.

Naturally, I sought help with my friend KC, who had organized my previous meals and had connections with the fishermen.  KC very generously agreed to act as the liaison, and so I left matters in his good hands.  After the fishermen returned from their Lunar New Year holidays, the menu began to take shape…  I was very much looking forward to this feast.

I arrived at the canteen today to find a table of 12 booked for us.  There were only 6 of us, and I realized that there had been a miscommunication somewhere.  The seafood had been sourced separately, and was already being prepared for our meal.  It was too late to cut back on the quantity.  I fretted a little about the amount of food that was going to flood our table, and wondered how we could possibly finish it all…

February 14, 2013

The girl who (finally) ate

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I'm back in Hong Kong after stuffing myself with mom's cooking in Taipei, and instead of taking a break from eating as I should have been doing, I was out for another feast.  Susan was meeting up with Robyn of The Girl Who Ate Everything, and invited a couple of us to come along.  A table was booked at Manor Seafood Restaurant (富瑤海鮮酒家), and I can't really say "No" to that!

Robyn was invited to come to Hong Kong - along with a couple of others - by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.  She literally arrived on Lunar New Year's Eve, which is a really odd time if you ask me…  While the people at the Board may have wanted them to see what happens in Hong Kong during Lunar New Year, I think it is actually a terrible time to visit when it comes to food.  Many of the traditional and local places would be closed during this period.  Their food itinerary left us scratching our heads, and included places like Zuma, Nha Trang and Peak Lookout…  OK, so I can see why they were taken to the Peak Lookout, but… WTF was the Hong Kong Tourism Board thinking?!  Why fly people half way around the world to Hong Kong, then feed them non-Chinese food?!

Anyway, Manor seems to be the place where Susan entertains foodie literati from out of town, and certainly has a few special dishes we all enjoy.  I was glad to return after a 4-month break.

February 10, 2013

Pudding quest part 2: an all-star cast

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After my frantic search for the best lunar new year puddings a couple of weeks ago, I finally got the chance to try them out over the last few days as I managed to bring them home to Taipei.  As there were a few different versions, we had to try them out in staggered sessions…

What was interesting this year was that I've gone really high-end this year.  In the past I'd always been lazy and pedestrian, and used to buy my puddings from places like Maxim's (美心) and Lei Garden (利苑).  I did test out the Lei Garden version earlier, but found it sorely wanting.  Fortunately, I had pre-ordered a bunch of gourmet versions, which incidentally were all from restaurants with Michelin stars.

February 9, 2013

My lunar new year eve

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I'm back in Taipei, staying in my own apartment which I have been missing so much.  Lunar new year is the biggest time for family gatherings, so the parental units grabbed a few days' worth of supplies and moved in with me.  It's good to be home.

Of course, the biggest benefit of being home is being able to have mom's home cooking!  There are dishes that she only makes once a year, so I really look forward to this season.  Last year I managed to get mom to open a "cooking class", and she spent a couple of days showing J and ILoveLubutin how things are done.  Maybe one of these days I'll be able to try and see how much of mom's techniques they managed to learn…

Among the dishes for lunch today was stir-fried diced smoked chicken with garlic scapes (大蒜炒燻雞腿).  Every year around this time, dad goes to the same store to pick up the smoked chicken drumsticks. This year he had to line up twice, since each customer is allowed to buy only 3 each time…  But we love this dish, which requires the chicken to be finely diced along with bamboo shoots and garlic scapes.  Very powerful flavors, and one can gobble up a bowl of rice in no time.

February 7, 2013

Being disrespectful

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So… the Arrogant Prick is at it again, living up to his moniker.  Yours truly showed up in the South China Morning Post again, in the Food and Wine gazette today.  As a blogger, providing a counterpoint to an argument.  And I'm not exactly shy when it comes to giving people a piece of my mind…

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted to provide the "blogger's perspective" for an article about "dining etiquette", in particular complaints about dining experiences.  This is a subject that's close to my heart, and so I readily agreed to answer the questions posed to me.  My answers were condensed, edited and appeared in print today.  You can read the full article here.  I'm reposting my section here:

February 5, 2013

Tim again?

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A mere four nights after I was last here, I'm back at Tim's Kitchen (桃花源).  Both dinners had been booked weeks in advance, and of course I've actually done something like this before at this very same restaurant.  And I don't mind coming back so often, as I can choose to order different dishes from the menu.  Tonight it was to introduce the place to another member of the extended Tigger family.

Some of the others arrived early and were apparently hungry, so had gone ahead and ordered a couple of starters.  I nibbled on the very last little piece of deep-fried frog leg with peppercorn salt (椒鹽田雞腿), but was not a fan.  Just not that tasty.

I wasn't a fan of the century eggs and pickled ginger (皮蛋生薑), either.  Where was the soft and runny yolk?  And the pickle just wasn't sour enough, and tasted a little more salty than what I'm used to.

After everyone was assembled, it was time to bring on the rest of the food, including a couple of dishes that I've been missing sorely…

February 1, 2013

Pre-Lunar New Year feast

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Lunar new year is almost upon us, and ILL decided to organize a big feast in advance of the seasonal festivities.  I haven't been to a big gathering like this in a while, and it was interesting to watch the dynamics around the table between different groups among the 14 of us…  The venue?  Tim's Kitchen (桃花源), one of my favorite places in town.

I arrived a little late, and immediately plonked down my bottles of wine on the table.  A big feast is the perfect opportunity to get rid of inventory, and I'm in need of freeing up some space in my cellar.  Tonight was also apparently the big opportunity to exchange food gifts after Christmas, and jars of jam, preserves and other goodies made their way around (and across) the table.

The menu was pre-ordered, and I'm glad that I pretty much didn't have a hand in it, as I would very much prefer to see what others would order here.  In the end, though, a number of my favorite dishes did show up anyway… which made me happy.

A round of appetizers were presented at the start of dinner:

Marinated goose meat roll (冰鎮鵝肉卷) - pretty good combination with finely diced carrots, mushrooms, goose and tofu skin wrapper.


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