August 27, 2014

Afternoon delight

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I first saw announcements about a Pierre Hermé Infiniment Citron Aternoon Tea a few weeks ago, and thought it looked pretty interesting - especially since I'm a big fan of the Fat One.  But somehow it didn't register in my mind that there would be tons of people in town who would want to have afternoon tea like this, so I didn't rush to book a table immediately.

By the time I thought about doing something about it, both of the remaining weekends had been totally booked out.  Not wanting to miss the chance to taste some yummy goodies, I booked a table for a weekday afternoon, then roped in a couple of ladies of leisure who worked in the building to join me.

I dunno what it is, but I've been having some trouble with finding reservations at 5-star hotels lately.  I myself had no trouble getting seated at Cafe 103 at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong for this tea session.  However, one of the ladies had a little trouble joining me.  First the receptionist informed her that there was no reservation under my name.  When she insisted on having the special afternoon tea, she was told that all the tables were fully booked (which was probably true).  She was then led downstairs to a private room at another restaurant - where apparently she was responsible for kicking out the chef in the middle of an internal meeting.

Curiously enough, somewhere along the line the staff asked whether she was meant to join me and my "wife".

When my friend finally managed to join me a few minutes later, she told me what had happened to her and we all had a good laugh.  I had never been here before and certainly had never met any of the staff.  How the staff thought he knew me well enough - despite not being able to find my reservation - to know that I have a wife that I didn't know I have... is completely beyond me.

Anyway.  We were kinda left to our own devices for a while, but we finally managed to flag down someone to place our beverage order.  I was a little surprised to find that our waiter didn't know the name of the special tea that was recommended to accompany the nibbles...

First came the savory bits:

Confit duck meat and foie gras tart, candied lemon skin - pretty good, actually.

Citron egg salad brown bread sandwich - I love egg salad, and this was a little more interesting than usual.

Herbed smoked salmon dark rye bread sandwich with lemon curd - probably my favorite of the bunch.  This was just too classic - with a thin layer of smoked salmon on top of the bread, generously coated with dill that provided a lovely fragrance in the mouth.

Seafood mousse citron bread Swiss roll with crab roe - very interesting.  The seafood mousse inside tasted kinda sweet, and juxtaposed with the savory flavors from the crab roe on top.

Then came the main event...

Émotion Infiniment Citron - my clear favorite today.  I absolutely loved the combination of textures between the lemon cream, lemon Chantilly cream, lemon gelée, fresh lemon peel, candied lemon peel and lemon pâté sablée.  The different intensities of lemon flavors coming from the different components made things pretty complex and interesting, too.

Cake Infiniment Citron - seemingly boring in comparison, but this was nevertheless a very good, moist lemon pound cake.

Choux Infiniment Citron - just as complex as the Émotion, with lemon cream, lemon Chantilly cream, fresh lemon peel, candied lemon peel, lemon crumble and lemon pâté sablée all stuffed in the choux.  Of course there was just a weeeettle bit too much stuffing, so you gotta lick off some of the cream before putting any pressure on the choux with your fingers...

Sorbet Infiniment Citron - it took a few minutes for the sorbet so soften up enough to eat, but this was really refreshing.

Cheese Cake Infiniment Citron - also really yum.  Base made with pâté sablée and ladyfinger with lemon juice, the light cheese cake was topped with lemon cream and lemon marmalade.  I'm normally not a fan of light and soft cheese cakes - as I prefer the classic New York style - but I'll make an exception for the Fat One.

Macaron Infiniment Citron - aaaahhh... the origin of it all.  Wonderful flavors, but just a tad too soggy.

Thé Cérémonie - this was the "supreme recommendation", which uses Japanese sencha (煎茶) as a base with almond, cardamom and jasmine.  Gotta say that I wasn't a fan... Just didn't think almond and cardamom went well with the tea.

I was stuffed.  I had a relatively light lunch in anticipation of this, but this was by no means a small afternoon tea set.  It was really, really yummy, though.  There wasn't a single item that I didn't like, and that's a rare occurrence.  I'm so glad I was able to make it here today.

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