January 10, 2016

A very Bau lunch

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While having lunch together last month, The Man in the White T-Shirt mentioned that the next guest chef that Hong Kong Jockey Club had invited to town was Christian Bau, and asked whether I was interested in joining for a lunch.  I know that Victor's Fine Dining - the restaurant run by the chef - is well-regarded and has earned 3 macarons from the Rubberman.  I had also heard a few European friends talk about the chef as someone they respect very highly.  So I didn't hesitate to sign up for this.

Amuse bouche, cold - apparently we were to be served with not one, but two amuses bouches.  This was salmon from the Faroe Islands, with a mix of green as well as toasted quinoa, in a sauce made of citrus and Mexican peppers.  The sauce had a lovely citrus flavor along with some kick from the peppers, and came with little bits of what seemed to be fresh almonds to provide some crunch.  The white dots tasted a little like white miso.  There was also pickled pearl onions.  Very nice balance of flavors, along with an interesting variety of textures.  A great start to our lunch.

Amuse bouche, hot - the hot follow-up seemed a little boring, hidden underneath a layer of foam...

Underneath the Parmesan foam was a layer of Port wine, with a layer of black truffle, and steamed foie gras custard at the bottom.  A beautiful dish.  Warm foie gras custard with black truffle isn't new, but adding Port to the mix gave it a new dimension, as the acidity cuts the richness of the fat.

Goose liver, langoustine, apple, smoked almond - WOW!  Truly an incredible dish!  A second foie gras dish in a row, but this time it's served cold.  A ring of foie gras terrine sits on a thin ring of green apple, and is topped with a layer of raw langoustine.  Garnished with julienned green apple and gel that tasted of salted lemon.  This was so smooth and beautiful... and the langoustine just worked so well with the foie.  Served with little beads of foie gras ice cream, as well as some apple gel with smoked almonds.  Undoubtedly my favorite dish today.

Turbot, kohlrabi, chives, dashi - it's always interesting to see that European chefs' penchant for using kohlrabi, and to me it's a crunchier version of radish or turnip.  Here we've got a pan-fried turbot - which was, unfortunately, just a tad overcooked - served with a white wine butter sauce infused with dashi (出汁) and chives.  You've got several different textures of kohlrabi, ranging from raw to cooked to mash.  While I thought the dish was pretty tasty, it did seem a little over-seasoned.

Lamb, artichoke, salted lemon, coriander - a beautiful piece of Australian lamb rack that was still red in the middle, with a salted lemon lamb jus.  Served with a medallion of lamb sweetbread that, surprisingly, tasted rather mild.  Below the sweetbread was a square of lamb belly that had been slow cooked before being finished in the pan.  Several forms of artichokes were on the plate: roasted, puréed, and deep-fried.  Finger-licking good.

'Souvenir from Asia': pandan, nashi pear, ginger - the "bau stone" was made with chocolate, pandan, and almond (?).  Served with ginger ice cream, along with meringue and pickled pear.

This time around, some of us decided to bring our own bottles of red.  I was initially going to take the suggested wine pairing, but in the end Fergie and I decided to order the two rieslings from the pairing as bottles and shared them with the table.

1996 Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Rouge, en magnum - very fruity, with strawberries and leather notes.  Opened up very well later.

2011 Joh.Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett - petrol, polyurethane, white flowers, and a little flinty.  Actually pretty sweet on the palate for a kabinett.  Originally meant to be paired with the goose liver and langoustine.

1966 Trotanoy - very smoky, with lots of tea, a little savory, minerals, almost soy sauce, and earthy notes.

1982 Trotanoy - sweeter than the '66, with lots of coffee, smoke, cigar box nose.  A beautiful wine that's drinking very well at this moment.

2013 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese - white flowers, white pepper, petrol, and flint.  Acidity was actually quite high on the palate.  Originally meant to be paired with the dessert, but we thought the high acidity here didn't really work well with the dessert, and thought the JJ Prüm would have been a better pairing.

This was an awesome lunch. Almost faultless in terms of execution and flavors.  My friends weren't kidding when they said that Christian Bau is one of the most under-appreciated chefs - despite his 3 macarons.  Now I just need to find an excuse to visit Schloß Berg... maybe on my next trip to Champagne or Alsace!

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