March 27, 2019

A dinner not to be missed

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The Specialist pinged me.  They were hosting a tasting in conjunction with an upcoming collection of amazing wines, and she wanted to know whether I would be available that evening.  Unfortunately it was to be held last night - the same evening when Asia's 50 Best Restaurants would be announced - and I was meant to be in Macau.  There was no way I could have made it to both events, and for a minute or so, I actually considered skipping the awards ceremony just so I could taste those wines.  Yes... it was truly a special selection of wines.  But eventually I gave up on the idea, and decided that I would rather go to Macau and see friends instead.

Then I got another message.  There was a dinner tonight, with wines from the same collection.  Best of all, it's being held at Uwe.  Would I be available for this?  FUCK YEAH!

So I dragged my tired ass - as I was surviving on less than 4 hours of sleep - and my luggage to the restaurant.  Uwe and I had spent a little time together last night at the awards, but I think he got a little more sleep than I did.

But first I met up with a friend from the Philippines who I caught up with last night, as she was having a drink with Hello Kitty at Le Quinze Vins.  So before I would go drink some serious wines tonight, I continued my bongwater streak from last night and took in some Ganevat...

Anne et François Ganevat J'Y Aime - first whiff showed much more metallic notes than expected, mineral, kinda ripe fruit, almost jammy, and a little sharp.

I was one of the last people to arrive at dinner, and most people had already started on their first glass of bubbly...

1979 Krug - beautiful.  Sweet and caramelized with some Chinese licorice, also coconut butter along with some salty plum.

Seaside: a collection of bite-sized (almost) starters.
Oysters - these Ebisu oysters from Fukuoka were grilled and came with ponzu (ポン酢) dressing, oyster leaves, and oyster flowers.  Full of ocean flavors - briney yet slightly sweet.

Scallops - Hokkaido diver scallops were sliced and served with pickled radish, coriander, and dill flowers.

Smoked salmon - a staple on Uwe's menu, but this is always smoked and when the glass dome is listed, the smoke filled the room and basically killed any chance I had of smelling the wines I had in front of me... But this was delicious as always.

King crab - the tartlets came with Norwegian king crab, Japanese mayo, and yuzu (柚子) caviar.

Shimaaji - the horse mackerel from Fukuoka was slightly smoky from light searing, and came with coriander flowers, sesame, chives.  These were thick and slightly crunchy.

Octopus - slices of Galician octopus served with harissa.

Salad - I love that Uwe always serves us organic vegetables from Tai O, but even more interesting is that the dressing was made of vegetables in a manner similar to X.O. sauce.

Finger lime - I didn't end up using the caviar from these finger limes...

1971 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - savory and mineral, initially almost not 'clean', but fresher and more lively with more acidity.  Second pour showed more nutty notes.  Two hours later more Chinese licorice and some marmalade.  So caramelized and sweet.

1982 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - much more toasty and nutty, very lovely.  Second pour showed more acidity, a little Chinese licorice, marmalade.  More than 3 hours later this was still very beautiful, and dominated by marmalade.

I initially preferred the '82, but as the evening went on the '71 got better and better.

Lobster: blue / Brittany / nasturtium / garum - homard bleu is always beautiful, although I couldn't taste the kombu (昆布) flavors in the butter that the lobster was brushed with.  Garnished with nasturtium flowers and leaves.

2007 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Perrières - nice and lean on the nose, a little plastic and pungent, but ripe and rounded on the palate, with citrus notes.  Lively and fresh but not too young, has some maturity to it.  After a few minutes toasty notes started to show, and the ripeness on the palate began to emerge after warming up a little in glass.  This was clearly the better wine of the pair tonight as it was more voluptuous.  Second pour was colder, but more ripeness on the palate along with some bitterness.

2008 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Perrières - more ripe than expected, with a little toastiness but otherwise the nose was mostly shut.  Later on the nose was almost dusty and chalky.  Second pour showed some beeswax and ripeness on the palate.

Pumpkin: Tai O Farm / baked / Comte / seeds / truffle - apparently the pumpkin was grown locally in Tai O (大澳), and the cultivar is between the Japanese kabocha (南瓜) and the European varietal.  Roasted for 4 to 5 hours, and the flesh came topped with a nice Comté sauce along with black truffle shavings.

The toasted pumpkin seeds were very nice, and pumpkin seed oil added some more richness.

Red prawns: Spain / grilled / garum - another signature dish.  The carabineros came from a fishing village north of Barcelona.  Always very, very good.  Since The Specialist won't touch the prawn, I split her portion with another guest and took the head.  YASSSSSSS!!!!

1985 DRC Echézeaux - beautiful, floral, elegant, with lovely fruit, and leather notes.  Served slightly too warm for my taste, but this made me so, so happy.

1966 Maison Leroy Echezeaux - more leather and animal notes, with a whiff of toasty oak.  A bit of nice fruit here, too.

Quail: Bresse / smoke / barbeque - dressed with a fermentation sauce and quail reduction that was very thick and viscous, and very smoky.

Turbot: line caught / morel / chicken jus - so it's not just the Chinese restaurants that deliver up 魚有雞味...  The turbot that has been grilled whole was dressed with chicken jus, but even then the "fishy" flavors were still pretty prominent.  Loved the collagen here and the morels, but it really didn't go with red wine...

Beef: cook book / sirloin / grilled radicchio - the sirloin came with Japanese white asparagus and radicchio glazed with homemade apple cider vinegar.  Wild mushroom powder on the side.  The beef was certainly nice and meaty.

1988 Guigal La Landonne - green pepper, a little bit animal, a light hint of medicinal notes, and certainly more tannic.

1988 Guigal La Mouline - initially the nose was very dusty and not clean at all, but got better after I changed to a different glass.  More toasty and animal than I expected, and a lot more muscular, but still more open than the Landonne.  Second pour was much more open and a lot better.

Selection of cheese:
Taleggio - very soft with a bit of salt.
Gruyère - more creamy flavors but a harder texture, and in fact more powdery.  Definitely more intense and salty.
Parmigiano-Reggiano - very salty, very full-bodied.
Comté - this was very young so was on the sweeter side, with some nutty flavors.
Pecorino - more gamey, more goaty... with acidity and powerful flavors on the palate.

Mont d'Or was baked and pretty nice, too.

I normally wouldn't touch Chinese baijiu (白酒) with the proverbial 10-foot pole, but as the auction included a selection of rare vintage Moutai, I figured I would take one teeeny weeeny little sip...

2005 Kweichow Moutai - nose a lot more refined than expected, and almost lovely.  Still tastes like paint thinner, though...

I told Uwe last night that I was only coming to dinner for the wines, but of course the truth is that I'd love to come and have his food any day. I did do my bit and tried to tell the other guests - many of whom were from out of town - that they were at one of my favorite restaurants in Hong Kong.

Many thanks to Sotheby's for their kind invitation. Now I really needed to get some sleep...

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