September 1, 2019

Hung up

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The Hong Kong Jockey Club has an amazing guest chef program, and over the years I've had the privilege of enjoying a number of fantastic meals without having to travel across the world.  The Man in White T-shirt will generously invite friends to his table during these events, and I've been lucky enough to have been included on some of them.

What I know of Francis Mallmann mainly came from the episode of Chef's Table devoted to him.  He seemed to be a very different kind of chef, and when I found out that there would be a pool-side barbecue dinner at the Jockey Club, I didn't hesitate to put my hand up.

But as it had been raining on and off over the last few days - and there were showers earlier in the day - the dinner was moved indoors to the Derby Restaurant. Meanwhile, they did set up his custom wood fire grill so that he could hang the ingredients up on strings.

Choripan with criolla sauce - man, that is one salty chorizo!  And I really thought there was some cheesy flavors in the salsa criolla.

Farina with confit tomato - very nice, with diced olives.

Burnt polenta with anchovy tapenade - not surprisingly, the anchovy tapenade was also very salty...

Shrimp in rosemary - this was fine, but I could have done without the rosemary.

Scallops with bacon - bacon!  'Nuff said.

Smashed potato with caviar and crème fraiche - kinda interesting, I guess.  The "smashed" potato replaced the traditional blinis.

This bread was very, very interesting.  The tips of the folds were nice and crunchy while the center was still soft.

The butter was made with cinnamon and other spices.

Wild fish on bamboo bed - so the "wild fish" turned out to be these big turbots from France weighing around 6kg, which Chef Mallmann proceeded to cut up and serve in the dining room.

Served with ash cooked butternut squash.  The turbot was fine, but that butternut squash was really delish.

Being greedy Chinese people, we naturally preferred the wings over the back of the turbot.  The Man in White T-shirt went out to ask for this, and we ended up getting a whole bunch.  Very, very nice.

String hung chicken and duck, ash cooked sweet potatoes and red cabbage - well, both the chicken and the duck were a little on the dry side, but I honestly didn't expect any different from having these birds hung over open flame for a while.  Plenty of pine nuts mixed into the chimichurri.

Whole ribeye on the bone - the main event saw Chef Mallmann come out and carve the ribeye.

And by this time, I was already pretty full... so even though I got a "regular" slice and not a particularly thick one, I had trouble taking down more than half of it.  That was a shame, because it was a real nice piece of beef.    Big flakes of sea salt and chimichurri on top.  Smashed potato on the side, topped with a nice salsa.

Dulce the leche pancakes with cream and burnt orange and strawberries, string hung pineapple with Mascarpone and Amaretto di Saronno - yes... the menu read "dulce THE leche".  Well, it's something I love, and having it wrapped inside the crèpe was pretty tasty.  The burnt orange was interesting, as was the pineapple.

The dinner tonight was actually a wine dinner, featuring wines from Bodega Garzón.  As it turns out, Francis Mallmann is the culinary director for the restaurant at the winery.  So THAT's why Chef Mallmann is here...

2018 Garzón Estate Pinot Noir Rosé - nose of strawberries, flint, and white flowers.  Still a little pungent.

2018 Garzón Albariño Reserva - nose of sweet stone fruits and flint.  Palate was kinda ripe.

2016 Garzón Cabernet Franc Reserva - pretty smooth on the palate, still concentrated and the tannins are still here.  A little smoke, and became pretty big and smoky later, almost like coffee with dark roasted beans.

2016 Garzón Single Vineyard Tannat - bigger on the palate.

2015 Garzón Balasto, from magnum - the first sip was smoother than expected.

2016 Garzón Balasto - more ready and accessible than the 2015.

A very interesting evening. Maybe one of these days I'll have the opportunity to taste Chef Mallmann's food on his home turf.

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