October 3, 2019

Krug x Pepper

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It's that time of the year again... when Champagne Krug rolls out their annual single-ingredient pairing.  Having told PR8 to fuck off politely declined an invitation from PR8 last year due to a busy schedule, and seeing that he's only managed to use up 1 meal out of his quota this year, I accepted the invitation with pleasure to join the many-hands dinner tonight... especially since this time, we don't have to travel from restaurant to restaurant just to taste one dish at each location.

The theme this year is Krug x Pepper, and early in the year a group of Krug Ambassades traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico for a little powwow.  Each participating chef has since created a dish to serve in his/her restaurant.  Tonight, 5 of these chefs came together in a showroom in a shopping mall to introduce their dishes to us.

Thanks to being stuck in traffic for about 50 minutes, I was the last to arrive with one other person.  The staff were clearly very busy, as I had to look around to get myself a glass of bubbly... at a wine dinner!  In fact, I kinda had to snap my fingers at PR8 for this...

We were soon seated at the long table, and the first dish was served:

Braised abalone, cuttlefish noodle and shishito pepper tempura, by Robin Zavou - very Japanese.  The braised Japanese abalone was very tender, as were the beautiful ribbons of cuttlefish noodles.  The scored calamari was nice and springy, and we've got some nasturtium to accompany the rather strong sauce made with abalone liver and shishito pepper (獅子唐辛子).  We also had the pepper on the side, although I wouldn't exactly call it tempura (天ぷら)...  This was pretty tasty.

BBQ quail with smoked, aged, pickled, and fermented peppers, by Uwe Opocensky - so we've got different types of pepper here, each with a different treatment.  Clockwise from 9 o'clock: smoked shishito with a pepper leaf; pepper terrine with jam of Trinidad scorpion pepper and local mulberries; Habaneros; Scotch bonnet fermented for 3 weeks and marinated for 24 hours.  I took one small bite of the Scotch bonnet, and thankfully the extended treatment meant the heat was significantly dialled down and my tongue remained intact...

The barbecued quail came with a quail emulsion featuring Trinidad scorpion pepper, along with smoked red pepper sauce which one could dip the quail into.  I thought the bird was a little more cooked than I would normally prefer, but under the circumstances it was perfectly understandable that the doneness could not have been tailor-made for each diner. 

The gel made from Trinidad scorpion peppers were milder than the actual pepper.

The first two dishes were meant to be paired with Grande Cuvée.

Krug Grande Cuvée, 167ème édition, ID 118012 - nice and toasty nose, with delicious ripeness.  Always my go-to Krug.

Wagyu sushi with Maganji tougarashi peppers, by Mori Tomoaki - my least favorite dish tonight.  Yes, there was a thin slice of cooked wagyu, but the shari was so wet that the rice grains no longer held together... and one couldn't call it sushi.  There was both Manganji pepper (万願寺唐辛子) purée as well as a red pepper purée.  In fact, it's really more like stir-fried beef and green pepper on rice (青椒肉絲) - like the chef described as his inspiration.

Roasted Racan pigeon with piquillo pepper marmalade with hibiscus, cocoa sauce, by Guillaume Galliot - a slight modification of Hairy Legs' signature dish.  The pigeon was good as expected, and the sweet corn mousse was excellent.  I was honestly a little let down by the piquillo marmalade, because I would have wanted just a little heat to make things a bit more exotic.

Chopped chilli pepper fish maw, by Vicky Cheng - the steamed rice was mixed with lard (豬油撈飯!), then topped with fish maw cooked with 3 types of fermented chilis: red habaneros, red jalapeños, and red Italian sweet chilis.  A sprinkle of crunchy pork fat on top completes the dish.

My plate was served last, because Vicky had reserved something truly special for me... GOLD FOIL!!!!  There was so much gold that I was totally tempted to pick some up with my fingers and stick 'em on my teeth...  I was absolutely sure that my neighbors were completely jealous of me, since they didn't get no gold...

Gotta say that this was my favorite dish of the evening.  The flavors were all there, and really satisfying.  I couldn't help but be reminded of the steamed fish head in pickled chili from The Chairman (大班樓), since it also featured gelatin from fish, different types of chilis, pork lard, and is often taken with steamed rice.  Very similar textures and flavors between the two dishes.

The last three dishes were paired with Rosé:

Krug Rosé, 21ème édition, ID 316033 - fruity with lots of strawberries.

A rather nice dinner, and I'm grateful for the kind invitation from Champagne Krug. But there was no dessert tonight... and since we were only a floor above the popular Japanese import A Happy Pancake (幸せのパンケーキ) - a shop I had never been to nor had much desire to enter - it seemed like the perfect excuse to grab some fluffy Japanese pancakes.  Da Jam and The Great One would be my accomplices for this little adventure.

Pancake with banana and chocolate sauce - fluffy, indeed.

Pancake with milk tea sauce and homemade granola - kinda interesting, especially with the granola.

As it turned out, two orders of pancakes was a little too much for us.  But I was happy to have taken this detour and caught up with my friends.

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