April 10, 2020

Supporting chef friends: social distancing in the 'hood

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It's been a couple of months since I last saw The Great One, having had a couple of dinners cancelled in the meantime.  She was planning a night out at our favorite Neighborhood, but thanks to the new rules on social distancing, the poor Kat wouldn't be able to sit at the same table as the girls.  Would Hello Kitty and I come and keep the Kat company?  Of course we would.

We arrived to find three groups of tables set up in the main dining room.  The Great One has arrived and was seated at our usual table by the window.  The Kat and the two of us would be seated at the middle table, which has now been placed at a suitable distance apart from the other two tables.  And I was pleasantly surprised to see the other table occupied by friends celebrating their daughter's birthday.

So the seven of us are seated at two separate tables, although we should have the same menu and share some of the larger dishes.  I even offered some of the wine from the magnum I brought, seeing as the ladies didn't have any red of their own.  But we kept our distance to comply with the rules.

Basque saucisson "noir de bigorre" - always one of my favorites, and what a delicious way to start dinner!  Very, very tasty pork here.

Swiss Valais sheep ham - one look at the color showed that this was no longer the culatello from Massimo Spigaroli.  The first bite confirmed it.  The flavors were so strong, so salty, so fermented and a little pungent that they almost tasted like bottarga or a chunk of katsuobushi (鰹節).   WOW!  Pretty sure this was my first taste of ham made from sheep.
Veal tartare / mushroom / Parmesan - Hello Kitty was, understandably, happy to see this dish again.  I was actually surprised that the Kat took to raw meat... especially since there was some caviar thrown in along with the hazelnuts.

Babylonia / escargot butter - initially I thought these would be the pigeon eggs I'd had a number of times, but they turned out to be babylonia (花螺).  Loved the parsley and garlic butter, along with mashed potatoes at the bottom.

Mochida tomato / strawberry / roasted pepper - the tomatoes from Mochida Farms (持田農園) were sooo sweet, I thought they were even sweeter than the strawberries!  The roasted peppers were as good as I remembered from last time, but tonight instead of cherry blossoms we had perilla flowers - as well as marinated red perilla leaves.  And like last time, the finely diced onions added just the right touch.

Fried whiting fish - oh I am so happy to see these sillago again!   I can never get tired of eating these deep-fried fishies.  The poor Kat didn't have his wife next to him tonight, so he had to remove the bones himself...

White asparagus / sauce gribiche - interesting to find diced oysters in the sauce.  Very nice.

Roasted lamb shoulder / fava beans - that looked pretty impressive...  Lamb shoulder is always a dish I love to have.

And it was very, very tender... and tasty.  But the fava beans, though, were a little too much.  I grew up eating fava beans, but dude... there's a whole pan of them!  I would trade some of them for a little more pancetta.

The Man in White T-shirt came to show us this giant spiny lobster caught in local waters, which he said was about the largest he's ever seen... weighing in at more than 2kg.  This would be one of our main courses tonight...

Lobster / tuatua clams / seafood rice - I love it every time I see this pan come out from the kitchen and placed in front of me, although tonight it was technically served to the neighboring table...

The delicious rice came with the local lobster - which Hello Kitty had decided to name Bertha - as well as a bunch of tuatua clams (刀貝).  So, soooo happy.

I've been pretty tired today and this affected my performance significantly tonight, so I decided to pass on the Comté as well as the tarte tatin.  Instead, I just had one little canelé...

We were, suprisingly, pretty weak when it came to wine consumption tonight...

2004 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - nice and toasty nose.  Ripe on the palate but with good acidity balance.

2009 Dame de Montrose, en magnum - decanted for an hour before serving.  Drinking nicely now, pretty smooth on the palate without the sharp alcohol found a few years ago.  Lovely and fragrant woodsy notes.

1995 Maximin Grünhauser Abstberg Kabinett - nice, lemon citrus notes, with flint, white flowers, and polyurethane.  Good acidity here to balance out the mild sweetness.

Very happy to have had the opportunity to come and support my favorite restaurant in Hong Kong and help them weather the storm. The HK government has finally rolled out measures which should help restaurants in these dire times, so that they have a chance of surviving through this crisis instead of certain demise.  Let's hope many of our favorite haunts will still be around in 6 months' time!

Meanwhile, it was good to see some good friends, even if we had to resort to shouting across tables...


Markus Schmidt said...

Restaurants in Switzerland now have been closed for a month and some smaller ones may never reopen. Thanks for supporting the 'Hood and other restaurants . I really really pray we can return to this fabulous place towards the end of the year...

Hesam Diaries said...

Heello mate nice post


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