August 15, 2023

Four Seasons day part 2: for the love of tomato

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After taking a break at home for a couple of hours, I'm back at the Four Seasons Hong Kong. My Birdbrain Cousin wanted to come back to Caprice, and I haven't had a proper dinner here in a while. I'm always happy to come back and see the team, especially during this season when Hairy Legs is getting shipments of fresh tomatoes from maman. The latest shipment was apparently 70kgs and had just arrived.

Hairy Legs knew about my lunch today, so he arranged a relatively short menu for us. I am always grateful for the kindness of friends - especially ones who don't try to kill me.

We were poured a glass of Champagne while waiting for the arrival of My Birdbrain Cousin:

Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle, en magnum, dégorgée le 1 decembre 2021 - very metallic and mineral, flinty, like Anjou pears. Fresh and fruity nose at the same time, then a little more oxidized. Good depth on the palate.

But I really wanted to start our meal with a tomatini from Caprice Bar, made with les tomates de Chez Galliot. This tasted so fresh! Loved the green flavors of the tomatoes, and the sprinkle of poivre de Penja from Cameroon on top was particularly nice.

As usual the box of amuses bouches provided the start to our meal:

Tomato tart - with Parmesan biscuit, black olive, and burrata. Always love the cheese biscuit.

Obsiblue prawn tart - the prawn tartare was really nice with the radish on top, and the tart base was nice and crunchy.

Pita with curry chicken mousse

Strawberries and Tomatoes Association, Burrata Cream, Fresh Coriander - different varieties of tomatoes are on offer as can be seen with the selection of colors, along with ribbons of pickled cucumbers and some burrata cream on top. Garnished with fresh almonds and baby coriander.

We have a blanc-manger of confit strawberries at the bottom and a layer of tomato water on top of it. I loved this dish. Besides how deliciously fresh the tomatoes were, we've got great acidity to whet the appetite, and the nice interplay with the sweetness from the strawberries.

Sesame roll - given that I wasn't THAT hungry, I shouldn't have taken anything from the bread basket... but I just couldn't resist. It's been too long.

Sourdough - I definitely shouldn't have taken this sourdough, either... especially with butter.

Scottish langoustine, peach, and vanilla sauce - langoustines here are always executed very well, and the peaches from Corsica were pretty sweet. The fruity sauce came with both Tahitian vanilla as well as blue Bourbon vanilla from Réunion, and I really liked it.

Red mullet with Amandine potatoes cooked in seaweed butter, cuttlefish bolognese and saffron sauce - Foursheets cracked a wry smile when Hairy Legs came bearing the dish, and the chef reciprocated with a knowing smile. The red mullet was very, very tender, and came with lemon zest (and a little lime zest?) on top. I still remember those little potatoes cooked in seaweed butter and garnished with dill and buckwheat, because they just tasted really special and better than most potatoes I see. And that quenelle of 'bolognese' made with cuttlefish... I have missed this a lot, and I do wish I had a nice chunk of it to work into a plate of spaghetti. Maybe I'll ask the kitchen for it next time!

But as always, what makes the dish is the saffron sauce, with orange juice as its base. It just perks up any fish that is plated together.

Lamb from L’Aubrac Two Way, Celtuce, Chickpea Puree and Natural Jus - the lamb saddle was pretty tender and tasty, but of course it couldn't possibly stand up to the thin slice of lamb shoulder - sitting on a piece of celtuce - for the flavors the latter was packing. The chickpea purée and chickpeas came with mint oil and mint leaves, and these worked pretty well together as one might expect. Looooved the lamb with all its natural flavors together with the familiar seasoning of ras el habout.

It's not often that I choose to skip the cheese selection, but I really couldn't take it tonight. The ladies, though, took time to enjoy some while I sipped on some wine.

The pre-dessert came with yogurt cream espuma on top.

Inside we've got wedges of fresh mandarin, mandarin sorbet, and honey oat crumble. Loved this. So refreshing.

Fresh Peach with Verbena and Crispy Rice Paper - a layer of peach panna cotta sat at the bottom, topped with crispy rice paper, and we've got fresh French peach crowned with a peach and verbena sorbet. The peach sauce came with some star anise infused in it. Beautiful.

We forgot to tell them not to send us mignardises, so we ended up packing most of them to take home. I did, however, try out two that were new to me:

Lemon choux

Vanilla cream - with what seemed like apricot coulis and a buttery biscuit at the bottom.

I brought along two bottles of wine, and I gotta say that I was pretty ecstatic that both bottles performed beautifully. In fact, it's been a while since I last drank bottles of either wine that turned out stunning and lived up to their full potential. It was nothing short of exhilirating to be drinking a wine that I would rate close to perfect, and that doesn't happen often for me.

1987 Trimbach Riesling Clos Sainte Hune - served a little over 1 hour after opening. As expected there was the nose of petrol and polyurethane, but I was surprised how fresh this was. There was a little oxidation on the palate, but it was not sweetness as it was still relatively dry. Lovely nose of white flowers. In the Riedel Winewings Riesling glass this was noticeably more fragrant and elegant, and more buttery notes came out. A little lemon on the nose, slightly savory and almost a hint of umami more than 2½ hours later. There was just a hint of ripeness but again, the palate was still not sweet. Drinking so beautifully now, stunning! 97 points.

1995 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Landonne - I was surprised that the bottle was not decanted, but I trust the team. served a little more than 1½ hours after opening. This was soooooo beautiful! Lots of mint on the nose, peppery, halfway between green capsicum and black pepper. Definitely a little floral with violet notes, although we know there's no viognier in the blend. Good amount of ripe, black fruits. Sweet on the nose but not quite jammy and sugary. Showing lots of exotic spices about 2 hours after opening. A little savory now, with smoke and graphite some 2½ hours after opening. About 3½ hours later there was some leather and almost bacon fat. One of the best La La's I've had in the last few years and I'd put this at about 99 points.

1996 Gilette Crème de Tête, en imperiale - very fragrant nose showing orange blossom water, saffron, a bit more acetone, a little close-infused pineapple. The finish was longer with more acidity here. Also a little more savory on the nose. With more time in glass this was showing more oranges on the nose but not quite like marmalade.

1990 Yquem, en jeroboam - big nose of beeswax, honey, marmalade. More viscous and sweet on the palate. Showing more plastic on the nose, along with vanilla and some spices.

1978 Gentaz-Dervieux Côte-Rôtie Cuvée Réservée Côte Brune - this was definitely corked, which was a real shame. Showing classic wet cardboard and grassy nose, but still kinda fragrant. Palate was actually OK and drinkable, but of course it's on the light side now after 45 years. Later on this also showed some coffee notes on the nose.

This was quite an evening! I definitely had waaaay too much food today, but we left with big smiles on our faces. What happened later outside the hotel entrance turned out to be something that none of us will ever forget, but that's another story...

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