June 27, 2024

Back to la grande dame

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Mr and Mrs Birdiegolf felt that my birthday would be a good excuse to meet up and pop open a couple of bottles, and somehow I steered the conversation towards The Peninsula Hong Kong. It has been YEARS since I last had a proper meal in the hotel, and while I had been tempted to check out either Felix or Gaddi's after the arrival of the husband-and-wife duo - each of whom was at the helm of the two restaurants - but I just never made the move. Not even when Seb came back to Hong Kong for his new gig at The Pen.

That ends tonight. Knowing that none of us have been to Gaddi's in quite some time, it was high time we paid La Grande Dame a visit. I got in touch with Seb and made the arrangements. This was gonna be fun!

We stepped in to the dining room and were led to one of the tables at the back of the room. Not the usual table for the Birdiegolfs when they were coming regularly, but the room hasn't changed much... other than maybe the Baccarat Harcourt Our Fire candlesticks on our tables. We've still got the band sitting in the room, and the average age of the diners in the room was still above mine. But they did remove the requirement for gentlemen to come in a jacket, so I guess that's progress...

I honestly don't remember starting the meals here with gougères but my friends seem to be familiar with this.

Sweet prawn tart - garnished with red onion and a sprinkle of parsley powder. Nice little citrus fragrance.

Corn roll - with popcorn and cream of chipotle. Very nice and sweet with fresh corn.

Next came the bread basket.

I just love the little bacon bits here.

We also get two flavors of Bordier butter.

Next came a razor clam where the "shell" was actually edible and made of buckwheat. The clam was supposedly cooked with piment d'espelette but I guess my palate wasn't sharp enough to pick up on it. They were pretty springy, though. We've also got some diced onions, celery, and apple... and some refreshing acidity from something that had been pickled.

Langoustines des Côtes Ecossaises - the Scottish langoustines came with some fennel, seaweed, piment d'espelette, and a dollop of Kristal Caviar from Kaviari on top. Served with 'dashi consommé which, to be honest, I'm somewhat confused about. But it's interesting to have both acidity and salinity in the 'dashi consommé...

We also seemed to have some kind of creamy filling not unlike panna cotta in the center of the ring underneath the caviar.

Artichaut petit violet - we have artichoke ravioli with chunks of artichokes, both raw and cooked spinach, Parmesan, and Parmesan foam.

Then Chef Anne-Sophie Nicolas, the new chef de cuisine of the restaurant, came to add a generous shaving of black truffle.

The dish would have tasted fine on its own, but of course with truffle the aromatics were just beautiful.

You know the real show is about to start when the duck press shows up next to your table...

Zee duck comes from Maison Burgaud, and damned if it didn't look downright beautiful!

The preparation of the duck actually took quite a long time, between the duck getting carved up, parts of it going into the duck press to get the juices squeezed out, and flambée-ing the sauce...

The breasts were carved and saved for later. I was kinda disappointed that the skin was skillfully removed from the meat,as I love duck skin and would always want it... But will ya just look at that color on the breast! Absolutely gorgeous!

Canard de Challans à la presse - the breast meat was very, very tender. The sauce is so classic that I had to take some bread and, you know, scarpetta... We've also got asparagus and girolles on the side.

Soufflées potatoes - always nice.

Pithivieres de cuisses confites - second serving of zee duck, where the meat from the legs have been stuffed into a pie with duck foie gras. We've also got fermented garlic, greens, and an herb foam. Taste-wise this was fine, but the pastry kinda separated from the stuffing at the top thanks to the (cabbage?)

Raviole de mandarine - the mandarin sorbet was lovely with a touch of bitterness, along with a good level of fruity acidity for balance with the sweetness. Champagne emulsion was nice, too. Very refreshing, especially after the heavy hitters we just had.

Soufflé au chocolat et féve de Tonka - classics such as these will always have a place in my heart, and the beautiful flavors of the tonka beans really shone through the chocolate. YUM.

Finally, we had the petits fours served on an elegant stand:

Champagne chocolate

Pineapple éclair

Vanilla and hazelnut cookie

Custard cookie

Mango and jasmine jelly

The evening just wouldn't be the same without a few nice bottles:

La Closerie fac-simile - lots of strawberries and red currants on the nose. Lovely mousse. Really fragrant, very nice and alluring. There was good depth and lovely balance on the palate, harmony among ripeness, acidity, and tartness. With time we also got savory minerals on the nose. Long finish. Lovely wine.

2013 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard - first served about 30 minutes after opening, and the wine was just beginning to show. The nose was really buttery, nice and toasty, and this was really ripe and alcoholic on the palate. Drinking beautifully about an hour after opening and it was so, sooo nice.

2017 Clos Rougeard Saumur Champigny - started drinking about 1½ hours after opening. Nose was very meaty, very animal, smoky, a little pungent, slightly savory, and a little peppery. Got some fruit here, and we've got acidity peering through the tannins. Around 2½ hours after opening the nose was showing lots of capsicums, too.

2012 Ogier Côte-Rôtie - started drinking about 2½ hours after decanting, and maybe this has over-aerated a little. Lots of pine needles and potpourri, but where was the jammy fruit? There were some lovely eucalyptus on the nose, with some ripe fruit that was far weaker than I had expected. The wine had clearly softened and was now more elegant. After 3 hours in the decanter, there were a little herbal notes, almost like green tomatoes. 

Management very kindly offered to open a bottle of colheita for us to go with our dessert. This was, of course, a very kind gesture... but the asshole that I am objected to them using Port tongs to open this bottle. This was, after all, not a very old bottle, and there was really no need to go through the motion of breaking the neck of the bottle to avoid crumbling or breaking the cork. It was purely performative to "WOW" novices who have never seen it done before. Phhhhhtttttt!!!

2000 Niepoort Colheita, engarrafado em 2018 - very ripe, very sweet, and very rich, like rum raisin ice cream.

This was a really, really enjoyable evening, at least for me. I relished the opportunity to return to this institution, and I'm grateful for all the attention and pampering we received tonight. Even Xavier dropped by to say hello, and it's good to see him back in Hong Kong. Anyway... we closed down yet another restaurant and left the hotel just around midnight.

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