Friday, July 30, 2010

Pigging out

I was lucky enough to return to the Kimberley Chinese Restaurant (located in the eponymous Hotel on the eponymous street in TST) for another feast, featuring their famous roasted stuffed suckling pig as the leading act. The food turned out to be as delightful as I remembered, packed with robust flavours and served in very generous portions. A debate raged among the attending foodies as to whether we should only order 2 pigs and the beef bone soup next time, and scrap all the other dishes. I can only approve of a piggy doggie-bag for brekkie the next day :-)

Deep-fried salmon skins, dusted with salt. Apparently these are "left-overs" from the buffet lunch upstairs at the Kimberley Hotel. Perfectly light and crispy, delish!

Pig's trotters with soy sauce and sesame oil. Very nice and full of collagen!

Jellyfish and garlic cucumber. A classic combination, very good ... and lots of garlic, Froggie likey :-)

Beef bone soup. I'd have this for breakfast every day if I could!

Beef bone soup

Beef bone soup. The broth was delicious, with so much dissolved collagen it made your lips sticky. I happily grabbed the bones with my hands to gnaw on the tasty meat. I would have gone for a second bowl if I hadn't had to pace myself for the stuffed piggy that I knew would come towards the end of the meal...

Stir-fried prawns with salt & pepper and soy sauce - again a classic, perfectly executed, with fresh, firm, sweet prawns. Yummy.

Baked stuffed crab shell - a few notches below the FLM version, but still very good. Plenty of sweet onions. It had some sort of sauce (which I couldn't really analyse properly...) between the crab and onion bits, which made it very moist and I think also lighter. Really enjoyed this.

The star of the evening: Mr Piggy
Chopping the stuffed piggy

This dish is what the Kimberley Chinese Restaurant became famous for. 30-day piglet, perfectly roasted with a delish crispy skin, and stuffed with a moist and fragrant stir-fried rice. Heaven in a plate. I wish I had 4 stomachs like cows just to be able to scoff a second slice :-)
Salt baked chicken. Good, even if a bit on the salty side indeed. Some guests complained that the skin was not crispy. I was very full at this point and was desperately trying to save some room for dessert, so I just had a small piece of breast, which was tender and reasonably juicy. Pretty decent.

Water spinach - so good I had to have seconds. The slight bitterness of the veggie was welcome to cut all the "collagen" (ahem...) we had earlier, and the use of deep-fried garlic made the dish fragrant and very delish.

Osmanthus jelly with wolfberries  - nice and light texture (much better than the rubber we had at Ming Court last week), reasonably fragrant,  and "Chinese bugnes" (no idea what these deep-fried strips are called, but this version was one of the best I've tasted - very light, not overly oily and sweetened with honey)

The mother of all ma lai gao ...
... and it was delicious!! Here again, a second helping was de rigueur :-)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Another brilliant lunch at Caprice, very good window-side table and cheese galore :-)
Should hire bodyguards... next target on my hug list :-)
Booze over lunch on a work day, moi?? JAMAIS!!
Aahhh... the butter!!

In this pic: beurre Bordier doux, beurre Bordier salé

Amuse-bouche: mushroom velouté and aubergine tempura

Nice and creamy mushroom velouté - the mushrooms were obviously wild so pretty powerful flavours. The aubergine was deep-fried tempura-style and my guest and I were debating what the aubergine had actually been dipped into before being fried - she thinks miso, I think more of one of these soy sauces with radish added... can Elfette shed light here ?

Tourteau Crab Tiramisu with Fruity Marinade and Tandoori Spices

In this pic: mango jelly cubes, shellfish "jam"
Light, fruity and refreshing - and very complex at the same time. At this point in the meal I still had hopes to have both cheese AND dessert... before being ambushed by Jeremy and his double-portion of cheese!! The crab was very sweet, and the pairing(s) of the flavours in this dish worked really well. The top thin layer of mascarpone cream added a bit of fat to an otherwise pretty lean composition. The flavours of the garnishes were very intense and interesting, I tried several combinations and I don't think I had 2 mouthfuls that actually tasted the same... great way to start a meal :-)
The work on the different textures and flavours in the garnishes was pretty impressive - that's attention to details pushed to the extreme...

So beautiful it deserves a second pic... look at that layering :-)

Challans Duck Fillet Cuit au Plat with Duck Leg Pastilla, Young Carrot and Aromatic Pearl Barley

I asked for my duck to be cooked just pink, which the kitchen of course managed perfectly (am not a huge fan of very red duck). The tender and juicy meat came on a bed of sweet carrot purée and a sprig of fried carrot leaves. The pearl barley was nicely firm to the bite and very aromatic indeed, enhanced by candied orange peel which paired very nicely with the carrot purée and the duck. The jus was to die for. Attentive service popped over just before I finished my meat to deliver and extra-dose of the nectar, and I then proceeded to ask for some more baguette and made a point to mop my plate clean. I think the kitchen got the message loud and clear ;-)

An "aerial" view of the whole dish - just to appreciate the arty and colourful composition

I have a terrible weakness for Caprice's pastillas... whether duck or lamb, they always come out totally awesome. The filo pastry is always perfectly crispy, and the seasoning of the meat is packed with flavours. This one came in a cute baby size with its cute little baby carrot on top... kawaii!!
Cheese Gromit!! We'll go somewhere where there's cheese!!
In this pic: coulommiers, the famous 4-year old comté, tomme de Carayac, fourme d'ambert, Selles-sur-Cher, chèvre affiné au Marc de Bourgogne, errr... sorry I didn't quite get your name ??, Anneau du Vicbihl
I think Jeremy had gone at war with the pastry chef and decided to ruin all guests' hopes of ever having dessert by serving them humongous portions of cheese (since then, the PC has deserted over to the Dark Side)
petits-fours: warm madeleines and chocolate dipping sauce

I ♥ cake - chocolate "marble" cake

Made after a recipe my Mom gave me... her works a lot better lol

Chocolate marble cake... with no marbling!! Will go down in my personal baking history as the Chocolate Othello Cake... pretty yummy though, thanks to the use of Valrhona 68%  :-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What to do with... umami

Ingredients: tomato puree, garlic, anchovy paste (anchovies, salt, sunflower oil), black olives, balsamic vinegar, porcini mushrooms, parmesan cheese, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt - so all natural, no additives or preservatives, and no colourings... that's a good start. Tried it straight off the tube and it's so strongly packed with flavours it's unpleasant - the taste lingers in your mouth for a good half hour. Pretty powerful stuff...

Sauté de veau au paprika: veal loin, onion, white wine, red pepper, paprika and a dollop of umami paste
Let me just say... wow! This recipe is normally pretty kick-ass in terms of flavours, but the umami paste really did add something very special to it. I have to admit I licked my plate...

Sauté de veau au paprika (serves 3/4)

600gr veal loin, cubed
1 large onion, thinly chopped
1 large red bell pepper, peeled, deseeded and sliced in ¼ inch strips
50cl dry white wine
1.5 tbsp paprika
25gr butter
salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tbsp umami paste

·       In a cocotte, heat the butter and brown the veal on all sides.
·       Remove the veal, add the onion and stir-fry until translucent (do not let it brown). Add the bell pepper and stir-fry for a few more minutes.
·       Add the veal back in, the wine and paprika (and umami paste if you are using it), season to taste and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer on low heat for 35 to 40 minutes (more or less depending on the cut of veal you are using), stirring occasionally.
·       Serve with plain steamed rice.

What to do with... cauliflower

A simple and hearty dish - one of my favourite comfort foods.

Take a humble cauliflower...

...some home made béchamel sauce: butter, flour, full cream milk, freshly ground black pepper, nutmeg, salt

Top with (a lot of) grated comté cheese and pop in the oven for 35-40mn - here is your cauliflower cheese!

Cauliflower gratin (serves 3/4)

For the béchamel sauce
50gr flour
50gr butter
50cl whole milk
salt, freshly ground black pepper
Optional: grated nutmeg, Cayenne pepper

·       In a saucepan on high heat, melt the butter until boiling and add all the flour at once. Remove briefly from the heat and stir vigorously with a whisk. Put the saucepan back on the heat and let the mixture dry for a few seconds until it forms a ball, the reduce the heat to medium and start adding the milk, one tbsp at the time, waiting for the previus tbsp to be absorbed before adding a new one. A white sauce will gradually form, and as this happens one can start adding the milk a little bit faster.
·       Once all the milk is incorporated, reduce to low heat, let boil for a minute or 2 and season.
·       Remove from the heat and film the surface with cling film until ready to use, to prevent the formation of a “skin”.

·       Prepare the cauliflower: remove the green leaves at the base and cut in pieces about the size of a mandarin.
·       Place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
·       Cook for about 20mn – the cauliflower needs to stay a bit firm.
·       Drain and place in a buttered ovenproof dish.
·       Cover with the béchamel, sprinkle with 100gr grated cheese of your choice (gruyere, comté, emmental, beaufort or even a sharp cheddar) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 180°C.
·       Serve with grilled meat and a green salad.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Two stars yet no sparkle...

I had been very much looking forward to this meal at Ming Court (Langham Place Hotel - Mong Kok) - allegedly 2 macarons in the 2010 edition of the HK/Macau Michelin red guide... Michelin should definitely stop rating Chinese restaurants, or hire people who actually have a clue about Chinese food. Not only did this place treat us to sub-par service (by no-star standards) and we had to fight with them to actually get some food delivered to our table (even though we pre-ordered everything...) but they also took care of dropping a few colourful comments about the foreigners at the table (2 allegedly "mango-loving" gweilos and 2.5 Koreans, who btw I am sure eat dogs eeek...). I am fairly open-minded about cultural jokes but suggesting that gweis don't know sh!te about Chinese food and always order mango pudding insulted the wannabe-foodie in me. This added to the fact that the food wasn't that impressive at all (and even downright mediocre for some dishes), I will not be visiting them again anytime soon. Too bad, gweilos are human beings, they have tastebuds too...
Chilled bean curd sheet with shredded duck meat
This was pretty good. The duck was tender, I liked the texture of the bean curd sheets, and the chilli sauce added a nice kick to the dish.

Chilled drunken pigeon

Tender meat with pretty obvious Chinese wine flavours. Not bad at all.

Braised shredded winter melon and mashed carrot accompanied with broccoli, topped with egg white
This was the first apparition of the ubiquitous baby bok choi...see later pics for more. This dish was quite spectacular in its presentation. Made to look like crab roe, the topping was actually a combination of mashed carrots and egg white, which had a nice texture. I detected some chicken broth flavour (so don't think the dish was entirely veggie...)

Stir-fried sliced garoupa with assorted mushrooms and dried shrimp roe
Supposedly an award winning dish, this turned out to be pretty disgraceful... The fish was very obviously muddy (even with the skin off) and possibly overcooked (judging by how the cheeks were falling off the head)... or was it just not fresh ?? The mushroom / shrimp roe combination had some interesting flavours to it but would have worked a lot better with a côte de veau in my opinion. Judging by this dish alone, this place would deserve to be stripped of both stars (and don't get me started on the service and the attitude...)

Stir-fried sliced garoupa with assorted mushrooms and dried shrimp roe
In this pic: fish cheek, falling off the head... no good

Stir-fried pigeon eggs with crab meat, scallop, egg white and yellow oily crab roe

ooh... baby bok choi, how original!! Apart from this minor detail, this dish was pretty delish. The bed of pea shoots added some bitterness and nicely balanced the sweet fattiness of the crab roe & scallop topping. The fried pigeon eggs were just yummy :-)

Stir-fried shrimp with egg white

Sweet shrimp, topped with egg white (loved the texture) and enhanced with vinegar, shrimp heads (good I don't eat these, because the kitchen managed not to put enough on the dish for all the guests at our table!!). The crisp fried perilla leaves on the side were pretty nice.

Stir-fried giant garoupa stuffed with shrimp paste in soya sauce
The slices of (muddy...) garoupa were wrapped in a layer of shrimp paste which tasted more deep-fried than stir-fried... never been a big fan of shrimp paste anyway. More baby bok choi (part of your 5-a-day) - we're at minus one star with this dish...


Crispy fried chicken
A classic, perfectly executed. The breast was tender, juicy and tasty (and I normally don't go for white meat...) and the skin was crispy and slightly fatty as it should be. I managed to grab an abandoned sot-l'y-laisse left after all the big pieces were gone... yummy :-) The thin lotus root crisps were nicely done too.

Mango pudding with attitude
Compliments of the management after we complained (very heavily...) about the service... and because (quote) the gweilos like mango (unquote) WTF?? Mango pudding has to be one of the most boring desserts ever, mostly because no restaurant ever seems to be able to get it right... and this place was no exception. This pudding contained so much gelatine it was actually chewy (I am sure it would bounce right back at you if thrown against a wall...). The top layer of osmanthus jelly was not as fragrant as I expected. This could become interesting with a lot more work on the textures and quality of the ingredients. And the dry ice... *yawn*

Steamed custard buns with egg yolk
A bit too shiny to be honest... one of the guests mentioned double-steaming - not sure if it was double but it was definitely too long, so I think the buns had lost quite a bit of their fluffiness when they reached us.

The filling was yummy though - runny salted egg yolk custard :-) but the skins were definitely chewy. One of the foodies in attendance said they looked nuked... I think I prefer not to know.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Golden Leaf

This place had been on my to-eat list for ages, so I was only too happy to take the excuse of a friend visiting from London to drag him there - I did not hear any complaints...

Jellyfish, roast suckling pig, honey-glazed char siu
I liked the thick cut of the jellyfish (maximum crunch). The char siu was excellent (one of the best I've had recently). The roast suckling pig was very good too (but clearly not quite in the same league as Fook Lam Moon obviously...)


deep-fried tofu

the texture was just perfect... crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, just seasoned with salt. I just couldn't stop nibbling on these...

I don't know much about wine so I tend to stay on the beaten track... this classic did not disappoint

Double-boiled supreme sharks' fin in a clear essence
This came with a supremely yummy broth (chicken, a hint of yunnan ham and probably many more ingredients...). The bean sprouts added a nice crunchy texture to the fin, which was topped with some very very sweet crab claw meat and crab roe. This dish was just superb.

Steamed garoupa - tableside saucing...

I love the simple way fish is prepared in Cantonese cuisine. Steamed so fresh it's almost still alive, a sprinkle of chopped spring onions, a dash of soy sauce, 3 drops of sesame oil and go... one of the most beatiful combinations of flavours. The fish was perfectly steamed and totally delish - I love my garoupa :-)
To me this dish exemplifies the supreme elegance of Cantonese cuisine.

Stir-fried beef with XO sauce

The strips of beef were very tender and juicy, the XO sauce was divine. Pretty awesome dish.

Choi sum

The broth was supremely yummy. Waiter, a straw please!!

Double-boiled superior bird's nest with syrup
This came with some coconut cream (which I did not try) and an extraordinarily yummy almond cream. Delish.

Mango pudding 

Yes I did order this!! (in case the European guests would be put off by the bird's nest, I needed a friendly fall-back option...). This was actually pretty flavourful, with the right sweet/tangy balance. Excellent, but I think someone should get brutally scolded for that sorry-looking tadpole of cream that came on top...

Steamed sponge cakes with olive seeds

Cute and yummy