Saturday, August 28, 2010

Moules! Moules!

Petites moules de bouchot & autres plaisirs minuscules at La Terrasse (G/F 19 Old Bailey St, Central Mid-Levels, HK)  - merci Chef Rene!

Amuse-bouche 1: marinated green olives, Bayonne ham strips, unsalted cashews (the ham was REALLY good)

Amuse-bouche 2: smoked duck breast, céleri rémoulade
Smoked Herring with Asparagus - tasty steamed green asparagus, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, thinly sliced red onions and some delish smokey fish (a bit on the salty side but very flavourful). Chef René should consider serving this fish cubed over a warm potato salad with the olive/balsamic dressing and the onions (and possibly some capers...)
Moules de Bouchot à la marinière (shallots, cream, white wine, parsley), with pan-fried potatoes to soak up the jus - awesome!! La Terrasse is receiving weekly deliveries of these mussels straight from France every Thursday for the next few weeks, check them out!!
Floating island - pretty good stuff. The crème Anglaise and caramel sauce tasted home-made and the almonds were freshly roasted. The island itself was light and fluffy as it should be and not too sweet.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Antinori Dinner @ Amber

Fine food by Richard Ekkebus & wine pairing from Marchese Antinori - can't go wrong with that. And, yes, I will always have a soft spot for Amber and Richard Ekkebus' cooking and I own up to my opinion, despite the fact that quite a few of my foodie friends disagree...
The lighting conditions were horrible (sorry for the noise on the pics folks, I swear I tried my best with the WB already...) and I had a bad cold which deprived me of the full enjoyment of the meal (but thankfully I still had a nostril and a few tastebuds in working condition...). I was lucky enough to be sitting between MM Christophe Pointaux (from Summergate Wines) and Jacopo Pandolfini (from Antinori) and did my very best not to look or sound too much like the complete wine dummy I am... oh well, to learn you have to start from somewhere...

Amuse-bouche 1: herbs (??) croquette with red bell peppers coulis and basil, cheese pastry
Wine pairing: n/v Montenisa "Brut" Franciacorta d.o.c.g.

The sparkling wine was surprisingly good for something that is not champagne (says the snob Frog...). Miles away from the ordinary tart and green prosecco taste one often associates with Italian bubbly.

Amuse-bouche 2: the famous foie gras lollipops, with their raspberry glaze and beetroot/cinnamon chips. Always goes down a treat :-)
Wine pairing: n/v Montenisa "Brut" Franciacorta d.o.c.g.

aaaah... the mini-black olive focaccias *miam* :-)

Amuse-bouche 3: Iberian pork croquette
Wine pairing: n/v Montenisa "Brut" Franciacorta d.o.c.g.

This was pretty but a bit disappointing taste-wise. I could not really taste the pork, just an overpowering (and quite greasy) flavour of caramelised shallots (could be my cold though...) . The texture was otherwise very nice, crunchy on the outside and runny on the inside.

Amuse-bouche 4: porcini mushroom consomme with Iberico ham & fat "soldier"(which turned into a veloute after stirring in the mushroom paste at the bottom of the cup)
Wine pairing: n/v Montenisa "Brut" Franciacorta d.o.c.g.
Super-delish - very flavourful mushrooms, nice creamy texture, welcome addition of some animal "collagen".

Starter: langoustine
'raw' marinated with Menton lemon & Manni olive oil, 'crémeux' of langoustine, cucumber 'tagliatelle'
Wine pairing: n/v Montenisa "Brut" Franciacorta d.o.c.g.

I am normally not a fan of raw langoustines, but I have to admit this was brilliant. The langoustines were super-fresh and sweet and melted in the mouth, and the Menton lemon glaze offered a nice contrasting tangyness. Pretty awesome combination with the refreshing cuke tagliatelle.

Main 1: line-caught seabream
cooked unilateral on the skin, ratatouille 'émulsion' with basil
Wine pairing: 2008 Castello delle Sala, 'Bramito del cervo', Chardonnay, Umbria, igt

The fish was just superb - perfectly cooked, with the slightly firm texture one would expect for that sort of fish, and the bed of slightly crunchy 'ratatouille' offered an interesting contrast of taste and texture. There was some meaty flavours in the jus (veal ?), giving another layer of complexity to the combination. Very well executed.

Main 2: girolles mushrooms
& fregola sarda, prepared like a risotto, tasmanian black truffle & stuffed chicken wing
Wine pairing: 1998 Antinori, 'Tignanello', Toscana, igt

oh boy I enjoyed this dish - the tasmanian truffles were sooo fragrant and the deboned, stuffed chicken wing melted in your mouth (lots of "collagen" here, again...). Fregola sarda are actually tiny pasta from the south of Italy, barely big...ger than a grain of Arborio when cooked. The wine was also brilliant, my favourite red of the evening. My guest and I enquired if we could buy a couple of cases and were told by the Antinori representative attending the dinner that it was no longer available (apparently Antinori do not keep "older" vintages) and that he was quite amazed the Summergate wine shop rep hosting the dinner managed to source some and he had no idea how he managed that (!!!). Booo... still feel privileged to have been able to taste it :-)

Main 3: Bresse pigeon
steamed with wild cep mushrooms, ravioli simmered with black olive & albufera emulsion
Wine pairing: 1998 Antinori, 'Tignanello', Toscana, igt

This dish was so well presented - the thin slices of wild cep mushrooms were arranged like "scales" on the Bresse pigeon breast - which by the way I am pretty sure was sous-vide not steamed... The combination of robust, almost meaty flavours from the olives and ceps with the tender, juicy and slightly gamey breast was just brilliant.

Cheese - by Bernard Antony of course!!
Wine pairing: 2001 Antinori, 'Tignanello', Toscana, igt

Comté 24 months (cow), Beaufort 18 months (cow), Tomme de l'Ariège (goat)
The wine pairing here was far from optimal in my humble opinion - sweet, mature cheeses like the 2 cow's milk here (to the left) would have been much better paired with a sweet white wine. The goat's cheese to the right would also have worked better with a much lighter and more fruity red. Oh well, what do I know anyway...

Dessert: peach
poached in champagne with lemon-verbena jelly, sorbet 'fromage blanc'
Wine pairing: 2006 Castello della salla, 'muffato della salla', Umbria, igt

Petits fours
Wine pairing: peppermint tea!!
Lemon tart with candied lime peel, Calisson à l'eau de fleur d'oranger, caramel (with edible wrapper), macaron (could sadly not identify the flavour...), chocolate madeleine topped with chocolate ganache, chocolate-dipped coconut rocher

Monday, August 23, 2010

What to do with... durian

D24, ripened on the tree & freshly flown from Malaysia

Puréed D24, milk, crème fraîche, gula melaka

Home-made durian ice-cream

Durian ice cream (serves 4)

Flesh from ½ durian, puréed
25cl liquid cream (“crème fleurette”) or 15cl coconut milk + 10cl coconut cream
5 to 10cl milk (adjust depending on consistency and how much flesh your durian yields)
30 to 50gr gula melaka (or brown sugar)

·       Bring the liquid cream (or coconut milk and coconut cream) to a boil with the gula melaka (or brown sugar) until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
·       Add the durian, stir well, and add some milk if the consistency is too thick (the right consistency is about that of a thick custard)
·       Divide in 4 pots and freeze (or use an ice-cream maker if you have one).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Where's the damn mango pudding ??

A feast orchestrated by the Elves (aka death by food):
  • Oie O degustation
  • Soja o brine, acétique
  • Mulet O sel gris
  • Riz O andouilette
  • Poule O crevette
  • Concombre o oeuf, colloïde
  • Poivrier O estomac, pickles
  • Citron Confit O canard
  • Lotus o anguille
  • Crepinette o quenelle
  • Boule O noodle, lardon
  • Mungo O tapioca
  • Taro O ciboulette
  • Lard o taro
 held at 潮味居潮州菜 (Chiu Chow restaurant - shop D&E, G/F, Bowrington Building, NO.2-16A Bowrington Road, Causeway Bay, HK)

Steamed goose liver
Reasonably tasty but liver in its non-fatty state has never been one of my favs

Just poached (!!) goose (poached in "master stock")
Plenty of tofu at the bottom of the dish, very tasty and tender meat

Goose heads and tripe
The tripe was chewy and pretty bland - did not try the heads (way out of my food comfort zone...)
Freshwater eel, wrapped in lotus leaf, poached
The eel tasted fresh and the broth was very nice and full of flavour. The eel as very bony though, which somewhat spoilt the dish for me.

Green (or was it grey ??) mullet
In all honesty, I found this remarkably bad (sorry...). Did not try the fermented soy beans sauce, but I doubt it would have improved the whole thing anyway.

Fried tofu, brine dip with chives and chilli
Not as smelly as I would have liked but the texture was very nice

Deep-fried pork and shrimp croquette with caul fat

Deep-fried pork and shrimp croquette with caul fat
Served with vinegar - that was one good croquette!! The pork was more present than the shrimp but the texture was great and it surprisingly did not taste as fatty as I expected (probably the vinegar...)

Eight-treasure sausage
This was simply yummy - rice sausage in pork tripe, with hazelnuts, chestnuts etc... very tasty :-) Would have loved to get more of this, but there were still many dishes to come and I had already reached the bursting point 3 dishes ago...

Chicken and shrimp paste
Not impressed. Am not convinced by the chicken/shrimp combination (even if the taste of each separately was quite nice) and am not a huge fan of these glazed dishes...

Pork stomach and white pepper soup
This was really good and helpful to digest a bit - I love white pepper.

Duck and preserved lemon soup
This soup was delicious. The combination of the tangy and slightly bitter preserved lemon works wonders with the duck meat. I wish I could get this delivered to my office for lunch ...

This was supposed to be a veggie dish (errr... ok) - some kind of "omelette" with shrimp & other garnishes - not bad but a bit heavy at this stage of the meal.

Pork-stuffed pan-fried noodle balls
Served with sugar and vinegar - very good but I wish this had come earlier in the meal...

Deep-fried taro sticks - nothing to write home about.

Mochis, Chiu Chow style
Tapioca starch skin, stuffed with red or yellow beans and steamed. I tried the red bean - the bean paste was coarse (with bean bits) and almost not sweetened at all, pretty good
Mashed taro with lard and candied lotus seeds
Next time, can we please start the meal with dessert ?? This was good - a bit too sweet for my taste maybe, but the texture was very smooth and the addition of lard made the paste really tasty. Yum!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Japanese delights

Another delicious meal at Sushi Kuu (Wellington Street, Central, HK). Really like this place :-)

Seafood onsen egg

A nicely cooked onsen egg with perfectly runny yolk, floating in light bonito soy sauce and topped with ikura (tasted slightly smokey), decent uni and chewy cuttlefish. Overall pretty good.

Always a good sign when you get to pick
your own sake cup...

Miso soup

That was a very good brown rice miso soup (with plenty of tofu cubes and tiny mushroom caps).

Aaaah... the sake fountain :-)

Grilled blowfish

Sweet, a bit sticky and slightly chewy. Quite good. Came with a dollop of excellent Japanese mayo (god I looove Japanese mayo...)

Grilled wagyu ox tongue

I just HAVE TO order this everytime I come here :-) Was still as yummy as ever.
Toro and spring onion cut roll

Good stuff - the toro was almost creamy and the onions present but not overpowering. Liked the presentation very much, especially the way the roll came with an "extra-topping" of toro.
Hokkaido crab tempura

Very nicely done. The crab was sweet and moist and we couldn't resist chewing & sucking on the legs. I obviously had to eat all the shishitos... :-p
Toban yaki sake steamed clams

Another of my favourite dishes at Sushi Kuu. Simple and perfect.
Mini shabu-shabu

Delicious broth, tons of mushrooms (MIAM) and green veggies. Even better, I could not detect any MSG (quite rare by HK standards).

Nice marbling, very beefy taste (Australian wagyu ?). Pretty good stuff.

Hokkaido milk pudding

The caramel sauce topping was delish, and so was the creamy and milky pudding. Tasted & approved!

Matcha ice cream

Not the best I've had in HK but still pretty good and refreshing to finish the meal.