Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weekend Lunch Club

Our little group of foodies has found it increasingly difficult recently to organise our traditonal Friday Lunch Club gatherings... so we ended up organising a Saturday Lunch Club and braved the cold drizzle to gather at Cépage (23 Wing Fung Street, Wanchai) for a long and lazy session. This restaurant had been on my to-eat list for ages, and I had been looking forward to this lunch a lot... we ordered from the regular lunch menu, and if some of the side dishes were a miss, some others were a massive hit. Overall, I had a pretty awesome meal and will be looking forward to coming back and trying their à la carte options.

First AB: toasted sourdough bread, iberico ham and tomato "ceviche"

What a brilliant combination! The ham was delicious and full of salty porky goodness and the tomatoes (for once) tasted like... tomatoes! What a nice way to wait for late comers...

Excellent bread - sourdough with raisins and brioche

The sourdough was perfect. The brioche had a slightly thick and rather tough bottom, while the top part was perfectly light and fluffy - issues with the baking, or with the reheating?

AB 2: almond panna cotta with orange "juice"

Sweet ABs are something I would expect from Pierre... this was particularly good. The panna cotta was actually much lighter in texture than normal but still pretty creamy and packed with almond flavour, to which the bitterness of the orange sauce brought interesting contrasting flavours.

AB 3: sweet corn velouté with caviar

The corn velouté tasted amazingly fresh and sweet. The pairing with caviar was interesting and turned out to work quite well.

Stuffed squids with melody of olives, Iberian chorizo and Japanese mustard
This was just so totally awesome, I had to mop my plate clean with a piece of bread... delicious, tender baby squid, stuffed with their own chopped up tentacles and veggies, in an umamissimo olive and tomato sauce with tiny cubes of chorizo. Brilliant flavour combination and faultless execution.
Steamed Tasmanian salmon with "Verjus" from Périgord 
I normally don't order salmon, whether in sushi bars or otherwise... it has to be one of the most boring and overdone fish ever. This being my first time at Cépage, I was very much in "Come on Chef, WOW me!" mode - the presence of verjus in the dish sounded interesting and I was curious to see how the kitchen would pull this together. The salmon came perfectly medium as I like it, and was gently sprinkled with some piment d'Espelette flakes. The verjus sauce just worked brilliantly with the fish, and the plating was very arty and beautiful. This dish was just brilliant.

Salmon - nicely cooked and still slightly wobbly inside...

Poached Conference pear with pink guava sorbet and plum powder medallion
The perfect light dessert - fondant slices of fragrant poached pear, topped with pear jellies, fruity pink guava sorbet, and meringue discs sprinkled with slightly sour plum. The toasted pine nuts were completely unnecessary though, I left mine on the side of the plate...

Petits fours

The cannelés were surprisingly good, while the madeleines were a miss (wrong texture, not enough butter and sugar, too much lemon peel - or was that lemon oil? - and the browning looked really strange). Pretty interesting mulled wine jelly, the marshmallow tasted so close to the Haribo version it was suspicious... the salted butter caramels had (too) large salt cristals sprinkled on them, and the cranberry and almond shortbreads were ok but not really interesting.

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