Saturday, May 28, 2011

Seasonal highlights

I have been raving about Caprice (6/F Four Seasons Hotel, Central, Hong Kong) to a lot of my friends, and despite this, Agent J from the J&T Special Unit had resisted for the best part of a year paying his respects to this temple of fine French food... well tonight that was about to change, as Agent T managed to lure him in on account of having out-of-town guests to honour. I think it won't take too long for him to book his next lunch there ;)

In season: green Vaucluse asparagus

As usual, Chef Vincent's very fine cuisine triggered bouts of ecstatic grunting around the table and the service was absolutely impeccable, even if none of the restaurant manager or his trustworthy second-in-command were in sight.

Amuse-bouche: mini-brioches with garlic & spinach and cauliflower mousse

Still as nice as last time and unfortunately still a one-bite affair :)

Baby baguette and sesame roll

No introductions needed for these classics. The roll was at its usual buttery and nutty best, and the baguette was a very welcome vessel to carry a load of Bordier butter.

Amuse-bouche: bouillabaisse jelly, codfish brandade mousse, seasonal vegetables, shellfish coulis

Lots of marine flavours here, all brought together by a delicate spice touch and rounded up by cream. Delicious.

Vaucluse Green Asparagus with Wild Salmon Tarama, Sour Cream Blinis and Dill Pesto

A truly gorgeous light starter, full of seasonal flavours. The asparagus were very tasty and fondant, and paired very nicely with the mild and creamy tarama and the delicious smoked salmon strips. Tiny blinis with cream and a single salmon egg completed the gorgeous plating, together with a few drops of an amazingly intense dill coulis. Very pretty and equally delicious. 

Atlantic Sea Bream with Marine Crushed Potato, Pork Knuckle Andouillette and Red Wine Sauce

This dish got me at hello... did you say red wine sauce with fish!? The sea bream was firm as it should be and cooked to my liking. The bed of crushed potatoes was tossed with seaweed (and what I thought was a very light touch of Meaux mustard) and the flavours worked just perfectly with the fruity and slightly acidic wine reduction. The pork knuckle andouillette was deliciously full of pigginess, which added even more umami to the dish. The slice of andouillette came topped with an unannounced (and IMHO unnecessary) cooked oyster, which was so bitter I could not even finish it. Even if it has been more palatable, this additional briney note would have sort of thrown off the delicate balance of flavours in the dish, and I am glad I tried the shellfish on its own rather than waste a mouthful of this otherwise awsome dish.

The cheese board... always a feast for the eyes and the palate.

I know better than to order dessert here now... I would therefore allocate precious stomach space and calories  to cheese - my selection today would include Chaource, Brin d'Amour, coulommiers, roquefort, comté 4 years,
époisses and a couple of excellent runny goat cheeses I should have noted down.

Entremets: not quite sure what the exact name was, but it was like a deconstruction of a meringue lemon pie. Not a bad idea per se, but as usual with this PC I was in fault-finding mode the second this turned up on our table. The meringue sprinkles were slightly citrussy and the crunchy texture quite nice, as was the ice cream, which was very thick and was presented to us as almond. To me it tasted more of marzipan with bitter almond than simply almonds, and also had some very tiny pieces of candied citrus rind, which cut the sweetness of the marzipan and was a very nice touch. The disappointing part was the biscuit crumbs at the bottom. While the texture was pretty nice (a bit too hard maybe...) and the taste buttery, the flavour felt overall very flat and should have been enhanced with more amonds (or even vanilla). It bugged me for a good 2 hours after leaving the restaurant before I finally figured out what was really amiss - not enough salt in the dough!! That's what it was... It takes just a pinch to bring out the flavors, and the omission here really weakened an otherwise decent pudding.

It's very sad, I can't even be bothered to shoot the petits fours anymore... *YAWN*

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