Thursday, December 7, 2017

White Diamond Dinner

Price for white truffles this season has been ridiculously high this year (low production due to uncooperative weather), so that means I had to be frugal and thought twice on where I put my truffle money on - First World problem, I know. I have always heard the restaurant at Hong Kong Club serves one of the best valued white truffle menu in town so it's too big an opportunity to miss when a group I am (somewhat) associated with was organizing a dinner there.

Didn’t take my camera with me this time since the club has strict policy on photography (among other etiquette rules members and guests need to abide by) but turned out they are quite okay with photos for private functions taking place behind closed doors, so at least I could keep an account of everything we ate and drank in pictures (from my phone) to help with my memory.

The menu came with 2 courses of white truffle dishes, which were our first and second courses of the evening with 3g of truffles shaved on each dish done right next to our table. I think they confirmed everyone’s thought that this has been a challenging year for white truffles – the ones we got didn’t have such a strong distinct aroma as we would have thought, especially with the cold appetizer of foie gras terrine served with port jelly and duck rillettes. Overall the dish was nice, with the smooth and rich foie gras mousse being the highlight, but the truffle smell and flavor was very subtle. I thought our second course of scramble eggs with toast fared slightly better, with the mild heat from the egg released more aroma of this “white diamond”.

There’s a choice of mains and my veal tenderloin was outstanding – the tender meat was cooked perfectly with the pinkish center and slightly grilled surface, served with Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery root done 2-ways (puree and mille-feuille) and a nice quenelle of baked Dauphine potatoes on the side. We were served 2 types of cheeses (Taleggio and Comte) before our dessert – I usually didn’t particularly fancy a young Comte (aged only 24 months) but this one was surprisingly good, softer but still with a rich taste, going well with the sweet wine. (more on that later)

Putting Vanilla Souffle on the menu as dessert for a table of 26 showed confidence in the pastry team and they turned out great, with every one of them looked consistently good coming out from the kitchen. It’s served with a scoop of chestnut icecream on the side – I think it’s a bit too icy even when I dropped the whole thing into the souffle. I would have candied the chestnut and mashed in the custard instead of just crushing the chestnuts and left the bits in for a better taste.

Each of us were asked to BYO for the group (with the host suggesting Piedmont wine matching the Alba white truffles from the same region) so I pulled a magnum of Barolo from my stock. Definitely not my favorite of the evening especially with a flat nose (a sign of bottle fault perhaps? I will have to find out when I open another bottle at another time) But luckily we had a great flight of wines for the evening – many Barolos as you could imagine but there were also some other interesting ones from other regions, going across from 1939 to 2013.

The 1939 Passito Erbaluce was poured first but most of us left it in the glass for the cheese course towards the end. It was beautiful – I wouldn’t have guessed it’s almost 80 years old with sherry like characters but still going strong, especially with the young Comte. I also liked the pair of the medium-aged Barolos, including the 1996 Barolo Cannubi Boschis from E.Pira & Figli and the 2001 Parusso Barolo Bussia. They seemed to come to age finally – Barolos did take that much time to mature. Mr Alberto Chiarlo from the Piedmontese family vineyard Michele Chiarlo was in attendance of the dinner and he brought us a few of the bottles from his own cellar. Among those my favorite was their Barolo Cannubi 2007 with a pleasant floral nose and elegant body – can take more time to age but just as enjoyable as is now, I reckon.

I think I am quite happy to call this a wrap of this year’s truffle season for me. It was a lovely evening in this elegant venue with elegant dishes, and wines too of course (some 30 bottles of them)

When? November 22 2017
Where? Hong Kong Club, 1 Jackson Road, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Grilled Veal Tenderloin, Baked Dauphine Potatoes, Celery Roots and Carrots
Drink? (in the order of serving)
1939 Enrico Serafino Passito Erbaluce Riserva, Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG
1961 Giuseppe Contratto Barolo DOCG
1996 E. Pira & Figli Chiara Boschis Cannubi Barolo DOCG
1999 Aldo Conterno Barolo Cicala
2001 Parusso Barolo Bussia
2003 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne 2003 (Magnum)
2005 Luciano Sandrone Cannubi Boschis (Magnum)
2004 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Triumviratum
2005 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cerequio
2011 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cerequio
2013 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cannubi
2007 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cannubi
2005 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra (Magnum)
2005 Marchesi di Barolo Cannubi
2004 Conterno Giacomo Barolo Francia Serralunga d’Alba (Magnum)
2012 Castekki du Corbaia Bossi, Tuscany (Magnum)
2001 Chateau L’Evangile, Pomerol
1986 Giuseppe Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella Classico DOCG
Grappa di Nebbiolo da Barolo Riserva Dalla Botte N XV of Fontanafredda
Kopke 20-year-old Tawny Port

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