Wednesday, December 24, 2008

wine buddies

星期一, 約了朋友兼鄰居b和h兩夫婦到17a一聚. b和h都是愛酒之人, 於是suggest不如每人拿一支酒上來試吧 - 當然沒有人會有什麽異議. kitchen@17a 這晚就變成wine bar@17a了.

雖然佳節將近, 畢竟星期一還是個上班日, 正躊躇該弄些什麽作晚飯配酒, 忽然又想起我最愛的le creuset鍋子, 好, 就做一個簡單的one-pot dinner – Bouillabasse吧! 四個人, 一窩"鬼佬煲仔菜", 加條baguette, 還有cheese platter, 足夠有餘了. 反正"醉翁之意只在酒", 飽肚的僅是陪襯而已.

tasting order 由舊至新, 先來1994年的chateau leoville poyferre. st julien的wine. 2nd growth grand cru classe. typical aged wine 淡淡的棗紅色, subtle but complex, notes of tobacco, not particularly fruity, medium-bodied, and smooth tannin, 不槐為列級酒莊的出品. 出奇的short finish though - 看來已稍稍過了peak, 開得還算合時. 家中的酒櫃最近有"酒"滿之患, 剛收容了支2004隔壁酒莊的 (leoville-barton), 所以就決定把這支開了 - one in, one out嘛!

接着是1999年的le fleur de bouard. lalande-de-pomerol. 未入口已被香濃的bouquet吸引住 – that lasted til our last sip of the bottle. Fruity, very smooth and full of berry flavors. Full-bodied and long finish. classic pomerol.

Bouillabaisse 是一個簡單版本 - 只是星期天在city’super買的三款魚 – monkfish, snapper, halibut 加上jusco 的blue mussels 同 cherrystone clams, 加上garlic, onion, canned tomatoes和clam juice來煮, 把saffron和rouille之類都省了. 不消30分鐘就完成 - 剛好給酒有breathing的機會. Cheese 是cyy主理的, 由淡口的brie到濃味的aged cheddar共有五款, 喜愛的, 我們的unanimous verdict是saint albray cheese - 觀乎我們四個人把一大slice也吃光就知道了. 至於wine, 魚與熊掌, 又不是apple同apple, 其實很難比較, 不過個人較喜歡後者的aroma, intensity和圓滑, 也可能是bouillabasse中的蕃茄味道始終與以merlot為主的pomerol較相襯吧.

意猶未盡, 將b帶來的第二瓶 – chateau la croix du casse 2005也"一飲而盡", 可惜珠玉在前, 這支今晚就肯定給比了下去. Well, potential 絕對是有 (從這支young wine散出的香氣和充足的丹寧口感"看"得出來), 不過真的要有耐性, 現在開了就覺得仍然很closed, 可惜, 可惜! 也好, 知道了, 現在多買兩支放兩三年應該有可觀的回報(至少在味覺上而言)

四個人, 輕易把三瓶酒喝得一滴也不剩, 知音難求, 果然是best wine buddies. 十二月, 己是第四次請朋友回家吃飯, 雖然要花功夫準備和清潔, 不過論自在舒服, 還是覺得家中好, and just for the quality enjoyable time we spent with one another, it's all worth it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No stars, but worth a detour

To be honest, I already grew tired of comments after comments of how unfair Michelin Guide is, or how unprofessional their inspectors are in terms of judging chinese cuisine etc etc from local food critics and columnists. To me, it's either you accept the Guide as one school of thoughts in judging the restaurants and their cuisines, or just leave the Guide alone or pretend it doesn't exist or something. Please don't try to stand on the high ground and shove your so-called professional opinions in front of me saying what should or should not be in the Guide, okay?

In commenting on the star rating system Michelin employed, I like how Patricia Wells, herself a world-famous restaurant critic (her column appears regularly on international herald tribune), once put it. She basically put restaurants into 2 categories: petit fours restaurants and non-petit four restaurants. And to quote her, “Petit four restaurants are usually the starred ones, elegant establishments showered with flowers, with crisp linens and waiters in evening jackets; they have plenty of show, but are not always strong on regional culinary character. The non-petit four establishments tend to be small, modest, generally inexpensive restaurants, those little spots most travelers seek out when looking for regional flavor, local color, simpler food. Most often, these are not the places that win the hearts and palates of Michelin's dozen inspectors.” Well said, and there you have it.

Well, my foodie friend has rated his favorite restaurants on his facebook note earlier, and here i am sharing my two cents on some my favorite yet unstarred local gems in town:

(not in this order)
1. 澳洲牛奶公司 Australia Dairy Company
sitting here for 10 minutes, and you experience the typical hong kong culture, with long lines of customers waiting outside, hectic but efficient service, and not so friendly wait staff - especially if you think more than 10 seconds about what to order after you sit down. yet it's said that the scrambled eggs here are the best in the world, and a declaration: i am a proud member of "澳洲牛奶公司appreciation society", a facebook group with more than 8000 members to date.

2. 東寶小廚 Tung Po Kitchen
not necessarily the cleanest place on earth for a meal - it's located inside a wet market building - but this is the best place to experience dai pai dong-style food in town. well i am saying this partly because of its proximity to our home. my favorite includes fried prawns with salty egg yolk (黄金蝦) and fried rice wrapped in lotus leaf (荷葉飯).

3. 彭慶記 Pang's Kitchen
serving traditional cantonese fare often with a creative twist (for example, sweet and sour pork ribs with strawberries 士多啤梨生炒骨) this is the perfect place to go (and the one we frequented) when we want a simple family-style dinner for a comfortable evening out with friends.

4. 西貢全記海鮮 Chuen Kee Restaurant
picking the seafood live from the fish tank, and have the restaurant cooked in any way you specify - that's how a typical seafood restaurant in hongkong works. and chuen kee is perhaps the most reasonably-priced and consistant one in sai kung, a traditional fishing village famous for well what else, seafood.

5. 香港大學校友會 Hong Kong University Alumni Association
run by a former chef at luk yu restaurant, this place serves no-nonsense old-style cantonese cuisine in the heart of town. must-try dishes included almond and pork soup (杏汁豬肺湯), fried pigeon and ham (雲腿鴿片) and baked salted chicken (鹽焗雞). be sure to find a HKU alumni to bring you in as this place's supposed to be for members only.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

something old, something new

figure since the new year is almost here, i should give the blog a new look, so here you are - check it out!

this is what it used to be:

this is how it looks from today on:

Friday, December 12, 2008

quote and unquote

摘自劉健威的專欄 ("人情味: napa之旅" - 飲食男女第697期 5/12/2008)

按: 碰巧在joseph phelps試過他們引而為傲的insignia之後再到french laundry用膳正是我們上次到napa的部份itinerary. 不知不覺, 已經是八個多月前的事了. 現在回想起, 又真的有點懷念那鋪滿魚子醬的小蠔 oyster and pearl...


夕陽如血,Joseph Phelps酒莊在一高位上,四顧,暮靄中,遠遠近近的葡萄田都染了一層金黃色。

「真是好酒!」,喝下好一陣子了,那杯Insignia的酒香仍在齒頰間繚繞,佐藤先生不由讚嘆道。大女兒慧美開車,領他和小女兒桂子在Napa Valley試了一整天酒,這瓶名釀畫上了一個完美的句號。


離開Joseph Phelps,開了不到15分鐘車,他們到達French Laundry;想不到,這家曾被許多雜誌選為世界首席食肆的餐廳,祇是一間兩層高的農舍。屋前有個小庭院,經過時可以看到穿了白衣的廚師們在緊張的工作。









跟着上的前菜鮮味腴滑無比——來自加拿大,一種指頭那麼大的Beau Soleil小蠔泡在蛋黃、木薯粉、苦艾酒打成的汁中,上面還鋪了俄國Sevruga魚子醬;入口,像淒美得叫人下淚的音樂,把人人都迷醉了。



跟着他們又吃了好幾道菜——這是一個Tasting menu,有九道菜之多——龍蝦在牛油中浸熟,火候掌握好,很是嫩滑,還拌上紅菜頭和綠色大蒜熬的汁,賣相考究得像幅畫;來自賓夕凡尼亞的羊肉祇是輕輕烙一下表皮,紅潤的肉嫩得像魚肉;也許前面幾道菜實在太精緻美味了,到了最後的煎魚(John Dory)和焗羊肉反而變得平淡了。也許,他們都思念佐藤太太,有些不知其味了。


當她收起母親的照片,準備放進手袋,鄰座一對美國夫婦站起來,走向慧美:「I guess she is your mother, sorry for the old lady.」男的說,微微的鞠了下躬。


走出French Laundry,涼風一陣陣吹來,三人都有點寒意;坐在車上,大家都沒說話,銀色的月光冷冷的照在田野和樹木上,黑墨墨的夜空上甚至沒有一顆星,宇宙都荒荒寒寒的。回到酒店房中,了燈,一室皆溫。佐藤向慧美彎了彎身:「今天太好了,多謝你。」


Friday, December 5, 2008

chasing your passion

perhaps in these days of financial turmoil and uncertainty, this gave us something to think about... and do visit their shop if you happen to stop by scottsdale!

i haven't tried it myself but i heard very good rave about it - it's opened by 2 friends of ours whom we admire much.

the original article appears in dealmaker magazine: december/january 09

Life After Dealmaking : Sweet Deal
How two former deal pros traded their Blackberries for strawberries

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many Americans entered a mode of professional reassessment, ulti­mately deciding to follow their true passion. Two young investment bankers decided theirs was ice cream.

"It's the food you have on a bad day, but also the food you have on a great day," says Jan Wichayanuparp, 35, who founded Sweet Republic, an "artisan ice-cream parlor" in Scottsdale, Arizona, along with partner and recipe master Helen Yung, 31. Both women clearly remember the day of the attacks seven years ago, when they worked in Manhattan’s Financial District. Afterward, finance no longer held the same allure for the friends.

Yung, having spent two years at Citigroup’s investment-banking unit as an associate, left for Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Sydney, Australia. Wichayanuparp, a capital-markets banker specializing in Asia-Pacific deals at Citigroup, didn't leave Wall Street until 2005, but she and Yung had been planning their business for some time. "After I made VP, I thought, 'What else do I want to do?' "Wichayanuparp recalls. "It took years of dreaming and Helen's recipe planning to put it into place."

This past Memorial Day weekend, the partners opened their shop in Scottsdale, where Wichayanuparp has family. Sweet Republic combines a love of food with an appreciation for tradition. "We hand-craft everything in small batches from scratch right here in the store," Yung says. "The fruit we use ripens on our counters. We do it the old-fashioned way."

But also in a new way: While classics like Rocky Road and strawberry dot the menu, Sweet Republic expands the ice-cream experience with flavors such as Cheese Course Duo (Roquefort blue cheese and Medjool dates); I Love Bacon (caramelized smoked bacon); and the signature Salted Butter Caramel (caramel ribbons in vanilla with a dash of salt). "I Love Bacon really blows people's minds," Wichayanuparp says.

Scottsdale may be a long way from the frenzy of Wall Street, but in making their career switch, Yung and Wichayanuparp exploited their business roots. "Phoenix is down the road and is one of the fastest-­growing cities in America," Yung says. "We want to capture that opportunity. You can't take finance out of us." Nor can you take away that fateful day seven years ago: Every September 11, as a thank-you for their work, first responders will get a free scoop.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the winner is...

早前來了prediction, 現在當然要開估.

把sure bet 押在robuchon a galera 果然冇錯, 三星實在眾望所歸. 不過gaddi’s竟然名落孫山, 真有點跌了眼鏡, 或者上個月公佈的miele guide asia top 20 gaddi’s也榜上無名已經是個bad omen吧.

龍景軒只因未親自一嘗故此恕不能盲目附和 (so is bo innovation), 所以不要問我是否fair. 反而開心利苑拿了兩粒一星 (話晒都係兒時周日飲茶嘅飯堂, 有感情吖嘛!), 等我遲D去食番碟脆蔴花贈吓興先.

另外, 我猜中的, 仲有 caprice (2-stars), 富臨, 鏞記和 petrus (1-star), 都不是冷門的選擇, 猜中也不是什麼眼光獨到 . l’atelier de joel robuchon 同pierre 就估錯左位置. amber 其實不是太差只是not my cup of tea 啫, 要不然也不會當年一開張就趕住去試, 不過個人始終認為pierre會略勝一籌.

joel robuchon今次多拿了5粒星 (with total now at 22?)(後記: 24至真, 包括3間在不同國家的三星restaurant - vegas, tokyo and macau), gordon ramsay該是時候考慮在香港開分店了吧, 反正ritz carlton也應快開張了, 應該趕得切下年本michelin guide. 芸芸私房菜中選了桃花源, 前幾天我還在想今年"三蛇肥"的季節不知能不能約夠人去食一頓蛇羹, 看來by now到過年都該訂不到位置了. 唉!

唐閣, 明閣, 香宮, 夏宮, 胡同, 還有美心旗下的兩間中菜…唉, 看來報紙專欄呀, 雜誌食評呀, 有排講!

一天post了兩個blog, 因為實在不吐不快, 不過先旨聲明, "靚太"嗰篇其實兩日前已經寫好, 唔好話我成日番工偷懶!

by the way, full list 在這裡, courtesy of bloomberg:

Restaurants awarded three stars are:
Lung King Heen
Robuchon a Galera

Restaurants awarded two stars are:
Bo Innovation
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Shang Palace
Summer Palace
T’ang Court

Restaurants awarded one star are:
Fook Lam Moon
Lei Garden (IFC)
Lei Garden (Tsim Sha Tsui)
Ming Court
Regal Palace
Shanghai Garden
The Golden Leaf
The Square
Tim’s Kitchen
Yung Kee