Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cepage - An evening without football

I thought I should be more excited than I am now with the World Cup well underway and our South Africa grand trip's just slightly more than a week away, but the England performance last week against the meanly Algeria has dented any of the remaining enthusiasm and hope that I had. Now I am seriously considering defecting and adopting a new team - at least for the rest of the tournament.

Anyway, we did manage to get out of the couch one evening to try out this Michelin-starred restaurant near Star Street with our friends k and p. Taking up the site formally occupied by another fine dining wannabe restaurant, Cepage, as the restaurant is now called, represented the first entry into Hong Kong's dining scene by the Singaporean's highly successful Les Amis Group. Since its opening a year ago, it has gathered quite a number of awards in its own right (among which, the first Michelin star and being ranked as the world's Top 100 Restaurant)

We were the first to arrive for the evening and soon the remaining tables in the lush and cozy dining room were filled. As we were surveying the menu, the manager brought us a couple hors d'oeuvres to start off. A nice touch, I reckon. After much deliberation, we opted for the Table d'Hote which essentially is a 4-course tasting menu comprised of some of their signature dishes.

As the restaurant boasted itself as having the most extensive wine collection in town - including some of the rare finds, I found it surprisingly one-sided. Sure they did have a fair share of selection from Bordeaux and Burgundy, but for anywhere else, it's close to nothing. At least their mark-up was reasonable, if you didn't count the fact that the sommelier tried hard to recommend to you their most expensive wines on the menu (when we asked for suggestions for a easy and ready to drink Rhone Valley wine, he gave us a Hermitage La Chapelle. Go figure!)

The food's decent in general and consistent with restaurants of similar caliber. My favorite dishes included foie gras icecream with rhubarb, and egg confit with asparagus, truffles and ham. The chef managed to strike a balance between being traditional and adventurous so there's a sense of harmony as our dinner progressed. We were surprised to have been offered more choices for petit fours than cheeses - that's a bit disappointing. Service's a bit aloof to my liking but I can't find much fault in particular either. The egg confit was originally not on our menu, but the manager gave us a tasting portion to try after we asked about the dish - we certainly appreciate the nice gesture and turned out that's one of my favorite dishes of the night.

All in all it's a comfortable evening just to be away from being a couch potato momentarily and enjoyed good food and company - and as we depart, I realized I didn't even check scores on my iphone for once. Oh I am so proud of myself about that - at least I know I am not totally addicted to football, yet.

when? June 19 2010
where? Cépage, 23 Wing Fung Street, Wanchai
menu highlights? "Taiyouran" Organic Egg Confit, Green Asparagus, Summer Truffle, Joselito ham "Gran Reserve"
drinks? Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Reserve 2004

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Act Now" vs North Pole

This morning as I was staring at the "Act Now" campaign billboard on the MTR platform and trying to imagine what it would be like to set sail on a journey without knowing the destination, suddenly this story came to mind... it happened a long long time ago in the Hundred Acre Wood...

"We are all going on an Expedition," said Christopher Robin.
"Going on an Expotition?" said Pooh eagerly. "I don't think I've ever been on one of those. Where are we going to on this Expotition?"
"Expedition, silly old Bear. It's got an 'x' in it."
"Oh!" said Pooh. "I know." But he didn't really.
"We're going to discover the North Pole."
"Oh!" said Pooh again. "What is the North Pole?" he asked.
"It's just a thing you discover," said Christopher Robin carelessly, not being quite sure himself.
"Oh! I see," said Pooh. "Are bears any good at discovering it?"
"Of course they are. And Rabbit and Kanga and all of you. It's an Expedition. That's what an Expedition means. A long line of everybody. You'd better tell the others to get ready, while I see if my gun's all right. And we must all bring Provisions."
"Bring what?"
"Things to eat."
"Oh!" said Pooh happily. "I thought you said Provisions. I'll go and tell them." And he stumped off.

So there he went... Thinking "Expedition" is some sort of boat and "North Pole" as some "thing" that you are to discover, Pooh rounded up his buddies Rabbit, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Eeyore and all Rabbit's friends, and hurried off to this Expedition. And along the way, Pooh's singing this song:

They all went off to discover the Pole,
Owl and Piglet and Rabbit and all;
It's a Thing you Discover, as I've been tole
By Owl and Piglet and Rabbit and all.
Eeyore, Christopher Robin and Pooh
And Rabbit's relations all went too--
And where the Pole was none of them knew....
Sing Hey! for Owl and Rabbit and all!

So how this story ended? They keep moving "forward" and as they were walking across a stream together, Roo fell into the water, on the verge of being washed away, and was saved by Pooh with a long stick in his hand. Just as the troupe was chatting and celebrating this amazing rescue...

But Christopher Robin wasn't listening. He was looking at Pooh.
"Pooh," he said, "where did you find that pole?"
Pooh looked at the pole in his hands.
"I just found it," he said. "I thought it ought to be useful. I just picked it up."
"Pooh," said Christopher Robin solemnly, "the Expedition is over. You have found the North Pole!"
"Oh!" said Pooh.
Pooh looked anxiously at Christopher Robin.
"Pooh's found the North Pole," said Christopher Robin. "Isn't that lovely?"
Pooh looked modestly down.
"Is that it?" said Eeyore.
"Yes," said Christopher Robin.
"Is that what we were looking for?"
"Yes," said Pooh.
"Oh!" said Eeyore. "Well, anyhow--it didn't rain," he said.
They stuck the pole in the ground, and Christopher Robin tied a message on to it:


Then they all went Home again. And I think, but I am not quite sure, that Roo had a hot bath and went straight to bed. But Pooh went back to his own house, and feeling very proud of what he had done, had a little something to revive himself.

(The story's taken from Chapter 8 of the book Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne)

Now I can't wait for the day when Donald Tsang sticks a plague on the ground outside the Government headquarter and proudly announces:

Universal Suffrage
Discovered by Donald
Donald found it