Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Looking back - the rest of 2011

Every Christmas we made e-card using pictures of food we have enjoyed over the past year. As I was going through those picture albums, I realized that there are too many memorable meals that didn't quite make it to the blog - either I don't have time or mood to write, or even to formulate some thoughts on them. Anyway, as we look towards the new year, this is our way to give thanks and reflect on the wonderful times we had around dining tables in 2011 with a recollection of those meals - think of this as several mini-blogs jammed into one:

New Year Brunch at Whisk: We started off Year 2011 with a brunch at Whisk at The Mira. It's a surprisingly pleasant semi-buffet brunch - fried egg with parmesan foam and onion confit is beautifully presented and precisely cooked, and so are the many mini-courses that were brought to the table. Of course, how can we forget the all-you-can-eat caviar and cheese buffet tables...

New-style Thai at Sra Bua: Dinner at this "progressive" Thai restaurant at Siam Kempinski Bangkok was certainly an eye-opener. We usually are not fans of those restaurants that offered "new interpretation" of traditional cuisine with funky cooking methods (hence we have yet set foot on Bo Innovation despite all the raves) but this one's different. The culinary team at Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin certainly knows what they are doing instead of just trying to pull off a "molecular" stunt. The Harvest - presented as a pot of edible plant - was both visually appealing and delicious, and lobster salad served with red curry icecream and lychee foam - with that subtle kick from the curry and sweetness from lychee, plus the perfectly poached lobster - is one of the best "deconstructed" dishes I have had. And the dessert of banana cake with salted coconut icecream and caramelized milk is so simple yet fun. We have never tasted Thai food quite like this.

Spain: We found our new love in Spanish cuisine during our 10-day trip to Spain, with stops at Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebastian and Madrid. Of course, we did make our stops at several Michelin starred restaurants - including the 2-star Azurmendi at Bilbao and the 3-star Arzak, but we also enjoyed tremendously at many smaller joints that offered traditional and not-so-traditional cuisine. Cal Pep at Barcelona and bar crawling in San Sebastian's Parte Vieja district opened us a whole new horizon as in what tapas/pintxos are about; 41-degrees gave us a glimpse of Ferran Adria's magical creations without the hassle of scoring a table at El Bulli (and finally the chance to taste the oh-so-famous Olive).

And our leisurely lunch at the Commerc, 24 in Barcelona could easily be our best lunch of the year with marvelous dishes from start to finish. The tasting menu included monkfish with black sesame and black garlic, duck rice with foie gras icecream, consomme with egg, truffle and parmesan "dumplings" and chocolate icecream served on a bed of olive oil with salt sprinkles on top, and much more. Took us 4 hours to finish the meal but worth our time and every penny we spent on it.
New and Old Chinese: Several remarkable Chinese meals came to mind with various styles... The whole suckling pig served in Kimberley remained one of our favorite swine courses in terms of favors and the way it's presented. In March, our friend cha xiu bao put together an awesome gathering with other fellow bloggers at Lingnan Club with Vivian, the friendly owner at Mingcha, guided us through an interesting tea tasting dinner. It's such an educational and highly entertaining evening.

Breakfast at Robuchon HK: No, I am not talking about the pastry corner downstairs at Le Salon, but the proper breakfast being served at Le Jardin dining room upstairs, which I still believe it's the best kept secret in town. For a "mere" HK$280 (USD$35), you got a cold cut and cheese platter, eggs done any style, bread basket, cereal, fresh yoghurt, fruit bowl, juice and coffee. It may sound pricey for a breakfast, but if you think of it as a mini lunch and for this 3-star experience in this quiet restaurant in the morning, it's a super deal.
Best Dish of the Year: Several dishes came to mind - but straightly on the enjoyment level of the food alone, my vote went to one of the white truffle dishes we had at Chef Bombana's Otto e Mezzo - scrambled eggs, poached lobster combined with the generous shavings of aromatic white truffles... you simply can't go wrong with such divine combinations. Second best? The ravioli and veal cheek with white truffles that we had in the same evening.

Wish you all a yummy 2012! Happy eating and travelling!

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