Sunday, November 18, 2012

Barbecue Galore

I never quite buy the notion that one can fully appreciate food without sharing the passion of preparing them at the same time. And hanging out with people who appreciate food and sharing the passion of preparing them (and being very good at this) brought great pleasure far beyond any delicious dishes on the table can give. I am glad to have such an occasion at a Hong Kong-style barbecue one evening at my friend's place this past weekend.
A bunch of us were invited to our good friend D's restaurant in Central for a Sunday night gathering, along with several others in the restaurant business. The restaurant is closed on Sundays, so we basically have the whole place to our own.

When I think of Hong Kong-style barbecue, I think of frozen chicken sausages, chicken wings, heavily marinated pork chops and marshmallows - in essence, cheap and dirty - but not this time. Even though it's said to be a potluck, our host has graciously prepared most of the food and we are just overwhelmed by the sheer quantity, and the quality as well. Highlight of the evening was the tiny rice birds marinated with Armagnac and rosemary, grilled on charcoal fire and then served with a light glaze of honey. Though it was once a common item in any Cantonese barbecue stall, rice birds have become a delicacy these days as we have less and less paddy fields in the region for the birds to feed on. It tasted almost like quail, only that it's even tenderer and with a crunchy texture of the bones grilled crisp - and I love it.

Of course we had more food than that - much more in fact - the yellow croakers and the "lion-head" fish were so fresh that only a pinch of salt was needed as seasoning after they were grilled. Then we also had the oysters, the kalbi, the corns, the portobello mushrooms, the gourmet sausages... the list just went on and on. A few cooked items that I managed to have a bite on were amazing as well - the pasta salad with cucumbers and dill was a refreshing alternative to the grilled food, and the slow-cooked pork ribs made by the grand  Ms I.L.L. was to die for - literally speaking. With the sheer amount of food, it's a pity that we can't get to finish the hairy crabs and a few more other dishes that were wonderfully prepared.

Just when we felt like we ate as if there's no tomorrow, somebody brought the desserts out - Macarons, Caneles, Meringues, Kouign Amann, Rum Babas, Homemade Marshmallows and my humble contribution of salted caramel icecream... now all of a sudden everyone started eating again, momentarily forgot that we have stuffed ourselves up already for the past 2 hours. Absolutely decadent - I wish I had more room to grab a few more of those rum babas...

As I said, it's a fun night not just because awesome food was on the table, but to share them with like-minded food lovers - life is just better because of that. And poor Charlotte... while we were having fun chowing down rice birds' heads... she's out of town on business, walking in the rain in the uninteresting piazza of Roppongi Hills. Sorry honey I don't think there will be a barbecue quite like this anywhere any time soon, unless D decided to put this up as a regular menu item in his restaurant.

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