Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Chef Edgar's One Night Event

When I accept my friend's invitation to a big group "secret supper party", I have no idea about what and where, but she assured me this is going to be epic with good food and great wine - guess that's all I needed to know to say yes. Just call that blind faith. Turned out - as I learned just in the morning of the event - it's the Spanish chef Edgar Sanuy Barahona (formerly of BCN) who was going to cook a spectacular tapas dinner for all 19 of us, at the Fofo Privat venue near Lan Kwai Fong.

Chef Edgar dropped in every now and then to explain the dishes
Actually I have not experienced Chef Edgar's cooking before though I have heard great things about it. Well I loved the food at BCN for it being true to the Catalan taste, but I went after he left his head chef job there, though the menu we had still have his influence all over the place. And tonight's dinner consisted of 17 courses of tapas, meant to be shared among the whole table - all coming from the tiny kitchen of Fofo Privat, one level down from the private dining room that we were seated.

Traditional "Escalivada" with preserved baby sardines
I am not going to describe the dinner dish by dish, cause I was too tipsy to remember many of the details, but here's a highlight of some of the food that I found particularly remarkable. We began our dinner with a dish called Traditional "escalivada" with preserved baby sardines, essentially canned sardines served on top of grilled bell peppers with a splash of olive oil and vinegar. Hard to believe something that made from a canned sardine could taste that good. Pan con tomate - served alongside with Jamon Iberico on a wooden board - is a classic Catalan starter that seems simple enough to make, but I swear this is the best I had outside of Barcelona. Smoky, crispy toast with just the right amount of mashed tomatoes that brought out the right sweetness.

Mediterranean Flowerpot

Traditional "Gazpacho" with Watermelon
Piquillo Peper, Cod Fish Brandada
I had a similar "Flowerpot" dish in BCN so it somewhat took away the wow factor seeing this served in a mini terra cotta pot with dried olive "soil" and basil espuma, but it's still a refreshing and delicious appetizer. Likewise for the gazpacho served with a watermelon ball on a martini glass - the sweet watermelon works well to balance the tangy flavor of the cold soup. Originally I thought the piquillo pepper was served stuffed with melted manchego cheese in the middle as this is how it's normally done, but the version we had was actually stuffed with cod fish brandade. I love this salty, creamy bites of surprise. That would be my vote for the best of the evening.

Scallop Carpaccio on grilled Moroccan Eggplant
Potato, Morcilla and Slow-cooked Egg
Scallop carpaccio on grilled Moroccan eggplant was perhaps the most un-Spanish food we had all night long, but this unusual combination of thin slices of raw scallops and mushy eggplant spiced with turmeric was great, even for me who doesn't like eggplant normally. The course that was listed as "Potato, Morcilla & slow-cooked egg" was actually a variation of the classic egg dish "Huevo Rotos". The chunk of potato was deep-fried to golden yellow and crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside, and that was mixed with bits of rich blood sausages, and two 63-degree eggs which we were supposed to break and mixed with the rest of the ingredients to eat. A common dish this might be, but once again, this is one of the better versions I had.

Crispy Red Prawn, Leek Cream

Gandia Fisherman's "Fideua"
The shape of crispy red prawn and leek cream somehow reminded me of a Chinese pot-sticker - and the chef chose to serve it on a special plate that my friend brought from her own El Bulli kitchenware collection at home. I love the umami flavor from the red prawn which was just barely cooked with a firm texture. As we slowly finished up our "main course" of a Iberico lamb ribs (in Asador style), Chef Edgar emerged from the kitchen and presented us the final dish of Fideua in a large flat pan. It's similar to paella but instead of rice, Fideua was made of short noodles (think of it as spaghetti cut into 3-4cm strips). In the dish you didn't see a lot of fillings like many paella would be served around town, but every bite revealed rich seafood flavor (similar to salted fish common in Cantonese dishes), from the broth that was used to cook, and served with dots of creamy and rich aioli sauce.

Some other dishes not mentioned; Mallorca Bikini; Manchego and Iberico Ham; Iberico Lamb Ribs in "asador" style; Moruno meatballs on crispy bread (and also the picture on top - "Escabeche" mussel with beet root foam)

Catalan Cream Foam on Belgian Chocolate Ice Cream
The lone dessert of the evening - called "Catalan Cream Foam on Belgian Chocolate Ice Cream" - sounded rich to end a 17-course dinner but it's actually very light and not too filling. Once again, chef played with a classic dish (Crema Catalana) and presented in a modified way with the custard turned into espuma with a burned sugar crust, and at the bottom was a bit of chocolate icecream. It's delicious and I finished the whole thing before I realized it.

And we are blessed to have great wine to come with great food, courtesy of our dear friend who put this all together. Again, I didn't take good notes, but the two memorable ones were the white burgundy coming from the El Bulli cellar, and the Solaia 2001, both with great complexity and very enjoyable. A couple wines made by renowned winemaker Eben Sadie were interesting too - it's the first time I tried his wines from perhaps the most successful winery in South Africa.

It's a pity that this is only a one-off event, but on the other hand, I was glad to be part of it. This is one satisfying night.

When? July 24 2014
Where? Foto Privat, 2-8 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Piquillo Peper, Cod Fish Brandada
Drinks? (Partial List)
Bollinger La Grande Annee Brut 2002
Bollinger La Grande Annee Brut Rose 2002
Hospice de Beaune Corton-Vergennes Grand Cru Cuvee Paul Chanson 2009 (originally bottled for El Bulli)
Dr Burklin-Wolf Forster Kirchenstuck Riesling 2001 (in Magnum)
Marchesi Antinori Solaia Toscana IGT 2001
Sadie Family Wines Pofadder 2012
Sadie Family Wines Soldaat 2012

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Food looks awesome, i was used to eat in BCN when he was cooking there, and still is the best Spaish food i ever tried.