Friday, May 22, 2015

Celebrating Le French GourMay

When it comes to a place to chill after work, or for a casual late evening nightcap without loading up for a full-blown meal, Caprice Bar is certainly the one on top of our "to-go" list. Not so much of "the best kept secret" anymore, as it's often packed, this place at the Four Seasons offered consistent snack and small bites in a luxurious yet cozy environment, while turning down a notch from the formal dining experience at the proper restaurant next door. Of course, needless to say it also offered one of the best cheese selections in town - something we always order every time we are there.

After a lovely weekend lunch in the main dining room of Caprice just a few days back, I returned to the bar on a Monday evening in early May to check out the new Le French Gourmay menu. Every year this month-long culinary festival highlights the cooking of a particular region in France, and this year the focus is on Midi-Pyrenees, the mountainous area in the southwest tip bordering Spain.

I must confess when I first received the promotional brochure for Le French Gourmay, I need to pull out the map to double-check where exactly does the Midi-Pyrenees region cover. But of course, the many food ingredients and dishes famous from the region shouldn't be stranger to most - from Magret de Canard to Pyrenees lamb to Toulouse sausages to Roquefort cheese. This evening with four of us eating together we managed to try most of the items offered at Caprice Bar in this special menu dedicated to Midi-Pyrenees cuisine.

We started with a pair of cold cut dishes made with the indigenous Noir de Bigorre pig - the Jambon and also the assorted Charcuterie platter. This once near-extinct breed is black in color, and was raised free range in their natural habitat and feed. The 24-month cured ham tasted similar to the Spanish Jamon Iberico with the same rich flavor but slightly softer texture. The terrine with foie gras was another lovely dish made with the same pork using the knuckle part, served with a simple potato salad.

The beef shoulder was done similar to one I had at Caprice a few months ago - slow-braised and complete with the rich jus and wine reduction. It has the melt-in-your-mouth consistency with the intense reduction sauce truly something to die for. Aligot was another famous dish in the region - essentially a mix of melted Aubrac cheese with mashed potatoes. It looked simple but it's of the perfect balance of creaminess and glueyness with rich flavors - almost like tasting a super creamy and tasty foam. The dish might sound a bit filling, but it's one of those we finished in no time. It was just that good.

Cassoulet was perhaps one of the most well-known dish from Midi-Pyrenees, a peasant stew with layers of white beans, Toulouse sausage and duck leg confit going through a slow cooking process in the casserole with repeated iterations of stirring and mixing, as Jonas the sous chef at Caprice dropped by to explain, making sure all the meaty flavors were well absorbed and integrated into a hearty, rustic blend of gorgeousness. The portion was said to be for two, but I felt like it could easily feed a village.

After all the dishes, we weren't able to finish the generous cheese platter featuring local selection from the region. But that only meant we got extra cheeses for the next day at home. Of course that's something we didn't mind at all.

Is there a petition somewhere I can sign so that maybe they can consider making these cooked dishes a permanent fixture at the bar? And until they do, the menu will only run for a limited time only; so if you haven't tried, you'd better act quick. 

(The meal was by invitation from Four Seasons Hong Kong)

When? May 4 2015
Where? Caprice Bar, 6th Floor, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights?
Jambon Noir de Bigorre
Aligot a la Tome Fraiche de l'Aubrac
Domaine J.M. Boillot Puligny-Montrachet AOC 2010
Madiran Chateau Bouscasse 2009

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