Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me

We often use the occasion of birthday celebrations as an excuse to check out any fancy new restaurant in town, but this time, we decided to go back to one of our favorites, the tried-and-true Caprice at the Four Seasons, to celebrate my own birthday.

Life has been quite hectic for both of us lately so the prospect of a slow and quiet dinner at a place we have been perfectly comfortable with was something that we eagerly anticipate. We were also excited to see what new dishes Chef Fabrice and the team would bring to us, as October came the time for the new menu to be introduced for the autumn game season.

The menu was prepared for us as a surprise, and between the small nibbles of parmesan puff and mini financiers to start our feast, and the petit fours with a tray-ful of sweet goodies at the end, we had a number of courses (seven, to be exact) all prepared with perfect consistency.

My favorite dish of the evening was our second course of oyster. The presentation was elegantly simple - a single piece of Gillardeau oyster was served in its own shell with a quenelle of caviar and colorful garnishes on top and tiny dots of sauces on the side of the plate. The oyster was flash-blanched for a couple seconds giving it a firmer texture while retaining that just-out-of-the-sea fresh taste. Underneath was some jelly made out of oyster juice with clam and shellfish dressing, and on top, a generous dollop of caviar, surrounded by mini-vegetables and matchsticks of apples. The dish was burst with rich flavors yet well-balanced - and I was surprised how gentle and mellow the caviar became when paired alongside the oyster. I remembered Chef Fabrice did something similar last year, but this time, there's a slight twist in presentation and flavors.

The "fish course" was another one that amazed us. At first it looked like a piece of fish fillet with the skin char-grilled swimming in some creamy veloute in a deep dish. Only when we started gliding our knife through the piece did we realize it's like cutting through air with almost zero resistance. Turned out it has the texture similar to the classic quenelle de brochet except it's even lighter and more delicate, with a thin, crispy biscuit on top. The rich and slight sweet sauce made with vin jaune and onions in consomme-like consistency provided some interesting contrast.

Our main course was fillet of venison served with a sangria sauce. It was somewhat predictable given it was necessarily a repeat of what we had before but I didn't mind having this wonderful dish once again. The meat was rich, gamey and tender and the red wine and jus reduction glaze went up well with it. The finely sliced and diced carrots and celeriac arranged in a "tower" on the side was neat, except I wish there were more black truffles. I felt the few thin slices sandwiched inside weren't enough to bring out the aroma.

Not knowing what we were going to have beforehand, I looked upon sommelier Sebestien's help in finding the right wines for us to pair with the dishes and I absolutely loved his selections:

1. Domaine Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis Brut Rose NV - Nice salmon-pink color, very aromatic, refreshing, acidic berry notes and slight brioche hint bringing in some complexity to this easy-to-drink wine.

2. 2012 Domaine Pithon-Paille Coteau des Treilles - Dry, light straw color, with floral, jasmine aroma on the nose. Dominated by mineral on the palate, with grassy finish.

3. 2007 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru "Les Champs Gains" - Dry, Ripe lemon, pear and a hint of minerals. Good acidity.

4. 2008 Elio Grasso Barolo Ginestra Casa Mate Barolo - Full-bodied with pleasant, complex nose and palate dominated by ripe red fruit characters and hint of sweet tobacco. Very rounded tannin and a long finish.

Cheeses (from 8 o'clock position and clockwise): Brillat Savarin, Briquette de Joursac, Figue des Garrigues, Rouelle Cendree, Mothais, Perail, Roquefort and Mont d'or (not shown)
The sight of the long cheese board arriving by the table always delight us after we finished our main course. After surveying the board with more than a dozen choices with detailed introduction given to almost every one of them, I think we probably threw them a bit off-guard when we said we didn't want our favorites Comte and Mimolette tonight. Those would have been our usual picks, but this time we were in the mood of trying something different. And my favorites of the evening were Rouelle Cendree and Perail, both soft cheeses but drastically different characters.

We finished our meal with a lovely dessert of Paris-Brest with hazelnut praline cream, a classic dessert made especially beautiful and elegant by pastry chef Nicolas. And being a big fan of hazelnuts I couldn't have asked for anything better as a sweet conclusion for an evening of celebration and thanksgiving. 

More photos on my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157659953178801

When? October 16 2015
Where? Caprice, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Les Huitres Gilladeau, Les Coquillages: Gillandeau Oysters in Sea Water Jelly, Kristal Caviar, Shellfish Dressing
Domaine Alfred Gratien Cuvee Paradis Brut Rose NV
2012 Domaine Pithon-Paille Coteau des Treilles
2007 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru "Les Champs Gains"
2008 Elio Grasso Barolo Ginestra Casa Mate Barolo DOCG
Web: www.fourseasons.com/hongkong/dining/restaurants/caprice/

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