Sunday, March 6, 2016

"Open The New Year" Meal

On the last day of our Chinese New Year long weekend, we had another stellar lunch at Caprice. We did something similar at around the same time last year with my brother, sis-in-law and our nephew, taking a recess from the traditional new year festivities with a leisurely lunch at a much slower pace. So we decided to do a repeat this year - this time with just us two.

Nin Chor Saam (年初三), or the third day of Chinese New Year was traditionally known as "Chek Hau" (赤口 which literally meant Red Mouth Day), during which many people often refrained from meeting friends and relatives as the day was thought to be prone to arguments. So it made perfect sense that we saved this day for a little "us" time at our favorite restaurant. And it was a particularly gorgeous day to be sitting by the window at this stunning dining room enjoying our long lunch with the clear skyline view across the harbor.

We are here probably more often than we would like to admit without sounding a bit too snobbish, with our last visit only a couple months ago, but Chef Fabrice still managed to surprise us with a few new dishes. This time I particularly loved the contrasting flavors of the delicate Brittany lobster and the rich veal sweetbread served with a "ring" of rigatoni pasta in the center and dressed with the bisque sauce on the side.

The scallops was another excellent course, somewhat similar to what we had at dinner here a few months back but there were subtle changes for an even prettier presentation and more delicate flavor. Scallops were minced and creamed with egg white, then poached and cut into cylindrical shape. It was then topped with a thin crispy biscuit and rounds of scallop carpaccio and black truffles, and served with a slightly sweet sauternes-infused onion consomme. It has amazing texture - soft and airy but laden with flavors.

I had my thought fixed on the cheese course just as I was walking through the cheese counter at City'super downstairs just before our lunch. (not in the same league I know but that's what got my craving started) They must have read my mind as we got a pretty generous portion of cheese platter with 8 different choices. My usual preference would have been the milder cheese made of cow's milk, but this afternoon my favorite was a pair of goat's milk cheese, Picodon de l'ardeche and Buche des Pyrenees. Plus the Comte, of course. That goes without saying.

We were surprised that three desserts were brought to our table by Chef Nicolas from the pastry kitchen. First was the chocolate mousse cast in a shiny chocolate-glazed sphere with plum marmalade and slices of black truffles. We saw numerous pictures of this on my Instagram feed earlier and I am happy to say it tasted as good as it looked. The other two were Panna Cotta and Tiramisu. Of course I wouldn't expect them to be like the common versions one would find in a neighborhood trattoria. The Panna Cotta was served in a deep bowl with the soft milk pudding in yogurt-like consistency underneath a thin layer of green apple glaze. On top was nests of brown sugar tuile, Creme Fraiche and granny smith apples cut into matchsticks.

The Tiramisu was served inside a glass bowl with the coffee-liquor soaked sponge cake underneath and a scoop of coffee icecream encapsulated with a light and fluffy mascarpone espuma. On the rim of the glass bowl sat a piece of crisp chocolate which also added to the texture when it was mixed in. Secretly, I was quite proud of the version of tiramisu I have in my own repertoire but the one Nicolas made tasted 10x better and looked 100x prettier, I must admit.

In Chinese family tradition, we usually start the new year with "hoi nin faan" (開年飯), to "open" the year with an elaborate feast to usher in a new beginning and wish for better things to come. While we didn't buy into the superstition, we definitely started the Year of the Monkey on an especially high note with this unconventional "hoi nin faan" of our own.
When? February 10 2016
Where? Caprice, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Le Homard Bleu des Cotes Bretonne - Roasted Britanny Lobster, Crispy Veal Sweetbread, Macaroni, Mushrooms and Bisque Sauce
Egly Ouriet Champagne Tradition Grand Cru Brut NV
2012 Domaine Vincent and Sophie Morey Puligny-Montrachet La Truffiere 1er Cru
2012 Domaine de la Vougeraie Gevrey Chambertin Les Evocelles

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