Sunday, August 27, 2017

Champagne Food Crawl

We had an interesting evening a few weeks ago following the Krug team to a few restaurants trying out new dishes specifically designed to pair with their champagne. Every year they ran a campaign with participating restaurants and chefs creating special Krug pairing menus using a theme ingredient. Last year it was eggs, and this year, it came to the time of mushrooms.

Our "champagne food crawl" began at Arcane, the restaurant inside a commercial building at the end of On Lan Street with Chef Shane Osborn at the helm. I don't know why I haven't been to this 3-year-old restaurant before, as I am a fan of Chef Shane’s cooking since the days at London's Pied a Terre. And it's good to see him and his team working hard in the open kitchen already to a packed dining room filled with eager customers, as the dinner service has just started by the time most of us arrived and settled down at the bar.

And with glasses of Krug Grande Cuvee in our hands, we tried our first dish of the night, which was the potato gnocchi with maitake mushrooms, pine nut cream and shaved black truffles. With mushroom being the theme ingredient for this year's campaign and the Australian winter truffle well in season now, it's no surprise that two of the three chefs featured this evening showered their dishes with shaved black truffles on top for the extra aroma and flavor.

The current edition of Krug Grande Cuvee (163eme edition) - one we tasted this evening - was based on 2007 vintage with over 180 different wines blended from 12 vintages, the wine was full-bodied and rounded, slightly toasty and nutty with a distinct but balanced acidity. I think it did work particularly well with Chef Shane's dish, with the earthiness from the truffles and the smoky flavor from the toasted pine nuts served with a larger-than-usual, soft and airy potato gnocchi (boiled than sautéed before serving to give it a slightly crispy crust) with a creamy sauce.

Bidding farewell to Chef Shane, we then moved upstairs to ON Dining on the top floor of the same building, where Chef Philippe Oricco was waiting for us for more food and champagne. This time instead of a new dish we went back to one of the signature dishes by Chef Philippe. His famous 63-degree egg went through several iterations over the years and none was better than the current version, with the half-cooked egg wrapped underneath pasta sheet as raviolo and served with slices of Bellota ham, sautéed girolles mushrooms and cream. We jokingly told the chef that he must have missed the memo that mushroom is the theme ingredient, not egg anymore, but either way, the pasta and the egg and the mushroom paired well with the champagne, with the oozy, overflowing egg yolk bounding all rich flavors in the dish together.

Our last stop was slightly further afield, right inside California Tower in Lan Kwai Fong at my favorite burger joint Beef and Liberty, where Chef Uwe Opocensky prepared a special burger for the campaign, using a brioche bun and wild mushrooms, duck, rocket with a duck egg fried sunny side up and slices of black truffles on top. I suppose none knows better about Krug food pairing in town than Chef Uwe, given he's been cooking and creating dishes for The Krug Room at MO until he moved to the Beef and Liberty empire.

Burger, fries and glasses of bubbly may not be the most obvious combination but the bright acidity from the champagne did pair with crispy fries and the sumptuous burger nicely. You would think this being our third and final stop we were pretty stuffed and tipsy by then, but that didn’t stop us from finishing all the fries and bottles - that's in addition to our burger. And we all came home with a copy of the special booklet featuring several recipes of mushroom dishes by chefs in town, adding to my collection of Krug food pairing cookbook from previous years.

The event was by invitation courtesy of Krug/Moet Hennessy Diageo Hong Kong

When? August 3 2017
Arcane, Level 3, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong
On Dining Kitchen & Lounge, Level 29, 18 On Lan Street, Hong Kong
Beef and Liberty, 3rd Floor, California Tower, 30-32 D'Aguilar St, Central
Menu Highlights?
From Arcane: Sautéed potato gnocchi with Maitake , pine nut cream and Australian winter black truffles
From On Dining: Egg Raviolo, sautéed girolles mushroom and bellota ham
From Beef & Liberty: Mushroom & Truffle Burger - Wild mushrooms, duck, truffle, rocket and duck egg
Drink? Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee

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