Thursday, October 5, 2017

Champagne Food Crawl, The Sequel

"So you wanna join the second round?" I had a great time with the Krug food tour the first time, so it's hard to refuse my friend G's offer for an encore, with three new restaurants, three new chefs with their creations in the theme of mushrooms for Krug pairing.

I felt like I have hardly left the hotel when I returned to the dining room of Caprice in the evening for our first stop of the champagne-food crawl Part 2. I was here only a few hours ago for an absolutely lovely (and sumptuous) lunch at The Lounge downstairs - to the extent I was secretly worried I would still be too full to eat come dinner time.

Upon arrival, I was led to the "hideout room" at the back of the kitchen next to their wine cellar and cheese room, joining Chef Guillaume, their sommelier Victor and the rest of the Krug food tour crew. A few bottles of Krug Grande Cuvee were popped open, and with the busy kitchen in full view from the room we were served the first dish of the evening presented by the chef. Inside the deep porcelain bowl was a piece of slow-poached turbot topped with jamon, ceps with a light comte emulsion drizzled around. The meaty, buttery turbot works perfectly well with the rounded champagne, and the ceps (coming from his own hometown, Chef Guillaume proudly told us) were succulent and flavorful, matching the earthiness with the minerality of the wine. This was yet another awesome seafood dish by Chef Guillaume I had the opportunity to enjoy in consecutive weeks - yes I counted myself lucky.

Last round we walked from one restaurant to another for some real food crawl action, but this time a ride was arranged so this is more like a champagne-food hop. Very thoughtful of them actually since the places were further apart. Well it's not in the posh limo-style completed with chilled champagnes in the ice bucket inside but I ain't complaining - we joked there should be such a thing as "Krug-mobile" for occasions like this...

A quick ride later we were dropped off at VEA for our second stop, where Chef Vicky and his team's already waiting for us. Of the three dishes we got to try this evening, I thought Vicky's the one most true to the theme of mushrooms and paired beautifully with the Krug champagne. Several types of mushrooms, most of which came from China's Yunnan Province was plated like a garden, completed with liquid nitrogen infused with apple-wood smoke being poured on top of dehydrated parmesan and truffle crumbles and spooned on top of the dish by the chef, simulating the morning mist of a forest. The umami flavor from all the mushrooms were overwhelmingly strong (which I like), and the earthiness and creaminess of the dish went perfectly well with the minerality and acidity of the Krug Grande Cuvee. The sweet meringue in the shape of a bright red mushroom was a cute touch, not only to enhance the presentation but also add a nice hint of sweetness for contrast. That's an insane amount of different ingredients contributed to the overall flavor in the dish and I was very impressed how well they worked together in harmony with the theatrical effect and all.

Of course we ain't done yet. Our last stop was Aberdeen Street Social just a stone's throw away. With us seated inside the private room right next to the open kitchen, Chef Chris Whitmore prepared our last dish of the evening, the Hunter Breakfast, an elaborative English breakfast with mushrooms being the "centerpiece". What interested me most about the dish was the acidity added - some of the mushrooms were pickled with white vinegar, along with the sourdough croutons. Completing the dish was more mushrooms - some fried, some raw, some pureed - and a tiny egg cooked sunny-side up.

This time around we were served an even earlier version of Krug Grande Cuvee. The 162nd edition was based on the 2006 vintage but with wines going as far back as 1990. I thought it has a more distinct aroma, more minerals and less yeasty than the last one we tried which was the 163rd edition based on 2007 vintage. Definitely came to age already but I would be curious to try that again in a few year's time for a vertical tasting to see how that turned out.

Not often I could tell myself I probably had a sip or two too much of the always-wonderful Krug on my way home. Again, life's been treating me well and I ain't going to complain. G, just so you know, if there's ever a third round, count me in.

(The event was by invitation and based on a special menu)

When? September 18 2017
Caprice at Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
VEA Restaurant & Lounge, 29 & 30/F, 198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
Aberdeen Street Social, G/F PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights?
Poached Turbot/Jamon/Ceps (Caprice)
"Lost in the Rain Forest" (VEA Restaurant & Lounge)
"A Hunter's Breakfast" (Aberdeen Street Social)
Drinks? Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee Brut 162e Edition

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