Sunday, November 4, 2018

Eating Spree Continued...

My 3-day "non-stop eating spree" continued with a trip to Caprice for a special menu featuring two pairs of twins chefs - Jacques and Laurent Pourcel of Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier and Chefs Mathias and Thomas Sühring of their namesake restaurant in Bangkok. We have been saying that it’s been a long while since we went for dinner at Caprice, and this unique collaboration menu gave us the perfect excuse to do so, on the second (and last) evening that it’s offered in early October.

Having a glance of the menu before the event, with 9 different courses plus canapes in the beginning, I skipped lunch to make sure I had enough room to finish all the dishes, and thank God I did as there were way too many food than any average diner could handle in one evening. I personally have not tried Chefs Pourcel’s cooking before – unless I counted the lunch we had at the now-closed T-Sens Shanghai which they involved in many years ago – and we have been to Suhring in Bangkok last year and loved our experience and dishes there. And my expectation was unusually high, with all the accolades and glowing reviews from these 2 pairs of chefs plus the food from Chef Guillaume Galliot and his team at Caprice is always top-notch.

With the long menu, we wanted to start early and arrived at the restaurant right at sunset, immediately after the staff finished their final briefing before the service and the team got into position to cook and serve. If there’s such a thing as a perfect venue for event like this, Caprice with the open kitchen setting and the huge space was just that – accommodating the four guest chefs and their teams easily and for the customers to see the cooking actions up close at the comfort of their seats.

We began with a few canapes presented by the Suhring brothers – the obatzda is a simple bite-sized snack with soft camembert cheese filled inside a thin crispy roll and served with radler beer in a mini beer steins, and followed by applewood smoked sturgeon caviar was served on a five-grain pumpernickel toast and thin sheet of buttermilk jelly inside a jewel box. Both were unique with a German touch and tasty in their own rights. I thought the third canapes was an interesting one, with a mini potato rosti “basket” topped with ikura/salmon roes, served with cucumber water with dill oil on the side as a chaser shot. It was simple yet I love this new combination of ingredients.

The fourth and last canapes went up in richness level – first the “chicken salad” in the form of a mini tartlet topped with minced chicken and spherified salad green. It looked like what we had last year at Suhring but the ingredients and taste were different. Then it’s another snack served on a pastry, this time the creamy foie gras mousse with dots of the zesty orange fluid gel, served on top of a small glass of Riesling Spalese. I thought I could live with the Riesling served one or two degree colder, but I was told this is the exact temperature the chefs intended to serve in – otherwise they were delightful. We were half full just when we finished our last bite and that’s barely the start of the meal.

More dishes were served in slightly bigger portion, each prepared by different chefs in order. Sometimes collaboration menu like this may go astray, with each chefs and each courses going in different directions all over the place, but this time, I thought they did a brilliant job in keeping a coherent theme, with each course just led in perfectly to the next despite being prepared by different teams. The first part of the dinner was dedicated to seafood, prepared and served in many different shapes or forms by the 3 sets of chefs. First it’s Guillaume’s oyster tartare and caviar served with potato foam and green apple dices, then it’s Suhring Brothers' interpretation of Labskaus, with the minced beef served in a dumplng with pickled herring and fried quail egg on top. What Pourcel Brothers presented was a beautiful one, with thinly sliced Hokkaido scallop served raw with fennel mousse and caviar, and passion fruit and yogurt dressings on the side with a touch of paprika.

Our next course featured the seasonal Alba white truffles. Early October marked just the beginning of the prime season of truffles and from all I heard the harvest this year was excellent. Poached sea bream was served with brown butter puree on the side and dusted with dried parsley powder, with the dish then covered with truffles shaved at our table ceremoniously. The distinct aroma worked extremely well with this course with a creamy texture and subtle umami.

We then had yet another fish course, which was my favorite of the evening. Three types of fish – red mullet, sea bass and turbot – was gently seasoned and poached, then served with potato gratin, zucchini puree, a light potato foam on a bed of fish soup in a deep dish. It’s like a sophisticated version of bouillabaisse, with rich but clean flavor.

Towards the end were two meat courses. A small piece of roasted Lozere lamb was served with meat jus, eggplant puree and aromatic herbs, then it’s the Kagoshima beef tenderloin dusted with coffee and roasted, and served with celeriac cream, roasted (and pickled) onions, chestnut blini and a coffee-infused sauce. I thought this preparation was more suited for a more meaty beef (rather than the fatty wagyu) but I like the combination of ingredients and flavor of this course for something slightly different.

We wrapped up the dinner with two simple desserts – a deconstructed cheesecake served in a bowl, and the chocolate mousse brulee cake with muscovado ice-cream. I like the latter more, with the muscovado icecream done in just the right sweetness to go with the rich chocolate cake. And then it's the elaborate display of petit fours, as per Caprice's tradition.

For a long menu like this it’s always tricky to choose one bottle to go with everything, so we asked Victor the chef sommelier at the restaurant to choose a few glasses to go with our dishes. I enjoyed sipping in the glass of Savagnin, an unusual grape varietal from the slightly off beaten track of Jura region, with our first series of seafood dishes. It’s dry with light amber color, slightly oxidized taste, notes of kaffir lime leaf and rich in minerals.

I think I needed the rest of the weekend working out non-stop just to balance out the sheer amount of food I had in the past few days.

(Dinner was based on a special guest chef menu available for limited time only. More pictures can be found in my Flickr album:

When? October 6 2018
Where? Caprice, Level 6, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? The Mediterranean Visit: Red Mullet, Sea Bass and Turbot with Potato Gratin and Fish Soup
Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee Edition 163 (en Magnum)
2014 Markus Molitor Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spalese
2015 Domaine Pignier Sauvageon, Cotes du Jura
2014 Domaine Genot-Boulanger Meursault Clos du Cromin
2007 Chateau Certan de May, Pomerol

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