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Posts Tagged ‘wine and food matching’

Cusine: Japanese traditional.

Visit: October 2012.

Price: High (high quality ingredients for Japanese cuisine are always expensive).

The food at the Hong Kong Japanese club cannot be other than very authentic, so it may surprise the Nobu and Zuma devotees with its straightforward and simple style. That often in Japanese restaurants means that only top-notch ingredients must be used in preparation as it is these that stand out. It is quite a similar approach as in Italian cuisine where the raw ingredients and their simple preparation play the main roles.

Sashimi at HK Japanese Club

At the Japanese Club in Hong Kong one can experience throughly the authentic Japanese sit down lunch or dinner. You can eat either in a common room or in one of the private rooms with the traditional concept of sit-on-the-floor by your table. Be prepared to take off your shoes for this, so no teddy bears or red hearts on your socks this time!

Food: Sashimi is the simplest thing one can order. Just a well-sliced piece of fish or seafood and a bit of ice to serve it on, yet it is this simplicity that shows the most about any restaurant. How fresh, succulent and tasty a piece of sashimi is determined by a daily trail of the chef to the fish market or ability to ship the fish from abroad frequently. Some chefs have done a marvelous job with their sourcing ( Urasawa in LA, Dinings in London, Shiro in Seattle, Soto in New York) while some have to mask the imperfections of their fish and seafood with hefty sauces. At the Japanese Club they do not do the later, but one has to know which piece of sashimi to order if you want the best of the best. The salmon was delicious, melting in my mouth like a succulent chunk of fish, but I was disappointed by the toro, the white fish and mackerel. The raw shrimps were delicious though.

Simmering mushrooms and deep fried tofu

Moving to warm dishes I must confess that the Sautéed mushrooms were perhaps the best I have ever had. I ate two plates of them and I could not have enough how great they were. Another vegetarian treat was the Deep-fried tofu with ponzu sauce that was so perfectly balanced, far from oily or mushy as some tofu dishes tend to be.

Perhaps the most different and intriguing for all the dishes we had on that occasion was the Salmon with fermented tofu sauce. This smoky fermented soy bean is called “natto” in Japan and is supposedly very popular between the local people, yet its distinct aroma often deters foreigners. Do not be fooled by the aroma as it tastes really good. The savoury umami taste was dominant and charming in this dish, yet it was balanced by some spicy wasabi paste, white sesame seeds and dried seaweed to create the most complex army of flavours you can imagine. A glass of white wine or sake with this is a must for me as much as with sashimi to help to calm down the richness of the meal. The acidity in white wine is the key to d exactly that.

Salmon with smoked tofu sauce

We also had a Grilled mackerel, but it was not my sort of thing as it was quite bony and fishy. In this dish a vibrant sauce would help it a lot. On the other hand the Grilled Cod Fish Saikyo-miso flavored was excellent. From the sides I liked the Rolled egg omelet as it was so yummy and great palate-soother after all the fish we had.

Rolled omelet

From the deserts the Vanilla,Green tea and Yuzu ice creams were all excellent and the Sweet red bean with rice dumplings was revealing and not too sweet so I could slurp the entire bowl with ease.

Drinks: You can drink wine, yet sake is impeccable here. The selection is as wide as a wine list at a Michelin-stared restaurant. We chose two magnums of Manjyu Kubota sake. It was so delicate, perfectly balanced and palate friendly sake that five of us drunk it like fish jumping into a well in an African desert. Manju  means “Ten Thousand Years Life” in Japanese and it is the highest quality sake among the brand (Kubota in this case).  My japanese friend also disclosed that it’s produced by Asahi-Shuzo Sake Brewing Co., Ltd., which was established in 1830. Well, it is an old company, even older than many wineries in Europe!

A magnum of sake

Address: 19/F, Paliburg Plaza, 68 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Contact: Tel: +(852) 2577 3669

Reservations are possible only for these of you coming along with at least one member of the club.

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Cuisine: International with mainly French brasserie type of influence.

Visit: June 2012

Price: medium (small portions which are quite big about £6, large portions and main courses in the £12-20 sphere)

A sister restaurant to Texture, Michelin-stared high dining venue in central London, the first 28°-50° was open at Fetter Lane in the City. Just recently, the already well-established Wine workshop and kitchen welcomed another sibling – its Marylebone branch. 28°-50° is named after the Earth’s latitudes between which it is in general possible to grow grapes and make wine.

Atmosphere: Invigorating yet sophisticated. The people who come here do not drink to get drunk, but to enjoy their favorite drink – wine in its all forms. The waiting staff and sommelier are very friendly, helpful and it is evident that they love what they do. The interior is bright and designed thoughtfully with wine glasses hanging above the bar and wooden cases of wines cover the back wall. The small area downstairs is more private and you can watch the kitchen buzz as the hand of the open kitchen concept.

Chef: The executive chef Paul Walsh creates original dishes from lighter to heavier so they can be easily matched with the wines on the list.

Food: Small and large options for salads, starters and soup dishes are a very handy option at a place focused on wine. You can get a different dish with each wine you are having to suit each other.

Beetroot salad

Starting with something fresh, tasty and ideal for the glass of white wine I have ordered, I picked the Beetroot Salad with pickled carrots, goats cheese and horseradish yoghurt. The various colors of beets offered distinct flavors. The yellow were more sweat, the reds more juicy and the soft goats cheese rings sandwiched between the veggies just balanced them both. An exquisite sauce for this dish in the form of horseradish yoghurt had won my palate over immediately so I was the more happy when my next plate or rather a board arrived with a side pot full of this delicacy. The Smoked salmon was excellent as I would expect in London supplied by superb salmon from Scotland. I continued with a glass of another white wine, this time with a Pinot Blanc from Alsace, which was exactly that type of wine I wanted with my salmon. Crisp yet aromatic with lovely acidity cutting through the fatness of the fish.

Smoked salmon with homemade horseradish yoghurt

From the starters the Tomato Tart with olive tapenade and goats cheese is another superb treat. It is affluent with tomatoes and the thin crust of the tart is crunchy and light so you can manage another appetizer or a main course easily.

At a wine place a plate of sliced meats and ham cannot be missed on the menu. The Charcuterie selection With pickled vegetables, toast and wholegrain mustard will accompany any full-bodied wine. A spicy Rhone Syrah or Italian Barbera would do a great job.

Another meaty delicacy is the Scottish beef Burger served with tomato and relish. A highly popular feature of the menu as I have seen it on many tables. Juicy red wine will again lighten up this filling dish.

Although cheese is not the best partner during a wine tasting since often its intense aroma can hinder the wine’s flavors, it is still the favorite companion for wine while enjoyed at a restaurant or bar. At 28°-50° the Cheese selection is served with onion chutney and bread. If you are not finishing with cheese then the desert menu might be worth peaking at. From the Crème brûlée and Ice cream selection to Fresh fruit salad for the health conscious diners, you can find the right treat for yourself. A glass of port, sherry, madeira or a sweet wine from Spain will envelop the wine evening into a lovely gourmet escape from the busy office environment of central London.

Drinks: Perhaps the main reason for you to stop by are the drinks. 28°-50° is proud to offer “more than 30 wines available by the glass, carafe and bottle at exceptional prices”. And that is absolutely correct and exciting. Moreover, many of the wines are off-the-beaten-track findings, so you can explore something new without a risk of being disappointed. The knowledgeable staff willingly explains what each wine is about and if you are still in doubt you might get a small taste before you order a glass or a caraffe.

The bar seating

Both places are also supporting the BYO scheme (Bring Your Own wine), for £15 charge per bottle. Although there are some restrictions. They “allow only 1 bottle per couple and by prior arrangement with the management”. BYO are not accepted on Friday and saturday nights. But I think the wines on their list are so good and so well-priced that it would be a waste to bring your own wine.

Opening hours: Marylebone: Mon-Wed: 11am-11pm; Thurs-Sat: 11am-midnight; Sun: 12am – 10:30pm

Fetter Lane: Bar: Mon-Fri 11am-11pm; THE RESTAURANT: LUNCH: 12-2:30PM | DINNER: 6PM-9.30PM

Address: 15-17 Marylebone Lane, London WIU 2NE; 140 Fetter lane, London, EC4A IBT

Contact: Tel: +44 (0)20 7486 7922 (Marylebone); +44 (0)20 7242 8877 (East London-Fetter Lane)

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Upscale steak tartare

Etoille restaurant is a must-go dining spot for a great food and wine lover visiting Napa Valley in California. The idea of wine and food matching has been exploited here to its maximum potential.

Chef: Perry Hoffman, son of the family originally owning the top Napa restaurant French Laundry.

Cuisine: Wine-inspired international

Visit: September 2010

Price: high

Atmosphere: The outside seating in the surroundings of luscious park is much better than the indoor conservative setting. One might feel like a fish in an aquarium overlooking an ocean. Staff is very friendly and informative as it should be in the right Michelin-stared establishment. If you dine outside you can wear anything you would for a wine tasting.

Seafood salad

Food: Creativity and innovation of mostly internationally popular dishes is the driving force of the chef’s cooking. Since the restaurant is located at the winery, the inspiration stems from wine and is directed by the wine’s flavors and suitability to pairing these two together. Everything feels so fresh and not heavy, even the sumptuous steak tartare is lighter when eaten with a glass of wine. Either the sommelier or the suggestion on the menu advices on the most suitable wine going with each dish. Since Domaine Chandon makes excellent sparkling wines I would recommend to start with a lighter dish such as seafood salad to tease your palate with a glass of one of their bubbles. Vegetables are mostly locally sourced as Napa is blessed with perfect climate for farming almost anything. The sea is not far so the seafood and fish are all fresh – no need to worry about food-poisoning. The chef creates original sauces delicious with almost anything he puts them on. His take on burrata with tomatoes was taste-buds-blowing. Sprouts enlivened this usually heavily creamy appetizer and just a slight touch of burrata left some space for a main course.

Burrata with colorful tomatoes

Drinks: One might worry about drinking only bubbles at a Moet Chandon project known mostly for its sparkling wines, but the opposite is true. The company owns many still wine producing wineries such as Newton in Napa so these feature on the list. The selection goes into a much wider stride though, with wines from various producers from all over the world ready for you in the restaurant’s cellar.

Domaine Chandon in Napa

Opening hours and Contact: Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm Thurs-Mon; Dinner: 6pm-9pm Thurs-Mon; Tel: (+1) 888 242 6366 Opt. 2

Address: 1 California Drive, Yountville, CA 94599, USA

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What happens when a talented chef and an adventurous winemaker bring their heads together? In most of the cases they come up with innovative ways how to pair food with wine, in others they engage their diners and ‘winers’ into a heated conversation about what they would drink with what.

The later was the case on an event I have attended recently in London. A winemaker of a Californian brand Turning Leaf Stephanie Edge can perhaps be crowned a queen of adventure. At least if it was measured by the number of countries a single winemaker has visited in search for inspiration. During a six-year period she travelled to 73 countries. I wrote about her and the wines she created for Turning Leaf earlier in her another quest for food and wine matching, at that time it was about Christmass food and perfect wines to go with it.

Ester Roling, the chef

This time though, she has paired herself with a young and talented dutch chef Esther Roling and their common female passion for discovering new flavours gained some unconventional results. Ester Roling worked at London’s Les Trois Garcons, a two-Michelin starred Pied a Terre and finally founded her own catering company Sugar & Salt. Her thirst for fresh produce sourced from various farmers markets and specialist grocery outlets confirms her love for quality.

Beef Carpacio a la Ester Roling

The beef carpaccio she used with parmesan mayo, baked tomatoes and cress not only perfectly accompanied Turning Leaf’s Cabernet Sauvignon, but it melted like a slice of ice infused with beef consomè. Ester disclosed me her source – The Natural Kitchen, an organic grocer on Marylebone High street in London. I am jealous of Londoners now that I have moved out. It seems that I will have to fly to Argentina in order to get a piece of beef like that. Feeding the cows with grass and using only the meat from the young cattle is perhaps the secret that the Argentine and organic producers elsewhere share.

Turning Leaf Discover The Taste Of Colour masterclass

She went into even more exotic corners of the world as she pan-fried red mullet with spicy couscous and paired it with Chardonnay. Chorizo, saffron, chilly, paprika, mint, cinnamon, cardamon and rose petals in her couscous creation were magic with a slightly oaked and warmly spicy Chardonnay. The recipe looked so good, that I had to offer my hand to help her to mix the ingredients together.

I have to give you the recipe here so you can try it yourself. It looks a bit complicated, but it is not. Definitely, it is a very interesting dish with wine and you will impress anyone you will be serving it with to.

Turning Leaf Chardonnay with Red Mullet and Moroccan spiced couscous

This recipe serves four people.

Ingredients: 175g diced chorizo; 3 cloves of garlic; 20 saffron threads; 25g breadcrumbs; cayenne pepper; paprika powder; 2 eggs; salt; olive oil; grapeseed oil; 1 onion; 150g couscous; 240ml boiling water; Ras el Hanout*; 20 parsley leaves; 20 mint leaves; 1 courgette – yellow or green; 4 fillets Red mullet (around 150g each); 20g butter

For the Chorizo crumb: 100g diced chorizo; parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on an oven tray and spread the chorizo. Cover the chorizo with another sheet of paper and place a baking tray on top and bake for 15 minutes or until the chorizo is crisp.

Allow it to cool and then break into crumbs. Set the chorizo aside until needed.

For the Rouille: 3 cloves of garlic; 100 ml boiling water; 20 saffron threads; 25 g breadcrumbs; a pinch of cayenne pepper; a pinch of paprika powder; 2 eggs; ½ teaspoon salt; 50 ml olive oil; 50 ml grapeseed oil

Keeping the skin on the garlic, wrap the cloves in tin foil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 160°C. Set aside to cool then push the flesh of the garlic out of the skin. Using a medium-sized bowl, pour boiling water over the saffron threads and add the breadcrumbs. Boil the eggs and once boiled drop them into iced water to stop the cooking process.  Peel the eggs and separate the egg yolk, discarding the egg whites. In a food processor add the egg yolks, garlic, breadcrumb mix, a pinch of cayenne pepper and paprika powder and salt and blend to a creamy consistency. Gradually add the oils until you get a smooth emulsion.

For the Moroccan couscous: 4 tbsp olive oil; 1 onion, finely sliced in rings; 150g couscous; 240ml boiling water; 1 tsp  Ras el Hanout; 20 parsley leaves, finely chopped; 20 mint leaves, finely chopped; salt to taste; olive oil; 75 g good quality Alejandro chorizo, cut into small dices

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan and add the onion rings. Cover the pan allowing the onion to sweat over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden.  Add a teaspoon of salt and remove from the heat. Put the couscous in a bowl and pour over 240ml boiling water. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 5 minutes to allow the couscous to absorb the water.  Remove the cling film and with a fork, loosen the couscous.  To make the couscous burst with flavour, add the cooked onions, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of Ras el Hanout, parsley, mint and a pinch of salt. Over a medium heat add a splash of olive oil to a frying pan. Add the chorizo and stir until the oil runs out of the chorizo. Add the chorizo and oil to your couscous to give it a golden-yellow colour.

For the Courgette: 1 Yellow or green courgette; olive oil; salt & pepper

Using a small melon baller, scoop out a small ball of courgette, if you don’t have a melon baller use a peeler to slice the courgette length-ways.  Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil.  Sauté the courgette for 1 minute. Cover to keep warm until needed.

For the Red Mullet: 4 fillets of Red Mullet – around 150g each; 2 tablespoons of olive oil; 20g butter; salt; pepper

Season the fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Place a large non-stick pan over a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil when hot. Place the fillets skin down into the frying plan for about 2 minutes. Add the butter then carefully turn the fillets to fry on the other side for another 2 minutes.

If you try this let me know how did you like it with an oaked Chardonnay. I am curious about any other wines working wonders with this dish. Perhaps you would prefer a Pinot Noir from Turning leaf with it?

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