Sunday, May 31, 2009

Superstar Seafood Restaurant, Hong Kong

Superstar was actually the first place we went to when we got to HK. It was sort of Recommended by N in one of his emails to me, and since it was very near our Hotel, we decided to give it a try.

According to N, this restaurant has very good Seafood, but again since we had our kids (7 and 4), it was quite hard to order what we really wanted. So again we decided to order the safe stuff...stuff that we would like and that our kids would also eat.

We started out with a simple crab and corn soup. It was quite good and our kids enjoyed it since it was something familiar to them. Then we had the usual dim sum (pork and shrimp) very decent and tasty..and very large compared to what you get sometimes in Chinese Restaurants in Manila.

Then we had 2 more dishes: Deep fried Siopao, and Superior Royal Crab Roe Dumpling. This was very very good, a sort of Xiao Long Bao. As you bite it, the juices explode in your mouth releasing all the flavors. This was their specialty I think and was one of the highlights of the meal. The deep fried Siopao was excellent and it reminded me of the Fried Siopao I have in Ongpin st. Binondo.

Over all we enjoyed this simple meal and the best part, my kids enjoyed it too. I have to slowly break them in and educate them in trying as many different types of foods as possible.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blind Tasting Dinner at Sala

I was in Hong Kong when N texted me that the Stockbroker was inviting me to a special dinner at Sala. He would take care of all the wine and he was quite excited because it was a blind tasting. After thinking of several themes/regions etc..he finally decided on this one.

As we go to Sala, Jojo and JayL were already there. As I sat down, I had in front of me 6 empty glasses. 4 red wine glasses with color coded stickers and a white wine glass and a Champagne flute. As I went to greet Chef Carlo, he immediately said: "no looking, no looking" since they were pouring the wines in the, as soon as The Doc arrived, they proceeded in serving is the bubbly: 1996 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame. Excellent bubbly that is available locally in PWX. With this we had the Amuse Bouche: Quail, Bacon and Sage Tortelloni on Mushroom Fricassè with Truffle Foam. It was a great dish and I remember Jay mentioning that this , if you added 2 more pieces, could perfectly be a first course already.

Next, we had the Trio of Corn and Sweet Shrimp Bisque, Sweet Shrimp Beignette with Corn Purée and Sweet Shrimp and Corn Salad. My favorite being the Beignette with the corn Puree. Chef Carlo explained to us how he did this (put the whole Corn in a juice blender and then added some vanilla and slowly thickened it)...perfect. With this dish, we had: 2003 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Les Folatières. A White Burgundy, I found it sweetish but I liked how it paired with our shrimp dish..

Then the reds were poured...this was a blind tasting so all the wine were in decanters with color coded stickers in the glass and in the decanter.

I'm really not an expert as all the others in the table, so based on what I could smell and taste, initially I liked the first wine the best... after a few minutes I started to like better the wine #2...Wine #3 was very full bodied and even the color stood out from the rest. Aroma was very potent with a very oaky smell. I decide that the order of the wines I liked were: 2,1,3,4. Below is the list of wines we had (after they had been revealed to us):
1.1996 JL Chave Hermitage
2.1996 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon
3.1996 Penfolds Grange
4.1996 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline

With the wine, our main course was: Sous-Vide Squab with Seared Foie Gras, Horseradish Potato Purée and Port Wine Jus and Roast Lamb Shortloin with Confit Shortrib, Baked Provençal Vegetables and Thyme Jus. Both being excellent dishes, my preferred one was the Confit tender with a little crunchiness...delicious and a perfect pairing for the Northern Rhone wines we had.

For dessert, we had a cheese platter with a half bottle of: 2001 Chateau Rieussec. After D'Yquiem, Rieussec is probably the second largest, best known producer of Sauternes. For those who don't know, Sauternes is a French dessert wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux. Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This causes the grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavored wines. Sauternes is one of the few wine regions where infection with noble rot is a frequent occurrence, due to its climate. Even so, production is a hit-or-miss proposition, with widely varying harvests from vintage to vintage. Wines from Sauternes, especially the Premier Cru Supérieur estate Château d'Yquem, can be very expensive, due largely to the very high cost of production (Taken from Wikepedia).

Again I'd like to thank Jojo for organizing the dinner and for the wonderful wines that he brought. It has given me the chance to broaden my wine horizon and try older wines which other wise I would have never been able to try. Thank you also to Chef Carlo for preparing the special menu for us, food was superb.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tasty (IFC) Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop, Hong Kong

We just came for a 5 day Hong Kong trip with the kids. The first 3 days we stayed in Disneyland (food was quite bad so nothing worth writing about), but as soon as we got to HK, finally we had decent Chinese food.

First place we decided to try was a simple Noodle shop in IFC Mall, called Tasty. I think they have several branches all over Hong Kong. Since we had our kids with us, it was hard to really order all the food I wanted since they are quite young and I was not sure if they would enjoy it, so we deiced to order the safe stuff...

First we had some Dimsum and Noodles...(Wantun Noodle soup)...very simple but great tasting noodles. It had steamed Wanton under the noodles(not seen on picture) and the kids loved it...most specially my 4 year old who really enjoyed trying to eat it with chopsticks...until he gave up and just sipped directly from the bowl..

We then had a plate of Fried rice with scallops and egg white and other dimsum dishes, like Sharks fin, Siopao (which was called steamed pork barbecue buns). The rice was very good and tasty, the scallop was a dried scallop so it was a bit salty which I liked very much.

Over all a good place to go if you want to eat simple food, noodles and decent Dimsum. I'd definitely come back here for a quick lunch.....oh and I forgot to mention, the place was packed full of locals who work in the building, we even had to wait almost 25 minutes to get in.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Burgundy wines lunch at SALA

On our las lunch at Pepato, we decided that the next one would be a Burgundy-Pinot blind tasting. This finally did not happen but we decided to still have the Burgundy-Pinot lunch. J decided on Sala so we all met there last Friday around 2:30. In total we were 4 (Noel, Jojo, Jay and myself) and we had a total of 5 bottles.

As soon as we were all there, we had opened all our respective wines we decided to order the food. Aside from his bottle, Jojo also brought a 2001 Edmond Vatan Clos Neore Sancerre. The bottle was very simple with just a small label on the top side. With that, we practically all decided to have the Twice Baked Souffle with Prawn, Feta and Dill, just absolutely delicious... I was not expecting this wine to be as crisp as it was, since it was 2001 and I have never tried Sancerre that old, but it was crisp, with good acidity and I could taste a hint of apple in it...the wine and the Souffle were a prefect match.

For Main, I decided to have Duck (this was not on the menu since lunch time they have a limited menu) but Chef Carlo M. was kind enough to come from Sala Bistro just to cook for us. I ordered the Duck Breast with Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes, Spiced Red Cabbage, Roast Pears and Cranberry Jus. It was superb as usual and with the wines that we had, again a perfect match. My notes of the dish from the last time I was there are still the same: The Duck Breast was just perfection, although I was not too happy about the potatoes. This menu is a carbon copy of what I had during a special birthday dinner at Sala some time ago... just can't get enough of it...

As for the wines, we had 4 bottles (3 from Burgundy and a Pinot Noir from Italy) The first Bottle I tasted was Jay's bottle, a Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 1998. Very enjoyable, it was quite an old wine so there was no decanting. Very Good. Noel's Bottle was a Louis Jadot Clos St. Denis Grand Cru 1999, which we had purchased at Bacchus just before going to Sala. It seemed to lack finish. Jay also mentioned that it needed more time in the Bottle and someone else said maybe it should have not been decanted. Jojo's bottles was a Denis Mortet Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux 2003. This was the one I enjoyed the most, very easy to drink. Jaymntioned that he found it very sweet and in a way I tasted the same. The last was my bottle, a 2005 Alois Lageder Krafuss Pinot Noir, which I had purchased during my last trip to Italy for this dinner. I was a bit anxious about this wine since I had no idea how it would taste. I was the only one who brought a Pinot Noir and from Italy, which I think no one had ever tried. I decanted it for about 1.5 hours. It was very light in color and I think Noel or Jay mentioned it was a new world-like/California-ish Pinot Noir. I also enjoyed this one and was surprised by the out come. It had good finish.

Since we had so much wine left, for dessert we ordered a cheese platter just to have something with the left over wine. After that we had some espressos and left at around 3 PM (they were closing the place down already.

Noel and I had to kill time before our Wine tasting organized by Sommelier Selection, so we decided to pass by Greenbelt 5. I ended up getting the WINE REPORT 2009 by Tom Stevenson. On our way, we stopped by LUSSO, Gaita Fores new Champagne Bar. She was there having a Photo shoot I guess to promote her new place so we decided to have a drink. Noel chose a glass of Billecarte-Salmon Brut Rose, very refreshing Rose Bubbly.

We then proceeded to Pasong Tamo for Somellier Selection 100 Wines from France wine Tasting. This was a very well organized wine tasting of Sommelier Selections 100 wines available in the local market. I obviously did not try all 100 wines but just chose the ones I thought would interest me. I went for the Rose's, some white and some sweet wines. I was hoping to have re-tried again my favorite Rose wine Tempier Bandol, but unfortunately it was out of stock.

It was a long day of wine and food...but hey I'm not complaining...had a great time (Thanks Noel, Jojo and jay) and til the next lunch...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Colline Emiliane, Rome

Colline Emiliane was one of the meals I was looking forward to while I was in Rome. Recommended by T and by other fellow food lovers, I decided to have lunch there. It's located near Piazza Barberini, in the center of Rome. We get there 1 pm and we are the first to be seated (the restaurant got full by around 2 pm).

It's a small family run restaurant serving Classica Cucina Bolognese (Bolognese Cuisine) from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. The interiors are very simply and frills. At that point, I knew I was going to have a good meal.

For starters, they serve us the typical bread basket and house wine (without even us asking for any wine). The house wine was served in a cuartina (half a bottle of wine served in a small pitcher). for the Antipasti, I ordered Prosciutto di Langhirano. Langhirano is a town in the Province of Parma in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, known for producing Prosciutto di Parma. It was very thinly sliced, dry but quite tasty although not as salty as the Spanish Iberico hams, which I am used to having. It also had less fat then other hams I've had.

Then I had the Tortelli di Zucca (Pasta stuffed with Pumpkin). A very simple but tasty dish. Home made pasta stuffed with a pumpkin paste, then served with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Delicious pasta dish, quite filling but of course I left the plate clean as a whistle....

For my main course, I had Giambonetto di Vitella con Purea (Slow cooked Leg of Veal with mashed Potatoes) This plate was huge and by the looks of it when it arrived, it looked very heavy. The veal was probably the most tender I've had, cooked in some kind of cream or milk. I did not touch the mashed Potatoes since I had no more space for it but the Veal I completely wiped out.

For dessert, I could not resist the Frutti di Bosco con Limone...a mix of Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries with a little fresh Lemon Juice. So refreshing yet light, its a perfect dessert/cleanser after a heavy meal.

I enjoyed this home cooked meal very much and do plan to come back here whenever I'm in Rome...Ciao!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tapas in Madrid

I was in Madrid for a couple of days and want to share with you some of the food I had there. Most of my meals were tapas so I decided to put them all here in one post. I had a sit down degustation dinner on my first night, which I will feature in another separate post.

That day, lunch was at a place called Mercado de La Reina in Gran Via. For starters we had a bottle of Martin Codax Albariño white wine, a white from Galicia which is one of my favorites nowadays...with that we had a plate of Croquetas de Jamon Iberico and plate of Pimientos del Padrón. They are unique to a town called Padrón, in the south west of Galicia (La Coruña).The fresh, crispness of the wine was a good match to the Croquetas and Pimientos for starters...definitely enjoyed this one.

Later that afternoon, I met up with a friend who was in Madrid for a project and he took me for more tapas. But this time, he took me to the Santa Ana area (right behind my Hotel), very well known for it to have the highest ratio of tapas bar per sqm. in Madrid.

We started off in a Place called LA VENENCIA, a bar probably over 100 years old. All they serve is different kinds of Fino, a drier finer variety of Sherry. Unlike sherry, fino is not as sweet and has to be consumed right away, if not it could loose its flavour within a few hours. We had a couple of glasses of Fino and a Manzanilla, another variety of sherry, which was a bit fresher and more delicate in flavor. With every order comes a free tapa of olives and Chorizo...

After the quick stop in La Venencia, we headed towards a Tapas Bar called La Fragua de Vulcano, recommended by a friend of his. As we get there, the place is packed and we have to wait to be seated. After a 15 minute wait, we are finally seated. The place had no frills, very simple decor. The menu was very limited although they had their daily specials by the bar.

I found this sign, by the entrance of the place, very funny and amusing. Translated, It says:" Mr. Jesus Cerezal,owner and Founder of this F***ing House".

We ordered and the food came immediately. As for the wine, we asked for Red wine, and the only thing they ask you is if you want Rioja or Ribera del Duero, so hardly any choice for us. We decided on Ribera del Duero. With the wine, we had Empanadas, Calamares and Rabo de Toro.

Such simple but so delightful food. The Calamares was perfect, not too oily nor rubbery. The Oxtail was one of the best I've tried, served with a simple sauce and fries. We did not have more food since I was still too full from lunch, so right after we left to have a cortado (espresso macchiato) and headed back to the Hotel. Anybody in Madrid I would recommend this place for simple tapas...