Category Archives: Sip & Snack

Go Big or Go Home (Part 3 of 6)

November Birthday Month Celebrations Not For The Faint of Heart

(Part 1 – Day 1 to Day 5)

(Part 2 – Day 6 – Day 10)

Part 3

Day 11: Cantonese seafood

We have dined all over the world from street nibbles to Michelin Three Star restaurants of various cuisines.  With that in mind, we are confident when saying the Cantonese, particularly of Hong Kong, know their seafood and especially their steamed fish.  Simple, flavourful, perfect texture…nothing beats a properly prepared Garoupa in Lau Fau Shan.  Of course, you have to be willing to suffer the less the hygienic eating environment and please do not get us started about the toilets aka the place you would find unacceptable even to be buried.  Equally, you need to bring your own wine and glasses to pair with the delicious food.  Never mind, all in an evening’s work.  We were joined by our local friends at the place they have frequented for nearly three decades.

A Champagne Challenge was at hand with (in order of preference on the evening) White – Sparkling
NV Pierre Péters Champagne Blanc de Blancs Perle du Mesnil,
NV Vouette et Sorbée Champagne Fidèle,
NV Zoémie de Sousa Champagne Brut Precieuse and
NV Diebolt-Vallois Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut.

Magic!!!

Lau Fau Shan

Lau Fau Shan
Steamed Fish
Lau Fau Shan
A Champagne Challenge

Day 12: Master Kid Chefs

Our friends are special sort of parents.  First, if it is not obvious, they are not poor.  Second, they buck conventional wisdom in that they have no problem with their young kids (since they were around 6) sipping a thimbleful of wine now and again.  Finally, they constantly introduce their boys to the BEST restaurants, chefs and wine on the planet.  When we say “best”, we really mean it.  These young fellas have more Michelin Stars under their belts spanning three continents than most skies can boast similar constellations.  Truly fascinating.  More importantly, at least from our perspective, was their visit to our home to prepare a feast for an all day tapas dining experience.  We handled the wine.  They designed, prepared and cooked the food…supervised, of course.  It was a delightful process where two young “master kid chefs” combined veggies, fish, noodles and everything in our cupboard – which never is bare – to bestow upon us a simply awesome all day, dining extravaganza!  The wines, in order of sipping, did not suck and the master kid chefs sipped a bit of each:

1999 Alfred Gratien Champagne Brut Millésimé
2008 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard
1962 Château La Tour Haut-Brion
2011 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Annum and
2002 Château d’Yquem.

Wow, rockstars we were…

Day 13: Bibo bamboozles…in a good way

We hopped our Uber chariot around 11amish Sunday morning to visit Bibo in the now very trendy district of Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island.  To say scepticism was cascading through our minds would be an understatement.  This largely reflected the fact that “excellent” and “exceptional” dining in Hong Kong has been dying a fairly rapid death in recent years due to a fine blend of reasons including, but not limited to, high rents, poor service staff, cost-cutting on ingredients for obvious reasons, etc.  Simply stated, we have sadly happened upon too many a hyped-up restaurant, particularly in the trendy areas such as Sheung Wan, and we have not been impressed.  Couple that with the concept of Sunday brunch, which might include children – poorly behaved and not properly seasoned and cooked – and we were engaged in a journey of fear and loathing.

Not to worry as Bibo stepped up to the plate and went yard (for non-Yanks, let’s just say you cannot do much better).  First, the place is simply too cool for school.  An eclectic collection of original artwork – whether or not you like it – just feels right for brunch.  Second, free-flow Ruinart Blanc de Blancs!? Seriously!? They lost money on us!  Third, excellent, perfectly proportioned four course meal.  Fourth, attentive and, in most instances, professional service particularly from the French staff.  Finally, the cool vibe music being mixed by the DJ.  All the elements were there and, to our delight, they all came together as well as we have seen anywhere in Hong Kong in years. Kudos to Bibo!

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Despite arriving home five hours or so after brunch, we managed to pop open another two bottles to share with our neighbours before their departure to Southeast Asia for a month.  Great people.  Great Indonesian chef.  Great wine.  Exceptional sleep…the simplicity of math, i.e. Great + Great + Great = Exceptional…our school boy days were not wasted, mom!

Day 14: Bo Innovation…if you have visited, then you know we already have finished the explanation

For those who have not experienced Bo Innovation, we weep.  The brainchild of Alvin Leung, the “Demon Chef” and TV celebrity who was less than classically trained as an engineer, and now owns the world’s best – in our opinion – “X-treme Chinese” cuisine.  Wow, wow, wow!!!  Alvin’s play on various Chinese culinary concepts, i.e. Xiao Long Bao without pork, demands an open-mind, knowledgable nose and patient palate.  How about munching on a version of hairy crab in a small baby-food jar with a Hello Kitty spoon?  Dig into a Shark Fin soup like concoction with absolutely no violation of international fishing laws but all the flavours?  Or a glass of ginger tea that requires you to blow out smoke in a manner reminiscent of the favourite daily sport of those in Amsterdam?  Out of control, off the hook, exceedingly exceptional, mind blowing…the list cannot be too long for what Alvin has done.  Of course, you need to contact your credit card company to ensure your limit will not be exceeded as the set menus – especially when you choose the wine pairing – are, well, not cheap.  Never mind…if you only go once, you should go big…Bo Innovation, when in Hong Kong, is where you should go!!!

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Day 15: Wednesday sippin’ ’n snackin’ at home

After nearly six hours at Bo Innovation the night before, we decided awakening before 12 Noon was, well, uncivilised!  Nay, the idea of getting out of bed before 2pm was gut-wrenching.  Alas, we sallied forth as our Beagle was seeking to relieve himself and our previously full bellies were yearning for sustenance.  So, we opened a bottle of wine, steamed some white rice and sashimi-grade salmon, cut and nibbled on some raw carrots and cucumbers and fastened ourselves down to the couch for a day of Netflix. The bottle of 2014 Domaine Ludovic Belin Pernand-Vergelesses Les Combottes did not suck!

To be continued…

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Read
(Part 1 – Day 1 to Day 5)
(Part 2 – Day 6 – Day 10)

Go Big or Go Home (Part 2 of 6)

November Birthday Month Celebrations Not For The Faint of Heart

(Part 1 – Day 1 to Day 5)

Part 2

Day 6: Sunday sippin’ ’n snackin’ at home

Sunday morning – or was it afternoon – came fast and furious without any of the Hollywood glamour.  Whew, we were exhausted. With that in mind and a determined desire to avoid the little people (aka kids) usually scuttling about good eateries on Sundays,  we raided the fridge and wine cellar at home.  Thanks to Oisix, we munched on some succulent, sashimi-grade salmon, fresh vegetables,  lightly baked potatoes/onions/peppers and OMYG noodles.  We, of course, washed down these victuals with a 2010 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru.

Sippin’ ’n snackin’ at home does not suck!

2010 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
2010 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

HomecookingHomecookingHomecooking

Day 7: A bitza this, a bitza that

We embarked late morning for Wanchai, a district on Hong Kong Island with a bitza this, a bitza that…always fun!

Desiring, hoping and praying for exceptional Mexican fare, we parachuted into Verde Mar.  A self-proclaimed oasis of all things yummy Mexican, we found Verde Mar to be, well, average at best.  Somewhat soggy nachos, doughy burritos and nary a bottle of Mexican wine on the list (yes, Mexico has some good wine), the only positive light was the friendly service.  Alas, our search for exceptional, heck just good Mexican food, continues…

Not to be deterred and far from full, we decided to try the teeny little Japanese noodle shop known as Kamitora Ramen.  Happy we were with very good ramen. Not delirious, but reasonably satisfied.  We would not go out of our way for their ramen – the flavours did not soak into the noodles as desired – but we would not seek out other such shops if in the vicinity and yearning for a fix.

Still seeking a little more to end the snackin’ part of the day, we popped into 22 Ships.  We have been before.  We probably will not go again.  The food was good, but not enthralling.  The service was curt as the kitchen was closing in 30+ minutes.  The chefs were busy cooking food for the staff and offered little time to answer our questions regarding some of the dishes.  The glasses of wine were served with a huff… Sorry, folks, but a tapas bar with snooty staff and disengaged chefs is, well, unworthy of our praise…albeit the Padron Peppers were yummy!

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Day 8: Dan-Dan Mian day

A favourite dish for us is “Dan-Dan Mian” – a bowl of spicy Sichuan noodles.  We heard of some outstanding versions of the Southwestern China speciality being served up in Hung Hum, a fairly popular residential district in Kowloon, Hong Kong.  Off we were to seek out all things Sichuan!

We started at Wing Lai Yuen 詠藜園 to sample their “Dan-Dan Mian” along with several other Sichuan staples.  Hmmm…yet again, another disappointment wrought by the Cantonese aversion to spicy anything.  Bad? Nope.  OK?  Yes.  Great?  We booked our flights to Chengdu the next day.  Let’s just say we will not be going back.

Seeking something more credible for our palate’s spicy-quest, we stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall called Yunnan Guizhou & Sichuan Noodle 唯一雲貴川風味.  Cheap as chips, littered with students and awaiting the annual cleaning, we faced a sceptical waitress when demanding the spiciest of noodles available in the joint.  We did not get the top-echelon – local people often mistake the colours of our faces to mean we do not understand Cantonese – but settled for a more than satisfying, tasty palate-burn.  We shall return.  We shall achieve spicy Nirvana.  So let it be written…

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That evening with more than full tummies, we treated ourselves to a bottle of 2011 Robert Foley Pinot Noir Hudson Vineyard.  Glorious…enough said!!!

Robert Foley
2011 Robert Foley Pinot Noir Hudson Vineyard

Day 9: Sai Ying Pun trendy…worthy of a visit

Sai Ying Pun is a district in the Western part of Hong Kong.  It has blossomed over the last few years into a somewhat trendy alternative to Central, Lan Kwai Fong and SOHO…and, dare we include K-Town?

We have visited quite a few eateries in the district before so we conducted some research to ensure no replication of the past good, bad and ugly.

Arriving just before 5pm at La Viola, we were pleased to be greeted by friendly faces offering us much desired, and exceedingly well-priced, glasses of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay from Veneto.  We cannot say top-shelf sips, but certainly acceptable for happy hour.  We enjoyed the somewhat dainty hustle ’n bustle of the local neighbourhood with the backdrop of two “lovers” having quite a boisterous, four-letter “discussion”…ah, culture!

La Viola
La Viola

La Viola

Happy and hungry – if not somewhat entertained by the scenery – we set-off on foot to Fish School.  From the ceviche to the crudo to the lobster popcorn to the Threadfin rice to the more than a few glasses/bottles of wine to the friendly and engaging service…we were impressed.  A winning combination in a light and breezy atmosphere ended four hours later with our Uber chariot whisking us home to peaceful and stuffed oblivion.

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Day 10: Wines of the Month

We enjoyed a slow Thursday culminating in dinner at The Hong Kong Jockey Club Beas River Horseshoe Grill.  As we live just a stone’s throw away from this oasis in the middle of nowhere Sheung Shui, we occasionally pop-in for some excellent “Le Gout de France” dishes prepared by Chef Ellis along with sampling the wines of the month, which happened to be the new “club private labels”.  The food was classical French prepared and served near perfectly.  Kudos to Chef Ellis who continues to meet our and exceed others’ expectations!  The 2014 Maison Foucher, Les Monts Damnes, Sancerre and 2012 Chateau Grand Peyrou, Grand Cru, Saint-Emillion, well, did not over-impress.  Just OK-Lah.

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To be continued…

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Read (Part 1 – Day 1 to Day 5)

Go Big or Go Home (Part 1 of 6)

November Birthday Month Celebrations Not For The Faint of Heart

 

It was a late, unseasonably warm October day in Hong Kong when we decided to research, plan and begin designing a slew of 30 November birthday month celebrations.  Perhaps it was the weather?  Or was it Bacchus aka Dionysus twisting our five senses? Or as Saint Thomas Aquinas opined in Summa Theologiae an inordinate desire of eating and drinking – gluttony?

Nay, pray tell, it simply reflected our wish to embark on a perilous, yet fab, culinary journey to include everything from simple sippin’ ’n snackin’ to decadent Michelin Star consumption…and everything in between.

Et voila, buckle up and prepare yourself for 30 days of pure debauchery…except for the occasional “break days” and daily workouts designed, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, to stave off losing The Battle of the Bulge!

Day 1: Roots

With our roots being well-entrenched in all Chinese cuisines, Hong Kong style, we trundled down the road to Yuen Long for a three hour culinary stroll.

Dress code exceedingly casual, we began with spicy Sun Kee Noodle Shop生記山西刀削麵.  We love watching the “chef” slice the noodles from a large, cylindrical piece of dough directly into our plate before drowning the same with his proprietary bright red soup.  If you push – and we are nothing if not good at pushing – the boss lady will happily serve up the spiciest of spicy noodles they can muster without local regulatory fines.  Beware: your toilet will never forget you the next day!

Sun Kee Noodle Shop生記山西刀削麵

We followed with a few dishes of dim sum (Har Gau, Siu Mai, Chuen Fun) at  Big Belly Dim Sum Restaurant 大肚腩點心腸粉專門店.  These lil luvlies are served as classical, bite size pieces, which ensures all the yumminess slathers down your throat rather than adorning your neck.  Two people?  No problem, two pieces.  No need to battle over that third piece with your partner or fear the second delectable of four may cause you to explode.  Perfect!

Big Belly Dim Sum Restaurant 大肚腩點心腸粉專門店

Given no wine during our local stroll, we popped open a 2013 Fisher Vineyards Chardonnay The Unity in the evening. We adore Fisher wines, and we love the Fisher story – we often hum “we are family”.  From A to Z, a winning formula!!!

Day 2: Spain and France make their debuts…

Ah, what would a birthday month celebration be without a visit to Fofo by El Willy?  The answer is simple: it would be not!!!  Our local foodie friends joined us for lunch.  They noticed our table was the only one outfitted properly with cloth napkins…we think Fofo is too good for the paper towel option and we insist upon the real deal….we are sloppy.  Our friends equally were shocked to receive “suggestions” (aka this is what you are eating today) from Chef Alex.  We, of course, debated among ourselves regarding the wines settling quite happily on a cava, Catalunya white and Rioja red.  Food to die for, service exceptional, sipping ’n snacking with Chef Alex and his team, perfection!

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Our nearly four hour lunch inspired a stumble down the road to LQV (Les Quinzes Vins) in a little, less than sanitary side-street in Central.  Gorgeous!!!  Another wine-lover joined us – yippee, we could sip more – as we embarked across the Pyrenees to Burgundy where we were greeted by beautifully terroir driven whites and reds along with cheese platter and baked Camembert. Oooh lah lah…thanks, Jordan, as we have little memory of our Uber chariot whisking us back home later that evening!

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Day 3: Sippin’ ’n spittin’

We were invited to, and attended most graciously, the Kerry Wine Annual Portfolio Tasting – both “Kerry Portfolio Tastingtrade” and “retail” sessions as approximately 130 tipples were parading through the exquisite Ciak in the Kitchen.  Master of Ceremonies “The Arrow” was, as usual, in good form as he whisked participants from France to New Zealand to California to England to…well, you get the drift.  Ciak’s Graziano ensured we were sufficiently well-fed with mouth-watering bread and tasty cheese to soak up that which we did not spit.  Was it 70 or 80 different wines, we sadly cannot honestly remember, but we can confirm safe arrival at home later in the evening.

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Pizza @ Ciak in the Kitchen
Ciak in the Kitchen
Baked Scamorza @ Ciak in the Kitchen

Day 4: Little Thailand in Hong Kong

We engaged in some kidney and liver cleansing reflexology in the morning before an adventurous jaunt to “Little Thailand” in Kowloon City.  Hong Kong has everything known to the five senses, particularly when seeking fantabulous food.  However, Hong Kong also has a local palate that, generally, eschews spicy food, which often results in “dumbing-down” the dishes to ensure a steady flow of clientele.  We find ourselves on the opposite side of the spectrum seeking to sweat profusely whenever embarking on a gastronomic visit to The Land of a Thousand Smiles.  Alas, were were far from impressed as both Lung Jie (Peelong) Thai and Amporn Thai offered only a little to satisfy our longing for super-spicy Siam salaciousness.  We shall return and continue our quest as “Little Thailand” in Kowloon City has no shortage of choices…we are confident one of them will rise to the occasion.

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Day 5: A taste of nostalgia with Chef Umberto Bombana at Ciak in the Kitchen

We have known, enjoyed and watched with great admiration over the last two decades Chef Umberto Bombana’s ascent to the summit of the culinary world.  A most humble rockstar with a Cheshire Cat like mischievous grin and unparalleled skill to make simple blossom into exceptional, Bombana always makes us happy.  We joined the journey back to his hometown of Bergamo at Ciak in the Kitchen with a feisty group of local friends ready to experience those delicious dishes of Bombana’s early years.  Nearly six hours later, tummies bursting at the seams and food merriment engulfing our very souls, we floundered into an Uber awaking only in time to flop on the couch at home. Bombana, quite simply, rocks!!!

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To be continued…

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Yankee Doodle Dandy Saturday Sipping ’n Snacking at home

We were debating how to enjoy an otherwise cold, dreary, do not leave the house day when we stumbled upon the idea of a Yankee Doodle Dandy Saturday Sipping ’n Snacking at home day.

Fortunately, we have more than a lot of USA wines – mostly California – in the cellar so the difficult question was which bottles!? Equally, we encountered a similar difficult question as to which music to play that would compliment the wine? Finally, we turned to the question what food to cook and consume over the 9+ hours event?

We started with wine as we are oft to do! Et voila, the lineup with notes and photo…with, of course, the matching socks:

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SIPs


2011 Sea Smoke Sea Spray
. We are, self-admittedly and unashamed, fans of Sea Smoke. We like their style, people, vision and, most importantly, their wines. We equally understand why quite a few CTers do not reach deep in their pockets for Sea Smoke’s Chardonnays, Bubbles and Pinot Noirs. 100% Pinot Noir. 8.5 g/litre dosage. 6 months in French oak barrels. Tasting Note: Fairly Rosé-like visual…given our lack of interest in Rosé, we are not seduced. The aromas changed all that as you feel the big-bone structure (Nicole Kidman), slightly yeasty-rotten-eggs with a hint of brioche. Nice. Fresh, vibrant, bubbled-Pinot Noir with a tangy finish. A bit too much bubbly bubble for us to consider a “meal”, but a most excellent aperitif…sadly at nearly 2x the price of comparables. No problem…we do not sip every day! Continue reading Yankee Doodle Dandy Saturday Sipping ’n Snacking at home

Old Taipa Village Stroll, Macau

Our readers will know we are primarily interested in sipping ’n snacking.  We rarely engage in flights of fancy that eschew our primary objective. Having said that, we enjoy walking as a method to ensure our sipping ’n snacking is counter-balanced, to a degree, by exercise to ensure maintenance of our less-than-trim figures.  Tough racquet!

With that in mind, we woke-up one morning, donned our walking shoes and sallied forth down the the narrow streets and luvly lanes of the “old” Taipa Village of Macau. Below, we have included some photos, which say more than words, and some thoughts regarding our stroll. For more detailed information and a useful map, we suggest you visit the Macau Government Tourist Office.

After walking through the approximately USD2 billion, nearly 3,000 room and 555,000 square meter (nearly 6 million square feet) Galaxy Hotel complex, we crossed the street to Old Taipa Village.  Whew, we already felt tired from sauntering through this mega-entertainment extravaganza that boasts more brand names, slot machines, restaurants and bustling people than should be legal, well, anywhere on the planet!  Can you say contrast on steroids!?  Thus is the “old” vs. “new” of Taipa!

Macau Galaxy
Macau Galaxy

As we entered the Village, we noticed significant contrasts from the outset as new, modern buildings with intriguing architectural designs were popping up against the backdrop of the tiled sidewalks. In with the new, but definitely not out with the old. We applaud the continued, measured development with the preservation of the old Portuguese charm. We call this “intelligent gentrification”. Good on ya, Macau city planners!!!

Old Taipa Village
Taipa Village

Our first stop was at the  Tin Hau Temple, which is considered the oldest (approximately 1785) such place of worship in Taipa. Tin Hau (Heavenly Empress), is also known as A-Ma, who had the power to save boats and drowning people from danger. Given the fishing and trading culture of Taipa, A-Ma is one of the most respected of all the Gods. Over the decades, we have seen other temples dedicated to Tin Hau throughout the seafaring places of southern China, and all we can say is “praise be A-Ma!”

Tin Hau Temple
Tin Hau Temple

Continue reading Old Taipa Village Stroll, Macau

Chung Yeung, The Tang Clan of Leung Yuk Tau and Poon Choi

We were invited to join our friends (and 400 villagers) for the annual Chung Yeung Festival at the The Tang Clan’s family ancestral shrine complete with a “Poon Choi” feast. More than a lot to explain in that sentence, but we will try to keep it brief and let the photos do the talking!

Chung Yeung is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar. In Hong Kong, it is fairly common for family members to join together to visit their ancestral grave sites to clean them and leave food. The ceremony dates back approximately thousand years and is an opportunity for families to get together for sipping ’n snacking! Jolly good event!!!

We, of course, missed the grave-sweeping event and joined our friends for the “Poon Choi” feast at The Tang Clan’s family ancestral shrine. It was not our first dance with Poon Choi, but sitting at the head table of The Tang Clan with our friend who is one of THE leaders was, well, an unexpected treat.

The Tang Clan of Leung Yuk TauThe Tang Clan of Lung Yeuk Tau is one of the “Great Five Clans” settling in Hong Kong in the 11th Century. During the Song Dynasty (960-1276), which was a time of significant advancement in agriculture, iron-working, and printing, one of the sons of the ancestors of the Tang Clan of Lung Yeuk Tau married a Song Princess. All descendants of that marriage, incluing our friend (23rd generation), are considered to be of royal blood. We now cannot help ourselves but refer to him and his better half as Prince and Princess…seems appropriate, he smiles shyly and we sip wine with royalty…the good life! Continue reading Chung Yeung, The Tang Clan of Leung Yuk Tau and Poon Choi