Sunday, 20 October 2013

Gourmet Treats

All nine cheeses waiting to be savoured with passion fruit jam and bread
My friend Marc from Singapore is here for a few days and since he loves cheese, I thought I'd take him to Caprice Bar in the Four Seasons Hong Kong which has an amazing cheese selection.

As the bar doesn't take reservations we arrived just around 6pm and managed to get one of the prime seats looking over Victoria Harbour. It was great to see the ferries coming in and out of the terminals, while also seeing the digital display on the ICC building.

The main event was the cheeses and we chose the menu item "A little bit of everything". Caprice manager Jeremy Evrard asked us what our preferences were (goat cheese, soft cheeses, blue cheese) and then they were paired with three wines for Marc and a Riesling from Alsace for me that was crisp and had a lot of minerality.

After a bit of a wait our cheese platter arrived on a carved piece of wood and Marc was instantly transported to fromage heaven.

Evrard took time to explain each cheese for us, from left to right, telling us stories about each cheese, its provenance and a hint of each of their tastes. For example Pave de la Ginestaire and Le Colagne were from south west of France near Toulouse, both very creamy, though the latter didn't have much character.

The Prerail had a strong animal flavour from the sheep, and Comte (aged four years) was salty and complex that went well with white wine made like a Sherry to balance the flavour. We liked the Munster cheese, but to finish the platter, the blue cheese of Fourme D'Ambert had a clean finish -- creamy with a slightly harder texture, and the blue cheese taste.

The cheeses were complemented with a yummy passionfruit jam and an assortment of breads and crackers.

Needless to say Marc enjoyed the entire experience -- not only learning more about the cheeses, but also the pairings and savouring each taste. He would go back and forth between the cheeses, deciding which ones he liked best.

Indulging in seven flavours of macarons from Pierre Herme
After our fill of cheese, Marc felt we should have a bit of sweetness, so we headed to Pierre Herme for some macarons.

We were obliged to buy a box of seven for HK$210 and fill it with whatever flavours we liked. The array of macarons was so mesmerizing it was difficult to decide which ones to try.

In the end we chose: salted butter caramel; Mogador -- milk chocolate and passion fruit; green coffee and refined Bourbon coffee from Reunion; Envie -- vanilla, violet and blackcurrant; rose, lychee and raspberry; chocolate and smoked salt; and lemon and flaky hazelnut praline.

We took them home and they were safely, but they were packaged such that it was difficult to get the macarons out without ruining their shells! The shells were too delicate to handle -- we preferred if they were a bit harder and crunchier, but the flavours of each of them were unique and memorable.

Our favourites were Mogador with the strong passion fruit flavour, the black currant in Envie, salted butter caramel goes without saying, and the various textures in the lemon and flaky hazelnut praline. The green coffee did had a subtle coffee after taste, though we couldn't really taste the smoked salt in the chocolate one.

Marc had wanted to save a few macarons for the morning, but I couldn't wait -- why wait?! I couldn't imagine them lasting overnight in the fridge. So we finished them, enjoying every bite.

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