A healthy week in Hong Kong

Sunday, and our livers are just about intact.

At the denouement of what has been a brilliant week of fun, food and wine, the final act is one where we step into a culinary Alice In Wonderland moment. Or perhaps it is Willy Wonka: in an edible forest-floor scene, below, a white and dark chocolate death cap draws you in, before bouncing between milk chocolate Piedmontese truffle, hazelnut “brothers” and dark chocolate and raspberry barrels. Goodness.

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As we reflect on the past seven days, it is fair to say there has been fun, sadness, great conversation, scenery, awesome food and, without doubt, some terrific wine along the way. So, to go with the What We’ve Been Drinking Recently section – where you can find full tasting notes of all the stuff we’ve tasted – here’s the run-down on where we have been, and what we have eaten, since last weekend…

Kicking things off last Saturday: dinner was had at Moonshine & The Po’Boys in the Star Street neighbourhood (below). In spite of the depressingly predictable need-to-get-you-out-in-two-hours Hong Kong service, the food here is genuinely worth putting up with the pushy waiting staff for.

Chargrilled calamari, dirty rice jambalaya, catfish tacos and, for the main event, a half chicken and a bone-in mini tomahawk were made with skill and love – a million miles away from the chain group dining scene here, and fully reflective of Southern food at its best.

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Sunday: at home in Stanley, doing the Port and mince pies road test. Truth was, the only thing that tasting an above-average amount of fortified wine gave us, when drunk with those rich and delicious sweet festive treats, was a suppressed appetite. Home-made soup was all we needed for dinner that night.

Monday: in the China Resources Building in Wanchai, doing a Christmas wine tasting with Berry Bros & Rudd. Tactical eating needed to take place beforehand, so a portion of mexican rice with chicken and okra from healthy new kid on the block Nutrition Kitchen did the trick.

Tuesday: the only place I went to of any note was the gym at The American Club. Meg made a dinner of pesto and breadcrumb-coated salmon, with couscous and vine-roasted tomatoes. But seeing as it is silly season, the already-opened Port from two days earlier looked at us like a neglected child, so we had to just check in with a couple of small glasses. Both the Otima 10 and 2008 LBV were still in fine fettle.

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Wednesday: G7 Private Dining on Glenealy Street in Soho. The team, along with our better halves (above), assembled for a cracking Italian-inspired dinner. The double magnum of Ornellaia was a real treat as it held court over the latter half of the following menu:

  • Antipasti of burrito di bufala, sturia cold-smoked sturgeon, grilled polenta and gorgonzola, and cotechino with green lentils
  • Chestnut soup
  • Casarecce pasta with wild boar ragu and porcini mushrooms
  • Clams steamed in white wine and chorizo
  • Wild red venison saddle
  • Cheese selection with jam and crackers
  • Panettone with pistachio creme fraiche

Thursday: an emotional farewell to friends in Stanley after a run from HKCC to home. Our host’s amazing spread contained a honey-glazed ham, a manuka-smoked salmon, broccoli cakes, home-made cheese pies and an incredible array of dips, sticks and other finger food miscellany. A grazer’s paradise.

Friday: a long lunch on the terrace at ON Dining in Central (below). Wine was definitely the focus here (that ’85 Leoville…holy moly), but we took in some lovely gnocchi with serrano ham, roasted Chalans duck, as well as an atlantic cod with artichoke macaroni. The scenery and conversation, the perfect accompaniment to the wine, made the afternoon fly by.

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And so to our final chapter, last night: The Mandarin Grill + Bar. Family will soon be arriving in Hong Kong for Christmas, so this was mine and Meg’s Christmas date night. Our first time there and it was, simply, mind-blowing.

We start with half a dozen oysters – Kumamoto from the US, and Whitstable Bay from the UK – to go with the Ruinart fizz. But before we get going though, placed on the table are two mini girolle mushroom soups in a bird’s nest, a pair of breadsticks dressed as branches with edible flowers and what is described as “exploding liquid olives” (below).

After the fun and games, we take in the below over the following three  hours (the below descriptions for which, while matching the actual menu, do not even begin to come close to expertly describing the experience…I’ll leave that to the foodies):

  • M: Lobster bisque / D: scallops with watercress and nori salad
  • M: Beef, braised short rib and prime cutlet / D: lamb shoulder
  • M: Cheesecake / D: bread and butter pudding

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A truly memorable meal; the small details – as well as skill of execution – made each step of the journey a pleasure. The accuracy of taste, and total immersion as a dining experience was a fitting, not to mention calorie-busting, end to an excessive seven days.

As we finish up our chocolate fungi, our stomachs are well and truly on the canvas. What a week though. The only thing that could possibly help us now is a large cup of peppermint tea…as well as no food for the rest of the year. Somehow, I have a feeling it won’t happen.

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