Monday, April 15, 2013

These are a few or our favorite things….

Champagne and Caviar….mmmm….is that not music to your ears? Well, it is to ours and while one of us is finally a lucky member of the very exclusive Champagne and Caviar Club of Beijing (CCC) the other one is very lucky to be invited as a guest as often as possible.

The March luncheon was set at Barolo at the Ritz Carlton Hotel (Barolo) on Jianguo Road. A beautiful venue with an open kitchen; where many, many, very enthusiastic chefs assisted head chef Gianluca Visani. We immediately fell in love with the front room of the restaurant, a table seating eight comfortably, the walls displaying all the wines on sale.

CCC takes pride in pairing the food and wine perfectly and this lunch was no exception.

The starter of Crab Salad with Caviar, Watermelon and Lobster Bisque Jelly and the Josmeyer, Pinot Blanc from Alsace, went perfectly together. We would love the recipe for the lobster jelly as it was surprisingly concentrated in flavor.  The wine worked particularly well with the watermelon and, while it was all good, we believe it lacked something. Perhaps some more texture in the base?

A pasta course followed, it was an Italian meal after all, Salmon Ravioli, Asparagus Sauce, Salmon Carpaccio, Asparagus Tips served with a beautiful Gruner Veltliner from Austria. “A little fishy”, someone said. “A little bit undercooked” we heard from somewhere else. It is difficult to make handmade pasta from scratch; the dough needs to have just the right thickness, the filling not too much or too little and then, it has to be cooked the exact right time. For one of us, it was the favorite course of the day so we’ll just quote a Swedish proverb:  “smaken är som baken -delad” (basically meaning we all have individual tastes or to be precise: the taste is like the bottom – parted…).

Main course: Wagyu Beef Cheek, Creamy Pumpkin, Crunchy Vegetabes served with an outstanding Nebbiolo from 2009. The beef literally melted in our mouths and blended perfectly with the wine. While it disappeared quickly from our plates, it was a surprising choice of dish for an early spring meal. Still, we closed our eyes, looked out at the grey Beijing sky and dreamt that we were sitting on a mountain top outside of Turin. 

Finally, quite a few hours after we arrived at the snazzy Ritz Carlton Hotel, it was time for dessert. CCC events cause one to linger long into the afternoon.  We aren't sure if it is due to the wine, fabulous food or simply an excellent opportunity for the women of Beijing to relax for an afternoon and catch up with old friends, all the while making new ones.  No strenuous activities should be scheduled on the afternoon or evening after a lunch; and take-out for dinner is a necessity…

The dessert: Sicilian Style Cannolo, Ricotta, Vanilla, Chocolate Filling, Pistachio, Candied Orange (we were too busy chatting to take a picture :)) did not help to get us out of the food coma but the Moscato d’Asti sure made the ride home a lot of fun!

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