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Food & Drink


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Food & Drink


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Home on the Range


Meet Louise in her Ivory Boudoir at PMQ’s new high-key dining destination

Home on the Range


Meet Louise in her Ivory Boudoir at PMQ’s new high-key dining destination

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Home on the Range

July 10, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: The parlour peeks into the Drawing Room

Though the slow-food movement exists worldwide, such languorous approach to cuisine and eating seems little appreciated in Hong Kong. However, five years after launching Aberdeen Street Social, a glamorous collaboration in the gardens of PMQ between JIA Group founder and CEO Yenn Wong and multi-accoladed British chef Jason Atherton, the space has been reinvented as Louise, with French chef Julien Royer taking the helm. Royer’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant Odette in Singapore was honoured with the No. 1 position in last year’s Asia’s 50 Best awards and this marks his first venture outside of the Lion City. 

Louise presents a fresh approach to traditional French cuisine and, much like its British forebear, will continue to offer both casual and refined dining across two levels. Wong says the project embodies her and Royer’s shared passions of food, design, art and culture. (JIA also owns one-Michelin-starred Duddell’s, which combines the same mentality, as well as 12 other food and beverage venues in Hong Kong). 

The aesthetic has undergone a high-key makeover, with architect André Fu and his AFSO studio transforming the two-storey heritage building into an intimately chic colonial home. Welcoming guests in, Louise offers all-day dining and drinks in the Tropical Greenhouse Lounge or an invitation up the striking staircase to her Ivory Boudoir dining room, where lunch and dinner are served à la carte. 

Royer is treating Louise as an ode to homegrown French cooking and will serve such heart-warming fare as sautéed potatoes with Cantal cheese, garlic and parsley (served with an option of black truffle); red wine-braised beef cheek with confit carrots and baby onions; and yoghurt cake with yoghurt ice cream and confit lemon. 

For more casual cuisine, there’s pâté en croûte and freshly baked madelines. Open from noon, the lounge will offer a selection of cold cuts as well as cheeses from François Bourgon of Toulouse-based artisan cheesemaker Xavier, accompanied by drinks from the bar. Heads up, all gourmands – it’s time to skip to Louise.

Images provided to China Daily

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Any Way You Slice It


Feel free to cut the cheese – but make sure you’re using the correct type of slash. Check out our handy guide to all sorts of fromage

Any Way You Slice It


Feel free to cut the cheese – but make sure you’re using the correct type of slash. Check out our handy guide to all sorts of fromage

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Any Way You Slice It

July 10, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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Vintage Art


Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild on the historic winemaker’s
pioneering collaborations with eminent artists

Vintage Art


Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild on the historic winemaker’s
pioneering collaborations with eminent artists

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Vintage Art

June 26, 2019 / by Philippe Dova

Image above: Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild

Renowned for being among the most expensive wines in the world, the vintages of Château Mouton Rothschild, a Premier Cru Classé de Pauillac, have featured a different contemporary artist each year since 1945. Since 2013, the collected works have been visible as part of the winemaker’s Paintings for the Labels exhibition, which comprises the original works by the likes of Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Georges Braque, Antoni Tàpies, Balthus, Jeff Koons and even the Prince of Wales. 


1924 label artwork by Jean Carlu

1924 label artwork by Jean Carlu

What is the origin of the first artistic work on a Mouton Rothschild label?

My grandfather, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, thought of the idea in 1926, for the 1924 vintage. As the new owner of the estate, his ambition was to bottle the entire wine harvest at the château. This was a huge innovation at a time when the majority of the vine production was bought and bottled by the Bordeaux trade. My grandfather decided to become independent, and further did so by adding his personal touch to the wine label: an artistic work by poster designer Jean Carlu. 

Would you say it was a revolutionary decision for the time?

Indeed! Combining art and wine on a bottle, a consumer product, had never been done before. Carlu, this avant-garde artist, completely embraced the cubist movement of his time to create a unique work of commercial art. Unlike the subsequent labels of Mouton Rothchild vintages, which distinctly separate the artistic and the technical space of the label, this first label is unique as it integrates all its descriptive aspects within, and is therefore a complete and wholesome piece of art. 

What are your selection criteria for a label artist?

The artist must be internationally known. However, it is not because the artist is famous that we choose them. They must speak to our artistic sensibilities, and not be subversive or polemical. This last point is extremely important – on the one hand, because our family does not appreciate creating controversies. On the other hand, Mouton is a marketed wine, which means we are subject to certain constraints. We like to choose artists who carry a unique perspective on the world and express fantasy through art.

Interestingly, the Prince of Wales illustrated the 2004 vintage.

The Prince of Wales is a talented painter. While the label is customarily dedicated to the vine and wine, it sometimes celebrates a historical event. The year 2004 marked the centenary of the Entente Cordiale between Great Britain and France. It was in this spirit that Baroness Philippine de Rothschild approached the Prince of Wales to illustrate the label for the 2004 vintage with one of his watercolours: Mediterranean Pines on Cap d’Antibes. The label is particularly unique, as the Prince of Wales gave us the honour of adding the following handwritten note to his piece: “To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale – Charles, 2004”.

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1973 label artwork by Pablo Picasso

1973 label artwork by Pablo Picasso

Are there any technical constraints for the artist?

We believe artists should have complete creative freedom; therefore, we don’t impose any size restrictions for those who collaborate. The works can be gigantic, like Karel Appel’s, or tiny, like Hans Hartung’s. Every year, the artists take possession of the space and take hold of it in their own way. 

The medium and format of the original works can vary quite a bit...

The artists who illustrate the labels are not only painters; they are also sculptors such as Bernar Venet or scenographers such as Robert Wilson. We love the diversity of these artists and their media. I was delighted when David Hockney created his work on an iPad.

Which artists do you wish you had been able to collaborate with?

Louise Bourgeois and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, who passed away before we had the time to collaborate. Personally, I would love to have worked with Karl Lagerfeld. He was internationally recognised for his talent as a fashion designer and I believe that the art of fashion is an art of drawing. He would have been a fantastic contributor to our beautiful collection. I was deeply moved by the news of his death. 

1975 label artwork by Andy Warhol

1975 label artwork by Andy Warhol

Do you have any plans  for Le Petit Mouton, the château’s second wine, to reproduce the concept but with little-known or emerging artists?

We love Le Petit Mouton; it’s a wonderful wine that achieved great success, especially in China. It leads a remarkable existence next to our great wine. It would be very tempting to reproduce the concept for Le Petit Mouton, but it is extremely important for us to stay faithful to our message. The message is that Château Mouton Rothschild, the great wine, is the domain of great artists.

The Petit Mouton label will continue to be illustrated with a work by Jean Carlu. This particular work had not been chosen to illustrate a label in the 1920s. We decided to reinstate it as a tribute to the first artist who illustrated the first label of the great wine. It has become, over the years, an homage to the unique identity of Château Mouton Rothschild.

Can you tell us which artist will illustrate the upcoming 2017 vintage?

As for each vintage and by tradition, the chosen work and artist are only revealed in October of each year when the vintage is released. Before this outing, it is a well-kept secret that I cannot disclose…

Images: Alain Benoît (Deepix); provided to China Daily

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The Triumphs of Bacchus , William Kentridge (2016 Mouton label)

The Triumphs of Bacchus, William Kentridge (2016 Mouton label)

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A Lillet Goes a Long Way


Discover the nearly 150-year-old French aperitif that was loved by James Bond creator Ian Fleming

A Lillet Goes a Long Way


Discover the nearly 150-year-old French aperitif that was loved by James Bond creator Ian Fleming

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

A Lillet Goes a Long Way

June 26, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Outdoor shot, 2012

Lillet Réserve Jean de Lillet Blanc and Rouge

Lillet Réserve Jean de Lillet Blanc and Rouge

There’s a remarkable moment in Ian Fleming’s debut novel Casino Royale (1953), which first introduces the British man of mystery and secret agent, James Bond. As early as chapter seven, 007 meets CIA agent Felix Leiter for a drink; Bond looks at the barman and first orders his trademark cocktail. 

“A dry martini,” says Bond. “One. In a deep champagne goblet. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon-peel.” Bond then turns to Leiter: “This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.” The following night, Bond christens it the Vesper, after the woman he has just met and ultimately falls in love with – sidekick Vesper Lynd. 

What makes the reference all the more remarkable is that, over the series of James Bond novels, which contain no less than 122 references to bespoke champagnes such as Dom Pérignon and Krug, this is Fleming’s first and only reference to any recipe for a dry martini. It’s proof that a little Lillet has come a very long way – 66 years, in fact. 

It’s come some way before that, too. The wine-based aperitif hails from Podensac, a small village south of Bordeaux in the heart of the Graves vineyards region, adjacent to Sauternes. Founded in 1872 by Paul and Raymond Lillet as Maison Lillet Frères – a merchant of fine wines, liqueurs and spirits – the brothers were smart entrepreneurs and remarkable connoisseurs. The drink was originally called Kina Lillet because it contained a small amount of Peruvian cinchona bark known as Kina; as quinine is a component of the bark, it was both fashionable and medicinal in its day, as it was thought to allay symptoms of malaria and prevent mosquito bites. 

Lillet won a gold medal at the Universal Exposition of 1900 in Paris, proclaiming itself as “very agreeable to the taste, drunk by the most delicate people, at any age, to their great benefit”. During the Roaring Twenties and the ’30s, it took off; in that era, British bon vivant Harry Craddock, the man behind London’s famous Savoy Cocktail Book, included no less than 22 Lillet-based cocktail recipes. 

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So what’s its secret? Lillet consists of Bordeaux wines – 85% semillon, muscadelle and merlot – combined with 15% liqueurs that are obtained by macerating sweet and bitter Spanish and North African oranges and their peels in alcohol for several months. It’s traditionally matured in oak vats for eight to 12 months, during which time it receives the same careful attention as Bordeaux grand cru wines, undergoing fining, racking and filtering. While similar to vermouth, Lillet espouses greater versatility, with distinct flavours of honey, orange, lime and mint. 

Lillet won many fans in its heyday, among which was the trend-setting Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, who insisted that high-end venues should carry the drink, including the Ritz and George V hotels in Paris, as well as stately ocean liners crossing the Atlantic. (She allegedly travelled with her own bottle.) And so it became a fashionable tipple among the high-society set and was even quaffed by Jackie Kennedy Onassis. 

As an aperitif, Lillet – owned by Pernod Ricard since 2008 – can be drunk with ice and a slice of orange or lime, or as a long drink with the addition of tonic water, or with sangria. Most fashionably right now, it can be added to the negroni. Live a little; live a Lillet. Santé!

Images provided to China Daily

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Set for Summer


Prepare a detox water bottle according to our tasty recipes – they’re easy to make, deliciously healthy and oh-so photogenic

Set for Summer


Prepare a detox water bottle according to our tasty recipes – they’re easy to make, deliciously healthy and oh-so photogenic

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Set for Summer

June 26, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Instead of drinking plain old water, “detox water” can get you all the good stuff from H2O for your body and a lot more – and it’ll be super-tasty, too. Used as part of your daily regimen or as a method of nutrition replenishment during a detox session, what are you waiting for? But before you jump into it, there’s an unmissable pre-step. Get a beautiful glass bottle or pitcher and you’ll have that much more motivation to stick to your routine. 

Steps

Step 1 – Select the fruit(s).

Recommendations: 

Strong

Lemon/lime
Orange
Grapefruit
Pineapple
Cucumber

Mild

Watermelon
Strawberry
Kiwi

Step 2 – Select the herbs or other side ingredients to add flavour.

Recommendations: 

Mint leaves
Parsley
Cinnamon sticks
Ginger root
Honey
Himalayan salt

Step 3 –  Add the fluid(s).

Water

Other recommendations:

Green tea
Coconut water
Apple cider vinegar (diluted with water)

 

Step 4 – Refrigerate.

Refrigerate your pitcher with all the selected ingredients for anywhere from three hours to overnight, depending on how strong you want the flavours to be.

Our Recipes

Pineapple Lime Detox Water

A bowl of pineapple wedges and a lemon cut into wedges 
Juice of 2 whole limes 
Some fresh parsley leaves
Water 


Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Drink

Juice of half a lemon
1 cinnamon stick 
1 teaspoon of honey 
2 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar (diluted in water)


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One Tequila, Two…


Better health through tequila? Maybe the buzz isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – but at least we’ve got a delicious recipe for watermelon margarita

One Tequila, Two…


Better health through tequila? Maybe the buzz isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – but at least we’ve got a delicious recipe for watermelon margarita

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

One Tequila, Two…

June 12, 2019 / by Howard Elias

Social media has been abuzz of late with news that drinking tequila can aid in weight loss. Don’t start lining your frosted glasses with lime and salt just yet, though. In a recent study, researchers from a university in Mexico claimed that agavin, a natural form of sugar found in the agave plant, doesn’t raise blood glucose levels and can be used as an alternative sweetener for people who have type-2 diabetes or who wish to lose weight. Unfortunately, those health benefits don’t really extend to tequila, because in the distillation process to make the Mexican spirit, all that health-giving agavin gets converted into unhealthy ethanol.

The good news, though, is that even without agavins, tequila packs no more calories per ounce than scotch, rye, rum, gin or vodka. In terms of carbs, however, tequila loses out to all of these other spirits. When it comes to mixed drinks, wine and beer, tequila doesn’t fare too well, either. A margarita has as many calories as a pint of dark Irish dry stout. Red and white wine and cosmopolitans are at the low end of the calorie spectrum, while rum and colas, mojitos and a certain popular beer from the Philippines are way up there at the top. Hong Kong’s favourite lager and gin and tonics are in the middle.

But just so we don’t leave tequila lovers crying at the bar with all this bad news about their favourite beverage, here’s a great recipe for a deliciously refreshing watermelon margarita. Because there’s no added sugar, it’s lower in calories than the average ’rita:


  • 3½ cups seeded watermelon, cubed

  • ¾ cup white tequila

  • 3 tbsp lime juice

  • 1 tbsp triple sec

  • 2 cups ice

  • Sea salt and lime wedges (for rimming the glasses)

Puree the watermelon together with the tequila, lime juice and triple sec in a blender. Strain the mixture and pour into a container. (This can keep in your refrigerator for a few days.) Crush the ice in the blender, then fill salt- and lime-rimmed glasses with the ice. Pour the margarita mixture over the top and garnish each glass with a lime wedge.


And remember, if you can’t drink healthily, drink responsibly. ¡Salud!

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So Sonoma


French vigneron Pierre Seillan envisioned a future for US winemaking in the California county more than 20 years ago – and marvels at its limitless possibilities today

So Sonoma


French vigneron Pierre Seillan envisioned a future for US winemaking in the California county more than 20 years ago – and marvels at its limitless possibilities today

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

So Sonoma

June 12, 2019 / by Ben Berg

Image above: Château Lassègue’s barrel room

Pierre Seillan

Pierre Seillan

Napa Valley is an amusement park for grown-ups, with a slew of acclaimed wineries and restaurants such as Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-starred The French Laundry and The Model Bakery, which landed itself on Oprah Winfrey’s favourite-things list; the celebrity claimed the latter was her “greatest extravagance”. As such, Napa has become like a Disneyland or Las Vegas of the wine world, while its less-assuming neighbour, Sonoma County, has asserted its authentic and original wine smarts. Less touristy and commercialised, Sonoma is twice the size of Napa, contains a 60-mile Pacific Coast shoreline and grows more grapes across a greater variety of conditions. 

The area’s attributes were recognised by French winemaker Pierre Seillan more than 20 years ago. “Sonoma has finesse and sophistication,” he says. “You can’t hide the quality of the terroir and each type of soil provides a different energy in the wine, which provides different styles.” It’s a region he now thinks plays into the younger demographic of consumers. “It’s more avant-garde and more for the explorer, you might say. The younger generation will discover more and more of Sonoma. It’s their discovery to make.” 

Prophetic words from a man whose epiphany came in 1995 during a Vinexpo wine event, where he met the visionary Barbara Banke of US wine powerhouse Kendall-Jackson, who later introduced him to her husband, Jess Jackson. The pair was looking to create something other than the ubiquitous ultra-oaked Napa Chardonnay style of wine. 

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The estate at Lassègue

The estate at Lassègue

Seillan’s career in the wine industry began at Bellevue, his family’s estate in Gascony, France, where he learned to grow cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and several white varieties. Later he focused on cabernet franc at Château de Targé in the Loire Valley, then spent two decades in Bordeaux making wine at several châteaux for Raoul and Jean Quancard. 

While working across eight different appellations, Seillan discovered the many nuances within various vineyard sites. This became the backbone of his micro-cru philosophy, which allowed him to build the elegant and complex architecture of his wines. Meeting him in person in Hong Kong, he has the vigorous, geometric physique of a Picasso, yet the eye and sensibility of an impressionist Monet. 

In America, inspired by the great wines of Bordeaux, Jackson challenged Seillan to create a California merlot as good as a Pétrus. The pair spent several months scoping out potential sites in Sonoma before Jackson offered Seillan a vigneron position, resulting in Vérité. The winery has since produced three renowned blends: La Muse (majority merlot), La Joie (primarily cabernet sauvignon) and Le Désir (primarily cabernet franc). The first vintage was in 1998 and the wines have since achieved some of the greatest acclaim for any winery in California, including 14 perfect 100-point scores from US wine bible Robert Parker Wine Advocate. In fact, the 1998 vintage is now one of the most collectible and expensive among the Sonoma wines. 

“I cannot stress enough how truly singular the wines of Vérité are,” writes Lisa Perrotti-Brown of Robert Parker Wine Advocate. “This makes sense when you consider the far-flung vineyard locations in Knights Valley, Bennett Valley, Alexander Valley and Chalk Hill; the many soil types, topographies and exposures they encompass; and how dedicated Seillan is to bringing to the forefront the unique signatures of these places.”

It’s testament to Seillan’s shared vision with the late Jackson, who died in 2011. “Jess asked me to join his company with a view to elevating the elegance of the wine, and to elevate the complexity and diversity of the wine of California, according to the different regions,” he recalls. “And he asked me, ‘Where do you want to do that?’” Seillan knew that Sonoma made sense, having seen the one-dimensionality of the approach in Napa. “I understood quickly from my experience of visiting Napa that the enemies of finesse and elegance are too much heat and warm weather.” 

Château Lassègue Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2009(left); Vérité La Muse 2015(right)

Château Lassègue Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2009(left); Vérité La Muse 2015(right)

How do Sonoma and Napa compare, exactly? “I think it’s hard to compare, as they are so very different,” he says. “It’s mostly about the diversity of Sonoma, so much more than Napa. It’s the influence of the greater temperatures. And what would Sonoma be without the mistral? Every hillside, every elevation and every aspect offer us a different micro-cru. The pure expression of these unique sites has, from the beginning, defined our winemaking philosophy.” And how does Seillan describe that philosophy? “Our wines embody the timeless traditions of France and the limitless possibilities of California.”

For one, Seillan was drawn to the Sonoma soils. There are different vineyards from numerous appellations, with distinct soils in terms of elevation and exposure to the sun and wind. “The soils are clay, basalt, volcanic, white volcanic ash… Sonoma has the most complex soils of the entire California,” he says. The only type it really doesn’t have is limestone, such as one finds in Bordeaux’s Saint-Émilion. 

Wind is also a factor in the region’s richness. “The wind is the key part of the circuit of Sonoma County,” he says. “The passage changes the temperature between day and night in a big way; it can be 30 degrees during the day, but then the breeze comes in from the Pacific, and the temperature drops to around 10 or 12 during the night. This means the vines breathe.” 

There’s also the sheer variety of Sonoma’s topography. “The place has valleys, plains, mountaintops, forests, riverbeds and ocean cliffs,” says Seillan. “So you get very different topography in, for example, Bennett Valley, Knights Valley or Alexander Valley. Then you have the Mayacamas Mountains forming the eastern boundary of the county. The eastern inland appellations are warm, dry and ideal for Bordeaux varieties, such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc.”

So successful had they been in their endeavour that Seillan again partnered with Jackson to take over Château Lassègue in Saint-Émilion and bring French cabernet franc to the Jackson Family Wines portfolio. “Jess found this beautiful estate – 24 hectares – and it was great,” he recalls. “The youngest vines were 35 years old. We get great south-southwest sun exposure, but then the diversity of soils go all the way from the foothills to the top of the hill, and we are protected by the north-side hills, which is rare in a château in Bordeaux. Usually it’s ten hectares with the same soil. We have about ten different soils.”

After such a long stretch in the field of winemaking, the Frenchman’s heart remains strongly in Sonoma. “When I came here with Jess and Barbara in 1996, I thought it would be for five or six years. But I’ve now been in Sonoma for 22 years. Do you think I would still be there if I hadn’t seen its exceptional potential? I want to see the next 20 years.”

Images provided to China Daily

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In Praise of Chia


Get hip to the magic of the chia seed with a delicious pudding recipe

In Praise of Chia


Get hip to the magic of the chia seed with a delicious pudding recipe

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

In Praise of Chia

May 29, 2019 / by Howard Elias

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If you’ve ever lived in North America, you’re likely familiar with Chia Pets, those kitschy terracotta figurines in the shape of animals, trees, movie characters and even US presidents. As the TV commercial tells it, you simply soak your piece of pottery in water, spread the chia seeds on top and then watch them sprout green “fur” over the next week. As a kid, having a low-maintenance fluffy pet to look after is great fun – but did you know that you can eat chia seeds too? They’re incredibly healthy, as they are a rich source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins and more than a few essential minerals… and they’re low in calories, too. Chia is also hydrophilic, absorbing up to 12 times its weight in liquid – and that’s important to know if your bowels have been moving slowly.

The chia plant, Salvia hispanica, is a species of the mint family that is native to Central America. Historians believe that chia was as important a food crop for the Aztecs as maize. Today, chia is grown from Arizona to Argentina and comes in two varieties: black and white, both of which have the same nutritional value. 

Fortunately for us in Hong Kong, chia seeds are now widely available at health food stores and online shops. Because they’re tiny, a little goes a long way – but because they’re so delicious and nutritious, you may find yourself ordering a few packages at a time before long. They can be sprinkled on top of your morning cereal or rice congee, or thrown into your smoothie for an added protein boost. Unlike flaxseed, which needs to be ground up before being eaten in order to benefit from the nutrients, chia seeds are easily absorbed and digested whole. There have been reports, however, of people choking on them because of their hydrophilic quality. To get around that, be sure to drink a glass of water after eating chia seeds or soak them in liquid for about 15 minutes before you eat them. They’ll start to develop a gelatinous coating, which will aid in their digestion.

My new go-to dessert recipe is chia pudding. It’s healthy, simple to make and amazingly delicious. If your family is finicky about trying out new healthy foods, don’t tell them it’s chia until after they’ve taken their first bite.

Chia Pudding with Fruit Compote

1½ cups of milk (substitute soya milk, almond milk or coconut milk as desired)

½ cup chia seeds

2 tbsp maple syrup (or less, to taste)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines or other fruits

2 tsp white sugar (or less, to taste)

1 good glug (as Jamie Oliver calls it) of balsamic vinegar

  • In a bowl, add all the ingredients for the chia pudding. Mix together and refrigerate for a few hours.
  • In a pot, add all the ingredients for the fruit compote. Mix together over low heat until the juices run from the fruit and start to thicken. Pour into a second bowl and refrigerate for a few hours.
  • After the mixtures have sufficiently chilled, add the chia mixture to the top of the fruit compote and return to the refrigerator until you want to eat it.
  • The pudding will stay fresh for about five days – but it tastes so good, it will probably be eaten well before then.
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The Golden Gates


What’s the most beautiful expression of the chardonnay grape? Meet Anne Moreau, preaching the gospel of Chablis

The Golden Gates


What’s the most beautiful expression of the chardonnay grape? Meet Anne Moreau, preaching the gospel of Chablis

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

The Golden Gates

May 15, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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Few libations espouse such a linear narrative as Chablis, a Burgundian white (produced exclusively from the chardonnay grape in the northernmost Chablis region) that hits the back of the palate like a bullet fired from a Walther PPK. It’s flinty, minerally, fresh and can even evoke the notion of wet stone. There’s none of the endless complexity and variety of its red, full-bodied cousin, either. Famed French author Colette, who was born in Burgundy, called wine an “energetic and exhilarating friend, a potion,” but we have no evidence (at least not yet) that she consumed or even ordered Chablis through her negociant, with whom she shared a lifelong correspondence. 

Coincidentally, long before author Ian Fleming had his fictional 007 ordering Bollinger and Dom Pérignon, British writer E Phillips Oppenheim – widely regarded as the earliest writer of spy fiction – featured protagonists espionaging their way through days of lifestyle luxury, punctuated by profusions of Chablis. “A Chablis of the best, Henry,” effuses one character in Tales of Mystery & Espionage; “The finest Chablis with the oysters” is the request in Clowns and Criminals; and then there’s this remarkable exchange: “With the Petites Demoiselles, Monsieur le Prince, one should drink a Vieux Chablis – le Montrachet 1911.”

Sharing her thoughts on Chablis is Anne Moreau, a member of the Bourgogne Wine Board for the last decade and the board of directors of the Grands Jours de Bourgogne since 2017. Moreau visited Hong Kong during Bourgogne Week; aside from her pedigree in wine, she’s married to the sixth-generation scion of Domaine Louis Moreau, which produces a range of Chablis. 

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To what extent might Chablis be a good entry point to wine? 

I do feel that Chablis is easy-drinking. It delivers freshness and spiciness, but not too much. It’s more a wine that refreshes the palate; it’s stylish, elegant and has finesse, but is not overly complex. 

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Domaine Louis Moreau makes a wine with the name Finesse. It sounds like a perfume. Could this be indicative of a new trend – or a label such as “Chablis Poison”? 

[laughs] Perfume names for wine?! We do think it’s interesting to look at the vocabulary they used in the perfume industry in the past, and see how easily we can appropriate those ideas and apply them to wine. We have made Finesse for more than ten years now. We tried to find a word that was accurate for each of our cuvées. “Finesse” is one we would use for Chablis – and perhaps “freshness” for our Petit Chablis. I think we use many words such as finesse, elegance and purity. They’re more on the feminine side than the masculine side. I don’t know if that’s perhaps because we have more women in the wine business today.

What are the greatest challenges for Chablis producers at this moment? 

First, I would say it’s a problem of volume. Second, it would be environmentally friendly processes. New generations of winemakers are very concerned about that issue. And because of the weather we have, it can be tricky and also very dynamic, which makes it interesting. 

How many natural or organic growers are there in the region?

For Bourgogne, it’s about 12% doing it the organic way. In Chablis, because of global warming, more and more people are going bio. We do believe in high environmental value, which includes all steps from farming to vineyard, and to the cellar work and how you sell the wine. Like a 360-degree certification, it covers all the steps. It’s not bio, though. It’s a more in-between state that takes everything into account: weather, climate and other challenges. 

Can you give a tangible example of how weather is changing your approach?

We want to leave our children land and grapes in good health. So sometimes it’s difficult and more labour-intensive, but it’s worth every moment. It’s very tangible and it’s very dynamic

For example, with the 2016 vintage, we had an early spring, so the grapes grew early, and then there was a heavy spring frost. In the past, even though we had spring frost, the winter had been long, so the plant hadn’t grown. Now when the spring frost arrives, it’s damaging the grapes earlier on. 

We see grapes mature sooner – by the end of August or early September – so you harvest in better, drier conditions, and bring grapes into the cellar in better condition. So it’s good, but also bad. 

And we aren’t certified, but we are organic. We’re going more towards this high-value environmental quality with bees, et cetera… It’s more work because you have to go into the fields more often and need more people. But it’s rewarding – and you can’t go back. 

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Every single grape is now pampered, like couture. 

Yes, but it’s not only a demand from consumers. It’s also now a philosophy that winemakers are developing and believing in. That’s because we want to leave our children land and grapes in good health. So sometimes it’s difficult and more labour-intensive, but it’s worth every moment. It’s very tangible and it’s very dynamic, and it does encourage people to go further and explore new techniques. 

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about Chablis? 

Some people still think Chablis isn’t made from the chardonnay grape, though it’s fewer today. That’s still the biggest misconception. Chablis is 100% chardonnay and we cannot use anything else. That’s what makes it so French – and so awkward. [laughs] 

One priority of this visit is to promote some of the lesser-known Chablis appellations. Which would be your top three?

Rully, Saint-Bris and Saint-Aubin.

Do the Chinese own any vineyards in Chablis?

Not right now – the only thing they own near Chablis is the football club at Auxelles [AJ Auxerre]. That’s it. For Chinese people, the colour red is very important. They appreciate Chablis, but they aren’t yet super-interested in it. 

Could you perhaps sell the drink on its golden colour? 

Yes! We like that. The golden gates of Burgundy – after all, you enter Burgundy via Chablis. 

Images provided to China Daily

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Rech ’n’ Roll


At the InterContinental Hong Kong, Alain Ducasse’s French coastal tour menus are invitations to pure piscatorial pleasure

Rech ’n’ Roll


At the InterContinental Hong Kong, Alain Ducasse’s French coastal tour menus are invitations to pure piscatorial pleasure

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Rech ’n’ Roll

April 17, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: In Hong Kong, Rech boasts stunning views over Victoria Harbour

Rech’s executive chef, Guillaume Katola

Rech’s executive chef, Guillaume Katola

Grilled sea scallops with raw and cooked ceps

Grilled sea scallops with raw and cooked ceps

It’s clear that Alain Ducasse is no ordinary chef or entrepreneur. From his gourmet space food for NASA to his Coco Chanel-influenced Beige restaurant in Tokyo, he’s always been ahead of the curve. And unlike the majority of his highly visible culinary peers, whose actions have focused on globalisation, Ducasse’s message has been the antithesis. “I think in the future, every chef will try to preserve their identity – the French, the English, the Japanese,” he says. “It’s the opposite of globalisation. You have to be global, but stay local. Preserving the difference is what keeps the diversity alive.” 

Which is exactly what you’ll feel when you dine at the InterContinental Hong Kong’s Michelin-starred Rech by Alain Ducasse. The restaurant has been charting a voyage along the coast of France, showcasing the best produce and regional specialities with a series of five-course menus (HK$1,288) over the last two months, which concludes at the end of April. 

From top-notch French oysters and seafood from the waters off Normandy to a wide variety of premium crustaceans and fish along the beautiful French coastline, Rech’s new executive chef, Guillaume Katola, is sourcing the best seasonal products for each episode along this Coastal Tour de France. Katola shares his culinary passion for regionally inspired dishes by using the best seafood and fish from Normandy, as well as regional produce with appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) certification, including carrots from Créances.

Most of the fish and shellfish at Rech hails from France (especially Brittany) from small, independent fishermen who are strongly involved in the protection of natural resources. The Jégo brothers’ trade – established more than 20 years ago in Etel, the ancient tuna port in Morbihan, Brittany – provides Rech with extra-fresh ingredients and uses fishing techniques that are respectful of the environment. 

Highly aware of the protection of the marine balance, Giles Jégo rigorously keeps track of quotas, sizes, reproductive seasons and tidal movements. He explains, “The selection comes primarily from what the sea bestows us day to day.” The fish he selects for the Rech restaurants in Paris and Hong Kong are line-caught in small fishing boats whose outings are limited to three hours, enabling them to bring the fish back to the quays in the light of dawn, still alive.

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Grey mullet carpaccio and sea urchin

Grey mullet carpaccio and sea urchin

Katola also buys from other small independent fishmongers in Brittany who similarly source the very best fish and shellfish while being protective of the environment. “All of our fish is line-caught by fishermen using small boats,” he says. “This fish is fresher and of a better quality than fish that is caught by net on large fishing boats, which stay out at sea and store the fish for longer before it makes its way to the market.”

For more than a decade, Katola has worked with Ducasse, most recently as executive chef at The Grill at The Dorchester in London; he’s also worked at the Jules Verne Restaurant atop the Eiffel Tower, at Benoit and at Ore at Château de Versailles. “My approach in the kitchen is seasonal, using the freshest products to create dishes that reflect the time of year,” says Katola. “I’ve learned to always keep the ingredients in as natural a state as possible, bringing out their best flavour without taking away from their raw beauty. I’m also mindful in the kitchen of the ever-evolving world and working with respect to the environment in everything I do.”

That much is evident as one succumbs to the five-course La Normandie d’Alain Ducasse menu. Among the highlights are the Saint-Michel Oyster gratinated with Normandy cider; seared sea scallops; carrots from Créances (the sandy soils of the commune are fertilised with seaweed and it is the only carrot with its own AOC); the sublime Dieppoise-style sole fillet, in which button mushrooms and pink and grey shrimp mesh with a creamy white sauce; and Camembert – suffice it to say that nobody does it quite like Rech. The finale comes by way of flambéed crêpes with Calvados – two specialities from the Normandy region, the latter being an apple brandy. 

If you can’t make it to Rech by April’s end, worry not. There’s still chance to redeem yourself and enlighten your palate at Rech, where the tour continues. From June to July, the restaurant will feature a Riviera menu; one from Brittany for August and September; and for October and November, the lesser-known Aquitaine, whose capital is Bordeaux, with freshly harvested seasonal produce. 

Some things are just instinctively right – and Rech is one of them. If you love seafood, you’ll adore this piscatorial emporium. It’s the difference that keeps the diversity alive and keeps those taste buds tingling. 

Images provided to China Daily; ©Pierre Monetta (In Hong Kong, Rech boasts stunning views over Victoria Harbour)

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Going Against the Flow


Champagne house Ruinart’s collaboration with Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is just one way the brand continues to push the creative envelope 

Going Against the Flow


Champagne house Ruinart’s collaboration with Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is just one way the brand continues to push the creative envelope 

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Going Against the Flow

April 17, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Chardonnay Leaf,one of the works created by Vik Muniz as part of his Ruinart collaboration

The São Paulo-born artist

The São Paulo-born artist

When champagne house Ruinart gave São Paulo-born artist Vik Muniz carte blanche to conjure his own creative vision of the venerable maison of bubbles, Muniz went straight to its foundations: the earth, the vineyards and the roots of the vines themselves – from which Frédéric Panaïotis, Ruinart’s cellar master, also takes inspiration for his craft. “I take it as a great positive that you can find this project a little bit edgy,” says Ruinart’s president, Frédéric Dufour. “One of the objects was to bring some modernity to the brand.”

Ruinart is the dark horse of the champagne world – and yet a leading light. For a start, it’s the first established champagne house in the world. Forget what you thought you knew about Dom Pérignon divining bubbles in a cellar; Ruinart is 290 years old this year. “We are nearly 300 years old,” says Dufour. “So you need to shake the brand a little sometimes, but only insofar as it tells something that is important to the ongoing evolution of the story to us.”

The brand has also been pioneering in its close relationship with the art world, too. In 1896, for the first time in the history of champagne, Ruinart commissioned a talented young artist, Alphonse Mucha, to create an advert. “Art is in the house’s very nature,” says Dufour. “We are continuing our commitment to art by supporting major contemporary art fairs.” 

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Expect to see a bucket like this in the lounges of the world’s major art fairs

Expect to see a bucket like this in the lounges of the world’s major art fairs

And that art, like the roots at Ruinart and in Muniz’s project, run very deep. Ruinart partners with around 30 major art fairs around the world, and is now in its eighth year of partnership with Art Basel in Hong Kong as its Global Champagne Partner. The high-level inventory includes Art Basel (in Basel, Miami and Hong Kong), Frieze (New York and London), Paris Photo, Kyotographie, FIAC and many more. 

But as with all matters Ruinart, it’s already doing something way cooler than all of its immediate competitors, yet you probably wouldn’t know it. “On top of the art fairs, we also support a programme for young artists and established artists,” explains Dufour. “Almost all of our Instagram posts, for example, show the work of young photographers that are part of our programme.” Who knew? Start following a three-century-old champagne company on Instagram and lo and behold, you’ll discover a variety of progressive young fashion photographers such as Nastasia Dusapin and Antoine Henault. 

Meantime, self-described “low-tech illusionist” Muniz spent the harvest of 2018 in residence at Ruinart in Reims, initiating the “creative tension” that exists between man and nature in matters of champagne. He was surprised to discover the region has a harsh climate and a journey from hardship and adversity to wonder, so he created through his works “an ode to the power of nature and its creative flow”, much of it personified through the hands of Panaïotis. 

Back at the cellars in Reims, Muniz also created the permanent installation Flow Bottles. It comprises 1,400 bottles of Dom Ruinart, each filled with an advanced LED system. Stacked by hand, the bottles form a five-metre wall that displays moving images of spectators, taken by a device hidden within. “It’s almost like a form of temporary graffiti,” explains Muniz. 

Get with the roots, the plot and the maison. Go with the bubbles, the fun and the flow. And jump way ahead of culture’s curves with the 290-year-old French champagne house.

 
Flow bottles  by Vik Muniz

Flow bottles by Vik Muniz

Flow Hands , one of the works created by Vik Muniz as part of his Ruinart collaboration

Flow Hands, one of the works created by Vik Muniz as part of his Ruinart collaboration

Images provided to China Daily

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Easter Eats


Sample the seasonal spring delights at Dragon Noodles Academy

Easter Eats


Sample the seasonal spring delights at Dragon Noodles Academy

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Easter Eats

April 17, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: The Easter Bunny and Spring Blessings

If you’re celebrating spring this month, Hong Kong-style, look no further than Dragon Noodles Academy in Central, which has created innovative new dishes and two new cocktails to up its seasonal offerings. 

The light and bright menu items include toasted coconut corn cob (HK$59), presented in lollipop-like form with a coating of coconut flakes; marinated winter melon in blueberry sauce (HK$69), in which the melon balls are dipped in blueberry sauce and presented like a bunch of grapes; and baby cabbage florets with ham (HK$129). 

New to the menu are three specially created dim sum offerings: the crispy lobster puff (HK$79 per piece), which is a crunchy roll of lobster pastry painted with carrot juice to resemble a plump lobster tail; steamed shrimp dumplings (HK$59 for three pieces); and steamed crab and shrimp dumplings (HK$65 for three pieces). 

And don’t forget the seasonal cocktails, either. The Easter Bunny (HK$119) comprises Pimm’s, orange, cucumber and strawberry topped off with refreshing lemonade, while the Spring Blessings (HK$119) is composed of Malibu rum, banana, milk and white chocolate and is topped with soft marshmallows. Happy Easter – and happy eating! 

Images provided to China Daily

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