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Food & Drink


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Food & Drink


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The Song Remains the Same


Wine grapes haven’t changed for centuries – and in that, there’s both danger and opportunity

The Song Remains the Same


Wine grapes haven’t changed for centuries – and in that, there’s both danger and opportunity

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

The Song Remains the Same

September 18, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Wine pours its way through human history like blood, and despite the fact that we call the oldest of it vintage and pay appropriately vertiginous prices for it at auction, a new study in the scientific journal Nature Plants suggests that the wine we drink today is incredibly similar to wines drunk by the Romans – and may have existed for hundreds or thousands of years before Caesar, Cleopatra and the influential entourage that comprise our first and earliest study of history at school. Certain grape varieties from France’s luminous Champagne region, such as chardonnay, have been made into white wine since the Middle Ages. 

To determine the genetic lineages of the wines they studied, researchers collected 28 grape seeds from nine ancient archaeological sites in France, some of which were at least 2,500 years old. Scientists (including ancient-DNA researchers, archaeologists and contemporary grape geneticists) investigated the grapes’ genes and compared them to their modern-day counterparts – a first for viticulture and science. 

And here’s the remarkable thing: Of the ancient seeds they tested, all were genetically related to the grapes we grow and drink today. Almost 60% were within one or two generations of modern varieties and, in at least one case, researchers discovered evidence suggesting consumers are drinking wine from the same grapes, or a direct relative, as a medieval Frenchman did 900 years ago. It’s the rare “savagnin” blanc (not today’s sauvignon) – a light, floral style grown in eastern France. 

In the case of the more familiar pinot noir and syrah grapes, we are drinking grapes that are direct genetic relatives of those used during the Roman Empire. “It’s incredibly likely that someone 1,000 years ago was drinking something that’s pretty much genetically identical to what we drink today,” says Nathan Wales, a co-author of the study and a University of York lecturer specialising in paleogenomics (the study of ancient DNA). 

However, before we all dance a merry tale and claim kinship with history’s nearest and dearest, scientists sound a note of caution. Living things, especially plants, which preceded humans by millions of years, evolve. But humans, in some cases, have slowed down this evolution by propagating the vines through cuttings – viticulturists will typically cut off a piece of the wood and replant it, essentially creating a genetic clone of the original plant in an attempt to preserve its exact taste. The new vine is almost genetically identical to its parent, perpetuating the merlot or pinot grigio lineage.

The climate is evolving, too, in ways that jeopardise grapes that haven’t evolved genetically due to human interference. “These grapevines have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, but everything around them has continued to change,” writes postdoctoral researcher Zoë Migicovsky in the report, adding that warming temperatures are increasing the strength of certain pests and pathogens. “If these varietals are genetically identical all over the world, it means they’re all susceptible to the same pests and diseases as well.” In other words, they could equally all be lost. 

But there’s a silver lining. There’s still time to change – and the adjustment could benefit the vinous community. Instead of quaffing our universal chardonnnays and zinfandels by the lake-load, we may get used to newer, hardier varietals that bring greater versatility and depth. Whatever the case, the future for wine consumers, and history, is safe but changing in the storytelling vines.

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Just Dao Yi It


Chef Junno Li Zhenlong enlivens The Chinese Library with his deft blade

Just Dao Yi It


Chef Junno Li Zhenlong enlivens The Chinese Library with his deft blade

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Just Dao Yi It

August 7, 2019 / by Howard Elias

Image above: Deep-fried mandarin fish

Looking to make a sharp impression on your visitors? Take them to The Chinese Library in Tai Kwun, on the top floor of the historic Police Headquarters, and invite them to try any or all of the five new dishes celebrating dao yi – the art of the kitchen knife. One doesn’t usually equate Chinese kitchen knives with subtlety, but in the versatile hands of chef Junno Li Zhenlong, the blade becomes a magic wand as he slices, dices and carves the most delicate and intricate creations. 

Witness the silken “thousand-cut” chrysanthemum tofu in chicken broth (HK$118), in which the tofu is hand-cut to resemble a flower and sits in a light broth; the crystal melon dumpling with kung fu teapot chicken consommé (HK$108), where the dumpling wrapper is made from melon intricately sliced into squares no more than 1mm thick; and the marinated geoduck and jade flower in sesame oil dressing (HK$168), a Sichuan-inspired dish that combines locally sourced seafood and Sichuan flavours with delicately carved vegetables. 

Favourites included The Golden Lion, a deep-fried whole mandarin fish (HK$688) that’s traditionally from Zhejiang province, and the salt-baked meringue free-range whole chicken (HK$698), a version of the traditional beggar’s chicken, where the clay is replaced with a salted meringue exterior that helps the chicken retain its juices. Both dishes are highly complex creations, yet instinctively and simply hit the spot. 

The new dao yi dishes are available until September 30.

“Thousand-cut” chrysanthemum tofu in chicken broth

“Thousand-cut” chrysanthemum tofu in chicken broth

Marinated geoduck and jade flower in sesame oil dressing

Marinated geoduck and jade flower in sesame oil dressing

Images provided to China Daily

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Singing the Blues


Get to know the creamy, one-of-a-kind Blue Java banana

Singing the Blues


Get to know the creamy, one-of-a-kind Blue Java banana

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Singing the Blues

August 7, 2019 / by Philippe Dova

When it comes to bananas, get ready to start singing the blues. The “ice cream” banana, which is also known as the Blue Java variety due to its distinctive blue peel, is gaining in popularity. Fortunately, these blues aren’t sad at all.

Most people only know the yellow, rather bland-tasting Cavendish variety that’s widely sold in supermarkets; Cavendish bananas make up close to 50% of all the bananas grown worldwide today. Their popularity is probably due to their greater resistance to disease compared to other varieties. The larger Gros Michel remained the world’s most popular variety until the 1950s, when a fungus devastated many of the plantations in Central America.

But now there’s a new contender for the banana crown – though the fact that it’s not yellow is certain to change more than a few children’s reading primers. The Blue Java is a hardy, cold-tolerant variety that has the consistency and taste of vanilla custard. This creamy texture makes it feel like the banana is melting in your mouth as you eat it. Like the Cavendish, the Blue Java is also an excellent source of dietary fibre, potassium, vitamins B6 and C, and magnesium. They’re also only about 110 calories, so you won’t balloon up if you’re eating one a day.

Blue Java trees grow fast and reach up to six metres in height, with blooms that usually appear in less than 24 months. The fruit can be harvested as early as four months after that. They’re easy to grow, too – even in Hong Kong. If you have a balcony, rooftop or small yard, the trees grow fine in pots. Just remember to move them indoors during the coldest times of the year. Seeds can be purchased from a number of online stores and they’re quite inexpensive. Next time you’re looking for a banana fix, don’t be afraid to sing the blues.

Image: Wikimedia Commons: Titabanana/Creative Commons (Hawaiian Blue Java Banana: The colour of the fruit is an unusual blue-green and the leaves are silver-green; cropped and colour-sharpened)

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Zensational Dining


A detour for dinner at La Petite Maison in H Queen’s yields infinite pleasures

Zensational Dining


A detour for dinner at La Petite Maison in H Queen’s yields infinite pleasures

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Zensational Dining

August 7, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Whole sea bream baked en papillote with lemon, herbs and olive oil

Warm prawns with olive oil (crevettes tièdes à l’huile d’olive)

Warm prawns with olive oil (crevettes tièdes à l’huile d’olive)

When La Petite Maison opened last year at H Queen’s in Hong Kong, the city had nothing like its Southern French-style cuisine, which had already been winning over hearts, minds and palates at its locations in London, Miami, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. 

About a year on, we decided to put the restaurant to the test. Enjoying a pre-prandial Daumas Gassac rosé champagne on the expansive terrace, the locale exudes a sense of laid-back exuberance, complete with eclectic art and Belle Époque accessories. It’s sizeable inside, too; the 3,600sqft space seats more than 100 guests. And on the night we visited, a less than fashionable and particularly rainy Tuesday in June, it was close to full. 

It was soon apparent why. At first glimpse, La Petite Maison serves what appears to be light French Mediterranean and Niçoise fare, but a closer inspection reveals more complex and broader ambitions. Carpaccio de boeuf (beef carpaccio) was a preface to the revelation, coming as it does with approximately 14 separate garnishes. The scrummy, supple red meat (dry-aged Scottish Black Angus beef sirloin, home-cured for four days with salt, black pepper, thyme and garlic) arrived with chopped chives atop and was flavoured with anchovies, capers, shallots, cornichons, pickled garlic and olive oil. Along with the chives came black pepper and olive oil – for a dish so red, it took a surprisingly green turn, like a new game-changing category of eco-paccio. Accompanied by a convivial glass of Saint-Émilion, it’s the sort of dish that makes you marvel at the wonders of this infinite universe. 

Heading under the sea, the crevettes tièdes à l’huile d’olive (warm prawns with olive oil, lemon juice and julienned fresh basil) was a simpler antidote in which a quintet of king prawns, undressed from their shells, were halved and placed in a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and basil. Painterly by way of presentation – somewhere between impressionism and pop art – its effect was most esculent, sating and simultaneously provoking the palate’s cravings.

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The beignets de fleurs de courgette (deep-fried zucchini flowers and sage with anchovies) arrived looking otherworldly – a high-bred hybrid of baroque pomp and ceremony, marine coral, fairy-tale storytelling and the 1960s sci-fi film Day of the Triffids. The succulence and artfulness of the flowers (the zucchini are deep fried in the Japanese tempura style, lavished with parmesan cheese and accompanied by a tomato-based dip) was moreish and addictive. It was very this-worldly, despite its Triffidy mien, and the textures fit like couture. 

And so it was on to the main event: daurade au citron (whole sea bream with lemon and herbs), which was notably supple and soft. This dish invokes a gilt-head bream, found only in the Mediterranean and renowned as being one of the world’s leading white-meat fish. It was deboned at the table and plated with a flowing frock of freshly shaved fennel, in turn dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, chopped chives and salt. 

Another intriguing, intimate garniture sat aloft, comprising fresh lemon skin and lemon juice, tamarind, onion, green chilli, Provençal herbs, ginger, garlic, fresh thyme and olive oil. This scaled the heights and had us hook, line and sinker gloating over its poise and balance. It was Christian Dior’s New Look on a plate, as fine and uplifting a line as ever took shape in a René Gruau illustration. Some things are just instinctively right – and daurade au citron was the rightestest. 

Back on terra firma, we dried off with côtelettes d’Agneau Vivienne (grilled lamb cutlets with smoked aubergine), featuring Welsh lamb less than a year old – lean, tender and with delicate flavours, and again wrapped up with plenty of love. The cutlets are first marinated in a mixture of Kalamata olive paste, cardamom, paprika, honey and sherry vinegar, then grilled and served on a bed of shallots seasoned with icing sugar and olive oil. This arrived alongside quenelles of smoked aubergine caviar, which comprises roasted aubergine pulp, hot paprika, cumin, lemon juice, pine nuts, chopped mint and olive oil. 

And so, sated beyond our expectations, our senses dancing somewhere beyond utopia, we took crème brûlée for the finale. Like chocolate mousse, this dessert is so ubiquitously served across the globe that it’s almost become the prequel to or accompaniment with coffee, with little distinction of its own. Yet this baby wore its ambrosial accents like velvet and its texture in italics. Restaurant manager Romain Blanchard tells us that La Petite Maison’s chefs conduct crème brûlée tastings like a ritual every morning in search of the gold standard – and this was ecstatic. No more, no less, balanced, pitch perfect, zensational. Mr Blanchard, regarding that morning ritual… any way to squeeze a writer in?

Images provided to China Daily

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The Humble Onion


Nicolas Boutin, Épure’s head chef, shares an exclusive recipe for his signature dish with CDLP

The Humble Onion


Nicolas Boutin, Épure’s head chef, shares an exclusive recipe for his signature dish with CDLP

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

The Humble Onion

July 24, 2019 / by Philippe Dova

Image above: Sweet Onion of Cévennes with Black Truffle


The head chef of Épure in Hong Kong, located at Ocean Centre in Harbour City, since 2013 and the proud holder of a Michelin star since 2017, Nicolas Boutin sheds light on the authenticity of French products through his original, precise and tasty cuisine. It’s in this spirit that he created his famed signature dish: sweet onion of Cévennes with black truffle (oignons doux des Cévennes à la truffe noire). Here, Boutin shares this recipe exclusively and for the first time with CDLP


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What is the origin of  this recipe?

Well, I wanted my cuisine to become increasingly minimalist, so I created recipes with products that are little used or misused in traditional dishes in order to sublimate them. I had been thinking of this recipe over the course of two or three years. My team and I ended up doing tests with different varieties of onions, and gradually we arrived at the result that we have today.

Three years of testing?

I had been thinking about creating a recipe based on onions, an ingredient rarely presented on its own, for a long time. During those two to three years, I took the time to test ideas, but also to take breaks from the project for it to mature. It’s like this for every recipe. The process is similar to the one of a music composer or an author… 

The onion is a rather commonplace vegetable – why associate it with something as high-class as truffles?

As with any vegetable, there are different varieties of each product – and this is also true for onions. We had to find an onion – and not the basic yellow onion most commonly used to make sauces or to cook. As the chef of a French restaurant, the idea was to find a variety of French onion, either Roscoff or Cévennes. After many trials, I chose the Cévennes onion. I managed to reach a certain texture that’s neither overcooked nor undercooked, which retains its crunch and sweetness. The idea of the truffles came quite naturally because of the season in which I started to think about this recipe.

Which variety of truffle should one use for this dish?

You need fresh black winter melanosporum truffle – it is very important for the taste. Depending on the season, it can come from either France or Australia. We did some tests with summer and autumn truffles, but this was of no use because those truffles have little to no taste. If one cannot find fresh truffle, I suggest using frozen or canned black winter melanosporum truffles.

Sweet Onion of Cévennes with Black Truffle

  • 1 medium-sized sweet onion from Cévennes (or, failing that, a white sweet onion)

  • 1 black melanosporum truffle (12–15g)

For the sauce:

  • ½ large shallot, very finely chopped

  • 100ml chicken juice 

  • 20g butter

  • 1 tbsp port wine

  • ½ tbsp powdered sugar

For the tile:

  • 30g spelt or buckwheat flour

  • 140ml grapeseed oil

  • 140ml water

  • 140ml chicken broth

How is this recipe prepared?

There are several important steps. First, the whole onion is cooked, unpeeled, on a bed of coarse salt in the oven at 160°C for more than an hour and a half. This renders the onion tender without being overcooked. It’s then left to cool before being peeled. The next step is to cut the onion in half, separate each leaf and spread them individually. On each slice, a little olive oil is brushed, then a little piment d’Espelette chilli powder is added – to replace the pepper – and finally, a slice of black truffle is placed.

Simultaneously, a caramelised shallot purée and truffle meat juice are prepared. The minced shallots are fried in an anti-adhesive frying pan, with a little butter and sugar to caramelise them before being blended. Finally, the meat juice (preferably chicken) and truffle pieces are added before being blended as well. We then recreate each half of the onion. For the layers to be held together, we prick each half of the reconstituted onion.

When the order for the dish is placed, we slightly roast the truffle onion – and we add a “tile” that is made with spelt or buckwheat flour, mixed with a little water and a little oil. It is cooked in the pan that was used to caramelise the onion for one to two minutes. This tile will bring the crispness to the dish. The onion is then ready to be placed on top of the plate.

Images provided to China Daily

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Summertime and the Cookin’ is Easy


A light and cool pasta salad to tempt the taste buds and a deliciously zesty fruit salad for dessert

Summertime and the Cookin’ is Easy


A light and cool pasta salad to tempt the taste buds and a deliciously zesty fruit salad for dessert

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Summertime and the Cookin’ is Easy

July 24, 2019 / by Howard Elias

Marinated Pasta Salad

With Hong Kong’s hot, sticky summer weather now upon us, what could be better than a light and cool pasta salad to tempt the taste buds of your family and friends? Whether it’s for an outdoor barbecue or a potluck party, this delicious and colourful side dish will have everyone asking you for the recipe. What’s even better is that it’s easy to make, too.

Salad

  • 250g fusilli (I like to use the tricolore version for added colour)

  • 1 head broccoli, cut into flowerets and steamed tender, but still a little crunchy

  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 1 medium green pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 100g button mushrooms, sliced

  • 200g marinated artichokes, sliced

Cook the fusilli in boiling salted water until just al dente. (You definitely don’t want limp pasta here!) Drain the water and cool down in the refrigerator until you’re ready to add it to the rest of the salad. Prepare the other salad ingredients and put in a large bowl. Combine with the fusilli and toss with the dressing. Then, refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Dressing

  • 120ml olive oil

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • ½ tsp basil

  • ½ tsp dry mustard

  • ¼ tsp paprika

  • ¼ tsp thyme

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced

  • Dash of salt and pepper

Combine ingredients and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

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Zesty Fruit Salad

Call me crazy, but I love being in Hong Kong during the summer. Sure, the temperature often climbs into the 30s and stays there well into the night, and the humidity can be oppressive at times – but the taxi queues are shorter, the traffic is lighter and it’s easier to get a table at a decent hour at your favourite restaurant. Summer is also a great time for getting together with friends and family, whether it be for a rooftop barbecue or a potluck outing in one of the country parks. If you’re looking to up your dessert offering from the standard sliced watermelon (not that watermelon is bad, but it’s not exactly very fancy) and you don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen getting something ready, look no further than this deliciously zesty fruit salad, made with poppyseeds. Everyone will love the hit the ginger adds to the citrus and honey flavours. Bon appetit!

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Dressing

  • 1 medium lemon

  • 1 lime

  • 1 navel orange

  • 60ml honey

  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, grated

  • ½ tsp poppyseeds

Wash and dry the lemon, lime and orange. Zest the fruit with a zester or fine grater. Cut each fruit in half and squeeze the juice into a cup. Add the zest, honey, ginger and poppyseeds, and whisk together until combined. Refrigerate.


Fruit

  • 3 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

  • 1 pineapple

  • 5 kiwis

  • 3 mangoes

  • 250g strawberries

  • 125g blueberries

Cut the fruit into bite-size chunks and place in a large bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours (because no one likes to eat warm fruit salad). About 30 minutes before serving, pour the dressing over the fruit and gently toss to coat.

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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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