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Showing posts from July, 2010

Koffmann's has just opened in London

The last time I tasted Pierre Koffmann's gastronomic creations was back in 2004 when La Tante Claire was in the Berkeley Hotel (the site now occupied by Marcus Wareing). The time when he was on Royal Hospital Road was most memorable for me - as I'd been going since the mid 80s. I knew Monsieur Koffmann embarked on a few short term projects since his departure from the Berkeley Hotel but never settled in one place. So when I discovered he'd opened Koffmann's at the Berkeley hotel, I knew I had to pay a visit. The deco of Koffmann's was a blend of modern British and French brasserie - laid back to be comfortable, with chocie decorations to remind you of its gastronomic heritage. The menu was relatively short - a la carte and a prix fixe. I could not help but gravitate towards the former - the heritage tomatoes and goat cheese basil sorbet salad was full of flavours. Quite refreshing especially as an appetizer before the main course.
The Pied de cochon arrived after m…

Liviano tucked away in Bratislava

Business trips seldom offer the opportunity to eat well. So it was a pleasant surprise to be taken to Liviano which was a Italian / Slovak restaurant on the edge of town. I ordered a cold tomato soup - which came in a lovely rich red colour full of tomato flavour with a strong kick to it (perhaps paprika or chili). The main course was loin of venison - which was beautifully done. What looked like roast potatoes turned out to be potato dumplings pan fried. They had a lovely chew to it.

Delicious and wholesome sandwiches at Gartine, Amsterdam

When in doubt, ask about! I was in Amsterdam for a day en famille and needed somewhere nice to have lunch. So I thought I'd consult a trusted friend who worked locally. After a lot of "where's that again" and "no I didn't see it", I eventually found Gartine which was in a narrow alley off a main shopping street.It's dinky and cosy. The menu was full of wholesome sandwiches made with locally sourced ingredients and beautifully dressed salads. I tried the tartare of marinated mackerel. Others had the freshly laid hen eggs in mayo. May be we were hungry, may be we were impressed, it all went down just too quickly. Then came desserts ... I asked our lovely waiter whether I should go for the white chocolate mousse or dark chocolate cake - he recommended the latter and you could see what arrived below! It's simply presented but packed full of flavours!

Angela Denoke in Salome

The cast for this revival of the 2008 production of Salome was substantially different from the original production. Angela Denoke's stage and voice presence was perfect for the role. She delivered the complex part while rising above the thick orchestration effortlessly. Gerhard Siegel was equally good as Herod - strong voice and good acting skills. David McVicar's direction continued to make this arresting opera intense and gripping. It's also good to see more of Naaman this time.

An intense Tosca at the ENO

The last time I came across Catherine Malfitano was when she sang the title role of Salome at the Royal Opera in 1997. Prior to that I also saw her in that famous "on location on time" production of Tosca. I had no idea she started directing operas. So it was interesting to see the latest production of Tosca at the English National Opera directed by her.

Well, I was not disapp0ointed. Amanda Echalaz was an intense Tosca with a big voice to match. There were lots of detailed movements - ones that added complexity to her character. It was all very believable. Cavaradossi was sung by Julian Gavin - again a big tenor voice with good top notes and tenderness. Scarpia was portrayed by the fine Anthony Michaels-Moore - giving lots of dark colours. Ed Gardner just let the Puccini drama and music unfold. If you like Tosca, go see it. 

Julia Fischer, Diemut Poppen and Alexander Chaushian play the Goldber Variations at Wigmore Hall

Now and then I listen to Glenn Gould's recording of the Goldberg Variations. It's one of those works that you don't get tired of. Listening to Julia Fischer, Diemut Poppen and Alexander Chaushian play the Goldberg Variations arranged by Sitkovetsky was an intriguing yet satisfying experience. The sustaining power of the string instruments meant one could really listen to the voices of the 2- or 3-part variations much clearer than on a keyboard. The dialogues between the instruments were wonderful - as if the audience was listening into a series of intimate conversations. The ornaments and the faster passages were played with much individuality. Julia Fischer was very much the star of the evening - her tone was clean and light, Diemut Poppen's viola playing was equally precise and to the point, while Alexander Chaushian was warm and stylistic on the cello.

Tim's Kitchen at its new address

Many years ago I was introduced to Tim's Kitchen by an old family friend. At the time, Hong Kong was emerging from the last financial downturn. People were tightening their belts but didn't want to forgo good food and drink. Tim's Kitchen arguably opened at the right time - where great Cantonese classics were served in a humble (i.e. no need to pay for intrusive services at a glitzy location) if somewhat utilitarian set up in Sheung Wan.It received 2 Michelin Stars in 2009. Clearly, the ex-chef for the  directors' dining room at Hang Seng bank was capable of satisfying the most demanding palettes.

Three weeks ago it opened shop in a new location (also in Sheung Wan). It is now much more spacious than before complete with several private dining rooms for those demanding discretion. The food was still very good. The Crystal Tiger Prawns (see below) were crunchy and tasty. The Crab Claw floating on a double-boiled stock glazed egg white was delicate and divine.