Last Tuesday, (thankfully, a day before my diet started) the folks at ILoveLKF invited a few foodie and lifestyle bloggers to three restaurants on Whyndam road to take a take a sneak peak at the ambiance and flavours that we may get to see and taste at the first annual ILoveLKF Festival of Wine next weekend on Saturday, September 24th from 2-7pm. A 1 Day Only Affair!
The intimate dinner preview was hosted by ILoveLKF at three restaurants. For Appetizer and First Course, we had rustic Southern Italian fare, paired with a selection of Italian Wines at GOCCIA. As a second course, we were treated to French Australian fusion and French Wine at La Perouse. And the final course, an after dinner cocktail and a Japanese dessert, was treated at a brand new yakitori boutique restaurant called, Robata Zawazawa.
The bloggers that were present were English foodie bloggers; e*ting the world’s Janice, Joie de Vivre’s Gary, Jessica who contributes for SASSY HK and An American Girl in Hong Kong, You Got Me Bloggin’s Razlan, and us here at theWanderlister+ Asia. Chinese foodie and lifestyle bloggers also represented. I was able to meet HK’s wine connoisseur AM, Panpansang, and Eunice.
Faces I only knew online… until now. Panpansang to the left and Raz to the right.
Jessica representing Sassy Hong Kong to the left, and Gary from Joie de Vivre.
Even though it was generally new faces and we were dining out, the way we all sat quite intimately together, and were all into the same things, like good food and good wine, it felt more like a nice supper club meetup at a private kitchen, which I love. Topics of conversation ranged from our favorite restaurants, our favorite wines, to life blogging in general, as a first job or as a side hobby. Needless to say there was much bonding over food.
Trading notes on our favorite restaurants, with e*ting’s Janice.
To add to the cool factor of the night, we were all able to meet the people who made each of these restaurants successful. The chef at GOCCIA, Fabrizio Napolitano, was very informative and educational. He explained to us exactly where most his ingredients came from (Sicily), and his reasoning for pairing his wines, a Chardonnay from Umbria, and a Red from Montepulciano. At La Perouse, we met the creative head, Simon Yuen who explained to us his love for both French and Australian cuisine. Owner Kenji Sato, welcomed us at Robata Zawazawa, and enthusiastically introduced our Houji-cha Pudding and Rice Pop as well as prepared the Plum Sake Cocktail just for us.
+ GOCCIA / Southern Italian Seafood in a Contemporary Setting
There’s tons of Italian places in town, and you know what they’re all very different from each other. Some places are Italian from an American perspective, in a home-cooking sort of way. Other Italian restaurants are more focused on general robust fare, underpinned by traditional cooking/baking methods, even going so far as to import ovens from Italy itself. If you go to GOCCIA on Wyndham street, you’ll discover that this particular restaurant is all about Classic Seaside Sicilian flavours within a warm (very Italian) contemporary dining atmosphere. Lush comfy round dining tables and subdued warm lighting, with curtains and classic light features make you feel that you are a guest in some modern Italian home, which exactly describes the Menu. By just looking at the selection, you feel you’ve had this all before. The importation of ingredients from Sicily, coupled with perfect wine pairings, make all selections and flavours feel like an entirely new experience. I studied in Italy for awhile, and these were new flavours by Chef Fabrizio Napolitano.
Modern yet Classic Italian Home-like Interiors at Goccia Make for a Familial Dining Atmosphere.
Prosecco all around as we first munched on Breadsticks. Im showing this because I just started a healthier diet the day after, so I munched as much of these as I could. Not the right way to deal with it I know.
Now to the real food of course…
The first dish was a Sardinian Smoked Swordfish Roll with fennel and mini ratatouille. This delicious dish was crunchy and salty, yet fresh and tender at the same time. It was great with the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Col de’Sallici. All ingredients from Sicily. Even the Fennel.
The Second Dish was one of the best Spaghetti’s I have ever had. This was a Spicy Spaghetti and Sicilian Red Prawns. The spiciness came from the chili in the cherry tomato sauce. The chef reiterated that everything, tomatoes, prawns, and chili/chili oil are all imported from Sicily.
You can really taste the flavourful tomato in each and every bite. The wine, was a Chardonnay from Umbria via the Castello della Sala of the Antinori Family. Each sip of wine even revealed more of the flavour and spiciness in the spaghetti. And each bite of spaghetti made each note in the chardonnay that much bolder. It really was a great pairing.
I love taking photos like this. The spaghetti was cooked so well. Nothing was sticking together and the noodles moved nicely around the plate and my fork. It was a good sized portion too. (Id feel guilty eating more.)
The official last dish was a great Fillet of Red Gurnard with Florentine Panzanella and a Fish Soup Reduction.
The fried fish was cooked in its own sauce and juices. The Panzanella next to it is made up of day-old Grissini Breadsticks and Tomato Juice. The breadsticks and juice were mashed together to create a nice subdued side to the fried salty fish. The tangy wine it was paired with was a Rosso from Montepulciano from the La Braccesca estate. The dish with the wine was so perfectly paired, our guest wine connoisseur, AM, told us at the table that the spiciness of the fish was only brought out after tasting the wine. That the pairing did exactly what it was meant to do. The wine is paired to encourage the main dish, not the other way around.
We were not supposed to have it, but Chef Fabrizio spoiled us with a whole dessert platter that was not even in the menu.
Needless to say, it was a huge hit with all of us. We all fought to take photos. Even Jowie from the restaurant (to the right) couldn’t contain herself.
After photos were taken we had to go because we were 45 minutes late for the next venue. Below is our tour guide team from ILoveLKF, Tricia Ling (left) and Christine Dormeier (right) with our hosts from Goccia, Francesco and Jowie.
+ La Perouse / Rustic French, Australian Style
Our Second course, the main, was served next door at La Perouse. I’ve been here for a few barbecues and cocktails, but never for a sit-down meal. The second course was a juicy Grilled Baby Lamb Chop, served with pan fried potato slices, baby carrots, with rosemary gravy and & vinegar sauce.
The wine it was paired with a Kressman Bardeaux Chateau David that sat about 3 hours before serving. We had a second glass which sat open for 15 minutes which was much better. It was a nice straightforward simple dish with no frills. Lamb usually tastes too gamey and it wasn’t so for this dish. It was cooked so well, we only tasted the smokiness of the grill and that was about it. After the ambiance and the quadruple performance of GOCCIA, the whole experience at La Perouse was overshadowed. Maybe I should give it a try next time on its own merits.
+ Robata Zawazawa / Pop Japanese Yakitori
By the time we all scarfed down the lamb, we were all pretty much done with eating for the night. But we all signed up for three restaurants, and we WERE curious about how a Japanese desert could really end it for us, after Authentic Sicilian and Rustic Australian/French fare.
After La Perouse, we immediately strolled towards Hotel LKF when everyone stopped to check out a billboard we all never really saw before.
This was not just a typical billboard, it was signage for Kenji Sato’s hip Japanese Yakitori joint, Robata Zawazawa. Past the billboard we moved down the stairs…
And walked into an open door to see this! That on the bottom part of the pic is friendly owner, Kenji Sato welcoming all the bloggers.
And immediately we were served this; Houji-Cha Pudding With Kuro Mitsu Honey and Pop Rice Pop.
While we were finishing our tasty pudding concotion, they immediately commenced work on our Plum Sake Cocktails.
It looked and tasted a bit like a martini and a bit like a mojito.
I couldnt wait to taste it. And I love this kind of Plum too. I cant get enough of it!
If there was a perfect kind of desert cocktail, even for any cuisine you’ve eaten beforehand, the Plum Sake Cocktail at Robata Zawazawa would be the perfect drink to finish off a nice dinner out.
We all even took home a copy of the “LKF Insider”, ILoveLKF’s handy bar and restaurant guide for this entertainment district.
It really was a great night out. I love exploring new food with new faces and friends. There should be more supper clubs like this that I can be a part of, right? The Festival of Wines will not actually be a sit-down like I had, but it makes sense because if you’ve got 10 restaurants to visit in 5 hours, you really won’t have time to sit down, you’ll basically only have time to literally just taste and drink. And they did tell me, that similar fare will be available as bites and snacks to go with the paired wines.
Basically how it works is that each ticket will get you a Wine Passport, so you’ll know how to get around from one restaurant/bar to the next. Each passport will get you 8 tokens, and you can use these for wine and food available at each location. The more you stamp your passport, the more chances you can win prizes like a tour of The 8th Estate Winery, Travel vouchers from Flight Centre, Food Vouchers worth $1000 HKD and much more.
For the latest list of participating restaurants go to http://www.festivalofwine.hk/
The 1st Annual Lan Kwai Fong Festival of Wine, Saturday September 24, 2011. From 2pm-7pm. Hosted by ILoveLKF.HK. / Tickets Available at Robata Zawazawa and 1 Lan Kwai Fong the day before or the day of. $350HKD Day Before and $400HKD Day Of Event / email@example.com
theWanderlister+ Asia FREE TICKET GIVEAWAY:
From Now until Thursday September 22, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “I LOVE LKF FESTIVAL OF WINE” or TWEET @thewanderlister #FestivalofWine for a chance to win A Free Ticket worth 8 Tokens to the Festival of Wine! Emails and Tweets will be combined to be raffled off together. You can email once, but Tweet as much as you want. The more you Tweet the more chances of winning a ticket worth $400HKD. GOOD LUCK!
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