I’ll bore anyone who cares to listen as to why I’m such a big fan of Caprice in Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel. Maybe it’s due to my formative culinary years living in Paris, where chorizo from the now sadly-defunct Ed L’Epicier vied with life-changing Basque salads at Chez Gladines before a salary finally enabled me to start appreciating a restaurant culture like no other.
Make no mistake that Caprice is definitively at the highest end of the French dining spectrum. But, when compared to prices these days in Paris and elsewhere, their two Michelin star cooking (it should absolutely be three) is in fact a steal. I’ve reviewed it before and will doubtless again, but this is a chance to mention their bar and a special menu for Le French Gourmay.
Caprice Bar is somewhere my wife and I have been known to head on more than one occasion when dinner has proved disappointing elsewhere. Why? Because their cheese platter represents the single best value and most reliable dining experience anywhere in the city. Seriously. It’s a meal in itself. The most gracious service, the harbour views, the deep seats help. For the price of one steak in some restaurants, two glasses of Pinot Noir and a mound of Comté, St Marcellin and many more will turn any night around.
Normally you can’t order more than cheese and snacks in the bar, but this month’s menu by Fabrice Vulin changes that in a celebration of that broad area known as Midi-Pyrenées. It’s bigger than The Netherlands, don’t you know?
So Jambon noir de Bigorre is cured before 10 months of drying and 10 months of ageing. These were happy pigs, living in woodlands and at just 25 animals per hectare, not exactly your typical Hong Kong population density – Kwun Tong has 5,725 people per hectare.
Presse de Jarret de Porc et Foie Gras uses the pig’s hind leg, cooked with vegetables over low heat for 3 to 4 hours before the bone is removed and prepared into a terrine, along with foie gras. The South West of France on a plate.
One of my all-time favourite dishes also makes an appearance – I just hope that it stays on the menu permanently, in some form. Aligot is a simple but brilliant combination from Aubrac of mashed potato, fresh Tomme cheese and garlic. The secret is to eat it immediately from the pan, as the potato melds with the cheese, stretches but never breaks. It may not look much, but trust me that it is comically decadent and utterly brilliant eating.
Finally, no trip to the south west would be complete without a cassoulet, that heart-stopping bowl of all that is great: duck confit, pork neck, Toulouse sausage with white beans and stock. The cooking process is insane – when a crust is formed on top, it’s cracked and folded back into the cassoulet, when more stock is added. This has to be repeated seven – that’s seven – times during the two hours it spends in the oven.
Caprice Bar, 6th floor, Four Seasons Hotel,
8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong Tel:+ 852 3196 8888