Jul 19, 2012|
I haven’t been back to Stanley since the wonderfully refreshing World of Food and Music festival at Stanley Plaza late last year, but it seems like things are still buzzing down there. One of the latest developments is Stan Café (Shop 505, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Rd., Stanley, 2324-9008), a nice, modern and casual French eatery that serves classic dishes and lots and lots of meat—think duck confit, foie gras, lamb rack, beef tartare and steaks. The head chef, Jeff Chan, trained in France and worked at Amber before taking up his post here. With such sterling credentials, I’m expecting some pretty strong dishes from him to back them up.
BCN (G/F, 37 Peel St., Central, 2811-2851)—tapas bar alert! It’s a small space, so be prepared to call way in advance. People love to take up the entire venue for private parties—at least that was the explanation given to me when I tried making a reservation for a couple of days that were no-gos. There are different sets available that include dishes like gazpacho and paellas. Can’t wait to try.
I made a special trip to Quarry Bay over the weekend to check out Espresso Alchemy (Shop 8, 4-6 Hoi Wan St., Quarry Bay, 2613-2638), a cozy new coffee shop that takes coffee appreciation to a whole other level. Founder Peter Law already has his own coffee-roasting company, F500 (short for Fahrenheit 500), which supplies roasted beans to other specialty coffee shops like Sheung Wan neighborhood favorite Café Loisl. Peter figured that since he already sources and roasts all the beans anyway, why not just open his own shop so he can exercise full creative oversight of the end product? “From the coffee shop’s perspective, this means that we have huge control over the coffee that is served,” Peter tells me by way of an introductory email. “For example, even if we’re looking at a coffee blend that is a combination of a Brazilian coffee and an Ethiopian coffee, we can dictate exactly which Brazilian coffee and exactly which Ethiopian coffee to use from the hundreds of choices out there. I can go and find an Ethiopian coffee that exhibits the exact taste characteristics that I’m looking for—the sweetness of currants, with the acidity of lime and the tang of spices. It also means we have an intricate knowledge of exactly what the coffee should taste like, and hence, be able to brew it correctly.” All this gets a little nitpicky, but Peter says he’ll sample up to 30 different varieties of a specific type of coffee (like Brazilian) before choosing one winner. For me, I’ll simply say that the houseblend Americano I had was bold and aromatic, with just a hint of acidity—although I no idea where it’s from since I didn’t bother to ask. (From my limited knowledge, I’m going to guess there’s some Ethiopian influence because of the tanginess. Am I right, Peter? Sign me up for one of your classes if I just made a fool of myself!) In short, I had a great coffee—even though it was way too strong for me, and I couldn’t finish the full cup without risking a case of jittery hands.
One of the craziest packages I’ve ever received as dining editor came in the form of a foot-long wooden chest, inside of which lay two ice-cold bottles of apple cider along with two real apples, a beer glass and four perfectly shaped, pre-frozen plastic ice cubes (they’re the kind that are filled with water on the inside and look exactly like real ice cubes once the water freezes up). What this prompted me to do—and this is ingenious marketing, I have to admit—was, first, to style and re-arrange the objects in the chest for a picture-perfect Instagram shot, which right away got uploaded to Twitter with a cheeky “Haha, I get to drink while at work” sort of message. Second, seeing how all the objects were cold, but getting warmer by the second, I really had no choice but to crack open a bottle and pour it into the waiting glass. And that’s how I got introduced to Somersby Apple Cider, available for the first time at 7-Elevens, convenience stores and supermarkets throughout the city. It’s a very light yet lively drink, really just like a flavored carbonated soda (the 4.5 percent alcohol can barely be detected, at least until after you’ve downed the whole bottle). To spread the love, the Somersby folks are also hosting parties at various Café Deco Group establishments throughout the summer to introduce everyone to their product—the next one’s going to be at Pulp (55 Wyndham St., Central) on July 23.