La Peca’s first visit to Macau

Apparently these two weeks has been quite busy for me, and undoubtedly, for a lot of food and wine reporters too. First of all, quite some guest chefs marched in to Hong Kong’s Michelin restaurants starting from October. Second of all, as the tax haven for wine in Asia, wine events are held almost every single day. With the arrival of the distinguish wine critic (or maybe a wine addict who drink 5 bottles of wine a day) Robert Parker tomorrow, I could foresee that another long week is ahead of me.

Despite my busy schedule, I managed to travelled to Macau just for A DINNER on a Thursday night. So what got my butt off the chair and travelled two hours just for a meal? It was an invitation to try out the menu prepared by a guest chef at the Aurora, an Italian restaurant in Altria.

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Nicola Portinari, one of the co-founder of Le Peca brought his sous chef to Macau from 3 November till 6 November, offering a few tasting menu from Le Peca. Nicola and his brother Pierluigi Portinari opened La Peca in 1987 and was awarded with a two-star Michelin rating. Nicola basically took some reference from the existing menu at La Peca to create this menu at Aurora, so diners get to have a glimpse of the La Peca’s cooking style.

I would say that La Peca likes to play with the texture of food, say they made the cuttlefish black ink into jelly, red onions into ice-cream, etc. I am not quite sure if the team has tuned the dishes to the asian palate accordingly, but I could tell that there were some strong flavors which Asians might find it slightly intrusive. Their bigoli pasta was one of the highlight, maybe not so much because of the sauce, but because of the nice olive oil and its texture. It’s smooth, chewy but not soggy, perhaps “al dente” should be the word for it? Other dishes were rather mediocre for me, but it’s definitely a healthy meal.

But I guess since Nicola was trained to be a pastry chef, the dessert became the highlight of the menu. Almond Terrine with Quince Juice and Williams Pear – BIG TIME! It scored in terms of texture, taste and creativity, I regretted not taking a proper picture of it. And I haven’t learnt from the same lesson again and again – don’t judge by how it looks. The Almond Terrine has some almond bites in it which enhances the touch of the terrine. There’s no other pear like William pear in Asia. Asia pears just don’t get that kind of texture. Even it’s cooked, it tasted fresh, with firm texture, and concentrated pear flavors. The Quince juice was mixed with some mustard and my first reaction was like: “uh… are you serious?”, but it actually tasted pretty alright.

One thing that I was rather disappointed was the wine pairing in this meal. The Italian wine served were indeed quite interesting by itself, but it was off for the meal.

So when my Earl Grey and petit fours arrived, I looked around, finally paying some detail attention to the decor upon my second visit. Under the warm orange lighting, it reminded me of jingle bells in Christmas. And indeed, Christmas is coming…

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