The idea of private kitchens in HK is not new, yet every time I visit one, there is a different spin. This time I was invited to join my friend Cynthia’s dinner party at Comilonas where I was presented with a traditional spread of Spanish, Catalonian tapas in a secluded apartment converted into a private kitchen. The dining room that fits 20 patrons comfortably with a couch to fall into if one has had too much to drink.
Where there is good food, there must be good wine, their BYOB policy is 50$/btl corkage and we definitely took advantage of the experience of having a special Spanish Wine carafe for our wine. Carrie, the chef of the night even gave us a self demonstration of how it is done right!
The kitchen is deemed worthy to produce a feast for more than 20, so after taking a small peek, I was ready to be fed by its all women staff. Carrie gave a small introduction of herself claiming her boyfriend is Spanish and together they brought back the traditional Catalan cooking back to Hong Kong soil after cooking with traditional chefs and his mother in Spain.
A romanesco dip served with breadsticks and carrot was the start to the meal. Simple, appetizing and clean, was my first thought and I was right, so after having a few bites, I was wondering what the next course was going to be.
The next spread was a Sobrasada and cheese with quail egg toast. I ate it all in a matter of seconds, well, I was hungry and the wine I was drinking was asking me for more food. It was a decent toast with a decent snap, crackle, pop. I love quail eggs, and they love me, but I was still looking for a little more spice and maybe some garnish greens to heighten this bite.
By the next course, a protein of some sort was a must, garlic shrimp came to the table in its traditional dish. I’ve made this dish many times at the comfort of my own home. I guess you can’t really go wrong with a garlicky piece of shrimp with some herbs, in any season, with any meal and at any location.
I was actually looking forward to the croquettes with a mixture of pork and ham. I could probably eat these all day long if they were available and didn’t have any adverse health effects, but they do, so I managed to detain my appetite after 2 servings of these dangerous balls that were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
On the other hand, the piquillo peppers stuffed with cheese were entirely the opposite to the croquettes, they were soft with a little chewiness from the cheese. The peppers were cooked till tender and sweet as if this dish was a palate cleanser for the next ones to come. I enjoyed how this dish matched the colours of the festive season. I’m not going to lie, “Jingle Bells” did play in my head when I saw the presentation of the peppers.
Iberico pork cheek stew followed and I wish I had more bread. I actually thought this dish reminded me of a beef stew, with all the same ingredients except for the juicy pork. It would go perfectly with some Spanish short-grain rice.
A salad of mixed greens, avocados and oranges was served after the pork which was refreshing and colourful.
The savoury finale with the squid ink paella was presented next to a garlic aioli. The ink was apparently squeezed out from fresh squid and the broth to make the rice was made from shrimp. Paella is probably one of my favourite dishes of all time, but you cannot always get ones made from fresh squid ink.
The aioli was a must for this paella and yet another tradition to be experienced except after finishing the rice, I really hoped to be swept off my feet to the beaches of Barcelona. I guess I’d have to wait for another time of my life. I am glad that I do live in a place where I can be in reach of authentic foods from around to world.
An almond mouse completed this meal, not quite with a bang, I wish it was fluffier in texture but the flavours were all there. I am once again thankful to have shared a nice meal with good company and good wine. Now it’s time to go in search for more delicacies to take my taste-buds to another grub-fulled journey.