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Celebrating Chinese New Year with Dim Sum

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Cutting Edge Gourmet principal Débč-Ann Lange Chen and CPJ Brand Manager (Wines) Ohran Cato hosted a Chinese New Year dim sum brunch last Saturday at Lange Chen's Mandeville home. Over 50 guests from Kingston and Manchester cosily sat on the Inception Design-decorated verandah and feasted on multiple dim sum dishes paired with wines from CPJ's portfolio.

On the Chinese calendar, 2019 is the Year of the Pig and in Chinese culture pigs are the symbol of wealth — the chubby faces and big ears are signs of fortune. Lange Chen decided to mix things up with her anticipated biannual wine-paired meal by doing dim sum. Upon arrival, guests were served glasses of Fantinel prosecco with orange segments (oranges symbolise good luck), deep-fried spring rolls, steam dumplings and mini boats of Singapore noodles. As guests settled into their seats anticipating the meal, Iron Lotus Academy performed a dragon dance said to ensure that good luck befalls each guest for the year ahead.

The brunch saw guests partaking of sweet corn soup followed by fu juk (bean curd/tofu skin) salad with pat jam gayi (steamed chicken with ginger and scallion). After these dishes guests were presented with a plate laden with five items — jianbing (Chinese crepes), cha ye dan (marbled tea egg), sheng jian bao (pan-fried pork buns), hoisin pork in a vermicelli nest and sweet and spicy cauliflower and broccoli. The intermezzo of limoncello with watermelon that followed was both off-piste and very refreshing and prepared guests to appreciate the nuances of the barbecue tenderloin and tamarind duck with noodles and gailan (Chinese broccoli). The final course was a play on the traditional sweet treat Peking Dust that is made from chestnuts. Lange Chen's version — Beijing Dust — utilised cashews, but was just as delicious.

The flavour profile of Chinese foods has long been better suited to grain alcohols. However, Cato and Lange Chen teamed up to find wines that paired well with the dim sum menu. Guests delighted in Batasiolo Gavi di Gavi whose dryness, freshness and subtle bitter almond notes were ideal for the fu juk salad and pat jam gayi. The acidity, fruit-forwardness and notes of chocolate and tobacco of the Banfi La Lus Albarossa made the five-dish course — comprised of jianbing, cha ye dan, sheng jian bao, hoisin pork in a vermicelli nest and sweet and spicy cauliflower and broccoli — sing. The sweetness of the tenderloin and duck combined with the blackberry, cassis and roasted espresso notes of the Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Claret made for a wonderful pairing. The choice of sparkling, in this case as Martini Rossi Rosé, to go along with dessert was great.

At the end of brunch, guests were presented with gift bags, courtesy of DFL Importers, containing some of the ingredients that Lange Chen used to create Sunday's feast. From a dragon dance to guests seated and served in groups of eight (eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture), those in attendance at Lange Chen's Chinese New Year dim sum are sure to have a lucky Year of the Pig.