with Simon Tam
Stir-fried asparagus with scallops is a simple, delicious and substantial dish - and it's good for those who are watching their waistlines. The scallops are filling and the asparagus is a healthy green vegetable filled with antioxidants. Cantonese restaurants add a little ginger and garlic (and maybe some fermented black beans) to the combination, but you can take the flavour further with chopped toasted hazelnuts. Add some pasta spirals and you have a complete meal. If you manage to get scallops that are sufficiently fresh and add thick or thin asparagus spears, you should be looking for an accompanying wine (or other drink) with a keen focus and lively freshness, to act as a backbone or rudder for the flavours.
William Fevre Petit Chablis 2008, Chablis, France
William Fevre was a pioneer with technique and equipment in the cellar and the vineyard. He invented chaufrettes, or fire pots, which are strategically placed in the vineyard to combat frost. His winery is known for a unique system of fermentation in new oak and maturation in older oak casks. This was a way to enhance the usually tart, sharp and highly acidic wines that come from the marginally ripe chardonnay grapes of this northerly region, although with global warming, the need to enrich chablis in new oak casks has been unnecessary since 1989. This wine is just as stylish as the wines of the austere past - and is in many ways more generous. It's a great match with scallops and asparagus. The rounded chardonnay sits happily next to the scallop succulence, and the plush fruit wraps the asparagus into one tidy parcel. Adding a teaspoonful of harissa sauce will make this dish worthy of serving to your mother-in-law (assuming you like her).
Available for HK$127 from Fine Vintage (tel: 2896 6108)
Pikes 'The Merle' Riesling 2008, Clare Valley, South Australia
The Clare Valley is my favourite wine region of South Australia. It's beautiful; summers are mild but sunny; winters are wet and perfect for a glass of red wine in front of an open fire.
A Clare Valley riesling can age for three decades or more. Neil Pike of the Pikes winery has been making wines for about that long. This wine is sensational. It's pure lime cordial; concentrated without being awkward or uncomfortable. It's seductive and will have you coming back for more. The lime purity is supported by a hefty amount of minerals, both on the nose as well as the palate. It's a great match with sweet scallops and complements the asparagus' texture. A few scattered toasted pinenuts over the dish elevate and magnify its minerality. This wine is more or less built for immortality - or until your patience runs out.
Available for HK$262 from Berry Bros & Rudd (tel: 2110 1680)
The luxury vodka market is getting congested. Vodka is by nature inexpensive to produce, so deluxe vodka makers can afford to throw lavish parties. But if you were to sample these vodkas 'blind', you'd be shocked at what they taste like without the fancy packaging. In a recent blind tasting of four luxury vodkas, Belvedere came out on top. It actually has flavour - which isn't always true of other brands. It's a good platform for delicate scallops and asparagus stir-fried with ginger. Serve chilled but not frozen.
Available for HK$300 from Watson's Wine Cellar (tel: 2606 8828)