Natural Wonders
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Champagne

Natural Wonders


Words: Mamie Chen

Dish Photographer: Samantha Sin

Nature Photographer: Justin Hui

“When we go outside in nature, something changes inside ourselves,” begins the lead-in note for “The Art of Revealing Nature” dining experience at Hong Kong’s Ocean Table. The event is Maison Perrier-Jouët’s latest presentation in an ongoing series of collaborations that draw from the worlds of wine, gastronomy, and the arts. Honoring deep-rooted philosophical values established over two hundred years ago by founders Pierre-Nicolas Perrier and Rose-Adélaïde Jouët, the Maison brings together Chef Jaakko Sorsa, photographer Justin Hui, and harpist Yee Lam (Elam) Lai to present an unforgettable evening. “We invite you,” they teasingly propose, “to lose yourself in nature so that you might find yourself in nature.”

The experience is divided into six chapters of specially curated pairings of wine, food, photography, and music that pay homage to the varied aspects of the natural environment, from sky and sea to forest and land. Sorsa’s dishes feature a mix of ingredients and cooking methods inspired by familiar settings. For the Sky course, he whips up a light and airy potato foam that conjures fluffy cumulus clouds. For the Forest course, he recreates a walk through a Finnish grove, complete with wood pigeon, chanterelles, and wild lingonberries.

Hui’s black and white photographs play with scale, aspect ratio, and the juxtaposition of light and shade to deconstruct natural elements and explore their textures, patterns, and minutiae. And Lai’s musical pieces cleverly employ rhythm, melody, harmony, and color tone to evoke a medley of nature’s attributes.

The collective creative contributions of Sorsa, Hui, and Lai serve to awaken and heighten all five senses, encouraging guests to rediscover and reconnect with the elements of nature around them. “We each extend our own very specific interpretation of nature,” says Hui. “What should be really interesting for guests is the synergy in experiencing them all together.”

Sorsa’s culinary philosophy is profoundly influenced by his Finnish background and lifelong love of the natural world. “In Finland,” he says, “we’re taught to respect nature, to be in nature, and even to collect things from nature. It’s very normal to fish in the lakes and forage from the forests.” As a result, his natural style of cooking reflects the clean and authentic flavors of well-sourced, high-quality ingredients.

“When we go outside in nature, something changes inside ourselves,” begins the lead-in note for “The Art of Revealing Nature” dining experience at Hong Kong’s Ocean Table. The event is Maison Perrier-Jouët’s latest presentation in an ongoing series of collaborations that draw from the worlds of wine, gastronomy, and the arts. Honoring deep-rooted philosophical values established over two hundred years ago by founders Pierre-Nicolas Perrier and Rose-Adélaïde Jouët, the Maison brings together Chef Jaakko Sorsa, photographer Justin Hui, and harpist Yee Lam (Elam) Lai to present an unforgettable evening. “We invite you,” they teasingly propose, “to lose yourself in nature so that you might find yourself in nature.”

The experience is divided into six chapters of specially curated pairings of wine, food, photography, and music that pay homage to the varied aspects of the natural environment, from sky and sea to forest and land. Sorsa’s dishes feature a mix of ingredients and cooking methods inspired by familiar settings. For the Sky course, he whips up a light and airy potato foam that conjures fluffy cumulus clouds. For the Forest course, he recreates a walk through a Finnish grove, complete with wood pigeon, chanterelles, and wild lingonberries.

Hui’s black and white photographs play with scale, aspect ratio, and the juxtaposition of light and shade to deconstruct natural elements and explore their textures, patterns, and minutiae. And Lai’s musical pieces cleverly employ rhythm, melody, harmony, and color tone to evoke a medley of nature’s attributes.

The collective creative contributions of Sorsa, Hui, and Lai serve to awaken and heighten all five senses, encouraging guests to rediscover and reconnect with the elements of nature around them. “We each extend our own very specific interpretation of nature,” says Hui. “What should be really interesting for guests is the synergy in experiencing them all together.”

Sorsa’s culinary philosophy is profoundly influenced by his Finnish background and lifelong love of the natural world. “In Finland,” he says, “we’re taught to respect nature, to be in nature, and even to collect things from nature. It’s very normal to fish in the lakes and forage from the forests.” As a result, his natural style of cooking reflects the clean and authentic flavors of well-sourced, high-quality ingredients.

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Harpist Elam Lai, Chef Jaakko Sorsa, and photographer Justin Hui

By way of example, the chef points to the delicate crustacean prominently placed at the center of his Ocean course: “This langoustine from Iceland tastes so good just by itself. I only need to cook it lightly for ten seconds. On top, there’s a touch of finger lime, known as vegetarian caviar, for some fresh acidity, and sea grapes – they’re like caviar too – for some salty seaweed flavor.”

Aligning with the theme of the course are hints of ocean-like salinity and sapidity in the Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs selected to pair with it. The Champagne’s crisp, mineral freshness balances the rich sea urchin and melt-in-the-mouth silkiness of the well-marbled Ora king salmon. Made exclusively from the Maison’s emblematic chardonnay grapes, Blanc de Blancs showcases Perrier-Jouët’s distinctive floral aromas and citrus notes that enliven the senses with a bright vibrancy.

By way of example, the chef points to the delicate crustacean prominently placed at the center of his Ocean course: “This langoustine from Iceland tastes so good just by itself. I only need to cook it lightly for ten seconds. On top, there’s a touch of finger lime, known as vegetarian caviar, for some fresh acidity, and sea grapes – they’re like caviar too – for some salty seaweed flavor.”

Aligning with the theme of the course are hints of ocean-like salinity and sapidity in the Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs selected to pair with it. The Champagne’s crisp, mineral freshness balances the rich sea urchin and melt-in-the-mouth silkiness of the well-marbled Ora king salmon. Made exclusively from the Maison’s emblematic chardonnay grapes, Blanc de Blancs showcases Perrier-Jouët’s distinctive floral aromas and citrus notes that enliven the senses with a bright vibrancy.

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THE OCEAN

“This dish has become Ocean Table’s signature,” says Sorsa. “It’s inspired by our kitchen window here with its beautiful ocean view, and it contains all the best that the sea has to offer from around the world – Iceland, the North Sea, Hokkaido, New Zealand, France. Each ingredient is lightly cooked or lightly seasoned or brined in a Nordic style. The sea urchin sauce binds all the ocean ingredients together and balances out the flavor.”

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Langoustine, diver scallops, bafun uni sea urchin, Ōra King salmon, wild trout roe, Amalfi lemon hollandaise, tomato jelly, scallop roe powder

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Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs

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Claude Debussy – “Arabesque No. 1 in E major”

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THE SKY

“It was important for me to reveal a more raw and elemental side of nature,” says Hui, “so that we could focus on details and textures we might otherwise overlook. The sky is presented with elements of light and shadow – you can see the light coming out, but the darkness can also draw you into a meditative space.”

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Roasted potato foam, Kristal caviar, gold

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Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut

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Jacques de La Presle – “Le Jardin Mouillé”

Hui’s photo seascape draws the guests further into the Ocean theme. Any contextual elements that might provide a sense of scale are purposely excluded from the image. Has he captured massive swells churning and crashing against a rocky coast or the white water spilling down the face of a gentle wave on a slow journey up the shore? “I chose this photo so that when guests taste the seafood, drink the wine, listen to the music, and gaze at the image, they’ll almost feel that they’re immersed in the ocean.”

In approaching the project, Hui instinctively avoided panoramic landscapes in favor of close-ups that lend an abstract quality to nature. An intimate examination of rock striations reveals a miniature landscape that in isolation becomes epically grand. A photo of tree trunks and branches is an insightful study in shadow and light. “Abstraction gives us fresh aware- ness of details we might otherwise overlook,” he says. “By deconstructing our existing associations with nature, we can rebuild it with the new perspectives we’ve gained.”

Guests’ thoughtful meditations on Hui’s Ocean photograph are deepened by Lai’s accompanying performance of “Arabesque No. 1 in E major” by Claude Debussy. “After playing a piece with a very light and high register for the Sky course, I contrast it with a lower register for this one,” she says. “To me, the running base notes feel like currents flowing in the ocean.”

Debussy once described the age of the arabesque, with its nonlinear, free-form melody, as a time when “music was subject to the laws of beauty inscribed in the movements of Nature herself.” In Lai’s selections for the Sky and Islands courses, harmonics conjure nature’s ethereal allure. And the short phrases and dissonant sounds in André Caplet’s “À L’espagnol” that accompanies the Earth course evoke images of under- ground roots and creatures searching for ways to emerge from the dark.

“Everyone, of course, has their own perceptions of nature,” says Lai. “These pieces I play are my interpretations of the balance and sounds of nature. I hope guests will enjoy this experience and then find their own unique connections between food and wine and art and music.”

Hui’s photo seascape draws the guests further into the Ocean theme. Any contextual elements that might provide a sense of scale are purposely excluded from the image. Has he captured massive swells churning and crashing against a rocky coast or the white water spilling down the face of a gentle wave on a slow journey up the shore? “I chose this photo so that when guests taste the seafood, drink the wine, listen to the music, and gaze at the image, they’ll almost feel that they’re immersed in the ocean.”

In approaching the project, Hui instinctively avoided panoramic landscapes in favor of close-ups that lend an abstract quality to nature. An intimate examination of rock striations reveals a miniature landscape that in isolation becomes epically grand. A photo of tree trunks and branches is an insightful study in shadow and light. “Abstraction gives us fresh aware- ness of details we might otherwise overlook,” he says. “By deconstructing our existing associations with nature, we can rebuild it with the new perspectives we’ve gained.”

Guests’ thoughtful meditations on Hui’s Ocean photograph are deepened by Lai’s accompanying performance of “Arabesque No. 1 in E major” by Claude Debussy. “After playing a piece with a very light and high register for the Sky course, I contrast it with a lower register for this one,” she says. “To me, the running base notes feel like currents flowing in the ocean.”

Debussy once described the age of the arabesque, with its nonlinear, free-form melody, as a time when “music was subject to the laws of beauty inscribed in the movements of Nature herself.” In Lai’s selections for the Sky and Islands courses, harmonics conjure nature’s ethereal allure. And the short phrases and dissonant sounds in André Caplet’s “À L’espagnol” that accompanies the Earth course evoke images of under- ground roots and creatures searching for ways to emerge from the dark.

“Everyone, of course, has their own perceptions of nature,” says Lai. “These pieces I play are my interpretations of the balance and sounds of nature. I hope guests will enjoy this experience and then find their own unique connections between food and wine and art and music.”

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THE EARTH

“This is a very unusual piece for the harp,” says Lai, “because it doesn’t sound very harmonious. It has dissonance and other special effects, like metallic sounds when I change the pedals. To me, it sounds like roots and other little things that grow underground and are struggling to find a way out of the earth.”

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Root artichokes, salsify, edible black ants, black truffle

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Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque 2012

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André Caplet – “À L’Espagnole”

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THE LAND

“When I began looking at landscapes,” says Hui, ”I was reminded that the Chinese have a history of staring at rocks and meditating on them. While guests are enjoying the food, they can also stare at this rock, meditate upon it, and imagine how the close-up details almost create a landscape on the rock itself.”

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Iberico pork pluma, duck foie gras and barley risotto, autumn carrots, Périgord sauce

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Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque Rosé 2012

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Manuel de Falla – “Spanish Dance No. 1”

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THE ISLANDS

“I use the language of music to bring out the sounds of nature,” says Lai.“This is a beautiful, flowing piece that has magical-sounding harmonics and a very nice arpeggio that goes from low to high notes, reminding me of waterfalls and the water around an island. It’s a very grand piece that I think goes well with dessert and makes a good ending for the meal.”

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Mandarin from Fukuoka, ganache from Jamaican “Jamaya 73%” Trinitario dark chocolate, panna cotta from fresh Hokkaido 37% cream, tonka beans

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Elias Parish-Alvars – “Serenade, Op. 73”

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