December 8, 2008

White truffle heaven

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Tonight saw another MNSC tasting held at Amber, the newly minted Michelin 2-star restaurant. As usual we took up a private room for the occasion, but business seems to be pretty slow for the place. The main dining room seemed less than 1/3 full...

As usual there were the amuse bouches, which were scallops with apple jelly (presented like Thomas Keller's oysters and pearls); pumpkin soup with black truffles; and foie gras lollipop on sticks.

The first course was southern Australian lobster and foie gras ravioli simmered with black winter truffle over a creamy celeriac custard with poultry velouté. Wonderful ravioli combining the taste of "surf & turf"... The celeriac custard was a bit heavy, getting to the consistency of mashed potatoes. The velouté was divine.

The chef followed up with Erquy scallop, cauliflower & almond risotto "mantecato" with clementine scented oxtail jus and shaved white truffle. The chef came to shave some white truffles for us, and a small chunk of it fell off and landed on my plate. Of course he was only too happy to leave me with it... After I finished the dish, I happily chewed on the amazingly fragrant! How sinful!

The Challan chicken was done two-ways: breast with silver beet, parmesan whipped polenta with shaved Alba truffles. The meat was tender but did not wow me. Of course truffles are always welcome...

Part two was leg as a warm pate with black winter truffles. This was wrapped in greens and was a little more interesting, and shows the chef's creativity.

I was too full to have the cheese from Bernard Antony. For dessert the mango, lime & marscapone pavlova was ok...

We offered Chef Ekkebus our congratulations on his 2-stars. I do hope that this helps bring the customers in, because it sure felt a little empty...

Now MNSC gatherings are all about blind-tasting wines. So what did we have tonight?

We started with the 1995 Dom Perignon Oenothèque, which was one of the best Champagnes I have tasted in a while. Huge, powerful nose of toasty oak, pain grillé, yeast and minerals. This was really, really enjoyable.

The wines were served in 3 flights of two, each with its own theme. They were:

1985 Solaia - from the nose it was clear that this wine was old. Hint of grass, red fruits, caramel, and some oxidation. A bit acidic on the palate. 92 points.

1999 Solaia - smoky nose with star anise, mint, coffee, ripe prunes and a bit of wet chalk. Alcoholic and huge, tannic finish.

1988 Mouton-Rothschild - one of the surprises of the evening. Very smoky, grassy, grilled meats, coffee, pepper nose. Very smooth on the palate with a slight acidic finish. 96 points.

1986 Mouton-Rothschild - everyone's biggest disappointment, given the 100-point rating by many critics. Smoky, grassy and sweet - classic Left Bank nose. Good concentration. 94 points.

1994 Pesquera Janus - very sweet and exotic nose with orange, lychee, pineapple, jackfruit and red dates (jujube) notes. The finish tasted like the Thai sticky rice with coconut milk that is often paired with mango or durian. 95 points.

1994 Vega Silicia Unico - very sweet nose with lots of orange and minerals, almost blood-like. Reminds me of a Californian Syrah. 96 points.

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