May 21, 2009

Bordeaux X Italian

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I met up with a couple of friends for dinner tonight to drink a few bottles of wine. I booked a table for us at Tuscany by H since it's been a while since I was last there, and it's nice to have Italian for a change.

Harlan himself was there, and came over to make a few suggestions for us regarding the menu. He's affable as usual, and I'm always happy to let him point us in the right direction. He's doing a four-course "Cheer Up Menu" which is pretty good value, and since he's happy for us to substitute his specials, we were happy to take him up on it.

I brought along a bottle of 1994 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. It's not often that I get to drink an old, dry Bordeaux white, so I was kinda looking forward to it. Oxidized nose of pear, honey, a hint of chalk, butter, toasty oak and even pollen. Once it opened up the nose was very ripe and sweet, but the wine had a long, acidic finish.

36-month aged Parma ham, French black and yellow organic tomatoes, Burrata cheese and truffle honey - Harlan showed us the organic tomatoes before we ordered, and they were certainly yummy. The Burrata was also milky and good, with just a touch of black peper seasoning. The little bit of truffle honey on the side was simply divine.

My friend was extremely generous tonight, having brought two bottles of '82 Bordeaux. Initially I was told that they would be from lesser chateaux, and the first bottle was the 1982 Gazin. This was not the Gazin from Pomerol, but the one with the same name from Graves. The nose was very smoky, with classic brett, black pepper, a bit of sweet grass and - I'm very serious - smelly armpits... A medium-bodied wine with a short finish. Definitely a bit over the hill so it's good that the bottle was opened and drunk.

The tagliatelle with Italian wild boar ragout and black pepper crusted pecorino cheese was excellent. I remembered the awesome wild boar ragout pasta from my last visit, and there was no way I was gonna miss out on this! It was very, very yummy...but I do have to say that I preferred the bowl from last time as the pancetta just took it one notch higher. 

The second red of the evening was the 1982 Pichon Lalande. This was totally unexpected, and was the second bottle of this wine that I would drink in the space of 6 weeks, and a much better bottle than the last. Classic nose of red fruits, smoke and sweet grass. A beautiful wine.

My tomato crumble crusted sea bass, smoked bacon and leek ragout, caviar sauce was beautiful. The thick chunk of fish came with a tomato and pesto crust that one friend remarked was like the fish with crunchy bean crust (豆酥魚) that we'd find in Chinese cuisine. The texture of the fish was slightly drier and chewier than I expected, which I felt was a nice surprise. The combination of the fragrant bacon, leeks and caviar in an acidic sauce was the perfect partner for the sea bass. Bravo!

Initially the dessert surprise didn't look like much. But the mint and chocolate ice cream was made with fresh mint leaves, and was sooo refreshing. A very nice touch.

I'm glad I went back to the restaurant after a prolonged absence. The quality of the food was certainly high, and I reminded myself that my next visit should come sooner rather than later.

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