June 30, 2010

Forty again

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I'm in Taipei today, spending my fortieth lunar birthday with the parental units.  The folks requested for a return to Paris 1930, our usual venue for these celebrations.  I, of course, had no complaints.

When we first arrived, the bottle I prepared was a little too warm, so Rolf arranged for it to be chilled.  Meanwhile he arranged for us to start with a glass of 2006 Schlumberger Riesling Les Princes Abbés.  This was not bad at all... Nose of minerals, plastic, a little ripe and slightly sweet on the nose, floral and fragrant, eventually some petrol came out, along with something sweet and tropical, and finally some orange blossom.  Very balanced on the palate.

The amuse bouche consisted of a piece of parma ham and a lump of melon gelée, along with a tiny slice of gherkin.  Somehow I thought the gelée tasted a little weird...almost artificial.

Foie gras torchon, apricot coulis, ginger, edible flower, served with a warm brioche - this was just about the thinnest slice of foie gras torchon or terrine I've ever had... but it was pretty tasty!  A sprinkle of salt really brought out the flavors.  Combining the foie with the apricot coulis or the pickled ginger made it very interesting.

Pan-fried Hokkaido scallop and sea urchin, tapioca pearls, wild mushrooms, chicken jus - I thought the scallop was a little dry, making it a little too springy on the bite.  The bahun uni (馬糞雲丹) had pretty strong flavors and kinda overpowered the scallop.  I thought the gold foil on top was totally unnecessary, though it seems like this stuff is back in fashion...  But the interesting part of the dish was not the prima donnas but the chorus!  The little tapioca pearls - I jokingly called them sago rice (西米露) - reminded me of Thomas Keller's famous oysters and pearls.  The chicken jus had just enough fragrant pepper to make it smell wonderful, but was totally undetectable on the palate.

Smoked halibut on a Jerusalem artichoke purée, avruga caviar cream, caper berry - this was also pretty yummy.  I do like halibut, even though it's not considered a "premium" fish.  The stuff that the fish sat on, though, was more interesting.  The capers provided the right amount of acidity to counter balance the cream, as well as the crunchy texture along with kidney beans, peas and pearls made from turnip.

Parmentier of confit duck leg, in truffle sauce, mixed greens - wow!  This was soooo delicious!  The perfume of the black truffle hits you immediately, and I took a spoon and mixed up the ingredients, letting the jus of the duck blend with the potato...  The duck was pretty tender, and very tasty.  I thought the combination was just perfect.

Roasted lamb tenderloin, mint jus, citrus and herbs couscous - this was probably the weakest course of the menu, although there was nothing wrong with the execution.  I like my lamb fatty and I could barely taste the real flavors here.  The pairing with couscous was nice, though.

The dessert was a passion fruit concoction, which I guess was right up dad's alley.  Mom got something different entirely - vanilla soufflé.  Rolf remembered that mom loves her soufflés so he took the liberty of changing her dessert.  Now that's what I call service, and this is why we keep coming back here!

In keeping with tradition, I opened a bottle of 1970 Dom Pérignon tonight.  What a beautiful wine this was!  Loads of caramel, marmalade, apricot, preserved salty plum (話梅), toasty and a little smoky, with even a hint of coffee.  Later on honey, preserved orange rind (陳皮), and mushrooms.  After 3 hours, the finish turned a little weird and almost tasted a little like bleach.  Hmmm...  But the nose was just fabulous, and kept on giving.

I ran into Jeremy, my old colleague, who was dining here for the first time with his wife.  I shared some of the Champagne with them on this happy occasion.  Hopefully they liked it...

I was a little full to take in the chocolate cake they made for me, so I had it packed up to go.  Guess that will be my breakfast tomorrow...

Mom was more than happy to recount the events on that fateful evening 40 years ago, and included details which I had never heard before.  I guess the manner of my arrival kinda surprised everyone, and I just couldn't wait to pop into this world!  After all the cool adventures of the last 40 years, I guess I can understand my eagerness back then.  Let's hope there are plenty more advntures coming my way...

1 comment:

susan said...

c'mon Peter, share those details! Were you born in the back of a taxi?


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