It's dad's birthday today. For the last couple of years mom and I have been jokingly calling him "old man" (老頭), but it's become official today. At the ripe old age of 70, you're definitely an old man.
I took the extended family - with uncle and aunt in tow - back to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. It is, after all, the finest French restaurant in Taipei. Jack and Rolf at Paris 1930 will have to wait for another visit.
I arrived at the restaurant early, only to discover that the seating arrangement was all wrong. With our party of 5, the staff had planned on having 3 of us sit on the curved sofa while the other two would be seated in chairs. I honestly don't know what the staff were thinking, because I could easily figure out that out of the 3 people sitting on the sofa, only the central guest would be able to relax and find back support. The two flanking guests would have absolutely no back support and soon find themselves with back and neck pain. Not to mention that 3 people in the party were above the age of 65... I was a little infuriated. Did these people even use their brain cells for one minute as they set the table?!
I asked the staff for an alternate arrangement. At L'Atelier anywhere in the world, the only other option would be to sit on bar stools with low backs - not exactly ideal either. I decide that this would be a better arrangement for all, and ask to be moved to a high table.
At this point the staff inquired whether the new arrangement would be suitable for the old gentleman (老人家) whose birthday we would be celebrating. They wondered whether an old man would have difficulty climbing up and down from the bar stool... I found that more than a little funny, and relayed the story to mom and dad. Yes, dad... 70 years means you're an old man...
I was introduced to Chef Angelo, who had just moved from HK and is taking over from Chef Suga as the latter heads to France.
I scanned through the menu and decide against taking one of the set menus, opting to cherry pick my dishes instead. Not exactly the most economical way to go about dinner, but definitely yielded tasty results!
It was here and now that my uncle truly appreciated my love for food. He watched me slowly and carefully cut the boudin, place each bite in my mouth, and observed the resulting smile on my face. Out of all the meals we've shared together, he's never seen me so happy. Of course, there haven't been many meals in the past where I have gotten to choose where I wanted to eat - and tonight the venue was my call. And I was eating only the dishes I chose and nothing else.
I didn't have room for dessert, and shared a bite from dad's little "birthday cake". I did get one of Chef Kazu's coconut macarons, whose flavors were rather light. But at least the texture was what I expected and not the disaster I encountered a few weeks ago...
It was a pretty good evening. I'm looking forward to more celebratory meals with the old man...