April 14, 2012

Yummy lamb for birthday

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We were celebrating a birthday tonight, and lamb was the order of the day.  I was tasked with finding a new place to have lamb other than my favorite lamb at 8½ Otto e Mezzo or L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon.  I thought about the little tiny lamb chops I had at Cépage last year, and posted on Chef Sebastien's Facebook wall asking if he had any lamb on the menu.  Silly me.  The same lamb is still on the menu, only better since April's the best season for spring lamb.

So I met up with Tigger and family at the restaurant, and eagerly waited for our food to arrive.  Ever mindful of the need to keep my svelte figure, I took the Menu Épicurien instead of the larger Menu Gastronomique.

Jamón ibérico - this was Joselito's Gran Reserva, which is aged for 48 months.  Very nice…  Definitely don't get this quality in Taipei.

Pour commencer: l'asperge blanche, en «blanc-manger» coulis de tomate acidulé - Chef Sebastien sources the white asparagus from Saga (佐賀).  I made the big mistake of not tasting the blancmange on its own, but rather with the tomato coulis.  This meant that the acidity of the coulis completely overpowered the delicate flavors of white asparagus…  The little flakes of almonds and green asparagus added some texture here.

Le saumon: en tartare, caviar osciètre et pêle-mêle de fleurs japonaise - very nice, with diced raw onions and tiny capers mixed in with the salmon.  But why do I feel like I'm eating negi-toro (ネギトロ)?   We once again chuckled at the presence of gold foil and what we could possibly do with it…  We were happy with the presence of caviar, although for some reason I couldn't quite taste the pretty dots of oil on the plate.

L'oursin: sur un petit flan, émulsion légèrement anisée - this is actually part of the Menu Gastronomique, but someone doesn't eat sea urchin so I got to have a taste.  Interesting to have the "tongues" sit on some lobster-flavored egg custard.  I did put some of the fennel emulsion on top, but for some reason the fennel taste wasn't very strong.

La langoustine: en ravioli, sauce au parmesan, poudre de diamant noir - more sea urchin!  This time on top of a plump ravioli filled with fresh, springy langoustine.  The sauce was incredibly intense with parmesan flavors, almost a little pungent.  The "black diamond" powder was indeed very pretty, and full of the fragrance of black truffles.  Yum.

Les nouilles: udon dans un bouillon de homard, relevé par une touche de gingembre - very Japanese indeed.  One dips the strands of very thin udon (うどん) into the deliciously sweet lobster broth, much like the way one dips cold soba (そば) into soba sauce (めんつゆ).

The udon might be thin but there was plenty of bite.

L'agneau: précurseur du printemps, carottes nouvelles du sud de la France et jus court - this is what we came for.  Baby lamb that's around 21 days old… extremely tender and succulent - and juices were literally oozing out with each bite.  This was absolutely perfect.  Sure, it didn't taste full-flavored like what I'd have at 8½ Otto e Mezzo, but there was a little bit of fat that still gave off some of that delicious "lammy" taste.  I did my usual practice of picking up the tiny lamb chops with my fingers, and stripped the bones clean with my teeth.

Le "dekopon": en sorbet d'une douceur extreme, contrasté par un soufflé au chocolat amère - I know the sorbet is made from Japanese depokon (デコポン) oranges, but didn't think the flavors were all that special.  The chocolate soufflé was nice and intense.

1996 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon - smoky, forest, oaky, potpourri, pretty open and fragrant nose.  Nice intensity and full-bodied.  Drinking pretty well, but still not blown away by it.

A very enjoyable evening, and look forward to my next visit.

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