May 21, 2012

A notch or two below

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I was away on the parental units' anniversary, so I made sure I took them out after I got back into town.  We went back to our old favorite Paris 1930, since it's kind of a tradition.  And truth of the matter is that Rolf and team have always taken care of us.  The parental units haven't been back here since the new chef came onboard last December, and I thought we'd go and give it a try.

As is typical, each of us took a different menu so we could have a range of dishes.  I decided to take the Ocean Special menu since I'd brought a bottle of white…

Amuse bouche - yellow squash panna cotta with red beetroot jelly.  Pretty yummy, as the squash flavors were surprisingly strong.

Aspic of salmon, soft cucumber jelly and piquillos pepper - the salmon had been lightly smoked with walnut, and I could definitely taste it.  The cucumber jelly around it made it even more refreshing, and I liked the fact that the flavors of piquillos were added to the mix.  However the chef decided to use one large piece of the pepper, and it was pretty difficult to cut when the thing was sitting at the bottom of the container.  It would have been better to make it into another layer of mousse/jelly or simply shred it.

Not sure why the "salad" on the side was necessary, but whatever.

Light cream of SPA clams with trout roe and squid ink fleuron - the cup arrived with a couple of hamaguri clams sitting at the bottom, with some trout roe.

Then the cup was filled with hot, creamy soup - which ended up cooking the trout roe a little…  This was not bad.

King crab palet, pumpkin concassée, black olive and truffle tapenade - FAIL.  I could tell it was some kind of seafood, but the taste of crab really didn't come through.  Mom had the same reaction - it was too bland.  No wonder the waiter said that the tapenade would "enhance" the flavors of the crab.  Well, the black olive was obvious but I really didn't get much truffle out of the tapenade.  I guess you really do need the tapenade, crab and pumpkin together to combine the sweet and savory flavors…  The texture of the crab was also disappointing… it was kinda tough.

Butter poached John Dory, penne pasta, Parmesan and sun dried tomato - I've never been a big fan of John Dory, but I guess it was OK tonight.  The layer of "crust" on top was interesting, made with sun-dried tomatoes and herbs like parsley and thyme.  No surprise that the layer of Parmesan penne was disappointing and bland…

Lemon sorbet

Seared sea bream, peas and basil puree and potato confit, jus - FAIL.  The sea bream had been pan-seared until the skin was crispy, but also until the juices were pretty much gone.  The whole block was basically dry and hard.  The only reason I didn't send it back was because I didn't want to waste food.

The chef had added a playful element by adding a few olive oil caviar - familiar elements of molecular gastronomy.  Unfortunately it was never gonna be enough to save the dish…

One of mom's courses came with risotto, and I wanted to try a tiny bit to see whether the chef was able to execute this well.  The last time I was here the risotto was a miserable failure - so much so that the two ladies dining with me barely touched it.  Tonight the kitchen failed again - but in the exact opposite way.  Instead of being incredibly mushy, it was pretty undercooked.  While I would enjoy a perfectly al dente risotto when I can get it, this was just too hard.  We asked Rolf to have a taste, and I think he agreed…

The dessert was a Valrhona millefeuille with a little pastry cream and slices of local peaches which have just come into season.  There was a scoop of rose sorbet on the side, as well as some rose confiture - all made with local ingredients.  While I think this still has some way to go before it would impress me, I think it's an improvement over what I used to get as desserts here… For most of the years that I've been coming here, dessert has always been the weakest link of the meal, and it's unfortunate to end a nice meal this way.

With my second visit since the arrival of Chef Christoph Buffille, I have to regrettably demote my beloved Paris 1930 in my rankings.  After years of being in the No. 1 spot, and then occupying No. 2 up until last year, the quality of the food is clearly no longer what it used to be.  These days I'd probably put it at No. 4 or 5.

2003 Chapoutier Ermitage L'Orée - really ripe, showing lots of caramelized sugar, honey, a little mineral, marmalade.  Rather alcoholic nose.  Ripe on the palate and hence a little bitter.  Rolf was right to keep it very chilled to make it more palatable.

González Byass Solera 1847 - Rolf was kind enough to pour me a glass to go with the mignardises, since there were a few pieces of chocolate truffles.  I love oloroso sherries, and this one had the extra dulce designation so it was really sweet.  Love the nutty and fig notes.

1982 Dalva Colheita - a glass that Rolf invited me to share at the end of the evening after all the other guests have gone and we were on our way out.  I love tawny ports for their nose, a result of long-term oxidation.  I promised to repay Rolf for his generosity by sharing something special in return...


Michelle Chin said...

is it safe to assume that you got your foodie-ness from your mom? kekeke

Peech said...

I have always cited my mom as the reason why I love food so much. I said so in my interview with the South China Morning Post here:

I also talked about being inspired by mom in my talk at TEDxVictoriaHarbour. You can see it when the video becomes public in a few weeks' time.


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