October 7, 2014

More private dining next door

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Last month I had the good fortune of visiting a very exclusive private kitchen, and during that dinner the same gang pinned down a date when we could gather again for a different menu.  So once again I found myself casually strolling out of the office and simply walk cross the street to get to dinner.

Before dinner started we were informed that, sadly, a few of the dishes we had been looking forward to were not available - including the famous snake soup.  That's a shame, because I would have liked to hear what Dashijie thought of this particular version...

Like last time, our organizer had recommended pairing up certain wines with each dish, but I was surprised we started with a bottle of Pomerol as the apéritif...

2003 Gazin - smoky nose with some fruit, with meaty and savory, mineral notes.

Barbecued Iberico pork (黑毛豬叉燒) - dare I say tonight's batch was even better than last time?  The lean meat was a little chewy, but the fatty bits were awesome... and nicely caramelized at the edges.

1998 von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser Abstberg Spätlese-trocken - nose kinda pungent, stinky, almost rubber, with lemon citrus and flinty notes.  Definitely drier and more acidic but still kinda round on the palate.

Stir-fried bird's nest with milk (官燕炒鮮奶) - this was one of the best dishes of the evening.

A combination of bird's nest, crab meat, deep-fried rice noodles and milk, topped with a generous sprinkle of what seemed to be deep-fried minced garlic.  Amazing wok hei (鑊氣).

1999 René Geoffroy Brut - very ripe on the palate.  A little caramelized on the nose, and a little savory but not quite salty plum.

Deep-fried crab claws (椒鹽肉蟹鉗) - a whole plate of crab claws was certainly an impressive sight, and it's always a treat to be able to eat crab claws without having to work to remove the shell yourself. Very, very, very yummy.

2012 Kamoshibito Kuheiji Human (醸し人九平次 純米大吟醸 Human) - made with Yamada Nishiki (山田錦) at a seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 45%.  The nose was rich with lots of fermented rice notes.  Alcoholic both on the nose and the palate.  Very dry mid-palate and on the finish.  Definitely karakuchi (辛口).

Braised pomelo skin with abalone sauce (鮑炆柚皮)

The goose web was pretty good, but the braised pomelo skin was just incredible.  Very tasty and just melt-in-your-mouth.  In fact, it was difficult to pick up with chopsticks without the pieces falling apart.  The abalone sauce was so good that we just had to order some steamed rice to soak it up...

1986 von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser Herrenberg Spätlese - lemon, almost cream soda nose, with petrol and flinty notes.  Not too sweet on the palate with good acidity.

Double-boiled soup with black chicken soup with fish maw and cordyceps mushrooms (花膠蟲草花燉烏雞) - very yum... you can taste the sweetness coming from the Chinese yam (淮山).

The dregs...

Braised garoupa fin with garlic and ham (蒜子火腩炆斑翅) - pretty good, actually.  Very tender garoupa, and I can't get enough of the garlic.

2008 Michel Gros Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Clos des Réas - nice blackcurrant, black cherries with a bit of forest in the nose.

Tea-smoked chicken (茶皇烟燻雞) - very, very good.  The smoky scent of the tea leaves permeated the room.  The chicken was very tender, and the soy-based marinade had plenty of spices.  I'll give you one guess who ended up finishing this dish...

1995 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde - leather, animal, and a little bacon fat.  Not bad at all.

Chinese lettuce in claypot (啫啫唐生菜) - sizzling in pungent shrimp sauce.  Yum.

Pan-fried salted fish (煎咸魚) - at our last dinner, I had asked Dashijie to recommend a source for some salted fish... because mom wanted some.  Tonight she brought us two pieces of salted slender white herring (鰽白), and the chef pan-fried them until golden.  Once we took our first bites of the fish, we realized how amazing a good piece of salted fish could be.  I was a little surprised, though, that one particular bite filled my mouth with pretty intense flavors of ammonia - mere seconds after Dashijie commented how fish like this does not taste of ammonia...

The best way to enjoy this?  With a bowl of plain congee, although this bowl with some tofu skin (腐竹) would also work.  Later on we asked the kitchen to bring out the oil that was used to pan-fry the fish - which by now was infused with the wonderful flavors of the fish.  In addition to pouring it on top of the fish, I also added a few drops of it into my bowl of congee.

Fried glutinous rice with preserved meats (生炒糯米飯) - how happy I was to be able to eat this again, as it's normally only available during the colder months.  Maybe we had waited a few minutes too long before eating this, but I was a wee bit disappointed to find the rice sticking together a little too much.

2006 Dal Forno Valpolicella Superiore - coconut, vanilla, minty, and a little smoky.  Still kinda tannic.

Almond cream with lotus seeds and egg white (蓮子蛋白杏仁茶) - the lotus seeds were surprising good.  A great way to finish the meal.

1975 Coutet - really big polyurethane nose, very rich on the palate, with apricot and nutty flavors.  Yum.

Not surprisingly I started to yawn towards the end of dinner, but thankfully didn't fall asleep tonight.  Even though there was a very nice bottle of old and rare Scotch on the table, I just knew it would be a bad idea if I just took even a little sip...  

Many thanks to our gracious organizer for another delicious meal, and I'm so glad I finally got to have some good salted fish.  Now I'm definitely looking forward to my next meal here in a couple of weeks' time!

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