April 30, 2016

Spoiling the parents

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I'm back in Taipei spending a long weekend with the parental units.  I didn't get to spend their anniversary with them last year on account of my banishment, and since they decided to take short trip without me for their anniversary this year, my only recourse was to move my celebrations up by a couple of weeks.

We've been spending the last few celebratory dinners at STAY, and since mom's been pretty happy with them so far, I didn't feel the need to change to another venue.

For the very first time, I actually contemplated seriously about taking one of the set menus here - since the shorter set actually offers the one dish I always order here.  But something else caught my eye and it wasn't on the same set menu, so in the end I went back to ordering à la carte...

The amuse bouche no longer came as a "trio".  Instead we had smoked salmon with brunoise of pickled cucumber, French leeks, and lemon crème fraîche.

Caviar tart, beurre blanc - this was another lesson on why I need to read the menu more carefully in multiple languages.  I read the Chinese translations and saw that there was crab together with the caviar, and I immediately thought of the wonderful dish from Joël Robuchon.  This was gonna be gooood!

Alas, I should have read the Chinese descriptions a little more carefully.  It actually said scallop and crab mousse, and in fact that was baked in the pastry shell and came hot.  Not at all what I had expected... and not very luxe at all.

Mom and I thought that the à la carte portions we both had were overpriced, because dad's tasting menu portion of the same dish looked nearly identical.  Maybe we had a few more of the grayish golden pearls of Kaviari Kristal caviar - which comes from sturgeon farmed in China.  We definitely had a lot more gold foil than dad got, but why the hell should I care about how much gold foil I'm getting?!

Fregola sarda, pan fried scallop and sea urchin - they've kept fregola on the menu all these years, and throughout the years, I've ordered it on every single visit.  Tonight, though, I thought the "sauce" was a little grainy... like they've added mashed potatoes with too little butter to it.

But I loved the scallops, and the sea urchin wasn't bad, either.

Pork in 4 ways, cabbage, potato puree and pork jus - how can I say 'no' to pork, especially when it's done "4 ways"?  Just about everything came from parts of the pig that I love to eat - from the head cheese served with cubes of cucumber and egg white, to the deep-fried medallions of diced pig's ear with minced pork, and finally to the boudin noir with its red peppercorn kick.  All really, really good stuff.

Unfortunately the execution failed on the two chunks of pork loin.  While the centers were still relatively tender, these had obviously been overcooked... and the exterior was really dry and tough.  I ate everything except one of the chunks of loin, and when I told mom that I simply refused to eat it, she cut into the piece, took one nibble, and understood.  There was simply no pleasure to be had by consuming the loin.

The tower of cabbage 'millefeuille' was very interesting.  Of course, it was probably just cutting out a chunk of cabbage and steaming it before sprinkling cracked peppercorns on top.

I didn't want any dessert, so we had some mignardises and nibbled on some of dad's desserts from his set menu.

Vanilla and raspberry choux - there is raspberry coulis in the middle of the delicious and fragrant vanilla cream.  Yum.

Hazelnut choux - not only was the cream full of hazelnut flavor, the accompany toasted hazelnut was also very nice.

Chocolate tart

Coconut and lime marshmallow

Passion fruit gelée

This being an anniversary celebration and all, of course I brought along a bottle of wine appropriate for the occasion.

1969 DRC Marey-Monge Romanée-Saint-Vivant - popped and served without decanting.  Very light color, initially acidic on the palate.  Plenty of preserved salty plum (話梅) with savory notes, along with a little leather and certainly something fermented.  Later started gathering body in the glass with aeration.  Nose was nice and fruity, with plums, black fruits, and a little animal.  Less powerful than expected, but a lovely wine nonetheless.

I was reasonably happy with my dinner.  I made the mistake of only order two appetizers for mom, so she ended up having a little more bread than usual... and dad and I both gave her mouthfuls of our dishes.  Dad was probably the happiest camper, since he not only had plenty to eat, but most of the dishes were pretty good... and the more expensive tasting menu turned out to be the best value for money.

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