November 25, 2016

Sine Qua Non toast, part 1

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Tonight's dinner has been brewing for a few weeks.  Knowing my fondness for the wines Manfred Krankl makes at Sine Qua Non, I was asked to join a few fellow aficionados for an evening where we delve deep into SQN territory.  As the day approached, however, a few friends had to drop out due to more pressing engagements, so we ended up with a smaller crew and, consequently, a much less crazy list of wines to go through.

Our organizer suggested that we do the dinner at Table - Ingredient Based Cuisine - 淨化海鮮, which took me by surprise.  While I had not tried their cuisine, the limited exposure I had based on social media posts pretty much all focused on the fact that they "purify" seafood by putting them in holding tanks for a few days.  But given our red-heavy lineup, we were obviously gonna need a good amount of meat...  Our organizer assured us that he's had some fantastic beef here, so I figured I'd go along.

Our amuse bouche was made with... hell, I can't remember... but it was pretty tasty... given that it was battered and fried.

This was made with preserved lemon, tuna, and scallops. Not bad.

Oyster soup, iberico jamon - I didn't "get" this soup.  I didn't ask the chef about how this was made, but it seemed like the oyster was put into a blender and puréed... And then for texture there were grains of puffed rice (?) added?  I didn't care for the flavors, and didn't care for the acidity here.  Now, it's pretty normal to pair some lemon juice or something acidic and refreshing with raw oysters, but the acidity just didn't work here with this warm, murky liquid.  The flavors just didn't jive.

On the other hand, this piece of toast with jamón ibérico was delicious.  But that's just a matter of having the right ingredients.

Venison tenderloin, cherry shiraz sauce, cepe-walnut-crumble - FAIL.  The tenderloin reached the table cold.  And while it didn't look like it was terribly overcooked, there was surprisingly little gamey flavor, or much of any flavor.  It really needed the acidity of the cherry sauce to go down.

At this point of the meal, it's pretty much thumbs-down all around...

Grilled Korean 1++ Ribeye - now THIS was the shit!  I know how good Korean beef can be, especially when they're slaughtered and served on the same day without having been frozen.  This certainly did not disappoint.  Nicely charred and served on a big block of Himalayan rock salt, the seasoning was done by rubbing the slice of beef on the salt.  Very nicely marbled and very tasty.  YUM!

Mud crab meat and roe, garlic rice - finally, some of the seafood that this place was supposedly known for!  If memory serves, these mud crabs were Australian, and had plenty of roe and tomalley.

The crabs themselves were reasonably tasty.

But we all know that the pièce de résistance was the rice.  Chef Sandy Keung said that she uses "sushi rice" for the dish.  Well, that might have impressed most of the people who come here, but not this Arrogant Prick... I asked for the specific cultivar, and was told that it was Koshihikari (こしひかり) - which is pretty good.  In any case, we were all salivating as the orange goodness was slowly and thoroughly being mixed in...

It was worth the wait.  This was soooooo damn good!  And how could it not be, when there was so much cholesterol and fat in it?! And the garlic!  I would have been happy to just have this and nothing else...

Brussels sprouts - apparently these were sautéed with Phu Quoc fish sauce.  Pretty good.

Cheese platter - we needed a little something more to go with our wines, so we continued with the cheese...
Comté, aged 24 months

Mimolette, aged 18 months



Bleu d'Auvergne

Comtesse de Vichy


Churros - finally, something sweet to finish up the evening.  Bite-sized to make things easier.  Served with both chocolate sauce and truffle sauce.

But of course, the whole point of tonight's gathering was wine.  There were only five of us this time, so we decided to open only five bottles of SQN.  Given their high alcohol levels, opening more would have been really dangerous...

2004 Sine Qua Non The Rejuvenators - a blend of 56% Roussanne, 24% Viognier, and 20% Chardonnay.  Opened almost an hour before serving, initially showing a little grass and lemon citrus notes.  Opened up more and got better after 80 minutes or so, but never really reached the heights of many other SQN whites.

2007 Sine Qua Non Stripes and Stars - a rosé made with 55% Syrah and 45% Grenache.  Lots of minerals, fruity, with a hint of leather.

2005 Sine Qua Non Over and Out - this Pinot Noir was a little earthy, with sweet fruit and a little leather in the nose.  When it opened up, it showed beautiful floral and violet notes.

2010 Sine Qua Non Five Shooter Grenache - made with 75% Grenache, 16% Syrah, 2.5% Mourvedre, 4.5% Roussanne, and 2% Viognier.  Mint, eucalyptus, and very floral.  Wonderful ripeness and sweetness, with huge concentration.

2005 Sine Qua Non The Naked Truth - 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah.  Fragrant with cedar and mint, along with violet notes.  So ripe and sweet, and so beautiful.

2002 William Selyem Port Mistral Vineyard - sooo rich and sweet.

This was a pretty fun night, even though we ended up opening far fewer bottles than we had originally planned. I can't wait till our next gathering early next year...

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