February 19, 2018

Lunar new year French

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It's been a few months since we last caught up with Mr Cane and his wife, and since we were staying in town for the lunar new year holidays (no, it's not "Chinese new year" in my book), we figured this would be a great time to have a nice and relaxing lunch.  Caprice was suggested, and I was more than happy to return.

I contacted Hairy Legs right after I booked the table and sent him the list of Mr Cane's dietary restrictions.  It's not easy for Mr Cane to find a restaurant that can faultlessly take care of every single one of the ingredients off-limits to him, so it always help to have a friendly chef in your corner.

The sommelier started us off with a bottle of Champagne, compliments of management and Hairy Legs.   I am, of course, grateful for the very kind gesture.

Drappier Quattuor - an interesting Champagne made with four different white grape varietals, or blanc de quatre blancs, with an assemblage of 25% each of arbane, petit meslier, blanc vrai, and chardonnay.  Nice and yeasty, a little caramelized, lovely with marmalade notes.  Good acidity balance.

I was pretty hungry by now, so I really looked forward to the bread selection.  The challah with chilies was pretty interesting.

Our amuse bouche was crabe d'Alaska, caviar shadi et clémentine.  The crab meat came with diced oysters and came topped with Caviar Shadi from La Maison Nordique and slices of mandarin orange - whose citrus fragrance hit me even while they sat on the plate.  We were encouraged to take the sea urchin and avocado and mix everything together in one bite, but that's easier said than done when there are so many different ingredients...  A pretty nice way to get the saliva going, that's for sure!

Noix de Saint-Jacques, espuma de Comté, truffe noire - then another beautiful fragrance came floating by... this time it was black truffles.  The scallop from Brittany was pan-fried and then topped with Comté espuma, along with mushroom fricassée, thin discs of mushroom, and slices of black truffle.  A lovely dish.

Brill, grenobloise style with salsify - this was a nice surprise.  I don't come across grenoibloise sauce often, and on top of the brill from Brittany were small croûtons, capers, tarragon, lemon pulp, and hazelnut butter.  The sauce instantly transformed a white flatfish into something much more interesting.

Le pigeon de Racan de la Maison Bellorr cuit dans une cabosse de cacao, purée de potiron, salsifi, jus naturel - this seemed to be a new dish, and the presentation was certainly interesting.

The pigeon was very, very tender and perfectly rosé - just the way I like it - and topped with some cocoa nibs as well as black truffle put through a Microplane.  Served with a piece of pan-fried foie gras that was just a itty bitty overdone, along with some salsify and pumpkin purée.  Very delicious, as all the pigeon I have ever had from Hairy Legs have been.

Plateau de fromages affinés - I wanted more desserts today, so I asked for a small selection of cheese.  The Mothais had nice acidity to go along with its creamy texture and strong, gamey notes.  Abbeye de Tamie showed a little ammonia.  Coulommiers was very ripe and bitter.  The Comté was aged for 3½ years, showing its fine crystalline salt.  I didn't touch the Roquefort...

Pear sorbet with fresh berries - a good pre-dessert to get us ready...

Orange blossom cream, fresh mandarin and chocolate, gingerbread chips - love the citrus flavors here, and the kick provided by the basil.  But this was, unfortunately, my least favorite dessert because everything else I tasted after it was simply awesome.

Fraise sauvage, yuzu et pistache - this reminded me of Dominique Ansel's Paris Tokyo.  Made with wild strawberries on top of pistachio-encrusted vanilla mousse, with a layer of yuzu (柚子) mousse, a quenelle of yuzu sorbet, and strawberry sauce on the side.  This was BEAUTIFUL.  Love the balance of acidity and sweetness.

Mont Blanc chestnut and rum cream, Tahitian vanilla cream, meringue, chestnut ice cream - I missed out on the Mont Blanc during my last visit, so I was very happy to have tried it today.  The intense sweetness coming from the bits of candied chestnuts, along with the rich chestnut ice cream... Just. Yum.  I would have loved another bowl.

Crispy coffee and walnut biscuit, caramel and coffee chantilly - this was also very, very good and totally up my alley... with coffee ice cream, coffee chantilly, rice crispies, and caramel sauce.  Slurp.

Mignardises today included pistachio religiuse with lots of toasty pistachio flavors, chocolate ganache, and a very nutty chocolate with pop rocks inside.

I brought along a bottle of classic claret, which turned out to be drinking exactly as it should.

1986 Cos d'Estournel - served 30 minutes after decanting.  Classic claret nose with smoke.  Improved after chilling, not as tannic on the palate.  Very fragrant and lovely nose with lots of woodsy notes. 

So nice to have had such a relaxing lunch before starting work in the year of the dog.  Many thanks to the team for taking such excellent care of us.

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