March 28, 2008

Belated 65th

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I travelled to Taipei for business yesterday, and took the opportunity to treat mom for a belated birthday dinner. We had been going to Paris 1930 at the Ritz Landis for these occasions since 2000, and this birthday was no exception.

On my last trip to Taipei, I had dropped off a special bottle of wine with my parents, to be drunk on this special occasion. It's a bottle of 1943 Chateau Canon, which I bought a few years ago when prices were more reasonable. Mom's 65th birthday (even though it passed 2 weeks ago) would be an occasion to pop the cork.

The first pour into the glass showed the youthfulness of the wine. Unlike the 1940 Chateau Haut Brion we drank 6 months ago, this wine isn't on its last legs. Mom's first comment was that the wine was very "young" (compared to the 1940), and that she would expect a lot less sediment at the bottom. She would be proven right.

Of course the wine isn't "young", not in the way you would describe a wine being drunk within 10 years of its vintage. But it's neither vinegar nor water, and showed a lot more body than I had expected. After an hour or so, one can even extract a certain amount of sweet fruit in the nose after swirling. While the palate is still a little acidic, it is to be expected from a wine like this. Overall we were quite happy with the wine, especially mom of course.

I chose the Chef's Menu for the evening (1930 has no a la carte dining). This would consist of the following (apologies for the poor pictures - I only had my small point/shoot):

Amuse bouche - deep fried oyster

Green asparagus, feta cheese and sweet pepper fondant, mango "yolk" with vincotta vinegar syrup. This is quite interesting as the sweet red pepper, along with the mango sauce, toned down the sharp taste of feta cheese.

Lobster with almond choux dumplings, blood orange yogurt, and zarzuela emulsion. I was initially disappointed in the dish, despite the tasty bit of lobster and the yummy yogurt and emulsion. The reason is that the dumplings were initially introduced by the waiter as spaetzle, which is totally different. The texture of the dumplings are very similar to potato gnocci, and hence different from the chewy texture of spaetzle.

Truffle lasagna, parsnip puree and young artichokes, reduced Port and truffle jus with Pecorino cheese emulsion. This was yummy, as the full flavor of the truffles hit the tongue. I could have seconds and thirds of this.

Next up on my menu would be seared fried foie gras with crispy ham. As this is mom's favorite dish, I swapped with her and had Abalone and black linguine, leek cream, crispy almonds and shallots with chorizo froth. This was very, very yummy. The abalone is seared and had the consistency of seared scallops. The linguine was done to perfection. The crispy shallots and the foam made me also want to have seconds for this course.

Main course - Lamb loin and Shimeji Mushroom, confit garlic with minted cumin au jus and potato "tagine". The lamb was very tender, done medium rare with pink centers. There is just enough fat to add a healthy dose of the gamey taste, letting the diner know that this is lamb and not any other meat. Very yummy.

We were treated to a small selection of cheese to finish off the wine, and wrapped up with a selection of bite-size desserts and petit fours. The highlight was the walnut ice cream, which was so nutty and delicious.

I think mom was happy with her birthday meal, despite having it 2 weeks late. Now I have to look for more bottles of 1943...

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