September 2, 2008

The delicious '97s

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It was another evening of MNSC gathering, this time at Amber. We dispensed with the usual tasting menu and had a more "civilized" menu with fewer courses. Much better for maintaining my figure, I think...

We started some canapes and amuse bouches - with salmon, foie, parma ham being some of the ingredients. These were pretty creative and generally tasty.

First came the foie gras - pan-fried with poached rhubarb and hibiscus and black pepper coulis. I thought this was done reasonably well even though it's not the style that I normally enjoy. The bloc of foie was done perfectly, with only a hint of charring on the outside. The inside was solid, a bit drier than what I'm used to, but I thought the consistency was pretty nice. The rhubarb and hibiscus makes it a little more interesting than the run-of-the-mill raspberry or apple or whatever other fruits chefs normally use.

Then we had the Tasmanian salmon - confit smoked at the table and served warm, kyuri cucumber "cannelloni", and cream of hass avocado, almonds and Granny Smith Apple. It seems that one cannot have a meal at Amber without this signature dish. Of course, it was very delicious. The generous hunk of salmon was the texture of uncooked smoked salmon, but it was warm, soft and tender. The squid ink breadcrumbs on top provided an interesting element. And as the servers lifted the glass container tops off the plate, the smoke filled the room immediately and messed with our olfactory functions.

For main course I chose the New Zealand Langoustines - seared, Iberian pork belly with hand crafted potato gnocchi and baby purple artichokes "barigoule" style. This was really well-executed. The sweet flesh of the langousines contrasted well with the saltiness of the pork belly, especially when you savor both at the same time. Chef Ekkebus has a real fascination with Iberian pork belly and this ingredient shows up from time to time. I also really like the small gnocchi...

After a small selection of cheese from Benard Antony, we were each given a small "Oreo" where the center section was made from coconut ice cream. Nice!

Finally the dessert was a fluffy raspberry souffle with rose petal Anglaise - very fragrant. On the side was a scoop of very yummy Greek yoghurt sorbet.  A very nice way to end the meal.

Of course the evening was really all about wine, and the theme chosen for the evening was a 1997 horizontal across 3 varietals - pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The wines were:

1990 Dom Perignon Oenotheque - being recently disgorged, this was clearly very fresh with a heady mousse, and sugar that you can taste on the palate.

1997 DRC Grands Echezeaux - color was clearly lighter than the others, with a slightly farmy nose followed by smoke and bacon. Pretty classic Burgundy. 93 points.

1997 Opus One - the nose was very much classic Bordeaux, with tell-tale brett but the core of sweet fruit came out strong as time went on. The tannins in this wine was still very strong and I enjoyed chewing on them. 94 points.

1997 Kistler Hirsch Vineyard - this was my wine of the evening, and most of us pegged it as a Kistler since we were pretty big fans. This was one wine where, being on the mailing list, I have drunk plenty of. The nose was really powerful and sweet, with some minerals (although not enough to be a Cuvee Catherine or Elizabeth) and lots of sweet orange marmalade. The tannins are still around. 96 points.

1997 DRC Richebourg - nose was a little grassy with a hint of sous bois? Afterwards sweet marmalade emerged, although not as powerful as the Kistler. Interestingly I gave it 93 points - the same as the Grands Echezeaux.

1997 L'Eglise-Clinet - the nose had lots of sweet grass, some brett, and smoky. Interestingly the sweetness came from the grass and not from red fruits. 94 points.

This was a very interesting tasting, where our host played no tricks on us and I think we came through with our abilities. Now looking forward to the next one in about a the host's wedding banquet!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Peech,

Have been reading your critics for a while. Seems like we do have some similar experience at the same restaurants recently! Amber is definitely a nice place with a good sommelier.

Check out my blog to exchange ideas for nice places to dine!!



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