April 30, 2009

Wedding in Reims day 3: a date with Pierre Gagnaire

Pin It

It's the day before the wedding, and the couple has arranged for separate boys' and girls' day out - both in Paris. We boarded our respective tour coaches and spent the next 2 hours on the road to Paris.

The main event for the boys was lunch at Pierre Gagnaire's flagship Michelin 3-star restaurant in Hotel Balzac. Fifteen of us took up the private room at the back of the restaurant, and a gourmet fest unfolded over the next 3 hours.

We started with some Champagne - Jacquesson Cuvée N° 733. This was smooth on the palate if slightly flat, with lemon citrus nose and not too dry on the palate.

As is typical with any meal at Pierre Gagnaire's restaurants, there were the usual numerous amuse bouches, including little white truffle balls and some almond sablé. I lost track of all the different stuff.

Nage émulsionnée de colinot à la coriandre fraîche. Pannequet de tourteau, pressé de lapereau au combawa. Fèvs, petits pois, dés de spek et betteraves rouges - a wonderful dish with crab meat wrapped in a green leaf crêpe, with sprinkles of young rabbit ham, green peas, pineapple flakes and red beets in kaffir lime sauce. Many different flavors but they worked in harmony. A cold starter that gets things going.

Œuf au plat version PG; asperges vertes et blanches aux écorces d'agrumes. Bisque de crustacés au poivre vert - I love it when chefs play with eggs. This was fun because the egg whites were deep-fried while the yolk remained liquid. The yummy shellfish bisque provided the main flavor for the dish, while the green and white asparagus provided the counter-balance to the heavy taste of the shellfish.

I ordered up the 2003 Coche-Dury Meursault as it seemed reasonably priced. Wow! This wine just blew me away. Very heavy toast on the nose with sweet, buttery popcorn. A little sweet on the palate. This was just an amazing wine that just kept giving. I can't believe that this was just a village wine! It's easy to see why everyone begs Jean-François for more allocation...

Tranches de barbue pochée dans un beurre au laurier; artichauts poivrades & radis noirs croquant. Salade d'épinards Lee - the butter-poached brill was pretty nice, and interestingly paired with radish, artichoke and spinach.

Moving on to a red, this time the 2003 Roumier Chambolle-Musigny. Big nose of mint, eucalyptus and black fruits.  My mistake was not ordering this earlier, so the wine didn't have too much time to breathe before we drank it. But it did well under the circumstances.

Agneau de lait de Lozère: pièce tendre au vadouvan, aubergine et pâte de tamarin. Bouillon oriental, semoule fine au safran - this milk-fed lamb from the south of France was absolutely yummy. Pierre Gagnaire loves to blend Oriental spices into his dishes, and here was a prime example - Indian spice blend vadouvan and tamarind. All this on a bed of a saffron-flavored semolina.

Next came a series of desserts - again a signature at Pierre Gagnaire's restaurants. Along with the usual series of petits-fours, we started with a Sauternes gelée topped with gold leaf, in framboise and rose sauce. This was so refreshing and yummy.

Then there was the chocolate banana cake wth kaffir lime on top. My piece, however, came with a lit candle and a white chocolate plaque wishing me happy birthday... The groom finally was able to "get" me after his failed attempt at Michael Mina 6 months ago. Pretty decent.

The "egg" that showed up next had a thin layer of caramelized kiwi for egg white, a "yolk" of mango sorbet topped with passion fruit sauce, all on a bed of orange rind. Very interesting as well.

Finally we had a chocolate concoction filled with caramelized orange rind and cherries. Good way to finish up the lunch.

We were all stuffed to the brim from this wonderful lunch. The gang split up for the next two hours and wandered around Paris for a bit. As there was no way any of us could eat any more for a few more hours, we decided to board the bus and head back to Reims.

I started feeling the hunger pangs a little just before 10pm, and decided to go to the hotel bar and order something to eat. The moussaka d'agneau looked interesting and it's been a while since I've had it. When it came in a air-tight glass jar, I was a bit stunned. It's cold?! That's doesn't look like any moussaka I've ever had... Another look at the bar menu, and I see the small print at the bottom indicating that all the dishes are served cold, out of glass jars like this one. Oh well. It was basically rillettes with eggplant blended in, instead of the minced lamb that I was expected. Chalk up another new experience...

Better get to bed soon...got a big day ahead of me.

April 29, 2009

Wedding in Reims day 2: rendez-vous with Dom Pérignon

Pin It

I'm going to the wedding fesivities in Reims today. Checked out of the Park Hyatt bright and early, headed to Gare de l'Est to hop on the TGV for the 45-minute journey.

We arrived at Château Les Crayères and checked into our beautiful corner room over looking the lawn. Once we dropped off our luggage, it was time to head into town for some Champagne shopping. The gang is having lunch inside the hotel but I wanted to venture out and visit an old favorite in town.

First I descended into Les Caves du Forum, a wine shop that is actually entirely underground so that the temperature is naturally cool and constant. I chat in broken French to owner Fabrice, and ask him for some recommendations for grower Champagnes other than Egly-Ouriet and Jacques Selosse. He is out of stock on Selosse (aarrrrggghhhh!!!) and I decided not to clean him out of his Egly-Ouriet, but I still took away a case and a half of bubbly.

After putting the wines in the trunk of the car, I head towards Notre Dame to find another wine shop. This time the shop carried mostly Grande Marques and didn't offer many interesting choices beyond those. I quickly picked up a bottle and move on.

I wanted to lunch at Le Vigneron, a wonderful small establishment I know in town. I enjoyed some wonderful andouillette there on my last visit, and I was looking forward to revisiting Hervé Liégent's charming restaurant. But I circled around Place Paul Jamot in vain and saw no sign of the place. Calling the restaurant yielded a recorded message informing me that the number was no longer in use.

Dejected, I head to L'Esplanade as it was recommended by a local resident. It served reasonably priced simple fare. I would have andouillette frites, which came with a huge portion of French fries. The andouillette here, however, was not of the AAAAA variety. It was a tubular section of what must have been a long sausage link, and it did taste a bit more salty than what I'm used to.

Back at the hotel, the group boarded a tour bus which took us for a tasting tour of Dom Pérignon Champagne. Our destination would be Épernay, where Moët et Chandon is based, but first we made a stop at the Abbey of Hautvillers. This was where Dom Pierre Pérignon made a name for himself in winemaking, and our guide Yumi took us on a tour of the Abbey and the land surrounding it. Although grapes for the wine comes from 9 grand cru vineyards, part of the blend always comes from the vineyards of Hautvillers out of the tradition of paying respect to the wine's namesake.

Next we got back on the bus and headed for the Moët's cellars where bottles of Cuvée Dom Pérignon are aged. It's your standard Champagne cave tour, where you walk around the underground cave dug out from the limestone. As you would expect, it's a real maze down there because unlike wineries producing still wine, Moët et Chandon ages Cuvée Dom Pérignon for 7 years before disgorging and releasing it onto the market. This means that the inventory that is being carried is quite significant. Production of any given vintage is said to be around 2 million bottles...

Interestingly, Yumi told us that once disgorged, Champagne does not improve in the bottle so it should be consumed within 10 years, roughly the same amount of time the wine has spent aging in bottle with the yeast. At this point I was thinking WTF....? Any Champagne lover - and the buyer who spent over USD 21,000 for a bottle of 1928 Krug Collection at the Acker HK auction in March - would certainly take issue with that statement. But hey, what the heck do I know? She's the one working for Moët et Chandon and I'm just a guy who loves drinking old Champagne...

We finished our tour of the cave and head back above ground for the tasting. The 2000 Dom Pérignon was pretty decent and open, with a bit of toast and some minerals in the nose. The acidity balance was pretty good mid-palate, although it turned slightly acidic on the finish. The 1998 Dom Pérignon Rosé, by comparison, was much less interesting. It was smoother on the palate, but the nose was pretty shut.

The staff opened the doors to the interior garden, and we sat outside and enjoyed the two glasses of Champagne. The Tree of Three Emperors has been around since the time of Napoleon, and is the site where three European emperors drank Champagne together as they proceeded to capture Paris during the War of the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon. Funny how Yumi (nor the plaque under the tree) mentioned this little detail... I guess French pride runs deep...

We took the bus back to our hotel, and after resting for a bit (and a change of clothes) we headed back out to Épernay for dinner at La Grillade Gourmande. We started with an amuse bouche of a single escargot with a small, round piece of melba toast. Yummy but only bite-size.

Next came poêlée d'écrevisses au champagne, a plateful of pan-fried crayfish in - what else - Champagne sauce. This was really, really yummy and I'm like a kid in the candy store again, getting the sauce all over my hands and going through every head and pincer of the crustacean. I soaked up the sauce with some bread, and gleefully spooned the rest into my waiting mouth.

Main course was tournedos grille avec escalope de foie gras de canard grille au feu de bois. The big hunk of beef was pretty good, with mine just a little pink and not really "bleu". Pretty juicy and delicious, but simply too big for me to finish. The woodfire grilled foie was soft and just the way I like it. Needless to say I never touched the baked potato...

Dessert was warm centered chocolate cake with ice cream. These days I'm not a fan of this, because it's been so overdone. But this particular version was pretty nice and I had no trouble finishing it.

We're in Champagne so of course I'm on the hunt for some good stuff. I discovered Billecart-Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs on the list and decided to try a bottle. This is an NV Champagne because two different vintages are used in the blend. A very toasty nose with a bit of honey and lemon citrus notes. Pretty decent but no "wow" factor. Guys at the next table ordered Vranken Demoiselle Cuvée 21. This was more interesting, and tastes like aged Champagne - or aged white wine for that matter! Distinct nose of sweet grass, orange blossom, green apple and minerals. The bubbles were very fine and came up slowly, making the wine nice and smooth. Yummy stuff.

With my belly full and my head buzzing a little, we head back to the hotel and call it a night...

April 28, 2009

Wedding in Reims day 1: failed missions

Pin It

I'm back in France for the second time this month. This time I'm here to attend a friend's wedding in Reims, but I have arranged to spend some extra time in Paris.

I arrived in the morning and quickly dropped off my luggage at Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme. The room wasn't yet ready, but it didn't matter. I needed to dash out quickly anyway...

My first stop in the city was the Hermès store on Avenue George V. My mission was to get a Birkin for my dear cousin. I was lead to believe that the store would open at 9:30am (which seemed a little early) so I rushed over in a taxi. As I arrived around 9:40am, my fears of late arrival dissipated as I realized the store doesn't open until 10:15am. This means a half-hour wait, and given my determination to be the first person to enter the store, I had no choice but to stand outside the door in the cold. The staff and I would eye each other as they prepped for the opening.

I entered the store when the doors opened, and immediately asked to purchase a Birkin. The sales lady asked me which colors I preferred, and for a moment I imagined that there would actually be a good selection to choose from. But no, my hopes were dashed a few moments later when she returned. She informed me that they had received no bags that day, and suggested that I either come back tomorrow or try the main store on Faubourg Saint-Honoré. An inquiry about the new "shoulder" Kelly also turned up negative, so I would disappoint yet another friend.  I'm not sure whether the lady was telling the truth, but it's entirely possible that the staff didn't want to sell the bag to an Asian guy in casual wear who has just gotten off a long-haul flight...

A little dejected, I returned to the hotel and cleaned myself up as it's time for lunch. Bistrot Saint Germain was recommended by a friend of a friend as a place to go for andouillette, and it happens to be within walking distance from the hotel. The place was cozy and pretty busy when we arrived.

I shared an order of escargot à la bourguignonne, which was not too bad.

But the main event was the grilled AAAAA andouillette with fries. I loooooove this stuff. What's not to like about chopped intestine stuffed inside a sausage casing? It's lightly grilled and sprinkled with lots of parsley. Once it's cut open, that distinctive smell hits the nose...yum! I dab on some of the sharp Dijon mustard, but actually prefer the natural taste.

We pay a visit to Notre Dame, as it's been over 10 years since my last. The number of tourists has multiplied and I'm amazed at the number of people swarming inside the cathedral. I've never really taken any good pictures so it's a good opportunity for me. The 12th century wooden carvings depicting Jesus' ressurection was pretty interesting. A priest asked me where I was from, then proceeded to lend me a handout in simplified Chinese, describing the stories being told by the panels.

The weather which has been patchy all day has cleared up by the time we left Notre Dame, and we walked along the banks of the Seine before heading over to Angelina for that to-die-for hot chocolate.

We ordered the famous chocolat chaud à l'ancienne - as well as the chocolat chaud au chocolat blanc - and one of their trademark Mont Blancs. This is all pretty ambitious given were less than two hours away from dinner.

Well, the hot chocolate was every bit as rich and thick as I remembered, which is why I can only take it once every 10 years or so... The white chocolate was worse - it was much sweeter and creamier, and I started getting a bit nauseous... I still prefer the dark chocolate, but without the whipped cream. The Mont Blanc was a huge thing with lots of chestnut mousse on top, and it also was a little too sweet...

We strolled back to the hotel and it starts to rain again on the way. I took a nap to recharge my batteries, and ended up sleeping through past our reservation at Le Train Bleu. This is just as well, since I was still not hungry thanks to the hot chocolate...

When I finally got a little hungry, I decided to venture out and hit Juveniles, Tim Johnston's wine bar. I found out about the bar due to David Powell's Torbreck Juveniles, which is a wine he first made specifically for the wine bar. I've always loved this wine, and I imagined sitting in the Paris wine bar drinking the namesake wine. But it was not to be. No Juveniles on the wine list, but the waiter recommended a substitute.

The 2005 Greenstone Heathcote Shiraz - the winery's first release - reminded me completely of Torbreck's Juveniles... meaning it was a lot more Rhone than Aussie. Nose of eucalyptus, mint, bacon fat, smoked meats, concentrated minerals and iron. A good wine but slightly oxidized, no doubt because this is being served by the glass and not poured from a fresh bottle.

For food I started with soupe de courgette de ma Tante Minty. A nice zucchini soup that was light and easygoing, with a sprinkle of paprika to add some kick.

The crostini à la Ron, jambon cru, tomates confites et parmesan was also nice and relatively light. The pesto sauce and the tomato was a great combination. This was just the right thing for me, as I wasn't overly hungry.

Having satiated my hunger, I walked back down rue des Petits-Champs past the string of Japanese and Chinese restaurants. A quick detour past the Opéra Garnier and I'm back at the hotel, calling it a night.

April 25, 2009

Simple meals for a Saturday

Pin It

We are a few days away from making our second trip to France, so we have been trying to keep our meals simple, although not necessarily healthy for me...

For lunch today I finally visited Main St. Deli at the Langham Hotel. I've known about this establishment for some time, but just haven't gotten around to coming over. I'm glad I had a chance to meet up with some good friends here and relax.

I HAD to order the Reuben, just to see how it measures up against the other places around town, although there are easily more than 10 things I would want to try... I do have to say that this was definitely an unconventional Reuben. Normally one would find corned beef, sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese between the rye bread. Here at Main St. Deli, you also get pastrami and turkey next to the corned beef, all in traditional thin cuts. The combination of three different types of deli meats was certainly interesting, and made for a pretty big sandwich. I have to say, though, that I still dream about the juicy corned beef in the Reuben at Dakota Prime...

What was even more interesting was the choice of fries. I picked sweet potato fries instead of giant wedges or curly fries, and I think that was definitely the right choice! The thin strips were bright orange-red, and the texture reminded me of the deep-fried burdock (牛蒡) chips that I love so much in Taiwan. All served with a thousand island dressing, which I spread over the Reuben as well.

I am of course very full after a whole big Reuben, but how can I pass up dessert at a place like this?! I wanted a slice of New York-style cheesecake, which is just as big as the ones I used to have at places like Carnegie Deli. It's indeed very dense and creamy, and pretty darned good. I only wish it were a little bit more moist and not as powdery, but I'm not gonna complain too much. The giant slice of chocolate cake was just as rich and yummy...a dream for any chocoholics.

For dinner it was back to Cipriani for some simple Italian. We are all detoxing after last night, so I decided not to bring along any wines. That felt a little weird...

I had the rucola and shaved parmesan salad, which was simple and beautiful. Nothing more than just fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes and really flavorful Parmigiano-Reggiano.

A small plate of pappardelle alla sarda comes next. Again nothing fancy, just some flat pasta in a simple Sardinian meat sauce made from minced pork sausage. Yummy.

Hell bent on not ordering anything that I have had before at Cipriani, I pass up my usual vanilla ceam cake, and go for a small bowl of wild berries instead. Actually this is nothing more than small, blueberry-sized strawberries that grow in the wild, but interesting nonetheless.

Having satiated my appetite without the usual feeling of having my stomach pushed up against my lungs, I go home happy and feeling good...and sober!

April 24, 2009

An imperial bash(ing)

Pin It

Tonight was my friend's 30th birthday party. This was held in one of the function rooms at the Mandarin Oriental, and the food came from the menu of Man Wah, the hotel's Cantonese restaurant.

We started with a magnum of Krug Grand Cuvée that I'd brought along. Magnums like this are rare, especially this one - I snapped this up just around the time when Krug changed their labels, as a rumor was going around that the older stock was actually better. Of course anyone from Krug would vehemently deny this...

My only regret was that I didn't arrive early enough, and only ended up with one glass of this nectar...but it was so delicious! From the very first whiff a big toasty nose hits you, with plenty of yeast and caramel and toffee notes. There's just a slight tilt towards acidity on the palate. I am now going to hang on to my remaining magnum and save it for a special occasion...

We sat down and started dinner with drunken prawns (醉翁生中蝦), which were nicely blanched and accompanied by delicious soy sauce for dipping.

The roast whole suckling pig (原隻化皮乳豬) was not bad, and curiously came with cucumbers that were pickled instead of fresh.

Shark's fin in brown sauce (紅燒大鮑翅) was pretty good, but then again I'm hardly a connoisseur.

The tea smoked chicken (羊城太爺雞) was really good - even the breast meat was succulent in the sweet sauce.

The beef tenderloin in black pepper sauce (黑椒牛柳粒) was pretty good, and the sauce here again was surprisingly on the sweet side.

I have to say that the steamed spotted garoupa (清蒸東星斑) was a little overcooked, but I guess it's always tough to steam a big fish so they haven't done too badly.

I enjoyed the bean curd in shrimp roe sauce with assorted mushrooms (蝦籽珍菌紅燒豆腐). The shrimp roe made the dish.

The summer spinach in supreme stock (上湯莧菜) was great, as they used very young bunches.

The fried noodles in soya sauce (豉油皇炒麵) grew on me as I emptied my bowl, and I ended up having a second helping.

The longevity bun (鴻運壽飽) was really, really good - possibly the best I've had in memory. The sweet white lotus seed paste combined with the salty egg yolk was perfect harmony.

The birthday cake was nice and I pretty much inhaled the thing...

The wine served during dinner was an imperial of 2004 d'Armailhac. It was decanted into four magnum decanters. The nose was classic Bordeaux, with mint, a bit of ripe fruit, a bit of smoke and even a hint of soy sauce on the nose. It was a bit alcoholic at first. Not many of us were big drinkers, and some of us who were unfortunately couldn't step up. I was getting a bit sleepy for some reason, and we ended up struggling to finish three decanters... As I expected, we were beaten by the big imperial.

Towards the end of the dinner, Chef Pierre Gagnaire (no, he wasn't cooking our dinner) made a surprise appearance and signed on the big imperial bottle. Unfortunately he will be in Korea when we are all in Paris next week...

It's nice to finally enjoy some Cantonese at the Mandarin, as I haven't been back to Man Wah in about 10 years...

April 22, 2009

Celebratory lunch

Pin It

My friend Kevin got married today. Although the actual ceremony and the party is not until next week - in Reims, no less - today was the day that the happy couple put their signatures on that all-important piece of paper at the Marriage Registry.

He very kindly invited me to help celebrate the happy occasion with a lunch at the Mandarin Grill + Bar. I of course was only too happy to oblige...

We started by toasting with a glass of 1996 Cristal. What a beautiful Champagne! I didn't know the vintage at first, but felt that the wine was just giving up so much... Quite pleasant on the nose, with plenty of oxidation, that wonderful caramel, nice toasty oak... slight acidic on the palate at first, but mid-palate you find it's actually quite balanced with a bit of sweetness. An amazing Champagne for this age.

The amuse bouche was classic El Bulli - a result of Chef Uwe's stint in that amazing kitchen. The beetroot caviar was sweet and refreshing. The taste and texture were both bang on. The crème fraîche at the bottom was interestingly flavored with horshradish, with just a hint of a kick.

I started with the risotto, with pan-seared scallops and flavored with saffron. The scallops were naturally fresh, didn't get much out of the foam, but it was the risotto itself that was a big surprise. The rice variety used was orzo, which doesn't make for a starchy risotto. The rice grains retain their shapes and the texture is bouncy. Therefore it's not possible to make it al dente. Second, the taste of the whole thing - in spite of the red bell peppers and the saffron - just reminds me of macaroni and cheese. I swear I tasted cheddar.

And the portion was surprisingly big for a starter, which kinda makes me wish I had ordered the garden salad...

I was expecting a palate cleanser, but instead a small bowl of beef cheeks with Hollandaise mash was placed in front of me. Oy! This is turning out to be a heavy lunch! Fortunately the waitstaff took it away while I was distracted in conversation, so I only had about half of it...

The sea bass was presented in a colorful manner, like many other creations by Uwe. There were different sauces and some were delivered in freeze-dried powder form, which is another signature of molecular gastronomy. The fish itself was nicely pan-fried, drizzled in a sweet sauce made from dried fruits. The mash on the side was flavored with aubergines. Unfortunately I wasn't able to finish this, as I was already pretty full...

I had a small piece of beef tenderloin to get a taste. When this was presented, I could smell the smoke (not the carbon dioxide from the dry ice) from afar. The obsession with smoking your meats (or fish) seems prevalent among the top fine dining restaurants in town.

I thought I had turned down dessert, but this ice cream-filled chocolate concoction was placed in front of me anyway... I must say that it was very yummy. The separate bowl contained mandarin orange mousse, with a layer of caramel chocolate mousse on top, then topped with frozen mandarin orange pulp.

The texture of the pulp is interesting, because it kinda looks like granita but then you put it in your mouth and realize it isn't.

By now I started to develop a case of food coma, but I managed to nibble on a few pieces of the marshmellows that just looked really inviting...

I'll be reporting on the happy couple's wedding bash from France next week.

San Pellegrino/Restaurant Magazine's Top 100 2009

Pin It

It's that time of the year again, and Restaurant Magazine and San Pellegrino have come out with another list of the "World's Best Restaurants." Last year I pooh-pooh'ed it as something concocted by Europeans who knew nothing about food in Asia. Has it gotten any better this year?

Yes...a little. We finally have some entries from Japan and there are a few more entries across Asia. But some of last year's questionable entries are still around. Zuma Hong Kong has actually gained from #99 to #51 (huh?), just outside of the Top 50. Hakkasan is still in the Top 50, although dropping from #19 to #36.

Here's the list of the ones I've been to from this year' Top 100:

1. El Bulli, Roses 
6. Per Se, New York
8. Arzak, San Sebastien
9. Pierre Gagnaire, Paris
12. French Laundry, Yountville
15. Le Bernardin, New York
16. Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville, Crissier 
18. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris 
36. Hakkasan, London
41. Daniel, New York
45. Iggy's, Singapore
51. Zuma, Hong Kong
54. L'Arpege, Paris
55. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Hong Kong
60. Les Amis, Singapore
65. Bukhara, New Dehli
73. Le Cinq, Paris 
78. Caprice, Hong Kong
84. Mozaic, Bali 
87. L'Ambroisie, Paris
97. Bo Innovation, Hong Kong

Because I've cancelled my trip to Australia, I still haven't made it to Tetsuya, which has now fallen out of the top 10...

April 11, 2009

New Japanese discovery

Pin It

I thought I was taking a break from rich food to allow myself to work off everything from my trip to France, but it seems to be going in the opposite direction. After last night's BBQ at a friend's place - where I had yummy and fatty wagyu - I found myself once again dining out and eating too much...

I tried out Harakan (原澗) in my search for an alternate Japanese venue. The space was nice, modern and roomy, which made for an enjoyable dining experience. The quality of the food was pretty high.

Firefly squid (蛍いか沖漬け) - this was marinated with some kind of miso, and I liked this a lot less than what I had at Ishiyama (石山).

Grilled dried globe fish (ふぐ味醂干し) - pretty standard fare and I love it.

Homemade sesame tofu (自家製白胡麻豆腐) - this was served on a bed of jelly, topped with salmon roe and some wasabi.

We had some sashimi of thinly sliced flounder (平目作り) and some peony prawns (牡丹海老), both of which were pretty good - especially the prawns. We also had some really nice scallop and foie gras sushi - the scallops were very sweet, and the foie was not overdone. This could be my new favorite foie gras sushi in town...

The deluxe seafood salad looked pretty good, but I decided to focus on other dishes. We had two dishes from the fried food (揚物) section of the menu, and both were excellent.

The deep-fried Yonezaka porkchop (米沢豚とんかつ) was great. The batter was good, and the pork had that tasty strip of fat melting in your mouth...not exactly healthy, but tasted awesome.

The sea eel tempura (穴子一本天婦羅) was also very, very good. It's something that you'd find at good tempura restaurants in Japan, but is not often seen here in Hong Kong.

We were pretty full at this point, so we took care of the bill and moved on to get some dessert in the neighborhood. I think the prices here are reasonable, especially given the quality of the food. Looking forward to coming back to get my fix for a few things...

April 9, 2009

Bordeaux trip day 5: strolling around St Germain

Pin It

I've got a few hours today to stroll around St Germain before heading home. After a good night's sleep (finally...) I got up to get some breakfast.

On the way to breakfast, I stopped in at Madeleine Gély to look at the beautiful handmade parapluies. They are very pretty and feminine, and the nice lady in the shop - who turned out to be owner and creator Alexandra Sojfer - was particularly friendly. Soon I found myself pulling out my credit card to shell out EUR 500 for one...

Yes, I completely played the tourist and went to Café de Flore. I was tempted to have the rillettes on Poilâne bread, but in the end I had to go for Le Jockey - their version of Croque Madame. It looked great, and also tasted wonderful. I had a pot of chocolat viennois to go along with my breakfast. It was rich enough without being over-the-top like what you'd find at Angelina.

After some more people-watching, I do a quick round at St-Germain-de-Prés - including the small park outside where I saw a pigeon stand on top of Picasso's bust of Guillaume Apollinaire without crapping on it...

Time to get my macarons... I hit two of the best in Paris - Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Both have outlets on rue Bonaparte but I quickly realized that I should have gone to the main store of Pierre Hermé to get all the flavors. I guess I'll just have to hit it on my next trip at the end of this month.

I arrived at CDG a little early, and since I skipped lunch entirely, decided to go to McDonald's to check out any special items. I spent EUR 2 on a Croque McDo - their version of the Croque Monsieur. It's basically 2 thin pancakes with ham and cheese inside. It looked really, really flat but didn't taste bad at all. Another notch on the belt for strange McDonald's items around the world...

Oh, and I got upgraded on the flight back. I guess Cathay Pacific is trying to tell me that they want my business...

April 8, 2009

Bordeaux trip day 4: Rive Droite

Pin It

We are leaving Bordeaux today, but would be spending the last half-day touring the Right Bank appellations of St. Emilion and Pomerol. This would turn out to be quite a contrast with the estates of the Médoc.

We left the hotel a little late, so we knew that we would not be able to make it to Angelus on time. This was a shame because they were the first to put a price on the 2008 primeur at a 40% reduction compared to 2007, and it would have been interesting to hear what they had to say.

We headed directly to our second stop – Ausone. This estate has become the new superstar of Bordeaux – some would call it the “new Petrus.” The beautiful and historic estate sits on a little hill on the edge of the town of St. Emilion. When we arrived, however, we discovered to our great dismay that Mr. Vauthier was otherwise occupied and had tried to reschedule our visit to the afternoon. This was, of course, not possible as we would have all left Bordeaux by then. So we had to settle for taking a few snaps in front of the cellar, and hope that we would have another chance to visit this famed estate.

After a quick cup of café au lait, we drove through the medieval St. Emilion town and headed for L’Evangile. The estate is owned by Barons de Rothschild, the “Lafite branch” of the family.

2008 Blason de l’Evangile – minty nose with soft fruit and very round tannins. Acidity was a bit high.

2008 L’Evangile – richer and more concentrated than the Blason, with mint notes. There were more tannins here but very soft and silky.

We headed next door to La Conseillante, where we were given a tour by the Director, Jean-Michel Laporte.

2008 Conseillante – a very soft wine with a full body. Fruity and minty nose with vanilla notes.

2004 Conseillante – sweet fruit and farmy nose with smoked meats. Lots of soft tannins and drinking very nicely right now.

2006 Conseillante – more sweet and ripe black fruits, with a bit of smoke and bacon fat. A racy and sexy wine, with soft tannins. Lovely.

Next door is Vieux Château Certan, where we were greeted by owner Alexandre Thienpont. It’s still a family-run winery and it’s clear that they really focus on making the best wine.

2008 Vieux Château Certan – beautiful with soft tannins and good acidity balance. Fruity nose with coffee and toasty oak notes. This was actually taken from a Sylvain barrel selected by me.

Next we asked Alexandre to give us another glass, this time taken from a Seguin Moreau barrel, so we could taste how the same wine develops differently according to barrel. This glass was much more open and forward, which justifies Alexandre’s choice of having 80% of barrels from Seguin Moreau.

Our last stop before lunch was the holy grail of Pomerol – Château Pétrus. We did a quick tour of the vineyard and the cellars, and finally ended up at the tasting room where we ran into Olivier Berrouet, the current winemaker whose father was responsible for many legendary vintages of Pétrus. As I explained to the others, I just could not justify spitting out Pétrus…so I drank both glasses.

2008 Pétrus – nose of red fruits and mint, with a little vanilla, forest and coffee. Very soft tannins and slightly sweet on the palate. Quite a long finish, or as the French would call it – caudal.

2006 Pétrus – Wow! What a wine! The nose was totally open, with red fruits, smoke, marmalade and mint. It was a bit sharp and alcoholic, but the tannins were so soft. A little sweet on the palate. Totally yummy, and I’m not saying this just because I know I’m drinking Petrus!

Our lunch at Cheval Blanc was hosted by Pierre Lurton, the General Manager of the estate (and Yquem, Cheval des Andes, or whatever project Bernard Arnault throws at him!) We started in the tasting room, where Pierre’s eldest child Lucy poured the wines for us. As we all know, some of the jobs in Bordeaux can be inherited…

2008 La Tour du Pin – tannins were rougher than the other wines this morning. The wine was more extracted and alcoholic. Decent acidity on finish.

2008 Le Petit Cheval – nose of ripe fruit and a bit of smoke, with a spicy finish. More concentration here and tannins were more evident.

2008 Cheval Blanc – nose was more open than the other two wines, with mint, vanilla and caramel notes. Good acidity on the palate but a very grippy finish.

We enter the château and enjoy some Champagne and canapés. Thin slices of lomo and cured salmon on toast were nice, and the shot of asparagus soup – no doubt flavored with ham broth – was a bit salty but excellent. The 2000 Dom Perignon was amazing, and better than the magnum we had at Pontet-Canet… But one would expect that the condition of the Champagne would be excellent, of course, given that Mr. Arnault is Chairman of LVMH which produces Dom Perignon… The Champagne was very fresh with lots of bubbles. Good balance between ripeness and acidity, with toasty and yeasty notes.

We continued our visit in the intimate dining room, whose setting was elegant without being over-the-top.

Œuf soufflé, aiguillettes de canard, cœur de sucrine – the egg soufflé was absolutely awesome. Once you cut open the light and airy egg whites, the liquid yolk oozes out like molten lava. The aiguillettes - part of the duck breast - were simply salted, and the gem lettuce hearts did a nice job of balancing out the meat.

Pièce de bœuf, pommes de terre ecrasées aux eclats de truffe – this should really be “hunk of beef”…simply too huge and the texture itself was a bit tough, even though the center was red and juicy. The potatoes, however, were divine. I don’t usually eat the potatoes on the side, but the addition of black truffles made this irresistible, and I found myself finishing it instead of the beef.

We were a little short on time, so I chose to skip the cheese and had the brioche caramélisée, framboises fraîches, glace mûroise instead. The raspberries were deliciously fresh with the crème fraîche, and the ice cream was sweet enough to balance the acidity of the berries.

The highlight of the lunch, of course, was the wine. Pierre was kind enough to share these wonderful wines with us:

2000 Le Petit Cheval – a really beautiful wine, with nose of smoke meats, brett, very ripe fruits and coffee. Good acidity and smooth on the palate, it’s a great wine to drink right now.

1989 Cheval Blanc – nose of green pepper, smoke, bacon, sweet red fruits and truffles. Very beautiful and open, so soft and beautiful on the palate with good acidity. Wow!

1995 Yquem – for a vintage like 1995, this was an awesome wine! Loads of honey, marmalade, acetone and sweet honeydew melon in the nose. This wine was so unctuous and sweet, yet with enough acidity to make everything balanced. Wow!

I think this was a perfect way for us to end our whirlwind, first class tour of Bordeaux. We’ve visited 22 châteaux in 7 appellations, dined at 3 First Growth châteaux, and tasted 120 wines over 4 days. I cannot imagine anyone who is remotely interested in wine not being envious of what we’ve experienced on this trip, and I must thank my fellow MNSC members (and one in particular) for making it all possible.

After dropping my friends off at Bordeaux airport - and dashing in to buy some canelés from Baillardran – I headed to Gare St. Jean to board the TGV back to Paris. Mental note: there are two stands at the train station selling Baillardran canelés

After checking into a small but well-appointed room at the Hotel Montalambert, we went out for a stroll around Boulevard St. Germain and for a bite to eat. It’s April in Paris and - you guessed it - it was drizzling. Huddling under an umbrella with your loved one in Paris has got to be one of those clichés…but it’s kinda cool.

We settled for one of the tourist traps on the Left Bank – Les Deux Magots. I never came here on my previous trips to Paris, so I guess it was time I checked it out. You don’t come here for the food, since the people-watching is the main draw here. It’s been 7 hours since lunch and I finally ordered a white truffle risotto with chicken sot-l'y-laisse. The risotto, while tasty, was probably one of the soggiest I've had in a while. Do the French not know how to make a proper risotto, or is it because the chefs at this tourist trap don't care? Anyway, the chicken oysters were really yummy and made up for everything.

I ordered a glass of kir as I normally would in Paris. I think I must have OD'd on wine, because I just didn't have the desire to even finish the glass...

With my stomach full, I strolled around back to the hotel and called it a night. I was exhausted!

April 7, 2009

Bordeaux trip: home and restaurant cooking

Pin It

I had two contrasting meals today in Bordeaux: a restaurant-quality meal in the dining room of a château, and a home-style meal at a restaurant. Needless to say the meal at the château was the better one.

We lunched at Château Margaux and was received by Director Paul Pontallier and his lovely wife Béatrice. Margaux is one of the most beautiful estates in Bordeaux, and it was certainly a privilege to be there. We started with a tasting of the new wines:

2008 Pavillon Rouge - beautifully aromatic. Fruit forward with mint, licorice, smoky, grassy and coffee notes. Very smooth on the palate.

2008 Margaux - black cherries, chocolate, mint, toasty oak, vanilla and exotic spices. Very smooth on the palate.

2006 Margaux - farmy nose with smoked meats, bacon, chocolate, smoke, ripe fruits and coffee. Already coming together very well.

2008 Pavillon Blanc - lots of green apple, wih good acidity balance.

We moved upstairs to the lavish drawing room for some Champagne, then sat down in the dining room for a beautiful lunch.

Bar braisé au fenouil - the seabass was very tender and delicious. The fennel cream sauce was top was a good match for the fish.

Quasi d’agneau et ses aubergines - the lamb was roasted and totally yummy. I took a piece at the end, and the lamb fat and the skin had so much flavor.

Les fromages de Jean d’Alos - from the famed Bordeaux affineur, and served on a very interesting platter made by Christian Dior.

Soufflé aux fruits de la passion - very yummy taste, but why was the ramekin only half full?! Who stole the other half?

A fabulous range of wines were served with lunch.

2006 Pavillon Blanc - smooth and ripe on the palate. A bit of toasty oak on the nose with a little spicy finish. Beautiful wine.

1989 Margaux - classic Bordeaux with smoke and brett on the nose. Silky smooth.

1959 Margaux - what a beautiful wine from a great vintage in Bordeaux. Nose of sweet grass, brett, sweet fruit and a bit of smoked meats. Sooo smooth and silky. Wow!

I really appreciated the generous hospitality that Paul and Béatrice showed us. They are a delightful couple and I really enjoyed my time with them. And I think the chef at the château did an outstanding job with the food.

Our dinner tonight was back at La Tupiña, the restaurant in Bordeaux city with the down-to-earth, homestyle menu. I was really looking forward to this meal, based on the delicious lunch on Sunday.

We ordered all of our dishes to share, doing it family style so that we could get to taste everything.

Salade croquante du maraîcher - julienned veggies like carrots, cucumbers, zucchini. Not as good as the one I tasted on Sunday.

Cèpes en persillade - classic, simple and good.

Foie gras poêlé aux raisins, sauce verjus - thick, juicy chunks of foie pan-fried just the way I like - a bit burnt on the outside but soft and runny inside.

I didn't try the white asparagus...the looked humongous but I think they would be a bit tough. I also didn't try the cassolette de St Jacques et cèpes aux beurre blanc, but it looked pretty good.

Main courses:
Poulet rôti avec croûtons au jus et farce - the roast chicken was not bad, and the stuffing was pretty decent, too.

La côte de boeuf - these are huge hunks of beef, done pretty well.

Magret entier grillé - actally not really that special...

Lamproie à la Bordelaise - I really didn't enjoy the sea lampreys cooked in red wine sauce. Actually it tasted like some of the fish that come out of a tin can, with that metallic taste. Now I know why - it sucks blood from other fish to stay alive... Not something I will have twice.

We started with some Louis Roederer Brut, then tasted 4 wines blind:

1986 Mouton-Rothschild - nose of sweet grass, soy sauce and smoke...tell-tale Mouton. The wine was still dark around the rim so it still looked very young.

1990 Cheval Blanc - nose of red fruits, orange and a bit of smoke. Nice and smooth to drink, but not mind-blowing.

1990 Lafleur - minty nose with a bit of orange. Finish was a little short, and I wasn't wowed by this wine...

1998 Le Pin - Wow! Explosive nose of orange marmalade, strawberries, exotic fruits, mint, brandied cherry, kirsch and apricot. I know this isn't exactly the classic Bordeaux in the same vein as the other three wines, but it was definitely my wine of the evening.

My second visit to La Tupiña didn't quite meet my expectations. I know the cooking is homey and nothing fancy, but I thought the execution was below par. Perhaps it was because our party was too big, but I expected better. Oh well... It was still a pretty good night.

Bordeaux trip day 3: going down south

Pin It

We've got another full day today, going through the southern Médoc appellations of St-Julien, Margaux and Pessac-Léognan. Due to the early start this morning, most of the ladies chose to skip the itinerary and only joined us for lunch. Unfortunately, the morning was overcast so the pictures would be dreary, too...

Our first stop was Branaire-Ducru, where we were received by the Président Patrick Maroteaux and Manager Jean-Dominique Videau. A quick tour of the facilities and we were off to taste a few vintages of the grand vin:

2008 Branaire-Ducru - forward and fruity with a hint of smoke. Not too tannic as the acidity was a bit higher.

2007 Branaire-Ducru - softer and more complex than the 2008. Nose of tropical fruit, mint and forest with a spicy finish.

2006 Branaire-Ducru - farmy nose with smoked meats, not as fruity. A nice wine that has come together with a good finish.

2005 Branaire-Ducru - toasty oak, mint and smoked meat nose. Pretty round tannin.

2004 Branaire-Ducru - nose of smoked meats is more prominent. Smooth and not too tannic on the palate.

Our second stop was Léoville Barton, where the tasting room was filled with lots of bottles as a result of their separate business selling wine. It would have been a good opportunity for us to get a taste of the what other châteaux had produced, but we had only limited time so we stuck mostly to wines from the estates.

2008 Langoa Barton - sweet and forward nose of tropical fruit and vanilla. Still pretty tannic.

2007 Léoville Barton - powerful nose of vanilla and fruit. Very tannic and alcoholic.

2007 Langoa Barton - a bit smoky with spices. Softer on the palate.

2007 Léoville Barton - nose of smoked meats.

2006 Langoa Barton - nose not open at all with only a bit of smoked meats.

2006 Léoville Barton - nose of smoked meats and tannic on the palate.

2008 Rauzan-Ségla - very open nose with sweet fruits and vanilla.

Next stop was the château that got me started in wine - Ducru-Beaucaillou. This famed estate in St-Julien has provided me with some of my fondest memories when it comes to wine: from the bottle of 1982 on my first visit to La Tour d'Argent in Paris, to my first bottle of 1961 I decanted at home and brought to Brasserie on the Eighth...

I was really excited to finally get a chance to visit. The château has a collection of interesting modern art, including some pieces from Keith Haring in the tasting room. It was interesting to see the contrast of a contemporary tasting room inside such a classical structure.

2008 Ducluzeau - fruity and minty nose. Very soft on the palate.

2008 Lalande-Borie - a bit harder than the Ducluzeau.

2008 La Croix de Beaucaillou - floral nose with toasty oak notes.

2008 Ducru-Beaucaillou - floral and violet notes. Much softer than the other wines.

2005 Ducru-Beaucaillou - smoky nose with red fruits and a bit of pepper. Sweet on the finish. A beautiful wine!

At the end of our visit, Chairman of the business Bruno Borie came to greet us. Bruno was a personable man, and when we expressed our wish to take a picture in front of his château, he proceeded to open up all the window shutters so that we could have the perfect picture. Fortunately for us, his mother was shopping in Bordeaux city and so we didn't wake her up...

Our last stop before lunch would be Palmer. Bernard de Laage de Meux, the Marketing Director, led us through the tasting.

2008 Alter Ego - mint with a bit of fruit. Tannins were round, nice and soft...not too aggressive.

2008 Palmer - minty with exotic spices. Good concentration with round tannins.

2001 Alter Ego - farmy nose with smoked meats, spiciness, leather and cedar wood notes. A bit sweet on the palate with good acidity. A wine that has come together well.

1996 Palmer - lovely, farmy nose with peppery, smoky and leather notes. Very smooth on the palate. Delicious.

We visited the beautiful Château Margaux for lunch, which will be the subject of a separate post.

After our long lunch, we dropped the ladies off so that they could hit the Hermès shop in Bordeaux city, then continued on to Haut-Brion, the last of the Médoc First Growths. Here we would also taste the wines from the neighboring estate of La Mission Haut-Brion, also under the ownership of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

2008 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion - this has been the name of the second wine since the 2007 vintage, replacing Bahans Haut-Brion. Nose of vanilla, orange, red fruits and mint. Good acidity but tannins were slightly grippy.

2008 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion - earthy, smoky nose with sweet fruit and mint. Good acidity balance.

2008 La Mission Haut-Brion - smoky nose with mint and vanilla notes. A bit tannic but nicely balanced.

2008 Haut-Brion - much more concentration here, with lots of fruit, mint, smoke and a hint of coffee. Very tannic on the palate.

2008 Laville Haut-Brion - fatty, buttery with lemon citrus, green apple and toasty oak.

2008 Haut-Brion Blanc - minerals and flint combined with lemon citrus, a bit of butter and toasty oak. Wow! There is a reason why this is the most sought-after dry white in Bordeaux.

Our last stop of the day would be Haut-Bailly. We were incredibly behind schedule, and missed meeting Véronique Sanders, the winemaker and daughter of the former owner.

2008 Haut-Bailly - floral and sweet fruit, with coffee, mint and a bit of smoke. Round and smooth tannins.

2006 Haut-Bailly - smoky and a bit farmy with red fruits. Everything was nicely balanced, but slightly tannic on the finish.

We head back up north into Bordeaux city to pick up the ladies after their shopping spree. I quickly strolled around the Place de la Comédie and down Rue Ste-Catherine, before returning to La Tupiña for dinner.

April 6, 2009

Bordeaux trip: two meals in Pauillac

Pin It

We were fortunate enough to dine at two châteaux in Pauillac today - both experiences which I am unlikely to forget anytime soon.

Lunch was hosted by Alfred Tesseron, the personable owner of Pontet-Canet. He very kindly took us on a tour of his beautiful estate, showing us the oak and cement tanks where fermentation is done (Merlot goes into cement while Cabernet Sauvignon goes into oak). He also showed us the horses he has started to use to plow the fields. The ladies, of course, all wanted to take pictures with the horses...

We climb above the vats to taste the 2008 Pontet-Canet while taking in the beautiful view of the vineyards. Nose of ripe fruits and mint, with very smooth tannins to make an enjoyable wine.

We adjourn to the drawing room to have some canapés with a flute of champagne. The cubes of duck breast was a little too well-done although the accompanying aubergine was nice. The diced scallops were flavored with cumin seeds so they were pretty yummy. The 2000 Dom Perignon from magnum was beautiful.

We found ourselves seated at the beautiful and elegant dining room. Now we’re finally getting the feel of what it’s like to be in a French château

We started with the tartare de saumon, which was fresh and beautiful – perfect for a warm day like this. Worked very well with the blend of spices which wasn’t too heavy.

The gigot de lait confit, legumes façon tajine was very, very yummy. I would never say no to lamb, and the leg was a bit dry – it’s a confit, after all – but full of flavor. The juice from the lamb provided the flavor for the couscous and the veggies. Very nice.

A nice selection of cheese was presented, and I didn’t hesitate to take my share, including a nice Comté that is probably 2 years old as it still had some bounce.

The pomme en compotée was really, really nice. The rich apple sauce - that’s pretty much what it was - was enhanced with cinnamon powder and sat on a nice pie crust. A great way to finish the meal.

We enjoyed three vintages of Pontet-Canet during lunch:

2003 Pontet-Canet – nose still a bit closed, very concentrated fruit with a bit of metallic and iron rust, turning a bit alcoholic later.

2000 Pontet-Canet – nose also concentrated but more accessible than the 2003. Ripe fruit with a bit of coffee, and smoke emerging later. Nice and long finish.

1995 Pontet-Canet – very apparent sous bois, very smooth and lovely on the palate.

I really enjoyed my time with Alfred today. He is clearly very passionate about the wines, and clearly has given a lot of thoughts about how he could improve the wines. He focuses on doing everything the natural way – the estate is now biodynamic – and every step is designed to be gentle to the wine – such as using horses instead of tractors to plow the fields because the lighter weight means the soil is less compacted. He is a lovely gentleman and I am delighted to have made his acquaintance.

Our dinner was hosted by Frédéric Engerer, the Director and President of Château Latour. We started with a quick tour, and spent some time in the beautifully modern tasting room with the following wines:

2008 Pauillac – the nose of the generic production was not very open, with a bit of fruit and slightly spicy.

2008 Les Forts de Latour – a bit smoky and grilled meat notes, with a tart finish.

2008 Latour – nose was not very open and tannins were pretty grippy.

2004 Les Forts de Latour – classic Bordeaux nose with smoke and a bit of coffee. A bit sweet on the palate.

2002 Latour – again a classic Bordeaux with smoky nose. A bit acidic on the palate.

2007 Latour – nose was a bit sweet like cotton candy, and a little smoky.

2006 Latour – open nose with smoke with grilled meats, still a bit tannic.

We adjourned to the lounge for some canapés with drinks, and it gave us a clear indication of the shape of things to come. With the yummy foie gras over baguette, sautéed prawns and scallops carpaccio in olive oil, we had the following wonderful wines:

1988 Salon Le Mesnil – nose was a bit acidic, with iron rust, honey and oxidized pear notes. On the palate it was sweet and a bit metallic. I don’t get many chances to drink Salon, so this was a real treat.

1976 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc – nose of chalk, flint, lemon, a little sweet honey, oxidation and pineapple. Really wonderful stuff. Paulo’s birth vintage.

We adjourned to the dining room, which was beautifully decked out in lavender.

Cloche de langoustines à la fondue de poireaux - this was soooo beautiful. The langoustines were amazingly fresh and sweet, and the leeks were also very sweet as well.

Bar rôti entier, glace de vin rouge, légumes primeurs - the seabass was cooked whole with a veggie stuffing and red wine sauce. Very fresh fish and the flesh was very tender.

Cheese selection - naturally I tried all the different types of cheese. I find it interesting that everyone here serves Comté...

Feuillantine de gariguettes, crème de nougatine - the Gariguette strawberries were really yummy, and the brown nougat creme made a perfect match.

We were served three pairs of wines from the birth vintages of MNSC members. The theme was that one wine from each pair would be a Latour, while the other wine would be of equivalent stature (i.e. a First Growth) but selected to ensure that the Latour would be the winner of the pair… Of course all the wines are ex-château – even if they weren’t Latour, they have been lying in the château library since release – so we could not hope for better conditions.

First pair – Alex, Arnold and Julian’s birth vintage
1973 Cheval Blanc – smooth on the palate, with smoke, grilled meat notes. Orange and amber rim from the age. On the palate it was a bit watery but sweet.

1973 Latour – classic Bordeaux with smoke, lead pencil over a core of sweet fruit. Beautiful wine.

Second pair – Kevin’s birth vintage
1967 Latour – a bit of stewed fruit on the nose, with sweet grass and a little plasticky.

1967 Ausone – sweet, exotic and a bit funky nose.

Third pair – my birth vintage
1970 Latour – classic Bordeaux nose with smoke and sweet fruits. Quite a powerful wine after almost 40 years of age. I’ve had this wine a few times before – including last year – and recognized it immediately.

1970 Mouton – smoky, minty and a bit more ripe and open than the Latour. A beautiful wine. This was a surprise as I’ve had this wine a half dozen times – including last year – and I’ve never had a bottle as good as this one. This is where provenance really shows…

1953 Latour – Kevin brought this bottle for Frédéric to taste and “authenticate.” Big nose of iron, rust and minerals, with sweet fruit, orange, grassy and a bit of smoke.

1975 Yquem – golden honey color, with nose of orange marmalade, plastic and acetone from the botrytis. This wine was sooooo rich! What a great way to end the meal!

I feel very privileged to have enjoyed Frédéric's generosity tonight. I hope there is a chance for us to reciprocate in the future.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map