April 6, 2009

Thierry Marx at Cordeillan-Bages

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Tonight we officially kicked off the MNSC trip to Bordeaux with a dinner inside our hotel, Château Cordeillan-Bages. Chef Thierry Marx is well-known for his creativity and has visited Hong Kong a number of times. His restaurant has earned him 2 Michelin stars. Food-wise this would be as haute cuisine as it gets on this trip.

We started with some NV Egly-Ouriet Champagne Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru Les Crayéres à Ambonnay in the drawing room. This was a real treat as it's not easy to come across wines from small producers like this in Hong Kong. The wine is made from old vines Pinot Noir, and costs a fraction of the price of the most famous of all blanc de noirs - Bollinger Vieille Vignes Françaises. Wonderful nose of caramel, toast, oxidized pear not unlike the wines of Jacques Selosse. Very smooth on the palate. Lovely stuff.

We moved into the private dining room of the restaurant, facing the wine cellar displaying a number of trophy bottles. Onto the whites now, I sipped the delicious 1998 Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste. Hune - probably the most sought after of the Alsatian Rieslings and comes from a single enclosed vineyard. Unlike most of its German and French cousins, this is fermented dry. Lots of petrol and minerals in the nose, with a bit of sweetness on the nose. Beautiful stuff and a rare chance to drink something with a little age on it.

We start with an amuse bouche of beef cheek with smoked eel. Kinda interesting combination with the strong tastes of both key elements interacting. The bits of truffle in the sauce adds something extra to the mélange of flavors.

Next came green apple gelée with ham. Bite sized portions reminiscent of El Bulli and other molecular creations, but didn't really do it for me. Didn't feel the intensity of the flavors and the texture was only so-so.

The foie gras "choe" passion was kinda interestingas it came with layers of passion fruit jelly and chocolate. Using the acidity of the fruit to cut through the fat of the foie is a common thing nowadays, and this particular execution was very well done as you also have the sweetness of the chocolate to balance things out.

The second white is served, and I find myself enjoying the 2005 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Le Clos. Classic minerals, butter, lemon citrus and toasty oak in the nose. Actually quite a nice acidity balance despite the ripe vintage.

Next came another spoon with escargot.. It was topped with a thin layer of gelée made from parsley so that the whole thing kinda tasted like escargot Bourguignon... except that it just wasn't as punchy and bursting with flavor like I would expect... I'm starting to see a pattern with these spoon-sized servings.

Something a bit more substantial now...turbot basse température, légumes beurre d'algue. The slow-cooked fish sat on a bed of beet root celeriac, cauliflower and seaweed butter. I'm just not excited about this dish. Neither the flavors nor the texture of this turbot did anything for me. Underneath the fish, the layers of beet root, celeriac...etc was actually more interesting than the fish itself, as well as the piece of "fish skin" on top of the fish.

The first pair of reds are served, and we are told that all five reds tonight come from the legendary 1982 vintage, and all are either First or Second Growth wines rated 99/100 points by Parker. Given the identity of the five wines, we would try to guess the order in which they were served to us...

1982 Pichon Lalande - funky nose with braised beef and beef jerky (the ones from Taiwan) notes. Definitely smoky and soy sauce was very prominent, with a bit of sweet fruit. Most of the group thought this was the Mouton but I knew it wasn't so...

1982 Mouton-Rothschild - beautiful nose...right off the bat I picked up the smoke and lead pencil notes and that usually points to Mouton. The additional hint of soy sauce pretty much confirmed it for me. Oh and of course there was red fruit and a bit of brett. A classic and the crowd loved it.

Pigeon au thé, pâtes fraîches fumées, copeaux de fenouil cru - the pigeon was lovely. It was pink and very, very tender - just the way I like it. And the presentation was also very pleasing.

There were two different pastas on the side, and my preference is for the angel hair served in the little bowl with a bit of celeriac.

The next three reds are served and things hit a new high, as the wine of the evening revealed itself.

1982 Latour - Wow! This was sooo beautiful! Sweet fruit, a bit of sweet grass, smoky with a hint of coffee. Definitely everyone's wine of the evening and we all knew it had to be Latour.

1982 Cheval Blanc - it was clear that this wine was a little different from the rest. Nose was smoky and sweet, but the presence of exotic and tropical fruits gave it away...it had to be the Cabernet Franc from the Cheval.

1982 Léoville-Las Cases - once again this wine manages to disppoint. The nose was pretty shut and didn't reveal much. Green and a bit vegetal, with smoky, rubber and a little stinky... We continue to be baffled by the 100-point score on this one.

Cornet croustillant, Saint-Nectare sous pression, petite salade de plein champs et piquillos - the Auvergne cheese came inside a cone and the thing looked like a cannoli. If only it tasted as good as a cannoli... I tasted a bit of chili powder and chili oil which gave a bit of a kick. But this didn't work for me.

The choco'pics truffe et chocolat glacé came, and I found myself with yet another dreaded spoon - this time with a round chocolate jelly. Didn't quite get this one, either... The lychee and rose concoction on the right did better, since the flavors were nice and refreshing. The white chocolate lollipop with ice cream inside looked really familiar - see something like this at Amber in Hong Kong all the time.

The second dessert comes and we get a millefeuille flavored with anise. Kinda interesting. The sorbet has a very light, airy flavor of basil, which is a good way to finish.

So we're done with dinner and the petit fours arrive - which by the way were all delicious. But little did we know that the highlight was yet to come. Canelés are served and my eyes immediately light up. I loved these things a few years ago while traveling through northern Spain, and it seems that the rest of the crowd loves them, too! We immediately asked for more. The interesting thing about these is that they are made with the egg yolks left over from the winemaking process, as egg whites are used as a fining agent.

The MNSC boys were unsatiated and want more wine. There are bargains to be had on Burgundies, so we open up a bottle of the 2001 DRC La Tâche. Beautiful wine! Nose was very sweet with red fruits, a little bit farmy, with smoked meats and orange. Awesome stuff. But by this time jet lag catches up with me, and when I started to wear some of the wine on my shirt, I knew it was my cue to head back to my room....

1 comment:

Susan said...

Wow, those canneles are prettier than mine :(


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