October 20, 2009

Pasta is best

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I caught up with my friend Ed over dinner tonight.  We both really like what Harlan's doing at Tuscany by H, so we decided to pay him a visit.

I started with a plate of cold cuts, as I didn't find anything else inspiring to go with my bottle of red.  This was pretty decent and the quality was certainly high.  I particularly liked the spicy sausage.

For main course I chose the slow-cooked Iberico pork rack, Italian red pear, black fig, parsnip purée, raisin and port wine reduction.  What can I say?  I just can't resist good pork and this would definitely work with the red.  But truth be told, I was a little under-whelmed.  I guess I'm more used to having Iberico pork belly, which is a lot fattier and more flavorful.  The pork was nice with a touch of garlic but the meat itself did not wow me.  The highlights came from the combination of everything else: the parsnip purée was yummy, and a lot more interesting than just plain potato mash; the pear sauce on top of the pork also introduced a different degree of sweetness into the mix - working well with the parsnip and raisins.

Dessert was awesome - chocolate panna cotta, crunchy crunch, fior di latte gelato and amaretto foam.  The almond taste of the amaretto was upfront and slowly gave way to the  latte gelato, and the extra layer of amaretti (I think that's what it was anyway) gave it more texture.  Of course the panna cotta at the bottom would have a different consistency altogether, so in total you've got four different layers - each providing a different feel in your mouth.

I brought a bottle of 1997 Antinori Pian delle Vigne.  This was a bit smoky, with a good fruit core and concentration, and notes of ripe prunes and sous bois.  At one point I thought I detected a good amount of perfumed, floral notes but I suspect that the glass was quietly collecting the air freshner used in the restaurant...  The wine seemed to have gone downhill about two hours after opening, starting to turn acidic on the palate.  This Brunello was a perfectly good wine to drink with the meal.  Although it wasn't a knock-out, I wasn't going to complain too much given how little I paid for the wine on release.

My friend had a fantastic pasta of red prawns with prawn roe sprinkled all over, and couldn't stop raving about how it was even better than the pasta we had on our last visit.  I guess Harlan really does his pasta well, and it means that I just have to come back another time to get it...soon!

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