January 22, 2010

10th anniversary

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Tonight a small group of friends gathered to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of a lovely couple.  All of us were present 10 years ago to witness their union, and we are happy to see that they are still going strong today.  In this day and age, this is no mean feat!

I helped choose W52 as the venue.  The restaurant had its grand opening party tonight, and the place was heaving with lots of people.  Understandably things were a little hectic for the waitstaff...

I brought a bottle of 2000 Bollinger La Grande Année to kick start the evening. Initially the nose was a little muted, but later showed some caramel notes with medium acidity.  Maybe it's still too young, but it's not very complex right now.

For starter, I had the guanciale di maiale in padella con scampi, all'aceto balsamico caramellato.  The pork cheek and scampi lay on a bed of greens, with a nice drizzle of caramelized balsamic vinegar.  The pork cheek was chewy and firm, and tasted a little strong for pork.  The scampi on top seemed a little bit mushier than usual, perhaps an indication that these weren't the very freshest ingredients.

I also brought along a bottle of 2000 La Fleur-Pétrus for the occasion.  This was a really beautiful wine...beautiful nose with lots of tobacco smoke, grilled meats, sweet fruit, a little mint and coffee notes.  Medium-full body, with firm tannins which have started to soften, and a long finish.  I'd love to drink this wine again at my friends' 20th anniversary and see how it would have evolved.

The filetto di cervo, confettura di mele cotogne e salsa al melograno I had for main course was alright.  I know that venison is a gamey meat that can sometimes be a little tough, but I distinctly remember having had some wonderfully juicy and relatively tender cuts in New York years ago.  Well, tonight the texture of the meat was still relatively tough, but there was a tender side to it.  The taste of the meat was strong, but not particularly gamey to me.  The quince jam on the side was nice, and the use of white pomegranate seeds was interesting.

I finally had the mille foglie alla crema di mandorle e lamponi, having passed it over in favor of the semifreddo at lunch last week.  Once again I was happier with the dessert than the prior courses.  The Napoleon only had two layers of pastry, but I liked the custard cream with raspberries.  Once again the chef added some texture with nuts - this time with a sprinkle of almond bits.

This was my second visit, and once again the wow factor eluded me.  A couple of my friends, though, figured out a way to get the best out of the place - they only picked dishes marked as "Chef Creations" on the menu, and were pretty satisfied with the results.  Oh well...

What's important, though, was the celebration of a beautiful marriage, along with the fact that another couple present at dinner - who traveled from the US to Hong Kong for the wedding 10 years ago - started their relationship while staying in my apartment... The other couple is now married, and their 10th anniversary will be coming up next year.  I am looking forward to a similar celebration in 2011...

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