February 2, 2010

Tigger's birthday

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It's Tigger's 36th birthday today, and I decided to take the cat and his extended family out for dinner.  I'm trying to pry him away from the iron grip that the Mandarin has on him, so I took the crew to Caprice and asked Chef Vincent to "wow" them.

We started with a trio of amuse bouche - grape panna cotta with cauliflower, a square of deep-fried chopped pork knuckle, and a slightly modern twist to escargot bourguignon.  All were pretty interesting.

We have an inside joke about how Tigger likes wines such as Château Latour, so it was natural that I should bring a bottle of 1999 Latour for his birthday.  This was a very nice wine, drinking surprisingly well.  Nose of smoke, red fruits, mint, a little bit of forest and plum.  Smooth and initially a bit short and flat on the finish, it gathered weight with more aeration but also picked up a bit of acidity.  Not bad at all...

Périgord black truffle tart, Brittany artichokes and aged Parmesan espouma - this was a very good first course to kick off the meal.  Start with a mille-feuille crust at the bottom; build a nice, thick layer of finely chopped artichoke along with a sprinkle of black truffle; add some slices of black truffle; and finally a big dollop of Parmesan mousse on top.  Garnish with the a few outer leaves of artichoke and make like a flower opening up to reveal its inner beauty.  For a guy who normally doesn't care for artichokes, this was a pretty damn good dish to me!

Bresse chicken consommé, black truffle, fondant quenelle and sot-l'y-laisse - a very delicious creation.  The consommé had a solid flavor profile without being overpowering.  The cubes of black truffle were oh-so-fragrant... The fondant quenelles made from chicken legs were very interesting, but of course the "chicken oysters" were the best...soft and juicy.  I love that Caprice makes use of sot-l'y-laisse in their creations.

Duck foie gras custard, smoked potato mousse and black truffle - I joked about this being the high-end French version of a chawan mushi (茶碗蒸し), but in terms of texture this was very much like steamed egg...soft, silky and melts in your mouth.  Honestly, what's better than the combination of foie, potato and truffles on a winter night?  Nothing.

We reversed the order of the red and white wines tonight to match the dishes.  The 2001 Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Boudriotte is a wine that I've always liked.  Even Sébastien the sommelier remarked that he was surprised at how fresh and vibrant the wine was tonight.  Loads of toasty oak...in fact I was surprised at how heavy the toast was.  Ripe and sweet nose, with corn, citrus and minerals/flint in the nose.  Excellent acidity balance.  I don't think I could ask for anything more from this wine.  Interestingly, the last bottle that I drank a year ago tasted completely different, and I love them both!

Langoustine ravioli, veal sweetbreads, chanterelle mushrooms in shellfish bisque emulsion -  wow...another wonderful dish.  A big, fresh langoustine that was delicious and sweet (unlike the one I had at W52...); some nicely pan-fried sweetbreads, along with chanterelles, black trumpets all in a shellfish bisque that was just... Muah!

Wild cod fillet, iberico chorizo, vegetable ratatouille and yellow bell pepper coulis - the cod was beautiful, with the skin side nice and crispy.  The ratatouille was very, very good...with a little bit of chorizo for that little extra something.  I'd be happy just eating a whole bowl of the ratatouille, actually... The fried sticks of polenta on the side were a nice touch.

For the first time in quite some time, I dined at Caprice without sampling anything from Jeremy's beloved cheese cellar.  The crew tonight doesn't appreciate cheese (quelle horreur!) and so I had to pass...  Bummer!

Mango cannelloni, fressinette banana, joconde biscuit and pabana sorbet - what an interesting combination of tropical fruits!  The "cannelloni" was a layer of mango wrapped around a banana center.  The sorbet of passion fruit was very refreshing.  Really nice...

Guanaja chocolate marquise, sacher biscuit, tropical coconut and cocoa ice cream - this was the dish that got us laughing hard... not that there was anything wrong with it.  Au contraire!  Auntie saw the gold leaf on the thing and out popped the joke that "we could stick the gold leaf to our teeth!"  It was a silly comment, and that it should come from the eldest (supposedly most mature) person at the table was just so odd...  Anyway.  The presentation was beautiful.  The small tube inside the rings of chocolate contained a delish coconut ice cream, and sat on top of a long biscuit made, no doubt, in the style of the great Hotel Sacher in Vienna.  Very niiiiiice....

Oh, and we did have the wonderful île flottante...in vanilla cream and apricot confit. I thought about having a second one, but stopped myself.

I think Tigger was happy... I know he liked the Latour, and I hope that he was impressed with the creations of Chef Vincent.  We'll have to come back together soon.

P.S. Thanks to Sherm for helping me put together the "best hits of Caprice" for the season from half way around the world... You are the best...


Lambda said...

Without cheese but still seems like a great meal. I assume you had to walk home last night?

Susan said...

Sounds soooooooooooooooooooo good.

Sher.eats said...



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