September 7, 2010

The dinner companion

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I got a last-minute invitation to dinner from Tigger, who was entertaining some people at St. George.  The family of three love their food, and apparently the daughter is a fellow blogger.  Tigger arranged for the daughter to spend some time in the kitchen with Philippe before dinner, which she enjoyed.  They are on their way to Barcelona and taking a detour to Roses to dine at El Bulli.  (Wish I could go back there for another meal...)  Since Tigger was gonna talk to his friend about his favorite subject - cars - he figured I could help entertain the ladies by talking about our love of food...

I was responsible for bringing the wines, and we started with the 2007 Beringer Chardonnay Sbragia Limited Release.  I have always preferred this bottling over Beringer's Chardonnay Private Reserve, and it was interesting to see what the newer vintages are like.  Very buttery, very sweet and ripe on the nose, with floral, fruity and sugar cane notes.  High residual sugar and very sweet on the palate.  I definitely felt every bit of that 15.1% alcohol level, as the wine was very "hot" and had a spicy finish.

The amuse bouche was green olive sorbet studded with bits of black olive.  There was also a small cherry tomato on the side, with the interior removed and replaced with diced zucchini. 

Lobster jelly with fennel cream and yogurt balls - very tasty, and eating this was a lot of fun!  You end up popping the little balls in your mouth, and the liquids inside squirt out and hit your tongue... Love that yummy taste of lobster bisque, balanced by the sweeter flavors of fennel and yogurt.

Prawn imperial with crab meat and mango salsa - the staff said "grapefruit" but for the life of me I couldn't find any... but there was mango, zucchini and celery in the salsa.  The sauce was made from the prawn head and flavored with lemongrass. 

Atlantic silver cod, aubergines and girolles bouillon - I love cod for its soft and silky texture when it's fresh, and tonight my piece was exactly how I wanted it. 

Sautéed ceps with escargot - Yum!

I grabbed a bottle of Beringer red from the office cabinet, expecting it to be yet another bottle of 1997 Beringer Merlot Bancroft Ranch.  As it turns out, we actually drank the 1988 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve.  The nose was very ripe and sweet. with prunes, Asian spices and smoked game meats.  Very silky and smooth on the tongue.  After a while a little brett came out.  Not bad for a wine from a weak vintage and supposedly 10 years past its prime...

Pan-fried foie gras with Brittany oyster - the foie was perfect.  Interestingly paired with the oyster - the name of which is unknown to me and the staff wasn't able to pronounce... There were also a couple of clams along with seaweed, and this was all covered with bouillabaisse foam.  I decided to stick to the Chardonnay...

Pork belly in romaine soup topped with wild Osetra caviar - the sautéed pork belly was pretty good, and there were some raisins cooked in fruit vinegar...along with some white beans.

Challans duck breast with polenta - the duck was really good, and the polenta with peppers was alright.

Then came a whole horde of desserts...

Camembert foam with green apple sorbet, romaine salad and pink radish - interesting play between the sweet, sour and savory flavors.

Poached peach with Champagne granité and raspberry candy - nice and refreshing.

Vanilla cream w biscuit w poached fig - I guess this was just too good, since I completely forgot to take a picture before inhaling it...

Red plum soup w cream cheese

Mango with pineapple foam - yes, gweilos do love their mangoes!  Maybe the pineapple was just too sweet, but I found the mango "yolk" a little bland...

Chocolate with peach mousse and pear

I never have occasion to complain about Philippe's work, and tonight was no exception.  However, as with my last dinner here I was unhappy with the staff.  The service was very friendly, since they are aware of Tigger's relationship with Philippe.  But the staff just don't speak good enough English!  They still have trouble pronouncing the names of the ingredients, and on several occasions I had to ask them to clarify specific items.  For a fine-dining restaurant charging this level of pricing, I would expect them to hire better staff...

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