November 19, 2010

Spicy French

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An impromptu dinner with friends.  After ruling out the first couple of venues for one reason or another, I suggested we meet at On Lot 10.  Even though I wasn't thinking about it at the time, my subconscious must have been steering me towards this place... since I know there's a little hare waiting for me.

I chatted with David a little before my friends arrived.  He had been reading the recent posts and knows about my misadventures in Burgundy, and even mentioned on Facebook that a certain dish I missed out on in France is on his menu.

I started with some Boudin Basque, which I had gotten a taste of on my first visit.  I could never resist any type of blood sausage, so this was an obvious choice for me.  The sausage was actually a little caramelized and sweet.  I scooped aside the mustard and just concentrated on the sausage itself, although the onsen egg on top wasn't bad.  I was a little surprised by the liberal use of some chili powder on the egg...

The ladies had an extra stuffed conch so I had a chance to taste it.  Kinda weird to have chopped conch meat mixed in with pork and stuffed back into the shell.  There was also liberal use of pepper which made it spicy.

The kitchen sent out some bouillabaisse.  Plenty of yummy flavors here, and I could taste the fennel which I never knew was part of the recipe.  But once again it was a little more spicy than I expected, with some "Indian powder" (so were told by the wait staff...).

Finally, my lièvre à la royale arrived.  My first experience of this dish - a refined version at that - was at Philippe Rochat 2 years ago.  It's game season and the one regret I have about my recent trip to France was that I never got around to having this dish.  Here it was... a big hunk in the middle of the dish made of wild hare, offal and foie gras.  It was heavy.  Not that I didn't expect it, but by this time I had consumed extra portions of food I did not plan for, and I struggled a little to finish the dish.   The penne with shaved Parmesan on the side helped to balance out the dish.

The ladies started us off with a bottle of 1999 Tattinger Comte de Champagne.  I could smell the yeasty nose from across the table, as it was poured into the flutes.  Toasty with a bit of caramel on the nose.  Medium acidity on the palate but finished rather dry.

I knew that I didn't have anything in the office that the ladies would want to drink, so I brought what I thought was the next best thing - a bottle of 2002 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Ferrington Vineyard.  Oops!  This was so... Californian!  I couldn't have found a more "Californian" bottle if I tried.  Nose was really sweet, almost bubble gum-like, with pine needle, a bit of chalk and vanilla.  Very sweet on the palate, which later turned to be hot and orange on the finish.  With additional aeration, coffee and coconut butter notes emerged.  I might as well have been drinking a bottle of Pride Cabernet!  After a week drinking some of the best Burgundy reds, even I couldn't bear to drink much of this wine.  The ladies very politely sipped the wine, and left the remainder of the bottle to me...

Not bad for an impromptu evening, but I'll remember to bring better wine next time...


Unknown said...

"piment d'espelette" from the French Basque. Normally more sweet than spicy, looks like we got a spicy batch. Sorry!

Peech said...

David, I'm assuming you are referring to what was on the onsen egg and boudin Basque... No problem at all. I know it usually is more sweet.

...or we you referring to what's in the bouillabaisse/fish soup?


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