December 3, 2010

A boar-ing dinner

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The day had finally come.  Ever since our last group visit, a few of us had been waiting to return to On Lot 10 for another feast.  Of course I did go back for a nibble a couple of weeks ago, but we were all dying to be wow'ed again by David.  He is at his best when we give him carte blanche - a point illustrated once again tonight.

We had a table outside, which turned out to be a double-edged sword.  While this was the perfect weather to be dining al fresco, that experience was interrupted by intermittent puffs of cigarette smoke coming my way.  Then there was the dude on a vintage motorbike, trying to act cool with his friends and feeding us his exhaust at the same time.  Oh well...

We start out with some babylonia.  This is something I would not order on my own, but I was more than happy to dig the flesh out of the shells and munch.

Next came a sea urchin in its shell.  For some reason I have never had sea urchin straight from the shell, and this was a good introduction.  From the color of the gonads (yes, that's the part of the sea urchin you eat) and the shell I'm guessing it's Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹).  Not exactly sure why the Japanese chose to associate it with "horse dung"...  Anyway it was pretty creamy.

The Belon oyster was nice and big.  Very fresh, and perfect with a little squeeze of lemon juice.

Here is where the show started to get really intense.  The plate of mackerel crostini arrived, and our eyes opened wide at the sight of those gleaming fillets.  These raw, succulent pieces were lightly flavored with salt, pepper, olive oil, and somehow cut to perfectly fit on top of the bread slices.  There was a little tapenade on the bread, which was delicious.  I've had plenty of mackerel, both raw and cooked, and none were as memorable as these mouthfuls I took in tonight.  Bravo!

The group uttered another collective "oooh" with the arrival of duck ham.  Magret de canard is something we are all familiar with, but it's not everyday that you see someone making ham out of it.  Looking like big slices of Spanish jamon, these were just really delicious.  I wonder if David will sell me a couple of breasts to take home...

We had asked David to serve us some wild boar, and this would come in a series of dishes.  First up was wild boar paté.  I love a good paté, and this was as interesting as they come.  The meat was more chewy than your average paté, and there was liver and other crunchy bits of cartilage mixed in.  I must have had half of this block by myself...

There was a salad course to make us feel a little healthy.  Interesting mix of greens, and I don't want to know how much butter was used to make those croutons...

The river turtle soup was pretty nice, and is another course I normally would not order on my own.  The soup kinda tasted like beef consommé with a pinch of pepper.  My bowl had plenty of soft cartilage...

The stuffed scorpion fish was a total surprise.  I'm guessing that what we ate was not an actual scorpion fish - which is highly venomous - but a cabezone.  In any case the fish looked impressive on the plate, and it wasn't until one of us cut it open that we realized that there was rice stuffed inside.  The texture of the flesh was very springy and bouncy.  The rice stuffing was flavored with different herbs and lovely, and there was something akin to fennel giving a hint of anise.

We were served two additional parts of the wild boar.  The wild boar loin was stuffed with bits of foie gras, then wrapped in a layer of back fat.  Initially I thought it was a layer of skin, since the outer surface was a little crispy.  The loin was tender and moist, no doubt  thanks to the amount of fat it was absorbing.  The layer of fat was heavenly.  All of this sat on a bed of Swiss chard, which I found a little too "earthy" for my liking.

The leg of wild boar with sweet corn polenta was pretty awesome.  Unfortunately I was already over my limit by this point, and wasn't able to finish my piece.

The huge serving of tartiflette actually arrived before the boar, and we were totally knocked back...  Honestly, this is a one-dish meal and  coming at the end of a big feast is a bit too much.  Despite having just announced to the table of my general lack of interest in potatoes (except for frites, and in particular the ones from Mickey D's), I couldn't resist the temptation.  The cream, melted Brie (substituted for Reblochon), lardon and finally the perfume of black truffles sprinkled all over the place...  I dug in, and was a happy little camper.

Thankfully David chose to end the meal with a little fruit, and this time with some deliciously ripe and sweet pears from Japan.  In Japanese they are called La France (ラ・フランス) - something that was pretty amusing to Froggie - but the cultivar is in fact originally from France and the same as Blanchet Claude.  What an awesome way to end the evening!

We did have a little wine, and were pretty civilized.  I brought a bottle of 2007 Rex Hill Pinot Gris.  Nose of minerals, apricot and tropical fruits.

2000 Pride Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon - I had been cellaring this bottle ever since my visit to the vineyard in 2003.  This was really sweet, with a bit of smoked meats and coconut butter.  Still with a surprisingly amount of tannins, and initially the finish was pretty short.

2006 Tim Adams the Aberfeldy - nose of potpourri, pine needle, and mint.  Very sweet, which is typical of Aussie Shiraz.

What an amazing evening!  This being the day after the latest release from the rubberman, where so many undeserving places received macarons, I couldn't think of a better way to spend the evening than being at a restaurant where the chef is passionate, creative, and truly cares about his guests'  dining experience.

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