January 25, 2011

Blame it on Bordier

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It's been almost a year since I first took Tigger to Caprice, and during this time the iron grips of the Mandarin Oriental hasn't been loosened one bit.  Well, we found occasion for me to take him back for another visit.

I arrived very early and had a couple of bites of foccacia and sipped on some tea while waiting for everyone else to arrive.  That was my first mistake.

Amuse bouche:
Salmon tartare flavored with lemon and yuzu - love the citrusy flavors.
Deep-fried potato croquette
Mushroom cream soup with eggplant cream - the eggplant had very strong flavors as it was roasted.  Pretty good.

Obsiblue prawn tartare, Osetra caviar, shellfish jelly and yuzu aroma - this was very nice.  I normally don't like prawn tartare, as I prefer them to be cooked so show the full flavors of the shellfish.  Here there is a good balance between the savory flavors of the caviar, the lovely tastes of the shellfish jelly, as well as the slightly acidic yuzu cream.

Périgord black truffle tart, Brittany artichoke and aged Permesan Chiboust - this was exactly what we had for Tigger's birthday last year.  Still pretty good... Not much to complain about when you've got black truffles, artichoke and puff pastry together with some yummy Parmesan cream.

Red mullet, vegetable tajine, Cedrat lemon jam and sweet spices - everyone did a double-take with this one, as red mullet - known as 紅衫魚 locally - is a pretty common fish in these parts.  Execution here was OK, but despite this being a French red mullet - as opposed to local fish - people at the table didn't think it was anything special.  The veggies on the side weren't particularly interesting, either...

I was getting kinda full, thanks to all the bread I was wolving down.  As usual, I just couldn't resist the beurre salé from Bordier... even though I knew it will take up a lot of precious room in my tummy.

Périgord milk-fed veal, young spinach leaves, Forestière potato and Tricastin black truffle in Madeira sauce - this was a lot of veal.  Perfectly executed sous-vide, with lovely black truffle shavings on top.  Very tender and juicy.  The chopped sweatbreads and mushrooms on the side was interesting.

I took a selection of cheese, which included a Tomme whose name I don't recall.

The Laurentine was soooo runny it went down like a waterfall to the lower level at the edge of the cheese platter.  I loved this goat cheese from Midi Pyrenées.

The Mont d'Or was nice and soft, but not as runny as I would have liked.

Cabri d'Ariegeois continues to be one of my favorites, although it really is too salty to be eaten on its own.  Unfortunately I had run out of room for any more bread...

Piña Colada sorbet with coconut crumble and pineapple - I had this "pre-dessert" on my last visit, and this was right up my alley... fruity and refreshing.

Brazilian chocolate, arabica coffee, crunchy toffees and caramel ice cream - this was actually pretty good, especially the caramel ice cream encased in chocolate.  Everything was pretty yummy, actually... with a good balance and the chocolate not too rich and over the top.

I had chosen a special bottle of wine for this evening.  1990 Guigal La Turque is from a stellar vintage in the Rhône, and comes from my absolute favorite producer in the world.  This limited-production cuvée can be so opulent and sexy, yet at times betraying the raw animal power underneath.

Unfortunately, the wine disappointed tonight.  Two hours in the decanted failed to open the wine sufficiently, and the nose was initially very muted.  Gradually the unmistakable floral notes emerged, along with black fruits, prunes, smoke, game meat and forest.  A little alcoholic, actually.  But the real deal never showed up.  I would rate it 92 points at best, far from the perfection I expected.

I ran into the Ox at the restaurant, and noticed that he brought along a bottle of 1990 Rouget Echezeaux.  I had joked about doing a swap, and thought about sending a glass of the La Turque over but ended up finishing it.  At the end of dinner, the Ox generously shared a class of his wine with me.  I was surprised by the strong nose of toasty oak, which faded to reveal some sweetness, prunes and clear oxidation.  I must say I was a little disappointed in this wine, too.

Nevertheless, this was a pretty good evening.  Did the food "wow" me tonight?  No, but I didn't handpick the dishes this time.  Moreover, when dining with Mr. and Mrs. Tigger these days, playing it safe is of the utmost importance.  So we settled for a perfectly good but unremarkable dinner, which was just fine.

I was, unfortunately, stuffed beyond belief.  Damn that Bordier butter...

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