March 5, 2011

Double birthday celebration

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A few of us got together tonight to celebrate a couple of birthdays:  it's actually my Favorite Bird-brain Cousin's birthday today, and we missed the chance to celebrate with Mr. Dyson last week.  Curiously, both of them wanted to go to On Lot 10 for dinner, so we ended up at one of our favorite venues.  Chef David wasn't in the house, but he set us up for another wonderful meal.

We started with two oysters:  The Belon 000 was briny and metallic as expected, but surprisingly astringent on the long finish.  The Gillardeau was still my preferred choice, which had a bit of brine but overall was more creamy and slightly sweeter.

The shrimps have a mottled (instead of striped) appearance and I think they were baked.  Once the tough shells have been cracked open, the flesh inside was just really sweet and succulent.  I couldn't stop myself from the repetitive motion of sucking the goodies out of the heads, then squeezing the flesh out of the shells... and pretty soon I had a pile of empty shells on my plate.

Razor clams baked in herbs and butter - a tad overdone, but the butter and seasoning were oh-so-nice...

I'm normally not a fan of abalone, and found the texture to be a little chewy tonight.  But this was nicely seasoned with salt and pepper and butter...

The sea urchin omelet came and there were ooohs and aaahs around the table.  The moist omelet was topped with plenty of sea urchin, covered in foam and sprinkled with lots of the piment d'espelette that David likes using so much.  Absolutely lovely.  Would have loved to have more, instead of sharing with three others...

Lobster and vin jaune risotto with morels - our eyes opened wide when this came, because each of us had a whole lobster in the bowl.  The lobster was fresh, succulent and divine.  Very decadent.  The distinctive flavors from the vin jaune were obvious in the risotto, although the execution of the risotto itself could have been better.  The morels were also surprisingly cold and seemed to be soaked in some bland liquid...

Pigeon crépinette - the first image that came to my mind when I saw this was the pigeon en croûte I had at Caprice.  Instead of a pastry exterior, this was a traditional caul fat wrapping on the outside, with a piece of foie gras sandwiched between two pieces of pigeon breast.  I wish the pigeon breast had been a bit more pink and juicy, but I still enjoyed the gamey flavors.  The pigeon leg - sans "finger" - seemed a tad under-seasoned, but I still enjoyed picking it up with my hands and chomping on it.  Our four year-old Dyson 1000 also picked up a drumstick and we chomped in sync with each other...  A bit of black truffles and lardons made the dish even more enjoyable.

Since this was a birthday celebration, we brought in an opéra.  A little crunchier than I expected, but very yummy and I inhaled it quickly.

Finally, some Saint-Marcellin to finish the meal.  This lovely soft cheese was creamy and a little acidic.

1970 Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial in magnum - Mr. Dyson and I have the same birth vintage, so I brought this out for him. Double-decanted at home, perhaps a tad early. Acidity was high as I expected, with a little gamey, ripe and pruny nose, and a little smoke. Later on I was surprised by the sweetness which emerged, plus some minty notes. The wine actually lasted a little longer than I expected.

2004 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato - lots of pine needle, forest, spices and potpourri in the nose.

A very satisfying evening... with just about the right amount of food.  I'm looking forward to my visit to David's Bistronomique in about 10 days' time!

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