May 17, 2011

The best white wine from France

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After last year's dinner, my inventory of wines from the parental units' anniversary vintage was depleted.  This meant only one thing - going out to look for more wine!  Fortunately, at an auction a couple of weeks after the dinner, I managed to pick up something from this very important vintage.

Here we are one year later, and it's time to pop open another bottle and celebrate.  We are now on a rotating schedule for these celebratory dinners - alternating between the old favorite Paris 1930 and newcomer L'Atelier de Joël RobuchonThe last dinner was at Robuchon, so this time we paid a visit to Jack, Rolf and the team at Paris 1930.

I arrived to find the wine already decanted as I had instructed.  The waitstaff brought us our bread, butter...etc.  It all seemed to be off to a good start.

That's when I caught the first whiff of it.  It came, uninvited, announcing its presence.  I recognized it instantly.  Fahrenheit by Christian Dior.  A cologne I started to wear in high school and carried with me to college.  Intensely sweet, it came at me in waves from the laowai at the next table.

This just won't do.  Here I have opened up a beautiful, old bottle of fine wine, and my evening was going to be ruined by this inconsiderate bozo next door.  Does the guy not realize that when it comes to personal fragrances, less is more?  These guys are drinking some wine, too... so do they not care that all what goes through their nostrils is the wrong kind of alcohol?

Fortunately the restaurant wasn't full, and in a few minutes Rolf had arranged for us to sit inside one of the private rooms, away from the offending intruder and the rest of the crowd.  I could now relax and enjoy my dinner.

Instead of ordering one of the set menus as usual, Rolf suggested that we give him and Chef David free rein and put together a small list of dishes to match the wine.  We happily agreed, and would go on to have a wonderful meal.

The amuse bouche was a small deep-fried puff pastry with fish and nutmeg foam.  Not bad.

Lobster ravioli with radish and flying fish roe - a very delicious and refreshing dish.  The "ravioli" are made with 2 thin slices of radish, encasing lumps of shredded lobster and then topped with flying fish roe.  The lovely presentation included a sprinkle of colorful flowers (such as perilla) and white balsamico.  Mom really enjoyed this dish, and so did I.

White and green asparagus with black truffles - no surprise that Rolf suggested the white asparagus, which are in season and would match with the wine.  The fragrance of the asparagus as well as the accompanying truffles filled the entire room.  A simple yet beautiful dish. 
Mushroom consommé with foie gras and foie gras ravioli - another course which matches the wine perfectly.  Loved the clean flavors of the consommé.  The small ravioli had small bits of foie and red peppercorns, which filled the mouth with their perfume as they are crushed by one's teeth.  The pan-fried cubes of foie floating on top were plump and fatty...absolutely delish.  Mom loves foie gras and so this was right up her alley.  I think this is her favorite soup!

Pan-fried quail with "bird's nest" - not surprisingly, dad went for the beef while mom and I went for the quail.  The quail was wrapped in a thin layer of ham, then pan-fried while keeping the center still red.  If the center looks a little dark, it is because the chef added some "filling" which was made by cooking jujube/red dates in Brandy.  The rich, fruit flavors worked well with the gamey quail.  The jus was flavored with cumin, adding a light, exotic touch to the dish.  The "nest" was made with very thin strands of noodles, which were crispy and delicious.  Mom was happy, and so was I.

Vanilla soufflé - of course dessert would have to be soufflé, as they remembered that it's mom's favorite.  This was pretty well-done, although it is perhaps a touch wet and mushy. 

I was happy to have gone back to Paris 1930 tonight.  Jack and Rolf have been around for a number of years now, and their passion for food and wine are clearly evident.  We have always been well-served by them.  They have been joined recently by a few young 'uns, who studied medicine and architecture at school but decided to follow their passion for food.  It showed in the service tonight, and that's what makes this place a great restaurant. 

1969 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche - decanted about half an hour before dinner, this wine kept improving until hitting a plateau about 2 hours later.  A big nose with lots of toast, sweet like shredded coconut, straw, Chinese licorice, lots of ripeness, tobacco, buttery, sweet corn, nutty with a hint of coffee.  Slightly acidic on the palate, but the nose was ripe and sweet all through the night.  Mom detected some "rotten wood" at the beginning which faded quickly.  This bottle was very, very good.  Extremely happy with this wine, and certainly a privilege to drink it!  I offered a glass to Rolf as I normally would, to thank him for the wonderful services he's given us all these years.

Another very happy anniversary dinner spent with the parental units, with another great bottle of wine.  I am hoping for many, many more evenings like tonight.

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