September 17, 2011

Daniel N° 4

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I was in the mood to drink some wine, and needed to find a suitable venue for dinner.  My recent experiences with "Western" food in Taipei have all been misses, so I decided to go back and revisit DN Innovacíon - where my first dining experience a few months ago had been pretty positive.  It's not often that I choose to return to a "Western" restaurant these days, but I definitely wanted to try Daniel's food again.

Upon arrival, I told the waitress that I wanted the chef to put something together; that I wanted a taste of Spain and none of the other Italian and whatever dishes; that I didn't want any "molecular" dishes; and that I had no budget in mind so the chef had a free hand.

Moments later chef Daniel came to the table, and discussed the dishes he had in mind for us.  He outlined nine dishes which he wanted to serve before dessert, and the only one I vetoed was the tuna.  Believe it or not... it's been a while since I last had a tasting dinner with so many courses, and I was wondering if I would be able to do it...

A basket arrived with a wide selection of bread, all in mini, 2-bite (for me) size.  There was a selection of flavored butter that included white truffle as well as fennel.  Flavored breadsticks were also served with a selection of olive oil flavored with hazelnuts and pimento.  I stuck to having just one little piece, knowing the onslaught that was to come...

Jamón ibérico, aged 36 months - these were very thinly sliced, and as a result very tender and not like the usual slices that are kinda chewy.  The fat and oil was oozing out, and had that lovely, nutty flavor that the jamón is known for.  Heavenly.  The diced tomato for the pan con tomate had their skins removed.

Baked crabmeat and carrots au gratin - the chef mixed in some Alaskan crab meat with carrot and vegetable purée, then sprinkled breadcrumbs on top and baked it au gratin inside a large clam shell.

Pulpo - the octopus was pretty tender and juicy, with a sprinkle of pimento and plenty of olive oil.  Sipping the wine right after having the octopus really brought out the "fishy" flavors left in the mouth.

Pimentos piquillo con bacalhau - this was lovely.  Fine shreds of creamed bacalhau, which tasted very milky/creamy, stuffed inside a nice and not-so-little piquillo pepper.

Snails braised in tomato sauce - the escargots apparently come from Provence, and sizing is somewhere between petit-gris and Bourgogne.  The chef made a purée of tomatoes, carrots, onions, white asparagus, green asparagus, pimento and hairy gourd (節瓜).  Very delicious, although it was a little on the sweet side.  Wondering if this is adapting local palates.  Taking a sip of wine after swallowing a mouthful cut short the finish of the wine, although interestingly the wine tasted fine if one sips it while the escargot in still in the mouth.  Very curious...

Mushrooms braised in red wine - these were pretty good, too... although I'm not familiar with any dishes in Spanish cuisine that's got this kinda of red wine sauce.

Grandma's monk fish soup - this is definitely just a fish soup without any shellfish... The base is still clear, although there are lots of granular bits of monk fish and onions, carrots...etc suspended in the soup.  Very nice.

Pan-fried sea bream with asparagus and zucchini - the texture of the fish was rather solid, and other than the crispy skin it was definitely under-seasoned.  On the side, diced white and green asparagus were wrapped in thin slivers of zucchini.  This was OK but probably the one dish that underperformed my expectations.

Roast ibérico pork loin - chef Daniel highly recommended this, since he really loves the slightly chewy texture of the lean meat.  The taste of the pork was amazing, with the long strip of fat providing that incredibly milky flavor.  I wondered out loud whether this came from a suckling pig, even though I knew from looking at the rib bone that it wasn't the case.  Very fatty.  Very good.  There were also slices of jamón as well as figs marinated in wine.

Vanilla mousse with chestnut purée - dessert has never been a strong suit here, and this was only OK.

2007 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett - nice and big nose of petrol, plastic, white flowers, white peppers and minerals.  Surprisingly sweet mid-palate for a kabinett, although the finish was slightly bitter.  A very beautiful wine, and I'll be sure to buy more of this for my cellar.

If I had one small gripe, it had to be the service.  The staff were definitely very friendly and efficient, but not very well-trained.  First of all, none of the waitresses seemed to recognize that the way my silverware is positioned on the plate signaled that I wasn't finished with the dish.  They kept wanting to come and clear the plates while we were pausing.  After a few attempts, I finally called one of the girls over and explained to her how to read the silverware positions.

Then there was the issue with the ingredients.  I understand that many of our dishes tonight were not on the regular menu, but the waitress kept getting a lot of the ingredients wrong...even telling us that it was turbot when the chef had told us himself that he was going to serve us sea bream.  While I understand that the vast majority of the restaurant's patrons may not care or may not be able to differentiate, I still find it annoying that the staff made multiple mistakes when describing the dishes.

Now that I've finished griping, I must say that I was very happy with this meal.  There were no failed dishes, and many of the tapas-style dishes definitely appealed to my palate.  These guys have now earned themselves a number four ranking on my list for Taipei, and I look forward to returning for more.

1 comment:

Happy walker said...

hope i can be like you one day ~ can eat so many food ler ~ XD


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