March 10, 2012

Revisiting an old friend

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My evening started at my beloved Caprice.  No, I did not have dinner there, because by the time I realized I was free for the evening, it was already Tuesday and impossible to secure a table here.  I was actually meeting up with a couple of friends here for a pre-dinner drink… or two or three.

Lancelot-Royer Cuvée des Chevaliers - mineral, sweet and honey, pear, sweet grass, candy and orange rind nose.  Slightly sweet, round and rich on the palate.  A very lovely and elegant NV blanc de blancs.

1975 Hermann Freiherr von Schorlemer Wiltinger Sandberg Riesling Auslese - very classic, with polyurethane, white pepper and mineral notes.  Not too sweet on the palate, as the aging had mellowed out the sugar attack somewhat.

2001 Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet - wow!  What an amazing wine!  The first whiff was already showing a big, toasty and mineral nose, and this was before the wine actually warmed up a little and really opened up.

I had already overstayed my welcome, so I thanked my friends for their generosity and went off to my own dinner - with I Love Lubutin and My Favorite Birdbrain Cousin.

I posted a comment on Facebook Tuesday after having called 3 restaurants and failing to secure a table at any of them.  Chef David very kindly offered me a table after I mentioned - without intending to ask for any special favors - that On Lot 10 was full and overbooked.  I am always grateful for the kindness shown by my friends…

I haven't been back here since last June, which is practically forever… So glad to get some more of David's dishes, especially those away from the "mainstream French" that are always found at lesser restaurants.

Beef tartare - a "simple" version without the usual sauce, as David chose to showcase the flavors and texture of the beef while adding only chiffonade of black truffles and truffle oil, Parmesan, salt and pepper.  Can't complain…

Crispy pork brain, "grenobloise" - a rare treat for me to eat brain, since it doesn't show up on many menus.  Very nice and creamy inside, almost like tofu.  The dollop of sauce on the side looked like tartar sauce, but is actually made with little chunks of egg white, egg yolk, diced cornichons and cream…  The acidity from the cornichons helps cut down the fat…

Sea bass carpaccio - never had sea bass as carpaccio before, but this was kinda interesting… cuts are a little thicker so the texture was more like sashimi… with salt and pepper on top.  Nice and a little chewy - the way I would want my raw white fish.

Asparagus risotto - these asparagus spears were HUGE… yet still delicious and juicy.  The green peas were very sweet and succulent… very yummy.  Interesting use of arugula to pick up the flavors.  In fact, the flavors of all the ingredients all came together in harmony, so it was a very yummy dish.  My only complaint was that the rice itself was not as al dente as the best Italian places in town, but that's both a personal preference and also because we are a pretty picky bunch…

Red prawns, a la plancha - I didn't realize this at first, but they were carabineros!  Except they were 5 sizes smaller than the ones I'm used to seeing…  We were told that cost-wise, three of these (and we each got three) would be the same as one single giant prawn.  Well, I think I'd rather have one giant carabinero, actually…  I was happily sucking the heads until I realized that they weren't as fresh as could be… the flesh was getting a little mushy, and I spent some time picking out the veins since they were full of contents I had no intention of putting on my tongue nor in my stomach…  Flavor-wise, though, they were pretty yummy.  I didn't ask if the chef had used the saffron sauce that was advertised in the menu.

Ibérico pork rib roast, "forestière", pomme purée - the final course that knocked the wind out of me…  Thick slab of pork chop, cooked to perfection so as to remain succulent and showcase the full flavors of pork fat.  The sauce was made with potato mash, girolles, pearl onions, chervil and truffles… Sooooo heavy…  Pretty tasty, though!

I was completely defeated, and it seems the others felt the same way.  David generously offered us a Saint-Félicien but we just couldn't fit anything more… so we took a doggie bag and saved it for another day.

It was so good to be back in the hands of an old friend… it's been way too long.  If only I could get things like this on a more regular basis in Taipei...

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