December 27, 2012

Lil' clique of alkies

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A couple of weeks after the last gathering, the Alcoholics met up again to welcome a visitor back to town.  After bailing on an earlier gathering, I finally had my chance to try out a private kitchen located in a cul-de-sac called The Coterie.  I had balked at the price being charged when I first heard about it, thinking that it was out of line with the pricing of other fine dining establishments in town, but I was very curious to see whether it was justified.  After all, the Specialist seemed enamored with the place…

The nondescript plain white walls outside concealed a richly decorated space.  Our room - one of two - was dominated by a long table with a mirrored surface.  I would discover later that someone had managed to scratch it.  The silverware was an elaborately decorated pattern from Christofle, and there were multiple wine glasses at each seat.  Put all of this together and the first word that comes to mind was "bling".

It took more than half an hour for something edible to appear on the table, partly because one of us arrived a little late.  But the lack of any snacks or bread meant that I was drinking bubbly on an empty stomach, and that is never a good thing…

Amuse bouche : vichyssoise with oscietre caviar.  Haven't had vichyssoise in a while, and I do miss it a little.

"The oyster": oyster and black winter truffle essence shooter - a Fine de Claire oyster sits in a shooter glass, along with black truffle "marinated" in the briny liquid from the oyster shell.  There was also a bit of finely diced raw onions and perhaps even a hint of dill?  There were comments around the table saying that this tasted like (Brand's) chicken essence (雞精)…  I didn't think so, as the flavors of the oyster was just so overpowering that even the black truffle - with its mushroomy perfume similar to what's present in chicken essence - was no match.  In fact, the briny taste stayed with me for quite a while.  And oh yes, we needed a little more bling with the gold leaf.

Chef Jacques Kägi sent us an additional plate of Rougié foie gras pâté and cured ox tongue checkerboard.  Delicious.

"The caviar": soft boiled free range egg with caviar - the egg had been cooked at 65˚C for 1½ hours.  From my own experience with my SousVide Supreme, I knew this was a little too long.  Sure enough, the yolk was a little too solid for my taste.

"The quiche": baked foie gras and fig quiche with lambs lettuce salad - very nicely done.  The pan-fried foie was delicious, and the texture was perfect.  Flavors worked well with the fig, custard and crust.

The chef sent out an additional plate, and this time it was raclette.  I love the smell and the flavors of this cheese, although the perfume did linger a little longer and got in the way of my wine tasting…

"The soup": cream of bouchot mussels - pretty good.

"The black risotto": risotto of squid ink and sea urchin - very tasty.    The rice was reasonably al dente, and the squid tentacles were nice and crunchy.  I liked the sweet, creamy flavors of the Canadian sea urchin which provided balance against the heavier flavors of the squid ink.

"The blue lobster": slow cooked Bretagne lobster, sage and pecorino butter sauce - very nice homard bleu in butter, although I found sage to be a little strong and distracting.

"The roulade": Bresse chicken, crab and iberico ham roulade, pistachio sauce - often there comes a time during a meal when you just start thinking "WTF…", and this would be the moment tonight.  I just thought this was a waste of material, as there are much better ways to serve Bresse chicken.  The combination with the crab was creative, but I'm not sure that I'm a fan.

"The dessert": hazelnut parfait - not bad, but I thought the flavors of the hazelnuts were a little subdued.  Perhaps a little light toasting would have helped.

The Alcoholics were pretty tame tonight - struggling to finish 1 bottle per person.  Maybe it has to do with over-indulging during the holidays...

1990 Pol Roger - nose was oxidized and "my kind of shit".  Salty plum (話梅), mineral, honey, preserved orange peel (陳皮), sugar cane, a little toasty and marmalade on the nose.  Acidity still fairly high.

1998 Trimbach Riesling Clos Sainte Hune - classic nose of petrol, a little pungent at first, and a little plasticky.  Opened up nicely to reveal sweetness and white flowers, and then polyurethane.  Still some acidity on the edges in terms of the nose.

1996 Leflaive Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet - HUGE toasty nose, gradually fading a little to reveal sweet, buttery corn.  Oily and fat.  What an amazingly beautiful wine!

1998 La Fleur-Pétrus - smoky, sweet, a bit grassy.  A little sharp on the nose.

1999 Palmer - classic nose of smoke, brett and dried herbs.  Sweet and lovely.

1997 Harlan The Maiden - very alcoholic and sharp nose, practically singeing my nose hairs off... and stayed sharp till the end of the evening.  Core of ripe and sweet fruits, showing a little honeydew melon.  Needs another few years.


Razlan said...

I am intrigued. What was the astronomical price of this place then? Was the food worth the price?

Peech said...

Razlan, check my FB page for the price. Not astronomical but I haven't been to private kitchens for a long time, so maybe I'm still stuck in old pricing mode. Was it worth the price? Food wasn't bad, but at that price I think I've got plenty of choices around town, with MUCH better service. Only thing giving this place an edge is the no-corkage policy.

Razlan said...

I saw the price. I have been to places at 1/3 the cost with no corkage policy too. Maybe not as bling as this place. Yes, probably you can do private kitchen meals three times over with the same money.


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