May 31, 2013

Falling asleep at dinner

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I ran into a couple of ladies at Catalunya a few weeks ago, and during our brief conversation one of them mentioned that she had never been to On Lot 10.  Now for some reason I am seen by some of my friends as an unofficial ambassador for On Lot 10… so it seemed natural when it was suggested that I arrange a dinner for us to introduce Chef David Lai's cuisine.

As usual, I asked David to decide what he wanted to serve us.  He chose from his new menu, and thankfully kept it to a reasonable number of dishes…

Steamed gooseneck barnacle 'en papillote', samphire, sea kelp and lemon - this wasn't the first time I've had barnacles here, but it was the least enjoyable experience… This batch was just wrong… way too difficult to get to the flesh inside.  We gave up halfway.

Chilled summer vegetables 'barigoule' - I preferred the crudités from my last visit much more… Tonight these were slow-cooked and marinated, so they were acidic and mushy while served cold.  Somehow reminds me of bad pickles from Europe in the old days…

Jumbo asparagus, spring garlic, frog legs, escargot - pretty yummy.  Somehow everything just came together… the wonderful cloves of garlic, the frog legs, herbs like parsley, the leek… and of course the escargots.  This embodies the essence of David's cuisine.

Marrow bone, Italian sturgeon caviar - interesting to have caviar on top of marrow, which made it a difficult choice in terms of wine pairing… in the end I went with the white.  The marrow was yummy, and left a huge pool of oil on my plate.  I wasn't gonna have any bread, but in the end I needed something to soak up all that yummy goodness and not let it go to waste!

Australian wagyu hanger steak 'carpaccio', baby artichoke, hazelnut and niçoise olive - this was simply introduced as "carpaccio" when it was laid down in front of us.  No shit, Sherlock!  We can see that…  Finding out what else was on our plate was like pulling teeth, until we were given a copy of the menu.  Nice beef, and the flavor combinations were pretty good.

Sauté gourmand 'Alain Ducasse': lobster, foie gras, sweetbread, rooster comb, kidney and morel mushroom and pasta - wow!  Thankfully this was our only main course, because it was all we needed!  This was a bit of everything thrown in… "gourmand" indeed!  Lots of things here that would take a true gourmand to appreciate, and I certainly can't make that claim.  It's easy to love things like summer truffle, lobster, foie, sweetbread… and for the second time this month I'm having rooster comb.  But one thing I still don't eat is chicken kidney testicles… or pretty much any male genitalia / sexual organs.  Call me narrow-minded, but it just doesn't  excite me…

But other than that, the dish was truly delicious.  The sauce was full of yummy lobster and shellfish flavors, and I didn't mind that the pasta was a little chewy.  We weren't able to finish this, and I decided to take the leftovers home with all the sauce, so that I can toss a bowl of instant noodles with it at home!

The pear tart was as yummy as usual…

…and the new chocolate fudge cake was pretty good, too.  With my first bite, I thought this might be a little too dry… but the layer of fudge quickly made up for it.

Wine is an integral part of many meals, especially here.  I was told that we should have three bottles since it was a Friday night, but alas, one of us really wasn't much of a drinker… or maybe I should include myself in that count?  In the end we had to call for reinforcements, and David joined us at the end of the evening to help us finish it all…

2005 Petaluma Chardonnay Tiers - pretty big nose with lots of toast, corn, mineral and flint.  Ripe and acidic on the palate, with plenty of citrus.  Much better than the last bottle I had from the same case.

1991 Opus One - double-decanted for 1½ hours prior to drinking.  Smoky, fruity, mineral, minty with pencil lead.  First pour was much more lively, and mellowed out as the evening went on.  Tannins were rounded, soft and silky.  Such a great value.

1990 Les Forts de Latour - much softer and more elegant than I had expected, perhaps a result of sitting in a decanter for about 1½ hours.  A little smoky, with surprisingly prominent sweet grassy notes.  Always a treat to drink this wine.

This was a little too much wine on a Friday night, after about 3 weeks of not getting enough sleep… is it any wonder that I fell asleep at the table?

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