December 23, 2013

A fighter till the end

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It's the final MNSC dinner of the year, and it's down to the wire... not just the two-way race at the top, but also the three-way mêlée for last place.  No one wants to distinction of finishing last and being stuck with secretarial duties for next year, so there was a lot at stake.

Pineapple loves the food at Hong Kong Club, so we're back here for another edition after that bunch of 60-year-old wines three years ago.  The problem with coming to Hong Kong Club is that they sometimes hassle you about the bag that you're carrying, insisting that you check it at the door.  As there was a likelihood of not being able to carry my camera up to the dining table, I decided to leave my gear at home... and rely on my trusty lil' iPhone instead.

Caesar salad, shaved Parmesan, focaccia croûton

Marbled goose liver terrine, Ibérico ham and fig, Kenya bean and truffle salad, walnut oil dressing - the fig was very yummy, and I was surprised to find that the ham was supposed to be jamón ibérico.  It was good to get some veggies in with the salad, but the winner was definitely the goose liver terrine.  Spreading it over toast sticks with some gelée and a very ripe and sweet slice of melon underneath was just... Slurp!

Linguini pasta, wagyu beef bolognaise, porcini ragù, Parmesan - the pasta was overcooked and flabby.  I honestly don't see the point of using wagyu if you're gonna make it into a bolognese sauce... The saving grace here was the very tasty chunk of porcini.

Whole roast American prime rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, runner beans and sautéed cabbage - what a nice hunk of meat!  Beautifully roasted.  I hesitated a little but did not ask for an end cut.

The center was still red and juicy, while the edges were nicely charred with more flavor from the seasoning.  I don't normally go for big pieces of beef, but I gotta say that I really enjoyed this well-executed piece of meat.  The Yorkshire pudding was excellent, with bits of rosemary in the batter.  The cabbage and especially the runner beans were cooked to the point of mushiness, but oh well... gotta fill my veg quota of the day!

Homemade Christmas pudding, brandy butter and sauce - I never was much of a fan of Christmas pudding, but I guess this was OK.

I was pretty stuffed, especially since I'm not really used to chomping down on big hunks of meat, but found myself strangely unable to stop...  At least I cut out most of the fat, but in the end I didn't force myself to finish the ribeye.

So with the final tasting of the year, Pineapple was once again very creative with the lineup - something I've grown to appreciate over the years.

At a tasting that I missed around a decade ago, Pineapple put all the decanters on ice, and apparently everyone thought the Third and Fifth Growth wines tasted fantastically well.  It would appear that he was up to his old tricks again tonight...  Although to be fair, we do tend to drink our reds too warm here in Asia.

Pol Roger Brut Réserve, disgorged at least 12 years ago - nose was really grassy, almost a little moldy, caramelized, very ripe, with Chinese licorice (甘草), kinda plummy, and a little sharp.  There were still a reasonable amount of bubbles here, so it didn't feel that old, and certainly not something that was disgorged 30-40 years ago as it would have oxidized further.

First flight: opened 1 hour 15 minutes and decanted 45 minutes prior to serving
1971 Lafleur - fruity and forward, more raisiny, opened up amazingly for just a whiff before muting down again.  Slightly higher acidity here and lighter.  Pretty exotic, stewed nose, with blackcurrant.  95 points.

1978 Lafleur - really beautiful, minty, open and fragrant nose.  Smoky, slightly earthy, classic Bordeaux, grassy, leathery, with a little brett.  96 points.

Second flight: opened 2 hours and decanted 1½ hours prior to serving
1975 Lafleur - minty, open and wonderful nose, smoky.  Later on savory like soy sauce.  93 points.

1979 Lafleur - smoky, forest, potpourri, coconut butter, toffee, a hint of burnt rubber on the nose.  Ripe and sweet on palate.  95 points.

Third flight: opened 3½ hours and decanted 2½ hours prior to serving
1990 Lafleur-Petrus - a little smoky, a little pungent but beautiful nose.  Slightly sharp, and a little savory.  94 points.

1990 Lafleur - a little ripe, a little muted at first.  4½ hours after opening the nose was much sweeter, but still a little bit sharp.  95 points.

1990 Petrus - a little green pepper, smoky, cooler fruit and not as ripe.  94 points.

This tasting managed to shift the rankings at the bottom of the pack, and our resident martial arts enthusiast turned out to be the evening's biggest loser - but went down fighting gallantly.  Here's to another year of dodging bullets...

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