January 11, 2014

Skanky and spicy

Pin It

I was invited by some friends tonight for a casual gathering at their home. Dinner involved two things that don’t feature often in my eating habits – hotpot and spicy food, so things would be a little different for a change.

The hotpot was already bubbling on the table top, but it would have to wait. Our hostess was making fish filets in chilli oil (水煮魚) – a famous Sichuanese dish that I don’t normally eat because it’s deathly spicy.  She was in the kitchen stir-frying a pile of chilli peppers, Sichuan peppercorns and a whole lot of other stuff. The fumes coming out were pretty incredible.

And it WAS spicy. Our hostess used two types of fish, and the giant grouper (花尾龍躉) had a nice layer of fat underneath the thick skin. In addition to the chilli and peppercorns, there was also a combination of bean sprouts, pickled mustard (榨菜), mung bean noodles (粉皮)…etc. Not only did my tongue and mouth burn, but my nose immediately started running… and I ended up having hiccups for a while – a reaction I sometimes have when my body can’t take the spice…

Once I had my initial bowl of this, I tried to douse my tongue with cold water and waited for my taste buds to recover. Then it was time to start dunking food into the boiling soup base from Dong Lai Shun (東來順). The lamb dumplings (羊肉餃) were surprisingly not very lamby, but pretty good nonetheless.

I was pretty happy with the various cuts of lamb, though… They definitely had the lamby flavor, and in fact I wished they were even more “skanky/lamby (羊騷味)”… Yup, my tastes run pretty heavy (as they say in Chinese, 重口味) when it comes to lamb or mutton.

There was also “lamb bacon”…

Besides the usual accompiment of tofu, corn, chrysanthemum greens (茼蒿) and other veggies, we also ended up with what seemed to be inaniwa udon (稲庭うどん) and veggie-flavored noodles.

We were in luck when it came to dessert. The creators behind Mara Js Pâtisserie were in the house, and we were treated to some of their goodies… like this yummy palmier that it took about 5 seconds for me to inhale.

I also couldn’t resist the Florentines… which were made with so much butter that my olfactory senses were flooded … as the molecules gushed up into my nose from the back of my throat. Yeah I couldn’t keep my hands off of a second one…

Finally, there were some chocolates and these amaretti from somewhere in the Mornington Peninsula. Slurp.

But what does one do about alcohol when the food on the table is lamb hotpot or something spicy enough to put one’s taste buds out of commission? I had wanted to bring some mature German Rieslings, both for the lower alcohol and for the higher sugar content… but changed my mind in favor of something to match the hotpot.  I thought it'd be fun to bring a pair of aged wines from great vintages, which aren't expensive but difficult to find nowadays.

Sotheby’s Champagne Blanc de Blancs (élaboré par R&L Legras) – very fresh, fruity, yeasty with crisp acidity. The Zalto Champagne glass seemed to have delivered a more focused nose.

Rien (梨園) – very sweet pear liqueur, and very “fragrant” thanks to the essence/extracts/flavorings added. Not sure which type of pear this was, as Hita Pear (日田梨) could be any of 8 cultivars.

1978 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde – served 10 minutes after opening without decanting. Lovely floral nose with bacon fat, sweet fruit, a little yammy. After 40 minutes the wine started going downhill. The palate was very soft, but there’s still plenty of life in this wine.

1985 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde – served 1 hour after opening without decanting. More minty, more concentration here, showing cooler fruit, riper and sweeter on the nose. For some reason this declined drastically later, turning really dusty and kinda nasty. Needs to be drunk within 1½ hours of opening.

1990 Rayas Pignan – initially seemed a little dusty because of the glass. A little alcoholic at one point, but there was a good amount of sweet fruits here. Naturally this was lighter than the Guigals.

Number One Drinks Company 1990 Hanyu (一番 羽生) – surprisingly peaty and medicinal for a Japanese whisky. Single cask at 55.5%.  Bottled in 2007.

A nice and fun evening... and I fell asleep at the table...again.  I guess nothing ever changes...

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map