April 14, 2014

A feast for Babu

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It's Babu's birthday today, and some time ago I was given the mission of booking On Lot 10 for this occasion.  Babu has quickly become a big fan of David Lai's cooking, ever since I brought the Tiggers here for the very first time.  They have returned numerous times within the last year, and it seemed a natural venue for this feast.

Tonight was also a memorable evening because my godson Bear joined us for dinner.  David has never met Bear, and I've never dined out at night with Bear, either... so this was a first time for me.  I asked David to whip up some kind of pasta for Bear - since he obviously wasn't gonna eat all that fatty food the rest of us were taking in - and what arrived was a cheesy, vegetarian lasagna.  Mama Bear and I were a little bit apprehensive, since we didn't know how Bear would take to the cheese.  When he kept eating spoonful after spoonful, and ended up just about finishing an adult portion by himself, we knew David got himself a new fan.

Jamón ibérico, aged 48 months - one can never go wrong with something like this...

Whole steamed Breton artichoke, truffled anchoïade - the ladies were lucky tonight, because these artichokes were ginormous!  Yes, I deliberately wanted to sound like a Valley Girl to make a point.  These are getting to be the size of babies' heads...

Bouillabaisse - It's been a while since I had bouillabaisse from David, and tonight the cocotte was filled with little crabs - I think each of us got half.  Rich, thick, packed with flavors.  I could definitely taste the saffron and piment d'espelette.

The crab came with roe, which of course just upped the ante.  I knew there was still a lot of food to come, but I couldn't resist having a second bowl...  Oh and the croutons in the bowl were just awesome!

This Hong Kong grouper (紅斑) showed up on our table, and we were all oohing and aahing at the sight of it, since it's getting close to 3 catties.  As usual David's done it with some delicious clams, spinach and potatoes which had simply absorbed all the yummy goodness.  I looooooove the way David does fish, sometimes just as much as the steamed fish I find at top Cantonese restaurants.

Soft shell Alaskan King crab paella - I had asked for paella and figured David would try to get us another King crab.  But I should have known that David would always want to one-up himself each time we visit, and he couldn't possibly just give us the same old thing again... So before dinner started, David excitedly came to our table to show us the crab legs and asked us to touch them.  Sure enough, this was a soft shell King crab.  Now THAT's a first for me.  Just like that time when David served me TWO soft shell lobsters - one homard bleu and one Maine lobster.

Not surprisingly, the crab was DIVINE... and of course I tried to scoop up as much of the rice as I possibly could... although I didn't scrape the pan clean like I did last time.  Oh and just in case you're wondering, these medallion-looking chunks were actually crab roe wrapped in caul fat.  How's that for heart attack on a plate?

Pyrenée mountain baby lamb - I didn't think we needed any more food, but David seemed intent on showing us the really delicious baby lamb... and I knew that Babu would like some nice lamb.  Well, he not only gave us the leg that he told me about, he also ended up giving us a shoulder.  Of course it was stupidly delicious, but this was way too much food at this point...

I was tasked to pick up a cake that was on the light side, and I figured Babu wouldn't mind having the Fraisalia from Island Gourmet.

But David had other ideas about dessert, and sent up some chocolate hazelnut cake and bitter chocolate tart.  Both were excellent, but we were pushed beyond our limits by now...

I figured this would be a seafood-heavy meal (after all, I had pre-ordered most of the dishes...) so there was never any question of serving white wines, and nowadays I had gotten the Tiggers trained to drink German Rieslings...

1989 von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese - my first sip surprised me with its acidity level, but I think the wine drank better as time went on.  Nice acidity balance with some residual sugar, and a classic German Riesling.

1990 von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese - I had pulled out 2 bottles of the '89 and 1 bottle of the '90 but didn't warn the staff, so they ended up pouring the '90 into glasses partially filled with '89...  Oh well.  The '90 definitely was a little sweeter on the palate.

2002 Louis Roederer Cristal - heavy nose of toast, minerals and caramel.  Not my favorite vintage, I must say...  Contribution from another guest.

What a dinner!  I was totally stuffed and happy, and I think Babu was also pretty happy.  Many thanks to David for always giving us the best that he can deliver, and I look forward to fulfilling my godfather duties and bringing Bear back to On Lot 10!

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