September 21, 2014

Typhoon birthday

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I'm back in Taipei again for a short trip this weekend, this time to hang out with dad on his birthday.  But with me being the "typhoon magnet", this also turned out to be the weekend when Typhoon Fung Wong decided to pay Taiwan a little visit... and totally confuse us by going in all sorts of weird directions.  I was seriously worried throughout the entire weekend that either the restaurant I booked would be closed, or that my flight the next morning would be massively delayed.  Thankfully it all worked out well in the end...

I booked a table for us at STAY via their website and online portal, which was confirmed with a return phone call pretty quickly and painlessly.  While the restaurant called me a couple of times leading up to the dinner to confirm that we were still coming and not cancelling due to the coming wind and rain, my response was simply "if you are open for business, we will come".  On a night like this, I was ever so grateful that the restaurant was situated inside a shopping mall - so that we can pull into the underground parking lot and stay dry in spite of the elements.

Last-Minute Uncle couldn't join us tonight, so both Foodie Wannabe and Sporty Cousin came along with us.  It's actually kinda satisfying to see Sporty Cousin maturing and becoming capable of appreciating fine dining - a far cry from this performance three years ago.

For some reason I've never ordered the set menus here, and I wasn't about to start tonight.  Maybe because my lunch at home was comparatively light (since I was full from taking the Girl Who Ate Everything for a heavy breakfast), but tonight I felt I needed more food than usual... so I ended up ordering two starters.  OINK!

The trio of amuses bouches arrived, and helped us get started:
Zucchini mousse - with a little black olive.

Smoked salmon with crab roe

Pumpkin mousse with nuts - nice and light lemon flavors.

Japanese sea urchin "bavaroise", light fennel foam - loved the light fennel foam, and the sea urchin custard below had brunoise of fennel encased throughout.  The finely shredded nori (のり) seaweed worked well with the raw sea urchin.  Nice and absolutely no complaints here.

Fricassee of Burgundy snails, fregola, watercress and confit tomato - yes, I am a creature of habit, and I must have fregola here every time I'm here... since there is always some dish with fregola on the menu.  This was exactly the same dish that I had 3 months ago on my birthday, and I had no regrets about ordering it again.  Yum!

Australian lamb cutlet, eggplant caviar, zucchini and lamb jus - loved the flavors here... green zucchini discs, brunoise of carrots and yellow zucchini, black olives... all worked well with the lamb jus.

I had asked for medium-rare instead of medium as suggested by our waitress, but to me this looked more medium... although it was more rare closer to the bone.  Not bad at all, but too lean for me.  Where's the fat?!

I had ordered two starters with the intention of not having any dessert, but in the end I wanted to see what the new pastry chef could deliver.

Pineapple pavlova, lime, ginger and crispy meringue - actually pretty nice combination of flavors and texture.  Served with local pineapple hearts on the side, which naturally provided crunchy texture but were relatively bland in flavor.

Tropical opera and coffee eclair - the opéras were made with layers of sponge cake, and I didn't find the texture very interesting.  The éclairs, on the other hand, were fantastic.

Cute little soft pineapple lollipop to finish off.

I've been lucky enough to track down wines from dad's vintage, and so we brought them along to toast dad.  Once again, the restaurant refused to charge me corkage despite my protests...

1940 Cheval Blanc - very light in color... almost fading to a rosé... with LOTS of sediment here.  There was still some fruit here, a little prune, leather, animal, and smoked meats.  The nose improved with aeration in the bottle, and after one hour I even detected some savory minerals.  The wine drank very nicely, and even after almost 3 hours the wine had not faded.  Fantastic stuff!

1940 Sisqueille Rivesaltes - I brought the leftover from last night and finished it off, offering some to the chefs at the end of the meal. Nose has softened up a little, but the alcohol was still a little sharp. Still got the marmalade, nutty, and apricot notes.

This was another wonderful dinner.  Once again mom liked both of the dishes she ordered, and also got to taste other dishes since dad and I would offer her a bite of ours.  She's become a real big fan of this place, and as for me... I can't find fault with the dishes here, either.  I guess we'll be coming back here a little more frequently now...

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