October 28, 2014

Three little birds

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So here I am.  Again.  At what I nowadays refer to as My Favorite Restaurant.  Yes, boys and girls... I'm back at On Lot 10 for another dinner.  Afu was coming into town for a few days, and demanded that I take him here.  I took the opportunity to introduce him to the Great One and invited her along.  I was also originally supposed to dine with Mr. Ho tonight at a venue I haven't tried before, and since it's always better to have one more mouth at the table - and he originally wanted to come to On Lot 10, anyway - I roped him in so that we could be a table of four.  Now we have the bare minimum number of mouths to feed properly...

As usual I only pre-ordered two ingredients with David and left the rest up to him.  Upon hearing the series of dishes he had in store for us after my arrival, I tried in vain to convince him to cut down on the amount of food - knowing the beef at the end will deliver the knock-out punch.  Initially he agreed to send us fewer starters, but in the end I think he didn't listen to me at all, which was just typical...

Salted cod, truffle potato / "taoyoran" egg / espelette pepper - pretty interesting, and I'm always a big fan of salted cod.  The potatoes were surprisingly a little acidic, but I loved the black truffle and piment d'espelette used to flavor the dish.  Needless to say the Japanese egg was superb.

Beef tongue salad, foie gras / leek / hazelnut - love beef tongue any day, and the addition of foie gras mousse made it seem like a deconstructed Lucullus.  The leeks were nice, and there was plenty of black pepper.  The tongue was slightly on the salty side, though.

Hairy crab omelette - now this was a surprise... and it's been a while since I last had any hair crab dishes.  A fluffy omelette with cheese that's smothered in crab meat and roe.

Beef tartare "battuta", cantabrian anchovy / autumn truffle - another smothered dish, this time in white truffle shavings.  The anchovies were nice, but they came in pieces that were too big so they ended up overpowering both the beef and the truffle...  Very nice texture, though, since the beef is hand-beaten.

Aged Acquerello risotto, rice birds / matsutake mushroom - the Great One requested rice birds, and rice birds she shall have.  Two slightly crispy birds sit on a bed of very al dente risotto, with a rich sauce providing lots of flavor.  The matsutake (松茸) mushrooms had a nice and delicate fragrance, but they were somewhat overwhelmed...

Rice bird pot-au-feu - we love David's pot-au-feu, which used to be these monstrous pans carrying enough food for 15 people each.  This time we got served individual bowls with bite-sized portions, but instead of various cuts of beef and other goodies, we had a single rice bird, a thick slice of foie gras, and of course the veggies.

David wanted to serve us a bird that was prepared differently, and this way one could have an easier time tasting the true flavors of the bird itself.  The poached foie was perfect - so tender and fluffy that I'd almost call it mi-cuit...  The soup definitely had a lot of different spices... I wanted to say "five spice" but I don't think it was.  The surprise was black pepper, which none of us felt was necessary and kinda threw the delicate balance a little out of whack.

Napoleon wrasse collar - I tried to get David to cut out the "fish head" course, but he flatly refused... because he said this was something special.  Well, it is indeed very special... because not only does it belong to the "Avoid" category in the World Wildlife Fund's Sustainable Seafood List, it's also classified as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List... But thankfully it's only the collar and not the entire head like last time!

I know how much Mr. Ho loooves fish collars... going back to the old days when we used to visit San San Trois together.  There was plenty of chewy collagen here in addition to the meat.  And the usual caper sauce once again provided the acidity necessary to balance it all.  And those potatoes!

Lomo de Rubia Galega - we're a small party of four, so we get the striploin instead of the ribeye.  Still a formidable hunk of beef, though... It's the first time that Mr. Ho and Afu have tried this beef, and I know they are both big fans of (dry aged) beef.  As I have said to some people, this may not be the best beef you have ever had (although it is for me), but I guarantee you've never tasted beef quite like this one!  I just love that blue cheese-like taste that comes from aging the beef for a whopping 120 days... While some would prefer to have the beef on its own with just fleur de sel, I do love the rich sauce that's all over it.  Of course the taters were simply incredible, too.

We were definitely too full to have cheese or dessert, and this time I put my foot down and told the staff not to send us any.

There was, of course, wine... but we took it easy tonight.

Kikuhime Kukurihime from isshobin (菊姫 菊理姫 一升瓶) - yup, I made my friends drink the leftovers from 3 nights ago... Initially the sake tasted kinda flat on the palate, but it gradually got better with aeration, and even went from smooth and sweet (甘口) to being more dry (辛口).  Still drinkable, and actually I prefer it less dry.

1995 Joseph Phelps Insignia - initially a little alcoholic and sharp, but turned out pretty nice and fragrant, a little smoky on top of some cedar, woodsy notes.  Definitely sweet on the palate since it's from a ripe vintage, and full-bodied.  Tannins are still very much there after almost 20 years.

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