December 30, 2014

Last star of 2014

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I admit I've been on a tear lately. Sometime in November I was asked how many (Michelin) stars I have "collected" this year.  Well, I know I do tend to frequent high-end restaurants and many of them do have stars bestowed on them, but I never consciously went out of my way to "collect" them.  It did get me thinking, though... and I decided I should go out and revisit a bunch of places I haven't been to in a while... and see how much I can squeeze in before year end.

So when it came time to meet up for one last lunch with my friend, I offered him a choice of a sushi restaurant or Upper Modern Bistro - which had just gotten themselves a star.  It's been a few months since I was last here, so I was happy to come back for a relaxing meal...

63°c egg, cuttlefish, smoked eel, baby corn, mushroom consommé - as tempted as I was to try something else, in the end I simply couldn't resist going back to having the egg... Such comfort food despite the interesting mix of ingredients.  The green and vegetal flavors of the baby corn and sprouts were front-and-center, and once you get past the slightly heavy flavors of the croûtons, what comes through at the end is actually the mushrooms - mostly shiitake and not the enoki - but especially that mushroom consommé.  It is wonderfully fragrant yet surprisingly delicate at the same time.  I could easily have drunk 2 bowls of it, and having a little egg yolk in it didn't hurt, either!

The finely diced squares of cuttlefish - almost the size of brunoise - and the smoked eel didn't seem to have added a lot to the dish.  And the one ingredient I really didn't get were the strands of spaghetti... since there was just enough to make its presence felt but not enough to make the dish into a pasta... But none of these detracted from the dish, since it was still lovely and comforting.

Veal shank, tagliatelle, Marsala wine sauce - the veal was very soft and yielded easily to the knife.  While it was juicy, the muscle fibers of this cut were a little stringy and chewy.  The tagliatelle had a springy texture, and I loooooooved the sauce!  I didn't verify with the kitchen, but I could have sworn that they used the fat from cured ham... It just tasted like the Shanghainese soups I grew up with - where chunks of cured ham were thrown in for flavor in lieu of salt.  Of course the shrooms were good, too.

We debated about having dessert or cheese, with the conclusion being that since I was having a rich dinner tonight, I had reached my calorie quota for lunch.  We did have a few second thoughts when the staff opened the wine fridge next to our table, and the smell of delicious, ripe cheese floated in our direction...

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