January 16, 2015

The Season for French wines

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So... a little more than a week after my very first visit, I'm back at Seasons by Olivier E.  This time I came with not only VIPs, but also a former colleague of Olivier's.  Yes, we would get extra attention tonight, again.  Given that three of us are in the wine trade, we brought with us a ton of wine, too...

The rest of the party had the good sense to give carte blanche to Olivier, and they were richly rewarded.  Me, on the other hand, once again decided to be a party pooper and ordered à la carte.  I did it for two reasons - I didn't want to have repeats of what I had last week, and I also needed to limit my food intake after the huge dinner last night.  So I ended up ordering only dégustation portions of two courses, plus dessert.

French pink radish, Guérande salt and homemade butter - this time I decided to dip the butter-tipped radishes in salt, and my first one tasted much better than last time - free of the bitterness I experienced last time.  I did detect a little bitterness with my third radish, though...

Pork cromesqui, "Sotchu" style - actually better than I remembered from last week.  Very rich, very creamy, while nicely balanced by the acidity.

I wasn't really sure what this was, but it could have been the Saint Marcelin from La Mère Richard and baguette.  La Mère Richard in Lyon is known far and wide for their Saint-Marcellin, and this nibble - though tasty - certainly wasn't enough to satisfy me.  Je prends un demi, s'il vous plaît!

Amadai crispy, turnip velouté and salicornia - I wanted to try Olivier's version of amadai, and started with this course first to go with the whites.  Yup, the fish was very tender and succulent, and indeed sweet to the taste.  The scales are left on the skin and made crispy according to the current trend.  Nice flavors from the turnips and velouté, while the salty flavors of the salicornia provided a nice accent to the dish.

This seemed to be an off-menu daily special, which Olivier called abalone with "choucroutte".  Sliced abalone with fennel and bacon.  I pinched a spoonful from a friend, and it was pretty damn good.

Black pudding from Pays Basque, roasted apple and cider sauce - any sort of blood sausage is irresistible to me, and I've already passed this up last week in favor of something else... so this was just an itch I had to scratch.  Yup, this was pretty good... and also with a nice, spicy kick that I had come to expect from boudin basque.  Thankfully the rich flavors were balanced by the sweetness from the apple, as well as the acidity from the dressing of the greens.

Of course Olivier knows how to make the Robuchon mash, but this herbed mash offers a subtle twist while keeping the same richness.

Yellow chicken, thyme and garlic butter - Olivier prepared two roast chickens for the rest of the gang, and we were shown the whole chickens before they were taken back to be carved up.

I couldn't resist nicking a piece or two.  Gotta say that even the breast meat was pretty moist and tender.  I checked with Olivier, who tells me that he doesn't brine these Challans chickens.  The only thing is that the breast meat I took was slightly under-seasoned, so one does need the sauce that was provided on the side.

Calisson a la clementine and blood orange sorbet - I love calissons for their blend of almond and fruity flavors, and this was very refreshing.  Can't say no to citrus fruits, especially blood orange.

Soooo... let's look at all the wines we popped open tonight!

Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru - ripe on the palate, with a little acidity and astringent at the same time.  Nice and a little flinty.

1998 Roulot Meursault Les Vireuils - pretty ripe nose, a little oxidized, sweet and carmaelized.

2011 Alain Voge Saint-Péray Fleur de Crussol - huge nose of toast, which I love.  Nice and mineral, but also soft and smooth on the palate.  Pretty sweet and ripe, and later on even a little buttery.

2002 August Clape Cornas - a little sweet fruit, earthy, pretty light and soft on the palate.

2005 Alain Voge Cornas Les Vieilles Vignes - a little stinky and dirty at first, and still closed.  Took a while to open up.

1985 Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze - I was so glad that this bottle drank very nicely.  Really clean and elegant, floral, fragrant, plenty of sweet fruit like black cherries.  Everyone was surprised that this level of quality from Faiveley.

1983 Jaboulet La Chapelle - a little minty and animal.

Olivier spent a bit of time with us, and even talked about the attention he's been getting in the local press lately... As the restaurant was packed on this Friday night, I asked him whether he's gotten more business from the ladies since he got on the cover of a certain gossip magazine...  And the answer was unequivocally "Yes"!  Apparently the day after the magazine came out, the L-shaped counter facing the open kitchen was filled with local ladies wanting a peek at the chef...  Just as I had expected.

We had a good time tonight, and the food seemed to get a lot of praise from this crowd.  This was now the second time in a row when I've come with VIPs and chosen to eat different dishes - thereby missing out on the generous black truffle shavings...  Anyway, we hope to regroup in a few months in Shanghai and try out something very different.  Looking forward to that!

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