December 31, 2015

Eight hands New Year's Eve dinner

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Another New Year's Eve.  This year, though, I was resolved not to dine out.  I figured there was no point fighting the crowds or paying for an expensive menu, so I wanted to do some simple home cooking.  Thankfully there was another couple agreeable to the idea of spending it at home, so we ended up spending the last evening of the year with them.

Since the idea is to cook at home, we all agreed to contribute so that each of the four of us would play chef for at least one course.  This turned out to be a totally kick-ass dinner...

We decided to start things off in style... with Champagne and caviar.  We had two types of caviar for comparison.  First up was the En-K de Caviar oscietra from Kaviari.  This nicely packaged tin contained 15g of farmed oscietra caviar, which one can scoop from the groove with the spoon in the package.

Our hostess got us some mini blinis to go with the caviar.  The caviar was alright, although when we removed the foil cover, we found that two out of the four tins had a good amount of popped eggs... which was really disappointing.

But we came prepared!  I also went back to my Russian caviar supplier for another tin of the delicious golden oscietra caviar.

Just look at those beautiful eggs!

This was, of course, something much nicer... and naturally more pricey.  But so, so, so worth it!  The flavors are much more intense, and I don't mean the higher salt content.  It's that beautiful fish oil flavor, plus a little bit of kelp/seaweed.  So decadent.

We moved eastward to have some Cantonese double-boiled soup - in this case whelk with coconut soup (椰子螺頭湯).  Very nice.

Then it was time for me to step into the kitchen.  My last two attempts at mushroom risotto had been fairly successful - even managing to keep it somewhat al dente a couple of weeks ago.  tonight this was much harder, as I was cutting up the onion with a pretty dull knife, and my eyes burned so much that I can't remember the last time I cried this much... I had to escape from the kitchen in the middle.

In the end my mushroom risotto didn't fail too badly.  Hello Kitty had gotten me some low-sodium chicken stock, so at the very end I needed to add some salt into the pot.  The rehydrated mushrooms contained some chewy stems of what may have been trumpets, so the texture could have been a little bit nicer... and the rice was slightly softer than I preferred.

But with about 10g of white truffle shaved on top of each plate, I didn't care...

While waiting for our next course, my host suggested that I put a few caviar eggs together with a slice of white truffle.  Not bad...

Next up was our hostess, who made us a salt-baked sea bass.

The fish was very nicely done.  Very tender, and the salt brought out the flavors of the fish itself.

Our hostess with the mostess also served us a smoked soya chicken (煙燻雞).  This was absolutely delicious... full of flavor from the soy sauce, plus a lovely smoky aroma that wasn't overpowering.  Very, very yum.

We also had a mixed vegetable salad, which was a nice and healthy break.

Our host was up next with a hunk of dry-aged T-bone steak.

This was nicely charred on the outside and still pink and rare on the inside.

It was finally Hello Kitty's turn, and she had baked a caramel and apple tart earlier in the day.  Thankfully it was pretty thin, and there wasn't a lot of caramel here.  Although it wasn't fresh out of the oven, it was still pretty tasty.

We also had a few white strawberries to fulfill our fruit quota...

...and finished the evening snacking on some preserved kelp and scallops from Japan.

In addition to all the delicious food, there was also a pretty spectacular lineup of wines...

1999 Jacques Selosse, dégorgée à 19 Janvier 2009 - nice and ripe on the nose, but still fresh and lively on the palate.  Plenty of marmalade, preserved mandarin peel (陳皮), mineral, and yeasty notes.  Pretty toasty, too.  Very long finish here.

Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Omachi 43 (磯自慢 純米大吟醸 雄町43) - very rounded and sweet on the palate, with banana and rich, rice notes.

1997 Haut-Brion Blanc - exotic nose with Chinese licorice (甘草) and vanilla notes.  Ripe on the nose and a little alcoholic.  A little caramelized.

With white truffle the nose became even more exotic, showing coconut and white chocolate notes.

Everyday White - this was the supermarket wine that I chose to cook with, but given my experience with Everyday Red a few years ago while pairing it with an MRE, I decided to pour myself a glass and take a few sips.  Very fruity, and a little sweet on the palate.  Not a complex wine at all but pleasurable to drink nonetheless.

1989 Le Pin - decanted for a little while.  Nice and smoky, a little earthy, with sweet grass, ripe and sweet fruit.  Lovely and fragrant, with a little cedar wood.  So smooth on silky on the palate.

2000 Rayas - so floral, lots of lavender, dried herbs, violet, and pine needles.  Very exotic.  The nose was so open tonight that it was just stunning.  My wine of the evening.

1990 Pignan - more meaty, with animal and a hint of floral notes.  Needed a little more time to open up.

2010 DRC Corton - nose of toasty corn and a little grilled meat.  So fragrant and beautiful, with lots of sweet caramel notes, along with some toffee.

This was a very, very enjoyable evening. Just a few friends spending a quiet evening together, ringing in the new year while celebrating our friendship.  Looking forward to our 2016 together!

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