March 20, 2016

Old school Cantonese with old wines

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It was finally time for another gathering with the MNSC boys, and tonight's dinner was hosted by our resident Jayer fan Curry.  So it's no surprise that many of us were really looking forward to what our generous friend might be serving us...

Once again Curry took us to Seventh Son (家全七福), one of the top Cantonese restaurants in town.  This year, however, he chose not to serve up a vegetarian menu like last year... although a few of us probably wouldn't have objected to having more veg in our diet for a change.

Deep-fried cordyceps mushroom (炸蟲草花) - these were really nice!  The batter was crunchy and not soggy at all.  Yum.

Pan-fried taro patties (香煎芋頭餅) - not as crunchy as the lotus root patties, as these were more soft and chewy inside, but still tasty.

Barbecued whole suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬全體) - ah... the standard by which many of us measure all other roast suckling pigs...

That crunchy wafer of crackling was as delicious as always, and no, I don't bother scraping the fat off the bottom like some of my friends.  Tonight, though... I tried to be good and limit my intake of this piglet... only a few pieces of the tasting crackling and a couple of piece of the hand-shredded meat.  Hell, I didn't even take one of those legs to chew on!

Braised bird's nest soup with partridge (燕窩鷓鴣羹) - made with shredded Chinese francolin (and maybe some chicken?).  This was a very nice substitute for sharks' fin.  My first time having this old school soup.

Braised beef brisket with radish (蘿蔔清湯腩) - so simple. so classic. so good.

This was very tender... and I didn't mind the strong star anise flavors one bit.

Steamed mullet head and belly with jujube and black olive (紅棗欖角蒸烏魚頭腩) - a pretty interesting alternative to the normal steamed garoupa.  Really nice flavors with aged mandarin peel (陳皮), jujube, and Chinese black olive (欖角).

Steamed duck in plum sauce (蒸梅子鴨) - another old school dish.  I didn't want to eat too much tonight so I only picked at this... but the duck itself was very flavorful.  I enjoyed the gizzard a lot more, and ate a few more slices of that.

Taro and duck seem to go hand-in-hand in Chinese cuisine, so we were also served some very soft slices.

We didn't get a carb dish at the end since there was already way, waaay too much food, but we did ask for more veg... so we had stir-fried kailan with diced ginger (薑粒炒芥蘭). Nice and crunchy, but the ginger wasn't the best thing for our palates when it came to tasting wine...  Had to rinse out my tongue afterwards.

The wines tonight were, as usual, fantastic.  The amazing part was that all the bottles were in excellent condition - a testament to Curry's focus on provenance.

First flight: decanted 30 minutes prior to serving.
1973 Petrus - lovely nose with tobacco and smoke, cedar, and sweet grass.  Really smooth on the palate.  With second pour the nose was even more smoky.  Classic and beautiful.  96 points.

1973 Lafleur - a little more burnt rubber in the nose.  A little animal and herbs, like Chinese licorice (甘草) that is sometimes found on preserved plums.  Riper with more concentration on the palate, and also more tannic.  95 points.

Second flight: decanted for 1 hour prior to serving.
1919 Cheval Blanc, ex-château - we knew this was really old shit when Curry told us that this was an ex-château bottling, which was purchased at auction several years ago.  The color was really light, and the wine was very murky.  I thought I was pretty aggressive when I went out on a limb and guessed it was from mom's vintage, but as it turns out I was still more than 20 years off!  The nose was initially really sweet with tons of desiccated coconut, which I really loved.  But the palate showed that the wine was very old and over the hill.  About 1½ hours after decanting the sweetness started to fade in the nose, and very strong notes of cep mushrooms showed up.  92 points.

1982 Cheval Blanc - nose was kinda ripe and sugary like honey.  Much cleaner, and almost a little floral.  Definitely an above-average bottle of this wine.  96 points.

Third flight: decanted 2 hours prior to serving.
1978 Guigal La Landonne - nice and sweet nose, with smoke and a little bit of black olive later.  Beautiful.  96 points.

1978 Lafleur - nice with plenty of woody notes, smoky, minty, a little bit of green pepper, a little earthy.  Three hours after decanting the nose showed a little Chinese angelica (當歸).  97 points.

Fourth flight: decanted 2½ hours prior to serving.
1990 Beauséjour-Duffau - sweet and smoky nose, with slightly cooked fruit but still relatively lean.  96 points.

1990 Jaboulet La Chapelle - a bit more peppery, smoky, a little bit stinky.  There was a lot of potential here but the wine was still closed.  96 points.

What a fantastic evening!  We had good food, an incredible selection of wines which were a privilege to drink, and friendly banter among good company.  What else can one ask for on a Sunday night??

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