May 20, 2016

Two nights with David Lai: Étienne in da 'Hood

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So... two nights after seeing David Lai at Fish School, I paid him a visit at Neighborhood tonight.  Étienne de Montille is in town and arranged a dinner at the restaurant - featuring wines from Domaine de Montille.  I was happy to have the opportunity to see Étienne again after our lunch together last year.

Hello Kitty noticed that the set menu for this evening was presented in red leather menu holders by Prada.  This was a nice touch, but a little surprising coming from the Man in the White T-Shirt.  Maybe a feminine touch from the missus, then...?

After an initial round of tasting, we sat down and prepared for the feast...

Gougere - the jamón inside the gougères was a nice surprise.  Pretty nice to start dinner with this!

Small soup - nice and warm cream of mushroom.

Sea mullet crudo / green tomato / yuzu / bottarga - this was really nice and refreshing.  Love the green tomatoes... and of course anytime you've got yuzu in a dish, things just get so much better.  Too bad there wasn't enough bottarga...

Fried asparagus / bacon mayo / trout roe - our eyes opened wide when this arrived.  These were HUGE spears of white asparagus, and I didn't expect to see them covered in a layer of batter.

These had just been deep-fried and were still piping hot, and one could see steam rising from the asparagus once it was cut open.

The bacon mayo with trout roe on the side was simply awesome.  Not only was this completely perfect with the asparagus, it was even better when spread on some bread!  The sharp acidity was tempered by the richness of the mayo, and the saltiness of the bacon added so much ooomph...

Warm Riviera vegetables "Ducasse" / truffle jus - given that the Man in the White T-Shirt used to work for Monsieur Ducasse, it's not surprising that we would see some shadows of Ducasse in some of the dishes.  This is a prime example.  The delicious mix of cooked carrots, fennel, artichoke, peas, baby radishes...etc. was dressed in an acidic truffle jus and came with shaved black truffle on top.  Oh and there was also little bits of lardon, so I guess this dish wasn't strictly vegetarian...

Girolle mushroom risotto / wild garlic butter - such a delicious risotto with the girolles... and that garlic butter was to die for!  Sooooo fragrant/pungent and delightful!

Roast pigeon / foie gras toast - they've always served up really good pigeons here at Neighborhood, and tonight they really have outdone themselves.  The foie gras toast on the side was just... so rich and sinful.

Yup, nice and rosé.  A little more cooked than the pigeon at Fish School 2 days ago, but no less delicious.  The jus was deep and rich in flavors.

Epoisse cheese - the Époisses from Alléosse had to be one of the ripest I've ever had.  It was just so completely liquid, and incredibly rich and salty.  Because of this spoonful of cheese, I ended up eating a few more chunks of bread... but it was soooooo worth it!

Chocolate palette - honestly, we really didn't need a whole palette for everyone by this point.  Half was already as much as I could manage.

Canneles - can't say no to canelés...

Plenty of wine tonight, starting with a range of 2013s which we tasted before dinner started.

2013 Deux Montille Bourgogne Chardonnay - toasty, oaky, some minerals.  Good acidity.

2013 Deux Montille Saint-Romain Le Jarron - lovely toasty notes, very fragrant, nice citrus notes with minerals.  Good acidity.

2013 Domaine de Montille Meursault Les Narvaux - more minerals, even better and more fragrant.  Softer on the palate than expected, without too much acidity.

2013 Domaine de Montille Bourgogne Pinot Noir - good fruit, a little sous bois and eucalyptus.

2013 Domaine de Montille Beaune 1er Cru Les Sizies - the fruit was somehow more muted, with more eucalyptus, leather, and animal notes.

2005 Domaine de Montille Corton-Charlemagne - very floral, so elegant, almost a little caramel.  What an honor to be able to taste this wine, since this was the very first vintage and only 1 barrel was produced.

2001 Domaine de Montille Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets, en magnum - this was so beautiful, with sweet and creamy corn, almost like corn ice cream, and nice toasty notes.  Some ripeness on the palate here.

2005 Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru Les Champans - nice leather notes, nice and fragrant.  Reasonable concentration and tannins.

1999 Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru Les Taillepieds - more spices, more mature, with black fruits, cedar, and almost a little caramelized.  Richer and really beautiful.

1995 Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens - so fragrant, with animal, leather, meaty, and a little smoky notes.  Really nice and sweet fruit.  Also a little metallic and iron.  'Rugiens' derives from rouge, which refers to the red soil full of iron oxide.

A very, very fun evening.  We had plenty of interesting discussions with Étienne - especially regarding the pricing and allocation systems for wines.  Let's see if that leads to any changes which benefit both the wineries and the consumers...

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