August 21, 2017

Another feast in the 'hood

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We have a friend who's back in town after a long break, and to no one's surprise, she requested that we get together at Neighborhood.  The Great One put in a call to The Man in White T-shirt, and as usual gave him carte blanche.  The 6 of us - minus an unfortunate a casualty of heat stroke - sat down and waited for our feast to start.

200-day dry-aged Mayura Station M9+ wagyu rump - I had seen this posted by others recently, and was pretty happy to have the opportunity to try it.  Yes, it's Aussie wagyu, marinated in classic Chiuchow 'lo shui (滷水)' marinade, and rubbed with black truffle on the outside.

Just look at that marbling... Like a 'tataki (タタキ)', the edges were cooked but the center was still raw.  Yum.

30 mo. culatello "Massimo Spigaroli" - who can say 'no' to this... made from black pigs and aged for 30 months?  The flavors are so deep and amazing...

Kyushu tomatoes - drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt and dried ume (梅) powder.  So simple yet so delicious.

Pigeon eggs / escargot butter - again, what's not to like about these?!  My egg was ever so slightly more cooked than what I preferred, but the soft egg was still delicious - especially with the herb gratin on top.

Black truffle chicken wings - these have become our perennial favorite... and there doesn't seem to be a meal here without this dish being featured.  Just chicken wings - which are delicious enough on their own - but turbo-charged with a few thin shavings of black truffle on top.

Bouillabaisse terrine / caviar - now THIS was something we'd never seen before.  The Man in White T-shirt had asked me for my Caviar Supplier's contacts, and I had assumed he was getting a small supply to do a special dish for someone last week.  Now I'm staring right at it.

So the terrine was made with different ingredients that would otherwise have been inside a pot of bouillabaisse - but now it comes as a solid block of delicious seafood.  On top we had a quenelle of Russian osetra caviar from my Caviar Supplier.

When it came time for The Great One to divide this into 6 portions, she began by spreading the caviar evenly on top - and indignantly brushing off my accusation that she was crushing the eggs.  This gave The Man in White T-shirt the idea for a better presentation in the future - serving a thin layer of caviar on top like we have seen countless times at Joël Robuchon's restaurants and elsewhere.

Oh yes, it was delicious.  If only I could have more than just a small bite...

Senhouse's mussels - The Great One had just tasted these last week, but was clearly ecstatic at the sight of them again.  They're commonly referred to as 'thin shells' or 'bok hok (薄殼)' in this part of the world, and these were soooo tiny.

Served simply with some basil and piment d'espelette powder.   Incredibly tender and delicate.

Salt baked mud crabs - these were pretty good, and even without any roe, I still enjoyed sipping on the tomalley.

Broadbanded thornyhead paella -YES!  We've got kinki (喜知次) on our paella again tonight!  I looooove this fish for its fatty and succulent flesh, and it's always so tender.  The paella itself was tasty, too... especially since The Man in White T-shirt had actually dropped a whole bunch of those bok hok mussels into the rice!  My only comment is that I wish the rice was a little more dry... as I found the rice grains a little too plump from soaking up all the juices.  And while I got some crust on the top layer, I did miss having socarrat at the bottom...

Beef tripe / cod tripe gratin - I guess The Man in White T-shirt got bored just serving us beef tripe, and decided to add some cod tripe into the mix for kicks.  Very, very tender... and of course perfectly satisfying.  Love the spicy kick of this dish.

Chianina rump / matsutake - now THIS was truly something special... The beef came from famed Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini, and was something that The Man in White T-shirt carried around as he traveled around Italy and Spain for 2 weeks.  I took an end cut so it was a little more cooked, but also had some chewy sinew.  Looking at the other pieces, I could see that the execution was right on...  Of course, who could say 'no' to all those big, fragrant chunks of matsutake (松茸) mushrooms?

Strawberry tart à la mode - made with Mara des Bois strawberries. 


I was panicking a little when I arrived at the restaurant, as I realized that we were down to just 5 people drinking wine tonight.  Fortunately I could always count on The Man in White T-shirt to help us out on this front...

2009 Doisy-Daëne Sec - lots of green apple in the nose, thanks to being 100% Sauvignon Blanc.  Also flinty, and kinda ripe on the palate.  I brought 2 bottles of this, and it became one of those rare occasions when the cost of the wine was cheaper than the corkage being charged.  In fact, my original en primeur cost was about half of the corkage... but the wine is drinking perfectly now and I didn't mind at all.

2007 Mugnier Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Clos de la Maréchale, en magnum - decanted for almost an hour before serving.  A little eucalyptus and some fruit in the nose.  Not too bad.

Yes, yet another incredible feast at our favorite restaurant.  But that's no surprise to any of us.  Many thanks to The Man in White T-shirt for feeding us so well... and what a treat to have tasted the Chianina!

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