November 2, 2017

Durians and truffles

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A friend was in town for a short trip and in need of a good meal.  After debating over a few restaurants, the choice was eventually narrowed down to - where else? - Neighborhood.

Given that we only had one day's notice, we ended up getting seated at the bar - and displacing The Man in White T-shirt from his regular seat.  No big deal, since the two of us would be able to finish dinner quickly and have an early night... or so I thought.

First things first - we needed to pick out our white truffle.  The crop is down significantly this year and I have been hearing complaints about prices going up.  I know that the pricing is reasonable here, but we were still looking at about a 50% increase from last year - if memory serves.  So the two of us settled for a small piece weighing just over 21 grams.

Aquitaine beef / oyster tartare - I was eager with the truffle and shaved some on top of this dish, which turned out to be a mistake.  The truffle wasn't fragrant enough and was easily overpowered by the beef and the oyster... and the green capsicum, coriander, and chives...

Hokkaido tomato carpaccio / plum salt - the tomatoes weren't as ripe tonight, but still tasty.

Fried egg - The Man in White T-shirt was feeling generous tonight, as he sent out a whole pan-fried egg for each of us.  Shaving white truffle on top of eggs is, as some people would say in Chinese, "common sense"...

200 days aged rump / Hokkaido melon - I hadn't planned on getting this, but once again The Man in White T-shirt was feeling generous, so we each got a piece of sweet Hokkaido Yubari melon (夕張メロン) topped with a slice of the delicious beef that's been marinated in Chiuchow master stock.  The crazy thing here is that we shaved some white truffle on top... when the beef has already been rubbed with bits of black truffle.  VERY yum.

Speaking of being generous... The Man in White T-shirt took out a half bottle of dessert wine - pretty sure it was a Doisy-Védrines but dunno the vintage.  He poured us a little bit of the nectar, then encouraged us to shave a slice of white truffle into the glass.  Beautiful as expected.

Beef tripe gratin - it's been a while since I last had this, and I was so happy when my friend decided that she wanted it.  Love the spicy kick here, and the tender strips of honeycomb tripe. 

Buttered tagliolini - for me, this will always be THE perfect match for white truffle.  Just simple, fresh egg pasta drenched in melted butter sauce. 

Salt baked young crabs - my friend would never pass up an opportunity to have crab, and she was certainly tempted by the prospect of having them salt-baked.  Guess which juvenile prank I pulled?

Both crabs had decent amounts of roe inside, although I half-expected to drizzle vinegar on top of it...  The interesting thing was that thanks to the baking, the legs of the crab became crispy and brittle, so we ended up chewing them without removing the shells.

Vanilla ice cream - our last bits of truffle were used up with the ice cream... although we really didn't need two scoops each... especially when we had run out of truffle.

OK... so when The Man in White T-shirt stepped into the restaurant, he carried with him this smallish, Malaysian durian.  After a while he announced that, since he wasn't allowed to bring it home, whether we would share it with him.  Well... the two Malaysian ladies sitting next to me at the bar were ecstatic, and while I hesitated because I was already drinking wine (durian and alcohol don't mix well), I eventually gave in.

Somehow, I ended up being the one responsible for opening the durian.  While a long and thin ham knife was first produced, I asked for a big cleaver instead.  After finding the "fault line" between the durian pouches, I pressed down with the cleaver and pried the shell open.

But... as you can hear me say in the video... WHO THE HELL BRINGS A DURIAN INTO HIS OWN RESTAURANT?  I guess that will be my friend...

Malaysian Black Thorn durian - this was surprisingly sweet and creamy, with just a touch of the bitter finish that Malaysian durians are known for.  I even got my friend to take her very first (and only) bite of durian.

I brought a bottle and the two of us drank is pretty slowly over the course of the evening.

2003 Arietta Variation One - very ripe and sweet on the nose.  Later on really fragrant and oaky, and jammy and rich.  Tannins still strong.  Wine held up for more than 3 hours after opening, but after 3½ hours tannins felt more astringent and became more prominent.  After 4 hours, showed some coffee notes on top of smoke.

This has got to be one of the more interesting evenings I have spent here...


Kerry Schultz said...

Sounds and looks like you had a lovely evening at the restaurant with your friend. Everything looks pretty appetizing and sounds like your night ended on a good night as well. Hope to see more from you soon.

JL said...

Quite glad The Man in White T-Shirt got the black thorn variety.

Beats the over-priced, over-rated Musang King anytime.

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