October 25, 2018

Date night with Uwe, part 2

Pin It

I have been remiss.  Again.  It has been waaaay too long since I last caught up with Uwe Opocensky over some wine, not to mention (as he keeps reminding me) it's been months since my last visit to his restaurant Uwe.  I have also been completely ignoring my knife for a few months, so when Uwe suggested that we go to Écriture together, it seemed like the perfect idea to me.

Game season had already started and the restaurant was presentation a game menu as an option, but we left the decision up to Chef Maxime Gilbert.  We ended up being served half the signature menu (which I had already tried on my earlier visit) and half of the dishes from the game menu.

Once again we start with the tater tot... but who doesn't like deep-fried mashed potato?  Topped with a little bit of caviar and a tiny dab of wasabi.

Japanese pumpkin oreo - pumpkin cream and purée is sandwiched between two pumpkin tuiles.

Steamed bun - with a non-spicy version of X.O. sauce stuffed inside, and topped with a mix of spring onion, ginger, pickled daikon (大根), and perilla flower.

Fish cracker - love these tiny Japanese sardine fry (ちりめんじゃこ) that have been baked together... with some tarragon (?) and vinegar powder.

Then it was time for me to say hello to my knife...

Amaebi - the raw amaebi (甘エビ) tails were absolutely delicious.  They came on a bed of white bonito gelée, with acidity coming from citrus and pickled red pearl onions.  Garnished with red amaranth flowers.  Normally this comes with a beetroot feuillantine shaped like a flower, but since I told them that I don't beetroot... I didn't get one of them red flowers...

Grouse - air-dried grouse with grouse gelée, mizuna (水菜), pickled daikon, and red sea urchin (赤雲丹) from Hokkaido.

I didn't get this dish.  The grouse was air-dried in-house for a month to make it almost like lomo, but it gets thrown in with some yellow pickled daikon which tasted like supermarket takuantsuke (沢庵漬け).  Philosophically, that just didn't make much sense to me.

Uwe noticed my frown as I tasted the dish and tried to wrap my head around it.  He, too, was not a fan.  While the individual ingredients tasted fine on their own, combining them in the same mouthful somehow turned things bitter... and I suspect the gelée didn't react well to another ingredient.  It was an unfortunate case of the dish being less than the sum of its parts.

Caviar - clearly one of the signature dishes here.  The schrenki caviar had been cured with Rubia Gallega ham, which made it a little more salty than usual.  It was scooped on top of the bone marrow soufflé, which was topped with greens such as cabbage (OK, so maybe this one wasn't green...), spinach, morning glory...etc.  All served up with a foamy sauce made with seafood such as clams.

But one might have noticed the abundance of caviar.  In fact, there was so much that it made one of our portions topple over.  It also made the dish more salty than my liking.

Scallop - another of the signature dishes.  Inside the beignet was a layer of nori (海苔) wrapped around a giant scallop with layers of French black truffle.  This was about as delicious as I remembered from last time.  The celeriac purée also delivered a dose of sweetness to work with the scallop foam, which was sprinkled with wafer-thin slices of hazelnuts.

Shiitake - the mushroom from Fukuoka cooked with butter and garlic, then topped with piment d'espelette and shaved hazelnuts.  With a thin sheet of blanched kohlrabi on the side and sitting in a vegetable reduction.  This was bite-sized and very tasty.

Akamutsu - this delicious fish was steamed in a cocotte for 3 minutes 72 hours at low temperature with sake, with verbena and seaweed from Brittany - the latter of which raised my curiosity... but Maxime wanted to use fresh kelp in lieu of dried Japanese konbu. The milky sauce was cooked with the bones and trimmings of the fish at 70°C for a few hours, then flavored with lemon juice  .  The flavors were very delicate, and indeed this was one of my favorite dishes for its simplicity and purity.

Partrigde - the French partridge was marinated in Cognac, and came with a matsutake (松茸) that was cooked en papillote and some Jerusalem artichoke purée.  Topped with some muscat grapes deglazed with Cognac.  Pretty nice.

I asked Maxime where he got the matsutake from, and apparently both he and Uwe use the same Japanese supplier, but the shrooms are actually from China!  This sounded downright ridiculous to me... so I think it's time they got introduced to the right guy for all their Chinese shroom needs.

Doe aka "Bambi" - I'd been looking forward to this for a few days, and the color certainly looked beautiful.  This was surrounded by celeriac extraction, and topped with some more of the smoked caviar. 

I loved this.  But the most interesting part was actually the lardo that was threaded in - there were three chunks - by a larding needle.  Very old school, as Uwe said.  I told Uwe that I had watched Heston Blumenthal use one of these on TV just a few days ago...

But both Uwe and I agreed that the caviar was unnecessary.  In fact, I had asked for less caviar when it was spooned on top.  For me, the star should be the doe... and any addition of a "luxe" ingredient such as caviar - irrespective of how little it cost the restaurant - would only distract the diner's attention away from the main ingredient.  I also found the caviar too salty and heavy-handed, and made the dish unbalanced.  From where I sit, more caviar does not always mean it's better.

Teal - I had seen a couple of posts over the last few days on this, and eagerly awaited for the pithivier to hit the table.  I had to admit that this was a little bigger than I thought it would be...

Cutting the pithivier open showed layers of sea lettuce underneath the pastry shell, and three levels consisting of teal, foie gras (from Duplantier), and fera from Lake Geneva (which I assumed to be the species introduced from Lake Neuchâtel decades ago, after the original féra du Léman went extinct at the turn of the last century) - which was the source of the liquid that oozed out.

The combination of duck and foie gras inside a pie is, of course, a classic.  Adding the smoked and cured fera, though, did not make it better for me.  Interesting, for sure, and I applaud Maxime for his effort.  But somewhere along the line that bitterness came through... along with some acidity.  And I just don't think bitterness belongs in this dish.

Persimmon - this was a welcome sight after the lingering bitterness in my mouth.  Thin slices of seasonal Japanese persimmon with persimmon sorbet, walnut cream, and candied walnuts.  Delicious.

For some reason this looked like the pages of an open book on top, made of chocolate, of course.  Between the layers of chocolate cookies were fig jam and white chocolate purée.

Kouign amann - apparently the recipe came from Maxime's mother, and served with some crème fraîche in the middle.

Melon - this was apparently French but not Cavaillon.

Chocolate tart - with a few drops of Cognac on top.

I brought along two bottles of wine to share with my friend...

1996 von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser Abstberg Riesling Spätlese-trocken - nose was much more oxidized than expected, and almost seemed like the wine was over the hill.  But palate was not as aged as expected, with strong marmalade notes and a good amount of acidity.

2001 BOND Melbury - decanted for more than 1½ hours prior to serving.  Beautiful!  The palate clearly had ripeness and sweetness that was above the levels of a traditional claret, but the nose learned towards French rather than Californian.  Lovely fragrance from the oak, some smoke, pencil lead, and later on some coffee notes.  Plenty of sweet fruit more than 2½ hours after opening.

A few of the flavor combinations seemed a little off tonight, but this was still a drool-worthy dinner.  So glad to have more private time with Uwe as he's always a fun date.  And glad to see Maxime, too... since I can no longer spy on him daily from my office.  I'll need to come and visit my knife again, soon...

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map