November 9, 2018

An evening of truffle, game, and cheese

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Birdiegolf's birthday is coming up, so the Specialist decided to round up a few of us for a "birthday do", while using it as an excuse to pop open a few bottles.  Not sure why I always get the job of picking (or at least suggesting) the restaurant, but I guess I'm used to it by now.  After going through the list of restaurants that are BYO-friendly, we eventually settled on On Dining.

Which was just as well, since someone had nudged me recently about going there, and telling me that Philippe misses me.  It is true that I have neglected an old friend for far too long, and it was time to see what he's up to.  Besides, it's game season... so there's bound to be something interesting.  I pinged Philippe and asked him to set me up.

Foie gras cannoli - funny, they don't look much like cannoli... but whatever.  The flat pastry 'biscuits' were really sweet.

Smoked salmon roe with cream - definitely a bit smoky.

Smoked roe cone - with avocado.  The filling was a little smoky and fishy.

Le caviar: king crab, lobster jelly caviar, sea urchin - this would seem to go very well with our Champagnes.  King crab at the bottom, with a layer of lobster jelly on top, then covered with oscietra caviar and finally with a few tongues of sea urchin on top.  Oh yeah, there's gold foil, too.

But it didn't work.  The flavors from the crab were good, but something was very off.  I couldn't figure out whether it was the lobster jelly, or the combination of the caviar and the jelly... but this was bitter.  And not just a little.  It was noticeably unpleasant.  So much so that 5 of the 6 of us noticed.  Which was really a shame.

La Saint-Jacques: roasted scallop, Jerusalem artichoke, honey and lime vinaigrette - the Hokkaido scallops came with a scallop emulsion.  This tasted fine, and even better with the shavings of white truffle on top, but what the fuck was all that gold foil doing there???

Le black cod: black cod, shitake, daikon, langoustine bouillon, miso - the cod had been marinated in miso, and came served on a bed of sliced shiitake (椎茸) and cubes of daikon (大根).  Very nice and clean flavors here..  The cod was a little sweet and the texture was pretty nice.  Loved the langoustine bouillon.

La truffe blanche: tagliolini, Parmesan cheese, shaved Alba white truffle - I was a little surprised that the white truffle wasn't shaved in front of us, but as the staff lifted the cloches the wonderful fragrance filled our lungs... so I guess it wasn't all bad.  But the pasta was a little soft for my taste, and definitely under-seasoned.  Other than that, this was a delicious dish - especially with so much flavor coming from mushrooms.

Le lièvre a la royale: hare "a la royale", spatzle, chestnuts, foie gras, grapes - the seasonal specialty that Philippe wanted me to have.  This was a pretty thin slice, but it was certainly enough.  Classically stuffed with foie gras, and drenched in a sauce made with blood, liver, and other organs.  Just wonderful.  So rich but so satisfying.  I lapped it all up greedily, but not everyone could handle it...

The spätzle came with chestnuts and foie gras.  Sooooo damn good.

We couldn't come here and not have cheese, so we collectively picked out five of them to share.

Mont d'Or - sooooo ripe.  Sooooo delicious.  Couldn't have asked for better. 

Cabri ariègeois - it's been a while since I last had this, which is a goat's milk equivalent of Mont d'Or.  Unfortunately this wasn't nearly the same ripeness.

Comté, aged 48 months - I'll always be happy having this... Just wonderful.

Mimolette, aged 12~18 months

Époisses - au lait cru, from Gaugry.  Wonderful ripeness.

Chestnut and yuzu mousse, vanilla ice cream, kumquat jelly - this was alright.

Petits fours - chocolate, passion fruit jelly, pistachio financier, choux pastry.

This being a gathering of the alcoholics, naturally we brought our fair share of wine. And the staff was more than ready for us with their excellent wine service.

1999 Billecart Salmon Le Clos Saint-Hilaire - nose was nice and open, with good ripeness and maturity on the nose.  Really fragrant.  Very ripe on the palate with good acidity.

1996 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé Plénitude 2 - very smooth, light fruit, with some toast.  Very nice on the palate.  So easy to drink.

1997 Dominus - smoky nose, with pencil lead, a bit of leather, capsicum, oaky and cedar.  Relatively lean for a Napa cab with a hint of sweetness on the finish.  Drinking very nicely now.

1998 Cheval Blanc - decanter for an hour.  Surprisingly this was sweeter than Dominus, but leaner than La Mission.  Pretty fragrant with woody notes.  Later showed lovely and fragrant sweet fruit, with good ripeness.

1998 La Mission Haut-Brion - decanter for an hour.  Surprisingly, this was also sweeter than Dominus, with vanilla notes.  Still tannic with acidity in the middle and on the finish.  After two hours this was pretty lean and smoky.  A classic claret.

1990 Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes - popped and poured.  Lots of ripe fruit in the nose, almost a little stewed, with a hint of chalk.  There was also ripeness on the palate, but it was a little lean in the middle.  Smoke and grilled meat notes.  After 40 minutes or so showed a hint of hospital disinfectant.

2000 Beychevelle - 30 minutes after opening, showing coffee and smoke, with some sweetness, a bit of grass and cedar.  A lovely wine.

It was good being back here after such a prolonged absence, and always interesting to catch up with the Alcoholics.  Many thanks to Philippe and the team for putting up with us.

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