August 22, 2020

There IS such a thing as free lunch... kind of

Pin It

This meal was about 3 years overdue.  I normally BYO so it's rare that I even pick up the wine list at a restaurant.  But some time ago I noticed that a couple of vintages of a very rare wine were "mispriced" at Petrus - by that I mean the prices on the restaurant wine list were lower than the prevailing retail prices.  This is something that one usually only finds in certain restaurants in Europe or the U.S. - where wines are often purchased direct from wineries upon release, and any adjustments to pricing thereafter are "reasonable" and do not catch up to the crazy secondary market.  This rarely happens in Asia, however... as most restaurants don't have direct allocations from wineries, and need the mark-up to help with their rental costs.

It's an itch I've been waiting to scratch for 3 years, and I found out recently that I had waited too long... one of the vintages of this wine is no longer available.  But seeing that the remaining vintage was still priced about 50% below retail, I decided to round up a couple of people to pop open this baby.

With government mandated social distancing rules still in place, we were seated at adjacent tables with sufficient space in between... and had to talk a little louder than I normally would at an establishment like this.  I didn't give any instruction to chef Uwe Opocensky about how hungry we were, but I kinda expected him to revert to his old habit of trying to kill me...

Cheese gougère - the cheese filling was still there, but now we've got shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.

Girolle : tart / onion / crudo - pretty damn delicious, with a bunch of girolles on top of the pastry together with sweet Roscoff onion purée, and topped off with slices of (prosciutto) crudo.  I guess the black truffle sauce didn't hurt, but honestly, I would have been just happy with that amazing pork fat...

Foie gras : fig / hazelnut - the foie gras torchon was steamed while wrapped in fig leaves, and served with figs barbecued inside fig leaves.  The hazelnuts were nice, but the amazing part was the sauce made with, among other things, fig tree oil.

Apparently Uwe took inspiration from Alain Passard, and collected some fig branches which were subsequently fed through the machines used to make sugar cane juice.  The fragrance of figs was really, really nice.

Prawn: Spanish / red / garum / grilled bread - I jokingly told Uwe that it was "bor-ring" to be served this dish again... but then I could never turn down a delicious carabinero.  These were just gigantic and really, really tasty.  The tail was, as expected, barely cooked.

But the dish did leave us with a tricky problem: the goodness inside the heads - which we so eagerly sucked up and now coated our tongues, our teeth, and the insides of our mouths - have destroyed our palates for wine.  And since the focus today was actually on wine, we needed a way to get rid of this aftertaste.  FAST.

Chilled pumpkin consommé - I asked for a "palate cleanser", and this came out first.  I quickly realized that it wasn't working.  Anything cold just wouldn't do the trick.  We needed something warm to help melt away whatever was in our mouths.

So I asked for cups of hot water, which helped a little.  But it still wasn't enough, so I got a cup of jasmine tea, which made things better.

Sea bass : line caught / white beans / beurre blanc - the sea bass caught off the coast of Brittany was scaled and dry-aged for 5 days.  Very nice, and the borlotti beans helped to cleanse my palate somewhat.  By this point I could kinda taste the white wine...

Laugenbrötchen - I still needed something to scrape my palate clean, so the staff offered up these really delicious laugen rolls along with some butter.  Very yum, and it worked better.

Oxtail: potato pasta / chives / jus - Uwe said that this was their version of Cantonese cheong fun (腸粉)... I wasn't a real fan of the rolled noodles made with potato, peanut butter, and horseradish.  Just didn't care for the flavors.  But the braised oxtail was fantastic, as was the jus.

This, finally, got rid of any last remnant of the aftertaste from the prawn head.  I could drink the reds again!

These pork chops came from an old sow from Rhug Estate.

Really, really delicious.  The flavors just aren't the same as a younger pig.  This almost seemed like it's been cured a little.

Potato churros - not as crispy as I would have liked, but so, sooo tasty.

Donabe rice - YESSSS!!!  I was really happy to have had this 3 weeks ago.  That combination of pork lard, homemade ham and spring onion made this very, very addictive.  I'm glad this bowl was for sharing, because as much as I loved this, I was already struggling at this point.

Mashed potatoes

Burnt cabbage - apparently this was been on the fire since we arrived.  The cumin seeds were a nice touch.

Then came a crazy spread of desserts...

Chocolate: soufflé / toffee ice cream / cocoa - very, very good.

Cherries: chocolate / vanilla / crème - the Black Forest cake was just as good as last time, and came with the same condiments.

Cherry compote with vanilla ice cream - this time I managed to finish all the cherries.

Vanilla chantilly

Chantilly with kirsch

Fresh cherries -

Barbecued figs

Figs with walnut ice cream - so, soooo good.  Especially those caramelized walnuts.

Of course, the main event today was not the food - much to Uwe's dismay.  We were here to drink some wine!  The original plan had been to compare two stable mates side by side, but when it came time to pick out a bottle of white... we ended up making this a trio... I guess it just had to be done!

2000 Chave Hermitage Blanc - lovely nose with some toasty notes, but not too heavy.  Very aromatic with honeysuckle, a little sweet, honey, lemon citrus.  After 1½ hours still lovely, with heavier toasty notes.

2000 Chave Hermitage Rouge - decanted 2 hours prior to serving.  Initially rather closed with a hint of sweetness on the nose.  Some ripe prunes, a bit of leather and surprisingly high acidity on the palate.  Three hours after decanting showed more smoke.  Three and a half hours after showed more leather and violet notes.

2000 Chave Ermitage Cuvée Cathelin - decanted 3 hours prior to serving.  Still closed at first, with a little smoke.  A little minty after 4 hours, and finally started to open up 4½ hours after decanting with some floral notes.  Very smooth on the palate.  Started to show some coffee notes 5½ hours after decanting.  A nice wine, but not stunning enough to justify the pricing beyond the rarity factor.

Uwe very kindly had Cherish the sommelier pour us glasses of sweet wine to go with our dessert.

1969 Mas Amiel Maury, from bonbonne - initially the nose was really savory, almost like mahua (麻花) that's been coated with sugar.  On the palate it was still very nutty, date-like, very rich and unctuous.

Three bottles for four people is a lot for lunch, at least by my standards.  When we finished some 4 hours after we started, the total bill was less than the current retail price of the special bottle we came to taste.  So in a way... we got to have lunch and drink the other two bottles of wine "for nothing."  Free lunch and free wine!  Whoohoo!

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map