October 10, 2020

Grown Boy

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Tonight we had a very small gathering to commemorate a very special occasion.  Thanks to government mandated social distancing measures, we are still limited to a maximum of 4 persons per table when dining out... which was how four of us ended up at the chef's table at Caprice.

Hairy Legs kept asking me what I wanted on the menu, as he wanted to make sure that we will have a very happy meal.  As usual I left it up to him, as long as the dishes would match the wines I had brought.  The only exception, which was something I mentioned to him only last night, would be his classic abalone carbonara.  

First came the jewel box with the three amuses bouches:

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar - with cauliflower mousse.  The salmon was nice and a little smoky, with two wafer of crispy pastry.  Always nice to start with this. 

Button mushroom and foie gras gelée tart with white truffle - another tasty bite, but got better with a slice of white truffle.

Pita with curry chicken mousse - I think they turned up the heat tonight, as this was more spicy than I remembered.

Daurade caviar osciètre et huile d'aneth - the slices of sea bream from southwest France came on top of a layer of pastry, which itself sat on a bed of celeriac brunoise and celeriac remoulade.  Topped with a big quenelle of oscietre caviar from Kaviari, along with some dill oil.  This was very refreshing to start with, and I loved the different textures in each mouthful.  The caviar tonight was also more tasty than I remembered.

Langoustine et duxelles de champignons, huile de menthe et sauce au vin jaune, truffe blanche - before I had a chance to snap a picture of the langoustine, Hairy Legs came over and covered it with white truffle shavings.  Not that I would dream of complaining...

The doneness on the langoustine was, of course, exactly how it should be.  The sauce made with vin jaune was beautiful, and the mushroom duxelles at the bottom was real nice.  Of course, that white truffle was just...

L'ormeaux du Japon façon carbonara et pata negra de 36 mois - this was the only dish I requested.  When I tasted Hairy Legs' cuisine for the second time more than 5 years ago, this was a dish that stunned me.  A Frenchie who uses an ingredient favored by East Asians.  That was a period when some chefs were making noodles out of cuttlefish, and here was a guy using abalone to make carbonara!

So we've got the shredded Japanese abalone, along with a cream sauce, sweet onion compote, chiffonade of 36-month pata negra as well as white truffle, a few discs of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a quail egg yolk on top.  Mixing all these together resulted in a little bowl of heaven.  I couldn't be happier.  And our two guests could not believe they were eating abalone.

Bar et pomme de terre Amandine cuites au beurre d'algue, bolognaise de sèche, sauce safranée - the sea bass was very, very tender, and came topped with wafer-thin slices of mushrooms and a sprinkle of seaweed powder.  Hairy Legs' saffron sauce has always been nothing short of fucking beautiful, and I was seriously tempted to ask for some bread to soak it all up.  The Amandine potatoes were cooked in seaweed butter (probably the one from Bordier that I just love to devour), and came studded with a few grains of buckwheat.  

The real surprise, though, was the bolognese on the side made with cuttlefish.  Didn't see that coming.

Hairy legs told me about these "wild" ducks which were being raised free-range by Miéral, and he wanted to let me try them.  That looked really beautiful.

Le canard «Lur Saluces» - the dish was created to pair with Château d'Yquem, and the duck was brushed with honey harvested from around the château.  As it turned out, the kitchen had messed up the cooking time and the doneness was less than ideal, so we ended up with parts from two different ducks...

The leg came from the Miéral duck, and definitely showed more gamey flavors.  Very nice.  The jus seemed to have been seasoned with vanilla seeds.

The breast was taken from a second duck which came from Burgaud.  This was because by the time the legs on the Miéral duck was cooked properly, the breast was considered overcooked... So being a 3-star kitchen, they decided to cook a second duck so that they could serve us breast meat with the proper doneness.  That's what a real 3-star kitchen does when you realized you are not meeting the high quality standard expected of you... not some bullshit stunt like this one in Paris.

And I gotta say... this was fantastic.  The skin was really smoky and crunchy, while the texture and flavors of the breast meat were just about perfect.

Sélection de fromages affinés - we were, of course, gonna have some of the awesome selection of cheese.  We asked for a couple specific ones while the staff chose the rest for us.

Brillat-Savarain - My Favorite Birdbrain Cousin wanted this, and of course I was only too happy to lap up the triple-cream cheese.  Salty ice cream.  Yum.

Pérail - salty with some acidity.

Brie de Meaux - homemade with walnuts, salt and pepper.  Pretty damn salty.

Comté, 48 months - same as it ever was.

Langres - kinda bitter.  Nice with the confiture and hazelnuts. 

Brown butter cake with kiwi, mango, and passion fruit - with mango sorbet on top.  Love those tropical flavors.

Saint-Honoré - I guess the occasion deserved a cake, so one was served to us.

The flaky pastry at the bottom was beautiful, as was the cream on top.  Slurp.

Then came the barrage of mignardises...

Banana bread - still warm, and pretty damn good.

Tarte au pommes - I know they served this to us because they know Hello Kitty loves it... and she was happy.

Fig religieuse

Cheesecake with almond biscuit, passion fruit coulis

Salted caramel hazelnut tart

Vanilla chocolate

Pistachio chocolate

There were a few special bottles for this special occasion:

Krug Grande Cuvée, en magnum - this magnum was release some time before 2004, when they still used this old label and before they started putting édition numbers on the labels.  Ripe on the palate but not too oxidized... which was probably due to this being a magnum.  Still some freshness on the palate, with nice minerality and a little savory.  Showed some Chinese licorice notes 4 hours after opening.

1982 Guigal La Landonne - served 3 hours and 45 minutes after opening, without decanting.  Probably over-aerated, although there was still some fruit left.  Some leather and animal notes, a little barnyard.  Classic Côte-Rôtie but on the lean side.

1970 Latour - served 4 hours and 15 minutes after opening, without decanting.  Smoke, mint, pencil lead notes on the nose.  Really beautiful and perfect.  Exactly what I wanted out of a Latour.

1998 d'Yquem, en impériale - honey, apricot, acetone, and orange blossom.

I am very grateful to Hairy Legs and the team at Caprice for making our special day a very memorable one. Everything was perfect. I don't think I could have asked for anything more. This was an evening that we would never forget.

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