October 17, 2020

The Great big birthday

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A few of us were invited by the Kat to help celebrate The Great One's birthday, and naturally this meant dinner at Neighborhood.  Social distancing mandates are still in place, so we had to split into separate tables for the occasion.  We have, of course, gotten used to this by now.

I never know ahead of time what's on the menu, but one thing for sure is that there would be way, waaaay too much food coming out of the kitchen.  The Man in White T-shirt is nothing if not consistent, especially on this point. Much to my surprise, a menu was actually printed up for us... although we weren't supposed to see it and the dishes were meant to be surprises. 

Smoked grey mullet / bottarga - WOW!  I couldn't believe we were starting with this monster... A whole grey mullet which has been smoked, along with homemade bottarga using mullet roe.

Plenty of nice, smoky flavors in the tender flesh... and of course I just looooove the bottarga.

Fish soup - always fantastic, so rich and full of flavor... with saffron and piment.  *Someone* got a second bowl.

Sea whelk / escargot butter - the babylonia came with the herb butter and mash potatoes traditionally found in escargot à la bourguignonne.

Beef tartare / burrata / hazelnut / truffle - the veal tartare here is always nice, especially with the creamy burrata and fragrant hazelnuts.  Tonight the addition of shaved white truffle on top took the fragrance levels up a few notches.  So, sooo good.

Fried stuffed cuttlefish - this was a sight for sore eyes!  I was so, so happy to see this!

The breaded and deep-fried cuttlefish - which the kitchen tries to source locally but does not always succeed - is delicious enough on its own.

But the stuffing made with Christian Parra's boudin basque was just awesome, and worked really well with the cuttlefish.

Mussels / Sichuan pepper - always interesting to have the fragrance and lightly-numbing sensations from the dried Sichuan peppercorns.

Mystery ingredient / foie gras / fried egg / truffle - the pan-fried foie gras was so, so tender.  And of course the classic combination of fried egg and white truffle was simple and satisfying.

Handmade garganelli / hairy crab / sea urchin - I always find the flavor combinations of the pasta here so interesting, and tonight we've got hairy crab roe and sea urchin - both ingredients that we are fans of.  What elevated the dish was the use of piment d'espelette - giving the creamy and oily combination a decidedly pronounced spicy kick without overwhelming the palate.

Warm vegetables casserole / black truffle - always good to eat your vegetables, and a little black truffle adds to the fragrance rising from the dish.

Mayura wagyu shortrib steak - this looked fantastic.

I was surprised that these came in pretty thin slices, and they were certainly very tender.  The flavors were also wonderful, as the charring on the outside brought a nice smokiness.  Very, very tasty, and it's a shame I no longer had much room in my stomach.

Marrow / caviar - always irresistable.

Potato mash / truffle - what is this sorcery?!  You would think that this was just shaving some white truffle on top of mashed potatoes, but you would be wrong.  There were, in fact, cubes of deep-fried beef fat buried in the mash.  Absolutely and utterly sinful.  For a guy who normally doesn't eat much mashed potatoes, I'd happily spoon a big bowl of this.

Apple tatin - undoubtedly one of my favorite tarte tatin in town.  Plenty of sweetness and richness here.


There were a few bottles tonight, but mostly this crowd weren't big drinkers...

2015 Roses de Jeanne Les Ursules, dégorgée en avril 2019, en magnum - this was from the day before, so while it was nice and ripe, it just didn't seem as lively.

Frederic Savart L'Ouverture, dégorgée en mai 2019 - riper on the palate than I expected, and pretty rounded with a good balance.

Ruinart Rosé - a little toasty with more red fruits.

2003 Torbreck Descendent, from magnum - decanted for 1½ hours prior to serving.  Still very ripe and jammy, but it's softened with age and some aeration.  Drinking beautifully right now.

A really fun evening, and entirely way, waaaay too much food. Many thanks to the Kat for the kind invitation, and we hope to see a lot more of The Great One.

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