November 17, 2020

Hare on fire

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It's game season, and that means bunnies are on the menu at Caprice.  I've been seeing Hairy Legs' bunny dishes showing up on friends' social media, and finally it was my turn to taste them.  I knew that the ladies aren't big fans of these heavy dishes, so I figured we should make it into a boys' night.

I was looking forward to the three dishes featuring hare, but as I was bringing a bottle of sake, I asked Hairy Legs to put together a dish or two which would work with sake.  I would come to regret that, a little...

First, the usual suspects:

Button mushroom and foie gras gelée tart

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar

Pita with curry chicken mousse

Sea urchin, Kristal caviar, verbena Marscapone - WOW!  What a way to star the meal!  Of course we know raw sea urchin goes well with sake, but the combination of its sweetness and creaminess, together with the creaminess of the Marscapone infused with the citrus fragrance of verbena, worked beautifully with the salt and richness of the caviar.  The dill added more aromatics to the mix.

Of course, how can we forget the gold foil?!  Too bad there was so little of it.  Must complain to Hairy Legs about him being so stingy.

Juyondai Hizoushu (十四代 秘蔵酒), bottled July 2010 - this is a junmai daiginjo (純米大吟醸) koshu (古酒) with at least 3 years' aging, using Aiyama (愛山) rice milled down to a seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 40%.  I bought this bottle in 2010 and it's been aging in my cellar since then.  Nose was now much more intense, with sharper alcohol, much more fermented notes but somehow not fermented rice, with a lot less of the tropical peach I expected, but later on still some banana.

Remembering my experience from 4 years ago, I asked Hairy Legs to shave a small slice of white truffle into each of our glasses.  Well, I got a pretty big slice from a big chunk of truffle, because there's no such thing as "small truffle" in this here establishment. Yes, the fragrance of white truffle was magnified inside the wine glass, and with time it melded with the aromatics of the sake. But I gotta admit that the combination from 4 years ago was so magical that it is difficult to match...

Pâté en croûte - this version is made with hare.  How happy I was to taste it!  The different textures of pear on the side was a nice counter balance.

I always appreciate the good amount of acidity found in the pâté.  And of course those nice chunks of fat.

1999 Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie - really nice and fragrant right off the bat, with sweet fruit, a little eucalyptus, leather, and bacon fat notes.  Nice and ripe but somehow also a little cool, more mineral.

Scampi in consommé - this... this was just FUCKING BEAUTIFUL!  The beautifully-executed langoustine was served with a consommé made with shrimp, ginger, soy sauce, and timut pepper.  I was just full of flavor, and so, soooo delicate and elegant.  I've had langoustine here with delicious cream sauces before, but this was definitely much better... and I didn't think that was possible.

Garnished with shaved sudachi (酢橘) zest and coriander.

Kinki with Amandine potatoes in saffron sauce, cuttlefish bolognese, and white truffle - OK, so I didn't expect us to have three dishes to go with the sake... which was definitely too much.  But how could I complain about a dish like this?!  This was almost the same dish that I had a month ago, except that we got broadbanded thornyhead (喜知次) underneath the thin slices of mushroom.

Of course the fish was beautiful as one would expect, but what made the dish more amazing was how the aromatics of white truffle came together with the aromatics of the saffron sauce.  Seamless integration.  Even though I already knew the quenelle on the side was bolognese sauce made with cuttlefish, the flavors still managed to amaze me.

Hare soup with roasted hazelnuts, girolles, and white truffle - it's been three years since I last had this soup, and tonight the texture seemed even thicker and more viscous than I remembered.  In fact, this is more a bisque... it's a bowl of sauce!  In terms of flavor, it's always been pretty heavy with seasoning, but there's also good acidity thanks to a trio of vinegars - Jerez, quince, and raspberry - which also add fruity notes to lift things up a little.

Toast with white truffle, foie gras royale - with Fourme d'Ambert and quince purée, and we're supposed to alternate between bites of this and sips of the soup.

1995 Guigal La Mouline - served 2 hours and 45 minutes after decanting.  Classic La Mouline, which meant it was much more floral than the Jamet.  Very opulent with violet notes, a little black pepper, a little monkfruit.  So, so beautiful after 3½ hours, with lots of potpourri notes and bacon fat.

Liévre à la royale - la pièce de résistance.  Just look how beautiful this was, as the sauce made with blood, liver, and other goodies just glistened under the light.

The loin of the hare formed the center of the roulade, with foie gras, fat (or lard), and other goodies.  Topped with sautéed mushrooms and pear marmalade.  Good fruity and acidic notes in the thick, lava-like sauce.  So delicious. So rich.  There was no way I would have finished this whole chunk... not after all the dishes I've already consumed.  Amazingly, two of the boys did manage to finish their portions! 

Hairy Legs very kindly offered each of us a small glass of a beautiful Pedro Ximénez to go with the lièvre à la royale.

1955 Toro Albalá Don PX Convento Selección, from imperial - really intense on the palate, sooo raisiny, lots of minty herbs.  Very sweet as expected, like syrup.

I was ever grateful when the sommelier managed to offer me what seemed to be the last pour - or perhaps the dregs - from the 1929 which they had just finished pouring today.

1929 Toro Albalá Don PX Convento Selección, from imperial - not as fresh and fruity like the 1955, perhaps because it was the last pour from the bottle.  More meaty notes, a lot more complex, almost a bit spicy and a hint of smoke.  Much more viscous in terms of texture.

Pumpkin purée with white truffle - this was some beautiful and sweet pumpkin purée, and the white truffle certainly didn't hurt.

We were way, way too full... so we asked Hairy Legs not to send us the Mont d'Or - which would have been topped with more white truffle.

Exotic calisson, passion fruit and coriander sorbet - I was very happy to have this again, with mango, almond, coconut, chocolate, passion fruit, and coriander all put together.

I simply couldn't eat any more, so we packed up the mignardises as consolation for the ladies.  I couldn't resist biting into this banana bread, though...

What can I say about this meal?  Despite being a fan for more than 6 years, Hairy Legs continues to amaze me with how well he manages to combine flavors together to get that "1+1=3" effect.  Perhaps this is best illustrated by Sleeping Beauty asking me - a question repeated more than 10 times throughout the evening - why it is that I don't bring him back here more often.  As if he had no means of booking a table by himself... But regardless, surely that has to be the biggest compliment.

A round of applause to Hairy Legs, Suveg and the team in the kitchen, as well as Victor and the front-of-house team for pampering us.  We are surely undeserving of the love, especially after the performance by Sleeping Beauty tonight!

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