May 19, 2021

70s disco boogie night

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Sankala had an itch she needed to scratch. Having left in the middle of our lunch to attend a work meeting on a Saturday, she felt she hadn't gotten a full taste of what Mono has to offer. We finally decided to pay Ricardo another visit after more than 4 months.

Hokkaido sea urchin / tree tomato / causa - in addition to the tamarillos, we've also got dicd potatoes from the causa delivering some grainy textures, and slightly bitter flavors.  The creamy sea urchin worked very well with the acidity of tamarillos.  Razor clams added some sweetness, and some kiwicha on top provided a little crunch.

Gamba rojas / jicama / shallot cream - the Mediterranean prawns were just about perfect - ever so slightly cooked and very, very tender.  At the bottom we had a thin disc of jicama, and also some jicama brunoise in the middle along with Chinese celery stems delivering a little bit of heat.  Gelée made with extract of prawn heads were flavorful but delicately seasoned, and the quenelles of shallot cream on the side added acidity from sherry vinegar and apple cider vinegar.  A very nice and balanced dish.

Green peas / Imperial caviar / nopal - the smaller, tender peas were served up fresh while the larger ones were puréed, with chunks of steamed nopal providing some bitterness much like bitter gourd, while snow fungus gave us some crunch.  The sweet peas worked very well with the Chinese Imperial caviar, and we've also got burrata cream and lime vinaigrette to round out the flavors.

Hokkaido scallop / recado negro / mashua - once the wafer-thin discs of mashua are peeled away, one finds chunks of raw scallops from Hokkaido which have been marinated with recado negro.  I loved the flavors of the sea coming from the scallops, but the recado negro was much, much too subtle.  I had to lick it off the scallop chunks to try to get a little bit of the kick, and I was really expecting more heat from the chiles.  

The mashua was pretty crunchy, although I didn't taste the ginger-like spiciness.

Quinoa sourdough / Eva Aguilera 100% Arbequina olive oil - always happy to take some of the quinoa sourdough here, and that Arbequina olive oil was beautiful as I remembered from last time.  The sourdough works just as well with the signature mole, too...

Blue lobster / kari gosse / chayote - the homard bleu from Brittany poached in clarified butter was simply fucking good and full of flavor.  It was very tender, yet one could distinguish the strands of muscle fibers.  There was a thin slice of chayote at the bottom which had been sprinkled with toasted poppy seeds for additional crunch.  The lightness of the chayote helped to balanced out the strong, tasty flavors from Kari Gosse.  I'd be very happy to have this every time...

Pertuis asparagus / Caribbean sauce / smoked sardines - beautiful asparagus came with smoked Galician sardine which was so, so tasty.  There were also some trout roe which were very firm and required some work to burst, as they were not as salted as Japanese salmon roe.

Morel / foie gras / 21 ingredients mole - these large morels from Yunnan Province (雲南省) were stuffed with foie gras from Landes.  Served up with sweet potato, duck jus, puffed buckwheat, and the signature mole.  Very, very nice.

Since we had plenty of mole left - and Ricardo made sure we got extra servings - we also got some casabe which, amazingly, is made in-house.

Monkfish is a signature dish of Ricardo's, and we're shown the fish roasted on the bone marinated with anticucho sauce.

Brittany monkfish / mate béarnaise / infladita - we've got some Mayer lemon on top of the monkfish, and I really do love the texture (and flavor!) of it. Interesting to find a chunk of celtuce on the side which has been braised with butter, served with grilled spring onions. The mate béarnaise was kinda interesting.

The infladita is a corn tortilla puff filled with brandade, and I could definitely taste the graininess of potato inside. Deep-fried and totally delicious.

Racan pigeon / yuca / chile ancho - the pigeon breast was very, very tender and delicious... with perfect doneness for me. Served with pigeon jus infused with chile ancho and blended chimichurri. Some steamed yuca on the side with pigeon filet and chopped chimichurri.

The leg of the pigeon was wrapped in banana leaf, steamed then grilled. This reminds me of Thai fried chicken wrapped in pandan leaves (ไก่ห่อใบเตย). So very, very tender, with tasty cumin. Meant to be dipped in guava ketchup.

Mate cocido 

Cucumber sorbet, yuzu cream, and verbena foam - so refreshing. Simple and beautiful flavors.

Raw cacao seed - always good to taste the original.

Our homemade chocolate / rosemary / Sicilian olive oil - an upgraded version from what I had last time, certainly in terms of presentation. Beautiful flavors that just magically worked together seamlessly, and I didn't even mind the rosemary as it just seemed to add the right touch.

Alfajores - always a great way to finish the meal here, and they make it with thinner cookies so one's mouth doesn't get glued shut.  This is where the mate comes in handy.

Ricardo very kindly offered us a glass of bubbly to start:

Bulles de Comptoir #9 Tradition, dégorgée en janvier 2021 - good depth on the palate. More acidity but also some bitterness.

2003 Guigal La Turque - served 30 minutes after decanting. First taste was so-so, maybe stayed in glass a little too long. Nose was still kinda nice, with forest, a little floral and soapy notes. About 50 minutes after decanting, the second pour was fresher, more lively on the palate, but still a little softer than expected. One hour and 15 minutes after, this showed more sweet and ripe fruits, gets better at 1½ hours, and more than 2 hours after this showed some vanilla oak.  Honestly, this was kinda disappointing.  I was expecting much more from one of my favorite wines from a stellar vintage.

I was very happy with our meal, and Sankala also appeared very satisified. The fun part of the evening, though, was having Ricardo challenge my knowledge of disco classics by cycling through his vinyl collection. Did he not realize how old I am, and that I grew up listening to Boney M, Kool and the Gang, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Grace Jones?  And did he really think that a big ABBA fan such as myself wouldn't have heard of One Night in Bangkok?!  PUH-LEEEEZE!

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