August 31, 2021


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So... it was finally time to hold my "birthday MNSC" for the boys. I had been planning a big one for my 50th last year, but of course just about everyone's plans got derailed by this thing called Covid-19... So I kept the bottles set aside in the cellar for another year, until the time when all of us - well, except for Dr Poon... who is still MIA - could find a date to sit down together.

There was never any question of where this dinner would take place. I trust Hairy Legs and his sommelier Victor to come up with the best selection of dishes to match whatever wines I bring.  So once again we convened in the private room at Caprice for what I hope would be a better lineup of wines than our dinner 3 years ago.

As usual, we started with a trio of amuses bouches which arrived in a jewel box. Some of us were more special than others and had their own individual boxes without having to share with someone else...

Tomato ravioli with Parmesan cookie - topped with black olives. Nice to get some seasonal flavors with this.

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar and crème fraîche

Pita with curry chicken mousse

Tomato from Chez Galliot, tomato water gelée, shrimp tartare, shrimp head cream - this dish was created around the tomatoes Hairy Legs receives each summer from his mom's garden, and I've been lucky enough to taste some over the last few years. We had four different types of tomatoes tonight along with the gelée made of tomato water which has been infused with some vanilla. The tomatoes were, of course, refreshingly beautiful. The cream of shrimp heads was simply DA BOMB. What a great first dish to start our meal! Too bad almost all the boys were thirsty enough and finished the Champagne instead of saving some with pair with this dish as originally intended. I guess next time I need to bring a magnum...

Oh and Hairy Legs almost forgot to gimme some gold foil, until I reminded him! Very grateful that he always obliges me for my special requests... Unfortunately for the boys, he put gold on their tomatoes, too.

Brittany blue lobster, poached foie gras, Solliès figs, mushroom duxelles - of course I would expect Hairy Legs to only use lobsters from Brittany, and I'm grateful for that since I am actively avoiding lobsters coming from New England and Nova Scotia. I do love homard bleu for its texture and flavors. We also had tender cubes of foie gras, which paired very well with the sauce made with lobster head reduction, shrimp stock, beetroot(!) juice, and raspberry vinegar. I took one whiff of the sauce and just knew that I had first tasted it last year, when Hairy Legs snuck in a "secret ingredient" without telling me upfront... Love the sweet, fruity flavors as well as the acidity. The figs have started to come into season so I was happy that we have that in the mix, too.

John Dory, stuffed zucchini flower, celeriac mousse - the John Dory was about as nice as I would have expected, topped with thin slices of button mushrooms. The sauce was made by adding some cream to a mushroom tea.

The big zucchini flower was stuffed with a very smooth mousse made of blue lobster claws and trimmings from the John Dory. That was pretty interesting.

Racan pigeon cooked in a coffee crust, salsify, sacristains, arabica sauce - this is the current iteration of Hairy Legs' Racan pigeon, which I had the pleasure of tasting on my last visit. Any pigeon dish that comes from his kitchen is, invariably, impeccably executed. In spite of his use of my least favorite herb, I was very, very happy with this. In addition to the salsify cooked in butter and espresso, the sacristains on the side were also made of salsify. And that sauce, of course... it may not have been as rich as a demi-glace but it was no less beautiful. There is good reason why Hairy Legs is often called 'the king of sauces', and this is just another example.

We were presented with a selection of cheese:

36-month Comté

Palouse des Aravis

Brie de Meaux

Our pre-dessert was a sponge cake with kiwi, pineapple, lemon mousse, and a mango sorbet. I've always enjoyed this combination, since it's so fruity and tropical.

Chocolate banana millefeuille - with a crispy dacquoise, slices of banana, hazelnut mousse, and cocoa sorbet on top. Very, very awesome.

Finally, the we have the mignardises.

Lemon tart

Strawberry religieuse

Lemon and milk chocolate

Banana bread

There were also a couple of chocolates.

But of course tonight the wines were actually the main event. After a wait of more than a year, I finally had the opportunity to pop these bottles.

1971 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - nose was very oxidized, as expected, with sugar cane, straw, marmalade notes. Ripe, soft, and lovely on the palate.

First flight: served 2 hours after opening, without decanting.

2000 Armand Rousseau Chambertin - a little grilled meats, leather, not quite open. Definitely harder and masculine. 93 points.

1999 Armand Rousseau Chambertin - much bigger, more open, and more toasty on the nose, also a little dusty and dirty. Very smooth on the palate but also more noticeable tannins. 94 points.

1995 Armand Rousseau Chambertin - cleaner, softer on the palate. Black fruits and some eucalyptus. 94 points.

Second flight: served 1 hour after opening, without decanting.

1949 Haut-Brion, ex-château 2013 - very savory, huge and punchy nose. Very oxidized but not quite madeira, with Chinese salted plum, much more ripe and smoky. Classic old claret with that savory soy sauce and aged tangerine peel. 95 points.

1944 Haut-Brion, ex-château 2013 - very savory, a little medicinal, woodsy, more open and much more beautiful. 96 points.

Third flight: served 3½ hours after opening, without decanting.

1970 Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva - sweet grass, kinda fruity, pretty fragrant, minty, and kinda ripe. 94 points.

1971 Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva - a little oxidized, a little savory, kinda ripe. 93 points.

Bonus round:

1959 Clos de Nouys Vouvray Moelleux - flinty, floral, pollen and orange blossom notes. A hint of sweetness but not too rich.

I was very, very happy with how this evening turned out. I wish the wines from the first flight would have shown a little better, but that may have been a function of the glass they were served in - and I chose not to serve them in Burgundy glasses so that all the flights would be consistent in that regard. We were still very stuffed at the end of the evening even though Hairy Legs had already dialed back the number of courses we were served. Many, many thanks to the team at Caprice for a wonderful experience as always.

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