December 8, 2021

Chef white (tee) and the seven boars

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I had been wanting to organize a wine tasting for some time.  In fact, I first gauged friends' interest a little more than 4 years ago.  But for one reason or another, it never came to pass.  Well, this year I've decided to go forward with organizing a number of wine tastings, and I finally got around to clearing out some interesting sets of bottles from my cellar.  Tonight I would finally be able to pop a set of 4 pinot noirs from Marcassin Vineyard together.

I grabbed a few winos who I knew would be interested in tasting these wines, and as it turns out most of them had already raised their hands 4 years ago. It was suggested that we do this at Neighborhood, as some people from the group hadn't visited for a while. I booked a table and asked the Man in White T-shirt to see if he could throw some dishes our way that would suit the bottles of chardonnay and pinot noir.

We were surprised to run into another group of winos seated at neighboring tables - led by a wine critic. We cracked jokes amongst ourselves about the number of Californian wines at their tables, while we eventually offered up a glass or two so Mr. critic would have a taste.

Kicking off our meal with the usual sourdough bread was a trio of spreads. I very rarely ignore a slab of butter, but tonight I had no reason to touch it. Not with the other goodies on this plate.

Saucisson and lardo rillette
- I was introduced to this on my last visit, and damn if I wasn't gonna get my fill this time around. How could I possibly resist whipped lardo, especially when you've also got saucisson?!

Chicken liver pâté with black truffle - and chicken liver is never a bad thing. I don't even need the truffle.

Persimmon / bottarga - I've had these before on my last visit, and some of the others were a little confused about what was on the plate.

I still love that interplay between the sweetness of the dried persimmon and the savory, lightly bitter flavors of the bottarga.

Persimmon / lardo di Colonnata / N25 caviar - again we have the contrast with fresh persimmon. Tonight the boss has added some caviar on top.

We didn't have the Kinokawa persimmons (紀の川柿) tonight, but I really liked the mix with the sweet, juicy persimmon together with the fatty lardo, and finally the oily and salty caviar. Very, very nice.

Smoked mackerel - the last time I didn't enjoy the smoked fish here was... NEVER! Absolutely loved the mackerel, and this kinda reminded me of Chiuchow chilled fish (魚飯).

Fassona beef tartare / burrata / hazelnuts / white truffle - I was really happy to have this again. It's great to watch the surprise on people's faces when they cut open the burrata and realize there's actually beef tartare stuffed inside. Of course, the hazelnuts and white truffle remind us of the season.

Red seabream / strawberries - once again the ceramic flounder plate arrived bearing a pile of greens. This time it's red seabream crudo on top, with slices of strawberries and what appeared to be Parmiggiano-Reggiano. Very happy to be getting some greens in.

Monkfish liver / oyster / soufflé - we were served two different savory soufflés, as the boss accommodated my refusal to swallow fish cum. This one had monkfish liver and oysters inside, while sea urchin was mixed in with the egg. This was OK, but the oysters threw me off a little.

Red seabream soup - so the kitchen took the bones of the red sea bream and made their usual soupe de poisson. Delicious as always. Love the saffron.

Handmade pappardelle / venison ragu - YES!!! After many complaints to the boss about not getting any pasta - even on World Pasta Day!!! - I finally got to have some of the restaurant's wonderful pasta dishes. Looooove the venison ragù, especially the parsley.

"Mayura" wagyu shortrib steak / potato / lettuce - I guess only DaRC and I come regularly enough to have had this dish before, but what a dish is always is! The thin slices of short rib from Mayura Station are always so, so tender and smooth... as if they were coated in a layer of butter. well... I guess it's just fat from cows, one way or another. As usual the stars were the chunks of potatoes and, much to people's surprise, the lettuce drizzled with sauce! Oh, and cloves of roasted garlic don't hurt.

Red seabream head / rice - I wasn't surprised that we were getting a rice dish featuring seafood, but I certainly didn't expect the head of the red seabream we've been chewing on. Tonight the rice was almost soupy, and I kinda thought it suited the main ingredient. The best surprise, though? Those chunks of deep-fried pork lard we found in the rice. These were fairly big chunks, and so, sooo sinful and satisfying!

Wild Mallard duck / chanterelle / trumpet mushrooms - we didn't need another big dish, but the boss saved this 'surprise' for us. The duck was rubbed with a coat of strong spices on the skin side, which included Sichuan peppercorns that numbed my taste buds. We've also got chanterelles, trumpet mushrooms, roasted garlic, and colorful mix of 'greens'.

Duck leg ragù / mashed potatoes - but this... this was ridiculous. Normally, by the time the mashed potatoes showed up, I would be too full to eat much of it. Well, tonight it came topped with a ragù made with the legs of the Mallard duck. My stomach ran out of space the second I laid eyes on this. But damn! This was soooo sinful!

Baked Mont d'Or / white truffle - what else needs to be said when you've got these two ingredients together? The cheese from Alléosse was fantastic. And tonight we witnessed the birth of the Bandito - the alter ego of DaRC.

Chestnut cannoli / white truffle - the cannoli themselves would be delicious enough, but then they were crushed and covered in a blanket of white truffle. Absolutely ridiculous. So I had two.

Tonight the main event was certainly the selection of wines, and it's really not often that we see something like this in town.

2007 Marcassin Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard - initially the nose was very caramelized, with big pineapple notes like the filling of Taiwanese pineapple cake. Changed drastically 15 minutes later and showed lots of buttery notes, and definitely got better with aeration. Weakest of the 3 chardonnays tonight but still pretty good.

2006 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard - opened almost 4 hours before dinner. Really big and powerful, sooo toasty on the nose, also ripe and sweet on the palate. Almost 7 hours later this was still going strong. Amazing!

2010 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard - nose was kinda toasty too at first, opened up really nicely and showed huge nose. Such depth on the palate with a long finish. Wonderful stuff.

2003 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard - opened 4½ hours before serving. Very fruity, very soft and alluring. Such amazing balance that gives you everything in just the right amount.

2003 Marcassin Pinot Noir Blue-Slide Ridge Vineyard - opened 4½ hours before serving. Riper fruit, initially more metallic. Showed cool fruit and pretty jammy later.

2003 Marcassin Pinot Noir Three Sisters Vineyard - served almost 5 hours after opening. Very ripe, showing sweet fruit without being too jammy. Toasty oak in the nose, too.

2003 Marcassin Pinot Noir Bondi Home Ranch - drank 5 hours 45 minutes after opening. Lovely and ripe with plenty of sweet fruit.

What a night! While our collection of wines probably got scoffed at by the neighboring table, they were certainly jealous of the food that they saw but weren't getting. I'm really, really happy that this gathering finally happened, and look forward to doing this again soon.

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