May 26, 2022

Second chances, pinot edition

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Thanks to the dinner ban as well as the Film Buff's travel plans, it has taken us more than 4 months to gather together for some wine. I haven't been back to Andō for quite some time, and figured I could get everyone there for a refresher. I was surprised to have encountered some resistance from the group, but in the end I'm glad that they decided to trust my judgement. I was also glad that stringent government restrictions had been lifted by now, so that the 6 of us could be seated together in the private room next to the kitchen.

I didn't say anything to Goldfinger about the group expecting a "Peter menu", but some of my friends tonight was certainly looking for something above and beyond what they themselves had experienced while dining here.

We started with a caviar tasting, featuring 3 different brands: Kaviari, Nomad, and Petrossian. Each was served in a different fashion. And OF COURSE Goldfinger made sure I had gold foil on each serving, and only for me. I AM special, after all...

Tart with Japanese egg mousse, lobster, Kaviari Kristal Caviar - the tart was pretty sweet, and the deep-fried shredded white kombu (白板昆布) provided a nice, crunchy texture.

Tapioca cracker with tarama, wagyu tartare, Nomad Ossetra Caviar - the caviar worked very well with the beef tartare, which was savory but came with some acidity. The cracker also delivered a lot of flavor, in spite of it being slightly greasy.

Snow crab, burdock foam, Petrossian Daurenki Tsar Imperial Caviar - here the caviar really stood out, with its deep flavors contrasting with the sweetness of the burdock foam and crab meat. We've also got a bunch of bubu arare (ぶぶあられ) buried in the foam to provide crunch.

Tardes en Palermo - our first course showcased my favorite carabineros from Spain, served up with those tiny paprika peppers I love so much, along with sliced cauliflower, onions, lots of colorful edible flowers, and a pepper-based sauce that I am sure is much, much more complex.

I love it when prawns are just barely cooked, and these were cooked inside their shells for about 30 seconds. So, so happy.

Manos negras - next came two different servings of sea urchin. In the bowl we had lime cream, shio kombu (塩昆布), and green peas topped with Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) from Hokkaido.

The peas were certainly crunchy, and we've got acidity from the lime cream to work with the sweet and creamy sea urchin. Slurp.

The second serving came on rye crackers, with cod mousse topped also with Japanese green sea urchin. The combination of the cod mousse as well as sea urchin tarama was pretty nice.

Cien años no son nada - this is the traditional bread course, with multi-grain, honey rye, and walnut-and-rice sourdough.

This was, of course, the chance to showcase the El Mil del Poaig olive oil made from trees which are more than 1,000 years old producing farga olives. Tonight our oil came from bottle #117 of 960.

We also had butter with our bread, as three different flavors are added to the Hokkaido butter: sea salt, heirloom tomato, and Japanese mushrooms.

Fidueà with firefly squid - I had seen Goldfinger post a different version of this and had wanted to try it, but tonight he delivered a special version made with Japanese firefly squid (蛍烏賊) along with squid ink and a sprinkle of sansho leaves (木の芽).

I couldn't begin to tell you how happy everyone was at the sight of this, but... why did we get so little of it?! As delicious was this was - and the depth of flavors was pretty amazing - two spoonfuls of this along with 3-4 of the tiny squid... IN WHAT UNIVERSE WOULD ANY OF US BE SATISFIED WITH THIS?!

Medio mundo - the splendid alfonsino (金目鯛) came on top of some diced razor clams and asparagus, along with fish stock made with herbs and vin jaune. I must say that the stock was really nice.

The fish was rather under-seasoned and definitely needed the stock, although the skin side was a tad more salty. Very, very succulent.

Risas del jardin - the Hereford strip loin from the La Pampa, Argentina was chargrilled and served with beef jus seasoned with yuzukosho (柚子胡椒), and humita. Unfotunately I found this not only to be a little dry on the outside but actually pretty bland. I guess my taste buds were failing me tonight, but I really didn't find this interesting.

The piquillo pepper was stuffed with diced eggplant, tomato, zucchini, onion, and quinoa. Much, much more tasty than the beef it came with...

Sin Lola - this has now become the signature dish. Tonight we had Japanese snow crab (ズワイ蟹) as the main seafood, but I think everyone agreed that the broth tonight was much denser than it's ever been on previous visits. It just packed a real punch, and the taste would undoubtedly light up one's eyes.

Photo courtesy of Jas
Crema catalana with almond ice cream
- an extra pre-dessert for us. Love it.

Mis domingos favoritos - 65% chocolate ganache with perilla leaf ice cream, topped with chocolate tuille. That ice cream really packed some flavor! So perfectly refreshing.

Then came the mignardises:

Kyoho (巨峰) grapes

Raspberry tart

Matcha chocolate

Passion fruit biscuit

Hazelnut dark chocolate

I thought I had set a wine theme for tonight but it appears that someone had forgotten about one little detail... Many thanks for Goldfinger and the team for the bottle of bubbly to kick off our meal.

Egly-Ouriet Les Vignes de Vrigny, dégorgée en juillet 2021 - pretty nie, lovely and toasty nose. Good balance with some acidity, which is noticeable but not too sharp.

2019 Moron-Garcia Marsannay Clos du Roy - decanted for 30 minutes before back in bottle, and decanted a second time 1 hour after initial opening. Very sweet on the nose like candy, very fruity, a little oak, with some dried herbs. Improved a little after 15 minutes, and showed even better after another 1-2 hours. This wine needed time.

2009 Gantenbein Pinot Noir - showing pretty nicely after about 30 minutes in the decanter. Nice and fragrant, a little woodsy, but kinda unstable on the finish. Second pour about 1 hour in was showing more leather and animal, and after 1½ hour in the decanter the nose was big and toasty. Damn nice, even if the palate couldn't keep up all the way.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes - served more than an hour after decanting. A little eucalyptus on top of some toasty notes. Tannins were till kinda grippy.

2009 Lucien Le Moine Clos de Vougeot - served 1½ hours after decanting. A little eucalyptus on the nose but more muted than expected. Pretty smooth on the palate but kinda flat. After more than 3 hours in the decanter this showed more body. Kinda disappointing.

2009 Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot - served 1½ hours after decanting. This came with a huge toasty nose, and I definitely did not expect this to overpower the Lucien Le Moine.

A very, very fun evening, and it's fun to stay out late and being able to enjoy our wines and conversation. Try as I might, I will never be able to deny the existence of a "Peter menu" at certain restaurants... including this place. I'm glad I was able to help convert a few people, though...

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