July 13, 2022

A very flowery meal

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This was the place I really wanted to check out. I had a pretty good meal at Florilège in Tokyo a few years ago, so I was pretty happy to see them open logy and add to the dining scene here in Taipei. I was hoping that Chef Tahara Ryogo (田原諒悟) would follow in the footsteps of Chef Hieda Ryohei (稗田良平) of Shoun RyuGin (祥雲龍吟) and make extensive use of the beautiful produce in Taiwan, and adapt his cuisine to showcase Taiwanese flavors.

I had originally wanted to take the Parental Units here, but decided against it when I realized it was mostly counter seating and it would be tough to carry on a good conversation. Things would be easier with just the three of us.

The restaurant claims that they don't provide printed menus because of environmental reasons. Well, this is annoying. I really would like to see a menu, and if they didn't want to waste paper, they could have easily let us scan a QR code for us to read a menu online. Plenty of other restaurants already do that, so why can't they?

Bigfin reef squid, confit lemon, cucumber, caviar - underneath the thin sheets of squid we had apparently some confit Italian lemon zest, although I didn't bother asking for the region or cultivar. There was also cucumber from Yilan County (宜蘭縣), and thick cubes of squid. The caviar on top was from France - but again, I didn't ask for the brand... or whether the caviar really came from French sturgeon (like La Maison Nordique) or it was just the brand that was French (like Kaviari)... Some chamomile oil on top.

Hokkaido oyster, peas, Romaine lettuce, mint granité - first look and one only sees the peas, granité, mint, and peas.

At the bottom we had oysters from Hokkaido (北海道), which were fatty and creamy. I was surprised by the presence of hazelnut oil, and the creamy, milky sweetness which threw me off. The lettuce was cold and crunchy, as were the peas. Pretty refreshing way to start.

Sea bream, glutious rice, sea grapes - the sea bream (真鯛) came with a light smokiness and was done mi-cuit, almost as if it was just lightly cooked by the rice below. Topped with sea grapes from Taitung County (台東縣), laver (生海苔), and basil oil. The sauce brought some acidity, which was a nice touch.

Chawanmushi with crab meat and goji - the steamed egg custard came with some mud crab (沙公), topped with a quenelle of ice cream made with celery root (芹菜根) - or was it celeriac? - and Chinese angelica (當歸) leaves. The angelica flavors here were really strong, and that was pretty interesting. Finished with some beef consommé made with dried squid. This was a warm and comforting dish, perhaps even more so because of the angelica reminds us of something that is so Taiwanese.

Deep fried eel with chicken mousse, Parmigiano, and zucchini - served on a a mix of yellow and green zucchini balls garnished with spring onions, with a sauce made with sansho (山椒) pepper, muscovado (黒糖), white wine and butter. There was good acidity in the sauce and the sansho was pretty mild with just a hint of numbness on the tongue. Finally, topped with shavings of 36 month Parmigiano-Reggiano which had good depth of flavors.

A layer of chicken mousse sat on top of the eel, and the whole thing was wrapped in caul fat before being deep-fried "like tempura (天ぷら). Very crispy exterior after deep-frying the caul fat. Saku saku (サクサク), as the Japanese would say.

Grouper with nasturtium and peppers - the grouper was nicely done and very succulent. The red pepper and tomato broth was pretty nice.

Underneath the nasturtium we had some confit pepper with onions, and there was also a blob of gel made of blood orange and cumin. Tons of beautiful spices here.

On the side we had a plate of cous cous wih tpowdered kelp and red pepper. We were meant to dump this into our bowls after we had finished everything else so that it could be mixed with the leftover broth. Pretty nice.

The Aussie lamb rack was displayed earlier during our dinner.

Lamb ribeye, asparagus, milk foam - the lamb was nice and fatty, which meant it was pretty tasty. The milk foam flavored with lavender, thyme and blue cheese was a little strong for my liking. The quenelle of Korean arugula purée was meant to help deliver a floral touch - which was designed to complement the lavender in the foam - but I didn't quite get it...

Peach, sour cherry and red shiso, fromage blanc - the peaches come from Mount Lala (拉拉山), and topped with granité of sour cherry and red perilla and a quenelle of fromage blanc ice cream. Final sprinkle of perilla flowers. Very, very nice.

'Mont blanc' with lily bulb, passion fruit and mango sauce - actually we still had chestnuts at the bottom along with pistachios, but the swirl around the center which traditionally is made with chestnuts has been replaced with lily bulb.

Aiyu jelly with nata de coco - I guess the pastry chef wanted to play around and decided to inject CO2 into the chunks of nata de coco... where the carbonation made it taste medicinal and icky. Served with "Golden Diamond" pineapple (金鑽鳳梨) juice infused with basil.

Herbal tea

Once again we took it easy and just had 2 bottles over dinner.

1996 Bruno Paillard Nec Plus Ultra, dégorgée en Janvier 2009 - still pretty lively with good acidity. Definitely some maturity here, but not overripe. Rounded on the palate but still a little edgy. Toasty notes coming out after 30 minutes, and started to show some savory minerality. Very nice and a wonderful treat.

2017 Sine Qua Non Tectumque - 38% Roussanne, 31% Petit Manseng, 18% Chardonnay, Viognier, and Muscat. Decanted for 50 minutes. Very ripe and almost bubblegum-like. Flinty. Lots of vanilla and very buttery. But the palate felt a little short.

A really enjoyable meal, and one I felt mom would also enjoy. Hopefully she and dad can nab a reservation here one of these days.

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