August 27, 2022

3-star cellar raid

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A few months ago the Candidate suggested that we do a dinner at Caprice with the goal of raiding its cellar. While some parts of the restaurant's wine list are ludicrously priced, apparently there are a few bargains to be had. I dutifully carried out the wishes of the gang and proceeded to book ourselves a room for tonight.

Three of us did spend a reasonable amount of time trawling through the restaurant's wine list, and much to my surprise, there were indeed some hidden bargains. After some back-and-forth horse trading, we came up with a selection of wines and asked Victor to save those bottles for us.

Knowing our choice of wines in advance meant it was easier for Hairy Legs to come up with the dishes to match them. I gave him carte blanche as usual, and was looking forward to see what he would come up with. But first, we have the canapés - all of which I've seen before.

Tomato ravioli with Parmesan cookie

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar and crème fraîche

Pita with curry chicken mousse

Les tomates de mon jardin, sabayon froid au basilic - for two months each year I look forward to coming to Caprice for a taste of Hairy Leg's mom's tomatoes. They come in different varieties and colors, but are always sweet and delicious. The thick slices came on top of some sabayon made of Marscapone and infused with basil, along with some gelée made of tomato water, and basil oil. The spherification was made using cooked tomatoes, and we've also got fresh almonds and plenty of fresh basil alongside round discs made of crunchy pastry.

I really couldn't be happier with our first dish. Quintessential flavors of summer.

Japanese squid carbonara, Australian black truffle, culatello - Hairy Legs decided to switch things up a little by substituting ingredients for my favorite dish of his. The Japanese abalone has turned into squid from Fukuoka, which are cut into long, thin ribbons which do resemble noodles a little more.

Mixing the "noodles" together with the quail egg yolk, truffle, onion compote, and the culatello which has replaced the 36-month jamón pata negra makes a pretty sight. The flavors are very familiar to me - with the sweetness of the onion coming through the rich "carbonara" sauce, the savory bits of ham, and of course the earthy fragrance of tuber melanosporum. What was clearly different tonight was the springy texture of the squid, delivering more feedback compared to thin strips of abalone.

Brittany blue lobster, stuffed zucchini flower, sauce ruby - ahhhh... that "ruby sauce"... made with strawberries, rasberry vinegar, lobster and shrimp heads, and that "secret ingredient" that's basically Sankala's kryptonite - beetroot.

No surprise to find the execution of the homard bleu on point.

The zucchini flower was stuffed with lobster mousse along with tiny diced bits of black truffle.

The sommelier served the Corton with this dish, and I must say that the pairing worked very, very well.

Pêche ⟪petit bateau⟫ ragoût de coco de Paimpol et couteau, sauce oursins et wasabi - on the side we had coco de Paimpol cooked with razor clams, razor clam juice, dill, and lemon zest. The beautiful sauce was made with sea urchin and wasabi, with some yuzu (柚子) and orange zest. This impressed some of our friends so I had to let them know that they are in the presence of the "king of sauce"...

The dish is normally served with rouget, but the broadbanded thornyhead (喜知次) from Hokkaido is even more succulent when steamed. Served with a "seafood cake" that was essentially a farce made of diced mussels, herbs, and bread crumbs flavored with clam and mussel juice, which was cooked alongside the fish.

Agneau de l'Aubrac en deux façon, celtuce, purée de pois chiche et jus naturel - the slow-cooked saddle was beautifully-executed and it shows. The shoulder, naturally, had a lot more flavor... but the surprise came underneath in the form of diced celtuce stems. The chickpeas and chickpea mash was exepcted, as was the sauce flavored with ras el hanout and argon oil. Very, very happy.

We were next presented with a pre-selected range of cheese, even though we were pretty full by now.

Brillat-Savarin - always one of my favorites thanks to the triple cream. Got some acidity here along with the salt. Very nice.

Brique de Jussac - semi-soft, very farmy and gamey, and salty.

Sainte-Maure de Touraine - lighter with more acidity.

Tomme de Savoie - a little bitter.

Comté, aged 36 months - slurp.

We then had the pre-dessert:

Coconut and lime pie - with coconut foam on top. Cold and refreshing.

Finally we were presented with our dessert - something I've had the pleasure of having before. I found it curious that EVERYONE ELSE got some decorative gold foil on top EXCEPT moi...

It was then I saw Hairy Legs come in to the room, with tweezers in hand, to personally apply not one, not two, but three pieces of gold foil on my dessert. He then tweezered the final piece of gold foil straight into my mouth... Yes, boys and girls, this is how you know you're an A-lister...

Millefeuille chocolat banane, sorbet cacao - crispy dacquoise with slices of banana, hazelnut mousse, and topped with a quenelle of cocoa sorbet. And gold, of course. The flavors improved at least 50% after the gold was applied.

Since no one bothered to introduce the mignardises to us, I can only guess what these were based on previous experience...

Banana bread

Mango (?) religieuse

Chocolate with hazelnut and liquid chocolate caramel

Raspberry tart

Chocolates, including raspberry chocolate

Irrespective of the amazing dishes we got tonight, the focus of this group tonight was squarely on the wines. After all, the whole point of this dinner was to raid the cellar!

2017 Roses de Jeanne Blanc de Noirs Presle, dégorgement 2021 - nice and toasty notes, soooo floral. Nice and soft on the palate, soft and elegant, so alluring and almost ethereal.

Ulysse Collin Les Maillons Rosé de Saignée, bouteille n° 932, dégorgée en mars 2021 - very moussy at first, a bit too yeasty. Almost a little like cherry cough syrup. Unbelievably, I could swear that was coconut butter in the nose. Much more punchy and powerful.

2017 Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux - served 3 hours after opening. A little rounded on the palate than expected, with some acetone, a little lemon, and flint on the nose. Initially served too cold so not revealing much, but the acetone remained even after warming up. Least favorite wine of the night.

2019 Bernard Bonin Meursault Les Tillets - served 3½ hours after opening, and again too cold at first so only showing some flint. 4½ hours after opening this was much more open, with big, toasty nose, but sweeter on the nose.

2017 Bernard Bonin Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières - served 3½ hours after opening. Bigger toast on the nose, a bit on the lean side, with good acidity but not too sharp. Once it opened up further it was really nice, with a huge nose of toast around 5 hours after opening, along with flint.

2019 Moron-Garcia Corton Cuvée Baie Par Baie, bouteille n° 225/898 - back in bottle after 2½ hours in the decanter, and served after another 1½ hours in bottle. Fragrance of roses, black cherries, really sweet on the nose and really nice 30 minutes after serving. Palate finally went downhill 6½ hours after initial opening.

2019 Pedres Blanques - served 1½ hours after opening. Lots of very ripe fruit, with leather and dried herbs. Very minty some 2½ hours after opening. Apparently this needs 12 hours of aeration...

Undoubtedly a very happy evening, and I saw smiles all round throughout the evening. Someone was practically glowing and blindng us with happiness. Maybe we should organize a few more raids in the near future...

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