October 7, 2022

Supermarket wine with Four Sheets

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It's Four Sheets' big day today, and I promised to make it a day she would remember. We haven't been back to see our friend Uwe Opocensky for a few months, so I decided to get us a table at Restaurant Petrus. A few days ago I started getting messages from Uwe, asking me whether I have stopped eating (to make room for all the food he was sending our way). Of course I have not! But I did skip lunch after a big breakfast, and only nibbled on a couple of desserts mid-afternoon.

Uwe came over with this wry smile on his face, and let us know that while he has been "letting us off easy" for our last couple of visits, that would not be the case tonight. He didn't expect us to finish all the dishes but he very much wanted us to taste all of them. OK, BRING IT ON!

Grissini baguettes - these look new, and actually pretty tasty. We had been warned, though, not to indulge too much in terms of bread.

The butter is now made in-house with buttermilk shipped in from Brittany. This was lightly salted.

Tart with fennel jelly and caviar - this came with what seemed like lemon gel, which provided a piercing dose of acidity. We've got diced pickles in the jelly.

Beef tartare with pumpkin - we've got diced pumpkin inside.

Ham and cheese waffle - very sweet, but tasty.

Japanese abalone: drunk / potato / liver - the flavors of the abalone really shone, and the yellow wine was very obvious. The fennel flower on top was really punchy.

The abalone had been nicely scored to help deliver a very tender texture.

The couscous underneath was slightly sweet, and seemed a little mushy.

Potato and seaweed wafer - this was fine, and I enjoyed the fragrance it left in my mouth from the buttery fat. But I didn't see the connection between it and the abalone... In fact I completely forgot about this until our server reached over to take it away.

Cauliflower and smoke eel: tart / couscous / dashi / caviar - this came with several layers: smoked eel, purée of smoked eel and cauliflower, dashi (出汁) with eel and cauliflower couscous, and cauliflower purée on top. We've got a quenelle of caviar on the side, and a traditional grüne soße made with dill and parsley. I must say that the sauce worked very well with the smoky eel, and we didn't feel that the presence of caviar was superfluous. I also liked the hit of lemon citrus fragrance right at the end along with some acidity. A delicious dish.

Georges Bruck foie gras: figs / pecans / brioche - we have what looks like a fig on the plate, along with a wedge of fresh fig.

The "fig", of course, was made of foie gras pâté that had been coated with a thin layer of fig jelly, and came with fig jam at the center.

We also had pecan praliné, which we were advised to crush...

...to spread on top of the brioche along with the pâté. The end result was a familiar and satisfying bite.

As an aside, this worked very, very well with the Lafite-Rothschild, as the earthy flavors of the figs enhanced the earthiness of the Pauillac.

Norwegian king crab: roast / coconut / lemon - like a Thermidor, but with coconut milk that was a little on the sweet side. The "shell" was made of a crispy layer of potato, and we've got lemon gel on the side.

Japanese potato: Hokkaido / seaweed / caviar - served with what was described as "a light sauce of caviar" featuring marinated salmon roe as well as Kaviari Kristal caviar. The sauce had this beautiful acidity to balance out both the cream as well as the umami of the fish eggs, and the salmon roe was only lightly marinated so that the membranes still required a little more effort to burst.

I love this Hasselback potato where the crust was so nice, especially with seaweed powder and seaweed jam on the outside.

French red mullet: baby artichoke / chorizo / bell pepper - the fish was cooked so that it was a little on the firm side, delivering a reasonable amount of bounce to the bite. The bouillabaisse sauce offered up some orange, saffron, and even ginger notes.

For our second "fish course", Uwe wheeled out this Wellington for a little table-side service.

French monkfish: Wellington / sweetbread / mustard - we've got a duo of monkfish together with sweetbread inside the pastry, encased in a layer of duxelles. Love the texture of both the fish and the sweetbread, and that little bit of lemon zest shaved on top helping to add a little fragrance. The sauce was made by adding red wine to monkfish bone broth, together with some fermented mustard seeds which tamed the kick.

I was upset that Uwe cut away the ends of the pastry, and demanded that he left them with me. In the end I only managed to take down one of the ends, but how could I possibly give up so much delicious and fragrant pastry?!

The vegetables on the side were, apparently, all part of the same family as mustard - with kale, kohlrabi, turnip, Brussels sprouts... etc.

Olive wagyu: donabe rice / wild matsutake / yuzu kosho - this was a donabe gohan (土鍋ご飯) where the rice was a little on the wet side but still retained a nice bite. Celtuce stems have been sliced into long ribbons and rolled up, adding some nice crunch as well as refreshing flavors. A little yuzukosho (柚子胡椒)-flavored beef jus was drizzled on top of everything, including thin wafers of matsutake (松茸).

So this was beef coming from "olive-fed wagyu (和牛)" from cattle raised on island of Shodoshima (小豆島) in Kagawa Prefecture (香川県). Very nicely marbled. Very tasty.

Finally, I decided that I could not possibly finish this dish. IT WAS JUST TOO MUCH FOOD.

Then came a shit ton of desserts. For two people. After introducing all of them, Uwe wished us "Good luck"... and buggered off.

Souffle: chestnut / rum / ice-cream - can never say no to rum ice cream!

So... I remember this 'ham and cheese' from a visit to the Mandarin Grill + Bar some 7 years ago...

The 'ham' is actually fig and banana ice cream.

'Cheese' is actually Hokkaido cheesecake, which we did not touch at all... all meant to be bread

Acorn: bitter chocolate / mandarin / ice-cream - these look very, very pretty. The cofrfee ice cream on the side looks non-descript but DAYAM! This was soooooo good!

Inside the chocolate shell we have hazelnut mousse surrounding a center of mashed mandarins along with some rind. Nice contrast here.

Avocado: oak milk cream / lime / coconut - the shell was made with vegan chocolate, with rice crispies. Coconut ice cream as the 'pit'. Avocado and lime jelly on the side.

I combined the two parts to make it look more like a 'real' avocado...

So a special day deserves a special bottle of wine. As I promised, I brought out a bottle of wine which has been in my collection for over 24 years. In fact, it comes from the very first batch of wines I have ever bought as I began collecting wine. And as I confessed to Four Sheets and Uwe, I bought it from a supermarket so technically it's a "supermarket wine"... The sticker is still on the back of the bottle, showing what it was selling for back in 1998 when duty on wine in Hong Kong was still 80%. Thankfully I took advantage of a sale by the supermarket and got 50% off the sticker price...

But first, a little bubbly to start. And since we're here with Uwe, it has to be Krug. And old Krug at that.

Krug Grand Cuvée, 3rd generation, en demi-bouteille - very caramelized nose, with honey and Chinese salted plum on the nose. Good acidity and minerality on the palate, and very big on the palate. Later on we got marmalade, cotton candy, and Chinese licorice on the nose.

1982 Lafite-Rothschild - first taste of filtered dregs from bottle 30 minutes after decanting, showing lots of smoke, grilled meats, cigar smoke, leather, and almost a hint of brett. Acidity was slightly on the high side, but sweet fruit started to show. Double-decanted back into bottle 1 hour and 40 minutes ater first decant, and served 2 hours and 40 minutes after initial opening. Smoke was still front and center, and cedar notes started to show up. Pretty soft on the palate. Some cassis notes showed 3 hours after initial opening. About 3 hours and 40 minutes after opening the nose softened so it was no longer punchy with lots of smoke, and more fruit showed up at around 4 hours. After 4 hours and 40 minutes we had good balance between the smokiness and the fruit, and was a little peppery. Some 5½ hours the body got lighter and acidity became dominant, and it was clear the wine was going downhill.

By the way, if anyone is wondering who won in round 18 (or something like that) of this battle of Uwe vs. Growing Boy... it's clear Uwe won. Many thanks to my friend for making it a special evening.


Westy said...

Wow. What a marathon.

Donkey said...

Can't go wrong with supermarket wines! I hope the corkage was reasonable :)


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