December 24, 2022

No torrone from the terrone

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Four Sheets and I don't have a habit of dining out to celebrate the holidays, be it Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, or Valentine's Day. We are usually too cheap to pay the premium demanded for these celebrations, but ultimately we choose to stay home because it's about being with your loved ones. This year, though, we weren't expecting to celebrate with family and friends, so for the first time in years, we chose to dine out in support of our chef friends.

I was a little surprised that Estro still had seats available a couple of weeks before Christmas, so I quickly snagged a table. They are, of course, doing a festive menu for the evening.

First came the aperitivos:

Compressed pear - compressed for a crunchy texture, and the citrus notes come from both the Crudino the pear was compressed in as well as some orange gel. Also got little bits of Taggiasca olives on top.

Semolina bread cushion - the tuna sauce filling was kinda smoky, and certainly very tasty. A small disc of caper leaf on top.

Baba with Burrata and smoked sardines - very crunchy and savory.

Clarified drink - made with tomato, cucumber, and green melon. Love the interplay between the savory notes and the acidity of this, and kinda reminds me of the star fruit juice commonly served in Taiwan.

Oyster, almond, caviar, capers - the oyster was poached and served on top of some almond milk, which was nice and rich with good depth of flavors that worked well with the brine of the oyster, and also helped to balance out the salt from the "hybrid caviar from France" which, in reality, comes from a acipenser schrenckii x huso dauricus hybrid farmed in China and sourced from Royal Caviar Club.

We were told that the oyster was French, but our server didn't know what type. We were then told they were "No.2 from Marenne-Oléron", or more specifically Geay Spéciale No.2.

King crab, honey peas, mandarin - the peas complemented the sweet crab meat very nicely, while the mandarin foam was nice and fruity, adding a little pizzazz to wake up the taste buds.

Juve Fan shaved a little bit of zest from this big-ass cedro, which apparently came from his garden back home. A sudden burst of beautiful fragrance in the mouth.

Kinki fish, red pepper, fish jus - served with peperonata underneath the fish, as well as a sauce made with fish bones and tomatoes.

I have eaten plenty of broadbanded thornyhead (喜知次) in my time, most of which I have described as "succulent", but I don't remember ever having come across texture quite like this. The fish was steamed before lightly torched on the skin side, which gave us that wonderful smoky flavor. But the damn thing was still translucent, and downright JIGGLY! I thought I was eating a piece of sea cucumber! Wow! What is happening here?! Having thoroughly enjoyed this dish, all I could say to the kitchen was: BRAVO!

Oh, and could I get an extra serving of this dish?

Spaghetti, turnip tops, uni - the Gentile spaghetti was cooked al dente in a chili and garlic broth, and served with a sauce of cime di rapa as well as the bitter buds and leaves on the side. The sea urchin on top came with a little more iodine than I had wanted, but it is what it is.

Bottoni, vegetable consommé, burned leeks - the first "soupy" version of bottoni, with a broccolini purée filling that I loved very much. The minestrone consommé was very nice, and a little sweeter than expected - without the usual acidity and delivering an elegance I found pleasing. The charred leeks on top were a nice accent.

Bottoni, buffalo robiola, Alba white truffle - Four Sheets upgraded her to the white truffle version, and the buttons were stuffed with Robiola di bufala, along with a Parmigiano and sage sauce.

Riso di semola, ama-ebi prawn, crustacean essence - so here we have it! THE GOLD! I thought I had escaped the gold treatment when my bottoni came in a soup, but noooooooo! This time I got even more gold foil than my last visit.

The riso di semola - also from Gentile, of course - had a nice, spring texture not dissimilar to orzo. The shellfish flavors from the crustacean stock was very strong, with a hint of lemon. The amaebi (甘海老) were lightly marinated in Sicilian olive oil, lemon zest, and salt. Pretty nice.

Beef, hazelnut "bagna cauda", kohlrabi, seaweed - FINALLY, a beef dish here that both Four Sheets and I enjoyed! The "M9 wagyu from Tasmania" came from Mayura Station in South Australia - one of my favorite sources of wagyu. No surprise, then, that this was very, very tender... and a little bitter with good depth of flavors. The three types of sauces on the side were spinach, bagna càuda with hazelnuts, and beef reduction. Four Sheets especially loved the kohlrabi and wakame (若布) "flower" on the side, as the seaweed really added some nice flavors.

Rum baba - this white chocolate bauble was meant to be a baba with citrus and vanilla custard, but I wasn't such a fan... especially since the white chocolate exterior was so "milky".

Pistachio gelato - always da best. So happy.

Tirasimu sphere

Lemon caprese cake - with mandarin and lemon curd.

The team very kindly offered us a glass of pink bubbly to start the festivities:

Jeaunaux-Robin Brut Rosé Le Dessous de la Cabane - lovely on the nose, with nice strawberries and red fruits. Good balance on the palate.

2016 Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d'Abruzzo - served after 25 minutes in decanter. Pretty toast nose, but surprisingly ripe and round on the palate, without much acidity. A bit more body, and about 45 minutes in there was a bit more bitterness on the finish.

Four Sheets wanted a glass of red wine to go with the beef, so a Barolo was recommended:

2016 Vietti Barolo Castiglione - ripe fruit, sweet on the nose, so fragrant with a little leather.

A pretty happy night out overall, and glad to see the place buzzing tonight. There was, however, a small amount of disappointment for me... I had been told in advance that there wouldn't be panettone tonight, but I was hoping to get some torrone, at least... Alas, all I got was a box of rum-soaked babas to take home. Sniff...

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