April 19, 2024

Belated birthday drinks

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I'm slowly recovering from my flu and the associated cough, and I've stayed away from any alcohol for 2 weeks. I was planning to keep things relaxed in the hope that I'd be in better condition for my upcoming trip next week, but Hairy Legs pinged me and asked me if I wanted to pop over and try out some of their new dishes at Caprice. Since we haven't had a chance to catch up in private over some wine, I decided to take him up on his offer, and bring along a couple of special bottles.

I was a little surprised when the boîte à bijoux arrived, and there were two new amuses bouches:

Lobster roll - this was obviously much prettier than your average version. Very cute and gone in one bite.

Green pea tart - burrata spherification, lemon gel.

Pita with curry chicken mousse - the longevity of this one is pretty amazing... still on the menu ever since I first tried it in mid-2017! By the way, this is not a complaint! I still enjoy it every time.

Haddock panna cotta with cold potato, daikon and oscietre caviar - so Hairy Legs has now changed his "potato and caviar" dish... The potatoes are no longer mashed but cooked in shellfish stock to infuse the flavors while retaining a nice crunchiness. They sit on a thin layer of haddock panna cotta which was nice and smoky. Thin discs of pickled Japanese daikon (大根) sat on top of the potatoes, and they were even more crunchy as they brought the acidity to balance out the salinity of the "Oscietre Gros Grains" from Kaviari. This was a dish I really liked, as the flavors were pretty complex yet harmonious.

Asperges blanches de la Vallée de la Loire, cuites aux jus de coquillages, oursin, gel mangue - we have a base of mango gelée and everything sits on top. The tip of the white asparagus spear was dipped in a cream of white asparagus, and comes with a sprinkle of buckwheat as well as some mango gel. On the side we have tongues of Hokkaido sea urchin. The aim was to have some mango with each and every bite, and as I mango lover, I got no problems with that!

Langoustine, socca de champignons, morilles, sauce au Vin Jaune et huile de menthe - the big Scottish langoustine came topped with some wafers of champignons de Paris and morels, while we have a mushroom socca on the side topped with more morels as well as some fresh mint leaves. The King of Sauce puts it all together with a sauce vin jaune, which has always worked so well with langoustine and mushrooms.

Canard Burgaud rôti, sauce de printemps - zee duck looks different! We have a tart with different textures of green peas, and a sauce made with vinegar, fresh wasabi, garlic, and of course the Blue Bourbon vanilla from Réunion whose fragrance is so distinctive that even I could pick it out.

Zee duck was slow-cooked on the bone to the doneness I prefer - still rosé. I also love that it came thick-cut, as I love the texture. Have I tasted a duck this good from Hairy Legs before? This was certainly at least on par with the one he served us on our wedding night, perhaps even better...

Agneau rôti de ⟪La Maison Greffeuille⟫, gel de yaourt, condiment petit pois et menthe - here we have a French chef attempting to serve me some Indian dish! The saddle of the Greffeuille lamb was so fucking tender, and the fat was sooo lamby and tasty! On the side we have a quenelle of green pea and mint purée.

The lamb shoulder came with sliced celtuce at the bottom, topped with a little dab of yogurt. Very nice.

The "bateau chocolaté" has a shell made of praliné, with a quenelle of salted popcorn ice cream in the center surrounded by "nice and light" whipped chocolate ganache, hazelnuts, passion fruit. Some caramel sauce on the side. This was really good. I loved the combination!

I had a little bit of wine with my dinner...

2014 Delamotte Blanc de Blancs - nose was very yeasty with notes of brioche. Ripe but not too sweet on the palate with good depth. Pretty elegant and alluring.

1981 Guigal La Landonne - served without decanting about 30 minutes after opening. This was showing beautifully, with lovely notes of leather, prunes, black cherries, and almost a hint of floral fragrance. Color was lighter than the '81 Grange. Also showed a bit of smokiness both on the nose and on the palate.

1981 Penfolds Grange - served without decanting right after opening. Nose was more green and grassy than expected. About 30 minutes later this was more minty, and lacking the coconut butter that usually comes with this wine and this vintage. Still some oak on the nose, sweet but not the same richness typical of Grange. More than 1½ hours later there was a little more sweet fruit, a little smoke, then some savory minerals and black olives more than 2 hours after opening. Unfortunately I do think there was a little cork taint here. Not bad to the point of the wine being undrinkable, but just very disappointing and not really enjoyable.

2014 Yquem, en imperial - nose of orange blossom water, saffron, beeswax, and a little candied pineapple. Really nice.

Unfortunately my cough got a little worse the more wine I drank tonight, so it was apropos that Anyss sent over some green chartreuse on ice. Tonight, after more than 50 years on this earth, I finally learned that chartreuse actually means "cough syrup" in French... or so Hairy Legs tell me. I didn't believe him at first, but after sipping on more than half a glass of this, he asked whether I thought my cough was getting better... and after thinking for about 3 seconds, I realize that yes, indeed, my cough was getting less frequent! This was amazing!

Not having touched a drop of alcohol in 2 weeks, I was getting pretty drunk and falling asleep at the table... so I made a hasty exit to get home. All the new dishes were tasty and I looked forward to coming back with others to try them again. And I hope my friend enjoyed the wines I brought for him.

P.S. I left the restaurant with two of their coffee flan to take home to Foursheets. She doesn't normally eat desserts, but she does love the coffee tart from Caprice (original recipe from Oncle Joël Robuchon). Hairy Legs tells me that they had been working to improve the crust of the flan, as the old version would get a little soggy by the next morning. Well... when we tried it out the next morning, the crust was still pretty good, and while the coffee flavors were not as strong as the coffee tart, it was still very tasty. Happy wife, happy life!

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