May 10, 2024

Testing, one, two, three...

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It's hard to imagine that I hadn't met up with this group of friends for this many months, but it was all my fault. I had bailed on a dinner last year for something I thought I couldn't miss, and our schedules just didn't match after that. But V was in town again and that provided us with another excuse to catch up over a few bottles.

As I had wanted to bring a fairly cheap bottle for the others to blind taste, the main concern when choosing the venue fell on corkage. The Candidate proposed we check out the current program at Test Kitchen, as they do not charge any corkage. No objections from me...

The chef in residence tonight was Luke Ng, who introduces himself as someone who has been in the kitchens of The Clove Club, Florilège - where he spent a couple of months each - and most recently Mirazur - all as chef de partie. I wasn't surprised when he came out tonight wearing a Mirazur apron.

There was some confusion about how to choose dishes from the selection available, and although we had coordinated and had pre-ordered all the dishes, we soon realized that the portions were on the small side, and we would need to top up our original order.

Fried fish skins, local grouper brandade, herbs emulsion - I was starving when I arrived, and even though there wasn't a lot of substance here, it helped to settle my stomach.

Chicken liver pâté tartlet with roasted beetroot, black garlic, BBQ chicken heart and raspberries - OK la... thankful that the beetroot flavors weren't too heavy.

Tomato and melon gazpacho sphere - it's clear that the spherification skills need improvement, as some of the spheres were misshapen as the membranes weren't formed properly. The gazpacho definitely brought a little spice, and this really needed the perilla leaves for completeness.

Scallop carpaccio, apple, celtuce, yuzu cream - the celtuce was crunchy as expected, and we had nice, fruity acidity from the apple. We've also got a good balance between the cream and the acidic sauce.

Taramasalata spread served with home chips: carrot, beetroot, spinach - the taramasalata was thick and rich, and came with smoky flavors which weren't overly heavy.

Buttermilk fried chicken thighs and pickles with aioli, gochujang, and mixed herbs sauce - the chicken was very tender and the buttermilk batter was nice and crunchy. I liked the jalapeños as they were a little sweet, and the three different sauces were OK.

This was undoubtedly the best dish of the night, and we needed a second plate.

Parker House brioche with charcoaled garlic chives butter - the brioche was brushed with beef fat. OK la.

Chicken and fish maw jus risotto and crispy chicken skin - the al dente risotto was cooked in a chicken and fish maw stock - the latter of which was a by-product of another dish. The crispy chicken skin on top was pretty nice.

Wagyu satay beef jus, anchovy cream - this was... OK la... The "satay (沙爹)" flavors weren't very obvious, and the roasted peanuts on top actually stood out more.

Lemon vinegrette dressed bib salad - side dish to the beef. Not sure why...

Seared halibut served over shellfish fish maw and salmon roe - the halibut sat on a bed of a bewildering mix of stuff... with sago, salmon roe, fish maw, clams, and seafood all in a beurre blanc. Not sure I "get" this dish... but then I've never been a fan of the "more is more" school.

Homemade ratatouille inspired by the movie - this was so so... The veg didn't have a lot of flavor as it wasn't cooked long enough for the flavors to be absorbed.

Lemon tart and tangerine peel infused meringue - the lemon curd was fine with plenty of acidity, but the crust was much too soggy. The meringue on the side - supposedly with some aged tangerine peel (陳皮) - wasn't all that interesting.

Tiramisu aerated a la minute infused with truffle - the tiramisu was nice, as it was nice and foamy on top. Surprisingly, the truffle actually worked in this instance.

The food tonight was nothing to write home about, but the focus was squaring on the wines. We would be tasting wines that most of us were not familiar with.

Antoine Bouvet Les Coutures, vendage 2017, dégorgée le 31 Janvier 2022 - nice with decent acidity, big and yeasty on the palate, with a long and very dry finish.

2018 Nicolas Réau Victoire - very big and toasty nose, flinty, but very ripe on the palate. Still had the acidity for balance.

2004 Pax Syrah Lauterbach Hill - removed the cork 50 minutes after double-decanting, and drank another 50 minutes later. The nose was really fragrant, with lovely spices but not quite floral. There was a little leather with plenty of sweet fruit on the nose, although not quite sweet to the level of being jammy.

2020 de Montille and Hokkaido Kerner - some toast on the nose, but otherwise very flat and boring.

2020 10R Stella Maris Kerner - so much more fragrant on the nose, very lychee, like lolly water. Lots of ripeness on the palate, but also surprisingly lots of toast on the nose.

Happy to have met up with this gang after so long, and sadly we were missing the Film Buff... who had to accompany the missus to a TayTay concert in Paris! If only I could join them instead!

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