Eating Poggibonsi – Babette

Restaurant: Ristorante Babette

Location: Poggibonsi, Italy

Date: June 19, 2011

Cuisine: Tuscan Seafood

Rating: Great food, great value

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After our self selection failure on Saturday, we got another restaurant recommend from our host (the owner of our villa). He sent us to this casual but very good seafood restaurant in Poggibonsi.


As usual there is a nice outside dining space.


And a gigantic menu.


This being all seafood we got both a prosecco.


And a local white from San Gimiangano. This is one of those joints where the wine is like E10. I like this light quaffable, almost Greek-style, white.


Caprese.


One of my friends and I ordered this “assorted fish appetizer, min 2 people” which was E10 a person, it came with this and EVERY dish until the pastas! An amazing assortment. This one was “Tuna with balsamic dressing.”


Marinated white anchovies and onions.


Crostini with white I think is a fish row mayo.


Marinated Salmon with red peppercorns.


What I think are winkles, or little sea snails, in a delicious garlicky sauce.


Octopus pulp. Also garlicky.


Muscles.

Scallops stuffed with a kind of pesto scallop paste.

Some tasty but undetermined shellfish “stew.” Wow, that’s a lot for two people and E20 total.


Home made pasta with a kind of tomato pesto.


White Risotto with mixed seafood. This was good, and unusual in that usually seafood risottos have some tomato in them.


Risotto with squid.


Strozzapreti with Fish ragu. This was highly unusual (for me) and really good. It was essentially a ragu made using shellfish instead of ham. It was very salty, with a significantly briny taste, but very tasty. The al dente shells were a fantastic foil.


Pizza Margherita.


Mixed fried fish. Lightly fried and delicious.


Branzino, simply grilled and filleted at the table.


A very very typical fish preperaration all over the Medditeranian, but done very well here.

The final presentation of the fish.

Not only was this restaurant a bit different, being all seafood, and very good, but it was an incredible deal. The bill was less than E20 a person and we had an incredible amount of food.

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Fraiche – Ultimo Wine Dinner

Restaurant: Fraiche Santa Monica

Location: 312 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401. Phone : 310.451.7482

Date: July 13, 2011

Cuisine: Cal French Italian

Rating: Epic!

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Last weekend I was eating at one of my favorite local spots, Sam’s by the Beach and chatting with the owner, Sam. He mentioned that he was co-hosting an epic wine dinner at Fraiche in Santa Monica and that he had two available spots. As soon as he sent me the food & wine menu (below) I called up my Foodie Club partner in crime and we jumped on it. You’ll see why in a second.


Of course the food looks great, but the wines! While anyone who pays attention to the wines I bring will have noticed that I almost never drink from the New World — I am willing to make exceptions when no less than eight Parker 100 pointers are involved!

The event was held in Fraiche Santa Monica’s lovely back room (shown here on another occasion in its normal configuration).


For us it was arranged with a single table.


And an extensive staging area for the wines.


Here’s Sam, supervising.


Along with our other hosts: Amir Ohebsion president of the combined Fraiche operation on the right, and Mazen Mustafa their brand new Executive Chef on the left. Believe it or not he started on Monday (this dinner had been planned for some time) and had to leap into the fire first thing.


As a little amuse we had some classic bruschetta (I’ve had just a tad of that lately, like here), with marinated tomatoes, garlic, and mozzarella. The marinate was enough for me to handle the tomatoes and I enjoyed the crisp brightness of the flavors.


A little olive oil and balsamic on the table. There was bread too of course, but I forgot to photo.

So we begin with the wines. All of the wines at this dinner came from The Redd Collection, who was also co-hosting. Click their link for an inventory of their wines.

1985 Dom Perignon, Parker 96. A mature champagne in perfect shape. “Fresh and lively, with remarkable intensity, fruit, and perfume. An example of how effortlessly some vintages of Dom Perignon can age.”


1990 Salon Le Mesnil. I found it brighter and fruiter than the Dom. Wine Spectator 97. “Brilliant stuff. Vinous, with a patina of nutty maturity offset by a citrus and honeysuckle-tinged freshness, all embraced by a taut silky structure. The best is the finish, a kaleidoscope of biscuit, fig and walnut that goes on and on.”


Accompanying the champagnes we have a trio of fishes. “Santa Barbara Sea Urchin with American caviar and pea puree.” Yum yum. Some really great Uni, showcased perfectly. Notice the Uni/Caviar combo which Go uses so often at Go Sushi.


“Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare with Russian Caviar.” The flavors here were really bright and delicious. One of the best tuna tartars I’ve had. Similar to Sam’s usual tartar, but without the “secret ingredient.”


“Kampachi Sashimi, watercress, and black truffle.” Nothing wrong here!


2007 Peter Michael Point Rouge Chardonnay. The finish on this went on and on. Certainly the best non-white-burgundy Chardonnay I’ve had. Parker 98. “The 2007 Chardonnay Point Rouge (280 cases) has moved out of the restrained state it was in a year ago, and now exhibits splendidly intense, nearly over-the-top levels of honeyed tropical fruits, hazelnut, almond paste, quince, and peach liqueur. Full-bodied, thick, and rich yet braced by considerable acidity, this is a remarkable tour de force in Chardonnay that should age for a decade or more.”


2006 Marcassin Estate Chardonnay. Very very good, just not quite so good as the Peter Michael. Parker 96+. “As for the 2006 Chardonnay Marcassin Estate, it is a more mineral-dominated wine displaying a liqueur of crushed rocks/wet stones, pears, and subtle smoky, honeysuckle, quince, and citrus oil notes. It also possesses exceptional length and richness as well as a full-bodied mouthfeel. Given the history of the vintage and the challenging conditions for Chardonnay, I would suspect these wines will evolve quickly by Marcassin’s standards, meaning they are probably best drunk in their first decade of life.”


“Bouillabaisse — modern.” Here we have some fish, muscles, clams, corn etc, but we have them reinterpreted in a light broth instead of in the classic tomato and garlic broth. The newer style showcased the freshness of the fish to a T.


1937 Chateau Caillou Sauternes-Barsac. This bottle was a gift from Frank Sinatra to a local collector! It was almost almond/rose colored, sweet but not unctuous. Probably a tiny bit past its prime, but still delicious, particularly with the foie below.


“Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, grilled Nectarine, Aged Balsamic.” Pretty much straight foie, but fabulous. There was a bit of nectarine puree, and the fat of the duck paired perfectly with that and the Sauternes. The Nectarine was stuffed with pistachios and was amazing!

Now on to the reds. We start with a trio of Rhone style blockbusters.

2008 Sine Qua Non Grenache “The Line.” This was the lightest of the three, but still having that thick front of the tongue quality that most Rhones have. Parker 96-98+. “The 2008 Not Yet Named Grenache will be aged in barrel for around 20 months as opposed to the extended time the 2007 experienced. Composed of 87.5% Grenache, 11 % Syrah, and 1.5% Viognier, it initially appears to play it tight to the vest, but I think that’s part of 2008’s vintage character. Many vineyards had significant frost issues in 2008, and those who waited to harvest fared better. Manfred Krankl did not finish picking until the end of November, which no doubt explains the extraordinary purity, richness, and aromatic and flavor complexity found in this wine. Although slightly more muted aromatically than his other Grenache cuvees, when the wine hits the palate, there is tremendous density and power as well as an inner core of steely richness, and a flavor profile and length that build incrementally. It is not the sort of wine you pick up and are wowed by. But the more you think about it, as well as the longer it sits in your mouth, the more nuances and aspects emerge. This should be another superb example of Grenache from the New world’s number one practitioner of that varietal.”


2007 Sine Qua Non Next of Kyn Syrah “Cumulus.” This was my favorite, the brightest and closest to a great Hermitage. Parker 94-96. “The debut release from the new home vineyard on the steep hillsides of Ventura is the 2007 Next of Kyn Syrah Cumulus Vineyard. Composed of 96.5% Syrah and 3.5% Viognier, it sees only 20% new oak in its upbringing. From a six-acre parcel of vines, it may be sold under a different label than Sine Qua Non. Krankl had not made up his mind at the time of writing. In any event, it is a very impressive debut release that should be bottled after 25 months of barrel aging. Sweet notes of creme de cassis, camphor, acacia flowers, licorice, pepper, and meat are followed by a wine with fabulous intensity and purity, a full-bodied texture, and a long finish. Unfortunately, only 125 cases were produced … from six acres!”

From here on down, it’s all 100s baby!

2007 Saxum Syrah “James Berry VYD.” Parker prefers this, which was delicious, and utterly massive — in need of a bit more cellaring. Parker 100! “Utter perfection, and one of the most profound Rhone Ranger wines I have ever tasted is the 2007 James Berry Vineyard Proprietary Red, a blend of 41% Grenache, 31% Mourvedre, and 28% Syrah (15.8% alcohol). It would be an amazing wine to insert in a tasting of the most profound 2007 Chateauneuf du Papes. As with many prodigious wines, the extraordinary freshness, purity, equilibrium, and singularity of this effort is breathtaking. Its dense purple color is accompanied by an extraordinary, incredibly pure, all enveloping, intense, sweet nose of black raspberries, kirsch, spring flowers, spice box, and pepper. Full-bodied with not a hard edge to be found, it is stunningly concentrated with unreal purity, a voluptuous texture, and remarkable freshness for a wine of such power, depth, and concentration. This 2007 will be approachable young, although I would not be surprised to see it close down given the relatively elevated proportion of Mourvedre, and it should drink well for 12-15 years.”


General Manager Vito hard at work on setting up the reds. Doing this many pours is actually hard work!


The Rhone styles and the sauternes on the table.


“Duck breast and turnips,” pretty close to straight up. This was a lovely piece of duck, cooked (or not) to perfection. It didn’t need more, as it the wines paired perfectly.

And we begin a trio of perfect Cab based Californians. They were all so good, and I was getting drunk enough, that this round blended into just a prodigious ode to Cabernet.

2007 Scarecrow. Parker 100! “Scarecrow’s inky/purple-colored 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is a prodigious effort. It reveals a liqueur of crushed rocks intermixed with a smorgasbord of spring flower, blueberry, creme de cassis, and assorted blue, black, and red fruit characteristics. It also possesses extraordinary concentration, but what sets it apart is the fragrant aromatics combined with uncommon purity and elegance for such a full-bodied, massively concentrated wine. Its perfect balance suggests it can be drunk at a relatively young age, but it should easily evolve over 30-35 years. Congratulations to all involved!”


2002 Shafer Hillside Select. Parker 100! “One of the world’s most extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignons is the 1,800-2,400-case offering of Shafer’s Hillside Select. It was a treat to re-taste the utterly perfect 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. A dark purple color is accompanied by a gorgeously powerful nose of pure creme de cassis, pain grille, flowers, licorice, and spice box. Full-bodied with multiple dimensions, superb purity, layers of fruit, and a blockbuster finish, it is an amazing offering. This wine should drink well young yet evolve for 2-3 decades.”


2007 Sloan Estate. Parker 100! “The 2007 Sloan, now in bottle, has lived up to the extraordinary quality it exhibited from barrel. A world-class, perfumed nose of charcoal, espresso roast, white chocolate, black currants, sweet plums, Asian soy and a Grave-like scorched earth aroma soars from the glass of this dense purple-colored wine. Full-bodied and seamlessly constructed with a multidimensional mouthfeel as well as a phenomenal finish, this 2007 carries considerable tannin, but at present it is concealed by the wine’s luxurious levels of fruit, glycerin and intensity. This spectacular 2007 should drink well for 25-30+ years.”


“Seared Wagyu Couloote Steak, served with fried baby broccoli.” This meat was fantastic, just perfectly soft and juicy. The broccoli was amazing, like little popcorn.


But this beef jus that went with it was the real stunner. Amazingly rich. Everything of course went perfectly with the perfect Cabs.

And now we have the Cab blends, and even more blockbuster trio.

2007 Screaming Eagle. Parker 100! “The most profound Screaming Eagle since the 2002 and 1997, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (an 800-case blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc) offers up a prodigiously pure, complex nose of cassis, spring flowers, licorice and black currants, the latter component being so intense and lingering that it makes this cuvee stand apart from other Napa Valley wines. Full-bodied in the mouth, like a ballerina on her toes, this wine glides gracefully across the palate with a cascade of purity, equilibrium and compelling complexity. Extraordinary balance and elegance combined with power make for an utterly stunning wine that should drink well for two decades or more. Even though the estate is being reconstituted and a new winery built, this wine still came from the old sector of the vineyard (15.5 acres) that was used by the previous proprietor, Jean Phillips.”


2002 Harlan Estate. My personal favorite of the group. Not only massive, but just so bright and fruity! Parker 100! “Very deep garnet-black colour with a purple rim. The nose is still a little closed giving notes of blackberry, black cherries, dark chocolate, tobacco, cigar boxes and cinnamon. The palate displays faultless structure and balance: very finely grained, firm tannins, medium to high acid and incredible intensity. Perhaps paradoxically, this wine is at once rich and full bodied yet exquisitely elegant. Although taut, it is already irresistibly tempting to drink. Epic finish with lingering flavours of Chinese dried plums, truffles, and an interesting iron/stony nuance. Drink 2009 – 2030+. Tasted November 2008.”


1997 Harlan Estate. Parker 100! “The 1997 Harlan Estate is one of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines I have ever tasted. A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this enormously-endowed, profoundly rich wine must be tasted to be believed. Opaque purple-colored, it boasts spectacular, soaring aromatics of vanilla, minerals, coffee, blackberries, licorice, and cassis. In the mouth, layer after layer unfold powerfully yet gently. Acidity, tannin, and alcohol are well-balanced by the wine’s unreal richness and singular personality. The finish exceeds one minute. Anticipated maturity: 2001-2030.”


To go with this trio of stunners we have “Grilled Venison Chops, shaved black truffles, mushrooms, and a squash puree.” Not quite as amazing as the beef (that was REALLY amazing), but great too.


Just a small sampling of the glasses on the table. Unlike some, I was keeping up with mine and only had the Cab blends. But some folk were starting to worry, “Oh my God, if I don’t finish all these perfect wines Dionysian Maenads will flay the skin from my flesh!”


Passion fruit sorbet as pre-dessert. I love passion fruit, and this was one of the best passion fruit sorbets I’ve had. I spent about fifteen minutes eating it incredibly slowly by shaving off just a sliver on the spoon, then adding to the mouth-mix an alternating trip of perfect wines. It was actually, IMHO, the best pairing of the night.


R.L. Buller Calliope Rare Muscat. Yum Yum! Parker 100! “Giving aromas of dark brown sugar, black strap molasses, licorice and preserved walnuts, the deeply brown colored NV Calliope Rare Muscat is again incredibly sweet and viscous with a good amount of acid to balance and is decadently rich and nutty / spicy in the very long finish. All these vintage blended fortified wines are bottled to drink now and though are stable enough to hold, they are not designed to improve with cellaring.”


This was about as good as “Chocolate Lava cake with vanilla Ice Cream” gets. The extra elements added a little texture, but the inside of the cake had that perfect runny chocolatly goodness. It of course went perfectly (getting a lot of use out of that word tonight) with both the Cab blends and the Muscat.


Good to the last scrape.


The full line up!

This was some rather serious dining, and some even more serious drinking! Really an embarrassment of riches. I was very impressed with the cooking. It betrayed both hints of Sam’s signature (and awesome) palette, and a bold kind of styling and presentation that I am guessing comes from our budding new Chef Mustafa (who has cooked in many great kitchens before this too). The dishes pretty much concentrated on fantastic ingredients and bold but not over-layered flavors, which showcased perfectly (there it is again!) the epic wines.

Click here for some tamer meals at regular Fraiche Santa Monica or Culver City or:

here to see more Foodie Club posts.

Eating Florence – Nove IX

Restaurant: Nove IX

Location: Florence, Italy

Date: June 17, 2011

Cuisine: Modern Tuscan

Rating: Tasty!

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Our Florentine friend brought us to this attractive new place on the banks of the Arno river as the sun was making it’s way into that great tunnel in the west.


It’s actually about three blocks to the left of this, past the Ponte Vecchio. Nove IX is more typical of a city like Florence than most of the Tuscan restaurants we have been eating at in that it’s a bit more modernized, trendy. Still, the cuisine is solidly rooted in the local countryside.


The menu.

The have their own olive oil.


This 90 point Chianti Rufina is readily available in the Florence area. “The 2007 Chianti Rufina Riserva shows the open, opulent personality that makes this vintage so alluring. Ripe, silky tannins frame a core of red fruits, flowers and spices, all of which come together with unsual grace. Though medium in body, there is wonderful generosity to the fruit, not to mention fabulous overall balance. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2015.”


This is a tartar of beef with parmesan.


And on a more modern note, a tartar of tuna with avocado and tomato.


And one of white fish (perhaps even yellowtail) with citrus and a light frise-type salad. Certainly showing those Matsuhisa type influences.


The Nove IX take on the mixed salad.


Risotto with spigola (sea bass), lemon, and Florentine zucchine.


Spaghettini with pesto of zucchini flowers.


Paccheri (wide pasta) with tomatos, mozzarella and fried eggplant.


Shellfish ravioli in creme of zucchine sauce.


Trofie alla genovese. Traditional twisted little pasta with pesto (basil, olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and pine-nuts) as well as a bit of sliced potato and green beans. This was the best pesto I had until we got to Liguria (where pesto comes from).


Chopped chicken with green beans and balsamic sauce. Not so far off from a chinese dish!

Nothing at all wrong with Nove IX. The food was great, and it was a welcome change to see a little bit more updated menu without compromising at all on quality.

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Eating Florence – La Cantinetta Antinori

Restaurant: La Cantinetta Antinori

Location: Florence, Italy

Date: June 17, 2011

Cuisine: Modern Tuscan

Rating: Slick and tasty

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On our first trip to Florence (we went thrice) we met up with an Italian friend and her family and they brought us to the Antinori wine empire’s casual enoteca, where they combine slick modernized Tuscan food with a large selection of excellent wines.


The lovely room in Palazzo Antinori.


A nice light quafable mineral laced white. We went through about half a bottle a person at lunch!


The menu. Sorry the meat courses are out of focus.


Assorted bruschetta, Tuscan standard.


Insalta Caprese.  Tomato and buffalo mozzarella. Basil and olive oil.


Panzanella. Traditional Tuscan salad of soaked stale bread, tomato, basil, onions, olive oil.


The ubiquitous Insalta Misto.


Taglierini agli scampi freschi. Thin noodles with tomato, basil, garlic and you guessed it, a giant crayfish creature.


Fagioli. Tuscan fava beans and olive oil.


Sea bass, capers, sun dried tomatos, potatoes.


Pounded veal in mushroom sauce.


Filetto di manzo. Beef filet and potatoes.


Almond semifreddo with caramel. This is SO up my dessert alley. Creamy and sweet. Oh yes. Oh yes.


Expresso, to counter the copious amount of wine I consumed.

This was a nice place. Not radical, not staid. Fitting of a hot spot in Florence, it’s basically traditional Tuscan fare with 10% modernization. Given the quality of the ingredients and the base cuisine, this is more than enough for a great meal.

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Eating Bologna – Trattoria Leonida

Restaurant: Trattoria Leonida

Location: Bologna, Italy

Date: June 7, 2011

Cuisine: Bolognese

Rating: Big menu, great food

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We continue our sojourn across Emilia-Romagna. It was a rainy day in Bologna, and we stopped for lunch in this Trattoria in the old town, just east of the pair of leaning towers. It was selected by the intuitive method, glancing inside to see if it felt right.


All sorts of antipasti are stored in a number of display cases and on some tables at the front.


And a bit of roast rabbit on a plate with potatoes!


The tables at the front.

A delicious course of marinated salmon carpacio with olive oil and red peppercorns.


A ricotta and fig torte, declared to be very tasty.


Classic Tagliatelle Bolognese!


Parpadelle with boar ragu. This was an amazing pasta.


Stricchetti with sausage and peas in a pink sauce. Very tasty, although when ordering it I expected a white sauce.


Roast rabbit (taken from the plate above) in a balsamic sauce.


Turkey in balsamic sauce.


The condiments for the salad.

The usual mixed salad.

This pasta must have been awful!


And to wake up, some more expresso.

This random pick turned out extremely well. The food was fantastic, and the other customers only local businessmen.

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Locanda Portofino – In the Neighborhood

Restaurant: Locanda Portofino

Location: 1110 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, Ca 90403. 310-394-2070

Date: May 20, 2011

Cuisine: Northern Italian

Summary: Tasty neighborhood Italian

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For whatever reason Los Angeles has a lot of Italian restaurants. There’s a lot of competition and innovation, and as far as I can tell we’re about tied with NY as the best town in the US for this wonderful (and justifiably popular) cuisine. This also means that there is a total and ridiculous excess of neighborhood Italians. I’ll try any of them once, but I pretty much never go to 75% of them a second time. There are just too many good ones to eat some ho-hum boxed pasta. In any case, Locanda Portofino is one of the good ones.


The menu.


I’m very partial to Amarone. They’re pretty much all drinkable (and grapey).


“Ceasar salad.”


“Bresaola con rucola. Thinly sliced cured beef with virgin olive oil, lemon, rucola and shaved parmigiano.” A very nice rendition of this classic.


“Penne vodka. Penne with light cream tomato sauce, shallots and vodka.”


“Tagliatelle alla boscaiola con salsicce. Green and white egg tagliatelle in a light cream sauce with pancetta, ground sausage, mushrooms and green peas.” I love love this pasta. It’s not far off from al carbonara either, but isn’t eggy in the same way. I love the combo of the peas, the two types of pig, and the peas. No wonder my cardiologist gives me a hard time.

Pretty much anything on the menu here is well done, but this was just Friday date night and so there are only a couple pics. Still, if you live on the Westside, forget those chain Italians, or the lame kitchen “red sauces” and go to Locanda Portofino, Delfini, Palmeri, Osteria Latini or the like. Or if you want higher end: Capo or Drago.

Matsuhisa – The Private Room

Restaurant: Matsuhisa [1, 2]

Location: 129 N La Cienega Blvd Beverly Hills, CA 90211. (310) 659-9639

Date: May 6, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese Fusion

Rating: As good as it’s always been!

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Some good friends were in town who had never tried Nobu Matsuhisa‘s particular blend of Japanese Peruvian Fusion. As popular as this has become in the last fifteen years, and how every derivative restaurant in America throws a few of his dishes on the menu, the original still rocks. I also scored a Friday night reservation in the coveted and private “Omakase only room,” where his cooking is showcased to the best effect.


The original storefront.


This aged 1st Cru white burgundy from my cellar was the very expression of mature chardonay.

As you can see from the color. This wine is ready, more than ready, as it might have been a tad better two years ago. Still it had a wonderful floral perfume to it.


The private room seats eight, and has it’s own sushi bar and kitchen.


“Seafood springroll with heirloom tomato and caviar.” This is the only repeat of the night, a Matsuhisa classic.Fry is always good, but it’s actually the combination with the spicy tomato chutney/salsa that really sells the dish.

One of the private kitchen chefs working on the appetizers.


Grilling up some conch!


Different members of our party got slightly different versions of this quartet of amuses.


“Seared salmon, new style.” That is with sesame, ponzu, and warm olive oil.


Kanpachi (young yellowtail) with a bit of red peper and ponzu on a radish.


Red snapper carpaccio, with chives, garlic, and vinegar.


A second version of the plate.


Lobster cerviche.


Tai (red snapper) sashimi, new style.


Yellowtail collar marinated in miso (a Nobu classic), baked, and then served with a bit of garlic and texture on letuce. You wrap it up and eat it like a soft taco.


Japanese baby conch, sauteed in garlic butter (escargot style).


The creepy crawly himself. Chewy and a little bitter, in a good way.


Burgundy goes very well with the Matsuhisa flavor profiles. The first time I ever went here, in 1996, I brought a Gros Frere Clos Vougeot. This 2005, Parker gives a 92. “The 2005 Clos Vougeot from Drouhin’s two parcels in that famous cru, is much more earthy and less fine-grained than the majority of their wines from this vintage, but it exhibits impressive concentration. A bone meal-like meld of mineral and meat dominates the nose and suffuses the palate along with black raspberry, plum and cherry fruit accepted by faintly bitter fruit pit notes. This is quite full and rich, but without being heavy; overtly tannic and chewy, but without being coarse. A promising more tart than sweet juiciness of black fruit mingles with roasted meat and stony, chalky minerality in the finish.”


Sashimi salad, with yellowtail, seared blue fin tuna, various dressings, and hearts of palm.


Par boiled Santa Barbara prawn with a tiny bit of salad (including hearts of palm). This was really yummy, even better than the cooked version we had last time. The meat is very sweet and succulent, delicious warm but essentially raw.


Sea bass on a bed of mushroom “risotto” with white truffles. The little spears are pickled ginger shoots.


“Fois gras, seabass, mushrooms, in a very rich reduction sauce.” Very meaty and tasty, the sauce was a pretty awesome blend of all three contributors of yum: salt, sweet, and fatty. The little red fruit is a pickled leeche.


Another very nice, red burgundy, this one (unlike the others) from the restaurant’s list. We drank more than I thought. 🙂


Grilled Toro, with enoki, aspargus, and other mushrooms.


American Kobe Beef with asparagus, garlic, and a spicy sauce and mustard. Really yummy (and rich) dish.

Each person gets a little sushi plate, there were a couple variants, this one has no shellfish.


A version where everything is cooked.


The “normal” plate for those who eat everything.


Chu-toro (medium tuna belly). Perfect!


Kanpachi (young yellowtail). Like butter.


Orange giant clam.


Uni (sea urchin).


Anago (sea eel), in the classic sweet BBQ sauce.


The pretty laquer soup container.


Inside is snapper soup. I haven’t had this one before, although it’s a classic mild Japanese fish broth with cilantro and scallions. The fish is soft mellow whitefish in this context.


My brother got a special surprise, the eye. The chef’s convinced him to try it. “Good for the sinews and joints.”


Taco (octopus). Very tender.


Japanese Sea Scallop sushi, with a bit of yuzu. Always one of my favorite sushis, and this didn’t disappoint.


Kohada (gizzard shard).


Baby squid, battleship style. They’re raw, but tossed in a kind of sweet miso-lemon dressing. Really tasty.


And we finally make it to desserts. Fruit tart with ginger ice cream. This was a total fan fave with the ladies.


Green tea tiramisu with chocolate gelato. Both were good, with the pastry having a nice creaminess and the ice cream a deep richness.


Butterscotch cream brulee with a citrus ice cream. Also really nice and creamy.


Coffee ice cream with chocolate crunch. This was great too, probably my favorite. The crunch added a really nice texture.


Shave ice. Below are a couple balls of vanilla ice cream (very good vanilla ice cream), red bean sauce, and very finely shaved ice.


Then green tea sauce (or maybe just tea) is poured over it. In the end, a very interesting (and Asian) mix of flavors and textures.


Even the urinal is cool.


The main room.


The chefs at work back in our private room/kitchen.

This was probably the best meal I’ve ever had at Matsuhisa, and I’ve had a LOT of great ones. Because I’m jaded now, and used to the cuisine, it wasn’t utterly mind blowing innovative like the first time I ever ate here. But the cooking is as good here as it ever was. Nobu (and his sucessor cooks) still really know their stuff.

For a previous meal at Matsuhisa, see here.