NYE of Indulgence

Originally posted Jan. 4, 2011

It was only a matter of time before I blogged about Saege Bistro. All bias aside, I would love to tell you about my absolutely delicious and indulgent New Year’s Eve dinner there last week.

After ordering a mini-bottle of Veuve Clicquot (the perfect budget-friendly size), we were presented with a special amuse bouche. A small, crispy handmade wonton with a forest mushroom filling was sat in front of me and using my knife and fork – this was a two-biter – I enjoyed it the rich earthy mushroom flavour that was complimented by the crispy texture of the wonton wrapper.  A great start and a wise insight to what would become a meal so delicious, so decadent, that I decided to endure stomach pain to see through as much of the five courses as physically possible.

First course proved to be my favourite; a life-changing celeriac velouté with the most perfect, silky consistency I have ever experienced. In the middle of the bowl is an Eel Lake cornmeal fried oyster, and over top, a mignonette drizzle. I could have eaten bowls of this all night. I should have held off on this rich treat, as I knew four more courses were coming my way – but I couldn’t stop; I nearly licked the bowl clean.

My dinner companion chose the braised wild boar tortellini with smoked tomato, baco noir ragout and parmesan reggiano. I did sneak a gamey bite of this dish.

Second course arrives and offers a bit of a break from the richness of my meal so far: rum & lime prawns sautéed on an apple and pear salsa, with four seasons mixed greens and citrus vinaigrette. A nice, light, crispy and yet still delicious follow up to the velouté still on my mind.  The prawns were cooked perfectly, and the citrus vinaigrette was noteworthy, this combination had a summery feel – an obvious contrast to the rest of my meal. So far… this meal had my taste-buds’ full attention!

The other half of the dining party indulged in the torchon of Quebec foie gras with spiced brioche toast, cranberry and pomegranate compote, and Vero gelée. He did spare me one small bite which I had to fight for!

Third course was the obligatory intermezzo, offering my overworked palate a cleansing via sharp and delicious lemon and rosemary sorbet.

The amount of food I had already consumed began to really set in when I was presented with fifth (main) course: seared halibut on lobster risotto, bouillabaisse drizzle, and petite herb salad with citrus vinaigrette. A feeling of doom slowly spread over my body when I realized that I may be too full to completely consume what was in front of me. The nicely cooked piece of halibut loomed on top of the risotto, which was not only made with lobster, but actually had copious amounts of prime claw and tail meat all over. So much lobster meat that I had to prioritize – and quick – making the decision to attack the lobster and deal with the fish afterward. A considerable amount of risotto gone, all the lobster meat taken care of, and a couple bites of halibut later I was beginning to feel the pain. I decided to forgo the rest of this course in order to muster up a respectable attempt on the cheese board I knew was soon headed my way. And I don’t mess around with cheese.

In the meantime, my date enjoyed a pesto stuffed MacNeil’s chicken wrapped in prosciutto, with garlic butter asparagus and sweet potato soufflé.

We were still working on our bottle of Mossback Pinot Noir which we had ordered as our follow-up to the Veuve. I was happy to have some left with which to accompany my cheese. The cheese selection arrived – a nice creamy blue, Oka, what I believe was an old gouda , and a sage derby along with pickled walnuts, quince paste and crackers. Quince paste! Something I hadn’t seen since leaving Australia. I was told this paste was ordered in from somewhere away. It seems impossible to buy a nice Quince paste in these parts. The closest I’ve found is a jelly. The paste was a lovely treat, my favourite combination being this and the blue cheese on a cracker.

I still hold true that cheese is the best way to round off a meal. I rarely order something sweet. I did manage to nick a freeze-dried raspberry off the raspberry lychee peppermint verrine with mint coconut sorbet that my dining partner was enjoying. He didn’t finish all of this, so, I can a bit less shamefully admit that I couldn’t finish my cheese. I couldn’t. It hurt.

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