We start with cocktails...
I cannot quite remember the name of this cocktail (by the end of the night I could barely remember my own) but it was a heady and aromatic combination of limoncello and vodka and elderflower with a twist of star anise. A lovely way to begin the evening.
We are offered bread to start with. We had read about how transcendent the truffle butter was. It was utterly amazing. It was fluffy and truffley and everyone thought so. I spread it on so thickly I almost shocked myself. Almost. I have been set the challenge of recreating this butter. Game on!
The first course of this epic ten course degustation was a Chilled Pea Soup with Dark Chocolate Mousse. Some had been a little unsure of this course...
"Will I like it? Chocolate and pea?"
"You just have to trust that it will work and be amazing."
And it was. The beautiful softness of the pea flavour was punctuated by the burst of rich chocolatey decadence.
The second course was one of my favourites: Savoury Custard with Avruga. The smoky black herring roe was divine as it swam about in a thick, silky bath of mouthwatering custard.
"It tastes fishy!", exclaims one diner.
"Yes, it does. It's amazing."
Most of us had decided to do the matching wines, and we started with a lovely chilled Sake. Chilled and potent. Watch out. I probably shouldn't have offered to finish Tracey's Sake, but I hate seeing things go to waste. This pattern happened all night... "I'll finish it!"
Salad of the Sea was next. Aesthetically, it was art on a plate. Just look at the vibrancy of the colours and the delicacy and balance of its construction. Fresh slices of Ruby Snapper, Cuttlefish, Hiroshima Kingfish and Scallop all bursting with subtlety... You'd think that would be somewhat of a contradiction, to burst with subtlety, but this dish achieved that. The flavours were delicate and alive. Accompanying these courses was a fruit-driven Riesling, which really popped when paired with the food... Which is the whole beauty of doing matching wines... That elegant and perfectly choreographed dance as the food and wine dazzle you. The staff were very accommodating too, offering to swap out certain wines for other preferences so everybody's tastes were met.
Next up was the New Zealand Scampi with Chicken Liver Parfait and Walnut Vinaigrette. The Scampi was succulent and worked well with the chicken liver. Uh oh... It's only course number four and I am getting full. Gulp.
The Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Fennel and Unpasturised Ocean Trout Caviar is one of Tetsuya's signature dishes. Upon tasting it, you understand why. The texture of the trout is like butter. It just absolutely melts in your mouth. The kombu crust balances the meltable flesh of the trout, giving it a slightly sharp edge. As soon as we tasted the first mouthful, Chef Ali and I looked at each other, sharing a pained look of ecstasy. This food is extraordinary.
This is paired with a lovely Chardonnay. It is a lighter style of Chardonnay, not the old-fashioned oak-laden sort. It works a treat.
Veal. I didn't know there was going to be veal on the menu... The former vegetarian in me starts to hyperventilate... I then taste it, and can breathe again. Wow. So this is veal, huh? Wow. It is so soft and pink and just wow. The Veal Tenderloin is paired with Shitake Mushrooms and served in a Veal Jus. The entire dish is just amazing. Are you noticing a theme here?!
This is matched with a gorgeous and bright Pinot Noir, brimming with joyous cherry notes and birdsong. Oh to dine like this all the time!
Poached Spatchcock with Asparagus and Morels. The bird is tender and moist and I am getting so full. Must. Keep. Going. I would say more about the nuance of this dish, but alas, I was deep into a state of "merriment" by this hour. The decibels are rising. The celebration is in full swing. I love it!!
The final savoury course is a perfect little brick of Lamb Backstrap with Summer Vegetables and Sheep's Yogurt. The meat is beautifully brown and caramelised on the outside and blush-coloured and juicy on the inside. I love lamb. It is my favourite meat. Again, my memory fails me as to the finer details of this dish but YUM! Oh look, a glass of Shiraz is in front of me. I love Shiraz. Drink up. Eat up. Mmmm. Good times.
First of the desserts is a Green Apple and Mint Ice-cream with Basil Jelly. Did somebody say summer? I have noticed that herbacious ice-creams and sorbets are all the rage at the moment, and it is not hard to comprehend why. The basil offers a freshness and coolness and works well to cleanse the palate and prepare one for more dessert.
The others, as in not the special birthday girl, enjoyed Floating Island with Praline and Crème Anglaise. Please excuse the blurry photograph... You know why it's blurry. I had a spoonful of this and it was rich and creamy and good.
I got to have a special birthday chocolate fondant, which was oh so incredibly rich, complete with birthday candle and singing of Happy Birthday...
"Nobody sang me Happy Birthday!" I lamented the next day...
"Yes we did. They brought you in your dessert with a candle in it and we all sang to you..."
Did I mention there was dessert wine to finish off our vinaceous journey?
Oh Tetsya's. Sigh. You were amazing in every way possible. Your food was impeccable as was your service and this night will go down in history as something really special. So many beautiful people and so much love and laughter.