Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Peak At Anne Gros' 2011 Harvest

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Anne Gros started her 2011 harvest on 30th August, a Tuesday, same day as Domaine Leroy picked all their Richebourg. This was one of the earliest harvests on record in the Cote d'Or. Months earlier the harvest was expected to be even more advanced, until rain and cooler temperatures changed the direction of the season.

At the winery, Anne first brought in her Clos de Vougeot, then her Richebourg the following day. The bunches looked healthy, with hardly any sign of rot. I suspect a sorting was already done in the vineyard. But rot is like a Burgundian's worse nightmare. If the threat is there, once a minimum ripeness is reached, the fruit is brought in. Better to be safe than sorry, especially if one's vineyard holdings are quite small--like Anne Gros'--allowing for no margin of error.

Anne glanced at me while I stood a good distance away watching her and an assistant in the cuverie quietly working with the destemmer. She nodded at me, inviting me to step up on the platform next to her to see what's going on. She was doing a final sort just as the bunches were hurtling towards the destemmer. As I mentioned, the bunches looked really healthy. I chewed on a few berries and they were fleshy and sweet. I said to Anne that the fruit looked good. But she was unimpressed.

Later I found out that out of five tons harvested in the last few days, about 60 kilograms had rot, which was nothing. Maybe another degree or two of potential alcohol would have made her happier. But I doubt it. Burgundians, especially a perfectionist like Anne, are never really satisfied.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

At Mission Chinese Food

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Yesterday, the day of the Harvest Moon, I decided to check out again Mission Chinese Food. I was feeling Chinese for lunch, but having just returned from a trip to France I preferred something more interesting, rather than the same-old, same-old Chinese eatery.

Certainly, MCF is not a swanky place, in fact it looks just like your typical Chinese joint, which it is--the restaurant's actual name is Lung Shan Restaurant, but seemingly just a cover. MCF operates like an underground layer within this nondescript environ, offering a more adventurous, contemporary, indeed, subversive cuisine that's free from the traditions of Cantones, Shanghainese, Sichuanese, Hunanese or Beijing cooking. And what's risky about the whole operation is that it's not owned by westerners, which would've excused it, but by a Chinese family. They can be ostracized by their compatriots, you know, who want Chinese cuisine to remain the way the last emperor left it.

I ordered one of two items on the menu that is not available for take-out: Taiwan Mussels. The dish is fiery hot, and it did upset my stomach afterwards, as I've been out of practice eating hot stuff lately, but it was delicious nonetheless. I don't mind suffering a little for good food. The black mussels were tossed with hot chili oil and black bean sauce and combined with chunks of braised pork belly, then blended with shishito peppers and garnished with Thai basil. Talk about a dish that borrows heavily from a good swath of the Pacific region! I can tell you the Bundaberg ginger beer came in handy.

A new design feature of the restaurant, of which the owners are apparently very proud of, is the large dragon that hangs from the ceiling. A symbol of luck. And, if I must say, a sure sign that good food is being served.