by Robert Forrest
It is Valentine’s Day and I am in my suit with a table booked in Faro. Since it was awarded a Michelin star last year, the Shiseido Building’s penthouse restaurant has become a desirable shortcut to Italy, so with the occasion falling upon a weekend I felt it prudent to think ahead. I therefore reserved in November.
Sitting at a corner table, Co-diner looks magnificent in front of me, framed by pale mint walls with black and white photographs of comely food. The weight of linen presses on my thigh as dry martinis are placed, and rotating on their spindles, the burly olive falls against my philtrum as I take another dose while browsing the menu. Ordering on Co-diner’s behalf, the only question is who should have the foie gras sautéed with fruit and green peppercorns and who receives the beef carpaccio layered with black truffle and spring vegetables. Further ingredients jump out as if by default, and soon we have snared sea-urchin soup and minestrone for myself, turbot between two, then lobster tagliatelle for me and porcini tortellini for she, leaving the lamb to be split at the end.
But neither of us is able to predict how good the entrée is. Before our aperitifs arrive, we each receive a small dish of creamy mozzarella freshly prepared like a molten blancmange, atop which sits a sun-blushed tomato and a single frosty pyramid of salt upon basil. Each. Ingredient. Perfect. Gently nudging them onto the Christofle fork, I cannot believe how good the combination is. Words beget sonnets and my taste buds sing to the cream, to the sweet tomato that touches caramel sans acidity, and to the snap of the salt that unites them.
Plates are removed with the empty cocktail cones and beef is laid at Co-diner’s neckline. Ruddy crescents peek from behind black clouds of truffle, burred like a section through a brain. My foie gras trembles as the dish is laid, buttery pools stringing stray peppercorns, and it stoops beneath my knife before parting like roe. Extraordinarily soft as if filled with down, and with truffle stolen from across the table, it seems to pause time as I indulge in my last mouthfuls.
From land to sea the soups arrive and Co-diner applauds hers as foie gras from the ocean: beneath grey foam are the mushy corpses of sea-urchin and shrimp laid upon an egg custard bed. I wish I could eat more of it, but after the goose liver it is too rich to gorge on more than just three spoonfuls. My minestrone is thick and earnest but cannot compare. After we share the turbot with anchovy and black olive sauce, again my eyes turn green to spy her porcini as gorgeous as the foie gras, though it would be foolish to imply my lobster inferior, for its plump turret of pasta was guarded by chuckling lumps of crustacean with tomatoes in a thin cream sauce.
Space confines the feral joy of the lamb to this clause, and I have still to mention the 2006 Grattamacco Bianco from the exceptional wine-list that should surely staple Faro to the checklist of anyone looking for Italy without the flight. I wish I could list the desserts on the trolley too, but I was distracted musing that it might be the only way to wheel me out.