April 30, 2009

Wedding in Reims day 3: a date with Pierre Gagnaire

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It's the day before the wedding, and the couple has arranged for separate boys' and girls' day out - both in Paris. We boarded our respective tour coaches and spent the next 2 hours on the road to Paris.

The main event for the boys was lunch at Pierre Gagnaire's flagship Michelin 3-star restaurant in Hotel Balzac. Fifteen of us took up the private room at the back of the restaurant, and a gourmet fest unfolded over the next 3 hours.

We started with some Champagne - Jacquesson Cuvée N° 733. This was smooth on the palate if slightly flat, with lemon citrus nose and not too dry on the palate.

As is typical with any meal at Pierre Gagnaire's restaurants, there were the usual numerous amuse bouches, including little white truffle balls and some almond sablé. I lost track of all the different stuff.

Nage émulsionnée de colinot à la coriandre fraîche. Pannequet de tourteau, pressé de lapereau au combawa. Fèvs, petits pois, dés de spek et betteraves rouges - a wonderful dish with crab meat wrapped in a green leaf crêpe, with sprinkles of young rabbit ham, green peas, pineapple flakes and red beets in kaffir lime sauce. Many different flavors but they worked in harmony. A cold starter that gets things going.

Œuf au plat version PG; asperges vertes et blanches aux écorces d'agrumes. Bisque de crustacés au poivre vert - I love it when chefs play with eggs. This was fun because the egg whites were deep-fried while the yolk remained liquid. The yummy shellfish bisque provided the main flavor for the dish, while the green and white asparagus provided the counter-balance to the heavy taste of the shellfish.

I ordered up the 2003 Coche-Dury Meursault as it seemed reasonably priced. Wow! This wine just blew me away. Very heavy toast on the nose with sweet, buttery popcorn. A little sweet on the palate. This was just an amazing wine that just kept giving. I can't believe that this was just a village wine! It's easy to see why everyone begs Jean-François for more allocation...

Tranches de barbue pochée dans un beurre au laurier; artichauts poivrades & radis noirs croquant. Salade d'épinards Lee - the butter-poached brill was pretty nice, and interestingly paired with radish, artichoke and spinach.

Moving on to a red, this time the 2003 Roumier Chambolle-Musigny. Big nose of mint, eucalyptus and black fruits.  My mistake was not ordering this earlier, so the wine didn't have too much time to breathe before we drank it. But it did well under the circumstances.

Agneau de lait de Lozère: pièce tendre au vadouvan, aubergine et pâte de tamarin. Bouillon oriental, semoule fine au safran - this milk-fed lamb from the south of France was absolutely yummy. Pierre Gagnaire loves to blend Oriental spices into his dishes, and here was a prime example - Indian spice blend vadouvan and tamarind. All this on a bed of a saffron-flavored semolina.

Next came a series of desserts - again a signature at Pierre Gagnaire's restaurants. Along with the usual series of petits-fours, we started with a Sauternes gelée topped with gold leaf, in framboise and rose sauce. This was so refreshing and yummy.

Then there was the chocolate banana cake wth kaffir lime on top. My piece, however, came with a lit candle and a white chocolate plaque wishing me happy birthday... The groom finally was able to "get" me after his failed attempt at Michael Mina 6 months ago. Pretty decent.

The "egg" that showed up next had a thin layer of caramelized kiwi for egg white, a "yolk" of mango sorbet topped with passion fruit sauce, all on a bed of orange rind. Very interesting as well.

Finally we had a chocolate concoction filled with caramelized orange rind and cherries. Good way to finish up the lunch.

We were all stuffed to the brim from this wonderful lunch. The gang split up for the next two hours and wandered around Paris for a bit. As there was no way any of us could eat any more for a few more hours, we decided to board the bus and head back to Reims.

I started feeling the hunger pangs a little just before 10pm, and decided to go to the hotel bar and order something to eat. The moussaka d'agneau looked interesting and it's been a while since I've had it. When it came in a air-tight glass jar, I was a bit stunned. It's cold?! That's doesn't look like any moussaka I've ever had... Another look at the bar menu, and I see the small print at the bottom indicating that all the dishes are served cold, out of glass jars like this one. Oh well. It was basically rillettes with eggplant blended in, instead of the minced lamb that I was expected. Chalk up another new experience...

Better get to bed soon...got a big day ahead of me.

1 comment:

susan said...

Sounds like a fabulous trip!


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