November 7, 2010

MNSC Burgundy Trip Day 2: a day at Troisgros

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Our flight landed in the wee hours of the morning, and after picking up a couple of stragglers in Paris, we embarked on a 4-hour drive south to our first destination.

La Colline du Colombier is in Iguerande, a little commune situated on the banks of the Loire River. This little auberge is run by the Troisgros family, based out of Roanne just a little bit south of here. It's pretty new and housed in a simple barn with a minimal level of decoration.

The lunch fare was simple and inexpensive, and I chose only two courses as I knew I wouldn't be able to fit in more food. Right off the bat we were served a simple yet delicious pâte with a few black peppercorns to enhance the flavors. Yum.

Next came a pot of potage de bon appétit, which was white bean soup with vinegar. Served with some delicious country bread, the acidity of the soup definitely helped whet the appetite for what's to follow.

We shared two orders of frog's legs in parsley garlic butter. We are, after all, in Froggie-land and I can't think of a better way to start our first meal here. Sautéed with lots of yummy garlic butter, which we mopped up using the bread.

We were served a simple salad of foie gras, apple and celeriac, which was decent.

My first course was eggs in jelly, with Côte Roannaise wine. The eggs were cold so they were a bit harder than expected, although the yolk was still a little runny. They were in red wine jelly, whose flavors were so acidic that we thought it was balsamic vinegar... The acidity was too much for me and I didn't finish all the jelly.

Marie-Pierre Troisgros came over to greet us.  She knows we are spending a whole day with their family, and wanted to make sure we were well taken care of.

For some reason all 6 of us took cooked sausages, a la brionnaise as our main, which was a little weird. Interestingly cooked in a pot with peeled finger potatoes and straw, the smell of the broth was familiar to me, as I get the same result when I boil rice dumplings (粽子). The sausage was great, although there were a few hazelnuts too many...

I was already full by this point without having the potatoes, but we were served three slivers of goat cheese - each topped with a sprinkle of hazelnuts, chives or peppercorns. Delicious.

Pineapple arranged for a selection of amazing wines to kick off the trip.

2003 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Caillerets - lots of toasty oak, oily, buttery, a little steely with minerals, really round and smooth on the palate. Not acidic but not overly ripe either. Plenty of toasty corn at the end. A classic Coche-Dury.

2000 Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne - this wine had always eluded me, because I had always been content to drink Jean-François Coche-Dury's cheaper offerings. This wine was initially very closed, but after some aeration revealed the classic intense nose of toast I have come to love. Pretty ripe on the palate, with lots of minerals. After a bite of the acidic jelly, the wine tasted really sweet when I sipped it. What a wine!

1990 Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée - a little vegetal at first masking the fruit core. Later strawberry notes emerged, with a little bit of grass, forest and mint. Still really young, although the color was pretty light. A reasonable amount of tannins left.

1993 Henri Jayer Echezeaux - very floral, osmanthus, a little smoky, some fruit came out after a while. Still enough tannins to be a little grippy.

1988 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux - very farmy, nose was much more open and beautiful, with lots of fruit and a bit toasty. Higher acidity on the palate was noted. Lovely, floral like violet. A beautiful wine!

Simple food with an amazing line-up of wines.

After lunch we checked into Maison Troisgros and rested up a little before dinner.  A little nap definitely helped.

Dinner time rolled around and I wasn't the least bit hungry.  Bad sign.  I strolled into the bar to join the crew, as we started the evening a little early.  Michel Troisgros came to greet us, as Pineapple has known him for quite a while.  We were looking forward to an incredible meal.

We were served a series of snacks, which were delicious but only served to fill me up early...

Beetroot gelée, Parmesan sablé and cheese puff
Candy-coated stuffed cherry tomatoes - a little like candied apples or Chinese 拔絲香蕉, but with ginger flavors.

Squid ink truffled potatoes - the truffled mash inside the crunchy shell was fragrant and yummy.

Jamon fat and black truffle puffs - pork fat and black truffle... two of my favorite things put together.

Pigeon mousse millefeuille - absolutely delicious.

We finally moved to a private room in the restaurant.  I first heard about Troisgros when I was a teenager growing up in Japan, and this place has been on my radar screen for years.  I was glad to finally be able to check it off my list...

One final amuse... bottarga and radish.  The Ox and I thought this was so Taiwanese, as this combination gets served in Taiwan a lot.  The crunchy cracker at the bottom looks like nori (のり) seaweed.

I wasn't remotely hungry, so what ensued can only be described as a delicious yet increasingly painful feast.

Le goût de l'artichaut à la sardine fumée - not bad but I finished half of this dish to save myself some room.

Nage d'écrevisses à la manoa - Michel came to explain the inspiration behind this dish... which was essentially Chinese pickled vegetables he tasted while he visited the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong years ago.  The "manoa" is essentially "Man Wah".  So basically we're having crayfish with pickled veggies and a white wine and beetroot sauce.  This might impress the gweilos but was universally panned by MNSC members tonight.

Noix d'huîtres à l'oseille et cumin - these oysters were wonderful, and the acidic flavors of the sorrel provided some balance to the richness.

Plins tartuffi di alba - this has to be the dish of the evening for everyone.  The agnolottis were filled with Parmesan and Marscarpone, then topped with thin shavings of ceps... and white truffles from Alba!  The fragrance was incredible.  When you take the first bite, the filling squirt out of the pasta pockets into your mouth.  An awesome sensation.  We cracked jokes about Stephen Chow's movie God of Cookery (食神)...

Rouget barbet Mandrian - the fillet of red mullet was coated with 3 types of sauces: blackcurrant, sorrel and another whose name escapes me.  I can only assume that it's called "Mandrian" (sic) after Piet Mondrian.  The sauces ended up being too acidic for me, and I chose not to finish.

Saint-Jacques qui «collent à la dent» et bergamote - these scallops were pretty huge, and pan-fried perfectly.  The crispy layer on top was really yummy - was it made with lardon? - and that lemon butter... Mmmmmm... Interesting to have chicory at the bottom.

Pigeonneau en salmis - the black mass is actually pigeon breast encrusted in (probably) squid ink.  It was done perfectly... that is to say it was more than a light shade of pink, and served with liver sauce.  The accompanying leg was stuffed with orange rind.  Very interesting.

I looked at the amazing selection on the cheese cart and was going to pass up the chance to have wonderful, unpasteurized cheese... until I finally gave in and asked for some Vacherin Mont d'Or.  Unfortunately it wasn't as ripe as I would have liked... When I wasn't looking, Lord Rayas decided to drop half his slice of 3-year Comté on my plate.  This was still sweet and creamy, before the salt crystals completely take over.

Friandise au chocolat, à l'ananas et caramel - I can't believe I actually had some of this dessert, given how stuffed I was.  But we pretty much all gave up at this point, and skipped the next two desserts the kitchen had prepared for us...

Pineapple continued to wow us with another group of wines, which prompted me to ask the question "How much Coche-Dury and Henri Jayer is too much?"

2002 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Perrières - nose was a bit toasty and mineral, which kept the ripeness of the fruit hidden underneath.  Drank beautifully while we were at the bar.

1996 Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Perrières - nose was very open and floral, with a bit of apricot, ripe fruit, honey, marmalade, sweet grass, and just sweet perfume in general.  There was also a slight hint of acetone.  A really beautiful wine.  Someone at the table commented that this was just like kissing and smelling the sweet scent of a woman's neck.  I think he was having a Les Gouttes de Dieu (神の雫) moment...

1993 Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée - not in the original line-up, but Dr. Poon inserted this bottle as he thought it would be a reasonable choice.  I'm glad he did, as this bottle drank very well.  Minty nose with herbs, pine needle, black cherries... Sweet and a bit alcoholic.  Dr. Poon loved it so much that he spoke of opening a bottle for breakfast tomorrow...

1995 Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée Beaumonts - a little hard and steely at first.  Nose turned floral and pretty sweet later.

1992 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux - a little vegetal on top of the fruity and sweet nose.  Farmy and minty notes, with rose overtones.  Really open and beautiful.  Definitely my favorite Henri Jayer today.

1982 Lafite-Rothschild - WOW!  What an amazing wine!  Decanted for almost four hours, this was beautiful!  Nose of mint, sweet grass, smoke and a little soy sauce along with some fruit.  A classic elegant claret through and through, and you know this wine can last for a long, long time.  Of course provenance is without question, and Pineapple acquired this bottle some years back and I know he is extremely meticulous on this topic...  This was the "missing bottle" from our Bordeaux trip last year - when we drank a bunch of '82 First Growths - and it was sooooo much better than the bottle I was invited to taste a couple of months ago in Hong Kong.  As much as I liked this wine, I could not bring myself to give it a perfect score, as that is reserved for the next bottle we drank...

1998 Le Pin - I knew we were drinking a Le Pin the minute I swirled the glass and took a whiff.  The exotic nose was unmistakable.  Explosive, sweet, ripe and fruity, with notes of French pears and sweet tropical fruits.  Also notes of tea.  Decanted for 2 hours.  What a beautiful wine!  I actually wrote down "f**king awesome" in my tasting notes, because I loved it that much.  We drank another bottle of this wine last year in Bordeaux, and at the time it was also my favorite wine of the evening.  100 points!

What an incredible first day in Burgundy!  One beautiful Roulot, three awesome Coche-Dury's, five Henri Jayer's, an '82 Lafite in perfect condition and a 100-point (for me) Le Pin.  All this with the beautiful cuisine of Michel Troisgros.  I think this cartoon I saw inside the kitchen tonight expressed my feelings perfectly...


Roger said...

Dude, you are living my dream. Jealous!...and starting to get alittle hungry...

e said...

What's with the writing on the bottles on the line-up photo? "Great sh**!"?? That happy to see people enjoying these wines rather than just stashing them away for investment.

HK Epicurus said...

What an amazing line up of wines! Can't believe Henri Jayer x 3 ! Another few bottles gone and I wonder when I could get my chance to try some.

I think we kind of planned the opposite way in France because I went past Bordeaux to Paris, but didn't plan this time around to go to Bordeaux or Burgundy region! If you go past Paris again soon, please let me know as I am still here and we can meet for a meal or drink ! :)

Peech said...

spending my last day in Paris today...will be running around doing errands

B said...

As I can see here, you had a great time in Troisgros; but the only wrong thing you did was eating too much before hand at La Colline du Colombier.


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