July 11, 2018

Europe 2018 day 12: from McDo to Michelin

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After bidding farewell to our hostess and Moses, our host dropped us off at Nice Airport - where we once again put our luggage in storage.  We then took the bus and headed into town for some last-minute exploration.  In all honesty, we really didn't see much of Nice on the day we arrived...

When we got off the bus at Jardin Albert 1er, we crossed the street to the promenade next to the beach for a look.  I was in utter shock.  I had imagined pretty, white sand beaches on the Côte d'Azur... but I saw nothing but pebbles and gravel on the beach.  I'd probably have to lay down 2 layers of towels so that the corners of those stones don't puncture a hole in my ass.  Coming from Asia where we have plenty of beautiful beaches... this was certainly a big disappointment.

We needed to grab some breakfast and coffee, so we stopped by Chez Maître Pierre.  I couldn't resist grabbing a palmier that was literally bigger than my face... and with plenty of sugar, too!

After a not-so-quick stop to acquire boîte orange numero 1, we went back to the airport, retrieved our luggage, and flew back to Orly Airport for our second leg in Paris.

We picked another apartment via AirBnB, this time just off Avenue de la Grand-Armée and a few minutes' walk to the Argentine Metro stop.  This, too, would turn out to be a great location for us.

It was almost 4pm now and we haven't really had lunch, so I decided to do the only sensible thing - hit a McDonald's. There is an outlet right next to Porte Maillot, which isn't too long of a walk.  I always check out McDonald's in different countries to see what local specialties they offer.

So I took the blue cheese and bacon burger from the Signature by McDonald's range.  Even without the Charolais beef, that's still kinda French, right?  Well... I think the staff forgot to put some caramelized onions or shallots in my burger, and without them, the thing was just too dry.

With a few hours to kill before dinner, it was time to check out the sights in this part of town.  The Arc de Triomphe was the obvious choice as we could just walk over there.  Not surprisingly, the line to get to the top was a little too long, so we just had a look around from the base.

We continued to walk along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, passing by the all-glass Publicis Drugstore before making a detour down Avenue George V.  But there was only one place that I wanted to visit here...

86 Champs is the new outlet opened by L'Occitane in conjunction with Pierre Hermé.  Besides selling L'Occitane products and Pierre Hermé macarons and chocolates, there are three separate dining areas located at the back of the store, right in front of the store, and on the promenade.  The shop offered 3 types of hand cream created especially for this location, and also 3 new flavors of macarons inspired by L'Occitane and, of course, exclusive to this location.  Of course we bought those...

They weren't selling Miss Gla'Gla here, but they did have other ice creams and soft serves.  So I got myself a Ispahan cone...

We went back to freshen up and change for our dinner appointment.  I had long heard friends rave about Passage53, and the restaurant has gotten themselves 2 macarons to boot, so it was high time for me to see what all the fuss is about...

...if I could only find it!  It's in a little shopping mall called Passage des Panoramas, and 53 is the shop number.  But there was no sign at the door announcing the name, and if you missed the Relaix and Châteaux sign at the bottom of the window - which could happen if one is looking up in search of the shop number - then it may take a couple of trips back and forth before one realizes the actual location.

There isn't a menu here as the diners give carte blanche to the chef.  In fact we never saw a menu from start to finish.

We started with an aperitif...

Deutz Rosé

Corn cappuccino - the scent was very roasted, like coffee, but the toastiness wasn't evident at all on the palate.  Pretty viscous texture, with sweet, concentrated flavors. 

Foie gras with cherries and rhubarb gelée - the foie had a hint of bitterness, but it was nicely neutralized by the acidity from the rhubarb.

Langoustine with tomato gelée, tomato and basil granité - like so many chilled tomato dishes this season, this tasted of the purity of summer.  Wonderful.

Veal and oyster with seaweed gelée - the veal tartare had great texture but frankly not much flavor, as it was overpowered by the other ingredients like oyster and seaweed gelée... which delivered good umami as well as flavors of the ocean.

Calamari with tomato sauce, clam juice, and burnt aubergine purée - the grilled calamari was certainly very tasty, as was the tomato.  The burnt aubergine was indeed smoky, and worked well with the rest of the ingredients.

Turbot with Imperial caviar from Sologne, littleneck clams - I still find turbot to be a boring fish in terms of flavor, but at least the texture was nice.  Topped with Sologne caviar from La Maison Nordique.  I really liked the addition of haricots verts, broad beans, cucumber, and perilla leaves on the side.

Homard bleu, fromage blanc, horseradish, apricot purée - served with a honey and Sherry sauce.  This was OK.

8-year old Galician beef dry-aged for 3 months, Cecina de Leon, Sherry vinegar - I was a little flabbergasted when I kept asking for the breed of the cattle, and the only I got was that the beef came from Galicia.  I'll assume it was Rubia Galega, then...

Not surprisingly this was very, very tasty... with a nice little charring on the sides.

Honey and lemon declination: ice cream, yogurt, gelée - with layers of puff pastry at the bottom.  Nice acidity.

Red shiso, rhubarb, cherries, panna cotta - the shiso (紫蘇) flavors were very nice, coming from both the leaves as well as the gelée on top.

Panna cotta and cherries at the bottom.

Panna cotta with melon and verbena ice cream - with fresh almonds. I love melons in the summer, and together with the verbana ice cream this was really refreshing.

Madagascar vanilla ice cream, eucalyptus, and honey

Madeleines

I suffered from sticker shock when I flipped through the wine list here... as some of the wines I had drunk in Belgium last week are now priced about double. Thankfully I was able to find something a little more reasonable...

Jacques Selosse Le Bout du Clos, dégorgée 13 Mars 2013 - the nose was surprisingly floral, with vanilla, Chinese licorice root, and caramelized notes.  Really lovely and fragrant, toasty with marmalade notes.  Good depth on the palate.

This was a very, very good meal. Absolutely no fails tonight either in terms of execution or flavor combinations.  With a Japanese chef in the kitchen - another Sato-san who is friends with Sato-san from Ta Vie 旅 - I could see the flavors being lighter... as the use of heavy cream was basically non-existent.  I loved that so many of the dishes came chilled and involved fruits and vegetables with natural acidity, and the result was that one's palate was never overwhelmed in this scorching weather.  This was exactly what I needed tonight.

I was pretty full from dinner and wanted to walk a little, so I dragged Hello Kitty to take a look at Opéra Garnier at night.

We also walked over to Place Vendôme to take in the atmosphere of the square before calling it a night.

1 comment:

Derek Chung said...

The burger from MCD looked delicious!

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