April 23, 2010

Precious French ingredients

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It's been a while since our last Lunch Club meeting, and we decided to revisit Caprice.  The volcano eruption in Iceland has made its effect felt throughout the world.  As a consequence of the disruption to air traffic in Europe, it meant that the supply of European and French ingredients was temporarily cut off.  We made the lunch reservation early in the week, and had to rely on our contacts in the kitchen to ensure that some of the items in stock would be reserved for our little gathering.

The amuse bouche was refreshingly delightful.  Parma ham and tomato concassé with mozzarella on top.  The saltiness of the Parma ham dominated, somewhat tempered by the tomatoes - which were cold and refreshing on a warm day.  The mozzarella was liquid and cream-like with a very grainy texture, and the basil coulis on top completed the insalata Caprese.

Langoustine ravioli, veal sweetbreads, chanterelle mushrooms in shellfish bisque emulsion - I loved this dish the first time I had it, and apparently this is the dish which earned Caprice its third Michelin star.  The fat and juicy langoustine was very delish, and the sweetbread was nice and creamy.  The shellfish bisque was so good that I actually told my fellow diners that I was thinking about licking the bowl...without using the bread to soak it up as I didn't want anything to detract from the taste.

Challans duck fillet cuit au plat, duck leg pastilla, young carrot and aromatic pearl barley - I shared the duck with the male elf, and it was such a pretty dish!  The duck was so pink and juicy...with some jus on the side, and sat on top of carrot purée.  The pearl barley was firm and bouncy to the bite, with candied cherries and orange peel (or was it clementine?) which made the whole thing almost a little sweet.  Yum!

The other part of the dish was the pastilla - very mini and cute, yet delivers so much!  The moment I cut it open, the aroma of the spices emerged to greet me.  The shredded duck confit was really nice with a touch of mint.  I told Chef Vincent that next time I'd like him to make me a giant version...

I also had a bite of the Racan pigeon en croûte, nori seaweed, foie gras, broad bean and artichoke fricassée, which I'd really enjoyed on my last visit.  I still think this is an awesome dish...

I brought a bottle of 2002 Kistler Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard to match the birds.  Bernard the sommelier was smart enough to suggest chilling the decanter, which brought the wine to its ideal serving temperature.  It drank beautifully.  The nose was very open, gorgeous, fruity, a little bit sweet at first, with caramel, mint, Asian spices and pine needle.  As time went on the sweetness became more and more prominent.  I must savor my remaining bottles...

Next came the cheese...since they know we all love it so much.  A plate of seven was laid out in front of us, and we were in heaven.  The resident Froggie even raised her arms and croaked "Yessss!!!"

Coulommiers - this cousin of Brie was salty, and smelled a little like green peas.  The rind had a heavy taste of ammonia.

Abbaye de Cîteaux - made by the Trappist monks at the L'Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Cîteaux.

Laurentine - this goat cheese with bay leaves was very nutty, salty with slight acidity on the palate.  Sooo creamy...

Bonde de Gâtine - I love this cheese...lots of ash on the outside, and the taste was acidic and salty at the same time, with creamy texture.

Comté, 4 years old - yummmmmmm...... pretty salty but there was still a hint of sweetness.  Needless to say it paired incredibly well with the 1999 Château Chalon, which had a nose of straw, sweet grass and oxidation in general.  The combination of the two in my mouth resulted in very pronounced flavors of sweet corn.

Cabri Ariégeois - one of the Froggie's favorite cheese... basically goat milk Mont d'Or... pretty stinky, runny and just totally awesome.  Later in the evening, I found that one of my friends has a family retreat in Ariège... must. go. visit.

Fourme d'Ambert - this was such a nice blue... I could taste a touch of sweetness among the salty flavors.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I was devastated to find out that the remainder of their wild strawberries had spoiled, and that we wouldn't be able to have those wonderful berries.  So I settled for the red berry and bourbon vanilla millefeuille, yoghurt and lemon sorbet.  Berry millefeuille is always good here, and to avoid squeezing all the cream out I decided to use my knife and karate-chop the pastry... Haiiiii Yah!

I also had a bite of the tropical coconut tiramisu, exotic fruit minestrone and pabana sorbet.  This was awesome.  You get mango, pineapple and coconut all in one bite... kinda like a piña colada.  Perfect for warm weather.

Finally, we got to the petits-fours...and my eyes opened wide at the sight of canelés.  I loooooove these little things, and swallowed it in one bite.  The orange and guava jelly was superb as usual.

It was a really awesome lunch, I'm glad we kept it "light" - I vetoed the addition of a pork belly course - since I still had a dinner to go to tonight!


susan said...

I'm jealous!!!!

Lambda said...

And I was very happy with Benny serving tasting portion cheese. I gotta eat everything without stuffing my face even though I know I wouldn't mind to be the Comte hugger....

When is our next Lunch Club gathering at Caprice??

acuriousowl said...

still dreaming about the pastry lovingly hugging the pigeon, seaweed and foie together...the textures and flavors sang with my first bite.

a big thank you to everyone at caprice for a delightful experience fit for a prince (or princess)!

extra kudos to benny, who took very care of us...uber-professional, knowledgeable and attentive.

looking fwd to our next rendezvous...


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