June 3, 2011

From Loire to Burgundy

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I could hardly believe it... I had just finished a 2-day eating tour in Macau where I barely felt hungry during my entire stay, and here I am... going to lunch at another fancy restaurant!  Truth be told, this lunch with my friends was scheduled before the Macau trip popped up in my schedule, and I wasn't about to cancel.  After all, it's been almost 1½ years since I last stepped foot in Amber.

I had maybe a third of the bottle of 1971 Joh. Jos. Prüm Riesling leftover from last night, and brought it to share with my friends.  I checked with Hervé the sommelier to see if he would let us drink the wine without charging me full corkage, and he was pretty nice about it.  We were not charged corkage in the end.

The Bespectacled Froggie came to introduce the dishes from the set lunch menu, and recommended that we take the "chicken from Burgundy".  I could see as the Resident Froggie rolled her (very) big, round eyes back and the look of "WTF" appeared on her face.  When did Challans get moved to Burgundy, more than 500 km inland?!  And the guy was a Froggie! I guess he failed geography as a child...

I wanted something light, and my choices reflected this desire... somewhat.

Foie gras lollipop - one of Chef Ekkebus' signatures.  The beetroot chip was a nice touch.

The two other amuse bouche items were simply laid in front of us without any introductions.  I guess we have to play "guess what you're eating"...

This was beetroot purée, with a quenelle of mustard and cream.

The croquette had a liquid center that was acidic with mustard flavors.

Royal grand cru oysters: served over a almond panna cotta, green asparagus coulis & crispy granola - the oysters from Marennes-Oléron were very yummy... sweet and creamy, yet giving up lots of briny flavors of the sea - basically, the best of both worlds.  The little green leaves, alas, were not oyster leaves but something more ordinary.  The "granola" was interesting, made with quinoa and other crunchy bits.  What was really yummy, actually, was tasting the green asparagus coulis plus the almond panna cotta below and the lobster jelly at the very bottom together.  Now throw oyster into the mix, and you'll have an idea of the number of different flavors bombarding my taste buds in one single mouthful...

Cep mushrooms: fregola sarda & parmesan reggiano prepared like a risotto with white pearl onion & smoked bacon - perhaps this is the season to eat fregola, since I just had some at Robuchon a Galera two days ago...  This was very, very delish.  All the different ingredients just seemed to go together for a lovely, creamy mix that I couldn't stop spooning into my waiting mouth.  The fact that there were both "regular" and crispy lardons reflects the creative efforts of the chef.

Chocolate-coated coconut sorbet - the usual...

Blood orange: pulp, puree & sorbet over greek yoghurt panna cotta - I was debating between this and the strawberry dessert, but was swayed by Dyson 2000 in favor of this.  Loved the Mickey Mouse ears... I must congratulate the pastry chef for coming up with so many ways to deliver the flavors of one single fruit: the crispy "ears", the sorbet, the biscuit below the sorbet, the layer of purée below the biscuit, a hidden layer of pulp below the purée, and the jelly below the panna cotta.  Very nice and refreshing.

Dyson 2000 had shown up to lunch in a very grumpy mood, but became happier as the meal progressed.  During dessert, she announced that she had finally found something that makes her happy... and proceeded to execute her trademark move of cleaning up the serving container with her forefinger.  I think this picture is self-explanatory...

1971 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Extra Long Goldkapsel - I wondered how this wine would taste after being left in the bottle overnight.  Nose of petrol and flint, a little faded with honey and apricot notes.  Seemingly a little sweeter mid-palate with good acidity compared to last night.

When we were finished with the wine, Hervé took the bottle away and went into the back. As I am in the habit of collecting wine labels, I asked the Bespectacled Froggie to ask Hervé to bring the bottle back to me, and he promptly disappeared.  A minute or two later, Mr. Froggie reappeared and went about his business.  When Hervé finally came out, I flagged him down and asked about the empty bottle.  He had clearly not gotten the message that I wanted the bottle.  I was fuming at this point... What kind of service was the Bespectacled Froggie providing?!  First he can't even get the origins of the ingredients right, then he completely ignores the request of a customer.  Do they still want to keep their stars?!

The petits fours arrived in a shiny, metallic tower with three drawers.  We worked our way from top to bottom:

The calissons were absolutely wonderful, a little soft and chewy like marzipan, but filled my mouth with the fragrance of orange blossom water.  The lemon tarts were pretty fragrant, too.

I couldn't figure out what was in the ganache of the strawberry macaron, as it was just too tiny.  The passion fruit caramel was really, really good... made with acacia honey and an edible wrapper.

The coconut and chocolate thingy was not bad, and the Resident Froggie promptly proclaimed it to be a mini-Bounty.  The chocolate madeleine - with a chocolate hat - was not bad.

This was a very relaxing and enjoyable meal, despite the poor service.  Maybe I'm finally beginning to get Chef Ekkebus' food after all these years...

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