October 25, 2011

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 3: two giants in northern Rhone

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Our morning visit having been cancelled, our day was a relatively easy one, and I got some much-needed sleep.

The first item on our agenda today was a visit to M. Chapoutier in Tain l'Hermitage.  Details of the visit can be found here.

Michel Chapoutier hosted us for lunch inside the main office.

Salade d'andouillette grillée et de pommel de terre – made from pigs raised by Chapoutier, Michel prefers to cut open the casing and just pan-fry the pieces. As an andouillette lover, I was totally in heaven. So happy that I didn’t have to look for it on this trip…

Pavé de bœuf, légumes craquants et champignons de bois – I didn’t ask about the breed, but I’m assuming it’s Charolais. Perfect done the way a Frenchman gourmand would prefer – bleu. One of the best steaks I’ve had in a while…

Salade de fruits frais – beautiful, ripe and sweet strawberries, pineapple and more. Great way to finish.

2006 Chapoutier Ermitage de L’Orée en magnum – honey, glycerin, elegant, fat and lovely.

2006 Chapoutier Côte-Rôtie La Mordorée en magnum – lovely floral nose with violet and mint.

2007 Chapoutier Les Coufis en demi-bouteille  – made from Viognier.  Glycerin, a little polyurethane, ripe orange marmalade on the nose, and still pretty sharp.  Really ripe and sweet on the palate, but mid-palate was slightly bitter, which carried over to the finish.

Our next visit was with E. Guigal in Ampuis, and we had a fantastic tasting with Philippe Guigal.  Details of the visit can be found here.

The final visit of the day was with Ogier, and Stephane Ogier led us through the tasting.  Details of the visit can be found here.

Dinner tonight was at Pic, the 3-macaron gastronomic restaurant inside Maison Pic.

A series of four amuses bouches were presented:

Foie gras with fig and verbena; peanut marshmallow

Salmon with sour cream; ceps macaron

Crème brûlée of foie gras with granny smith apple mousse - pretty interesting, with a balance of sweet and savory flavors in the foie, and the acidic flavors coming from the mousse.

Les oursins violets: langues et crémeux d'oursins en fine gelée d'oseille coulant de jaune d'œuf au poivre cubèbe - love the runny egg yolk, but didn't like the sorrel jelly since I just don't like dishes that are too acidic.  But the acidity did kinda get my stomach juices going...

Les Huitres Spéciales Gillardeau N˚3: au naturel, nuage d'une fondue revisitée - Gillardeau is my favorite oyster, but I had expected somewhat more than a few cut up pieces of it in this bowl...

Le bar de ligne au caviar d'Aquitaine: comme l'aimait mon Père ~1971~ - the sea bass itself was very tender and juicy.  The foam was very interesting and flavorful, but just too heavy on the salt.  Having the caviar there didn't help with the salt content...  Technically correct, just a little heavy-handed to make me love this dish.

La poularde de Bresse: suprême cuit lentement, navets fondants au chutney de dattes Madjoul, et poivre de Voatsiperifery, jus de volaille - pretty tender chicken with yummy skin.  The sprinkle of ground pepper on top was very nice.  Radish and date chutney on the side was pretty interesting.

Lièvre à la royale - very traditional, which means the meat was made into a hard, solid block that's a little tough and dry without a good helping of the sauce.  Reminds me of the version that Chef Vincent makes at Caprice.

Le Brie de Meaux revisité - kinda interesting to make this into a crème without the brûlée on top.  Vanilla seeds are mixed in.  The whole thing actually tasted of sweet corn, funnily enough...

L'intemporel soufflé chaud au Grand Marnier - simply the best Grand Marnier soufflé I have ever tasted in my life.  Period.  Every other version I have had uses the liqueur to make a creamy sauce.  Here they dispense with the sauce, and instead lights Grand Marnier on fire before letting the soufflé soak it up.  The result is a much more intense orange fragrance and flavor, since the liqueur wasn't diluted.  Wow!  Why don't other people do that?!

Les myrtilles sauvages et la vanille de Tahiti grand cru Bora-Bora: crémeux acidulé de yaourt brassé à la vanille et confit de myrtilles, chantilly poudrée à la vanille de Tahiti - this was very pretty, and tasted good, too.  I wonder why we don't see much wild blueberries in top restaurants in Asia, when we seem to be getting a good amount of wild strawberries...

The wine lineup tonight was... a trio of really big guns.

2000 Leflaive Montrachet – big, explosive nose, toasty, minerals, lemon, ripe and sweet on nose without being over ripe. A long finish, with acidity slightly on the high side.

1996 DRC Romanée-Conti – my first experience in drinking an RC, even though I first bought some over 10 years ago.  Floral, elegant, feminine, a bit smoky and a little sharp on the nose. Then it turned a bit animal, meaty, a little soy sauce and savory, which was more masculine…

1990 Chave Hermitage Cuvée Cathelin – very lovely and beautiful, very ripe fruit, leather, grilled meats, still a little alcoholic, slightly cooked prunes. An amazing wine!

It was certainly a privilege to drink any one of these wines... let alone all three of them together!

It would be natural for me or anyone else to compare the food at Pic with that of the other 3-macaron restaurant we visited earlier.  I think when you consider the quality of the ingredients, the execution, presentation, service...etc... Pic definitely deserves their 3 macarons.  Everything was flawless.  However, it is unfortunate that the menu we chose - Collection Pic - was the more classic and hence heavier than our preferences.  The flavors were simply too heavy-handed, as opposed to the more delicately balanced creations from Michel Troisgros.  

Well, I've got one more 3-macaron meal coming up, and I'm really looking forward to that one!

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