October 29, 2011

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 7: 3-star detour

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I'm on the road again... After less than 24 hours in Lyon, I got up early this morning and headed for Gare Lyon Part-Dieu to catch the train to Geneva.  I'm headed for one of my favorite restaurants in the world - Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville in Crissier.  I was here around the same time 3 years ago, and met my friend B for the first time.

Once I arrived at Gare Cornavin in Geneva, I took a local train to Nyon.  B picked me up in her black SLK... new since my last visit.  My giant Rimowa barely fit in the trunk...  We dropped off my luggage at her house, and Mr. B drove us all to Crissier.

It was a beautiful day around Lake Geneva - blue skies instead of gray 3 years ago.  We met up with another couple who had come in from the German-speaking part of Switzerland.  Lunch for 5 would be a lot of fun.

Vinaigrette de couteaux de l'Atlantique et petits coquillages au fenugrec - this was absolutely fabulous!  Probably one of the best courses of the entire meal.  I thought I had tasted a very delicate and refined dish featuring razor clams a few days ago at Troisgros, but this one wins hands down.  The tiny pieces of razor clam, along with red and yellow clams, worked beautifully with vinaigrette and fenugreek cream, as well as the tiny little carrot balls, celery...etc.  Right off the bat, I knew this meal would confirm Rochat as the best out of the three 3-stars on this trip...

Foie gras de canard chaud, artichaux épineux, fleurs d'hibiscus à l'huile d'noisette - very good.  The exterior was browned and crispy, basically croustillant.  Soft and lovely in the middle.  And that hazelnut oil... wow!

Oeuf en surprise à l'italienne aux truffes blanches d'Alba - the soft-boiled egg was hidden inside a pasta shell, which was pretty interesting.  Of course nothing beats the perfume of white truffles from Alba...

Noix de Saint-Jacques de la rade de Brest au Champagne rosé et caviar osciètre - another delicious dish with a surprise.  The scallops were mi-cuit and delicious, interesting with the rosé Champagne foam.  Nice dollop of caviar on top.

But the whole structure consisted of 2 scallops, with a layer of finely diced celery in between.  The whole thing was then wrapped in a thin layer of celeriac.

Sole de l'île de Noirmoutier au jus de racines citron vert et gingembre - yet another dish with a middle layer... this time it was diced onions.  Flavored with carrots, lime and ginger, along with something sweet like honey.  Perfectly balanced between the sweetness and the acidity.

Homard bleu de l'île de Sky à la coque parfumé à l'estragon - lovely lobster, lightly perfumed with tarragon.  Served with a few gnocchi "à la parisienne".  We all wondered what that meant, but my explanation is that Parisian always screw up their pasta by making them mushy... such as my last risotto in Paris a couple of years ago.  And yes, the gnocchi were a little mushy...

Lièvre à la royale - just can't get enough of this dish, especially when it was here 3 years ago that I first had it.  Yum yum yum!

Sélection de fromages frais et affinés - only allowed myself four: the Swiss Mont d'Or - that puddle in the back - is made with pasteurized milk, as regulation forbids making cheese with lait cru.  The Époisses de Bourgogne is from Berthaut, and pretty ripe.  The thin slices of Simmental are four years old, and the salt crystals are pretty obvious.  And no, Peter, they don't have Comté in Switzerland... it's called Gruyère here... and this one was half-salted.

Espoumas de poire Williams du Valais aux baies de sureau - the pear and alcohol are down at the bottom of the glass.  Very, very yummy.  Elderberries are nice, too.

Succulent pur Caraïbe au crémeux arabica - these days I tend to shy away from chocolate desserts, but this was simply amazing!  Together with arabica coffee...  Such a nice way to finish the meal!

Macarons, pâtes de fruits et chocolats - shouldn't forget the mignardises...

Someone wanted sorbet so the trolley was rolled out.  I chose the Piña Colada sorbet, which was one of the best sorbet I've ever had.  Tasted just like the real thing.

I was happy not to have the responsibility to choose the wines for our meal - that job went to Mr. B.  Prices are pretty steep here, so stuck to good value offerings from more recent vintages.

2009 Comtesse Eldegarde Sauvignon Gris - mineral, a little green apple, muscat. Acidity a little high. Guess it's kinda similar to Sauvignon Blanc...

2008 Marc Morey Puligny-Montrachet - toasty, sweet, buttery. Lots of acidity here.

2008 Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Vieilles Vignes - very ripe and sweet, mint, forest. alcoholic. Nice body with soft and chewy tannins.

2010 La Colombe La Grive - very sharp nose, with mineral, flint, forest and sous bois. Ripe and sweet both on the nose and the palate.

As it had been 3 years ago, lunch was more than a 4-hour affair...  but I was extremely satisfied.  I couldn't find fault with a single one of the courses today... and that is very, very rare.  Towards the end of our meal, Chef Philippe Rochat came into the dining room to introduce his successor, who will take over the restaurant starting April next year.  I've been privileged to dine here twice when Chef Philippe was in the kitchen, and I'll always remember these two lunches.

We went back to Mr. and Mrs. B's hillside residence, and I got to admire the view over Lake Geneva.  The clouds had come in by now, so we weren't able to see the Jet d'Eau nor Mont Blanc, but it didn't matter.  The view was still beautiful.

Some two hours after returning home, while neither Mr. B nor I were yet hungry, B started to lay out some food on the counter of the open kitchen.  She had bought some cold cuts and cheese this morning, and thought it was time for us to start nibbling.  There was some Swiss air-dried beef, prosciutto, and jamón ibérico.

There was also a good selection of cheese, including a Saint-Marcellin that was almost liquified...

We obviously didn't have enough wine at lunch, so we started by finishing off the leftover 1998 Rayas I had last night.  It drank OK, but had clearly oxidized a little too much.

Mr. B then opened a bottle of 1999 Léoville-Las Cases.  This was smoky, a little chalky, dirty, wet cardboard on top of some sweet fruit.  I can't help but think the bottle was a little corked.

A very relaxing end to a long day of good food...


Alex said...

Hi Peter,
I'm a regular reader of your blog (I'm French based in HK, you made me discover the perfect Caprice between others :).
I hope you enjoy your trip in Europe. Everything looks so delicious, as usual.
Just 1 word abt your pics, they're quite blur actually. We often can see only 1/2 of the dish clearly. I find it's a pity. Is there anything you could do? For your own collection :)
If you spend some time in Paris maybe I have some hidden gems for you to try.
Bon appétit!

Peech said...

Hi Alex,

Many thanks for your support. I'd love to try out some hidden gems next time.

Regarding the pics, I think it's a stylistic thing. You will find many of my fellow bloggers and food photographers choose to highlight a certain part of the dish by reducing the depth-of-field and blurring out the rest deliberately.

But I thank you for your suggestion. It's always nice to find someone who cares enough to speak up.

Alex said...

Hi Peter,
Just read your latest post :)
Blurred or not blurred, I would still eat everything I see in your blog eyes closed!

If you're still around in Paris, I think you don't need any reco for restaurants but for some extra delightful experiences, I guess you would love to visit
- Jacques Genin (133 Rue de Turenne, much nicer than Dalloyau from my pt of view), Pain de Sucre (14 Rue Rambuteau), Martine Lambert (39 Rue Cler, ice cream to die for)
that's for pastries

- L'Avant-Comptoir (3 Carrefour de l'Odéon, the "bar à hors d'oeuvre" of Yves Camdeborde, better go 11-12am or after 2pm) this one is absolutely fantastic

Maybe you know these places already. Enjoy! I look forward to seeing your pics :)

Em said...

I would like to visit Lake Geneva.

Markus Schmidt said...

I read your blog regularly since my better half is a Hong Konger and we visit HK regularly. Booked Sushi Saito and Frantzén's Kitchen for the next trip, and I'll add Neighborhood after reading your many reviews. I actually live in Nyon and thus was happy to stumble across your review of Hotel de Ville. We were there after Franck Giovannini took over over the kitchen, and it was an excellent lunch for sure, though our daughter probably fared better with her à la carte choices than we did with the surprise menu.... There are plenty of 'endroits sympathiques' in the area, and I/we 'd be happy to provide suggestions should yo come again to the shores of Lac Léman.

Unknown said...

Hi Markus, many thanks for your support. Neighborhood is certainly my favorite restaurant in Hong Kong by far, judging by the number of visits.

I re-read my post with great sadness, recalling the tragic fates of both Monsieur Rochat and Violier. I hope the restaurant continues to do well and create happy memories for their guests.

I considered making another detour to Switzerland to visit my friends this past summer, but ended up detouring to Nice instead... Will certainly ask you for suggestions next time!


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