Thursday, November 06, 2008

Culinary Poetry

Upon leaving Le Crocodile where I dined recently, I was given an invitation to the 25th anniversary celebration of this restaurant. "Join us for an exclusive dinner featuring a 5-course tasting menu designed by special guest Chef Emile Jung of Au Crocodile in Strasbourg, France.
Join Michel Jacob and his mentor Emile Jung as they prepare an exquisite experience of culinary poetry to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Le Crocodile." Yeah, like I'm really gonna avoid that.
Cremant d'Alsace, Zinick, Brut Rose. A great sparkling rose fresh from Alsace. I think it would go splendidly with a fruit-based meat dish such as a Tajine. It isnt served with anything, just an opening "cocktail" before the feast began.
Mousseline de Petit Pois a l'emulsion de Tomates et Poivrons Rouges. I avoid eating the leaves on top but their influence continues. Tastes heavily of vegetables. Great aftertaste though.

Eveil du Palais, Creme de persil, beignet d'escargots. Pea soup, sort of. Salty, in a sumptuous, cofortable way. Tempura snails. Sounds gross. It isn't. I am warmed and pleased in equal measure by the soup. No wonder this guy's got 3 Michelin stars. The food is deep subtle. You let it enter into your body and become one with it.

An excellent wine, whatever it is.

Queue de Homard, Salade d'Herbes Facon Brasserie Parisienne. Lobster with croutons. My first bite of the croutons is so good I don't want to swallow, just savour the lemony juices in the croutons endlessly. Then I try the lobster. It is the best lobster I've ever eaten, better even than at the classic Ottawa French restaurant Signatures (reviewed in Oct. 06 on this blog) It doesn't give up its lobsterness to become something else, like Signatures' lobster lasagna did. Lots of strong flavours, but they work as a union, not against one another. The wine pairing I find too sweet after the lemony croutons. I would have thought capers would overwhelm the taste of lobster but not at all in this dish. While munching on the lobster, I feel like Descartes, discovering a new philosophy.

Filet de Merou au Champagne Brut et Pousses d'Epinard. Truffle-soaked grouper. I'm told this fish was chosen because it soaks up truffles best. Champagny noodles. While I'm eating this fish, I'm thinking, this is too good. Nothing should taste this good. It alters reality too profoundly. And I thought the fish I ate recently at L20 in Chicago could not be beaten. This is only the 2nd time I've had grouper. The first time was in Dallas in 05, when this blog began. That was fantastic. Lime based sauce. This champagne sauce blows that superb lime sauce away. When I think French cooking, I think sauces. But you need great ingredients and inspiration. No lack here.

The server told me I was one of the first to make a reservation for the feast, so was given a seat with a view of outside. Why would I want to look outside?
Actually, the wine you see her pouring for me is for the unpictured Caille Carcie au Foie Gras, Sauce Pinot Noir et Cotelette de Caribou, Compote de Racines de Gingembre. I tried to eat the squab, but was not successful. The caribou was just gamey, even with a good red wine. It also vanishes from my plate, uneaten. I hope Caribou Barbi dissappears just as quickly.

Feuillete aud Figues, Sirop d'Erable au The Parfume Parfair Glace, Griottines au Kirsh, en Coquille de Chocolat Bitter. There was plum sorbet before this as a palate cleanser. Too many sweets for me but vastly superior to the caribou-squab debacle. I'll forget them easily. The lobster and grouper will live in my memory as long as I remember anything.


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