Saturday, April 14, 2012

A series of fabulous culinary events.

If I'm only allowed one glass, it's gonna be a good 'un.

My birthday dinner out was perfect. Magnifique! We went to Le Baudelaire, in the 1st Arrondisement - ie. right in the middle of Paris. Took the Metro to Concorde and briefly wandered around in the twilight, admiring fountains and scaffolding.

You know you're at some major national monument when there's fencing and scaffolding all around. Reminds me of Washington DC. Always something going on. (Never see anyone working on it though.)

Found the restaurant, a couple of streets north, and took to perusing the menus, in English and French, and amusing our waiters, no doubt, with our attempts at French. Ah well, it's good to give back. 

To begin, we had an amuse bouche. 'It is amusing.' I explained the 'Friends' reference (Chandler says this to Monica...) to Luuk while we ate - he, his raw salmon delight, and me, my spring veggies alternative.
(I think that look he's giving means, 'Are you really going to photograph every single plate of food?' To which I say, 'Why yes. Of course. But now, you may eat.')

My first taste of truffle - that little dot in the foreground. Hard to pin down what it tastes like from such a tiny morsel. Will simply have to try again. It is important to have goals in life...

My starter: Scottish scallops with hazelnuts and something. On top: a rice wafer covered with squid ink. Underneath: a chilled cauliflower soupy thing, with bits of flower and 'lemon caviar': from a tiny lemon, not a fish.

Luuk had the spring vegetables starter. 

Happy birthday to me!

For my main: chicken with crayfish and asparagus. Was amazing and tender and perfect. That is how asparagus are meant to taste.

Luuk had the roasted wild turbot, with the black olive sauce, artichoke hearts... also featured: orange, beans, and bits of flower. The seafoam-looking stuff is actually a 'citrus emulsion'.

The 'pre-dessert': a goats cheese sorbet with lime and something sweet and crumbly on top. The little pink balls are more of that 'lemon caviar' - little bursts of bitter lemon juice which go wonderfully with the sweet creamy sorbet.

Luuk ordered the goats cheese platter rather than a dessert. No taste-stealing for me this time (probably all unpasteurised...) but the jam/compote was delish :)

The piece de la resistance! Green apples dessert. Excellent choice on my part. Unfortunately dropped the camera on my plate before I managed to get a photo. That sliver of green lying across the plate was meant to be balanced across the tops of the two meringue spheres. Inside the meringue spheres: dulche de leche mousse and apple sorbet. Those green apples you see: actual green apple, scooped like with a melon baller, I suppose, cooked till just soft, but still sweet and tart and so very very yummy. They're coated in a tangy green sherbet or something similar.

A fantastic restaurant, I think; worthy of its place in the little 2012 Paris dining guide I picked up. The name did make me think of the Baudelaire orphans, heroes of 'A Series of Unfortunate Events', a fantastic and highly recommended series of young adult novels.

There was nothing unfortunate about our food, but it was definitely a series: five dishes when we ordered three. Plus bread basket. Very satisfying. Unlike each of these novels, which are impressive in their refusal to bow to mainstream narrative structure 'rules' - no happy endings here.

We did have a slightly challenging end to the evening. There was something wrong with a train, or a track, and so we couldn't take the most direct metro route home and had to find another way - an extra change of train and a traipse through Montparnasse-Bienvenue station (up and down many stairs) - but avoided Chatelet-Les-Halles, where you have to walk at least as far between trains. It's on walks like this that I realise just how pregnant I am.

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