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Archive for May, 2006

Montrachet (near Beaune / Chagny, France) – Snail Kings

After our Lameloise dinner, we stopped off at Montrachet a few miles down the road (twice in 2 days) on the way back to Beaune. The 2001 Michelin guide gave it 1 star but it’s apparently lost it since. Supposedly it’s glory days are behind it. Perhaps, but their local soil is among the best in the world – this is reflected in the wine of the region and its delicious snails.

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Les Ambassadeurs (Paris) – Master Cook on a Leash?

I went into Les Ambassadeurs expecting great ingredients prepared in a more classical fashion. The chef used to cook at Alain Ducasse and this restaurant has received accolades from the best Paris critics. After the disappointment of Ducasse, i had hoped Les Ambassadeurs could at least show me what made Ducasse so famous.

1. Beet Juice
Slightly carbonated, very intense beet flavor w/ the right amount of acidity (remember, i am no fan of beets.) Excellent.

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Lameloise (Chagny, France) – Solid Country Meal

A few hours south of Paris lies Chagny, a small neighboring village to the larger Beaune. It’s quite hard to reach on your first day of learning French directions (they use villages instead of road numbers.) The village is full of old buildings but lying across from the city center is the majestic looking Lameloise. It’s a hotel/restaurant (as most French places seem to be) that had an industrial 19th century vibe.

I was expecting straight-forward food, quality ingredients, and solid cooking.

1. Shooter of Tomato, Olives, & Leeks
The amuse – blend it all together – nothing new but the leeks (or licorice) shine through a bit. Good.

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L’Arpege (Paris) – The Vegetable King

L’Arpege is considered to be the king of vegetables. He has his own coveted garden where vegetables are grown to his bio-dynamic specifications. He stopped cooking meat for awhile but, presumably, economics forced him to put meat back onto his menu. We came expecting the best vegetables in the world.

1. Jean Yves Butter
The butter deserves very special mention – this was ridiculously good butter. It was served as a bright orange lump that secreted salt water. Its richness resembled a cheese more than the tasteless butter we’re served in the States. The butter comes from Brittany where the cows graze in salt water marshes all summer. This is not your typical French butter which has been very good so far on this trip – this stuff is absolutely amazing!

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Alain Ducasse (Paris) – Time for a New King

The King of Michelin Stars – he has 3 3-star restaurants in Paris, Monaco, and New York. While we weren’t expecting the most contemporary cuisine, we were expecting a cuisine based on the very best ingredients. A chef of Ducasse’s caliber should have preferential access to the best ingredient in town; his chefs should be perfectly trained; and the cuisine, which may be ‘dull’ in this day and age, should be flawlessly executed.

1. Langoustine w/ Cavair & Lemon Creme
The langoustine was cut into 4 pieces, topped w/ the caviar. Very fresh langoustines, perfectly cooked, that had a slight salty burst. The lemon tempered the saltiness and brightened it up just a touch. A promising start – nothing groundbreaking but very good.

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