{Paris Part 8: The most impressive meal of my life…}

The day had finally arrived.. my birthday!

Where does one go on their special day when in Paris… no.. not here..

..here! The restaurant gastronomique inside the 5 star luxury Hotel Le Bristol, my most anticipated part of the entire trip. The 3 Michelin star restaurant is under the supervision of Eric Frechon, winner of the 1993 Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best French Handicraftsman) award for culinary art. One of the top honours a chef can receive in France..and it’s only awarded every four years..

*Side note: I had mentioned in a previous post I had watched a movie called “Pastry Kings” at the Calgary International Film Festival where the chefs were competing for the same honour. A great movie if you love the sugar, chocolate and pastry arts.

Btw, you know you’re at one of the top hotels in Paris when all the cars parked in front are no less than $500,000 each! The boy said one of the Maybach’s we saw was worth over a million dollars.. geez louise..

..when we walked through the doors, i felt like we had entered another era… a really grandiose place..we walked over to the Winter dining room (open from October 1st to April 30th)

“an oval room that seats about 50 people and was, in the XIXth century, Jules de Castellane’s private theatre. It is adorned with magnificent Regency hand-carved woodworking in Hungarian oak. Its glass roof is highlighted with gold leaf, and set off by panels painted by Gustave-Louis Jaulmes that festooned the Pleyel room of the Chaillot palace. A magnificent XVIIIth century tapestry from the Lille Manufacture completes the decor, which is also complemented by crystal chandeliers and a unique game table by Trehern.” – Source

The hostess promptly greeted us and took our jackets and led us to our table in the center of the dining room..the interior was very warm, inviting and extravagant with its dark wood, rich tapestries and beautiful artwork…our table even had a fancy miniature chair by my seat which I was told was for my purse….

When you first arrive, a champagne cart rolls up to your tableside filled with a large selection of different bubblies on in a huge silver tub of ice. We declined since we learned our lesson at Le Bernadin (our champagnes were almost $30 a glass..yikes). A short moment later we were presented their seasonal winter menu…Me being the keener I am already knew what we were getting – the 3 course seasonal menu (a fixed price of 85 euros in case you’re wondering)

*Side note: the boy’s menu had prices and mine did not which I had read about before – because apparently the last thing a girl should worry about is the price of her meal…

There are about 80 staff members in the kitchen and another 13 in the dining room. One of our favourite people…the man with the bread basket featuring homemade breads that are baked three times a day…I started off with bread twist made with caramlized shallots…chewy, dense and a perfect way to wet my palate…

..here is our pre-pre appetizer…like a work of modern art, no? Starting from the left to right: a warm smoked foie gras custard topped with a layer of chilled asparagus green gelee, served in an egg shaped cup.. next a paper-thin translecent rectangle of seasoned dried pineapple and a mystery wafer lollipop (sorry, our first server spoke really quickly and his accent was really strong), the third was a green pea ravioli with mint which just burst in your mouth releasing the full flavour of fresh peas in liquid form…marvelous…

…so creamy and decadent with a really light-as-air mousse texture..

….it looked a giant freshly shucked pea…when you bit down on the thin shell, it was like a burst of summer in your mouth..

..next I chose a decorative seeded baton…a crunchy and lovely nutty aroma..

…this is THE BEST butter I’ve ever had…stamped with their signature “B” contained in a beautiful antique silver dish..

Side note: in Paris, butter is typically not served with bread at most establishments with exception to gastronomic restaurants. Perhaps this could also be why French are typically not fat…

..our Amuse Bouche – a cauliflower puree and whipped smoked haddock atop a layer of hibiscus gelee..the texture was like eating spoonfuls of fluffy white clouds, I loved how it contrasted with the crunchy freeze-dried bits on top, red onion and the floral hibiscus at the bottom..

…the boy’s bread, a classic mini baguette – I loved the pointy edges..

..my first course arrived – a rectangle terrine of preserved duck foie gras with four spices, topped with a layer of blackberry jam and green apple gelee and served with a side of warm toasted brioche toasts..oh my gooodnessss….melt in your mouth creamy rich buttery texture balanced with the tart sweetness of the jam and crunchy crisp wedges of apple on top…divine..

the boy’s was equally impressive – a marinated salmon bed topped with oysters from Normandy rolled inside thinly sliced cucumber seasoned with sesame and nori and topped with some sort of foam…a gorgeous presentation – so fresh and luxurious..

..another piece of bread for the boy..(the bread guy came over to us between EVERY course..)

Next was our main course, I had the seabass served atop a bed of spinich, topped with a almond tuile and a caper bery, red pepper and onion sauce..

The boy had the spit-roasted wood pigeon served with a red onion and almond compote and cute little chanterelle mushrooms.

The boy’s favourite cart came for a visit.. the CHEESE CART – with a large selection of fine French seasonal cheese and preserves (apricots and figs). We went with an assortment of soft, hard and really aged…the dark orange one in the corner was my fave for sure..

..the boy loves his stinky blues..

…the boy ate A LOT of bread..haha

Our pre-dessert or palate cleaners – A quenelle of grapefruit-Campari sorbet atop a hibsicus soup and topped with a meringue twig. A very refreshing course with the perfect balance of bitterness to sweetness, we couldn’t eat this one fast enough..

Next up, our actual dessert, the boy had the snowball of litchis, iced meringue perfumed with rose, pear and lemon. I started laughing when the server brought this out.. such a feminine looking dessert for a man..The dessert was served atop a large glass platter that had sugared rose petals and flakes of gold both inside the platter and on top. The meringue ball was super floral and citrusy, the boy’s favourite dessert are fruit sorbets – so it was a match made in heaven. I stole a bite and a petal…so fragrant and beautiful..

For my dessert – A Madagascar chocolate biscuit formed in an origami shape, dusted with gold, filled with iced coconut milk, then topped at the last-minute with hot chocolate elixir right at the table..oh..dear.. me…I’ve officially entered chocolate enlightenment..one of my favourite combos ever – chocolate and coconut.. This dessert was unbelievable! The contrast of the warm chocolate sauce and cold ice coconut milk sorbet made me wanting MORE!

Next was MY favourite cart – the CANDY cart – lined with large jars filled with freshly made caramels and other confections.. I went with a chocolate macaron and a raspberry ginger macaron (best macaron of the trip!), a snippet of pistachio marshmallow that was cut off a long strip with a fancy pair of scissors, a piece of almond nougat and a mango passionfruit caramel..

..the boy had the same caramel, a dark caramel with hazelnuts, a prailine milk chocolate square and a piece of pistachio marshmallow..

I saved the caramel to eat back at the hotel later that night since I was so stuffed..oh my goodness, unlike any caramel I’ve had, the mango and passionfruit really made this soft and chewy bite special…I only wish I had taken the server’s suggestion of taking more 😦

Overall, this was the best meal me and boy have ever had and worth every penny it cost (the second being Le Bernadin in NYC). Our 3 course lunch was really more like a 10 course and the service was impeccable. Each server was equally fluent in French and English and were extremely courteous and pleasant, no snobby attitude here. The main dishes were served with a silver dish topper which was lifted in unison like you see in the movies. They also sauced both our dishes at the exact same time, just like a perfectly orchestrated symphony, timing is everything.

The chef himself, Eric Frechon even came at  the end of our meal to come and ask how our meal was. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity.. and he was wearing the signature tri coloured collar of those who have won the honour of the MOF. Definitely one of the most memorable meals of my life. I could not ask for a better birthday, there is no place in the world I’d rather be right now..

Comments
6 Responses to “{Paris Part 8: The most impressive meal of my life…}”
  1. Merry120 says:

    That looks AMAZING. What a great way to celebrate your birthday!

  2. Babygirl says:

    Oh I LOVE a candy cart.. this looks absolutely amazing.

  3. Leah says:

    omg. so good. this was a riveting food journey, glad it was the BEST! for your Birthday 🙂

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