samedi 1 septembre 2007

Ambroisie's memories

Tourte de canard sauvage -- photo

La version française est ici.

After reading one of the few existing (and with pictures) reviews of Ambroisie meals, I wanted to share my memories of a chef about whom the public knows little and the foodies discuss endlessly (see the debates on OAD or Gastroville).

I understand both the reservations and the enthusiasm. I ate three times at Pacaud, and was always hesitating between my admiration for the unparalleled perfection of the cooking and ingredients on the one hand, and the sadness, even despair, of the place, its owner, and maybe even its food.

The movie available in DVD seems to me, in that regard, right on spot. It shows both the perfection and the inconsolable sadness, leaving the impression that the little guy simply has his life on the line with every dish that goes out of his kitchen. Perfection is his salvation, his only hope. More on that idea there .

My biggest Ambroisie memories include lobster ravioli with girolles mushrooms on the day the Concorde crashed. It was so good and simple that it is hard to talk about it. The pasta was very thin and melty, the lobster firm and intense, the little girolles slightly elastic and almost sweet. The sauce I guess, was a mix of lobster broth and girolle juice reduced and buttered. One hting I find frustrating at Pacaud's is that portions aren't bigger, and also that there is not more little surprise throughout the meal, like at Savoy's, for example.Immortal Pacaud: Jerusalem artichokes, truffle, pigeon juice -- not even a recipe ! (this pictures and the nexts MobyP)

Another forever memory was poeled red berries, arlettes (thin crispy biscuits) and vanilla ice-creeam. This was positively orgasmic. I was actually that there were other people in the room, feeled like purring and srcatching the tablecloth, could barely keep my eyes open.

Another time there was the poulette gauloise (a special chicken breed) roasted, herb butter under the skin, and gnocchis "à la Parisienne". A wonderfully tasty little chicken, perfectly cooked and seasoned, evenly browned, the breast white and shiny, the thighs flavourful, firm and tender. The gnocchis, melty and potato-y, in a sauce, that would be a Béchamel, only it was good.
C'est qui le pigeon maintenant?

Some say that a roast chicken is only a roast chicken, that you can get a good one in simple good bistrots. They should try this chicken (they can't anymore , alas, taste Benoit Guichard's in Jamin).

The poulette, of course, was long to cook, so they offered some vegetables cooked in white wine -- almost nothing: only that feeling that I never had zucchini in my life before (and yet...), fruity and melty, yet crunchy. There was also some tapenade -- that olive based paste: I don't like that. But I did.
In my opinion, if the crazy prices of three-star restaurants were ever justified, it is in l'Ambroisie. This is a unique food experience, and I don't believe that you can have the same for less. To be honest, I believ it would cost the same if I tried to do it myself. Yet it is expensive, and there is no prix fixe menu (chocolat tart, photo lxt).

Actually, the name of the restaurant should be taken seriously: Ambrosia, nectar of the gods. Pacaud works for eternity, seeking, and actually sometimes reaching, the perfection that will end our wandering search. There is something religious in this quest of the potential of raw, natural ingredients: that's how it is done. The perfect poularde demi-deuil exists: I met it and I will make it happen for you tonight.The "Feuilleté belle humeur": A whole truffle cut in two like a bun, a thick slice of foie gras inside, puff pastry around it, truffle sauce underneath. Amen.

See also the post about the best Parisian restaurants there.

2 commentaires:

Sophie François a dit…

Merci pour ce reportage qui me rappelle une fois de plus qu'un jour je casserai peut-être ma tirelire pour goûter ces délices.

S Lloyd a dit…

L'Ambroisie (along with Ledoyen) is the only other 3* Parisian table that I haven't tried yet. Looking forward to fill that gap. I heard that the "Feuilleté belle humeur" is still served there, but the other dish of theirs that I was looking for (tourte au canard) seems to not appear on their menus anymore