Vegetable Bouillabesse and a Dinner date with mon Cheri

Remember I promise you a week ago about this romantic "tete à tete" dinner with hubby. Well we finally succeeded in getting a reservation last night to this two starred Michelin restaurant. And I'm warning you this is the first time for me to eat in such classy gastronomic restaurant who's regulars are celebrities (French that is), local politicians, well-off old couples and some food lovers who saved their hard earned money or probably just a lucky couple who received a gourmet check as a farewell gift from some generous colleagues. We fall on that last category of course.

The restaurant is bewithchingly situated at the foot of the famous Les Baux de Provence. Imagine this, a castle and fortress that is spectacularly set a top a rocky hill of the Alpilles mountain overlooking the beautiful Provence. We arrived at the restaurant around 8 in the evening with a temperature of minus three degrees outside. Fleeing the nippy weather with a high heeled shoes wasn't reallly practical specialy if one wants to adore the charming garden of the restaurant. All I remember was that I made a small reflection when I saw a flock of swan swimming comfortably in a Siberian like pond. "How the hell do they do that?" Even the fountain was half frozen. Anyways, it was such a refuge to enter in the warm lobby of the hotel leading to the restaurant. The decoration was sober, nice and clean sans too much frou frou. The table was solely decorated with a long stemmed white rose, the cutleries were not even placed. They were actually dressing our table and bringing in the silver cutleries for every service. I must admit that I have never seen so much people attending to us. The manager brought us to our table chatted with us for few minutes to make us comfortable and propose to bring us a glass of champagne. Then another guy came and brought us the menu card. I'll save you the delicious "blah blah" he made explaining every course. We chose our dishes then came the "wine specialist" holding the wine menu card and then goes our wine orders.

Now are you ready for the real spectacle?

The first set of our amuse-bouches were brought on the table. It started with green olives fait maison (home-made). I brine my olives but I have never tasted anything like that before it was really good and the color was bright bright green. Interesting! Next was a long rectangular plate of three mini-amuse bouche. There was a ginger spice cracker topped with beet root gelée, a spoon of creamy tapenade and black radish stuffed with tuna rillette. They were all beautiful to look at. These three bite-size goodness of different texture was really amazing. After few minutes another girl came with a small verrine of very cold nutty like cream with bubbling concoction on the top. I didn't get the name, hubby told me they were ancient vegetables very commonly used during the Middle ages but is now rarely seen in the market. It was my favorite it was really astonishing how the low temperature of the soup brought a completely different taste.
Then came our first entrée; A velvety like creamy soup of pumpkin with bruscheta of onion confit and slices of fresh black Truffles. What was interesting was how dramatically artistically it was brought on our table; first the semi-concave plate adorned with a bruschetta lightly buttered topped with some onion confit and cream chantilly then after came another serveur to pour delicately the creamy pumpkin soup. Every spoon was really comforting.

The next service was the fish plate. It was red tuna perfectly grilled à la plancha served in the bed of vegetable tagliatelle and bits of Parma ham accompanied with a sauce of balsamic and red wine reduction. I rarely eat fish but this was really good!

The third service was our meat dish, it was a classic lamb dish braised tenderly in red wine, tomatoes and black olives. The meat was accompanied by a creamy polenta in parmesan. The dish was really good but I must admit I regreted for not choosing the other dish proposed by the Chef for it was less traditional.

Of course we needed some pause...... but then few minutes later the serveur arrived with a cart of cheese of all types and of all sizes you could imagine. My special favorite was the creamy fresh goat cheese with fig. Really really good! They have special toasts of raisin bread (pain au raisin) to accompany the cheese that I would really like to know the recipe :-)

Before we had our dessert the serveur came again with a small verrine glass of cream of passion fruit topped with a spuma of coconut cream. This wasnt part of the dessert this was just something to make us busy while waiting for the chef to prepare our dessert.

The grand finale was naturally a chocolate dessert. It was a three layered dessert of three chocolates of different taste and temparature. It was served in an aquarium like glass were in the first layer was an intense chocolate soft biscuit topped with a warm dark bitter chocolate and a very cold mousse of chocolate au lait. There was a praline of hazelnuts on the top of it and scoop of dulche de leche ice-cream beautifully adorned with a long thin piece of black chocolate. If heaven had taste I'm sure it was close to this :-)

We had some coffee and then "again" the serveur brought us a plate of mini mignardises (sweet stuffs) there was Rosemary creme brulée (an interesting taste), Raspberry madeleine and strawberry sablé (biscuit).

It was an amazing delicious night.Verdict; considering the price, this is something we will do again once a year unless some rich kindhearted fellow will offer it for us "again"!

Vegetable Bouillabesse
for 6 persons

Bouillabesse is a traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the city port of Marseille.

1 liter of fish stock (about a kilo of fish carcasses)
1 celery chopped
1 carrot
1 onion
1 fennel
one cup of chopped pumpkin
2 tablespoons of Pastis (anis based liquor)
Some boiled vegetables of your choice: broccoli, potatoes, carrots, etc
some olive oil

In a large casserole put your fish stock, celery, carrot, onion, fennel and chopped pumpkin. Bring them to boil. Pass them all together in a mixer and strain. Put it back in casserole, add your pastis, olive oil, salt and pepper and boiled vegetables. Bring to boil. Serve with some croutons.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful soup! So delicious looking!

What a great date!



Bellini Valli said...

Such a special night. You deserve to be spoiled.

pigpigscorner said...

Sounds like a great meal! It's always nice to be pampered every now and then =) The soup looks great!

♥peachkins♥ said...

fantastic looking soup!

noobcook said...

sounds like you had a great gastronomic experience! I like the look of your soup :)