Sunday, April 27, 2008

foam, foam, and more foam...

Feasting in Paris with mom continues…
At le Chateaubriand on Friday night the culinary revolution started by Spanish chef Fernan Adria which, among many things, made foamed food a must have dining experience, was in full effect. I thought this culinary treat (depending on your tastes) had come and gone like platform shoes but apparently I was mistaken. The chef, Inaki Aizpitarte, which is a Basque (Northern Spain) name, may even perhaps have been a student of Adria’s, but that is pure speculation. In 2007 Le Chteaubriand was ‘le resto Parisien’ for media and culture types aged 25-50. The place is still going strong as evidinced by the full house with people waiting out the door for a coveted space. The vibe of the place was pretty low-key and low attitude (happily), with a very open space, contemporary brassierie style with white tiles and wood bar. The integrity and endurance of the restaurant (it is not always easy to maintain a reputation as they have had), must stem comes from the fact that the waiters are all part owners so there is real drive to be a success. .
But back to the foam. The menu was a chef’s menu that included five courses for 40 Euros- a very decent price. The first three dishes were foam heavy. The first was a small ramakin-type dish that held foam essence of petit pois (green peas) with a nice sized oyster hidden within. It was an earthy dish which for some at the table was pleasurable but for me a bit cringy. I remembered that I am not really a lover of green peas and recalled my childhood of dinneres spent scooping them onto the floor for my dog to eat, presumably without getting caught. But the oyster was big and delicious. Next: A deconstrcuted bouillabase made cold and foamy with slices of perfectly cooked veal and small sprouts of herbs. This sounded totally weired and if you took away an expectation for warm bouilliabase à la Marseille then all went fine. En suite: the most phallic of our course was the large white asperagus laying next to a rolled up filet of lieu jaune, a flat white fish. They looked like two fraternal twins as a foamed essence of seasme rested upon them with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds. It was an all-white food experience but full of flavors that melted in your mouth. The final savory course was charcuterie. In past experiences I have not done well with this Norman dish, however at Chateaubriand the elements were refined, lightend up and fantastic. A small chunk of sausisson de strasbourg with its eerily red skin was accompagnied with stacked pate de campagne type elements with some light saurkraut and fresh cabbage. It was a great combination of salty and crunchy and fresh. The dessert course was a choice between a cheese plate which had a selection of a chevre, a type of blue, young cantal and tome de savioe, or fresh rhubarb ice cream set among juicy strawberries. All the wine here is biologique and we we shared two fabulous bottles of white whose names escape me right now, and were given a lovely digestive at the end which was a lovely mixture of anais and grenadine. Bon App.
Le Chateaubriand, 129 Avenue Parmentier. 75011. Metro Goncourt.

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