Sunday, April 28, 2013

12th April 2013: Lunch @ La Tour d'Argent.

Friday, the 12th April 2013, was the last full day in France of this trip. My old friend, the Doc, had messaged me on Facebook a couple of days earlier, recommending that I have lunch at La Tour d'Argent (15 Quai de la Tournelle 75005, Paris, France), for the ambiance and the voluminous, deep, Burgundy-focused wine list. As regards the food, he suggested we just stick with the house specialties of foie gras and the pressed duck.

I made lunch reservations for the whole family on short notice, but, since we had dinner that night scheduled at the house of friends, Catha wanted to spend the last full day in Paris doing last-minute shopping. So, it turned out to be just the boys and I for lunch - which was fine.

Kir Royale apéritifs with...
...a plate of Foie Gras & Pistachio Amuse Bouche.
The restaurant serves a kir royale that merits discussion: they actually
use decent bubbly, and...
...just the right amount of good crème de cassis, so it is bright,
and not cloyingly sweet or syrupy, unlike most others.
Some in-season Asparagus Soup to warm us up on a cold, rainy day.
I had mentioned to the kids what the Doc had recommended... we all wound up having the same things for lunch...

...starting with identical entrées of Foie Gras d'Oie des Trois Empereurs, Brioche au Beurre Salé (Goose Foie Gras of Three Emperors, with Brioche & Salted Butter). The foie gras is scooped and served like ice cream, the substantial chunks of black truffles readily visible when served. Each serving is of two generous scoops, accompanied by Sauternes Jelly & Port Jelly.

The foie maintains its integrity, but is silken and creamy. There is no trace of any veins. The truffles add a nice, refined, subtly perfumed earthiness. Good as it was, one scoop was all I could take, so the kids finished their own respective servings, then divvied up my second scoop.

Our main courses were likewise identical. Each order of the eponymous signature Caneton Tour d'Argent (Tower of Silver Duckling) is good for two persons and served two ways, so, since we were four for lunch, two orders of the signature dish were perfect. The first way is a juicy, moist, perfectly rare-to-medium rare duck breast slathered in a sauce of its own juices, champagne, and thickened/flavored with the duck's blood.

The first way comes with a side of Pommes Soufflés (Potato Puffs).
Since my shot was back-lit, here is Lorenzo's shot of his serving.

The second way the duck is served is a confit of the duck legs in a lighter, though still rich, sauce of its juices. It was just ok; and I could certainly live without it. Later on, Doc told me that his second way was a crisp-fried confited leg served as it is usually served back in Manila (which he prefers).

Since Mauro's birthday was in a few days (and he & Lorenzo would be busy with summer classes in college when we got back home), I had ordered a birthyear wine for him: 1993 d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Champans - When I ordered it, the very friendly and charming sommelier smiled and said: "I know you know Champans because you choose d'Angerville." 1993 also happens to be a pretty good year for red Burgundy. I mentioned to the sommelier the reason for my choice of this particular year, to which he nodded and replied: "I understand why you choose the vintage."

The wine was lovely. Nice depth and complexity, with the notes of ceps, sous bois, and wistful, sadly-sweet Burgundy decay and discreet iron & sanguine suggestions woven seamlessly in its soft, pliant dark fruit. Halfway between medium to full-bodied, the acidity is precise, and notably less torrefactive and over-ripe than their vintage 1990 (which I like a lot anyway).

It was also good to be able to have this as I had, a few weeks earlier, placed an order of a few bottles of this in HK through fellow wino/good friend/drinking buddy, Alex Tiu.

My dessert was Citron, Meringue, Sablé à l'huille d'Olive ( Lemon
Meringue with Olive Oil Shortbread). Excellent.
Joaqi's was the Palet Chocolat Tour d'Argent, Crème Glacée
au Pain Grillé
(Tower of Silver Chocolate Puck
with Ice Cream andToast).
Lorenzo's was Soufflé Caramel, Fruits Exotiques au Jus de
(Caramel Soufflé with Exotic Fruits in
Lemongrass Juice).
Mauro's was Poire Vie Parisienne (Parisian Life Pear).
Top view of Mauro's pear dessert.
Lorenzo actually was to meet up with some friends that afternoon, and, since lunch was running long (already around 3pm when the desserts were served), he was already late. Thus, he quickly downed his soufflé and left...

...the eye-catching friandises to the remaining three of us.
Too bad, as these chocolate petits-fours were particularly good.

As we were about to leave, the sommelier gave Mauro an envelope which, upon opening, we saw contained a card with our bottle of red's label on it, because it was a birthyear wine.

I must say that, even though La Tour d'Argent currently has "only" 1 Michelin star (having had 3 for decades), its impeccable service is virtually unrivaled, its food good, the wine list stunning, the ambiance and view of the city captivating. For these reasons, I can easily think of quite a few Michelin-starred restaurants (from one to three) that I would prefer La Tour d'Argent over any day of the week. Thanks, Doc, for making me finally eat here, as well as the recommended dishes.

~ oOo ~

Since it was raining quite hard when we left, we hopped into a cab back to the apartment. Lorenzo was still out with his friends and Catha was back from shopping. Since Mauro wanted to change and return to the Louvre, I accompanied him there, but just hung out in my nearby usual spot in the Tuileries - having my double espressos, smokes, taking in the cold weather and the scenery.

That evening, I suffered a bout of crise de foie, i.e., indigestion which the French call/attribute to a "crisis of the liver", so I begged off dinner at Jean-Marc & Caroline's - all the rich meals over the past 3 weeks catching up with me, no doubt. I myself didn't eat that night, but did venture out to accompany the two college boys for a very late dinner and drinks (around 10pm) at Les Garçons (79 rue du Cherche-Midi 75006 Paris, France), a simple café-bar filled with young locals, barely 150 meters down our street. I just had some cognac to ease my discomfort. The boys had the tartare de boeuf, magret de canard, some beers, and some single malt, but I was in no mood to take any photos.

~ oOo ~


So, with that ends my series of posts on the subject trip. We were homeward bound early evening of the following day, Saturday, the 13th April 2013. By noontime, we were on the way to CDG, where we checked in our luggage, went through immigration, and whiled away the hours shopping in the duty-free stores and surfing the web.

A couple of final notes, though: food and drinks at CDG are dismal at best. One would think a major Parisian airport would have halfway-decent (by Parisian standards) food/drink outlets - even past immigration.

As it was, I had to deal with a better-off-forgotten jambon au fromage sandwich and the above lousy, watery, commercial adjunct Italian beer for merienda. Bleah. Let's not even talk about the airplane food on the long flight home.

Upon our eventual arrival back in Manila, all I had left were the memories of the crisp, cold weather and the unforgettable past 3 weeks in France with Catha and the boys. Well, a couple of large boxes of assorted Ladurée Macarons did somewhat mitigate the merciless heat and humidity of Manila's summer. Until the next.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

11th April 2013: Lunch @ Café Angelina & Dinner @ Aux Lyonnais par Alain Ducasse.

Thursday, the 11th April 2013, the strike at the Musée du Louvre was finally over, so the kids finally got to go there. I stayed at the apartment again and would meet up with them for a late lunch. A little past 1pm, Catha sent me a text message saying the kids already asked to have lunch, so I walked to the Louvre, met up with them, and we walked over to Café Angelina (226 rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris, France).

Café Angelina has been around forever,  so most everyone knows about it, its deservedly famous hot chocolate, pastries, etc. It is not to be missed when one is in Paris, and Catha & I never do. I understand Café Angelina now has branches in the USA and elsewhere, and, one can now even order their hot chocolate mix online. Cool.

Since I had made reservations for that night's dinner at Alain Ducasse's Aux Lyonnais, I suggested that everyone stick to the lighter side of lunch.

Mauro's Black Truffle Omelette w/ Salad.
Catha & Joaqi had an order each of the Foie Gras Terrine.

I had the Avocat Salade - "avocat" is French "avocado", but it also means "lawyer" - so, of course, I had it (para healthy). Great salad. It did have a moderately sized slab of foie gras, so I gave more than half of it to the kids. I had a glass of basic bourgogne blanc to wash it down.

Lorenzo decided to forego the savories and went straight to dessert...
..washing it down with the signature
Hot Chocolate.
Once our light lunch was done, we moved on to dessert.
My Tarte Citron.
Joaqi's chosen desserts.
Catha's Napoleon-esque Mille-feuille.
Mauro & Lorenzo got assorted Macarons... their chosen flavors.
Naturally, we all had the signature Hot Chocolate.

Loved the lunch.

After lunch, Catha and Mauro headed back to the Louvre, and Lorenzo went off on his own shopping for clothes. Joaqi had had enough of the museum, and wanted to ride the Batobus around Paris. Of course, I took him for the ride he wanted.

My son's smile made it more than worth the cold and effort.

~ oOo ~

 At around 5:45pm, Catha messaged me that she and Mauro were finishing up in the Louvre so Joaqi and I headed back to meet them at my usual hangout in the Tuileries. I called Lorenzo, who was, by then, back in the apartment, and he said he'd just take the Metro and meet us at the restaurant by 7:45pm.

Aux Lyonnais par Alain Ducasse (32 rue St-Marc 75002, Paris, France) is a very old bistro. Back in 1890, the structure was used to store coal, then wood, then wine. In 1914, the Fouet family (who owned it at the time) decided to open the room facing the street to present their wines to the public. Daniel Violet, known for his passion for the cuisine of Lyon, eventually took over and, by after WWII, turned it into, reputedly, the hottest spot in Paris. In 2002, Alain Ducasse, took the reins, and the rest is history.

This is another bistro that Catha & I always make a point to dine at whenever in Paris.

Bugey Cerdon for apéritifs.
Sliced baguettes served in a little sack weighed down by beads.
Everyone save Lorenzo started with the famous Oeufs Cocottes.
Personally, I find them better than those of Joël Robuchon.
The kids liked them too.
Lorenzo started with the Salad of Endives & Foie Gras...
...para healthy (kuno).

The night's white was a 2010 Marc Colin & Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Encégnières -  Like the 2008 Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Boudriotte we had at l'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (St-Germain) the night before, this was also quite tightly wound and unyielding, though to a lesser degree despite being younger. It was marginally riper though, but, again, too tight, nervous, and steely-citrusy for what I know Chassagne-Montrachet blancs to be. It really does need more time to loosen up and gain some weight. Unfortunately, our oeufs cocottes didn't help the wine any, and vice versa.

Catha's Seafood Quenelles, which she said was very nice.
Mauro & I both had the Boudin Noir. Excellent.
Lorenzo had another of the signature dishes: Foie de Veau.
Joaqi chose the night's special Boeuf Rôti, which he said was
"very ordinary".

The night's red was a 2006 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Vendanges Sélectionnées - Very nice in itself, and quite impressive for a village level Volnay. Alluring, typical nose, the fruit properly well-ripened. Good heft, but light-footed, with a silken texture on the palate. Notable purity and focus, precise acidity. Very nicely balanced. Again, for what it is, I was quite impressed; and, it went well with my boudin noir and the bit of foie de veau that Lorenzo shared with me.

For dessert, Mauro had the Coffee Cake.
Joaqi had the "Chocolate Success".
This was mine, but I forgot its name. Catha & Renzo skipped dessert.