Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (London) – 16 October 2013
To celebrate the first anniversary of Life of a Travel Czar, I will be reblogging some of my first posts from this time last year. Plus I am also in the process of changing most Pages on the website into Posts for consistency! This is one of them.
I have booked a lovely dinner at Alain Ducasse, but arrive early and have to settle for a quick cocktail at the bar before dinner.
I then proceed into the amazing dining room. The Dorchester is full of history and glamour, however I don’t care for that, I am more focused on the culinary expertise of one a particular French Chef, who first caught my attention on a visit to Monaco back in 2006. The restaurant does some amazing French cuisine with fresh produce from UK and France. It stays true to Alain’s motto ““The product is the only truth”.
I have a quick chat to the sommelier and manager of the restaurant, before settling on the tasting menu. I am provided with lovely Goujons.
Then we move onto to amuse bouche. A Crayfish velout é, delicate royale paired with a simply amazing glass of champagne. The dish is amazing, the sweetness of the champagne and the richness of the lobster is a match made in heaven.
Then the more substantial courses arrive. There is the Foie gras and “Burgaud” Duck terrine, pickled muscat Hamburg grapes. It is paired with a New Zealand wine from the Pyramid Valley wine, the Marlborough Riesling from Rose Vineyard (2009). The freshness and acidity of the wine go with the creamy, rich, soft and fatty nature of terrine. The chalky texture of the Terrine and the punch of the strong gamey duck meat pieces combine to make this the quintessential tasting experience.
Then we move onto the “Sauté gourmand” of Lobster and truffled chicken quenelles. The homemade semolina pasta is cooked el dente. The firm pasta and soft tender lobster are the perfect match from a texture perspective. To pair the dish there is wine from Austria. The fruitiness, light acidity and of course minerality of wine match perfectly with the lobster. Kampital,Gruner Veltliner Lama (2011) from Schloss Gobelsburg.
Then we move onto the hand-dived Sea Scallops, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes and salsify. The scallops were flown in from North of Scotland and are simply divine. In fact I finish them before realising I haven’t taken a photo of them. (Yes, that’s right look outside your windows and check the world hasn’t ended, Travel Czar had a meal and did not take a photo of it). It is paired with a lovely Chablis (2008) from Chateau de Beru. A wonderful vineyard might I add, the soil is full of fossilized oyster shells and clay – you get the picture this wine is all about minerality.
Then we move to the beautiful fillet of Denbighshire Venison, pumpkin and cranberries. It was paired with Roso di Montalcino (2011). Now the Venison, is how it’s meant to be, rare with fresh gamey, earthy and sweet taste. The Sangiovese grapes provide mild tannins to cut through the muscle type associated with game meat with the right level of floral characteristics to add that little sparkle you need.
Then the tasting menu draws to a close with an assortment of four French cheeses, country bread and condiments. The wine for the cheese is interesting. Initially when the sommelier noted that they had chosen a wine to match four different cheeses (bear in mind one was a sheep milk cheese), I rolled my eyes in disbelief. However the wine has a mix of oxidisation, minerality and a saltiness in the after taste which actually pairs exquisitely with each of the cheese tastings.
Summer Berries and Mascarpone contemporary vacherin. The dessert is paired with a Jurancon Marie Kattalin (Domaine de Souch 2011). Although it is my least favourite dish, I think soufflés should be added to every tasting menu for dessert, but I will hope off my soap box. Notably the citrus (exotic fruits) and freshness in the wine really balance the sweetness in the dessert. I still think the dessert is just a little too sweet.
I am provided with some macaroons and rare chocolates which are divine, but I am well and truly wasted by the amount of wine and food consumed on the night. I excuse myself and make my way for the exit. I feel complete.