Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lunch Chez Catherine

I had lunch at Chez Catherine, a restaurant recommended by Clotilde, and of course run by a namesake of my daughter. I should have taken pictures of the food, but I'm still too self-conscious to whip out the camera when every dish comes. Unlike the U.S., there aren't that many female chefs in France.

Since black truffles are in season, I started with the salade de mâche et St. Jaques aux Truffes (mâche and scallop salad with shaved truffles). The scallops were raw and sliced thin. The mâche had a subtle dressing, and there were enough truffle slices that they didn't feel like a garnish. This dish was sublime.

For a main course I had carre d'agneau de cozere rôti, caviar d'aubergine, beginet de courgette, piquillo farci a la compote de poivron vert (roasted ribs of lamb with eggplant caviar, zucchini fritter, and piquillo pepper stuffed with green pepper compote). The parts of this dish worked well together even though they seemed kind of spread out haphazardly on the plate. The lamb had a bit of a brown sauce that had a deep, rich flavor. The parsley garnish was fried until crisp, a nice touch. I drank a glass of Chinon 2003 from a producer I whose name I didn't catch.

Dacquoise noisette, ganache caramel à fleur de sel (hazelnut dacquoise with caramel/fleur de sel ganache) was absolutely amazing. Fleur de sel is,as I understand it, the salt you get when you skim foam off of ocean waves and dry it out. It often comes from Normandy. Caramel made with fleur de sel offsets the almost spicy sweetness of caramel with a slight saltiness of the fleur de sel. This was probably the heaviest use of salt I've had, but it worked well. The caramel was made into a ganache, which was layered with a crunchy layer and a layer with cake and hazelnuts. There was caramel foam also on the plate.

Decor is tastefully modern, no tablecloths. Service was pleasant and efficient. Good coffee. The prices aren't bad, 45 euros for a starter, main dish, and dessert, plus I pad the 10 euro supplement for the truffle starter.