The Samovar

Girolles with hazelnut oil at Le Chiberta
September 7, 2008, 10:46 am
Filed under: Cooking, Food | Tags: , , , , ,

Last night I had dinner at Le Chiberta just off the Champs Elysées (in Paris). Had a fantastic meal – probably my nicest in Paris so far although I have a couple of rather tasty places lined up to go to before I leave. My only criticism is that it’s a little expensive and you can probably eat as well for less at other places. Some online reviews said the place had a slightly cold atmosphere, but I didn’t find that at all (although I think I was the only man there not wearing a shirt and jacket, bof!).

But what I wanted to talk about was the exceptionally clever pairings of tastes in the food because even if you’re living a long way from Paris you could try these out. For my starter, I had a sort of salad of girolles mushrooms, thin slices of artichoke, some sort of very fatty cured ham (I don’t remember the name) and hazelnut oil. An unbelievably subtle and refined set of flavours. The hazelnut oil and girolles together was an experience akin to eating truffles (and much cheaper!). I plan to do some experimenting with hazelnut oil, I think it has a lot of potential. Let me know if you have some interesting ideas or if you’ve tried some recipes with these in.

The other starter was a velouté (velvety textured light purée/soup) of green peas with a little blob of almond mousse, along with whole green peas on a slice of toasted almond bread.

My main course was lamb with a sort of ratatouille terrine (amazing) and tapenade. Delicious, but a bit more classic.

The other main course was chicken (poached and grilled, maybe sous-vide) with a gravy lightly infused with lemongrass. Surprisingly delicious combination. In our meal, the chicken was the probably rather difficult to get hold of volaille de Challans which has a very strong flavour unlike most chicken you buy in the shops (certainly stronger than any chicken I’ve ever bought), and maybe the dish wouldn’t work so well with a blander, ordinary chicken. Still though, definitely worth trying out.

My pudding was plums prepared three ways, with mirabelles, quetsches and Reine Claude plums (greengages in England).

Let me know how it went if you try out any of those ideas, particularly the hazelnut oil.

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