Dinner is at an old style classic French Bistro called Josephine Chez Dumonet. This is located on the Left Bank. This means the left bank of the Seine River, the arty, university, intellectual and consequently `pink’ side of Paris – to put it in an Indian context, where the `Jholawallahs’ hang out say the JNU crowd.
This serves classic French food. You know, my tastes have changed over the years. The classic question, what would you like your last meal to be? Initially, it was probably Daal, Bhaat, Puri and a home style vegetable called Ras Batate – curried gravy potato. Then it changed to Mughlai food, Biryani and Butter chicken. Still later it became funnily enough, Roast Pork Black Bean Green Chilly, and Shantung Noodles from Lings Pavillion. For the last 6 years, it has been French food. I now sincerely believe this is the World’s greatest cuisine. Its scope, concepts, techniques and influence are sublime.
No, this was not my last meal, I have a bit to go yet, but this was the food we both really crave for. We had a 7.30 table, which is early by Parisian standards. We were the first into the restaurant. We were given a table in the inner recesses of the place near the kitchen. We have no problems with such tables, all the more fun watching the shenanigans in the kitchen.
We ordered two starters. HRH the Queen ordered Morels stuffed with minced meat. I ordered Artichokes, as they are in season now, in a simple salad. While waiting we were given an Amuse Bouche of Pumpkin Soup.
The Morels arrived, they were huge. By the way Morels are called `Guchhi’ in India, they come from Kashmir and are horribly expensive costing some INR 25,000 + per Kg. The Morels were stuffed with a mix of Veal and Pork, sautéed and sauced with a classic, intense Veal Jus. The dish was historic, brilliant. My Artichoke was more ordinary.
Main courses were absolute classics. A Duck Confit for HRH the Queen. This is absolute classic French food. Ducks which are raised for Foie Gras – the liver – legs are turned into Confit and the breasts are sold as Magret. Confit is a process where the duck leg is cooked at low temperature in duck fat and then stored in the fat. This is an excellent preservative. Then at service time the leg is heated and crisped up and served with fried potato. This is a play on textures, the shatter of the skin, the meat inside and the crisp soft of the fried potato.
My main course was Beef Bourguignon served with Parpadelle. This was truly delicious. Beef cooked to an absolute melt in mouth state with a rich red wine based sauce. Heaven. Total heaven. Bliss.
All this was washed down with a bottle of Fleurie and the constant entertainment of the chefs working in the kitchen.
Dessert was another classic – Grand Marnier Soufflé. We were given two small shots of Grand Marnier to pour into Soufflé. The Soufflé arrived in a huge lion head Onion Soup bowl. Happiness.
It’s been some time since we have eaten such good food. French food is really the best.
If you are in Paris, don’t waste time at pretentious restaurants along the Champs Elysees, just head here. I guarantee you will have a super time.