113991881491163627

france: such great heights

i dunno why it never occurred to me to head to points further north in france, instead of always going the côte d’azur/provence route. the route through the hautes-alpes offers equally lovely vistas.

lac d’annecy, early morning, taken from a lakeside bench in a tiny village on the southwest tip of the lake. i’ve got the camera in one hand and a freshly baked lardon quiche in the other. bliss — save for the subzero temperatures.

lac d’annecy, from annecy ville. (not pictured: thousands of families milling about lakeside with children and dogs in tow. swans swanning about and viciously snatching bread crumbs tossed by children.)

annecy, vieille ville.

for lunch, we went out to clos des sens, a one-star michelin establishment in annecy-le-vieux, up above annecy proper. they do several prix fixe options here, which make a lot of economic sense if you take a look at the à la carte menu. we did the €70 prix fixe menu découvert. they’ve not yet managed to send me the menu, so cut me some slack on the dish descriptions i’ve cobbled together from my rusty french and the servers’ perfunctory explanations (they were very nice otherwise).

amuse-bouche: beef broth (with veg brunoise), gelled celery cubes, carrot ice, and tomato chip (buried in a little cup of sesame seeds in the background). the broth was underseasoned, the cubes not really memorable and the carrot ice just plain weird. we liked the tomato chip though.

deconstructed tartiflette: the house specialty. a very traditional savoyard dish, tartiflette is a very light and healthy combination of sliced potatoes, onions, butter, cream and reblochon cheese that’s baked in the oven. in this version: onion ice cream with a little onion chip, a pastry tuile cone with a scoop of reblochon and a lardon chip on top, and a paper-thin potato chip in the back (with a parsley leaf in the center).

foie gras with apples (overlaid on top) and smoked lake fish (trout?) with a wine reduction sauce.

crab cake and seafood bisque. there’s a shot glass of a mushroomy-seafoody broth as well that’s not pictured. unfortunately this dish was inedibly salty. the bisque is the tan grainy stuff — so grainy, in fact, that it had a texture remarkably like sand. and did i mention it was salty? they were rather perturbed that i didn’t manage to eat mine, so they brought out some oysters with a celery gelée to make up for it.

and the oytsers were fine. (good enough, even, that i forgot to take photos.) but this dish made up for the crappy crab: perfectly perfectly cooked prawns with mushroom liquid-injected pillow. revelatory, this one.

lamb chops, perfectly cooked, with a vegetable brik/bisteeya (i can never remember the difference) thing. the table next to us got some amazing looking roasted lamb shoulder instead of our chops, but these were pretty damn good.

fourme d’ambert with hot and cold pear. the cheese is toasted on layered pastry. the pear disc is hot, the pear sauce cold.

walnut granité with candied walnuts on top.

lemony white chocolate cake (more a creamy, fluffy dense mousse or light cheesecake texture) with some kind of sponge cake layer on top. chocolate sorbet.

mignardises: a very strange foam and custard combo with extremely off-putting colors (i think the orange is ginger-flavored, the green i have no idea), pâte de fruits (no idea what flavor. it tasted red and was cloyingly sweet), serviceable caramel sheets and excellent chocolates (that might have had some kind of nut- (hazelnut?) flavored ganache inside.

we loved the wee clothespins.

one of the most beautiful cheese boards ever. mostly regional: you can see the rectangular slab of beaufort (one of my favorites right now) halfway back, some tomme de savoie, reblochon, etc. there’s some vacherin mont d’or back there, and the rest i don’t know. they’ve got a cave downstairs, and all the cheese has been extraordinarily well cared for.

a peek into the kitchen.

for dinner, we went to le vertumne, a more modest restaurant in the center of annecy. they do great food here with a much more manageable price point than clos des sens. the amuse here: a sort of quenelle-like fish cake made from rascasse.

i had the pigeonneau three ways: confited leg, sûpreme and a little pigeon liver flan. mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage. delicious.

on our way back, we passed through the alps, just on the other side of where they’ve got the olympics. the mountains are packed with skiiers and snowboarders right now, and i can’t blame them.

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1 Response to “113991881491163627”


  1. 1 daisy February 15, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    that pigeon, three ways, looked fantastic.

    but my oh my, those cheeses. you’re a very lucky girl.


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