Thursday, December 15, 2011

A restaurateur's personal menu [by André Terrail, guest contributor]

Throughout many interviews with all sorts of personalities, I've discovered that the seemingly harmless question, "What would your last meal on earth be?" can reveal so much more to a person's character, history and desires than the query let's on.

I've recently had the pleasure of getting to know and eventually interviewing André Terrail, the third generation owner of the famed La Tour D'Argent in Paris and Tokyo.  Our video interview with the gentleman is currently being edited, so look out for the final piece next week.  In the meantime, it's my pleasure to present him as today's guest contributor.

Upcoming video interview:
Victoria Cheng, Gastronommy & André Terrail, La Tour D'Argent Paris


André contributes a piece answering the question, "What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country?" It's been said that the young 31-year old can be a bit guarded when you first meet him (more on that in later articles), but I've learned that when it comes to his passions, you'll see Mr. Terrail's dark eyes grow wide with expression as he comes to life, sincere and full of excitement.  And here, through this narrative about his ideal menu, he somewhat unwittingly reveals the elegance of his palate, his adoration for France, a penchant for romantic tradition, and perhaps even a little more.

Here is his piece, with the original French text below.  If you are a gastronome, you may find yourself wishing you could be hosted by the man himself after this - he does have a natural grace for hospitality after all.  Rest assured, you can have the experience at his restaurant in Paris.

- Victoria, Gastronommy

Introducing France
by André Terrail


France is a land of plenty, so being a restaurant owner, there lies a happiness in this country that I cannot find anywhere else. Throughout the year, the diversity of the climate, the good earth and the seas enable exceptional artisans--from the cooks to the sommeliers-- proffer everything to delight us. In France, the cuisine follows the seasons.  And if you’re in luck, it is June, the month of bounty.  So, as a preamble to your new home, over the course of a meal this summer, come with me to discover the land of fine food and wine.

While the sun sets later in the evening, I suggest, over cocktails, some cockles and clams straight from the north, the coast of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, lightly sautéed in butter and dusted with parsley -- to be eaten with your fingers, for etiquette must bow to hedonism. To rouse our taste buds, let us seek out a light champagne, not too saccharine, a blanc de blancs, the 2000 vintage from the house of Selosse, a fine and confidential establishment.

For the appetizer, a half lobster is the perfect choice, the blue lobster of Brittany, of course!  And since a fine product must be exalted, keep it simple -- grilled over a wood fire, basted with a little olive oil and served with a few wild golden chanterelle mushrooms.  Voilà, you’ll find a savoury harmony of aromas, bringing together notes of the sea with the underbrush of the forest. Together with this beautiful crustacean, I will serve a Chassagne-Montrachet, a white Burgundy, from the House of Jadot, and, let us indulge, a 1996.

For the main course there is Challans duckling from Western France, whose protected designation of origin guarantees an extraordinary quality. It will be magnificent with cherries and Darphin potatoes, sautéed then baked with butter. To accompany this dish, let us head to the Atlantic coast to choose a fine Bordeaux. A Cheval Blanc 2000, for example, will transport us to paradise. 

For dessert, allow me to suggest a mille-feuille of wild strawberries served with whipped cream as light as a cloud. For the wine, let us wind up our small tour of France with an Alsace Gewurztraminer from Zind Humbrecht, a noble family establishment. The wine has a touch of sweetness, and I assure you, a 2005 vintage will not disappoint.

And so there you have a very pleasant dinner, but no matter the quality of the dishes and the wine, nothing counts more than the conviviality amongst your guests, for in France life revolves around the table.

In French (original):
La France est un pays de cocagne, le restaurateur que je suis y trouve son bonheur comme nulle part ailleurs. La diversité des climats, des terres et des mers permettent à des artisans exceptionnels de fournir toute l’année au cuisinier et au sommelier de quoi nous enchanter. En France la cuisine suit la saison et vous avez de la chance, nous sommes en juin, le mois de l’abondance. Alors, en guise de préambule à votre établissement et sur le thème d’un repas, découvrez avec moi le pays de la gourmandise.

Alors que le soleil se couche tard je vous propose en guise d’apéritif quelques coques et palourdes des côtes du Nord-Pas-de-Calais, juste revenues au beurre et saupoudrées de persil, à manger avec les doigts car l’étiquette doit plier devant l’hédonisme. Pour éveiller nos papilles, cherchons un champagne léger, peu dosé, un blanc de blancs, millésime 2000 de chez Selosse, une jolie maison confidentielle.

En entrée un demi-homard sera parfait, bleu de Bretagne bien sûre ! Et puisqu’un bon produit doit surtout être sublimé, restons simple - grillé au feu de bois, arrosé d’un peu d’huile d’olive et accompagné de quelques girolles  - voilà une belle concentration d’arômes, mariant pleine-mer et sous-bois… Je servirai avec ce bel homme un Chassagne-Montrachet, vin blanc de Bourgogne, de la maison Jadot et de 96 soyons fous !

Comme plat, un caneton de Challans, appellation contrôlée de l’Ouest de la France qui garantit un produit hors normes. Avec des cerises et des pommes Darphin au beurre ce sera magnifique. Pour l’accompagner rejoignons la côte Atlantique et choisissons un beau Bordeaux, un Cheval Blanc 2000 par exemple nous amènera au paradis.

En dessert je vous suggère un mille-feuille aux fraises des bois, avec une crème fouettée légère comme un nuage. Comme vin terminons notre petit tour de France  avec un Gewurztraminer d’Alsace de chez Zind Humbrecht, noble maison familiale. C’est un vin légèrement sucré, sur un millésime comme 2005 vous ne serez pas déçus. 

Voilà un bien sympathique dîner, mais quelqu’en soit la qualité des mets et des vins, rien ne sera aussi important que vos convives, car en France c’est à table que l’on vit.

- André Terrail

La Tour D'Argent
15, quai de la Tournelle
75005 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 43 54 23 31
http://www.latourdargent.com

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