Is there ever really such a thing as *enough* when it comes to celebrating your birthday? I think not. And apparently our dear friends B & B, who have often figured in these pages, agree with this dictum. Months ago, darling B asked what we were going to do for my birthday. "Oh, G will take me out to dinner." And he did. "And maybe I'll have a party this year," I said, and I did.
"But let's do something else too, just the four of us," said dearest B. "I think the new Ducasse restaurant would fit the occasion." Who am I to argue with such suasion?
That's how we came to be at Adour last night. Alain Ducasse's latest project is a stunner indeed. Ruth Reichl has described the room far better than I, and I really hope she and the rest of the staff at Gourmet will forgive me for *borrowing* the images above from their website (does attribution make a difference?) I'm still phobic about photographing food in posh restaurants. I know this makes me a bad blogger, but it just really interrupts my dining experience. I have this preference for allowing myself to be overtaken by the lush environment and the lovely dinner, rather than documenting it.
The word that best described our experience at Adour is "balance," I think. Perhaps harmony, but I'll start with balance. Everything was beautifully balanced, from the perfect touch of sea salt in the olive butter that accompanied the very, very good breads, to the service -- which was comfortable, with just the right touch of put-us-at-our-ease familiarity. There was a light lacing of humor, but nary a moment's sense of intrusion. Everyone who came to our table was smoothly delighted to serve our any and every whim -- and not for a moment obsequious. It was as if we were all, served and servers, just having a very, very good time. Which we were. Well. At least we the served were, since I can't really speak for the servers. But it's fair to say that if they weren't, they put on a very good show.
Personally, there wasn't a mouthful I met at Adour that I didn't like -- and in most cases, love. From my bouche's amusement at a tiny vol-au-vent filled with molten truffled cheese (quite perfect with a flute of Dom Perignon) to the petits fours pictured below, it was an evening of simple bliss.
The stand-out was my starter. Imagine tiny round ravioli in a herbacious, truffle-laden broth. As you bite into each one, the rich filling of foie gras melts and fills you with happiness and well-being -- as do the slices of black truffle shaved generously over the top of the dish. G's starter of tiny buttery clouds of ricotta gnocchi were clearly at the very pinnacle of their game -- whatever gnocchi's game is. The normally laconic fellow that is my husband was moved to exclaim their deliciousness, especially with their partnering greens and crisped prosciutto. These were the only starters we tasted, since we're not food critics and therefore not obliged to all order different dishes. The breakdown was that the women ordered the foie gras ravioli, and the men had the gnocchi. I don't know what this says about gender, and I don't really need to know, since the one true thing was that it was all quite transcendent.
Next up, staying gender-true, B and I both had Adour's luxurious version of Lobster Thermidor -- beautifully tender small lobster tails and claw meat in a classic sauce, flavored with cognac and tarragon. The dish was accompanied by swiss chard, geometric domino slices of delicious albeit indeciferable vegetables, and a gorgeously crusted patty of lobster and mushrooms, baked in a little shell. The men were meat-eaters -- B had a rack of lamb with piquillo peppers and apricots, and a quinoa risotto, while G had venison accompanied by jewel-like carved blocks of root vegetables. With the agile help of the sommelier, G found us an excellent red that paired well with everyone's food.
Again, everything was in balance. There was precisely the right amount of sauce in everyone's dish, never overshadowing the main ingredients, but simply enhancing them. And everything was luxurious, but nothing was overly rich.
Except maybe dessert, which was a glittering event in its own right. First we had a little intermediary cheese course chosen by our most helpful and gentlemanly server, with accompaniments of red pepper jelly, acacia honeyed raisins, date paste and walnut-raisin paste. Then the stars came out, in the form of huge desserts. My chocolate sorbet, under a crust of unbelievably good dark chocolate, was graced with a large feuille of gold-leaf, drenched in a dark chocolate sauce and peppered with espresso flavored brioche buttons. It was one of the deepest, darkest, most delicious chocolate experiences I've ever had -- and I've had a few. G's apple soufflé was both gloriously pouffy and seriously apple-y -- and accompanied by a vanilla ice-cream with such an addictive vanilla perfume that the table began referring to it as vanilla crack. B's pear clafoutis (which was actually more of a pear napoleon) was everything pear -- pear pastry with balls of pear, pear ice cream, and julienne salad of pear.
I'm always a little sad when the petits fours appear. I just never have the capacity for them, and I do love sweets so very much. Which is why the servers kindly packed up a whole box of lovely macarons (filled with concentrated raspberry gelée and dark gianduja, respectively) and some chocolates for me to take home, so that I could photograph them for you on my much less lovely petits four dishes in the comfort of Chez AFIEP.
So ends another installment of the feast of love that has been my latest birthday. And according to some forecasts, even though February has waned, the celebrations have not, yet. Imagine.