Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Guy Savoy: "A Meal is a Celebration of Life."

Do foamy little plates of edible Jackson Pollack swirls and Robert Rauchenberg 3-D collages made of beet, lemon, and orange rind sound like fun to you? Then you will like new French cuisine. In Paris, Betty and Bimbo sampled the fare of French culinary artist Guy Savoy, and they can only describe this foray as unforgettable.

Savoy's food is not conventionally tasty or satisfying, but this does not mean that it is not fun to eat. Also, the service at a three Michelin star restaurant is crazy. Betty was actually hurt when she and Bimbo did not get a big wet kiss from the waiter, the host, their personal table-jester ("Hubert", who said he thought we were French but was probably lying) and the three sommeliers (wine, bread, dessert; actually, even the "bus-man" was kind of a sommalier of dirty dishes!) on their way out the door -- 3 hours after they came in for lunch!

The menu was in ten languages. The meal kicked off with toasted foie gras on a silver stick -- Betty passed, and Bimbo thought it "ehh". Next came a cup with homemade gazpacho ("that tasted like it hit a wall of oil -- yum," said Bimbo) with a tomato surprise underneath (!) the cup, and fresh seasoning on the side. Speaking of sides! Did we mention that we got two different kinds of homemade butter in pastel colored globes? And that one was sweet butter and one salted? Let's just say Betty ate a lot of butter.

After the tomato surprise, the bread sommalier came by to offer us breads from her cart based on what we had ordered (which she knew- maybe there was a mic under the table!). Over the course of the meal, we had about five different kinds of bread, and our favorite was the chestnut bread. But of course, they all tasted good -- especially with butter.

Also, Guy Savoy came out in his chef scrubs and welcomed us! He also welcomed the men at the next table who at one point were shouting about Euros and probably deciding the future of France.

Then our appetizers came out -- "canons of vegetables" -- different poached vegetables stuffed with other vegetables with an (optional) "chicken jelly" to spread around on it. The vegetables were delicious and tasted like no vegetables we have ever known - they tasted more like toys! But the chicken jelly was definitely made for chihuahuas to eat with their peanut butter.

Next came "colors of caviar" -- seven layers of different treatments of caviar; one was a green paste. Bimbo found it "delicious and sophisticated" while Betty didn't care to indulge. But she did like that it looked like a small, delicate ice cream treat.

Things took a dip when the famous asparagus and truffles soup arrived. Betty found it strained (literally *and* figuratively!). Bimbo enjoyed his lobster - baked in a sauce of dried fruit and its own coral. Earlier, Hubert had hailed this dish as "the best of the land and the best of the sea" and to Bimbo's buds, he wasn't wrong.

Betty loved her brioche with truffle butter (another butter!) that the bread sommalier prepared to go with her overhyped soup.

Next came an "amuse bouche" to prepare our palettes for "dessert." It was -- get this -- "Earl Grey ice cream" that really tasted like the tea -- including that dry-mouth aftertaste. Eerie!

Then we had a tiny little strip of what looked and tasted like proto-apple-pie. Maybe it was a strand of DNA for an apple pie to be.

Then Bimbo had cherries with sour cream ice cream -- the best part of the meal, he said. Betty had a chocolate thing with a lime powder around it that was off-putting. She could just picture the chefs dusting off lime Tostitos all over her cake in the kitchen.

We were so full at this point, but there was more. The dessert cart came at us, hard. Lemon-tinted weightless square marshmallows ("it would be such a pity to miss it" sighed the waiter), strawberry macaroons, oh! and cheese! Bimbo tried five different kinds of cheese, and by tried we mean gobbled down with gusto.

Overall, the meal was a super experience, and one we will not soon repeat. Betty's taste buds had never been so attentively brushed with such a diversity of flavors and feelings. It was like being four years old again! Remember the first time you rode in a car? It was kind of like that.

Bimbo gives the grub an "A-minus". But he admits that he is incapable of cultural commentary on the place because "it's just my idea of heaven."

Pictured: Guy Savoy, Asparagus and Truffle Soup with Parmesan and Brioche, Colors of Caviar


Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

So jealous!!! Though I have heard that Paris is kind of a culinary backwater these days and London and Spain are the places to go. Thoughts?

Nancy D., Girl Detective said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Betty & Bimbo said...

Bimbo responds: Nancy D., the short answer is yes, Paris is a culinary backwater. In my humble opinion, there is nothing in Paris in between two delicious poles. First is good and cheap -- mainly "ethnic" (primarily North African) eats -- then an abyss in the middle -- and then a handful of really supremely delicious haute French places like Guy Savoy and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. London has a variety and depth of good food, like New York, but I find the more hyped "haute" Englishy places are usually really bad. I don't know Spain, but it is definitely the capitol of "molecular gastronomy" -using science to cook a new kind of food that resembles an edible science fair project. I have yet to visit El Bulli, which is the hot restaurant for this new kind of cooking. I have had outstanding simple and delicious fish in Barcelona, though.

LadyElaineFairchild said...

I too am beyond jealous! What an amazing experience. You should be a Top Chef judge!