Feb 2, '07

Arpege – in love with vegetables again

Vegetables
A tray of vegetables

I’ll go straight to my point… I am not a big fan of vegetables. I know… When you do modelling and you are so skinny, everybody thinks that all that you do is stay on diet all your life and eat salad leaves… But not me… I have never been on diet and I barely ever eat salads and, if I am skinny its only thanks to the great genes of my parents… I like to eat “real food” if you know what I mean… If I do buy vegetables in grocery stores though is just because I feel guilty … And, very often, they end up staying in my fridge and eventually are thrown out…

So probably this is the reason why for years I hesitated to go to Alain Passard’s Arpege, awarded with three Michelin stars since years and famous for serving only vegetables… This restaurant almost became mystical for me as some of my friends who dined in Arpege adored it, but some were telling “horror stories” how they got served simple beetroot for more than €50  with no any special cooking, sauce, anything…

Arpege
Arpege

Even if I heard that Arpege was a tiny place, I got the table the same day I called. It’s quite strange for a restaurant that has three Michelin stars, but well, “maybe nobody likes vegetables after all and rather enjoy their “hachis parmentier” with black truffles in “Apicius”? These were my thoughts before the dinner…

Also, I found it very strange that Arpege has no “voiturier”… Again, probably the only restaurant of such level in Paris who leaves their clients to search desperately for a parking place in an area where is basically impossible to park a car. (Arpege faces Musée Rodin and there are plenty of the governmental buildings around…) Oh, well… Enough of complaining… I was going to eat in one of the best restaurants in the world after all…

But my worries didn’t finish even when we got the menus… I was not that much in a mood for meat that night and the menu had very little choices…  There were only two seafood choices (turbot and lobster) and lobster with truffles, so, somehow, it was a very easy choice to make…  Turbot is my favourite fish and, in fact, I don’t like lobsters so much… (Tasteless, “chewy” meat…) My friend and I decided to share two entrees and then take one turbot each. 

My worries relieved when the food started to arrive… The cooking of Alain Passard is excellent… In the images below…

  • The very first image is the tray of vegetables that was shown to all the guests. Kind of “a lesson about vegetables”. All the vegetables are grown in the garden of Alain Passard… They grow 40 tones of vegetables per year.
  • The classics of  Alain Passard’s…  Amuse-bouche “Egg with maple syrup and Xeres vinegar”. Simple, ordinary taste, but good. I don’t like eggs, so it didn’t impress me…
  • “Onions gratin with black truffles and Parmigiano Reggiano”… A very thin layer of gratinated onions, topped with shaved black truffles… The dish was nothing genius, but you could feel the high quality of the products…
  • “Beetroot with 12 years old balsamic vinegar”… The following two images are all about beetroot… The first image is the demonstration of where the beetroot was cooked. The second image is of the dish itself. It was something new for me as I never eat beetroots and it was the first time ever I had a yellow beetroot… The cooking was perfect and was going well with the acidity of the balsamic vinegar…  Also, it was the most expensive beetroot I have ever eaten… €56  for a simply cooked and sliced beetroot… Can you imagine the margin for this dish?
  • Amuse-bouche.. “Fine ravioles with truffles, “consommé végétal”… Delicious…
  • “Wild turbot from Bretagne, mustard from Orleans” The next two images are all about turbot…  The demonstration of the fish which was slowly cooked for many hours… And the dish itself… It was the best turbot I have ever had in my life… And the carrots were the best carrots I ate in my life…
  • “Ille flottante moka-mélisse”, milk caramel”..  The dessert…

It was an excellent, memorable dinner, a real culinary experience… Everything was flawless – the delicious food, the entertaining service… What I found disturbing is the price of that beetroot though… Pricewise, Arpege is probably not more expensive than Guy Savoy or Alain Ducasse, but that beetroot made the overpricing so obvious… As you don’t need to have the huge talent to cook a beetroot… It was baked in the most simple way and served in the most simple way also…  What is more, it is grown in Alain Passard’s garden so he even didn’t need to ship it from another continent or something that would justify the price… 

Egg
Egg with maple syrup and Xeres vinegar
Onions gratin with black truffles
Onions gratin with black truffles and Parmigiano Reggiano
Beetroot
Beetroot with 12 years old balsamic vinegar. A demonstration of where the beetroot was cooked.
Beetroot
Beetroot with 12 years old balsamic vinegar
Ravioles
Fine ravioles with truffles, “consommé végétal”
Turbot
Wild turbot from Bretagne, mustard from Orleans. The demonstration of the fish which was slowly cooked for many hours.
Turbot
Wild turbot from Bretagne, mustard from Orleans
"Ille flottante moka-mélisse",
“Ille flottante moka-mélisse”, milk caramel
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