An option to order three half dishes, cheese and dessert might have offered a wider view of Ducasse's cooking, but we ordered a simple meal of two courses and dessert. In retrospect, this was so unlike our normal inclination, but I suspect it was very much a reaction to our dissatisfaction with small dishes and tastings earlier in this trip.
In addition to some canapés, we were brought an amuse bouche of what we believe was a sort of warm molded savory soft meringue sitting in a bit of lemony sauce. There was a parmesan tuille on top and some herring roe scattered about. Inside was a warm thick egg yolk. We love a good egg in a fine restaurant. This was about the most exquisite egg we've seen. We were fully prepared to rave about this egg for some time to come had our plan not been upset by our the art and craft of our ordered courses, which were of such a high order as to make us re-evaluate the language with which we, or others, have used to describe fine food in the past.
To share this meal, you will have to imagine Gibiers à plumes de Sologne en chaude et froide. The froide arrived as five cubes of meat, each about an inch and a half on a side, in the form of a long low slice of terrine. On both flanks of a central block of dark gamy breast meat, there was foie gras "breaded" with minced truffles on four sides. At the ends were white breast cubes--perhaps pheasant or some other less gamy bird. As the meats were all very moist and the dish devoid of all fat save for the foie gras, and as the breast meats all seemed to have been cut from the center of the breast, I have no idea how this was cooked or assembled, except to say it was done with great expertise. Although as often as not, our dishes appeared devoted to the eye, it became clear that taste was the objective in each dish. By the way, as if my cold meats were not enough, the chaude arrived as a bowl of consommé with a julienne of feathered game and a raw egg yolk.
Esilda had a half order of Tartufi de Alba et foie gras de canard en ravioli which was really not so small a portion of a very rich dish. Comfort food for the very self indulgent.
France has many things to offer in the fall, but game is among the real treats and I continued with Chevreuil en noisette, réduction d'une poivrade relevée de genièvre. How very modest not to mention the still life of roots and fruits, and all sort of vegetable, fruit and fungus glowing in autumnal tones under a glaze of that réduction. At first glance I though it all too much to eat and not sure all were appealing, although I have a wider range of taste for fruit with game, but the fruits were deceptively tart and the vegetables deceptively luscious. Each seemed a counterpoint to one chosen before and try as I might, I couldn't make a bad combination of choices. Before I knew it, I had devoured most of the garnish and forgotten about the meat. Surely the cusinière who plated my dish had spent more time arranging the colors and forms than I spent eating them.
My dish was beautiful, but had a rustic woodsy character. Esilda's Agneau du Limousin, façon tian à la "Parisienne was a hard edge construction looking more like a pastry than a savory course. A perfect rectangle of overlapping rosé slices of lamb loin, each offset from the one under it by little more than the eighth inch thickness of the slice, reposed on a bed of finely diced eggplant, tomato, minced black olives, and finally spinach, each in it's own distinct layer. A lamb reduction with black olives and garlic was added at the table. The garlic was pungent and overwhelming if more than a dab of sauce was used for each bite.
We chose dessert at the beginning of the meal. I had a melange of stuffed and spiced exotic fruits with banana-coconut and lime sorbets. It was very much what I wanted at the end of the meal. I found it a balance of sweetness with a bit of crisp acidity and spice. Much like my main course garnish, I found each bite offered a treat. I particularly remember a slice of ripe mango folded over a spiced puree of fruit that might well have passed for a raviole. Esilda found her hazelnut variations--crunchy, mellow and iced, more of a chocolate desert than she expected.