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lizziee

L'Arnsbourg

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Robert, you are the only one, so far, whose eating memories go back that far.

Denis turned out some miraculous dishes, things whose equal I have never tasted since- altho at this date I havent the faintest memory of what they were.I remember also that his prices were absolutely astronomical.

I take it you never sampled Chez Garin on the left bank. Garin was magnificent. In his case I do remember his signature dish: trout souflee. Nothing like it ever.And not expensive. He moved to Toulouse and then disapperared. a pity.

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I suppose I'm not really a true member since I prefer to remain anonymous, but I have dined at both Chez Denis and at Chez Garin.

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My eating memories probably go back to the same decade as yours. Alas my dining memories, especially on that plane, are another story.

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Pirate!!! welcome to the old-timers club!

Do you remember Garin's truite souffle?

Why are you remaining anonymous? Are you a celebrity??

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Pirate, please excuse the oversight. I didn't go to Chez Garin, but I remember Monsieur Jamin talkng about it. When did he close in Paris? How about La Camelia in Bougival, outside of Paris? I was there in 1977 with the guy who introduced us to Chez Denis. The chef, Jean Delavayne was a genuine cult figure of modern dining at the time. Jacques Maniere was a clt guy I missed. He had Doudin-Bouffant, but left for Valence before I could get there.

I will post some info. on Chez Denis from the above-mentioned book. Meanwhile I am dying to know what happened to Claude Mornay? Oh yes, did anyone ever have both the trout souffle of Garin and the "souffle de barbue" of Alain Chapel? It would be interesting to know how similar they were.


Edited by robert brown (log)

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OK Bux, you are right to distinguish between eating memories and dining memories from that decade.

Since you dont possess the latter, you are right to disqualify yourself from our(slowly) growing club:)

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I dined twice at Alain Chapel but never saw any souffle of barbue on the menu. I would have grabbed for it if I had.

Bux, I sent a short post but for some reason it didnt get printed so this is a repeat. You are right to distinguish between memories of eating and memories of dining in that decade.Since you dont possess the latter, you are disqualified from our (slowly) growing group of old-timers:)

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to CyN:

I'm not a celebrity . Yes I had the truite soufflee ( the trout flesh removed and mixed with pike(?) and stuffed back to resemble the original trout) at Chez Garin and thought it was good. The odd point was the raisin. It reminded me of the cuisine of Walterspiel in his restaurant at the Vierjahrzeiten in Munich. The extensive use of fruit was prevalent. Something like today's use of fruit with foie gras. How I long for foie gras truff\'e. with some champagne, the most calming food I can think of. Garin left Paris and opened a restaurant Le Lingousto in Sollies (near Toulon not Toulouse) He died from a concussion from falling down a flight of stairs in a drunken stupor. I was not impressed with Chez Denis. I ate there prior to the NYTimes publicity. One of his famous dishes was a parfait de ris de veau truff\'e which when I had it was unbearably salty. For Michelin addicts, Chez Denis never got more than one star and Chez Garin never got more than two stars.

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Pirate, I recall that Denis absented himself from the Michelin. In fact, the Raubady book shows an 18/20 from Michelin in either the 1975 or 1976 Guide (the book was published in 1976) and states that he is not in the Michelin or Guide Bottin. My wife and I had the ris de veau Denis which we thought was sensational. Of course we were wet behind the ears in terms of that level of dining, although I ate well as a kid in visits to New York and decently in Europe before then. I don't remember the dish, which I had at least twice, being overwhelmed by salt, though the "langue ecarlat" (tongue turned scarlet from soaking in brine) used in making the dish may have been the cause. Chapel's "souffle de barbue" was more like a normal souffle but ethereal and gossamer, as I recall, served with a sauce of vermouth. Keep dueling, Pirate.

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CyN, I may not have been clear, but my eating goes back to the thirties, if just barely--my memories of eating go back to the early mid forties, I suppose. My first trip to France was in '59 or '60 and it was followed by several more trips in the the mid sixties with my wife at various budget points. I don't recall exactly when we actually first dined in a starred restaurant--we missed both Point and Dumaine by a year or two, but that was all followed by an absence of about 15 years. We ate quite well in the seventies, but at home and in Chinatown.

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To Robert Brown

The 1970 Guide Michelin gave Chez Denis one star and that's when I ate there. !970 was my first year in Europe but I was already spoiled by excellent food at Perino's in LA and at La Caravelle in NYC .You mention ris de veau Denis but that could be a different dish from the Parfait. My favorite ris de veau dishes are Ris de Veau Mar\'echal (classic Escoffier) and Ris de Veau Grandmere where the lobe is studded with tongue and truffles and braised.

I was born with a very low crap tolerence level.

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Which side of the family did you get it from? Seriously, Pirate, the ris de veau Denis seems a lot like ris de veau grandmere. My book describes it as "Braised in Madeira, studded with truffles and scralet tongue and heightened with butter". Later I'll run through the canard sauvage Denis which was sensational. Are you in the food business or a dedicated amateur?

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Pirate, your memory for details is astonishing. Thanks for the informative and authoritative post.

Bux, your disqualification is rescinded and and you are now an official member of the old-timers club:)

Robert, of course you are a charter member.

Anyone else?

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Robert Brown

I have no connection with any part the food business. My appreciation of food and wine is strictly as an amateur.

In Fernand Point's book "Ma Gastonomie" Winston Churchill's expression (translated to French) is quoted: "Je ne suis pas difficile, je me contente de ce qu'il y a de meilleur". That expression sums up my attitude and makes me very critical. By the way Point has no recipes for foie gras with fruit. I am also a great admirer of Edouard Nignon through his books "Eloges de la Cuisine Francaise" and "Les Plaisirs de la Table"

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My wife and I will be dining at L'Arnsbourg on July 23. Any suggestions from people who have been there recently would be much appreciated. (I promise a full report upon our return!) Many thanks.

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hey! what a find! i was just about to go to l'arnsburg and stumbled onto your posting....

un grand problem - je suis sans auto... i have to rely solely on train and foot - is it still doable?

would love some advice...

ciao.

u.e.

We have just returned from a 23 day "eating" trip to France. I have over 130 pages of notes and rather than go through all of it at once, I thought it would be best to either add up-to-date tasting notes on to previous posts or start a new thread if there wasn't an old one.

L'Arnsbourg was such a highlight that I thought it deserved to be mentioned first.

L'Arnsbourg was just awarded its third Michelin star in March.  I immediately added it to our itinerary even though it was an-out-of-the-way stop.

Finding L'Arnsbourg in Untermuhlthal provided a major navigational challenge.  It does not exist on the map.  All you know is that it is attached to Baerenthal.  If you blink your eye, you will miss the sign to Baerenthal and be lost on some D route to nowhere.

When you manage to see the sign you are directed to a tiny one lane road in the middle of a forest with no signage, no houses, no cows, just trees and more trees.  All of a sudden a house appears in the middle of a clearing - this is the restaurant.

By now you have to be asking, Is it worth it?

A resounding YES!!!

The room is breath-taking.  Huge picture windows provide 360 degree visibility of fields and woods.  A small stream meanders underneath the restaurant.  The ceiling is paneled in a light blond oak with tiny recessed lights.  The color scheme is white--starched white linens with a white Berber rug, clear contemporary style water glasses, sparkling crystal wine glasses and a stylish clear glass bud vase containing one white orchid on each table.

The effect is pristine, elegant and inviting. 

With the champagne we were served 3 amuse.

1. a small tart with tomatoes and basil

2.  a roasted watermelon in a balsamic vinegar reduction served on a tooth pick--a first for us--hot watermelon - delicious.

3.  roasted pepitas with a hint of sugar

Florence (the host) asked in French if we wanted her to use French or English for explanations of the cuisine.  She asked in a most charming, warm way which we soon realized is the standard style of all employees at L'Arnsbourg.  There is not one hint of snobbery or big shot-itis  in this newest Michelin Three Star.

Florence agreed on French unless I looked befuddled and then the explanation would move to English.  Florence could not have been more gracious, friendly and willing to explain everything so we would get the maximum pleasure from our first visit.

We decided on the Discovery Menu at 100 euros (about $ 100 each).  This was one of the best values we have seen at a 3 star on this trip.

When Florence saw that I was starting to take notes, she quickly got a copy of the menu explaining that it would be easier.  Throughout the meal she periodically checked my notes to make sure I was getting it right.

After the first 3 amuse, a surprise amuse was presented on a spoon--a slice of roasted celery in a balsamic vinegar glaze to be eaten in one bite. 

We were still not ready to start the menu as 4 more amuse arrived.  The four were presented on a dark wooden board set vertically pointing at the diner --Florence's instructions--eat the one nearest you first--work your way up.

1. herring in a light olive oil vinaigrette in a small white square dish

2. a foie gras cold mousse in a tiny cup

3 a parmesan crisp sandwich with parmesan mousse filling

4. a plump oyster in a shallot/balsamic reduction sauce presented in its shell on a bed of rock salt.

1st course -Chartreuse de Homard a la Tomato Confite--chartreuse does not refer to the liqueur but to a composed dish in alternating colored layers.  On a large glass plate we received perfect pieces of lobster interspersed with tomato pieces that resembled sun- dried tomato more than a confit.  All was presented with a light lemon oil vinaigrette.  At the front of the plate a triangle of toast acted as the buttress to a larger piece of shaved parmesan cheese. 

On the side of the dish a small plastic pipette (eye dropper) was presented with extra oil to be added to the dish if you wanted it - an El Bulli type touch, but in this case totally reasonable and certainly not impractical--it did not reek of the Veyrat syringe either just a sort of neat way to present some extra oil - clever.

2nd course--a perfectly grilled rouget with balsamic vinegar reduction and basil oil on a bed of mashed potatoes that tasted as if they had been strained (a la baby food).  The balsamic and basil had been painted on the plate. Wonderful.

3rd course--on another large glass plate there were 4" x 4" squares of red topped by sprinkles of green.  This was a type of terrine -the bottom layer, lightly roasted still crunchy watermelon, small diced grape tomatoes with finely minced chiffonnaded  basil .  Also on the plate was a balsamic reduction.

4th course--black truffles and potatoes --this is a signature dish.

In a shallow bowl there were mashed potatoes made with olive oil not butter.  The potatoes were topped with a bit of potato foam.  Then a topping of sliced black truffles made the dish look like the most deluxe potatoes anna you have ever seen--finally a touch of sel de mar on the very top.

When Florence removed my husband's absolutely clean plate she laughed and said, "I bet you would like another?" She was reading his mind.

5th course--a small demi-tasse cup of a cappuccino of small peas with a bit of olive oil and fennel topped with finely grated bittersweet chocolate that looked like nutmeg.

The dish worked unlike Veyrat's dish with the walnut-sized hunk of chocolate. (I will report on our Veyrat meal in another thread. Enough to say here that it was less than satisfying).  The dish was perfectly balanced without the mixture of sweet + savory.  There was no sweetness at all.  Wonderful--different, but it worked.

6th course--canon de pigeon releue au wasabi, legumes aux epices--2 pieces of pigeon meat, sliced thick.  It was seasoned with wasabi and topped by a small thin stripe of wasabi and lemon zest.

The sauce was a glazed caramel reduction with a hint of cacoa.

The chef presented 4 turned vegetables--carrot, celery, beet and one mystery green one that I could not identify.

The dish was absolutely wonderful, the wasabi was not over powering, but it certainly woke up your palate.

This was definitely one of the best "new type" dishes we had on the trip.  This is the kind of culinary innovation we would like to experience regularly instead of some of the way out stuff for the sake of inventiveness without regard to taste.

7th course--they called it Invitation to Discovery.

This was great fun and an example of the great creativity that must have been one of the reasons for Michelin awarding the 3rd star to a small, totally out of the way restaurant that is 3rd generation of a local family.

On 4 small white plates, there was a series of little presentations--7 tests of your palate.

Other diners were not playing --but, I can never resist a challenge.  We did not do too badly and Florence certainly enjoyed teasing us and playing along.

1. a rectangular pastry--my guess was a snickerdoodle -- one for us.

2.  a red square with a dot of sugar - rose water and tomato--one for the house.

3.  a round mound - peanut butter (2 for us)

4. a melon wrapped in a gelee on a toothpick - cantaloupe which we got with white chocolate and a honey gelee which we did not get - 2 for the house--tie game.

5-a small tart--lemon meringue pie (3 for us)

6. a square white mound with a bit of crunched almond - recognized the gelatin and sugar but didn't identify it correctly as marshmallow - tie again. 

7.  another small tart=apple brown betty - right!  4 for us.

What fun - a very good idea.

The history of the Klein family is fascinating.  The grandmother started the restaurant.  Her daughter received the first Michelin Star. In the current generation the kitchen role has been taken over by the son, and his sister, Kathy, is in the front of the house.

There are some restaurant experiences that are fun with interesting, innovative, eatable food.  L'Arnsbourg is at the top of the list.  The addition of personable, friendly, highly professional staff with ambiance that is breath-taking made L'Arnsbourg a wonderful, rewarding experience.

The only negative, if it can be called a negative, is that basically the restaurant could be anywhere in the world--New York, Paris, San Francisco.

This is not a regional Alsatian restaurant or a French Restaurant.  It is an international restaurant and a must for all serious diners. The only problem is the need for a GPS and hopefully an attached inn.

Wines:

98 Beaune, Clos des Mouches, Drouhin which drank perfectly--crisp, clean and well matched to Chef Klein's food.

94 Clos Vougeot, Georges Mungeret--very nice--again well matched.  Burgundy is, in my opinion, the wine of choice with this food.  Making the choice again and with enough budget, I might pick a bit bigger wine, but the 94 Clos Vougeot was good.

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i'm travelling to strasbourg and hope to make a side-trip to l'arnsbourg. i read your stunning review. i know it's been a couple of years, but have you heard anything - good/bad about the klein's recently?

also, unfortunately, i will be sans auto... limited to train and foot. do you think it would still be possible to visit l'arnsbourg? :unsure:

u.e.

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i'm travelling to strasbourg and hope to make a side-trip to l'arnsbourg.  i read your stunning review.  i know it's been a couple of years, but have you heard anything - good/bad about the klein's recently?

also, unfortunately, i will be sans auto... limited to train and foot.  do you think it would still be possible to visit l'arnsbourg? :unsure:

u.e.

I was there this past summer for the first time. As for the food, you need not have any hesitations. This is culinary creativity at an almost musical/philosophical level, and if you can get there, you must.

Which leads me to your second question. Without a car I believe it would be impossible. The restaurant is located in a very rural area, in the middle of a meadow, off a long and winding forest road. But I'm sure you could hire a cab in Bitche or another one of the nearby towns. At any rate, I recommend doing whatever you can to get there. You won't regret it.

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glad to see the recognition awarded

chef klein spent several days with us in el bulli 99

complete gentleman and professional

some of the menu touches sound a bit bulliesque of that era

but whose dont these days

hats off

definitely vaut le voyage

salut chef

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i'm travelling to strasbourg and hope to make a side-trip to l'arnsbourg.  i read your stunning review.  i know it's been a couple of years, but have you heard anything - good/bad about the klein's recently?

also, unfortunately, i will be sans auto... limited to train and foot.  do you think it would still be possible to visit l'arnsbourg? :unsure:

u.e.

I would email Cathy Klein (arnsbourg@relaischateaux.com; her English is excellent, incidentally) to see what she would recommend. If memory serves, it's about 50 minutes or so from Strasbourg, although we became lost at least once. We stayed at a nearby inn, about two kilometres from the restaurant, that they had recommended.

In many ways, we found it the anti-three star: light-filled, contemporary, lovely views of the meadows and with service and food equally unstuffy. Further, the kitchens were huge and modern, and the pricing less than many of its peers.

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Sounds like my kind of place... any idea how much a taxi ride would cost from the nearest train station, NIEDERBRONN LES BAINS?

In many ways, we found it the anti-three star: light-filled, contemporary, lovely views of the meadows and  with service and food equally unstuffy. Further, the kitchens were huge and modern, and the pricing less than many of its peers.

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A friend of mine who lives in Baerenthal (just 4km from L'Arnsbourg) has told me that Chef Klein has opened up a small intimate luxury "hotel" at the restaurant so people like me don't have to go through the extreme lengths of getting to and from the far-flung restaurant!

u.e.

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It is, of course, nice not to have to travel after eating. But you have to get to the hotel first...

Charley

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Yes, it is called Hotel K, 12 chambers and suites, tel 00 33 3 87 06 50 85. I got an email recently from them saying it had opened. I got on their email list after making reservations and dining there in December.

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Since Iam thinking about travelling to visit L'Arnsbourg within the next weeks, I would be very interested to read what Ulterior Epicure thought about the experience.

U.E.: I have seen that you ranked it as your nr. 1 meal of 2005, could you elaborate on that?

Because I have seen your pictures at flickr - great pictures and Iam very much into "experimental cuisine", but honestly those dishes didn't look that interesting (or "daring") to me, if not downright unappealing (the "vanilla-scrambled-egg" for example rather looked like a creme brulee gone bad...).

Thanks alot!

kai

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