Trois Etoilles: Restaurant Bocuse
I’ve signed up to dine at Restaurant Bocuse at Auberge du Pont de Collonges, the trois etoilles (three Michelin star) birthplace of Nouvelle Cuisine. Jim, having lost his sense of smell and taste in one of his worst bike accidents (Would “face plant into a mountain” during the Senior Olympics then airlifted to a trauma center tell you something?), passes on the exorbitant extra expense. I, on the other hand, decide to splurge since we saved a lot of Euros opting for the practically below water line rooms on this boat. And five courses later, hands down it was a great trade off. On special occasions like this, especially having pedaled up a few steep hills today, “when in France….” in the name of cultural exchange, I allow myself certain leeway from my Buddhist vegetarian and no-alcohol vows.
First after a little mouth tickling “amuse bouche,” Bocuse and his army of white-coated culinary minions served the most heavenly something I can imagine having ever tasted. Disquieted when I learn it was fois gras, I quietly send my deep gratitude and regret to the goose who offered her liver to this gourmet indulgence, for fois gras is beyond indulgent and not particularly morally defensible. (I do this sotto vocce because gourmands do not like their gustatory pleasure rained on the least bit by Buddhist mindfulness vows.)
This gourmet excess is followed by a soupcon of transcendent lobster bisque served in a delicate ramekin, and then a pink juicy rack of lamb (more gratitude and regret to the animals who, having no choice in this menu, have given their last full measure of devotion) with exquisitely carved carrots, parsnips and fingerling potatoes (more gratitude but thankfully no regret). The finale is an airy cream puff with crème anglais atop a slippery dollop of delicate warm chocolate.
Did I mention the delightful company I enjoyed at this intimae dinner for about thirty-six devoted foodies on the trip? On my right sat a gracious English techie transplant to Silicon Valley and his wife, full of good stories about their shared cycling adventures. On my left sat a Canadian orthodontist and his psychologist wife who not only love tandeming but also race antique cars all over the world. Imagine, while on this trip, they are shopping for the car they will buy and outfit to race from Peking to Paris! Careening down switchbacks on a tandem begins to sound like petite pommes de terre (small potatoes) compared to the wild and woolly racing they do—roll bars, padding, safety harnesses, padded gloves, body armor, ejection seats, etc., all having saved their necks in one race or another. Life lesson? Just being a psychologist in no way guarantees sanity.
By the time we all stroll back in the midnight moonlight along the Soane to our boat, sated, I collapse onto our bed. Jim has been fast asleep for probably two hours.
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