Saturday, August 17, 2013

JaquesReymond Restaurant (Prahran) 08/2013

Restaurants and chefs are often compared or rated but their performances are unlike events where there is a clear winner. Unlike a race where someone wins, or perhaps there is a dead heat it more like comparing dancers. Sometimes I feel it is X's tango, on another occasion Y's waltz or Z's rhumba. In any case comparisons are odious. Suffice it to say that there a bevy of outstanding chefs and, in Melbourne, we mostly know who they are.
Last week Jaques Reymond (JR) designed a wine dinner around the Burgundy wines that came from the region where he grew up. It was outstanding. 
Starting with his renowned Burgundian gougeres with old comte cheese, each one as big as your fist and light as a feather, with a pate en croute, pickles, watercress and jelly accompanied by a rugged 'Cremant de Bourgagne' the meal and the wines only got better.

La pochouse, a local specialty on this occasion made with deep sea hapuka and Burgundian flavours of sorrel, bacon, sour cream and natural cooking juices actually bears almost no resemblance to the dish it was named after. Pochouse means fisherman in an old Burgundian dialect but has now come to mean fish. The traditional fish stew is made from four fresh water fish, two lean such as pike and perch and two fat such as eel and tench or carp. Gastronomic licence I suppose. Served with a superb 1er Cru, Domaine Francois et Antoine Jabard which would be a fine accompaniment for any white fish.
 Here the hapuka had been cooked absolutely perfectly. It flaked gently showing a translucent sheen, just unbelievably good.

 Western plains pork like a petit sale, mustard, crispy bread, home made real black pudding, turmeric, carrots might name the ingredients but no way can it convey the tender juicy mouth watering dish that came to the table. Petit sale refers to a classic French preparation where pork is immersed in brine for two days, or more, before being braised and served with Puy lentils.
Two 1er cru wines came with this dish. the 1996 and 1997 Chambolle-Musigny 'Les Sentiers' Domaine Robert Graffier. I had a preference for the '97 but it is unlikely any of us will see these wines again.  
Glazed Peking duck, sweet and sour cherries, celariac in salt crust, silverbeet, a sauce salmis was yet another dish cooked, to our taste, to perfection. Salmi is a technique where a game meat iscooked and then  hen sliced and reheated in the sauce made from the juices. The breasts were remarkably delicate, tender and full of flavour. This sort of variation on a French and a Chinese dish worked extremely well. 
The wines were becoming more appealing with each course. Here two 1er cru burgundies competed for our favour. A 1998 Gevrey Chambertin 'Coeur de Roy', Domaine Bernard Dugat-Py and a 1997 Chambolle-Musigny 'Le Amoureuses' Domaine Robert Graffier. Beautifully matched to the food I could not chose between them.
I think David Blackmores wagyu paleron, (a cut from the shoulder) cured and braised for 10 hours, rich potato mousseline, embeurree of Savoy cabbage, which I think means cooked in butter, a touch of horse radish was something of a waste of wagyu since it retained nothing of the tastes and character that normally distinguish wagyu. It could as well have been beef cheek. 
We had now moved on to two 1996 Grand cru wines from Domaine Bernard Dugat-Py. A Mazy- Chambertin and a Charmes-Chambertin. Whilst these were more expensive and no doubt more exclusive I preferred the previous wines which I found to be softer and less acidic.
Warm cheeses in cherry wood and paper bark, subtle condiments were, again, totally delicious. I'm not sure the paperbark did anything for the taste but the goats cheese it contained was mouth watering 

as was the other Camembert style cheese.

Here we were provided a wine not on the menu. Was it a Grand cru, a Premier cru Jaques asked us. Opinions varied. Phillip Jones arose from his seat. It was one of his finest Pinot Noirs a special bottling Jaques Reymond Reserve.
Finally a sweet sense of Burgundy - caramelized apples, cassis, raisins, marc de Bourgogne, stinging nettles and lemon was a pleasant but unremarkable dessert,

served with a pleasant dessert wine
and a little extra
 was followed by petit fours and coffee.
This was a memorable meal served with extraordinary and very well matched wines. Phillip Jones told us that Jaques has a remarkable palate and that, in blending wines, he is able to distinguish a 2 % variation in the grapes used. It is clearly the result of this palate combined with first class training in classical French cooking and an ability to adapt flexibly to developments in cooking techniques which place him in the top rung of Australia's foremost chefs. I don't know if he could win a race but there are few that can better him as a chef.
Score:17.5 /20

No comments: