Monday, October 12, 2009

Culinary Paradise at L'Idylle

At the farmer's market every Saturday I cross Emmanuel Charretier, the owner and chef at L'Idylle. We visit the same merchants. We buy many of the same products. However, after going through the culinary experience that Emmanuel and his kind wife provided us with, I will no longer be able to look at the market in the same light.

My girlfriend and I decided that we would treat ourselves and go for the full Idylle experience; the dégustation menu with wine pairing. Now it's true that unless you've got heavy pockets, this is only something you can permit yourself on a yearly basis. But is it ever worth it!

The meal started off with a mise en bouche which consisted of a soft mousse of red pepper with a delicious little bit of lobster on top. This was paired with a light rosé which, we were told, would remind you of southern France.

The second course, was a marinated sole filet, crunchy on one side and slightly raw on the other. Along with this were pearls of raspberry vinegar, carrot oil, and a lemon gelé. The textures were perfect and the tastes were subtle but exquisite. A white wine complimented the dish beautifully.

What came next was truly a fall dish. Once again paired with a white wine, we were served pan cooked oysters from Shippagan with hazelnut oil and Jerusalem artichoke cream. The oysters were perfectly cooked and the little layer of nutty hazelnut oil which surrounded them was excellent with the rich but not too rich Jerusalem artichoke cream.

Next came one of my favourite dishes of the meal. Homemade ravioli stuffed with buffalo marrow and foie gras sitting on top of wild chanterelles mushrooms. The stuffing was absolutely exquisite. And it goes without saying that the chanterelles were the pure embodiement of autumn. For some reason, I can't remember the wine for this particular dish.

The next dish was truly beautiful for me because of its Pino Noir pairing. The wine smelled lightly of butterscotch but was a clean drinking. The aroma complimented beautifully the sesame crusted scallop which sat on top of a green tomato marmalade which bathed in some sort of sweet sauce underneath a green foam. This really struck it home that wine and food were meant for one another. I'd never experienced that before.

Main courses finished with a rich dish of veal sweetbread on risotto along with a drizzling of an orange reduction. Sangre de Toro, a full bodied red, was the accompanying wine. Now I love offal. My girlfriend, not so much. Especially after I'd asked our waitress where the sweetbread was sittuated. She also gave us the medical name: thyroid gland. This didn't turn me off. It was a wonderfully rich dish. And I also got to finish my girlfriend's sweetbread. Bonus.

After main courses came the end of the wine but the arrival of coffee. The trend I seem to be noticing is that more and more places offer you an allongé instead of percolated coffee nowadays. The coffee came along with the cheese dish. This was a simple chèvre brie from Au Fond des Bois on top of homemade apple compote served with a nut bread crouton. Simple and delicious.

After the cheese course came the fruit course. I don't know what I was expecting but it surely wasn't as ornate as what we were presented with. At one end of the square plate was a ground cherry followed by a homemade vanilla icecream dollop in the middle of the plate and concluding with a small cripy tower sitting on top of more ground cherries and stuffed with a light maple cream. Under all of this was an orange flavoured syrup and a crispy wafer sat on top. Gorgeous.

The last item before the end was the chocolate course. At the bottom of the plate was my favourite thing; chocolate sauce flavoured with szechuan pepper. This, for me, almost managed to outshine the mini eclair and the chocolate ring which was filled with yet another bit of cream.

The meal ended with a mignardise. We weren't told what this was since it was apparently a surprise. What it ended up being was candied rhubarb under a rhubard mousse. This was a great pallate cleanser. Unfortunately, it signalled the end of what was undoubtabley the greatest meal I've ever had.

Emmanuel then came out to chat with us. It's absolutely fantastic to be able to appreciate him in his element. We chatted informally but I was in awe of this man's talent and of his wife's wine pairings. They take everyday items that everyone has access to and transform them into something celebratory.

If you're in the Moncton area, it would be a sin not to save your pennies and visit L'Idylle. It's an experience you're never likely to forget.

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