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Excellent Citronelle Dinner

James G | Nov 19, 2004 03:19 PM

On Tuesday night I went to a Smithsonian RAP-organized dinner at Citronelle to mark the publication of Thomas Keller's new cookbook, Bouchon. The meal was prepared by Michel Richard, and was attended by Keller and the chef of Bouchon (whose name I cannot recall). They made several speeches, discussed the restaurants (including Per Se, in NYC), signed copies of the book, and answered questions. But the main thing was the meal, all the dishes of which were included in the cookbook.

To start we had an assortment of preserved dishes that were served family-style, in large bowls or containers that each table shared. These consisted of tapenade, an oliveade, salmon rillette, and rabbit rillette with prunes, all served with slices of baguettes, and all excellent (particularly the rabbit).

Then they served a butternut squash soup with nutmeg creme fraiche and deep fried sage leaves, which was really densely flavored and rich, and everyone sopped up the remnants in their bowls with bread, it was so good.

The main course was a lamb tenderloin with roasted winter vegetables, and while it was very tender and tasty, it was a bit less intensely flavored than I might have preferred. However it was served with a red wine blend called "Modicum" that Keller has made specially for the French Laundry out of a wide variety of grapes, chiefly Cabernet Sauvignon. Amazing!!

The dessert was a stupendous Valhrona chocolate mousse cake, served on a hazelnut pastry square. Very interesting presentation, and one that Keller himself said he had not envisaged (apparently it was a Michel Richard interpretation of the recipe). I will have to try this myself when I make the dish at home.

For my first visit to Citronelle this was truly special; now to find an excuse (and a wealthy client!) to go there again!

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