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International Food & Wine Festival
September 30 - November 13, 2011
Best of Bocuse Dinner
Monday, November 7, 2011
6:30 to 10 p.m.
Bistro de Paris, France Pavilion
Review by Alice McNutt Miller
AllEars.Net Feature Writer
My family has been to Epcot's Food and Wine Festival a number of times. We have never, however, done any of the special events, sticking to the food booths, since we have kids in tow. This year, the girls are old enough to spend time on their own, so my husband and I decided to branch out and try one of the events. Not any event, mind you, but the Best of Bocuse Dinner held at the Bistro de Paris on Monday, November 7.
We entered the restaurant, and were greeted by a line-up of very formal waiters (they were very handsome, but I couldn't help the visions of the penguins from Mary Poppins running through my head). We were seated with two other lovely couples from Ontario and South Carolina. They were great company, and I was pleased that I was not the only one at the table taking pictures of the food. The place setting was lovely with the menu for the evening placed front and center.
There were also a number of wine glasses set out, and we were immediately served a glass of Cape Bleu Rose, 2010. We were also served our first amuse-bouche: yummy gougeres, which are pate choux pastries with Gruyere cheese. Vins Jean Luc Colombo provided all of the wines for the evening.
The evening was opened by the manager of the restaurant, and there must have been more than a few guests for whom this was not their first Food and Wine event at the Bistro de Paris, as he made a point of welcoming them back, and lamenting the fact that this was to be the last event of this year's Festival.
The Manager introduced the special guests for the evening, Jerome Bocuse, Paul Bocuse's son, and Jean Luc Colombo, the maker of the evening's wines. Jerome spoke about his father, who was born into a family of chefs who have been cooking since 1765. Bocuse was classically trained in traditional French cooking and has worked his entire life to keep those traditions alive, while also championing lighter and fresher cuisine. He won his first Michelin star in 1958, his second in 1962 and his third in 1965. Bocuse was the first "celebrity chef," venturing forth from the kitchen to interact with his patrons, and it was Bocuse who, with two friends, opened (and ran, for a short time) the Bistro de Paris, Les Chefs de France and the Boulangerie Patisserie at Epcot, which are all now owned by Jerome. The Bocuse d'Or cooking competition will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2012.
Mssr. Colombo spoke briefly about his passion for wine, and the Rhone Valley, where the grapes for most of them are grown. He then introduced us to Ian, the representative of Colombo's U.S. distributor, who introduced all of the wines to us over the course of the evening.
Then the meal started! We were served a very yummy amouse-bouche consisting of smoked salmon, a mini-blini and potato with creme fraiche and caviar.
Then came the truffle soup, a dish that Bocuse
created for the French president in 1975. It was a
very subtle-tasting soup, with truffles, vegetables,
chicken, foie gras, and a puff pastry top. Definitely
an impressive presentation. The soup was served with
La Redonne, Cotes du Rhone, 2010. As you can see, I
did not like it at all!
Next was the red snapper dressed in crusty potato scales, served with La Belle de Mai, St Peray, 2007. I clearly did not like this one, either.
Next we had a granite des vignerons, sort of a wine
snow cone, to cleanse our palates.
I loved this, but my husband thought that it was a
bit too strong.
Next up was the chicken fricassee with morels, served with a Les Ruchet, Cornas, 2001. This was the most special wine of the evening, and was really very interesting. It was a very dry, sort of "thin" wine, and would not appeal to those who like big, fruity California wines. Very nice to try something different.
And then... the cheese course! Always a favorite in our house, and this one did not disappoint. Saint Marcellin, served with a Terres Brulees Cornas, 2005. Finally, we were served Bocuse's famous apple tarte tatin, with vanilla ice cream and Chantilly cream. A fitting end to an amazing meal.
During dessert, all of the chefs, including Chef de Cuisine, Francesco Santin, came out of the kitchen to thunderous applause from all of the diners.
What an evening! Four hours of good food, good wine and good company. We bid adieu to our fellow diners, and headed out of the dining room. As we were leaving, we were handed goodie bags containing the Best of Bocuse cook book, which was included in the price of the meal.
The dinner was not inexpensive. The cost was $245 per person, plus tax. My husband and I decided that there was a lot of value on offer, however. The price included the amazing seven-course meal, all of the different wines, the gratuity and the Best of Bocuse cookbook, and since it was all prepaid it was great to wind up the evening by simply getting up from the table and walking (rolling?) back to the Boardwalk without having to sign a bill. We may not do something quite so extravagant next year, but we will have great memories of this wonderful meal, and maybe, just maybe, I can get my husband to try his hand at the chicken fricassee, since we now have the recipe. Yum.