A recent meal there in April 2017 moved me sufficiently to write about Hedone. To put it very bluntly, in my first meal I have had some good and very good dishes, but not a single great or signature dish. Now I have found three to four signature dishes. As such, I can say that it is a destination place.
The world looks like a bigger place when you stand on the edge of a hill in Piedmont, Italy. Light blue, dark blue and green… These are the colours that you can see on the horizon in Piedmont, Italy. It is clearly a landscape with an inspirational spectrum of colours for any artist. But, if you are into food, the colour that you should associate with Piedmont is actually white. That is because of tartufo bianco, which almost single-handedly places the region on the world gastronomy map.
A Pierre Gagnaire dish might be extremely cerebral at its initial conception and dangerously experimental during its development. Such a process may strike one as cunningly relying on accidental discoveries. One may also be tempted to qualify this practice as tainted by a self-absorbed, self approbating ego who presumes the fatality of circumstances will often bring about flavors he is entitled to, feeling certain that when that doesn’t happen his clientele should still be more than content to be able to take part in “his” adventure.
Ca l’Enric makes me think of the cold, game, mushrooms, the forest floor, and savoury truffle. Their fireplace and the woodcock spring to mind. It transports me to a rural setting that has been transformed to the 21st century and it makes me think of what it would have been like in the beginning.
Ettore Botrini is an excellent chef with a clear vision. Before heading to his restaurant I had the wrong impression that his cuisine was dominated by the molecular philosophy. It is not, except one amuse with a green olive served in a spoon where he uses the spherification technique, and another amuse with squid ink caviar with the same technique. Otherwise his cooking respects the natural and local ingredients, and the tastes are clear. He achieves depth without sacrificing clarity.
You have to be brave to convert Castroverde de Campos, a small town in the middle of Tierra de Campos, a depressed area from Old Castille between Asturias, Burgos and León-into a pilgrimage destination for gourmets.
I started serious dining out in 1986 when I had a fellowship to study for a year in France and lunch menus in three star restaurants were affordable. [...] Nowadays things are very different. While it is still very difficult to get the highly-coveted third star, many three star restaurants are not worth the special trip. This is the bad news. But the good news is that there are still quite a few great product-driven destination restaurants. They are simply not captured by the criteria used by Michelin.
Manresa’s multi-course degustation menu is among the few exceptions for several reasons. Chef Kinch knows well how to build a progression throughout the five hour meal and the courses are not repetitive. He also does not adopt the trendy Scandinavian formula of composing multiple dishes around the same theme of the trio of “raw seafood-fermented green-dairy” and “lots of vegetable stocks”. His cooking is more complex, but remains focused and balanced.
Le Petit Nice is the only three starred restaurant in the close vicinity of Marseille. Some claims that Michelin accorded three stars to Petit Nice due to political reasons. I disagree, based on my own experience. The service, wine list, surroundings, product quality, conceptualization, execution, etc., are all first rate and what I would expect from a Michelin three starred restaurant.
Sometimes the most simple (but not simplistic) is also the most decadent. But one is equally flabbergasted to see that Passard can also fail, and that his failures, as befit a genius, come in a grand way.