Collection Culinaire: Tasting September
The Collection Culinaire is a monthly changing, five-course tasting menu at the Brasserie Le Faubourg. July’s collection featured veal pot au feu, goose liver crème brûlée, and braised apricot. August was a medley of soufléed turbot, veal croquettes and iced honey dessert. No pressure then, September. But, as I found out this week, the new collection more than cuts the mustard. Or should that be mustard ice cream?
“You make a great backdrop in photos, Ralph, do you fancy joining me for dinner tonight?” He accepted, and came along dressed in his trademark flowery-shirt-and-tie combo. We sit down at a table by the window and order an apéritif; kir royal for him, a glass of perfectly chilled champagne for me. Before we have even finished reading the menu, the waitress is back with the amuse-bouche, or “greetings from the kitchen” as the Germans say: marinated tuna with wild herb salad and aioli. Our eyes meet mid-mouthful, an unspoken understanding: this is heaven.
A crisp chardonnay, a 2011 domain de mairan, accompanies the first course: rabbit with carrot tartare & tuna, Frankfurt cream and mango. The great thing about the Collection Culinaire is that everything is taken care of; the wine for each course has already been carefully selected for you, in close consultation with the local wine experts at La Cave de Bacchus (more about them later this month). I try to impress Ralph by listing off the various herbs – seven in total – which go into making the Frankfurt cream. He is immediately suspicious. Eventually, I am forced to reveal my sources: the Brasserie’s very own head chef, Steffen Sinzinger. I paid him a visit a few weeks ago, to talk herbs.
The next dish is the one I had been looking forward to the most: poached egg with celery sauce and mustard ice cream. Earlier that day I had been discussing the new collection with Hotel Concorde’s head pastry chef, who spends his time making brightly coloured macaroons and all things sweet in the pastry kitchens upstairs. He was blown away by Steffen Sinzinger’s mustard ice cream – high praise from a man who makes ice cream for a living. I really enjoyed the combination of warm and cold, not to mention the fresh and slightly fruity 2007 Domaine Schlumberger Sylvaner.
The next course is duck à l’orange with quinoa, wild fig, savoy cabbage and enoki. Ralph tells me about an experimental take on this classic French dish served up by a chef in England, who shall remain anonymous: a whole orange “infused” with the essence of duck. I silently thank Steffen Sinzinger for favouring taste over innovation, though the quinoa and wild fig accompaniment are an interesting twist. The dish is served with the first red of the night: a 2006 yves cheron Syrah.
It was only last week that I came to taste the cheese at the Brasserie Le Faubourg, but cheese is one of those things you can never have too much of. We pick our favourites from the trolley and the waitress disappears into the kitchen with our plates. Ralph looks worried, but before long she has returned. In addition to the delicious chutneys, nuts and bread which accompanied my cheeses last time, ours have been arranged amongst some brightly coloured dollops: Truffled potato nougat, marinated pumpkin and pumpkin gel.
It’s time for something sweet: café au lait, pear, “Milchmädchen”, spiced coffee ice cream, served with a sweet Ramos Pinto dessert wine.
In case you’re wondering, the white blobs are the “Milchmädchen”. The word literally translates as milkmaid in English, but I don’t think we have a translation for this particular kind of Milkmädchen; the melt-in-your-mouth kind, decorated with sweet cress. But words can be inadequate sometimes anyway. I think the clean plates pictured below tell you everything you need to know about September’s Collection Culinaire!
When the espressos arrive with some tiny French pastries I realise we have been sat eating for five hours solid. We thank our waitress for a wonderful evening and head in the direction of the Ubahn.
If this has whet your appetite then you can reserve a table at the Brasserie Le Faubourg here.