A once in a lifetime (though hopefully there will be many return visits ;) sort of meal.
First bite: Barbagiuan, a specialty of Monaco (Monégasque cuisine!). Pockets of pastry stuffed with parmesan, leeks, swiss chard, and spinach. Deep fried, of course.
Paper-thin crackers…see the carrots and baby zucchini? What a marvelous sight.
The bread trolley.
Am tempted to put exclamation marks at the end of every sentence because that’s how excited I was…but I’ll refrain for your sake.
Bread trolley was followed by a butter trolley. A true mountain of butter (one salted, one plain) spooned off into smaller portions for the table.
We ordered the summer tasting menu: five savory courses, cheese, and three desserts.
To start: Pan Bagna et fines pâtes imprimées de légumes / Pan Bagna served on sheets of vegetable-printed bread.
Gamberoni de San Remo, délicate gelée de poissons de roche, caviar / Prawns from San Remo, delicate rock fish gelée, and caviar
Cookpot de petit épeautre de Haute-Provence, girolles et primeurs / Cookpot (a Ducasse signature) with spelt from Haute-Provence, chanterelle mushrooms and seasonal vegetables.
Rouget d’ici, aubergines, poivron fondant et courgette trompette, sucs de cuisson / Red mullet, eggplant, sweet peppers, and “trompette” zucchini
This was served Socca, spicy chickpea pancakes which are also a specialty of Monaco.
Agneau des Alpilles a la cheminée, petits farcis au four du boulanger, jus perlé / Lamb cooked in the fireplace with stuffed vegetables.
Cheese cart. The sun went down right after the last savory course. It was about 10pm!
Three goat cheeses. Convinced the waiter to slice me a bit of that extra runny époisses, could not resist.
Petit fours. Almond tuiles, custard tarts with fraises des bois, dark chocolate and raspberries, and apricot mousse. See my Serious Eats posts on the desserts here.
Dark chocolate macarons…
…and chocolates customized for Ducasse’s 25th (!) anniversary in Monaco.
The mascarpone sorbet came to the table first.
One clean quenelle. Then came the strawberries in a tiny gold saucepan. The waiter gave it a stir and spooned out a million fraises des bois cooked down in their own juices. He poured it right over the sorbet. I could eat fraises des bois all day, every single day of the summer, and here they were, intensified, warm and impossible sweet and pure. High on my list of all-time favorite desserts.
Hot hazelnut soufflé with a melting nugget of dark chocolate in the center. On the side, hazelnut ice cream made with hazelnuts from Piedmont.
And then it was time for tea! Tisane to be exact. The waiter rolled over this trolley of fresh herbs. What do you desire? Ahh, lavender from Provence! With mint.
And then it was time to clean your fingers. I need one of these at home ;)
And make room for more dessert. This is the dessert trolley. Notice there are eight glass jars. The four in the back hold four different fruit sorbets. And the four in the front?
Madelines! Fresh cherries! Vanilla marshmallows cut to order! Nougat!
And the sorbet. I went with mango.
P.S. Hazelnut financiers for the morning after :)