Monday, October 13, 2008

Petrus. Desserts.

My last entry, for now, on what was the best meal of my life - created by Marcus Wareing, shortly before he called it quits with Gordon Ramsay and struck out on his own - to succeed valiantly in my opinion. The dinner was June 23, 2008, at Petrus (then and now a Gordon Ramsay holding) now called Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. I dined with my soulmate and fellow foodie, my husband. For those who are interested, I hear Petrus is going to reopen at a different location sometime in early 2009, but for my money, Marcus has surpassed his mentor.

At this point in the meal, I have enjoyed sweetbreads, suckling pig, numerous amuse bouche, and the best wine I've ever had. All the numerous tastes and smells and sensations have washed over me to the point that everything is a blur. And here comes the cheese course and desserts. Jeez Louise.

Now mind you, I'm writing this, what, six months later, attempting to describe adquately the entire meal, but truthfully, while the remaining courses were delicious they were overshadowed by the mains. It's all a blur. All I can clearly remember is, "Man, that pig was good." But I will do my best.....Marcus deserve all the praise I can give him. He rocks!

The cheese course arrived next. I do remember a delicious walnut and raisin bread was served with it. And I do remember the "Cheese Guy" (is there a title like sommolier?) asking us what kinds we'd like. I think we were so overwhelmed at that point we just shrugged. My notes say, "Goat, hard, soft, blue, stinky." Real descriptive, right? It's just that we were in such a stupor from so much food, and probably drunk, that Velveeta might've tasted great at that point. He was throwing all these French names and regions at us, and here we are the dumb American tourists going, "Uh huh, that sounds good," shaking our heads, zombie-fide from so much deliciousness. I do love cheese though, and felt silly that I didn't know more about what I was eating. To his credit, the Cheese Guy didn't make us feel stupid, but placed one of each on a plate. They were all scrumptious.

The next offering was a pre-dessert amuse bouche: apple jelly, topped with apple granita and vanilla foam in a shot glass. And we have a winner. Favorite dessert of all time. As I get older, I find I can't eat a whole slice of pie, but just a forkful - my tummy can't handle it. This was the perfect forkful of apple pie a la mode, served in a shotglass. The icy-applyness of the granita paired perfectly with the soft airy creaminess of the foam. And the jelly was like the pie filling. It was so damn good I licked the inside of my glass, then upended it and tapped on the bottom to get out every bit. Oh yes, I'm the epitome of decorum, me.

Here's where the problems begin. I kinda remember the cheese, I CLEARLY remember the apple shot glass, but I don't remember the actual desserts that well. It's not that I didn't enjoy them immensely, I did. I remember them being very rich, very tasty. Sadly, I can't even go back to the website (which used to have the menu posted) to look. So sorry. Again, at that point it was like I was drunk on food. And yeah, maybe a little bit on wine too (sheepish grin). I did write down the following notes:

Lime, pineapple on lime biscuit (mine)
Cake with cognac, macerated blueberries & white chocolate (husband's)

Something I won't soon forget - as we were enjoying the desserts, there was a loud CRASH coming from the kitchen. It sounded as if someone dropped a huge stack of metal pans on the floor. Either that or Marcus was supremely pissed off and threw something at the wall. We started, and then the funniest thing happened. Every single person dining turned at the exact same time and looked directly at Je
an Phillipe - head waiter extraordinaire on Hell's Kitchen and our maitre d' for this evening. It was hysterical. He looked at us like, "Well, what do you want ME to do about it?" (in a French accent of course) before shrugging his shoulders and walking off into the kitchen. The whole episode sent us off into gales of laughter because it seemed like something right out of the show. At the time I didn't know about all the trouble Marcus was having with Gordon, and I can't help but wonder if this episode didn't have something to do with that. Or maybe they just dropped a pot...

...In any case, next was the bon-bon tray. The bon-bon tray!?! Never in my life have I dined somewhere that served one. What arrived was an abundance of chocolate - tiny little chocolate morsels in all flavors. What's that scene in Monty Python? "It's just a thin mint." Yeah, I kinda felt like that, like just one chocolate would force me to start calling, "Bring me a bucket!" But I ventured forth anyway, and selected a chocolate-covered Turkish delight which melted in my mouth on contact. Hubby got a mango/passionfruit chocolate. Of course we each took teeny bites and traded. That's what married foodie couples do - NEVER order the same thing, and always trade for tastings. Both were out of this world. And I do remember them.

Did we want to end this glorious meal with cognac? Even though it was a once-in-a-lifetime event we passed. Too much wine and rich food (i.e., old tummies). Coffee? I don't think we did, and now I'm sorry. At this point it was late and I remember thinking about the staff, and how they probably wanted to clean up and go. As we left the restaurant, supremely sated and feeling very happy, there were still three or four couples dining. I remember thinking, "Crap! We should've stayed! We need to drag this evening out more so it won't end!"

Now I wish we'd stayed because with this economy lord knows if we will ever experience anything like that again. But again, both of us have worked for restaurants. So while we were there for one night on the other side of the glass, pretending to be wealthy, and enjoying all that life has to offer, at the same time we were remembering what it felt like to look out of the kitchen door porthole, wishing those rich assholes would leave so we could go home.

The wait staff were also a huge part of what made this experience such a memorable one, and another reason Marcus has those two stars. All through the meal they were present, but not present, whipping by with menus, glasses, our courses. Gliding by effortlessly as though they were dancing. Everything from the first amuse bouche to the last bon-bon was perfectly choreographed. When I flagged down a waiter to ask for directions to the restroom, he immediately stopped what he was doing, grandly pulled the table out from us (without spilling anything) and walked me to the door himself. Someone else who noticed my return stopped what they were doing to replace my napkin with a new one. Now that's service. And I think that's way we didn't stay. People who work so hard deserve a break.

More than once Bruce and I looked around and noticed how bored the other diners seemed to be. The boredom of the supremely wealthy who sigh with ennui because they dine like this all the time. Ho-hum. One couple across from us didn't speak their entire meal. Meanwhile we were living right in the moment, cherishing each bite, each sip of wine, and for weeks after that, talking about how stupendous this was - the meal of our lives. We still talk about it. Thank you Marcus.


Lorraine E said...

Hehe that's hilarious about the loud noise and everyone staring at JP! Poor guy got the worst gig of all with Hell's kitchen. Even on the F word, GR doesn't abuse people as much.

where i've escaped...

template by - header image by Martin Walls