12 January 2008

Chef Jean-Claude Voisin of Le Vinois, Caillac

It is 11 p.m. on a Saturday night and I am never going to eat again.

I have found culinary nirvana.

Jean-Claude Voisin is in town. But not for long, sadly, only two more weeks. Voisin is chef and owner with his wife of Le Vinois in Caillac, just north of Douelle in the Lot Valley. He is guest chef at my neighborhood restaurant, which - happily - is a place of warm welcomes, fine wine and exquisite food.

J-C is also a wizard. He knows how to marry tastes and textures in a way that preserves the taste of the food, sometimes finding a foil or a balance, other times playing matchmaker with flavor.

A few days ago, I tasted duck a l'orange in a sauce that was a dream of orange, of course, but of something more, something rich and sweet and deep. It was paired with thin slices of potatoes baked in cream, not cheese, that allowed the true flavors of earthy potato and mild, sweet cream to merge, then separate - a sort of pas des deux of flavors.

The dessert was two swirls of mousse, chocolate and vanilla, topped with a spiral of hard, dark chocolate set at a rakish angle and neighbored with a paper-thin fan of pineapple and a sweet pineapple-y sauce.

Alas, I have no photos. You will have to take my word that this dessert was good, and surprising, as desserts should be, and that it lured me back for more.

I was prepared on Saturday, and in the candlelit restaurant, I captured Jean Claude's artistry on my little Nikon CoolPix camera.

Last night, a snowy Saturday night with the Packers on their way to the NFC championship game, dinner was later than usual in my part of the world. We sipped a crisp and happy Viognier, while my husband ordered chicken encrusted with gingerbread and served with a medley of root vegetable strips. I chose salmon with potatoes topped with pistachios and paired with thin strips of carrot and zucchini swirled around one perfectly tart and scarlet cherry tomato.

Did I mention the first course? A thick, soupy "coffee" of butternut squash and chestnut topped with a stick of bacon surrounded by delicate pastry. Comfort food, my favorite!

Dessert this time was a trio of apple confections: A moist and spicy terrine, a crisp smoky French toast slice and green apple sorbét with a fan of fresh apple slices.

The food of Jean-Claude Voisin is presented with imagination and verve. It offers me a dream of the possibilities that exist in my own kitchen, and that recalls the seemingly careless but always artful way my father dropped a slice of this and a fluff of that on a plate to create a canvas of color and texture.

Such grace! Such flavor!

28 comments:

Lydia said...

What a treat, to have such a wonderful chef visiting close to home. I expect you'll go as often as possible while he is there. The dishes you've described do sound absolutely delicious.

Mimi said...

I hear he is doing truffles next week - I will surely find a way to be there!

Judy said...

How divine!!! You are so lucky to have the visiting chef. Your menus sounded perfect and delicious. Enjoy for the rest of us too!! I hope you get there for the truffles next week.

Mimi said...

I wlil try my best, Judy. There are lots of special events, so I will have to find a free evening when no even is happening.

Fiona said...

A feast for the eyes as well as a feast for the palate.

I hope you get another chance to go back and eat there while Jean-Claude is still in town Mimi !

Wonderful !

lady jicky said...

Chocolate and pineapple, chicken with gingerbread crust and the salmon! A flavour combo artist Mimi!
OK, can he come visit Australia???

Mimi said...

Fiona, it was lovely! Jean-Claude's work has merited a gold star from Michelin.

Lady Jicky, he does give cooking lessons, according to his web site - send your favorite chef. I am wondering if I can take a day of lessons...

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

What wonderful meals! Such a treat to have this chef visiting Mimi. Love that carrot & zucchini wrap with the tomato. Both desserts sound pretty lovely.

Chris Late said...

The only thing missing was me at the table with you all!

Mimi said...

JC knows his desserts, Tanna. We are now really excited about visiting his inn and restaurant next fall.

Chris, what fun that would have been!

katiez said...

What an incredible treat! And how fun to have a visiting chef in the neighborhood.
The dinner looks absolutly fabulous and I would not eat breakfast and lunch just so I could go back again...

Mimi said...

Hm...now there's an idea, Katie.

Erika W. said...

How lucky for you Mimi! I hope you get another opportunity before he leaves.

Mimi said...

I will have several, Erika, thankfully!

Toni said...

Wow, Mimi! What a treat! To be able to eat this chef's meals sounds like a very, very auspicious way to start a year! And how lucky you were to have grown up with a dad who could make it all look so easy....

Anonymous said...

What wonderful food I can see why you have found your nirvana!! Nice photographs but I wish I were eating there. Have not been around much as accompanying my son for chemo but a Happy New Year to you.
Anne

Blame It on Paris said...

Oh, how yummy! Lucky you!

Mimi said...

Toni, I was just wonderful what my father would have thought of JC. In the early part of his career, he was strictly a steakhouse chef - this is Wisconsin, after all - but in his later years he began to experiment more with presentation and the foods of his heritage.

Anne, good to see you back! I am sorry you son is ill. I will keep him in my thoughts.

Laura, it's like having France in the neighborhood!

Christine said...

The whole experience sounds delightful, for the food and for what feeds your soul, Mimi. Lucky you! I hope you will photograph the truffles!

Mimi said...

I hope I will be able to get some truffles, Christine. I may just have to trample over there in four feet of new snow to do so!

Terry B said...

What a wonderful treat for you, Mimi! I hope you barged into the kitchen and got to meet him.

Mimi said...

Actually, TerryB, I met him at a reception 10 days ago. He prepared a lunch for 18 from my organization and will make hors d'oeuvres for a wine tasting we are doing very soon. He is charming and nice, and easy to talk to, in French and in English. We will visit his restaurant next fall.

cityfarmer said...

I am so sad...I wanted to try your cauliflower soup...it looked so heart and soothing

Mimi said...

I think JC's soup is much better, CF!

Farmgirl Cyn said...

Who knew that in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, culinary nirvana could be within one's reach??? I say, any excuse for dining out is an excuse I would use...and having a French chef in the neighborhood is as good an excuse as any!

Mimi said...

Yes, it is a good reason to dine out.

I hear the place is packed at lunch, too!

Jann said...

Oh my gosh~I would have come up to eat this with you! What a feast this was.....I loved everything he prepared!Will hebe back?

Mimi said...

I hope so, Jann! I certainly wqnt to visit his restaurant next fall.