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!