Saturday, December 13, 2008

Emulsion de Camembert (Tour: Day 11)

Let me be clear - I'm not an expert on french wine and fine dining. I appreciate it, without reservation, but I couldn't tell you that a dish was successful "because of the perfect hint of cumin added to complete the delicate ph balance...", or whatever...I just know something explosively divine when I taste it. Such a delight occurred last night in the most airy, delicate way.

I was honored to be invited to the French Ambassador to London's beautiful home, along with the orchestra, Les Talens Lyriques, in a beautiful evening of chamber music in his perfectly sized salon (giving me the feeling of having travelled on a lovely time machine to late 17th Century France).

"Sound check at the French Ambassador's"...

The guests were afficionados and great supporters of the orchestra and the arts in general - not bad company to start with. An intimate concert was a welcome "intermission" during this crazy tour, and I relished the chance to sing and listen to intimate, peaceful music.,
And then we were invited to dinner:

Dinner is served...

I don't quite know how to describe the beautiful 4-course serving of heaven - it truly was something indescribable.

I will simply list the 3rd course as it was described on the menu:

Emulsion de Camembert, chouchous de noix et quelques cubes de réglisse

If ANYONE can send me a recipe for this, I will bow down in eternal gratitude.

It was the lightest, airiest concoction, which gave the full blast of the Camembert flavor, but then simply DISAPPEARED in your mouth into the ether. Truly, it was a remarkable thing. (Followed by a VERY close second with the dessert that consisted of:

Une mousse de vanille et caviar de violette dans un consommé à la clémentine

I didn't care about etiquette as I turned to my right and addressed His Excellency, the Ambassador, "This is RIDICULOUS!!!" Because it was. One should never eat again after a meal like that.

But as if the beautiful music and exquisite fare were not enough, I was able to hear from the Ambassador's mouth how uplifting and galvanizing the US Election was for France, and indeed, for the world. We talked politics and the world outlook, and I again pinched myself that I should be so fortunate to engage in such an encounter. He was utterly charming and to speak with such a distinguished politician not only about world affairs, but also about breath support and Bach - well, it instills a great deal of hope in me!

Oh, I can't resist - here is the rest of the menu - and again, any recipes are WELCOME!!!

1st course: Terrine de foie gras de canard, pâte tendre de pomme verte et huile d'argan en poudre
*perfectly accompanied by Château Guiraud 2004

2nd course: Poitrine de chapon rôtie et fondant de châtaignes, compotée de topinambour au parfum de noisette
*served with Château Pontet Canet 2001

The miracle chef: Gilles Quillot

I should be more than fortified to sing at the Barbican this evening!!


William V. Madison said...

So glad that you're representing the United States so ably -- you're an ambassador of goodwill, you know -- and glad you got a really good French meal, too, even if you had to wait until London to get it. But you must realize that we eat like that all the time at my house.

(I wish!)

Kenderina said...

Frankly, Joyce, I'm an absolute disaster when it comes to reading menus, especially French ones :) I feel like an adventurous eater trying some kind of "exotic" concoction. Gladly, it usually turns to be a really good thing as it happened to you !!! But I'm not sure one can cook these dishes at home...I always think chefs use "instruments" we, mortals, don't have in our kitchens :)
Hope the Barbican concert went great !

Mei said...

Just a couple of hints about the third course...

Emulsion is always made with some liquid and oil and finally it has some consistency... If you know how to make mayonnaise you're done, it is an emulsion of egg yolks and olive oil...

I guess for the camembert emulsion you need to made liquid the camembert (heating it), I'm not sure if you need oil because the camembert have a high percentage of fat...

About the chouchous de noix you can go here...

You can try it these holidays...

Take care...

lorenzo said...


you're such a name dropper: Yo-Yo Ma, the French ambassador... And soon the Queen or John Lennon ;-) ? As a french living in London, I'm delighted to hear our ambassador has such good taste !
Actually, a french scientific named Herve This specializes in 'molecular gastronomy', and wrote some books you might enjoy (esp. about emulsions). Some famous chefs (the most famous being the catalunyan Ferran Adria) took inspiration from his results. As a girl from Kansas, you might think you know about ice creams and sorbets, but wait until you've tasted a sorbet prepared using liquid nitrogen (obviously, not so easy to prepare at home though) !

BTW, the concert at Barbican was great and I think saying the audience seemed quite pleased with the performance would be the understatement of the year, the ovation for you and the orchestra was very well deserved. Thanks for giving us so much, and best of luck for the rest of the tour !


Parsifal said...

Pour 4 personnes

* 1/4 de camembert au lait cru Gillot
* 1 l de crème fleurette
* sel, poivre, muscade
* poire William
* mâche
* chips de camembert

Faire chauffer la veille la crème, faire fondre le fromage, assaisonner, puis filtrer et réserver une nuit au frigo
Tailler la poire en fines lamelles, puis l’assaisonner à l’huile d’olive.
Assaisonner la mâche avec une vinaigrette au cidre

Chips de camembert :

Couper des quartiers de camembert de 5mm
Les disposer sur un papier puis sur une assiette
Cuire au micro onde 25 secondes. Le fromage doit être complètement desséché.

Dressage :

Dans un bol ou un grand verre

Finition :

Remplir le siphon au 3/4 ajouter une cartouche de gaz
Monter harmonieusement le fromage, la salade et les chips

Servir en fromage unique avec un verre de cidre AOC.

Operafan said...

I confirm... You were more than fortified, you were smashing and shining!! And I am emotionally drawn, THANK YOU JOYCE!

Drammy said...

Your meal sounded delish. My only brush with French cuisine is my experience [eating] imported truffles. Gaw those things are so bad for you - like all your daily allotted sat fat / 5 pieces, but they're little chunks of heaven. Super-concentrated chocolate!