Friday, 8 November 2013

une soiree francaise dans le quartier

Abbotsford is French for awesome. Did you not know that? Well, you learn something every day.

I stop in at Three Bags Full pretty much every morning on my way to work. The coffee is good, the staff are friendly and now, in my new fancy abode, it's one street over from where I live.

So imagine my desperado-wannabe-French delight when I found out that Three Bags were doing a French inspired dinner. Excited does not even begin to describe it.

It was the French chefs, Fabien and Nico, who came up with the idea, aching as they were to flex their French cuisine muscles. Not strictly French, the menu reflected a desire to reference their home country while at the same time play with flavour and texture and more exotic ... I'll go so far as saying ... obscure ingredients.


Greeted with French music and a twist on the kir royale, things were looking good. A decadent combination of a berry liqueur sent over from France from one of the chef's mothers and an Australian sparkling Shiraz produced a rich and fruity opening to the evening. I'm going to say regal even.

Amuse-bouches served on rocks, cricket bats and parfait spoons balanced on printing blocks, the attention to detail must be applauded. I would have been happy with the flavours alone, but the thoughtfulness behind the presentation made me nod my head in pleasure. These people know what they are doing.

Smoked salmon and roasted potato pick was the perfect combination of cold and warm, smoky and creamy, slightly flash and good old classic.

Then prosciutto kougloff. A brioche savouried up with prosciutto. Light and flavoursome.

The tiny morsels of sichuan pepper honeydew were flavour and texture and happiness all rolled into one.

Pumpkin, cassia and sorrel soup. Velvet goodness. Topped with 'a surprise'. You need to think popping candy. But savoury. And green. The word unctuous springs to mind and thats what I'm gong to say...unctuous. But with a crackle.

Next were the fresh flavours of carpaccio of kingfish with kaffir lime coconut blanc-manger and seaweed waffle. With four different types of seaweed, no less. Light, fresh and lots of flavour.
The main dish, or plat principal for the aspiring French students amongst us, was free range roasted chicken with spring vegetables and jus. I think the title of this dish sells itself short. There was a lot going on. The chicken was air-dried for 24 hours so that its skin was just the right amount of crisp. Jauntily placed on parsnip puree, the chicken as perfectly cooked and the taster of artichoke, asparagus and yellow carrot were a lovely accompaniment.

I wasn't a huge fan of the dessert. Beautifully presented. And I have to say the French newspaper cutting went a long way towards warming the cockles of my desperado French-speaking heart. And the fact that the chef came out to pour a warm sauce through the chocolate disc onto the peach and salted caramel ice cream combo was an interactive and impressive touch. But, beautiful dessert, you had all the elements of loveliness and it's proabably not you, but me. A little too sweet.

The final flourish was financiers served with a snap infusion of lemon verbena, licorice and ginger. Beautiful. The digestive qualities of the cordial, served in fairly medicinal type bottles, was very welcome. And the financiers with their mini-me-friand-but-smaller persona were perfectly cooked. Light spongy with raspberry goodness and a slightly chewy crust. Perfection. 
The fact that their take home bag of madeleines had the recipe on one side and a quote from Proust on the other made the chefs my ultimate heroes.

This was a carefully thought out and a beautifully executed menu. I loved every minute of my evening and I can't wait for the next occasion.

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