By Ahmad Mesawa
Let’s go on a trip to explore what it really means to travel for the love of food.
I love food and cooking and although I enjoy global dishes, European cuisine holds special interest for me. My fascination in food critiquing is constantly growing due to my keen interest in cuisine details. I realized there’s so much to learn and understand, starting with the most prestigious of them all, the Michelin Guide, which dates back to over 100 years.
The Michelin Guide began as a tire manufacturing company in Clermont, France. Brothers André and Édouard founded the company with a marketing idea to increase tire sales by distributing free copies of a guide that included hotels and restaurants. Upon realizing the popularity of their dining section, they assigned inspectors to review restaurants; hence Michelin Stars were born.
Since the Michelin Star is the most important restaurant evaluation system worldwide, I had to visit some of the awarded restaurants in France, home country of the Michelin Guide.
Michelin-starred restaurants are usually luxurious, artistic, innovative and expensive. They tend to serve over five to nine course meals in addition to the small bites in between. The meals come in small portions, yet the attention given to each of the dish constituents is evident.
Although you can order from the menu, I recommend going for the set menu in order to experience the chef’s most innovative creations.
At La Fourchette des Ducs restaurant in Obernai, I started with caramelized cherry tomatoes, fried scampi shrimp next to a wanton wrap of foie gras (duck liver). Then they served marinated salmon next to some savory herbs ice cream on top of thinly sliced roasted potatoes and paste. After that they served pigeon breast with cacao crust.
The crown jewel of the meal was layers of potato paste, black truffles and Brie cheese foam with gold powder. These were all dishes prepared and served by Chef Nicolas Stamm.
Epicure at Le Bristol Hotel, Paris, was a different sort of experience at the hands of Chef Eric Frechon. I started with little bites of foie gras with sorrel herb foam, olive flavored foam and a beautiful flower-like snail with curry, nori (edible seaweed species) and olive. Note that all of these details are just describing three bites.
After that I had oysters with green onions, lemon vinaigrette inside grilled seaweed, and I’ll never forget the best piece of lamb I ever had! It was a saddle of milk-fed lamb crusted with nori, fresh herbs gnocchi and cabbage puree.
This level of creativity and attention to detail will cost you somewhere between 100 to 300 Euros per person (excluding drinks). Believe it or not, I spent four glorious hours in the restaurant without any intention of leaving before feeling fully satisfied.