All ducks go to heaven…

5 Sep

I was going to title this post: “I don’t care what they do to those little ducks!”

Then I thought – “All ducks go to heaven…” was a little more appropriate.  I know, I’m late posting these things – you would think I would have plenty of time to do this, but it’s really hard to find 30 minutes to post stuff.  Two nights ago we really did the Donna’s 50th Birthday Celebration dinner at a restaurant that I’ve wanted to go to for over 10 years and is really legendary, a Paris tradition and simply, over-the-top.  We took a taxi to the restaurant because it was raining and Donna and I were both dressed up as it was “Jackets Required” at La Tour D’Argent.

The taxi pulled up and immediately, a man was trying to open the door.  I thought it was a Parisian trying to get out of the rain, but instead it was the doorman to the restaurant, trying to help Donna out of the cab.  Then I realized it wasn’t the doorman, it was the ‘Taxi Door Opener Guy”.  The doorman opened the door to the restaurant where we were met by the ‘manager’ who welcomed us, then by the person who takes our name, then by the coat check lady, all within 60 seconds of exiting the taxi.  So all in, we have already been greeted by 5 La Tour D’Argent employees and have not yet even made it into the restaurant itself, but were just in the lobby which was at street level!  This is a small clue that you have better saved some pretty pennies for this evening.

The next person we meet will be the elevator operator – who’s job it is to take us up the restaurant level and make us feel at ease by asking if it’s our 1st time coming to the restaurant.  Of course, that only makes us more nervous.  I made the reservations for 9:00 PM which is ‘normal’ for Paris restaurants hoping that we’d get out of there ‘early’ or before 1:00 AM, so I didn’t expect the restaurant to be full, or at least as full.  We walked out of the elevator to one of the most elegant, decadent and very ‘French’ restaurants I’ve ever seen.  It was fairly crowded, so I immediately was afraid that we wouldn’t be getting a ‘prime’ table.  But since I had made the reservation pretty long ago and I kept emailing the restaurant to ensure we would have a window table, sure enough, we were escorted through almost the entire restaurant to a window table near the very corner of the restaurant overlooking Notre Dame cathedral and the Seine river, which at night, look just beautiful all lit up.

At a French restaurant (at least the ones where you have ‘multiple’ people waiting on you), they almost invariably ask you “would you like an aperitif?”.  I read a Wine Spectator magazine article about fine dining in France which recommended that the answer is always, “yes” and almost always, “Champagne”.  So we followed French protocol and opted for the French Champagne.  Of course at a restaurant like this, that is just not the end of it.  Now came to the questions: “Would you like blanc de blanc, Rose or something from the Carte du Vin?”  Blanc de Blanc Champage is made from Chardonnay grapes which is usually great, but I know that Rose Champagne is made from Pinot Noir grapes and is usually a slightly more special wine, so I was beginning to lean towards the Rose.  The sommelier was beginning to get excited that we were going down this path.  He immediately asked Donna what she would like and she asked for a Blanc de Blanc.  So I switched and went for that as well.

Usually, a glass of champagne is brought to you on a tray at most places.  Here, they bring you a custom labelled bottle which they let you inspect, then pour your champagne right in front of  you to ensure that you are in fact getting the wine you ordered.  Ok, this could go long, so I’m going to cut to the chase and then just post lots of pictures of the food.

There is a small hand-blown duck sitting on every table at the restaurant.  It’s clear that this place is the place to come for duck in Paris or maybe even in all of France.  There is a dish on the menu called (in English) – Tour D’Argent Duck.  After doing some research, it turns out that duck prepared in this traditional French style is almost not offered anywhere because of the amount of time and effort it takes to make.  They in effect, take a duck and press it so that all of the juices are extracted and then make the most rich, thick, almost mole-like sauce to put on their duck.  I’ve been looking forward to this duck for years, so of course I had intended on ordering it, but then realized that it was a menu item “for two”,  Donna being a great sport, opted to order the duck as well so that I could have it.

We began with the very best foie gras Donna and I have ever tasted.  Truly something to savor.  The brought out ceramic ice cream looking tubs and scooped out 2 healthy scoops of the very best food item I’ve ever tasted onto our plates.  Then, something I’ve never experienced: 1 scoop of Sauternes jelly and 1 scoop of of Port jelly right next to our scoops of foie gras.  The only thing that made this heavenly dish even better was the Sauternes that Donna ordered and the Muscat wine I order to accompany our appetizer.  Wow!  If this is all we experienced, I would say that if you’re ever in Paris, you must make your way to this place and sample the foie gras – hence the “I don’t care what they do to the little ducks” comment.

Then came the 1st duck course which was the breast.  Since of course this would not be enough for this place, the next duck course was the thigh of our own personal duck as duck confit.

The pictures should help give you a little better image of the dinner we experienced.  Then came the post card with the duck’s number on it as a present to the both of us.  Apparently, this place has kept track of each duck that is destined to be served in this traditional style and has been documenting the ducks for many, many years.  Our particular duck was number: 1,102,095.  So over 1,000,000 ducks have been herded toward this place over so many years just to give people like me & Donna one of the best dining experiences we’ve ever had.  Hence the: “All ducks go to heaven” post.

Please enjoy the photos…


One Response to “All ducks go to heaven…”

  1. Amber September 7, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    Ohhh–just beans and cornbread for dinner here at the farm. I am jealous!! (But very excited and happy that you guys are enjoying yourselves!) Love the food pics. Where’s a pic of the fancy schmancy couple, though?

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