Thursday, January 16, 2014

Le Coco's Tahiti's top spot for fab food and Tahitian treats for lunch (Pape'ete,Tahiti,French Polynesia)-1-4-13

Our final opportunity for a dinner ashore was our overnight stay in the bustling capital of Pape'ete on the largest island, Tahiti. We chose Le Coco's, an elegant spot about 10 miles west of town past the airport on the west coast. After getting lost several times we arrived just minutes before sunset and ran past the hostess yelling madly that we had to catch the sunset. I think they thought we were maniacs trying to break in. We managed to catch it, though and then sat down at our elegant table in a truly elegant setting on the shore overlooking the island of Mo'orea opposite.
There were several menu options and we could not decide as the chef here has local, French and Moroccan influences on the menu. We each chose the menu "touristique" which allows you to choose a starter, main course and dessert, plus they add an amuse, and all at a cost lower than a la carte dining. Now the entire meal with a bottle of wine, two alcoholic drinks, water, etc. came to about $550, so this is not a bargain place to dine, but then virtually every meal in French Polynesia starts at the $17-35 zone just for one plate per person for a quick lunch!
That said we started with a wonderful concoction of champagne, peach liquor, Blue Curacao and gel pearls at the bottom of the flute. These were sucked up through a straw and then kind of exploded in your mouth. While I am not a fan of Blue Curacao, it was used just as a splash for color and made a memorable drink!
Three amuses arrived and there were all spectacular:
Salmon mousse on blini with caviar
Goat cheese with Marrakech spices and espalette pepper
Foie Gras Creme Brulee with truffle.
Each of these was amazing, but the crunchy brulee truffle top on the foie gras custard was a blow your mind treat.
Both Sam & Will started with the Artichoke Soup with Foie Gras Ravioli which Samuel gobbled up tout suite....a feat considering he tries to avoid foie gras.
My Gaspacho of Algarve was poured dramatically tableside by white gloved servers (there was a lot of this all evening, and the waiters were so cute, we loved it).
It came with calamari, olive, anchovy and basil pearl barley and was bursting with flavor. This is the most ideal dish when the temperature hovers at 80 and the sun never lets up.
The sparkling water was Chateldon which was nice; the Badoit cost something like $15 a bottle!! Our wine was a divine Savigny Les Baunes 1er Cru 2009 "en Redrescul" and at close to $80 was one of the cheapest ones on the menu.
Main courses were more varied with Samuel choosing the Moroccan theme Tagine of Lamb a la Minute with Coriander Seeds, Argan Oil, Couscous, Apricot and what was called Spicy Broth. This was more of an aromatic bouillon that could be poured over the couscous, but Sam chose to have his with the rich flavorful lamb sauce.
Will had the Iberian Cod with Chorizo, Calamari, Rice, Crocus Flower and Thyme which was definitely the winning fish dish as my Roasted "Legine" with Truffle, Baby Artichokes, Cockles from Brittany and Razor Clams had little flavor past the shellfish.
It was slated as Mahi Mahi and they explained the Legine was a replacement and when I later goggled the French name was not surprised it was the ubiquitous and not too exciting Chilean Sea Bass.
Dessert was in top form with Samuel choosing the Black Pearl (this is the local treasure for the jewelry market) Chocolate with Raspberry and Rose Petals with Chocolate Fondue which appeared as a round globe of chocolate and then was destroyed by the white-glove guy pouring hot chocolate sauce over it. He declared the pop rocks-like chocolate center as a masterpiece.
Will had the Apple dessert but somehow I did not jot down the specifics. My Poires Belles Helene was a brilliant take on the classic with Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream, Salted Butter Caramel and Praline-like Almond Cookie.
For an extra treat we had the most wonderful Honey Madeleines, Pain d'Epices with Caramel & Lime Cream and finally Rock Chocolate with Pistachios. Each was a mouthful of decadent flavors and we declared the pastry chef a genius.
What a great way to end our evening dining in Polynesia.
I must also add here that we ate numerous lunches in various places and while I won't elaborate we usually had POISSON CRU, a Tahitian raw tuna (or local fish) with not sweet coconut milk used as the ceviche base, which Will & I fell in love with.
The most beautiful presentation was at Le Taha'a Resort which is a magnificent Relais et Chateau private island (called a motu) off the island of Le Taha'a where we were graciously invited one day. It came in coconut on a bed of ice with lots of side treats like coconut milk, shavings and coconut rice. YUM!
Another fab meal was the Asiette de Dejeuner (lunch plate special) at Le Relais de Josephine, a small B&B located on the remote Rangiroa atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago. The quiche, smoked tuna, salad and all was a treat and we got to view dancing dolphins in the Tipatu Pass with gorgeous views to boot! This is something we will REALLY miss.