Friday, August 21, 2015

Patrick Guilbaud: Ireland's only two Michelin star where you gotta go (8-8-15)

Our last night in Dublin was at our hotel the Merrion, where Ireland's only two Michelin star chef reigns supreme. Patrick Guilbaud is indeed a temple of gastronomy and we indulged with the 8 course tasting menu (for 185 Euros each) with wines as well, of course. Samuel was on board for this roller coaster ride which lasted 4 hours and was indeed spectacular.
I was happy from the first second with Badoit wate arrived and Haviland china and Irish linens abounded.
We had descended from the main hotel into a large room open to the courtyard where there were no more than 20 or so tables all well spaced to allow for maximum pleasure and no noise.
When the Roquefort cheese Gougeres arrived, I worried as it was simplistic, but then realized this was not an amuse. White Baguette, Brown bread, Tomato & Fennel, Walnut & Raisin, Rye, Olive & Rosemary, Onion & Bacon rolls were the array of breads and the butter was from Normandy (well, Irish is great, but this was superb).
Our first wine was a Chateau Mas Neuf Rhone blend of Grenache & Roussane from Luc Badet and paired with our large number of amuses to follow:
Liquid Parmesan on Tortellini with Fried Violet Artichoke Puree came first; need I say more. Next was Garden Sweet Pea Soup with a foamy hot mint froth. I am not a int lover, but this was excellent.
Here, we entered the actual tasting menu..and it must have been well over an hour into the evening after cocktails, ordering and amuses! What a night!
deTrafford 2013 Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch in South Africa with a tad of oak which we loved, was poured, and I must comment that every wine was poured just minutes before each course arrived, allowing us time to taste and enjoy the wine a bit before pairing it. Samuel recived a lime, sugar syrup and ginger ale drink as we asked for some fun mocktail pairings for him as well. The first course was a divine Sweet Onion "Tarte" with Mesclun & Truffle Vinaigrette as well as a crispy Parmesan cracker. The term tarte was a deconstructed form, but it was as good as any Alsatian onion tarte I have had.
Colome 2014 Torrontes from Argentina was an in your nose and face almost overwhelming wine with super huge stone fruits that really bowled us over. As soon as the Pan Roasted Duck Foie Gras with Caramel, Pineapple and Tonka Bean arrived we got the wine completely, Normally a strong white is not considered with foie gras, but someone did their homework well on this ideal pairing. Samuel had decided to switch his course for Green Asparagus, Parmesan "chaud-froid" with Bellota Iberico Ham, always the finest on earth. His dish was gone before we could even ask for a taste.
An apricot & violet aroma-ed Maison Nicolas Perrin 2013 Condrieu was a divine wine I could drink alone or with anything. It is very fine and went amazingly perfectly with wht Poached Annagassin Lobster with Green Apple Juice, Sweet Chive Emulsion and a cornet full of lobster mousse with green apple for an added touch. It had to be one of our favorite courses. Samuel, as he declined all seafood, was given a Suckling Pig Croquette with Fried Quail Egg that was also a winner. All dishes for this course were presented under silver domes removed simultaneously by the staff; tres dramatique.  
Course number 4 had the sommelier pouring a Napa Cabernet we haven't had in years, a 2009 Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard with huge legs was a big wine, but sublime at 6 years old. This was paired with Meadow Wicklow Agneau (lamb) from just outside of Dublin served in a Basque Pepper Stew with Daterino (Sicily) tomatoes, Bergamot, Tagiasschi Olives and Creamy Mashed Potatoes. This was our main course, so to speak, and shined with French flair, but being a true turn on a traditional Irish stew.
The cheese cart (the size of a small car) arrived.
Our server said we could have whatever we wanted; was he crazy? Here is what we chose between Will & myself, sometimes duplicating
Puligny St. Pierre Goat
Milleens, Durrus & Gubeen from Cork
Pont L'Eveque
Langres (from Champagne)
Irish Blue Cashel (cow), they also had the sheep Crozier Blue
Now I have enjoyed a dessert wine, port or other with my cheese course but was blown away when they lined up 5 different glassed in front of us, pairing each wine with one of the 5 or 6 cheeses we had chosen!
Deutz Champagne for the Goat
Saki Junmai for the 3 Irish cheeses
Pinot de Charentes and Maury Banyuls. OMG!!!!!!!
The cheese plates were complemented by Hazelnuts & Cranberry Bread as well as a Pumpkin Seed/Oat Bread. It was a fantastic ride.
The first dessert arrived and we loved the Warm Almond Biscuit with Poached Apricot & Banyuls and milk-conserved almonds with Orange Blossom Ice Cream. The almonds were intriguing but this was a load of fun and then they brought a Pina Colada Macaroon, White Chocolate (I can't read my writing), Lemon Meringue Tartlelets, Chocolate Orange Chouquettes, Pistachio-Almond Nougat, Honey & Lavender Financier and finally a Strawberry & Violet Yogurt Lollipop. It was all paired with a Chaeau Coutet 2006 1er Cru Classe Sauternes which was a dessert in itself.
Samuel was brought a hot cocoa with fresh cream and foam made from pure chocolate; decadent and intense for sure.
Samuel was waning and asked to head up to the room as midnight was near, but they refused to stop and Guanaja Chocolate 70% cocoa salted Caramel Ganache with Chocolate Praline Ice Cream & Caramel Tuille followed with a Recioto della Valpolicella 2010 from Giovanni Allegrini. I haven't had this awesome red intense dessert wine in ages, and it is so awesome with intense chocolate, which this all was.
As if this was not enough, a huge cart was rolled over with a giant chest on it the size of a medium carry-on. They opened this to reveal hundreds upon hundreds of 80%cocoa/caramel Chocolate Truffles which were on a bed on chocolate nibs. We tasted one and asked for a box "to go" which we enjoyed over the next couple of days. All I can say is "Kron go home!"
And we did go right up to our suite to bed ending an amazing first three days in Dublin and the Republic of Ireland.