Sunday, May 18, 2008

Auberge de la Cigogne

First and most importantly: Happy Birthday Mr K!

Last night we went to a restaurant in Fribourg called Auberge de la Cigogne (beware the music on the website) for a birthday dinner for me, Mr K, and Steph - a whole herd of bulls. Celia, Olivier and Dani joined us, with Dani having planned the whole thing. As I'm sure I mention far too often, I don't eat any seafood, so Dani was kind enough to plan ahead and let the restaurant know, so I didn't have to awkwardly apologize my way through and miss out on a third of my menu. The waiters and chef acted as if it were no big deal, which was refreshing. We went for the many-course "menu d├ęgustation" - a series of small plates covering a wide range of ingredients and flavors. The typical menu included two or three fish dishes, so I'll mark with an asterisk my dishes that differed from what everyone else ate.

First Plate (amuse-bouche)
* Duck liver pate with minted couscous and fresh greens, pain noir (black bread)and butter
(Fish eaters had smoked salmon with fresh greens)

Second Plate (amuse-bouche)
Shredded beef shin in lemon and orange with lentil salad served in a small porcelain spoon (think won ton soup spoon)

Third Plate
* Crisp veal on a bed of young fava beans with dried tomato
(Fish eaters had "sea devil" with baby beans and dried tomato)

Fourth Plate
Candied salted beef in crispy fried wrappers (like rice paper) with fresh greens and a chilled white asparagus and Port soup

Fifth Plate
* Ravioli maison with asparagus in a morel cream sauce
(Fish eaters had a chunk of mild white fish tied with green onion(?) on a bed of pasta in morel cream sauce)

Sixth Plate (plat principal)
Pigeon in a butter and Merlot sauce with fresh baby vegetables and black truffle polenta

Seventh Plate
Cheese course: A cart with over 50 cheeses was brought over and we each tried 6-8 cheeses arranged on the plate from mildest to strongest. Highlights included a triple cream cheese in truffle oil, a nice Gruyere, and a Vacherin Fribourgeois. Mr K also enjoyed the "very strong" Roquefort.

Eighth Plate (petite dessert)
Strawberry mousse topped with a lavender and caramel-tasting mousse (not sure what exactly it was - that was just my impression of the flavor)

Ninth Plate (grand(e) dessert)
Thin layers of dark chocolate layered with a sweet and spicy pineapple mousse and garnished with finely chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds

Tenth Plate
Coffee and various cookies, including tiny brownies, tiny lemon tarts and caramel tuilles

We started our meal with a round of Kir Royales made with blueberry rather than cassis liqueur. We had a bottle of white, a bottle of red and finally a dessert wine to finish the four and a half hour long meal off. Everything was amazing, particularly the cheeses and plates three, four, five and nine. The waiters were all friendly and funny and the chef came out at the end of the meal to ask how we enjoyed it. Despite the elegant food and corresponding prices, the guys all wore jeans and collared shirts and the whole restaurant felt comfortably informal - a huge change from the typical atmosphere you would expect in a similar-style of restaurant in the US.

As a side note, I learned that the current "look" for upper-class older women out for a nice dinner is a stylish tee shirt coupled with diamond and pearl necklaces, perfectly coiffed hair and modern, chunky glasses - very chic!

Thanks again Dani for planning everything - thanks for what will doubtless remain one of the most memorable meals in our lives. Thanks also to Olivier and Celia for our charming "Swiss-gifts" - I plan on relaxing in my shirt all day!


Anonymous said...

That sounds like such a great evening, no wonder you were up at 2 am...thanks for the skype, happy birthday to Chris, we'll talk to you later today
Mom and Dad

Kasia said...

Yay for a lovely meal! Good that I just ate otherwise I would be very hungry! I'm happy that you guys had a lovely treat from your birthdays! Happy birthday to Chris!

Janet said...

That sounds like a meal I would THOROUGHLY enjoy!

SRNA and living the dream! said...

Your menu just made my steak dinner sound like bland oatmeal. Cold. And sticky dry. I am not a jealous person, but...