Une Etoile pour Chaque Frere or A Star for Each Brother

Last night we did something we've never done. We treated ourselves to a pre-Christmas dinner sans enfants
at the only Michelin starred restaurant in Montpellier. In the entire
Languedoc region for that matter. Because it's so famous around here and
so well, starry, we decided we had to see for ourselves. It's a
restaurant and hotel owned by twin brothers, les freres Pourcel, both chefs and both enjoying notoriety throughout France.

Super fancy, super delicious, super expensive. It was two out of three.
Delicious and expensive to the super, but fancy not as much. And that
was nice. It wasn't homey or rustic by any means but it wasn't
over-the-top, make a couple of Texans feel uncomfortable fancy.

The service was impeccable. Just like you'd imagine when you pay 21 euro
for a glass of 2002 Moet. It was fascinating to watch them work...a
dance where everyone knew their part and performed perfectly, silently
moving to and fro, being in the right place just when you needed them,
refilling, brushing crumbs, removing plates.

We ordered the taste of the region menu which included a glass of wine
from our region with each course. There were four courses and a tasty
selection of nibbles for an apero with our 40 euro worth of Champagne.
If you'd like to see the menu for yourself, here it is. But if you'd rather me tell you I can do that too.

For starters we had little parmesan toasts that tasted like sausage
balls (we didn't think they'd like to know that), goat cheese puffs,
guacamole and brandade de morue (cod dip) in shot glasses like they love to do here, and fried cubes of pork and foie gras. Don't say a word. Don't judge. It's Christmas. And it's more delicious than you can even imagine.

Next, an amuse-bouche. Isn't that so perfect and adorable?
Something that amuses your mouth and makes it feel all happy is a good
way to start a meal. It was tiny cubes of sea scallops with clementines,
also served in shot glasses. They really do love them. And with that we
had a white wine from Northeast Languedoc that was a blend of
chardonnay, grenache and a couple of other tasty grapes. Sublime.

Each course was presented by our waiter with an explanation. He'd place
the food in front of us and then, with flourish, describe what we were
about to eat and how it was prepared.

Then, a crayfish bisque with crayfish cappuccino...you know, foamy
crayfish cream fancied on top. Tasty and we got more of the white wine
with this course. The wine and bisque fell in love with each other. I
wanted to take photos for you with my phone but Mon Mari said it
would be too embarrassing. You'll just have to imagine the rosy sunset
orange soup with foamy clouds floating on top, two crayfish heads
perched happily on the edge of the deep bowl, smiling delightedly that
they'd been made into soup for my supper.

On to the main. It was a seasonal, bien sur, duck dish...layers
of different parts of said duck artfully arranged with perfectly cubed
(they dig cubes) butternut squash. There was a smallish roasted breast,
perfectly cooked; a light, wafer-thin crouton with three heavenly slices
of foie gras, again, have you tried it?; and then a three
dimensional cone of thigh meat, braised, shredded and formed into a cone
then battered and crusted in pistachios, fried crispy pale golden with a
hint of green; a gilded peridot swaddling rich umber. With this we had a
deep red minervois--perfectly rich and not at all fruity.

Not being a big dessert person, I'd have been happy to stop here. And then.

They brought out three plates of various sweeties. Donut holes (beignets)
filled with cream, shortbread wafers shaped like leaves dappled with
pine nuts, tiny chocolate planks sandwiching fruity conserve, madeleine
shells with raspberry jam, a champagne glass of cold pineapple and
coconut froth, white chocolate disks that gently melted in your mouth
stuck like party favors on the ends of wooden sticks and tiny cones of
ice cream poised in a glass of white sugar. All served in pairs, holding
hands on the assorted plates; a Noah's Ark of confectionery. With this
we enjoyed a sweet muscat, a wine famous in the region and served as an
aperitif and digestif. It's very strong, dense and sweet but not to the
point of cloying like some dessert wines can be.

We had a couple of 12 euro cafes and were ready for bed. Eating like
that makes you sleepy. So we rolled ourselves home, thanking heaven
we're in the South of France even though it's freezing cold like I hate,
and tumbled into sweet dreams of plates of food, spinning around on
silver trays, bow-tied waiters flitting in and around, pouring wine and
presenting delights with a flourish.

Et voila!

ps funding provided by chez travaille for a job well done. merci!