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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Peachy's Picks Connecticut: Jean-Louis in Greenwich Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

Jean-Louis Gerin

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In even the briefest perusal of the about section of Jean-Louis's website, you can see it is among the most acclaimed of the acclaimed, however, by the end of this review we want you to understand the components behind the business that make it that way, and the primary input: Jean-Louis Gerin himself, who is a total peach.  In Tasty Tidbits, we already proclaimed he's the Ferrari not the Volvo, and in another discipline-the one used in one of our favorite books, The Gods of Greenwich, we'd say as Ray Dalio is the hedge fund God of Fairfield County, Jean-Louis Gerin is the culinary God.  As soon as Peachy and her esteemed panelist were seated at the Chef's Table of Jean-Louis beautifully adorned with an orchid, he came out to greet us and toast us with his own personal champagne.  Having your own champagne label surely is a sign that you are the subject of one of the best reviews ever, but it's not just the bubbly we celebrate.
We celebrate the person himself and salute and congratulate him on his 30 fantastic years!  Not only is he a James Beard-award winner among his many laudable accolades, but also he is sincere in his commitment to excellence and personable and accessible in his claim-to-fame venue.  We believe he will be a star as Vice President of Culinary Operations and Executive Chef at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont and those that he mentors are the luckiest of ducks.  We are also glad to hear he is pals with our pal Claude Godard, who has quite a cocktail at Madison Bistro.  Who knows, we may have to start a Vermont column someday...Charitable Peachy Features that plan smashing events read this part: JL2Go-the catering arm- will be expanding in Greenwich, New York and Fairfield County and you will be able to shop for his products online as well...we hope to feature some in Peachy's Pantry.  But back to the bubbly because it is important: Jean-Louis's father-in-law is from Champagne, and his nephew still makes Champagne in Champagne and a special cuvee was developed for Jean-Louis.  It is so choice that it's zero dosage which means no sugar: it's brut nature.  We cannot think of a better way to start a meal, but this was not merely a dinner review, it was Peachy and Panelist as guinea pigs to the Best of 30 Years Degustation Dinner- and we think this is going to be just as hot as Rolling Stones tickets are in the current climate.  If you go now, you are just in time for the Greatest Hits!
We lament that it took Peachy Deegan 30 years to get 1983, Jean-Louis Gerin moved to Greenwich from Paris for Guy Savoy whom he previously worked for in Paris, and in 1985 he bought 61 Lewis Street in Greenwich (right off of Greenwich Avenue and easily accessible from Manhattan) and named it Jean-Louis.  We fear in 1985 he would not have taken Peachy too seriously as a food critic but she would have loved to have tried the Turnpike Duck back then, and even still today (go to Jean-Louis and ask him the hilarious story!).  Peachy asked him what do you know now that you wish you knew 30 years ago?  He said English!
One of our rules is that we have a copy of the menu-and we're not sure we've ever seen such a beautiful menu.  That's their logo in the middle and 4 awards going across underneath: Maitres Cuisiniers de France, Academie Culinarie de France, James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence, and Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence 2012.  Though awards are nice, it is even nicer when those important understand it is most important to be nice, and look who was a culinary student for about 30 seconds:
If you want to learn from Jean-Louis in New York, he is coming to Macy's on April 17, 2013 so mark your calendar!  After this dinner we think this event will challenge Macy's fireworks in July and their balloons in November.  
What we love about the Chef's table is that you have ideal seating to see exactly what is going on in the kitchen.   We're not sure we've ever seen such a layout in New York for fine dining.  This was also terrific for communicating our genuine two-thumbs up on every course to Jean-Louis as we continued.
Our culinary introduction was a miniature leek quiche on a baguette and a gruyere 
comte, each splendid in their own right.  Peachy loved the texture of the leek quiche and flavor and the gruyere comte had a terrific fullness to it and tremendous cheese essence.  Of course, it was beautifully presented.
Next a zesty salmon tartare of salmon roe and caviar was presented:
You can tell that Jean-Louis is a true artisan who shines in his element.  A chef who sees his work as a vocation, Jean-Louis established with us early on through his actions and his food, not his words, that he lives up to all the awards on an everyday basis, and this was further reinforced with the Bienvenue: Salade d'Endive et caviars pour Linda-who is his wife whom we were also pleased to meet.
If you are not at Jean-Louis tonight, you probably are not enjoying this aesthetic tribute of three kinds of caviar in a party of lime juice, cayenne pepper, endive salad and creme fraiche and now that you know about it, we know you wish you were there.  So make your reservation for tomorrow!  This achieved a pristine balance of these ingredients and we were wowed to say the least.  The panelist plans on making this himself this weekend he liked it so much...
Among the smoothest and silkiest foie gras Peachy has ever, ever consumed is Le Foie Gras de Jean-Louis.  His famous terrine de fois gras served with salad, fruit and nuts toast point was perfectly paired with a glass of Sauternes.  In Peachy's experience Foie Gras has been presented to her in varying textures and consistencies from reviews of different degrees of excellence to events where she was not reviewing the food formally and this one you see above was tops.  If you think you don't care for Foie Gras, you have not had the right Foie Gras and the right Foie Gras is at Jean-Louis.  Get there quickly!
Next up in the batting order was Le Poisson of a Diver Sea Scallop brutally seared on cast iron resting upon a beautiful bed of Truffle and poultry jus emulsion risotto.  This may be a bit too brutal for some tastes, but Ms. I Once Ordered My Steak Well Done just adored it.  Again, an ideal wine pairing was accomplished in bringing out this Pinot Gris which heightened our enthusiasm for this course.  Green beans added our favorite color with crispiness.
Next, we were introduced to a Cabernet Franc that matched well with La Volaille, which seems to be the harbinger of things to come from that New England State two states north of Greenwich: Vermont boneless Quail with dry fruits and winter farcement, which is a root vegetable.  Peachy found this to be the most interesting dish as in exotic, and it is also appropriate for the chilly weather upon us.  
Finally, the ultimate course of the savory part of the meal concluded with the winning La Viande: Medaillon of Venaison drizzled with Grand Veneur sauce and classic accoutrement.
We can't remember the last time a carnivorous dish looked as fantastic as a piece of chocolate, but this one did.  Every bite was as succulent as you'd imagine and the presentation was exquisite.  
Jean-Louis must have been reading as we have difficult decisions at dessert time and often don't even make them and so try multiple desserts-and in our guinea pig role we were more than pleased to try the heavenly chocolate mousse that had a consistency that other chocolate mousses can only dream about, three sorbets of banana, raspberry and passion fruit that rested upon chocolate, a perfectly poached pear and an apple tart.
A cup of espresso and the perfect night was complete!
Our esteemed panelist who happens to hail from Europe with quite a culinary background himself echos everything previously said, and applauds this Finale Menu. He plans to make the endive with the three caviars at home this weekend as he commends the acidity and believed it was a great way to start the meal.  He tells Peachy: the fois as a terrine is as good here at Jean-Louis as it is in France or anywhere.  Though he enjoyed the scallop perhaps having it just warm for his taste would also have been terrific. Great matches were achieved between each course and its wine, especially with the Sauternes.  
Peachy picks Jean-Louis in Greenwich, Connecticut!
Jean-Louis is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.
Make your reservation tout de suite - and that means FAST- it closes later this December 2012!

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