Sunday, February 5, 2012

Incredible Edible Adventures at Chez l'Ami Jean (Pt 2)

Part 2: The Feast

We left off when Jego was shouting "Bonsoir" to me, and I was wanting to look over my shoulder to see if he was saying hi to someone else.  In my head, I'm secretly hoping that I will continue to receive the unspoken (and inexplicable) best-friend hook-up that I have received on previous visits, unsure every time whether last time was a fluke, and I'll go back to nobody status this next time around.

Alas, or, "O Fortuna!": the status remains, and in fact, reached a new level of general "Are you kidding me?"-ness tonight.  Usually it's a free appetizer, an upgraded main entree, or a dessert wonderland sent over.  This time it was a complimentary terrine to start with, an entirely upgraded parade of 5 courses and 2 side dishes, completely different from what we had ordered, a trio of desserts, and a digestif.

When we sat down, we were immediately given this paté terrine, a pot of cornichons, and three wooden boards with knives.  

At first, I thought it was a type of shared paté that everyone got at the beginning, where you could take a slice and then the next table got to have some.  But we realized once they cleared it away that no one else around us got it.  So we started getting giddy thinking that perhaps we had just gotten our first olive branch of favor extended.  It was indeed an indication of things to come.  

Incidentally, this delicious paté studded with pistachios completely redeemed paté as a genre of food for Kyle.  He thought he didn't like paté.  Ho, ho, no more.

We decided to get the 55€ "Petit Voyageur" tasting menu.  The "Little Traveler", we were told, was 4 mini courses that included a soup, fish, pork, and dessert.  

This beautiful domed bowl was set in front of us filled with crispy bacon pieces, diced potatoes, croutons, and a pile of tiny minced chives.  
Then the waiter poured a creamy watercress emulsion on top, which, after joining forces with the delicious pile underneath, became the most delicious soup in the world.
By all accounts, the fish should have come next.  Instead, we were given a plate of barely seared, rare Wagyu beef stuffed with seared foie gras, and topped with a briney oyster, black truffle shavings, minced chives, and sesame seeds.
Wagyu is Kobe beef, considered to be the most tender and flavorful beef in the world.  I saw this on the daily special menu as an appetizer for 32€ ($41). Not that anyone's keeping tabs, but that's generosity on top of generosity.  Sometimes I think maybe I'm his sister's doppelganger, and he has bad eye sight, and he sees me and just thinks, "Hey, it's my sister!" and starts sending over stuff.  It's the only explanation.

Up next...the fish course?  Nope.  Just something else entirely awesome and delicious.
Pan seared quail breast topped with an herb purée, in a creamy quail egg emulsion.

I think Kyle's face says it all.
Up next...a scallop duo!  Another thing that I love about fresh French food.  They literally got a crate full of scallop shells, cracked them open, and cooked them right on the shell.  That's how fresh they are.

Case in point, picture from their Facebook page:

And the finished product:
Two scallops on their shells - Scallop #1 topped with herbs, baby sea snails, and crisp bacon pieces,
Scallop Deux topped with a beautifully cooked, fall-apart tender piece of pork, with the continued bacon, scallop & sea snail goodness underneath.

Jego came by twice during the meal to ask how everything was.  "Ehhh...Can you do better?"  Right.  We mostly just smiled and nodded and exclaimed "Trop bon!" or "Super!" and "Merci!" and whatever else we could think of.  I can never think of good French words that translate to "Can I move into the kitchen and live there forever?"

Which course are we on now? I've lost count.  #6?
Pan seared lamb, cooked medium rare, topped with jus and toasted sesame seeds.
As if that weren't enough, the waiter drops down a wooden carving board, practically taking up the whole table, topped with a giant bowl of meaty wild mushrooms in a thick & savory broth.  We all agreed that the mushrooms may have been the champions of the meal.  They were so rich and full of flavor.  Maygan didn't even LIKE mushrooms before France.  Now she's all about them.  See what the French can do?

The carving board was also accompanied by two mini dutch ovens filled with purée de pomme de terres -creamy, buttery, ultra smooth mashed potato heaven, hardly recognizable as potatoes in such a form as this.
I can't even think straight, let alone take a non-blurry picture. Put that whole thing in my purse.

Stuffed to the brim, and barely able to contemplate dessert, the famous rice pudding arrives, with its trusty sidekicks, the toasted almond nougatine and salted caramel cream.
Ah, yes, clearly it's a giant bowl of cottage cheese!  Our favorite!

I don't know how to impart the light airy creaminess, the perfect amount of vanilla-hinted rice pudding sweetness, complimented so perfectly by the buttery/salty/creamy caramel sweetness & crunchy toasted nutty nougatine.  Just know that we take simultaneous bites, get wide-eyed, and start making caveman-like noises and exclamations.

But wait, we're not done yet!  There are two other desserts on a raised wooden platform with our own set of 6 mini wooden spoons:
On the left: Sweet creamy custard with traces of mandarin oranges & juice, topped with crumbled pistachio pieces. On the right: A deconstructed "Mont Blanc" mini dessert - Dollops of chocolate chestnut custard & vanilla custard on the bottom, topped with fresh whipped cream, chopped chestnuts & crunchy meringue.

Side note - "Mont Blanc" is a classic French pastry composed of soft vanilla creme, covered by a dome of thick chestnut cream piping, all on a base of light crunchy meringue.  It looks like this:

These pictures are from, the authority for all things pastry-related in Paris.  Even though I originally intended to just show what it looks like, I realized that I actually had this during a pastry lunch with Adam (Paris Patisseries blog writer/ultimate pastry authority) at Angelina, so I'm mentioned in the review, and yes, it's awesome, and yes you can have my autograph.

Here's his Mont Blanc review.

The final "Hey since we're secretly best friends/in a relationship/getting married/I have bad eyesight and think you're my sister" finale to the most ultimate hooked-up meal of all time: a digestif to help with digestion since we were obviously about to burst into 1,000 tiny pieces.
I honestly didn't catch what this was, but it was sweet and fruity and delicious.

We danced all the way home, vowing to come back as soon as humanly possible.
And that's the story of how Chez l'Ami Jean officially became my favorite restaurant in Paris.  The end.


  1. Green with envy as I sit here at my desk eating my bowl of leftover Superbowl chili. Grateful to be eating in a time where so many are in want. And yet... that feast looks - you said it - MAGICAL!

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  3. Oh girl... you know he remembers you. That night in May of 2010 wasn't just special for us. It was special for him, too!