Yesterday, my sister’s wedding was catered by Chef Phillippe Verpiand who owns Cavaillon Restaurant in San Diego. Dinner consisted of a 4 course meal (salad, soup, and two entrées) plus amazing desserts! I’ve never had legitimate French cuisine before so this was my first official foray into French territory… and I loved it. Note: sorry, some of the pictures are rather dark because dinner took place outdoors in dim lighting and flash makes the food look ugly, which it most definitely was not. And I would have lost all of the lovely details too, so I opted for non-flash micro shots instead.)
From left to right: Cheeseballs, Bacon wrapped Shrimp, and Ahi Tuna
Before we even get to the actual meal, they served hor’deurves. Sorry, I was unable to take better pictures of these yummy things because I was running around attending to things. However, I did get to eat one of each and my favorite was definitely the Ahi Tuna! The cucumber was fresh and crisp and gave the perfect crunch to the soft tuna. I thought the bacon wrapped shrimp was a bit too salty, mostly because I think I’m not that much of a bacon person. The cheeseballs were deliciously fluffy and the cheese oozed out in the perfect consistency (not too congealed, not too runny).
First course: Endive Salad with Walnuts and Cranberry served with Fourme d’Ambert crostini drizzled in Honey
This dish came with a crostini on the side, which was spread with cheese and sprinkled with what I believe is pear? The salad was surprising because the salad used bitter greens, which as they sound, taste quite bitter; however, the sweet vinaigrette were able to balance out the bitterness of the salad and actually enhanced the positive elements in the flavor of the bitter greens.
Second course: Leek and Celery Root Soup garnished with fresh Burgundy black truffles
A bit blurry, but the soup was a cream color with a sprinkle of fresh truffles floating on the top.
To be honest, I hate celery – so it was with some hesitation and a trembling spoon that I approached my first sip. But after that first sip, I realized that I was being silly. I could definitely taste a hint of celery flavor from the root, but it wasn’t as crisp or as sharp as fresh celery and it complimented the leek flavor well. And the truffles. Oh lord, saying that I love truffles does not give it justice. Truffles make the world a better place and made this soup delicious. Overall, the soup was rather creamy, but left me scraping the bowl for more!
Third Course: Sea Bass, Yellow Chanterelles, Mushroom Risotto
I have never, ever, ever had such delicious risotto in my life!! If not done correctly, risotto has the potential to be rather flavorless and bland, but this risotto was flavor packed with a huge punch. The mushrooms were flavored equisitely – everyone at our table made a comment about how delicious the mushrooms were (and fyi, if you’re wondering what a chanterelle is, it’s a funky looking mushroom that you’ve probably seen before). I was really excited for the sea bass because it is one of my favorite fish. My mom cooks it in white wine and the fish literally melts in your mouth, so I was expecting a lot; however, I felt like the sea bass kind of fell short. The sea bass was cooked well and the meat was tender and soft; however, I felt like it could have done with a little bit of salt or a bit more flavor.
Fourth Course: Five-hour slowly braised short ribs, red wine demi-glace, butternut squash mousseline.
Sweet Mother of God. Even though all of the dishes were delicious and well made, this dish was by far everyone’s favorite. First off, the short rib was incredibly tender. It was basically a chunk of short rib cut into a large cube. Usually with such a thick cut, you run the risk of overcooking the meat, but because it was braised for such a long time, the moment your fork began to sink into the meat, the short rib came off easily. For those of you who have never had mousseline, it’s sort of like a mousse. The consistency of the mousseline was a rather thick cream, which when smothered over a piece of short rib, tasted absolutely heavenly. The sweetness of the mousseline and the demi-glace blended perfectly with the savory flavor of the short rib to make one kick ass party in your mouth. You know when you watch Top Chef or Iron Chef or any of those cooking shows and the judges keep commenting about the perfect balance of flavors or whatanot? Well, while eating this dish, for a moment, I finally understood how these judges feel when they sample an absolutely stunning dish.
Now for the awesome part: Dessert. There was a choice of one out of three; however, I was able to take a small sample of each.
Dessert #1: Lavender Ricotta Cheesecake
Disclaimer: I don’t like ricotta cheese and I don’t like lavender flavored desserts. I also despise cheesecake. So obviously, I didn’t really like this one; however, from the tiny bite I had, I do think that the consistency of the cheesecake was spot on and the crust at the bottom was quite delicious. This dessert was the lightest in both sweetness and in flavor of the three desserts. It’s a must have if you like cheesecake, but unfortunately, I don’t.
Dessert #2: White Chocolate Pistachio Torte
This is the dessert that I picked out of the three. It doesn’t mention in the title, but there is a thin layer of raspberry preserve inside of the torte. The funny thing is that I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE pistachio, but I hate white chocolate and raspberry. Despite this, I thought this dish was phenomenal!! I was really full after the short rib course, but after a bite of the torte, I knew I just had to finish it. The first bite literally melted in my mouth in a complex mix of flavors. I could definitely make out the pistachio flavor, but something about it also reminded me of a sharp almond flavor as well. Everyone seemed to like this one the best and I completely agree!
Dessert #3: Chocolate Pyramid
This dessert is my next favorite. Really, it’s like a Ferrero Rocher disguised as a chocolate mousse cake. Starting at the top, there is a thin layer of chocolate. Below that, and for most of the cake, there is a lighter chocolate mousse inside. In the very center of the cake is a ball of thick chocolate, which I think was slightly hazelnut flavored. On the very bottom on the cake was a thin wafer that definitely had a hazelnut flavor. So really, it was a Ferrero Rocher in cake form. That’s not an insult, it’s a compliment, Ferrero Rochers are bomb.
Anyhoo, this is probably one of the last restaurant/food reviews that are coming up for a little bit because unfortunately, funemployment = operating on a budget. And if you really are funemployed too you probably wouldn’t be able to eat out either, ha. But really, on a good note, I will be cooking more and posting more recipes and results online so if you’re broke like me, we can enjoy delicious home cooked food together. Wish me luck, Thanksgiving is coming! Oh and since I’m going to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Norcal, my cousin Teresa, who took a culinary course in France, is going to show me how to make this FREAKING AMAZING stuffing! So look out for more delicious things to come!