High-end gastronomy has been quite away from me, usually nothing more than a dream, for two main reasons: (1) I live in a small town, more than a few hundred kilometers from any restaurant that could be considered “high-end” and, (2) I usually don’t have the money to afford such a luxury.
Thus, it was with great enthusiasm I received an invitation from my brother-in-law Rodolfo to travel to Rio de Janeiro (around 1,800 km from my home) and meet the with the chef “Mauro Colagreco“, from “Mirazur” in Menton/Cotê D`Azur/France to what would be my first top class meal. No, I wasn`t invited for my cooking or blogging abilities (which in fact suck), but because Mauro and my niece Julia live together and they all know of my love for food. So, there I went.
Mauro prepared a chef`s menu, with some of the creations that made the Michelin Guide recognize his talent and attribute a star to his cuisine. The dinner took place at “Olympe“, one of the best restaurants in Brazil and headed by the chef Claude Troisgros and his son Thomas.
This was the menu:
Sorry, but I just can’t highlight any item of this superb menu, as all dishes were simply amazing. Every bite had a hidden surprise to my freshman taste buds. This doesn’t mean I don’t have my favorites. Yes, I do. The first and the third courses.
The first course was composed by fresh oysters that, by coincidence, were shipped from my home state, Santa Catarina, and are considered the best in the country. Every oyster was delicately wrapped by a thin pear sheet and laid over a pear cream with diced pears and onions and watercress sprouts. You could taste the sea, the same sea I used to swim into during my childhood. Of course this had to be one of my favorites, after all a real dinning experience is much more than just chewing.
My second favorite? The third course, a grilled jumbo shrimp served with 3 brazilian roots (sweet potato, cassava and the less known arracacha – Arracacia xanthorrhiza), some petals and watercress sprouts. The sauce was simply fantastic, based on bone marrow. I could have eaten this all night.
These were my favorites. But let`s go back a bit, to the second course, a composition of asparagus in three different ways: green, white and sliced in a yogurt and orange sauce with lime and grapefruit. I`m not a huge fan of salads, but this was light and the sauce dripped from heaven.
Fourth course was a stripped bass with yam pure and a foam of smoked clams. Some of my friends elected this as the best course.
Than, it was time for the duck breast, with caramelized radish and sesame seed sauce. The breast was cooked to perfection and matched well with all other components, including a small package of confit (sorry, I was not able to identify the leaf wrapping – have to ask the chef next time I meet him).
A top chef is someone not always cooking his/her meals to perfection, but always trying to please and surprise his/her guests. And Mauro did that by present a dish not on the menu, truffles on an egg yolk sauce. I had tried black truffles before but, let me assure, it has little to do with these Alba babies. The smell is pungent and unmistakable, as it is the taste. Only between you and me…I was not ready for that. I`ll have to train my palate much more before going into such delicacies (guess you understand what I mean).
Time for dessert. The first was an almond foam with saffron cream and orange sorbet, and the second a cold chocolate truffle and glazed cashew nuts in a chocolate sauce with “mate” tea ice cream. Both out of this world. The first was delicate and refreshing, the second with marked flavors, openly influenced by the chef`s birthplace, Argentina. I was much pleased by the second one, as mate is also a common drink in the southern regions of Brazil, where I happen to live.
Overall an unforgetable experience. Chef Mauro Colagreco demonstrated his skills and versatility, incorporating in almost all the courses typical Brazilian products, what coupled with the most unblemished technique, ends up in a festival of sensations I could hardly imagine.
Many thanks to Mauro for bringing Mirazur to Brazil.