I love my wife enormously!! She has already been my rock already for almost 17 years and will keep being it for many years to come. Although she says I don’t need to take her to special restaurants or places in general (read: “use the money for a bigger gift(s)”)… I do it anyway 🙂 Reason 1 because I like it myself going to great restaurants, reason 2 she just deserves it! I admit that I also do it because she sees me going to special restaurants on many occasions with other people and I don’t want to have her think I don’t like to do this with her … For her birthday this year I absolutely wanted to take her to Chalet de la Forêt. “AGAIN” I hear you say?? Last time I was here the chocolate dessert I had was soooo amazing that it was something my chocolate addicted wife just HAD TO HAVE!! Luckily they still served the dessert.
Another reason I like going to Chalet is because of my dear friend Cesar Roman. He always finds ways to surprise me during a meal. A great example about how Cesar is from a few years ago when he was still working at ‘Comme Chez Soi’ , he knew I was a big sherry fan, so he paired my whole meal with sherry’s …An amazing meal that I will always remember! This time for my wife’s birthday it wasn’t any different! Not that I had doubts that this time the quality or standards would be less than the other times. I was however curious how the experience would be now I wasn’t there with a winemaker or for an event. Curious to see in what way Cesar will be surprising me this time. Wine wise that is. When I was there with winemakers they obviously serve that winemakers’ wine. I was also very interested to know why Cesar chose to serve certain wines with certain dishes or maybe the other way around maybe the chef made some dishes to go with a particular wine, now he had the liberty of choosing whatever he wants.
As expected and just like the other times our afternoon at Chalet was perfect !! They have an eye for detail and try to make your time at their restaurant an unforgettable experience every single time you visit them. Chalet de la Forêt stands for high quality products prepared in a ‘not too sophisticated’ way, but yet special. What I mean with that is that is still an understandable dish and you still know what you have a front of you.
You can say without exaggeration that you get spoiled at Chalet de la Forêt! When you enter you take place in one of the comfortable armchairs or couches and before we even decided what we would eating we were already served an assortment of appetizers. It speaks for itself that we were served an appropriate drink to go with those appetizers and that’s where Cesar came into the game 🙂 We are no difficult people, my wife likes bubbles and for me the type of wine doesn’t matter that much as long as it is good…For my wife Cesar had chose a zero dosage Champagne from the Drappier vineyard. Zero dosage basically means there is no sugar added to the champagne or better to the wine before the bubbles are formed in the bottle. The fact that they don’t add sugar makes it a very unique product where the nature (even more then with ‘regular’ champagnes) is the main actor or better the quality of your grape the most important factor as you don’t “camouflage” it by adding sugar. For Cesar this seemed like the perfect and subtle way to start our afternoon. For me on the other hand Cesar had foreseen a glass of the first wine made by our mutual friend William Wouters named Roleta Russa (Russian roulette) :-). William actually made this wine as he wanted to find out what it would be like to make a wine without the help of his wine making wife (Filipa Pato). Compliments to my dear friend and mentor, if this was only a test I’m looking forward when he is out of his test phase 🙂
Sitting in the armchairs and enjoying all the delicious bites only gave us the taste for more it felt a big like sitting in a theater where you are getting warmed up for the big show that is about to start with a fireworks in the end 🙂
When they asked us to move to our table, we expected to immediately start eating the dishes we ordered, but No sir, after cleaning our hands with warm towels (that always reminds of my dad doing funny things when they used to give warm towels at the end of a meal at a Chinese restaurant. Worst part of it all it that I could see me doing that with my kids when they get a bit older #weareourparents ) more appetizers followed. In my case even with a very special pairing, namely with a very old Rotterdam juniper 🙂 distilled in an old school craftsmanship way (so not using modern techniques or machinery to make it). I didn’t drink my whole glass… as we were just getting started and it was a pretty strong juniper.
For the menu itself I started with a suggested dish, hop shoots with home-smoked salmon and a perfectly poached egg. One of those dishes that you don’t care it is impolite to clean your plate with a piece of bread. I like hope shoots, too bad they are only around and available 3 weeks a year…to good things about them, is that when you see them on the menu you know spring is there and you can already smell the summer sun getting closer 🙂
My wife opted for the first course from the menu itself, the Limousin beef Tataki with tomato aromas capers and old Balsamic vinegar (I could see a slightly jealous look on her face once I got my plate 😉 ) Again here we were in Cesar’s hands to find us the perfect pairing. For my wife again some bubbles (she just can’t get enough of it) and for me whatever he had to offer;-)
For my wife he brought a glass of La Closerie les Beguines extra Brut champagne which is a different one then the one she had with the appetizers. This champagne was also served in a regular white wineglass instead of a champagne glass to bring out more the wine behind the bubbles and gives you the chance to explore the complexity of the champagne. I know to some people it might seem funny that top sommeliers like Cesar take a lot of time to find the perfect glass to serve a particular wine or drink… but I dare you to try yourself serving the same wine in a few different glasses. You’ll be astonished the world of difference in flavors depending on the glass you’ll be exploring!! The reason for Cesar choosing a different champagne, is because with the Limousin tartar you need something slightly stronger, the zero dosage wouldn’t be at its proper place here.
For with my dish Cesar wanted me not to try 1, but 2 wines that according to him worked very well with the dish. 2 great wines I must say. The First one was a rather ‘classic’ wine, a 2011 Bourgogne Village (chardonnay) from the Leroy vineyard ( is considered as one of the best red Burgundy winemakers). In Burgundy the “Village” wines might be considered as the ‘simple’ wines, but it is at this level where a winemaker can actually show his talent as this is mostly the entry level by lots of people… if one likes the simpler wines, the step towards the more complex big brothers is easier made. The second wine was maybe the biggest surprise, a 2014 white Rioja wine which is a Malvasia grape blend? I honestly didn’t know Rioja made such good white wines.. which also the reason why Cesar served it 🙂 Even though the 2014 Rioja Blanco is relatively young it already has the complexity of a good Bourgogne or Rhône wine. I think that this comes because of the fact the grapes are grown on 80 year old vines, the high location of the vines and the the wine ages for 12months on new French oak. A very impressive wine, no wonder it has been chosen as best Spanish white wine! This also shows that the Rioja Region can make more then only good red wines. Wines like this ask for a moment of silence if you ask me (which is something very hard for me to do)
For with our main course, the duck, our dear friend had foreseen a 2003 Barbera d’alba from the Elio Grasso. A winemaker that strives for harmonious and balanced wines, something I totally agree with when you taste this wine. I’m very impressed however with the long finish this wine has with beautiful notes of cassis and licorice… so if you’re a dark red fruit lover I’m sure you’ll like this wine just like me. If I must give a comment, for a Barbera it is softer then other Barbera’s I’ve tasted, but nevertheless a celebration together with the duck.
Le moment suprême, the chocolate dessert (that we got after a asparagus based pre-dessert).! I think my wife is still dreaming about this dessert! A mixture of warm and cold chocolate of different texture with if I’m correct some caramel undertones that makes every bit a pleasure and a moment in heaven. Last night my wife even asked me if they don’t do take out of this dessert 😉 (it might sound like a joke, but she doesn’t joke about chocolate 🙂 ) . With this Cesar served a French ‘Noix du pays d’OC’, a bio-dynamic distilled drink based on wine that is made with the noblest part of the fruit. You get the sensation of a higher alcoholic drink, but the affinity of a low alcohol liquor that only has a 17% alcohol percentage. A nose filled with nuts like almonds, pecan nuts with a little freshness of bergamot and I remember the scent of a brioche (bread). The taste from the Noix reminded me a lot like a sherry finishing with a pleasant caramel like aftertaste.
A birthday wouldn’t be a birthday without a candle… I think Cesar found about my wife’s birthday via FB as I didn’t tell him or anybody at the restaurant… but I could clearly see my wife was very happy with the fact they did something 🙂
To end out meal a cup of Arabica coffee blend from Antigua & Guatemala beans and how else, a table full of sweets, cakes, chocolates, etc…
Full and very satisfied we return home and can’t wait for our next Chalet experience and Cesar’s surprises!!