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Bill Spohn

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Am I Quackers, or is this Cruel?

by Bill Spohn » Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:05 pm

One of the oldest and arguably the best restaurant in France is the Tour d'Argent in Paris.

I have been researching recipes for an upcoming event and came across a description of their famous duck, prepared by chefs specially designated as 'canardiers'. You have probably seen the large duck presses in movies if you haven't seen them in person.

What threw me was a description of the recipe, in which it is stated that the ducks are customarily slaughtered by being suffocated!Image

I'd have thought that if the aim was to snuff a duck without getting it riled up and full of hormones (ever taste a deer that was chased by hounds immediately before being killed?), that subterfuge and silence would be a more humane way to do the necessary job - a wire noose would be my choice (wielding a large sharp blade in a crowded kitchen courtyard might result in some untoward damage to various sous-canardiers - "See Pierre, he with the pronounced limp and high voice - never get in the way of a canardier with a scythe...")

And just how do you smother a duck (except in sauce) anyway? Do you insert them in large "sacs de mort en plastique" and have a bunch of heaving baggies of expiring fowl about the place?

And by the by, they started assigning numbers to each duck a couple of hundred years ago and the book I am reading states that they will soon pass their millionth duck (1984). Anyone know what they are up to now?
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Bernard Roth

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Re: Am I Quackers, or is this Cruel?

by Bernard Roth » Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:56 pm

Why do you think it is even arguable that La Tour d'Argent is the best restaurant in France? Or even among the best. Michelin just downgraded them to 1 star, non?
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Bernard Roth
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Am I Quackers, or is this Cruel?

by Bill Spohn » Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:58 pm

Didn't know they'd been downgraded, Bernard.

They used to have quite a rep.
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Hoke

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Re: Am I Quackers, or is this Cruel?

by Hoke » Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:04 am

La Tour d'Argent might've been downgraded by Michelin (it has been rumoured for some time that they were teetering), but I have exqusite memories of a wonderful evening spent there about five or six years ago.

At least for that night they were spot on.

The food was great, but what was memorable was the way we were treated by the entire staff. And, yes, the marvellous view from the top floor, looking at Notre Dame and Sacre-Coueur all at a glance, then watching the fireworks from the Tour Eiffel at the finale of the meal.

At the beginning of the evening, as our group was assembling from different parts of town, three of us were sitting in the main floor lounge sipping sparkling Bourgogne or Aligote. When the final person arrived the one of our party called over to the young man staffing the room and said, "We're all here now. Guess you'll want be wanting to move us along, eh?"

With a rather shocked look, the young man quickly responded, "Oh, sir, there's no hurry. The night is for you, not for us. When you are prepared, we will be ready." It was a perfect way to start the evening, and every moment lived up to the expectations we had.

So they might be 'only' one star now...but I'd be willing to go back and give them another chance. :D
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Stuart Yaniger

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Re: Am I Quackers, or is this Cruel?

by Stuart Yaniger » Tue Aug 01, 2006 9:11 am

This is what often happens in downgraded restos who try to reclaim their past glories. There's just an inconsistency that one would not tolerate otherwise. Erstwhile three-star Pyramide has been that way for me- I've eaten there about ten times, with three stunning, state-of-the-art meals, three great disappointments, and four "excellent but not inspiring."

Unfortunately, the bill was the same whether they were "on" that night or not.

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