Monaco | Le Louis XV Alain Ducasse

I went to Le Louis XV for the first time in August 2012. It was a magical experience (complete with fireworks ;) and one that I was sure was a once in a lifetime meal…because there was no way I’d be lucky enough to return again. 

But as fate would have it…

…fast forward to April 2014. And here! Again! 

At not only the same table, but the same seat at that same table. What are the odds?

We had the chef’s tasting which started with vegetable-printed bread (top photo), and Barbagiuan (second photo), a Monégasque speciality of deep-fried pockets stuffed with parmesan, leeks, swiss chard, and spinach. If you compare with the 2012 dinner, you’ll find many overlaps. I loved being able to re-experience all of it…

…from the tower of butter…

…both plain…

..and salted.

To the magnificent bread trolley…

…where I ate mini loaf after loaf of niçoise with wheat bran and olive oil, another accented with borage (pictured)…

…and savory bacon fougasse.

Provence garden vegetables with goat cheese and a generous pour of…

…young olive oil at the table. The still-warm cut of bread soaked it right up, so indulgent and fresh. 

These are gamberoni/prawns from San Remo, with a ring of rock fish gelée, and caviar.

Cookpot with spelt, chanterelles, morels, and wild vegetables. 

Mediterranean sea bass with olives, sweet tomatoes, and eggplant. 

Squab breast from Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Foie gras, potatoes, jus thickened with giblets…

…and my favorite glass from the night, 2001 Château Haut-Brion.

Here comes the cheese trolley ^_^

I had only goat cheese last time, but this time? A little bit of six – goat, cow, sheep in all textures.

Chocolates and bonbons, all house-made…

…followed by peitit fours. But wait! There is more…

…including one of my all-time favorite desserts (this was served as a pre-dessert in 2012). Mascarpone sorbet…

…with fraises des bois cooked in their own juices and spooned tableside. Ahhh heaven. 

We also had milk and pure sea salt ice cream. Complete with tuiles and curdled ewe’s milk.

The tisane trolley! Which you heard plenty about here.

Lemon-verbena, mint, and sage. 

I think I’ll start collecting gold teapots…

And the madelines! A giant, blooming basket, warm with scalloped shells and humps just the right size. Couldn’t resist one or two…

…followed by this dessert trolley. So cheerful with all those blue and white ice cream bowls. 

Guimauves! Snipped to order. These were fresh mint…there was vanilla in another canister.

We had nougats, salted caramels, and pâtes de fruits. It was never-ending! Four types of ice cream and sorbets…

…include this fraises des bois ice cream. Just a tiny scoop to taste.

It was midnight when dinner ended. Good time for a evening stroll around Monaco ^_^

Monaco | Hôtel Metropole | Joël Robuchon

Snapshots from lunch at Joël Robuchon in Monaco ^_^

The last time I ate a Robuchon restaurant in was in Taipei last autumn. That was a memorable meal (we’re long overdue for another great solo meal!) but the food at his Monaco outpost is even better. 

We’ll start with warm, house-baked breads like a buttery brioche, saffron roll, and slices of a currant-walnut loaf…

…so many options and check out that butter!

Then it was onto an amuse of foie gras and raspberry…

…alongside jamón ibérico and…

…pan con tomate.

Moving on to little bites to share…like tapas only a million times more fancy. 

The Monte-Carlo is a signature of king crab, young vegetables, mozzarella, and avocado. 

And these are sardines with green asparagus and lemon confit from Menton (one day we shall visit Menton to see what all the fuss is about their lemons…supposedly the best in the world!)

Crab with avocado and semi-dried tomatoes. 

Purple artichokes with squid, thyme, and chorizo.

Langoustine and truffle-studded ravioli with stewed cabbage.

Onto to the entrees! Quail and…

…chicken fricassee with bacon and baby onions.

Both served with Robuchon’s beloved mashed potatoes…equal parts potatoes and butter.

Are you ready for the best part of the meal? Meet the dessert trolley.

This concoction is whipped cream and vanilla custard gently folded together, piped into a bowl, and lightly brûléed on top. I wanted to devour that entire bowl. But instead…

…we opted for eight different desserts (you can select as many as you want off the trolley). Strawberries and freshly whipped cream. 

Baba au rhum with that custard/cream mix and a slice of fruit clafoutis.

Chocolate mousse served with brioche (what a super combination), and a cherry tart. 

Roasted pineapples and one of my all time favorites, ile de flottante. 

Then it’s time for tisanes and a nap ^_^

Tisane Trolleys in Monaco

Yesterday we checked out the afternoon tea trolley from Hôtel Metropole. And today we have…

…tisane trolleys!

These arrive at the end of every grand meal in Monaco, bright and lively with pots of fresh herbs. Sage! Mint! Thyme! Peppermint! Verbena! You can pick any herb you desire, do a blend of different herbs…

…or have the server put together a brilliant combination. He’ll ask, how do you feel? Then you can say, super stuffed or very content or I’m about to fall asleep (aka food coma). Depending on your answer he’ll customize a tisane. 

On one occasion I had rosemary-thyme and on another it was lemon-verbena with mint and a kiss of sage. 

The trick to making fresh tisanes potent/bold…

…is not just to steep herbs in hot water but to muddle it. You really want to get in there, and extract all you can from the herbs. Then strain and serve. 

Preferably from a gold kettle ;) 

Monaco | Afternoon Tea | Hôtel Metropole

Have you met the afternoon tea trolley at Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo?

The trolley gets rolled into the lobby lounge each afternoon…so decadent and very tempting. 

No point in resisting! A cup of darjeeling and anything your heart desires…

…like a half-dozen macarons…

…followed slices of a dark chocolate loaf and warm chausson aux pommes.

There are financiers, praline truffles, and citrus guimaves…

…don’t forget to save room for the most buttery palmiers in town  ^_^

Monaco | Hôtel de Paris | Le Grill by Alain Ducasse

Let’s go to Monaco today! We’ll have lunch at Le Grill inside Hôtel de Paris

…and start with fried squash blossoms, crab, and zucchini. 

Warm plush rolls…

…and butter, plain and salted.

And then! Seared foie gras over green and white asparagus…

…and a Ducasse signature, the hen egg with white asparagus and Maltese oranges.

Le Grill is on the top floor of the hotel so ceiling opens straight into the sky. The couple next to us ordered roast chicken. It was presented in a grand presentation, still smoking, skin crackling. And to “clear our the air” the entire ceiling opened up for a minute and closed back again. What a sight. 

And then it was time for my John Dory with broad beans and baby squid.

Allen had the beef with haricot verts…

…and sauce choron (which is like béarnaise but with tomatoes). 

At Le Grill you must always remember to SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT. 

Soufflés are the claim to fame and for good reason. They come in five flavors: Grand Marnier, Chocolate, Strawberry, Raspberry, Peppermint, Vanilla, and Pistachio. Grand Marnier is my go-to flavor for soufflés, and here it comes rising high above the ramekin!

The waiter opens the top just a bit…

…to pour in the Grand Marnier. And what a generous pour heehee.

Allen had the pistachio one which was also pretty good. 

And because there is room for more, petit fours! Chocolate-caramel cakes were my favorite. Best enjoyed with…

…and pot of mint tisane…

…for two ^_^