French gourmet dinner: 7th & 8th courses
Click on for more photos of decadent, rich desserts, pastries and incredible chocolate truffles!
Click here for the full menu extravaganza!
These are the final photos from the grand French dinner I helped at recently (thank God, you're thinking! Haven't they eaten enough??). Yep, there were eight courses, and everyone needed wheelbarrows to wheel their stomachs out of the house when it was over.
The proper dessert course was a Charlotte aux poires - coulis de framboise(delicate chilled dessert of sliced poached pear, sponge fingers soacked in armagnac and pear liqueur, a fresh pear puree with vanilla cream; served with a vanilla custard cream and a raspberry sauce). This dish was modelled one served at Lucas-Carton in Paris and Robert & I had a grand time decorating it in the most lavish, completely over-the-top, decadent way. More whipped cream? - but of course! And a little more on the plate too! A mint leaf here? Why not, and put a few more nearby while you're at it! I have to admit, that the baby pear plonked on top in a garish imitation of a centrepiece was my kitschy idea and it made me burst into hysterical laughter. Doesn't it just look like a dumpy old woman propped up there surveying the scenery??
The dessert, despite looking like it could sink like a lead balloon, was actually very light and a perfect, refreshing end to a very large, lengthy meal. Robert made the custard with real vanilla seeds (but, of course) and I felt the raspberry coulis really lifted the dessert; without it I think it may have been a little one-dimensional.
After that Robert made coffee (he even brought along special coffee had had sourced for the occasion) and served home-made truffles and pastries. These were absolutely the best truffles I have tasted IN MY LIFE! I know I've written just recently about Melbourne's best truffles, but they were the best you could buy. These are the best I HAVE EVER TASTED IN MY LIFE! I dream about these truffles! After I handed out my canapes early in the evening, and was considering whether I'd stay on to help Robert, it was actually the thought that I might get to taste another chocolate truffle that swayed the argument - they really were that good! I fervently wished I could take some leftovers home, but they were guarding them with their life. Robert had made 3 types of truffles: bitter dark chocolate infused with mint, rolled in white chocolate (gorgeous, rich but refreshing end to the meal), a Cointreau truffle tossed in cocoa powder and, the one I fell in love with most, a coffee and walnut truffle - this was mind-blowingly stunning. The coffee flavour was subtle, almost just a hint behind the dark chocolate, and the walnuts studded throughout tasted caramelised and crispy. I don't know how he did it, but that is something I have to recreate one day. Goodness I'm getting all worked up thinking about them!
Superfluous to our needs, and left largely uneaten (as we were all gorging on truffles) were some pastries from an excellent Melbourne pasticceria (Brunetti's - just off Lygon Street in Carlton, and home to Melbourne's best Italian hot chocolate). We had small cannolis and a few babas au rhum - which are sponge shapes completely soaked in rum syrup. Very sickly sweet, and a perfect complement to bitter espresso coffee (when you're not gorging on truffles after an 8 course French meal!).
Thus ends the amazing French gourmet dinner, at which I was privileged to help. It was an incredible experience, and we're still talking about it. In fact, we've decided we'd like to raffle another one to raise funds for our next European tour. The amazing thing is that Robert is happy to do it all again!!!