A journal, inspired by my love for my daughter, that embraces quality food, service and experiences which make life worth living. In the words of Tennyson's Ulysses, " I cannot rest from travel. I will drink life to the lees." Seeking that incredible dining or hotel experience and writing about it.
Celebrating Foie Gras - Le Beaujolais, Mercure Centre Hotel, Abu Dhabi
When I think of French cuisine, there are very distinctive images that float into my head. It is a gastronomic powerhouse that has left the world a richer place by its contributions. One of those things the French have given us is Foie Gras, and while there is a lot of sensitivity around the way it is produced, I do love it! Readers of my blog will attest to that. Hence, when I previewed the Foie Gras Festival at the beautiful little bistro at Le Beaujolais at the Grand Mercure Hotel in Abu Dhabi, I was beside myself.
Abu Dhabi is awash with steel and glass that house some opulent hotels and restaurants. It is really quite impressive. Sadly, there are not many restaurants that have that old city charm, the proverbial hole-in-the-wall restaurant where you can have a glass of wine and enjoy a simple meal. Thankfully, there is Le Beaujolais which is able to offer a guest that experience. Old school charm.
A look at the menu shows 22 dishes with foie gras as the principle ingredient. We start off with the Terrine of foie gras with an onion compote. It is simple, with the restaurant's own ethos coming through in homely slices of toasted bread. Finally, with a generous serving of terrine, it is quite a substantial way to get the evening started.
Our wine, meanwhile, is an Alsace Gentil "Hugel" 2014, a wine that combines Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sylvaner& Pinot Blanc and Muscat. It is a perfect choice as it is not simply the sweetness of a Muscat or Riesling, but is quite balanced thanks to the other grapes.
Next, we try the Duck foie fras with sea scallops. It is a daring combination in the Abu Dhabi context, and it works. I think we have become too used to foie gras dishes being served with a fruit compote or jam so that we can have the sweetness as the dominant flavour, often overpowering the foie gras. This dish shows how a robust searing of foie gras with a bit of foie gras jus and the chef's secret sauce, you can have a winner - and don't forget that scallops have a mild sweetness anyway - a wonderful dish.
The next two dishes are a contrast in styles. First, the Purse of foie gras with fresh fruits caramelised is an intense dish with sweet and sour combining well with the port wine sauce. Varying textures of, especially the strawberry and apple, add to the complexity of the dish. Then, we have Foie gras and mushrooms which is a very sophisticated dish in terms of its flavours. There is not a hint of sweetness, with black pepper making this dish its own. Because the two dishes are served at the same time, my guest and I are abe to move from taste to another and back - a perfect way to enjoy these two dishes.
During dinner, I have the pleasure of meeting Executive Chef Philippe Garcon. If ever you have the pleasure of dining with a chef in Abu Dhabi, it should be him. He contextualises the foie gras menu and adds a great deal of colour to dinner. In his interaction with Chef de Cusine Omar, you can see a wonderful team with a deep understanding of each other.
For our final dish, we have the Duck confit and pan fried foie gras with pork on sauerkraut. It is a variation of the dish that is on the menu and it excites me. On appearance, it is like a typical Le Beaujolais dish, with simple presentation and a healthy , large portion. This is the kind of dish that makes the restaurant immensely popular.Homely. Hearty. In terms of what is on the plate, the sauerkraut holds everything together. My dish of the night.
The Foie Gras Festival is further proof that Le Beaujolais is a very special restaurant. In celebrating foie gras this way, the restaurant pushes to the forefront a slice of French culture right in the heart of Abu Dhabi. The menu itself is varied and will surprise guests with the wonderful way in which foie gras is brought to life on the table. Add to this that signature relaxed, in-your-mother's-kitchen feel, and you have the perfect night out in Abu Dhabi's most enduring little gem of a restaurant.
The Foie Gras Festival runs from October 13-27.
The Essentials Le Beaujolais, Mercure Centre Hotel, Hamdan Street, Abu Dhabi +971 2 6333555 Average price for 2 people incl a glass of wine - 450AED