Pic, Valence

June 14, 2009

La Maison Pic was founded in 1889 by the great-grandmother of the present chef, Anne-Sophie Pic, the only woman to have three stars in the 2009 Michelin Guide for France. Her grandfather received his initial third star in 1934.

After an absence of ten years, Linda and I went back to Pic on June 9, 2009.

The sommelier came right after we sat down at our table. We ordered glasses of Laurent-Perrier champagne. We were each served a plate of four elegant hors d’oeuvres: (from the right) anchovy and radish, a peanut cube, a gel and a foie gras mousse sphere. Very good.
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There were two tasting menus. We chose the more expensive one which features dishes created at Pic over several generations with the original year shown.

On the advice of the sommelier we ordered a bottle of 2007 Niero Condrieu Chery and a half bottle of 2006 M. Chapoutier La Sizeranne Hermitage. Nice.

The menu started with
Crème brulée de canard des Landes avec son mousseline de pommes granny.
 
The rich duck flavor of the crème brulée was nicely matched with the tartness of the green apple mousse on top in the form of a duck.


LES PETITS POIS ET LE CAVIAR D’AQUITAINE
coulant de petits pois et caviar,
blanc mousseux d’oignons cébettes
 
A superb puree of fresh spring peas had been topped with a light scallion mousse. What you don’t see in the photo is a generous spoonful of excellent French caviar in the middle.


LE GRATIN DE QUEUES D’ECREVISSES
de mon Grand-Père, à la façon de sa mère Sophie -1929-

This is an elaboration of a traditional recipe of the region. Pic‘s version has the crayfish tails in a sauce Nantua, or a bechamel enhanced with crayfish butter. Black summer truffles from the Vaucluse were included and the dish was caramelized on top. Despite all the haute cuisine in the preparation the elegant crayfish flavor dominated.

LE BAR DE LIGNE AU CAVIAR D’AQUITAINE
comme l’aimait mon Père -1971-

Underneath the foam is an excellent piece of line-caught sea bass. The fishy saltiness of the caviar brings out the flavor of the bass. It is hard to imagine the chef’s father using a foam topping in 1971, but I guess she has the right to bring things up to date. Nonetheless, for people my age, it would be interesting to know what he did use on top.

LE CLASSIQUE TOURNEDOS DE BŒUF CHAROLAIS ET LE FOIE GRAS DE CANARD DES LANDES
en strate revisitée, crémeux de poireaux crayon à la noix de muscade -1985-
 
For me there is no better beef than French grass-fed Charolais. This was top quality, as were the interleaved cubes of duck foie gras. This was a rich dish to be enjoyed slowly with our Hermitage.

LES FROMAGES FRAIS ET AFFINES


The cheese selection was varied and large. We could not resist.

L’INTEMPOREL SOUFFLE CHAUD AU GRAND MARNIER

We had a choice between the hot soufflé and
LE SOUFFLE GLACE AU GRAND MARNIER
de mon Père, which would have been more in the retro spirit of the menu. But we chose the former and it was very good.

The second dessert on the menu was
LE CHOCOLAT TAÏNORI ET LA VIOLETTE
l’esprit d’un finger, ganache ivoire à la violette
sorbet et croustillant chocolat,
but we avoid chocolate in the evening and asked for the dessert from the other tasting menu:
LA CERISE BURLAT ET LA FLEUR DE SUREAU
compotine de cerises fraîches,
mousseux et sorbet aux fleurs de sureau, fine feuille meringuée

This was seasonal and regional. On our drive into Valence from Nyons we saw many cherry orchards being harvested and cherries for sale by the side of the road. The elderberry sorbet was nice, but the meringue added unneeded sweetness.

The Mignardises were lovely, but too sweet.

Our meal had been excellent, up to Pic‘s high ratings. The service was very good and the ambiance fine. We were surprised when the customers for the last four tables arrived around 9:30. This might seem normal in Paris or Spain, but not in the Rhone Valley. But it was interesting that on a mid-week night in the middle of the “crisis” this very high-priced restaurant was full.

After our meal we took a walk outside for some fresh air and then returned to our room. Pic is not as successful as a hotelier as it is as a restauranteur. Our room had striking modern design, but the chairs were not comfortable. The swimming pool was small and not clean, surrounded by uninviting pool furniture. The Wi Fi did not work, but the friendly staff let us use one of its computers.

http://www.pic-valence.com/index-en.php

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