I had to write down the dinner B and I had for our fifth anniversary before anything could disappear from my mind. We went to a little French place in Cologne–a very wise decision as it turned out. Since they only had one seating, I am a little startled that we managed to get reservations–but so, so happy. After they took our coats and seated us, we had apperatifs to start. I had apple juice hand-made in Toulouse from Pippin apples. B had something a little stiffer…
Before we even started ordering, they brought out a watermelon cube with a bit of something green on top–perhaps pesto? We could tell we had come to the right place for a heavenly meal. Also a rice chip with cod sashimi (B had to eat mine–I was sad).
Then the appetizers: we got the same one which came on three different plates for each of us. A grilled scallop with bernaise sauce, shrimp scampi wrapped in thin slices of bacon with two bits of tomato that had been heated with a torch so that they caramelized a shell on the surface, a raviolli with a cheese inside so light and delicate… oh. the ravioli melted in your mouth–B thinks maybe it was made of cheese too.
In a most civilized manner they asked us if we would like a pause in our meal, and for how long. We could only last 10 minutes. We spent it chatting with the couple next to us who thought when we arrived that I was German and B was American. I am still gloating. They were charming and he owns a restaurant in a little town outside of Cologne in a former ducal castle, and one of his former cooks now works at Le Moissonier. Then I was distracted by the elderly gentleman to my right who was clutching the hands of a *much* younger woman. Before the hand-holding I was thinking “granddaughter, perhaps?” Ahhhh, no. But then I was distracted from my judging by the main course…
B decided on veal with pine nuts, wasabi and brown sauce, couscous with saffron and veggies paired with a delicious red wine that was mostly a syrah with some other varietals mixed in. I believe I should pause here and mention that the flavors of all the dishes worked in harmony together, so things that I would not have assumed should go together… did. In a most heavenly manner.
I chose the Black Angus beef with the world’s lightest and most delicious bernaise sauce (in a container so large, I had to double check it wasn’t a soup I’d accidentally ordered), herbed potatoes, and a pine nut/artichoke vegetable compote on the side. The Black Angus was definitely the best steak I have ever eaten. Words fail me.
Now, here is where we come to the slightly painful part of the meal (for me at least). On the last page of the menu, there was a whole little biography of the cheese maker that supplies their cheese. Mr. Antoine makes cheese in Alsace, and he supplies to only terribly nice restaurants, and the President of France–and he is never allowed to come in the servants entrance. Because of the interesting event we’re expecting in December, I cannot eat soft cheeses, cheeses with marbling of blue in them, really any cheeses but hard, pasturized cheeses. Despite it being our fifth anniversary, my husband does not love me enough to give up cheeses made by Mr. Antoine. (Not that I can blame him, after smelling them). So he ordered the cheese plate, letting them pick the cheeses. Five beautiful cheeses arrived, arranged in the order in which he was to eat them. I am afraid I did not take this particularly gracefully. There were narrowed eyes, rolled eyes, and even a huff or two. But don’t worry, I consoled myself.
How you ask? By eating pain perdu with orange creme sauce, popcorn ice cream with caramel mousse and salt de sel, washed down by a tiny glass of milk with chocolate.
Ah, the end of the meal, no? No. B had coffee while I sipped “Casablanca” tea, which was a peppermint and bergamot flavored delight and when we finally asked for the bill they brought it with an orange infused lollipop, homemade marshmallows, tiny chocolate/peanut sandwich cookies the size of my thumbnail and caramels.
Everything was exquisite, none of it was too large, or too much, and I think I will have to come back to Cologne when I can do the cheese plate and wines. *What* an anniversary!