One of the very special ingredients
Years ago I dined at Pic, a three star Michelin restaurant in France’s Rhone Valley. (BTW: the restaurant is still here and has kept its three stars, >30 years later). I was dining alone…. but trying not to act lonely. When I was asked if I would like an aperitif of the house, I inquired what it was. “Il est notre cocktail de Champagne, Madame.” How could I possibly go wrong with Champagne? “Certainment! ” I replied.
With great fanfare this stunning glass of bubbly was brought to my table as if I were their most cherished customer. It was amour at first sip. In those days not even three star Michelin staff spoke English, let alone at a restaurant that was in a non-tourist area. Much of the next few hours at the restaurant was spent trying to understand exactly what was in this absolutely exquisite masterpiece of a drink. I had such a wonderful time that I completely forgot that I was dining alone.
Prior to leaving, the recipe was finally written down for me and I’ve never forgotten it. The recipe is translated below, and for years it was the aperitif of my own maison when visitors came for dinner.
Add to a glass of Champagne:
~ 1 Tablespoon of Mandarin Napoleon
~ 1 teaspoon of Orgeat
For those of you who don’t know Mandarin liquor, you should. This is a Cognac made with the essence of mandarin oranges. While it’s expensive, you need very little. Moreover, Mandarin can be used in so many other ways---to flavor a dessert, or straight up after dinner. Orgeat is a syrup made from almonds and rosewater. It, too, can be used in various ways in the culinary world. (I often use it to flavor rice puddings.) It is inexpensive and will keep forever.
If you want to impress someone this summer, look no further.