Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Last week I went to the opera, a marionette play in Greytown, and to Auckland to see Mary Poppins. But more on that another time. Maybe. Because more pressing is the dream food experience I had on Sunday evening.

I had been wanting to do a degustation for AGES. The thought of a million courses of small but perfectly formed dishes definitely sounded like my idea of a good time. However, they're often quite expensive and I didn't know who would want to spend all that money eating food with me.

Luckily, it was my flatmate Stuart's birthday and he organised a group to go to Le Canard in Thorndon for an eight course duck degustation, giving plenty of notice so that people could save their pennies. Although, it was extremely good value - only $80, plus $45 to have wine matched with four of the courses. And the extremely attractive and delightfully charming French waiter was thrown in for free.

Naturally, I photographically documented each and every course.

First we were given what seemed like a cross between red wine and sparkling wine. Usually I'm not a fan of either, but this was really good.

Then there was the Amuse-Bouche, 'A Taste of Homemade Charcuterie'. Duck mousse and duck terrine. Some people ate theirs off the spoon but I had mine on bread.

Then 'Truffled [is 'to truffle' actually a verb? I'm not convinced] Scrambled Duck Egg and Air Dried Duck Breast'. This was one of my favourites. Although this chef obviously doesn't subscribe to the 'you should be able to eat everything on the plate' school of thought. The long thin thing leaning on the egg was a delicious, delicious fancy sliver of toasted sandwich with strips of duck in it.

'Duck Gizzard and Fresh Goat Cheese, Honey and Raspberry Vinegar Dressing'. I didn't know what gizzard was, someone thought it was the 'waste meat', someone else thought it was from in the 'neck area'. I just looked it up and found out it's part of the digestive tract. In some situations I think ignorance is bliss because it tasted really good. Although I'd still have eaten it if I'd known what it was, I might just have been a bit more wary. The cheese was a highlight, it had walnuts in it and was very creamy.

This was the 'Duck Buillon with Foie Gras and Mushrooms'. The bowl came out without the buillon (I asked, it means 'broth'), which was poured from a teapot into the bowl once it had been set on the table. I do realise how foie gras is made and it does cause me some conflict. Le Canard has actually been the subject of some protests over it, but I've had it once before (in Paris) and it's so good. Maybe I am a terrible person. Emma had hers without the foie gras and said the broth and creamy stuff was still delicious.

We then had a 'Walnut Wine Granite' which I guess was a palate cleanser. It was amazing how strong the  walnut taste was. By this point I was in a kind of disbelieving joyful stupor that we'd already had so many amazing things, and that there were still three more courses to come. It was a great feeling. The excellently matched wine probably helped.

This was the 'Duck Leg Confit Croquette with Cepes Sauce, Peas Mousseline'. I loved mushy peas when I had them in England and I loved the fancier version - pea mousseline.

This was definitely one of my favourites. 'Roasted Duck Breast with Blueberry Sauce'. It wasn't as delicate as some of the other courses, but it was cooked perfectly.

I love dessert. And I really love creme brulee. So this was another favourite (I've said lots of things were favourites, so really, I think I loved them all a lot). I commented that the profiterole looked like an elephant. The French waiter (on whom I had developed quite a crush as I got more intoxicated) clarified that it was supposed to be a swan. Then when he brought out my hot chocolate, which was accompanied by a little biscuit, he said, 'I have a terrible joke - that is not an elephant' (indicating the biscuit). I was briefly smitten.

And then it was over. Almost four hours after it began. If only every Sunday night meal was like that.

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