I will never be grateful enough to my work. Although it is very difficult to define it this way. A daily commitment which you are paid for, couldn’t be described in any other way. Yet, I refuse this definition: it seems so trivial and reductive to circumscribe it in this single word.
My work is a catharsis.
Not only it allows me to travel, to know people and new places, but also to transform my fantasy into reality. Don’t you believe it? It’s so true! Take my experience today: what until a few hours ago, in my imagination, was only a TV program that has filled thousands of my teenage nights, now, however, is a real place. Made of cement and bricks.
Home to one of Joel Robuchon’s starred restaurants: the Joel Robuchon au Dome.
Let’s go by order: Macao is one of the special administrative regions of China. Like Hong Kong that I left, with great regret, this morning. It is located on the western side of the Pearl River mouth and borders to the east with Hong Kong, to the south with the South China Sea and to the northwest with the Guangdong Province.
Historically speaking, Macao was the last European colony: from the mid-sixteenth century until 1999, in fact, it was the “property” of Portugal, which right at the turn of the new millennium, decided to make it “free”, returning it to China. Macao (just like Hong Kong) represents the perfect iconography of “One country, two systems”: we are talking about a political solution proposed and synthesized in 1979 by the Chinese Communist leader Deng Xiaoping. In other words, while China affirms its uniqueness as a political subject, it allows the existence of some areas administered according to a different institutional order and a different economic system. Macao responds to this policy: it belongs to China, but maintains its own legal system, its police force, the monetary system, customs policy and immigration policy.
After this small, but very interesting, historical-political interlude, I can finally tell you where I am: on the top floor of the Grand Lisboa Hotel. Here, dominated by a wonderful dome, there is one of the starred restaurants of Joel Robuchon: not at all different from the Hong Kong’s one and, at this point, I also imagine the Singapore’s one too.
The room in front of me, as soon as I enter the restaurant, is marvelous and impressive: fully glazed, it allows a fantastic view. The atmosphere is what you expect: all elegance and luxury, all too French. Not at all suited to Chinese tastes.
It ‘s lunchtime, so, not to feel overfull by the end of the meal, I choose the “Découverte” menu (which includes only one main course). I also decide to add a couple of dishes to this menu, but I will tell you about it later.
Let’s start with the amuse bouche: salty and sweet butter that is taken with a spoon from a larger shape similar to a panettone. The portion, beautifully curled, is then placed on a saucer: it must be spread on homemade bread contained in a small basket in the center of the table. Served in eight different varieties (olives, cheese, apricots and bacon etc.), the bread is delicious: you would almost like to close the meal with it.
We continue with carasau bread, a bowl of dry ice on the side (very scenic with all that smoke) and a stracciatella with caviar, coriander and tomato jelly.
I taste it all with the first wine: a Meursault, Cru-Les Genevriéres Domaine Henri Boillot of 2011. Wonderful to the eye, with its clear color, gives the palate hints of vanilla and a slightly bitter aftertaste, very close to the taste of smoke.
The next dish includes a potato and egg pie, with two different types of sea urchin on top, chips with cuttlefish ink and a potato mousse.
I accompany the course with a Pommard Rugiens: from the strong structure with very toasted notes, shows a hidden side delicate and pleasant, thanks to the thousand floral hints that affect the nose first and then the taste.
Then we move on to the dishes that I chose to add to the menu: small burgers of foie gras and vangiù (amazing) accompanied by puffed potatoes and duck topped with cherries. Although the combination may be debatable, I must admit that he nailed it: the contrast between the strong taste of duck, among other things covered with cumin seeds, goes very well with the sweetness of cherries in syrup and ginger. Good job!
At the end of the meal the carts of the desserts arrive: the most interesting are a vanilla ice cream mousse, a meringue mousse and a custard and vanilla napoleons. Do not underestimate the trolley with small pastries: custard tartlets, coffee mousse and an incredible chocolate lollipop as well as apricot marshmallows.
Before leaving, I also find the time to have a chat with the executive chef: Julien Tongourian. Among Robuchons’t pupils, the chef took full possession of the local Macau after a long experience at the restaurant in Hong Kong. He is allowed to do some things that the other chefs cannot: for example, he can choose to use seasonal products without asking Robuchon’s permission, with the agreement to keep the historical menu plates unchanged.
The experience, for quality, service and taste, deserves three beards. Exactly how many I gave to Robuchon’s restaurant in Hong Kong. In fact it is not very different from it…