About a month before my trip to Paris, my friend Marko Gnann, who gives where to eat advice I always take, recommended the Sunday brunch at Le Crillon. He described the amazing buffet, the excellent price, and promised it would be the only meal we would eat for the rest of the day. He was right about all three except that we almost didn’t find out because when Zach called a month ahead he was told that there were no reservations to be had and that it had been filled a whole month before then! Since Zach was arriving in Paris several days before my arrival I suggested that he go in person and explain how my bloggers all over the world would love to share this experience. They most graciously made a place for us without his having had to get down on his knees and beg which would have been worth it but I’m not sure he would have been willing to go that far! I had never been to Le Crillon before and it was like stepping into a fairy tale palace. Despite the formality, one was immediately put at ease by the professional but friendly staff.
We began with a glass of excellent champagne, and then a seemingly endless array of plates started arriving. There were two types of butter, one demi-sel from Brittany , two different house made confitures (one was rhubarb), a menu offering a choice of main dishes, and a side table bearing a large variety of petites four, three types of "line caught" smoked salmon, two varieties of ham, croissants and pain chocolat. I tried most everything. We were seated right next to the pastry part of the table which made it ever so convenient to reach over without even having to get up! Everything was delicious but my number one favorite was the brioche mousseline that was brought to our table. I would have been happy just with that. The server told us that the secret was serving it hot from the oven, but I wanted to know more. I asked him to ask the chef and he returned saying the chef was not willing to part with the details. Throwing both humility and pride to the wind I handed him the book blad with the 8 photos I had brought for Zach and said: “show this to the chef and maybe he will reconsider.” The waiter came back with a few interesting tidbits more: The dough has to be beaten an extra long time.(I asked if by hand because Madeleine Kamman had told me years ago that with all the butter in a brioche mousseline it must be beaten by hand). He also said that the butter is higher than the rest of the ingredients—60 to 70% but I’m quite sure he meant higher than the flour because my brioche is 50% though I do give suggestions for making it with more. But look at this texture! Zach and I finished all but one slice of the tall brioche column because we knew it wouldn’t be the same the next day. We also knew that the lemon Savarin would be and happily I did what no self-respecting French person ever would—I slipped it into an American restaurant ‘doggy bag’ container I just happened to be carrying and shared it with Zach after we left. It was indeed fantastic the following days. Post Script Just before leaving, Zach leaned over and whispered to me that the young French woman at the table behind us had been staring at me the entire time. I couldn’t figure out why. She couldn’t have recognized me from the Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour bag so it must have been the look of shear joy on my face the entire meal that just wouldn’t quit!