We were booked into the George V, one of the most prestigious hotels in France.
We had an excellent lunch in the hotel, but then one might expect to. We wished to go out on the town for dinner, so outside the hotel, we hailed a taxi and asked to be taken to a first-class restaurant. He drove us round the block and deposited us outside Fouquet’s Restaurant. I wonder if he was a relation of the taxi driver who had done something similar in Menton in 1968 ?
The restaurant is on the corner of the Champs Elysee and Avenue George V, that is less than 100 metres from our hotel.
We took our time going through the menu and eventually ordered a beef stew. Then we got the wine list. It was like a Filofax book listing all their collections, as well as the special individual bottles. The price of a bottle ranged from about £10 to several hundred pounds.
Here is a recipe for Boeuf Maconnaise. It’s another of those that takes a long time and, normally, can only be undertaken by a housewife working at home or anyone at week-ends.
There is a marinade: ingredients 1 carrot, 2 cloves of garlic 1 onion, a tablespoon of olive oil, a half dozen peppercorns, a sprinkle of salt and a glass of red wine.
Then, the ingredients for the main part of the dish: One and a half kilos of topside. 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a Spanish Onion, a bouquet garni, a clove of garlic, 150 millilitres of beef stock, 115 grams of button mushrooms and another glass of red wine (if there’s any left).
The Sauce ingredients: A shallot, a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of flour, 250 millilitres of concentrated stock.
Method: First of all make the marinade. Slice the onions and carrots thinly, mix with the Chopped garlic, olive oil, peppercorns, salt and wine. In a saucepan, bring the mixture to the boil and let it boil for a minute or so. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool.
Lay the meat in a deep dish and pour the marinade over the top of it. Leave the meat in the marinade for, at least, twelve hours, turning it from time to time.
For cooking the beef: Crush the garlic with salt, chop the onions and carrots. Lift the meat from the marinade and drain off as much liquid as you can. In a braising dish, heat the meat on its surfaces. Remove the meat, turn down the heat and then fry the onions and carrots in the dish. When they are browning, replace the meat and then add the garlic, the bouquet garni, the wine and the stock. Cover and braise on a medium heat for three hours, basting and turning the meat from time to time. Remove any fat from the surface of the marinade and strain.
For the Sauce: Gently fry the shallots in the oil, add the flour and cook until they go brown. Take the pan off the heat and add the stock and the marinade. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook with the lid off for fifteen minutes.
Quarter the mushrooms and ad to the sauce, continue to cook lowly for five minutes Remove the meat, reduce the liquid in the pan by half and strain it into the sauce. Bring to the boil.
Carve the meat and serve, spooning over some of the sauce.
The atmosphere within the restaurant was magical. There would be no fussy eaters in there. There would be loads of Gourmets and wine buffs, sampling the delicious fare on offer.
We found a Cote de Rhone – Hermitage and I pointed to it in the Filofax. We got the bottle and, with our main course, we started to drink it. It was wonderful, it was also almost £30. He had given us the wrong bottle. We discovered this when we received the bill.
What an experience to be in Paris and be able to dine in the George V and Fouquet’s, twice, in the same week.
Next chapter: Chapter 101: Nouvelle Cuisine