TLR was a part of this year’s Gout de France, a gastronomy event, organised yearly by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this report, FUNKE OSAE-BROWN, captures her experience sharing the table with the Air France/KLM general manager, Jean-Raoul Tauzin.
The soft music playing in the background ushered me into the dimly lit Sky Restaurant at the Eko Hotel & Suite, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. Well-dressed hostesses guided me to the terrace overlooking the tranquil Bar Beach. The silhouettes of red lights were playing a trick on the wavy sea below the thick darkness of the starless sky above.
Funmi Ojesina, corporate communications, Air France/KLM warmly welcomed me as she introduces me to Jean-Raoul Tauzin, Air France/KLM general manager. We took our seats as the cool ocean breeze swirled around us.
“It is a special dinner tonight, 21th of March,” he explains as he points to the peanuts on the table while the bartender puts two cocktail drinks beside the peanuts.” It is the tradition of France to show the public the gastronomy of France, the pleasure of cooking and tasting. This is the second time in a row French Ministry of Foreign Affairs will host the event. It is one of the famous chef in France, he organises this event, Gout de France meaning Good France.”
Gout de France is inspired by Auguste Escoffier, who launched the ‘Diners d’Epicure (Epicurean Dinners) initiative in 1921 for people to taste same menu on the same day in several cities around the world. And so Gout de France is recreating this experience in 2016 with 1, 500 chefs creating exquisite French menu worldwide.
After a few minute chat, Tauzin led us into the Sky Restaurant for dinner. The participating restaurants designed menus based on aperitif and canapes, starter, main course, cheese, dessert, French wines and champagnes. From bistro to gourmet dining, there was a meal for everyone.
In Nigeria, six restaurants participated. They are: Aarons Signature Restaurant, Enugu with chef Adedayo Ogunbowale curating the menu; Chez Victor Restaurant, Abuja with chef Victor K designing the menu. Others are Hélène’s Bistro, Abuja, L’aquarelle (Sofitel the Moorhouse), Lagos, Sky Restaurant (Eko hotels) Lagos, Zuma Grill, Abuja, with chefs Emeka Eloagu, Bosco Govera, Tarigan Benyamin curating the menu respectively.
On the menu at the Sky Restaurant, Hors d’Oeuvre was Duck Foie gras coated with sesame seeds and dashi broth served with a glass of Gewurztraminer, “Wolfberger” 2013. “Duck Foie is believed to taste better when served with white wine,” observes Tauzin.
After the that, we were treated to the Entrée (Starters), baked marinated salmon with Lemon grass and soy sauce served with a glass of Burgundy Chardonnay- Duc de Belmont. The Plat, (Main Dish) was grilled Lamb rack with lentils ragout and spring vegetables served with a glass of Clarendelle Inspired by Haut Brion 2005. You can bet that grilled Lamb was tasty as we all munched noiselessly on the table.
While we waited for the Fromages, a combination of Brie cheese, Camembert and Blue cheese, Tauzin explains each “recipe was based on cuisine that uses less fat, sugar, and shows concern for good food and the environment.”
In addition, he says ahead of March 21st, restaurants around the world proposed a menu that showcased France’s culinary traditions which was approved by an international selection committee of chefs.
For the second year running France has called on lovers of food around the world to have a taste of some of the finest French Cuisines through Gout de France. Tourism contributes 7.5 percent to French GDP and it has created two million jobs while 83.8 million tourists visited France in 2015. Most tourists said they chose France as a destination because of food.
“We believe Gout de France will once again serve as an excellent tool to promote France as a tourist destination and it will help generate the momentum that French tourism deserves,” Tauzin explains.
As an initiative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Gout de France aims to promote a dynamic, open and innovative form of French cuisine throughout the world. “In an effort to promote France, this one of a kind dinner will take advantage of international visibility, and aim to send a strong message to the world, through dynamic and creative chefs. We hope to carry the colours of French cuisine with pride,” he adds.
From the array of food served at the Sky Restaurant, I could tell that the message of the French cuisine is contemporary. It seems the traditional French cuisine is not dominating the 21st century culinary scene. Therefore, the chef blended his own culinary culture to that of France, rather than discounting it.
Also, the message depicted by the tasty food served is the excellence of French cuisine. A healthy, innovative meal as it reinforces the pleasures of eating, a symbol of France’s positive values.
Finally, the night was capped with Mango Carpaccio raised of red fruit cream flavoured with broad bean tonka as Premier Entremet; while a choice of white chocolate and ocnut mousse with passion fruit sorbet served with a glass of Jurancon was for Deuxieme Entremet.
Why not be a part of Gout de France next year to taste the finest of French cuisine?