I’ve only been to three Michelin-starred restaurants in my life, and I didn’t pay for any of them.
The first one was in the south of France some 40 years ago. After having eaten one of everything, we placed the (possibly already full) credit card in a tastefully hollowed-out ancient book. To this day, the amount has never apeared on our credit card statement. The second one doesn’t really count, as I had booked the wrong restaurant and I don’t want to talk about it. And then there was last night in Geneva.
It was a gift, and in many ways it truly was. I saw and encountered several things that were entirely without precedent. It was sort of Cirque de Soleil on the table cloth.
The lights were dim, the pillows were plumped, the Christmas wooden soldier theme tastefully arranged and the spectacle was about to begin.
The butter girl passed with three different flavours (regular, vanilla, and pepper) and then my main starter arrived. It was an artfully-created miniature village built with bits of fig on a round slice of foie gras. In the middle there was a fig-jam pond. The little houses had real golden roofs. There was a wall of paper-thin pink wafer that stood up, ineffectually protecting the little hamlet from the wicked fork and knife that were about to descend.
The nice young man came to brush up the crumbs from my freshly-baked brioche, and then the second starter arrived. It featured porcini mushrooms in all their possible forms. There are, perhaps, reasons why Mövenpick does not produce industrial mushroom ice-cream.
Before the main course the knife girl came around with a set of six knives. You had to choose your handle colour. I chose shocking pink to delicately cut my venison. But the real treat was the chef’s speciality—a hallucination-in-a-glass called cappuccino. It was a mixture of potatoes and white truffles with black truffle crumbs sprinkled on top.
The nice young man gently prised the empty cup out of my fist and promised more…
The first dessert (called “a moment of sweetness”) was rather a shock, as there was a slice of raw fruit involved. This was more than made up for, however, by the decomposed miniature lemon tarts. And the main dessert was a magnificent jellied puddle of orange tastefully holding together a slice of apple on a biscuit.
After the chocolates and the fruit jellies, we finally ended the evening back at home watching the Japanese sumo championships on TV—which seemed especially fascinating and relevant after having eaten an entire village on my plate.
The gargantuan worlds of ritual and magic are now behind us and we have landed softly back into our Geneva-countryside world of bread and jam, baked squash, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
I have, though, put gold foil on my shopping list.