[Normandy] Lunch at Alain Passard's Private Garden

On our last day in Paris, we went up to Normandy to have lunch at Alain Passard's private garden as part of OAD's special event! It was a gorgeous day to check out the French countryside and our day started with a tour around the beautiful estate with the head gardener who explained the philosophy behind the organic farm. Alain Passard started growing his own vegetables ever since 2002 and he now has three gardens in France to meet his needs for serving the best vegetables at his 3 Michelin star restaurant L'Arpege. I haven't had the chance to visit his restaurant yet so I was really excited to finally be able to try his food (especially after watching Chef's Table)!

Alain Passard was all smiles when he came out to greet us before he went back into the kitchen to prepare for our lunch while we toured the gardens.

The head gardener explaining interesting tidbits about the garden as we took a stroll around the expansive estate. 

A nesting box for beehives.

After the tour, we then made our way into the cottage where Alain was prepping the food and where we would be eating our lunch. 

We got a sneak peak of the dishes we were having that day including roasted chickens on the stove and fresh vegetables straight from the garden!

Baby radishes with salt as snacks before our lunch.

More snacks with colorful vegetables puree made from Carrot / Tarragon, Turnip / Rhubarb / Thyme, Beetroot / Strawberry, Spinach / Micromeria, Turnip / Carrot / Laurel, and Zucchini / Peas / Verbena.

Time for lunch to start so we moved into the dining room where the tables had centerpieces made from flowers and vegetables from the garden.

Amazing bread and butter that we helped ourselves to - I had to be careful not to eat too much bread as the lunch turned into a full day affair almost with a lot of food!

Alain Passard focused as service was about to start.

We started with this refreshing Mesclun Salad with a slightly sweet dressing to kick off the meal.

Baby Turnips, Fennel and Carrots in Aigre-douce (sweet and sour sauce)

Nettle Soup with Hay Cream

Spinach, Rhubard and Sea Asparagus

Hot and Cold Egg with Sorrel Emulsion and Chive Blossoms

Stuffed Cabbage with Spinach in Parmesan and Rosemary Emulsion

I've never been a big fan of vegetables to be honest but after eating a series of vegetables dishes from Alain Passard, I have to say that I'm changed - the depth of flavors was just incredible! 

Next, we moved on to the fish and meat dishes starting with this salmon where it had been cooked on charcoal. It was mesmerizing to watch the chef in action as he expertly filleted the fish for serving.

Wild Salmon with Sorrel

Grilled White Asparagus with Baby Carrot, Turnip and Potato - we briefly returned back to vegetables with this incredible white asparagus which had so much flavors!

Roast Piglet with Zucchini Blossoms - the piglet was amazingly moist while the skin was super crispy. A funny story was that we were initially told that it was lamb which caused some confusion as it tasted just like pork - it definitely made me question all the lamb I had in all my life before we found out what it really was. I mean that would have been some magic if Alain can make lamb taste just like pork.

We had a preview of our next dish previously when we first visited the kitchen. 

Roast Chicken with Potatoes - Alain Passard is known as an maitre rotisseur before his vegetables-focused days and we definitely got to see this expertise with all of our meat dishes. Similar to the pork, the chicken was another satisfying dish with tender and juicy meat coupled with deliciously crispy skin.

Roast Beef with Shallots in Rooibos Tea Sauce

Roast Duck with Salad

As we finished with the savory food, we were offered Goat Cheese with salad before moving on to a series of desserts. 

Fresh Strawberries

Beetroot with Balsamic Vinegar

Creme Brulee

Pot de Creme

Rhubart Tart

Our lunch ended up taking almost 6 hours and it was one of the most amazing culinary experiences of my life! The food was fantastic of course but the fact that we got to see Alain Passard in action up close and personal was probably once in a lifetime opportunity (for me anyways). Since I haven't eaten at L'Arpege before, I asked some of the other people I was eating with how the food compared with the food at his restaurant. Some people told me that the dishes displayed the same "spirit" as what you'd find at L'Arpege while others say that the food we had today was prepared more traditionally. 

At the end we got to take home the knives we were dining with which was a souvenir created last year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of L'Arpege.

Thank you Chef Alain Passard for the wonderful meal and experience - hope that I get a chance to return again to the kitchen garden soon!

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