French Haute Cuisine

February 27, 2012

Why do the rich and famous make such a fuss about French Haute Cuisine? Why do so many privately owned jets fly to France just for a weekend getaway?   It’s probably because some of the finest dining in the world can be found in France. There are literally hundreds of restaurants that cater to the palate of the discriminating gourmet.  Many of the finest restaurants can be found in the city of lights – Paris.

French Haute Cuisine developed over the centuries in an attempt to rise fine dining into an art form. The basic premise of Haute Cuisine is the every detail must be carefully crafted to enhance the overall dining experience.  There are certain elements that are characteristic of French Haute Cuisine. The entrees typically have exotic ingredients and often include the liberal use of various herbs and creamy sauces.   In addition, there are extensive wine lists, elegant table settings, and formal waiters who seem to anticipate a customer’s every need.

Dinner usually begins with an apertif (mixed alcoholic drink).  This is followed by a three-course meal consisting of an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Many restaurants roll out an abundant desert trolley to tempt the patrons.  There aren’t many who could resist the delectable confections that are offered. Wine, of course, accompanies the meal.  The dinner is capped off by a cheese course and an after dinner drink – often a liqueur.

The menus are always in French.  An English translation is never provided. So for those who don’t read French, it is often wise to order the “Prix Fixe.”  This is a set menu that covers all the courses at a fixed price.  There is one drawback to ordering from the Prix Fixe menu – the diner may dislike one of the courses.  The most astute patrons always ask for a waiter who speaks English so they can be sure of exactly what they are ordering.  Such a bilingual waiter can also provide information about house specialties and help tailor the meal to the diner’s likes and dislikes.

So the next time you’re in Paris, be sure to check your Michelin Guide to find a nearby Haute Cuisine restaurant.  It will be a costly but memorable dining experience that you’ll be talking about for years to come.

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