L'Ami Louis

L'Ami Louis is my favorite restaurant in the world, although eating there in September is not quite as thrilling as it is in the winter because they don't have baby leg of lamb, scallops, or oysters. Nevertheless, there was plenty of great food, including fabulous ceps, which are hard to find because of France's drought-stricken summer. That was followed by delicious frog legs, and the world's finest snails as well as roast chicken. Louis Gadby, the maitre d' as well as one of the proprietors, varies his sources for chickens, sometimes getting them from Bresse, and other times Les Landes. At this meal, he served a black-footed chicken called the Cou Cou de Renne. No matter where the birds come from, they are roasted in 600-800 degree Fahrenheit ovens, and are consistently the best I have ever tasted. The matchstick french fries can vary from sublime to greasy, but the goose fat sauteed potato cakes are always outrageously good. These are par-boiled potatoes sauteed in goose fat, put in a form that resembles a cheesecake, baked until they are crunchy and crisp on the top, then sprinkled with huge quantities of raw garlic and parsley. It is a potato dish to die for.

We had an extraordinary array of wines, from the crisp, lively citrusy 1996 Deutz Blanc de Blancs Champagne, to a succession of absolutely brilliant Châteauneuf du Papes scoring in the mid-90 to 100 point range. I know all of these wines, and they performed as well as possible, from the nearly perfect, youngest offering, the 2001 Mordorée Reine des Bois, to the extraordinary, sumptuous, full throttle Pégaü 2000 Cuvée da Capo. The two 1998s from Domaine de la Janasse were totally different, with the Chaupin pure, old vine Grenache revealing gorgeously sweet kirsch liqueur-like notes, a big, expansive, open-knit texture, and a silky, seamless personality. The denser-colored 1998 Vieilles Vignes was more brawny, robust, and meant for long-term aging. The 1990 Clos du Mont Olivet Cuvée Papet (the second bottle of this wine I had in less than a week) gave another extraordinary performance. We finished with a wine that will be available in America in the New York/New Jersey market. Made by Roberto Cipresso for the well-known beautiful adult film star, Savanna Samson, who was at the restaurant (attired in a provocative outfit that left little to the imagination) with her husband. She is a very enterprising young woman and knows her wines. The fact that she has employed Cipresso to make a wine under her name says a lot. The 2004 Savanna is a blend of Tuscan grapes with Sangiovese and Montepulciano dominating. Roberto Cipresso made sure I tasted it, and it appears to be a superb wine expected to retail for $35. Trust me, I didn't add any points for Ms. Samson's personal presentation!

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