Michael Bauer’s blog this week highlights one of my all-time favorite chefs, Alain Rondelli. He asks the following question –
Whatever happened to Alain Rondelli, a chef’s chef?
Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 5:32 AM in Between Meals, Chefs
Read here for the complete entry:
My comments at the end of the article are re-posted here.
Each and every meal we had at Rondelli was incredible. I remember once Rondelli was trying to make miniature bagels for a caviar dish he had in mind. He worked on those bagels for weeks. However, I think, our first meal at Rondelli set the scene for many meals to come.
Alain Rondelli had a special 20 course menu that could be specially ordered in advance. For our anniversary, one year, we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, that Sunday was one of the hottest days that San Francisco had ever had – about 95 degrees. We arrived at Rondelli around 6:00 PM and left around 1:00 am. The menu is produced below exactly as Alain wrote it. (In places I had trouble reading his writing). After the first 5 courses, we were dripping wet and took a short walk on Clement street to try and cool off. The next 4 courses were wonderful, but the heat was getting to us so we asked if we could move to a table closer to the door. Another break was called for after 3 more courses and we took another short walk up Clement. By then, it was beautiful outside – cool, but balmy. As we came inside, I mentioned to the maitre d’ that it was too bad there were no outside tables. Literally 4 minutes later, a table had been set up outside on the sidewalk with the potted palm from the hostess station for decoration. The next 8 courses were equally incredible, but we were now able enjoy the cuisine to the fullest. We kidded Alain later in the evening and asked what was the number of this table as we would love to sit here again. Of course, Alain said there has never been a table set in this location. We named it Table A, the hottest table in town. We had a plaque made and presented it to Alain on our next visit. That plaque is still there and if you go to Chapeau, you will see it to the right of the entrance on the ledge by the front window.
Needless to say, we went many more times to Rondelli and never saw a menu. Alain cooked and we ate and ate, although not the 20 courses.
The 20 Course menu – 7/30/95
Cromesquis de Foie Gras
Chilled Beet Soup, Horseradish Cream
Foie Gras, Dried Figs, Warm brioche
Cherry Tomato, Radish, Crouton, Balsamic
Chicken Wings glazed, Capers, Vanilla
Frogs Legs and Crayfish, Watercress, Hazelnuts
Osetra Caviar, Baked Potato, Condiments
Anchovy Tart, Tomato Confit, Black Olive
Bass, Spiced Crust, Corn Croquettes, Paprika
Salmon, Crispy Skin, Quinoa, Bell Pepper
Marrow (?) Potato, Red Wine Vegetables “Matignon”
Roast squab, Garlic, Natural Jus, Potato Soufflees
Chicken Contiser with Truffles, Port Ravioli
Lamb “Pot au Feu” Gregano, Lemon, Horseradish
Oxtail, Tapioca, Young Ecrevets
Pear and Roquefort, Black Pepper Gastrique
Financier Caramelized, Fresh Fruits
Chocolate Cake, Crunchy Pecan
Hand-written Diploma given by Alain after finishing the 20 course meal