In my past couple of posts I have complained about the lack of products for me to review. Celebrity ready meals are a finite market place and it gets trickier and trickier to find new things…… and so I went to Paris.
When it comes to good food Paris is often thought of as the zenith, and the array of butchers, patisseries, boulangeries etc warmed the cockles of my heart. The supermarket invasion has not taken hold in the same way it has in the UK and it made me wish I could turn back the clock, revive the high street and generally drag our food culture up a notch or two. On the other hand, as a person who writes a blog about celebrity endorsed food products, I’d be nowhere without rampant consumerism and nasty micro meals in plastic pots. So when I spotted a number of “MONOPRIX’s” dotted about the city I couldn’t resist popping in, and lo and behold there on the shelf sat a range of Joel Robuchon ready meals.
Joel Robuchon is the worlds most starred chef coming in at 25 Michelin stars. A few days ago it was 26 but with the new Michelin guide for the UK out this week his London outpost has been downgraded from two stars to one. Poor Joel.
I’ve never eaten at a Robuchon restaurant so this Parmentier de Canard was to be my first introduction to the great man’s cuisine. I’ll be honest the box and branding was not a winner, it would look more at home in B&M bargain than Waitrose, but I’ve been fooled by packaging in the past and the only way to put Joel to the test was to taste.
The box said lots of things in French that I didn’t understand, but with Google translate it became clear that all I had to do was take it out of the packaging and put the ceramic pot in the oven for 12-15 mins. I wasn’t convinced that 12-15 mins would cut the mustard, but that’s what Joel wanted and who am I to argue? I left the dish in for the full 15 mins and out came my luke warm dinner.
It looked appealing in the ceramic pot with a golden crust on top and so in I went. My first forkful was sans canard and I ended up with just potato. I wasn’t worried about this because Robuchon is known for his mash, he makes it with equal quantities of butter to potato which has made it both a health risk and legendary. The potato I had was indeed buttery, but it was also strangely watery. The potatoes had been over boiled and Joel thought if he mixed enough butter in nobody would notice. Joel was wrong.
With forkful number two I really got down to business and scooped up some of the duck meat. It was an unhealthy pale grey colour, the closest analogy I can make is that it looked like the colour ET turned when he was having tests carried out on him see here for an example. But worse than the grey colour was the fact it tasted horrid. It was tender enough and just about recognisable as duck, but it was so salty, it tasted like Joel had raided the herb cupboard, thrown just about everything he could find at it and hoped for the best. It was pretty grim. All I could taste for the next 12 hours was salt, and I’ll spare you the details of what it did to my insides.
The packaging boldly states “La qualite des ingrédients le respect des goûts et des textures sont obligatoires pour réussir un bon plat.” I couldn’t agree more, but unfortunately Joel hasn’t listened to his own advice.
France definitely comes out on top for the best produce and food shops, but the UK has the dubious honour of winning through when it comes to ready meals. Joel I think you should forget the supermarkets and get back to work regaining your Michelin stars.
Joel Robuchon Parmentier de Canard 320g €5.46 (approx £5.46 at current exchange rates!)