the elusive bresse chicken

bresse chickenBresse chicken is one of those seemingly mythological creatures I’ve long heard about it, but never seen (or eaten) myself, kind of like a unicorn. The great poets of gastronomy wax rhapsodic over the flesh of these particular birds, which are raised free-range in eastern France and have the distinction of being the first animals designated with an AOC, or appellation. While I would have loved to chance upon a whole roasted bird, I was still pleasantly surprised to find a version of it on the menu at Camelia, the courtyard garden at Mandarin Oriental, where I’ve been staying on the rue St. Honore. In the hands of Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx the plump breast of the bird is layered in a terrine with black truffle and foie gras de canard, surrounded by fruity girolle mushrooms in a savory jus. I never imagined a bird could stand up to the intense aroma of truffle or the pungent flavor of duck liver, but this poultry more than holds its own. Satisfying as an appetizer, it only serves to make me crave the full bird experience.

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