It wasn't a surprise. There was a hint in the anticipation. Diners are requested to order the soufflé at the beginning of the meal to provide time for its preparation. There is always a value in new tastes, and something extra special about a dessert with this lead-time. We waffled over chocolate versus orange, but my ice cream nature prevailed. The true quality of an ice cream is demonstrated in its pure vanilla offering. We choose the orange to taste a more pure presentation of the base flavor and textures.
The moment began with presentation. A miniature version of the earthen crock used for a hardy cassoulet, it was the base for a pouf of delicate crust. The surface of the soufflé was golden, with a generous sprinkling of sugar, some of it caramelized by the heat of the crust. The waiter broke the crust with a tap, revealing the airy center. Steam puffed out, to be replaced by the cream sauce poured in as the last of the presentation. He left us to it.
One tiny bite. A bit of sugary crust, a body of soft heat contrasting with the thick, cool cream. Sweet orange flavor partnered with the bite of the liqueur in the cream. Intense flavor spurred my salivary glands into action. There was no need to chew -- merely a long, slow press of the heart of it with my tongue against the roof of my mouth. Each bite that followed was a repeat of the first. My chest warmed to the heat of it as it descended down my throat, and my body flushed at the pleasure of the flavor.
My first Grand Marnier Soufflé.