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Michelin-Starred Strawberry Sorbet

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Learn how to make the very best strawberry sorbet you will ever taste exactly like they do at one of the world's top restaurants, Philippe Rochat in Switzerland. Read my interview of chef Rochat where he tells which strawberry to use for this sorbet.

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Every meal at Philippe Rochat ends up with a serie three ice creams and three sorbets. I snatched a picture last week end of a waiter scooping the ice creams from the ice-cold silver jars. These are just the most amazing ice creams I've ever tasted, and God knows in how many fancy restaurants I've had ice creams. Even the Italians don't get to these heights.

Strawberry Sorbet
1kg/2lbs Gariguette or Mara des Bois strawberries*
100gr/3oz sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
An ice cream machine

Gariguette strawberries [gahreeget] are one of the most prized varieties in France and come late spring or early summer. The same French institute who created this gourmet strawberry selected the Mara des Bois [mahrah-dayboah], an obese wild forest strawberry with the most amazing taste. Both strawberries are very fragile and are not usually found in supermarkets, even in Europe. They are so delicate that half my strawberries are usually a bit damaged after the short walk from my local farmers' market to my home. These gourmet strawberries are sold directly to gastronomic restaurants or on some farmers markets. If you can't find either of these two varieties, just make another sorbet. Use only beautiful and ripe fruits - there is just nowhere you can hide bad strawberries in such a simple dish.

If you follow the instructions hereafter, you will obtain the exact same luscious flavor as chef Rochat's legendary strawberry sorbet in under an hour. Deviate one inch from this recipe and you will be back to run-of-the-mill sorbets. This is a light dessert with only 10% added sugar and absolutely no fat. Try comparing this with a cake or cookies! It will make a vivid impression on guests who rarely have tasted such an intense strawberry flavor with no artificial flavor of any kind. They will remember it for long.

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Gently wash your strawberries and cut off any dark or rotten flesh that you would not eat.

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With love and care, stem the strawberries one by one.

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Discard the stems or keep them to prove to your guests that the sorbet was made from real strawberries. They will tend to think it is a Haribo concoction, so intense is the flavor.

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Pass the strawberries through a food mill...

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... until you run out of strawberries ...

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... and you get strawberry purée.

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Add the sugar and lemon juice and mix so that the sugar dissolves in the purée.

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Churn in the ice-cream machine until frozen. Mr Rochat recommends an exit temperature of -5°C. It is best to do this the same day you will serve the sorbet, because if you freeze it for a few days microscopic drops of water will form ice crystals that will turn the sorbet flaky and hard at the same time.

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You can serve this before other desserts. A more scrumptious palate-cleanser has not been invented and if they have make strawberry sorbet in Heaven, it does not get better than this!

I served this to my guests last week end and went into a long-winded explanation of how the Gariguette strawberry was the very best you could use for this sorbet and halfway through my can-you-taste-the-difference speech, I realized that I had used a Mara des bois and not Gariguette. I told them and was quite embarassed. But my interview with Mr Rochat and Villeneuve proves the Mara des Bois is a stand-up gourmet strawberry too.

Who is Philippe Rochat?
Chef Rochat's restaurant outside Lausanne in Switzerland has been named the best restaurant in the world by Gault Millau, a leading French restaurant guide. It is almost unbelievable that Parisian food critics of such high standing would name a foreigner, let alone a Swiss, to this honor. Rochat spends most of his time in his kitchen and not clowning around for the media like Bocuse nor opening a restaurant a week all over the world like so many celebrity chefs nowadays. A chef's chef and a respectable man.

Strawberry Sorbet Interview at Philippe Rochat
I first asked Louis Villeneuve, the maitre d' and the restaurant's second-in-command for the last 30 years. Mr Villeneuve is quite a legend in Switzerland, a French from Brittany who ran the restaurant under Rochat's predecessor Girardet, one of the best known cooks in Europe in the 1980's and a role-model of Ferràn Adrian who once woke up in the middle of the night to drive up to Lausanne from Spain to have lunch at this restaurant. Beyond his impeccable manners and beautiful personality, Mr Villeneuve has brought the carving of ducks to an art form, having cut up over 30,000 ducks. Whenever I have a difficult culinary question, I ask him. Although the chef is the boss, Mr Villeneuve has a more encyclopedic knowledge and, to me, is a modern-day Antonin Carême or Joseph Favre. Last year he was even awarded l'Ordre National du Mérite by President Jacques Chirac, one of the highest distinctions in France and extremely rare for a Maitre d'.

How many times a week do you make your sorbets?
Louis Villeneuve (offended): Who do you think we are? We do them every morning. From scratch.

I thought you did, but if I had asked 'Do you make your sorbets every day?' and you didn't, that would have been embarassing for you, so I chose to be the one embarrassed.
Louis Villeneuve (laughing) You always like to joke. Let me tell me more about our sorbets and ice creams. We always have three flavors of sorbets and three of ice creams. Each guest get a scoop of each on two plates between the main course and the dessert. Flavors depend on the fruits we find. For the strawberry sorbet, we use Gariguettes strawberries when they are available in late Spring and then Mara des Bois for the rest of the summer. If we can't find either of these strawberries with a good quality, we make some other sorbet. I don't think the Mara des Bois is inferior in any way to the Gariguette. We only stem the strawberries and do not remove any of the white flesh inside, but that's because we only work with ripe fruits of the best quality. If the day is really hot, it can happen that by the end of the lunch service the sorbets start melting on the top. If it happens, we just rechurn them for as long as needed so that they will be optimal for the dinner service. At night, we throw away whatever is left.

When I got around to interview chef Rochat, I already had all the information from Monsieur Villeneuve and only asked him a question of personal preference.

If you could choose between perfect Gariguettes and perfect Mara des Bois to make the day's strawberry sorbet, which one would you have?
Philippe Rochat: The Gariguettes any day. But if they don't have them, I will make great sorbet with Mara des Bois which are terrific strawberries. I get my own from a village farmer and am very pleased with them. But to get good fruits you need good sun, and this year (2007) was not very generous in that department!

Philippe Rochat [raw-shah]
Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville
In the former city hall of Crissier, a town just outside Lausanne on Lake Geneva
www.philippe-rochat.ch
CH-1023 Crissier
Switzerland
Tél. +41 21 634 05 05


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6 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Tyrell
Very interesting. Thank you!
  • #2
  • Comment by growabrain
How delicious it sounds!
  • #3
  • Comment by Vivien
Superb blog! I have stumbled across your site whilst looking up a few articles on gariguettes.  I have an allotment (south coast of England) and have 2 large beds of ciflorette strawberries that I put in a couple of years ago. We haven't been able to buy the plants recently, so mine are my pride and joy.  Ciflorette is the 'improved' variety of the gariguette.  As my crop runs to several kilos per week in full season, I shall certainly be trying this sorbet recipe.  I had my first large crop last year towards the end of May and was astonished at just how good these berries are - never tasted anything like them.
I'll be having a go at the raspberry moelleux once my raspberries are fruiting - suspect that tayberries may be even better, so I may experiment.
Keep up the good work!
Best wishes.
  • #4
  • Answered by fx
Vivien, thanks for visiting! The only thing these strawberries need to be perfect is loads of sun. The sorbet is best eaten the same day so it's not really a way of storing the red but ephemeral gorgeousness of these fruits!
Hi FX !

I choose your Strawberry Sorbet for my first home made gelato ever. Unfortunately I didn't get the right texture on the first shot so I had to hack it a little. Hence the rather pale color and softness. But the taste of the "Mara des Bois" ! So powerful.

I cannot wait to give it another try.

Thanks again !

Xavier
  • #6
  • Comment by Helen
I've found that if you add an eggwhite whilst churning, the texture is a lot softer and smoother, and that texture lasts longer in the freezer :)

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