A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
Stanislav apologetically placed the bowl and platter on the table, even as Emile waved him from the room. Once he was gone, the chef gestured at the offering. “In addition to our normal fare, tonight we have cucumber soup and rack of lamb with a red wine reduction.”
On the table were three teacups. Emile ladled the soup into two of the cups and waited for his colleagues to sample it.
“Excellent,” said Andrey.
Emile nodded and then turned to the Count with his eyebrows raised.
A puree of peeled cucumber, thought the Count. Yogurt, of course. A bit of salt. Not as much dill as one might expect. In fact, something else entirely . . . Something that speaks just as eloquently of summer’s approach, but with a little more flair . . .
“Mint?” he asked.
The chef responded with the smile of the bested.
". . . To anticipate the lamb,” the Count added with appreciation.
Emile bowed his head once and then, slipping the chopper from his waist, he carved four chops from the rack and stacked two on each of his colleagues’ plates.
The lamb, which had been encrusted with rosemary and breadcrumbs, was savory and tender. Both maître d’ and headwaiter sighed in appreciation.