kayili! (kayo) Fri 16 May 08 08:21
I had a good meal at Le Waly Fe (sp?) once, compounded by the delighted astonishment when they offered to bag the leftovers to take home. It's African, but other than that I'm not sure. Everyone is always stunned that I go to Paris every January, but I generally have not had completely discouraging weather and it's perfect food weather. Not so good for picnics, but then I hate picnics. Although I did have one memorable picnic once where a french friend casually threw together a picnic of salami, which she just cut hunks off of with a knife in a very french way, cold omelet, and a strawberry tart that she just whipped out. and wine of course. It was in the Bois de Vincennes on a lovely summer evening. I don't have to have another picnic in Paris now that I've had the perfect one. Oh, and one thing that strikes me as interesting is the number of restaurants with cuisine from islands like Reunion, and other places you just never see here.
Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Fri 16 May 08 09:39
My favorite African restaurant is Moussa l'Africain, 25-27 avenue Corentin-Cariou, 19th, 01.40.36.13.00. The cooking is this huge lively place (even more fun on Saturdays when they have concerts)is West African, with a lot of Camerounais (from Cameroon) dishes like mafé, ndolé, and poulet DG. Lots of fun and very African. My favorite Senegalais restaurant in the 20th closed recently, so I'm now making Chicken Yassa at home (easy and delicious). Re "Creole" cooking, which in French parlance refers to the cooking of both the French West Indies and the Francophone Indian ocean islands, it's a little out of fashion right now. There used to be a fun Seychellois place in the 13th and La Chamaree, which was Franco-Mauritian had delicious food (it had a Michelin star) but stuffy service and a dreary setting in the 7th arrondissement. The chef team there has now moved to the Moulin de la Galette in Montmartre. If Parisian chefs are turned on by any particular part of the world right now, it's southeast Asia, which has had a huge impact on the cooking of such terrific chefs as Pascal Barbot at L'Astrance and William Ledeuil at Ze Kitchen Galerie.
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 16 May 08 10:53
Chicken yassa! That's what I had. Where do we find a recipe?
kayili! (kayo) Fri 16 May 08 10:53
Alec, my friend reminded me that we got good pizza at La or Le or something Rughetta in Montmartre. I wish there were good pizza trucks in Paris like there are in the south of France.
Barbara Thomas (barst) Fri 16 May 08 14:47
Here's one--there are lots more. >http://www.dianaskitchen.com/page/poultry/senegal.htm
Barbara Thomas (barst) Fri 16 May 08 14:51
Another one: http://www.cookingcache.com/poultry/westafricanyassachicken.shtml They all seem to use lemon or lime juice and a hot pepper like habenero are jalapeno or habenero.
Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Fri 16 May 08 15:34
The chicken yassa that I've had in Dakar usually uses little bird's eye peppers like the ones used in Italian or Caribbean dishes, plus lots of thinly sliced onions and the poultry is often sauteed in peanut oil. In Senegal, they usually use lemons instead of limes, too, and some chefs add preserved Moroccan style lemons. It's a perfect and relatively easy dish that's great for parties.
Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Fri 16 May 08 15:39
Re the sad state of pizza in Paris, on this rainy night I went to a place in the 9th arrondissement that's been highly recommended, La Pizzetta, and it was a crashing disappointment. Too expensive, service with attitude, etc. On the other hand, I had a spectacular lunch at Laurent (41 Avenue Gabriel, 8th, 01.42.25.00.39, www.le-laurent.com). It's mind-blowingly expensive (I was invited by a rich friend from Johannesberg), but the patio garden is a magical place for a meal, and I loved my main course--steam sole with plump Pantelleria capers, white asparagus, and a sauce of pureed chorizo and Basque peppers. The cheese course was amazing, too--from Quatrehommes in the rue de Sevres, and they had Maroilles, one of my favorite cheeses, and a rare one--they're only a few producers left in the north of France where it comes from.
kayili! (kayo) Fri 16 May 08 16:21
You know, some of the menus you mention eating in your book, and the one at Laurent -- really suggest a Spanish influence. Are you seeing that in Paris?
Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Sat 17 May 08 00:43
The Spanish influence in contemporary French food is most pronounced by the fact that France and Spain share the Basque Country (southwestern France, Northwestern Spain), which is one of the most spectacular destination for good eating in the world. On both sides of the border, the food is absolutely brilliant. For a long time, Saint Sebastian, in Spain, has been the best food city in that country. More recently, the French Basque country has become a hot food destination. Why? They have superb produce--great seafood, wonderful cheeses, good meat, great wines, and a new generation of talented young French chefs have chosen to settle in this part of the country. Two great addresses that show off the best of contemporary French Basque cooking are L'Auberge Basque in Saint Pee and Hegia near Hasparren.
Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Sat 17 May 08 00:47
In my book HUNGRY FOR PARIS, I blast Parisian brasseries as offering some of the worst eating in the capital and of taking advantage of the tourist trade (places like La Coupole, Bofinger, etc. are in all guidebooks). Has anyone had a really good or a really bad meal in a Paris brasserie lately?
kayili! (kayo) Sat 17 May 08 09:42
Alec, my understanding is that brasseries originally served Alsatian food and beer, but the places that are called "brasseries" now just seem like big restaurants to me. Could you elaborate a little on what a brasserie is? I like walking by Bofinger on Sunday afternoon, because lots of very conservative families with super dressed up kids seem to go there for a big lunch (conservatively dressed anyway). But I have never gone in. There's a place at the Place de la Republique that has flowers in baskets all over the facade, and I have been told it doesn't totally suck, but ... faint praise and limited time in Paris means I have not bothered to check it out. It could be time for brasserie nouveau, with artisanal sausages and beer.
La plus nouvelle poubelle (stet) Sat 17 May 08 10:17
re: <60>, let me renew my plug for Hamaika, in the 1st, 11 JJ Rousseau. Not haut, but excellent, affordable, genial and full of daily specials.
Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Sat 17 May 08 10:27
Brasserie means "brewery" in French, and the name comes from the fact that breweries in Alsace started the tradition of serving simple food in little taverns adjacent to the brew houses. After the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), when Germany snatched Alsace and a big hunk of La Lorraine, Alsatians scattered all over France, and many moved to Paris, where they re-launched the beer tavern tradition, serving choucroute garni (sauerkraut with charcuterie), and cold meat and cheese plates to accompany big mugs of beer. These places proved popular, and as the competition thickened, the Parisian brasserie as it exists today was born--shellfish stand out front, fast service, grand decor, and a menu of quickly cooked mostly grilled dishes was born. Unfortunately, most of the brasseries were bought out by one of two restaurant chains by the late 90s (Flo and the Freres Blanc), and their quality went right off the cliff. This is why I tell people to just say no when it comes to brasseries in Paris today.
kayili! (kayo) Sat 17 May 08 10:29
Do you know of any brew pubs, Alec? That serve their own beer?
Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Sat 17 May 08 10:30
Kayo, It sure is time for a brasserie renaissance, but I'm not holding my breathe. The place that could change the idiom is a new restaurant that will open in July 2009 in the back of the Opera Garnier at the street-level. The chef will be Nicholas le Bec, a terrific two-star chef from Lyon, and if there's any chance that the brasserie will stage a comeback for the 21st century, this is it. The place near the Place de la Republique is called Chez Jenny, and even though the mostly Alsatian food is better than average, I don't go there because it's too popular for big dinner's of the far-right Front National.
Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Sat 17 May 08 10:32
The best places for brew pub culture in France are Rennes (Bretons love beer, lots of students), Lille (northern French also love beer) and Strasbourg (ditto).
La plus nouvelle poubelle (stet) Sat 17 May 08 10:41
But if you're really into beer, cross the border into Belgium, where it's a religion. In Brittany, my drink of preference is the cidre a pression, the hard cider on tap in the bars; great with crepes, even greater with fresh breton oysters.
Alexander Lobrano (aleclobrano) Sat 17 May 08 11:09
Belgium does do the best beer in Europe (with all due respects to the Czechs), and I love cider, too. They make pear cider in Normandy and it's amazing with Norman cheese like Pont l'Eveque, Livarot, etc. You can sample a lot of regional delicacies like pear cider without leaving Paris, but many visitors never really discover the cities wonderful French regional kitchens. Among my favorite are L'Ambassade d'Auvergne (killer good Aligot--potatoes whipped with cheese curds and garlic), Breizh Cafe (excellent crepes in the Marais), and Au Bascou (good Basque cooking). All of these places are in my book.
La plus nouvelle poubelle (stet) Sat 17 May 08 11:20
Norman pear cider is heaven in a glass.
brady lea (brady) Sat 17 May 08 12:58
oh man. aligot! love that stuff. interesting about the brasseries. thanks! i am not a fan of belgian beers for the most part-- not my style. but here (SF) a few places have opened up that have huge beer lists, and the pricing is wine-level. the belgian beer fetishists go crazy for it, but i prefer west coast style microbrews. it never occurs to me to have a beer in paris!
kayili! (kayo) Sat 17 May 08 12:58
Turns out I love cheese from Normandy! I guess I'm really not up on cheese provenance. Many years ago I was taken to a cheese restaurant where one of the selections was "Puant de Belgique" which was presented to me as "stinky cheese of Belgium"
kayili! (kayo) Sat 17 May 08 13:01
Also, with respect to Chez Jenny, noted about the National Front. Not going there. Weirdly, when I was in Paris in January I saw posters up all around Republique commemorating the French monarchy (there is some kind of service every January in a church near the Louvre, and I suppose other kind of unsavory events relating to ... I dunno what the significance of the date is). I took a picture; a couple hours later they were all torn down.
Michael C. Berch (mcb) Sat 17 May 08 14:13
Alec, the talk about world cuisine and diversity reminds me to ask if you have eaten at Pinxo, Alan Dutournier's small-plates restaurant in the Plaza Vendome (1er)? The concept of world-fusion small plates seemed to be somewhat new to Paris, and while the ingredients were mostly sourced from France (it emphasizes the Southwest, where Dutournier is from), the presentation and concept was, well, globalist. (A description of our meal can be found here: <chow.ind.324.929> .) In short, the food and service were excellent, and I'd recommend it to anyone, but I guess the point is that it was a meal you could have eaten in New York, London, Tokyo, or San Francisco. And Parisians seem a little, I don't know, resistant, perhaps to that. One thing that stood out -- I don't know if they still do it -- was that all the menus were in English (!), perhaps trying to make a point. The other thing was that the plates come divided into portions, with the intent that patrons share them (mais non! l'audace!), but at other tables, locals were manifestly NOT doing that, and kept to the traditional entree-plat-dessert mode. We pleased the waiter by sharing (and were rewarded with a glass of eau de vie, on him, for our courage).
she's the type to laugh if I say "shoehorn" (fom) Sat 17 May 08 17:59
I'm so glad I remembered to come over to inkwell and read this topic. Now I think I will reread it, because there's so much good info and interesting stuff. I don't get to Paris anywhere near as often as kayo, but I also love it and I have been going there since 1950. I've only been there with kayo once, though. I would happily move there. I'm very interested by what you say about Basque cooking, because I am a huge fan of Basque food -- I'm looking forward to trying the Basque places in Paris that you recommend. I lived in Biarritz briefly (like 8 months I think) as a child; we lived in a hotel where the Basque proprietor, Madame Otondo, cooked us an incredible exquisite dinner 6 nights a week. I still remember specific dishes and tastes, and her soup will always be my standard for soup. I'm adding inkwell to my conflist while this interview is running.
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