Travel Through Plates

When a plate of food is put before me, I photograph it immediately. This blog, decodes my favorite dishes. It's a happy blog, as I predominantly show you pictures of the winners, the ones I love,

My Greatest Plates!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

One thing - The Petit Marche

In a corner of the Marais behind the magnificent Place  des Vosges is a side street leading off one axis called Rue Bearne, there you will find Le Petit Marche, damn pleased you will be too. This is a neighbourhood joint, a safe pair of hands, preparing plat de jours, and some regular mainstays. I go there for one thing only, the Chicken Salad. Here is a picture of it...look closely, the sesames black and white, the crunchy chinese and red cabbages the crispy wontons, the dressing and the roast chicken dark and white meats and the duo of chervil and chive snipped on top.

They make a splendid char-grilled skewers of monk fish and tiger prawns, and fab mash potatoes too. Every corner needs its own Petit Marche but only one can give you this killer salad.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bouchon et L'Assiette

I had heard rumblings of a rather good address in the 17th quarter of Paris. Personally I have always considered this a rather boring lackluster part of the city, very residential to be sure and buzzless but the reports kept coming and I wondered whether like Hier and Aujourdui (a superb 17th restaurant) Bouchon et L'Assiette was worthy of a cross town jaunt. It is a miniscule restaurant I guess 30 covers in two adjoining rooms. The food was quite modern and delicious with menus that change daily.

I started with a lovely fois gras special served over a hot pineapple and ginger chutney! This was a wonderful combo, the snipped spring onions add a raw freshness to the dish and the chutney was made bolder with corse cracked black peppercorns which were remarkably appropriate in the melange.

I was rather pleased with my main course too, Crispy belly of pork with cabbage

This is true modern bistro fare, just scrumptious food well done.

For dessert and mascarpone Mont Blanc with whipped chestnut puree all good and worthy of the detour to be sure. 

Final notes the owners are hands on, as it should be, the prices are very, very reasonable around 30 / 40 Euro a head without wine.

Bouchon et L'Assiette
127 Rue Cardinet
Paris 17

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Steak Frites.... the best I know!

Ok before the debate begins, L'entrecote (Rue Marbeuf Paris 8e) rocks, it's my second favorite steak frites in Paris. A close second, almost equal first; but first is first and for me that can only be....

Les Gourmet des Ternes!

One of the quirky and eccentric things about this restaurant is they have a sign permanently in the window at night saying the joint is full! (COMPLET) it always is. However, this is one place that can and will always squeeze you in if you show up without a reservation. Anglo/US friendly owner Jean Francois Marie is made for this business, host, food salesman and a supreme restauranteur, my kinda people. His ego wall is filled with the good, the bad and the ugly of who's who, yes they all eat here! Kinda impossible not to rub up with a celeb or two!! The entrees are served family style, and the food is simply done to perfection. The list of superlatives are, best:
non mayonnaise potato salad, beef salad, lentil salad and braised endive....but I come here for two other very special dishes which are best in class!

The Piece de Boeuf or steak this is a portion for one and half for those that like it rare!

Here  for one for those that like medium rare!
Served with bone marrow, pepper sauce Steak au Poivre and hand cut and made french friest "Frites" do you see the extra dusting of pepper in the sauce boat?

Now as I had mine plain, I took the liberty to snap my neighbour who happened to be mid plate, the tables are elbow tight, but that is the charm of the place. I have had some wonderful chats with tables on the left and right over the years too.

You can see my neighbour in mid flow, turned out his name was Andre! 

Here Is a shot of my steak close up so you can see the flavor of this meat which grazes on salted marsh land!

The final treat, and in fact it is a life changing taste you must order the BABA, a syrup soaked brioche which is served with a pot of creme fraiche so thick you need two hands to use the serving spoon, crushed strawberries and a rum bottle. 

This dessert is quite simply one of the reasons people travel to the Gourmet des Ternes. Try googling BABA Gourmet des Ternes and you get 6730 references just to this one dessert... HELLO !!! In fact I know vegetarians who eat the lentils and potato salad, the braised endive and then jump to double portions of the BABA. If you don't live in Paris this will be the restaurant that you will visit everytime you hit the city of lights!!

87 Bvd De Courcelles Paris

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tristan my favorite Swiss Chocolate Shop!

First some good news, usually when you read about some new foody place it's spot that you really have no chance to get to! Well not this time; today I write about a place that you may well have driven by without even knowing that it exists. If you ever find yourself driving from Geneva to anywhere you are not far, if your drive takes you from Geneva to Lausanne, you have passed by. Our subject today is located between the villages of Rolle and Aubonne about 5 minutes from these motorway exits. The village (actually smaller than a village) is Bougy-Villars, this is blink and you'll miss it territory. A place that has become famous for being the home of the most perfect confectioner I know. Mr Tristan Carbonatto - the shops proper title is - Tristan Artisan Chocolatier. To give you some perspective, this tiny weeny hamlet has had to build a six car parking lot to ease the traffic that can and often does bring this place to a choco saturday standstill. Folks from all over Switzerland and I surmise beyond seek him out and for good reason. I am convinced that the size of the operation (Miniscule) is a contributing factor to the shear artistry, innovation and taste of this bounty.

Tristan is a wonderful happy cheery man, who generously offers samples of all his wears willingly as if he wants you to enjoy and take you on his chocolate trip.

His crown jewel is The Pave, little cubes of chocolate, 74%, 53%, Milk 32% and white about size of a sugar lump, a perfect cube of chocolate mastery. As the pave hits your palate things start to happen as the cube melts onto your tongue, the black 74% strikes the perfect balance of chocolate and acid, the slight bitterness is offset by the restrained use of sugar which allows the cocoa bean to star. As you try the 53%, certainly still dark and a long way still from Milk Chocolate the blackish bitters give way to rich unctuous flower or berry like tones. It's quite extraordinary to me how the melting aspect of these chocolates, the mouth feel; contributes greatly to the overall soaring satisfaction one gets from popping one of these beauties. The white Pave, tastes like chocolate butter, your tongue is coated much in the same way as a raw lip feels relived once the chapstick is finally applied;  soothing, calming, coating with stratospheric, unctuous lingering... Are you getting my drift? The Paves have no cream which delineate them from Truffles also on offer.

Close up of Pistachios and White Chocolate Paves (Click for to see even closer)
No you can't have any of mine!!

His caramel truffle is explosive, a touch of sea salt kisses the almost burnt darkness of the dusky caramel, for almost two minutes after I had swallowed this truffle I was still getting secondary and tertiary flavor memories, not dissimilar to watching dying embers languishing in the fireplace giving off a smoky memory of the fire it once was.
The PAVE's resting comfortably!

Everything is beyond what you know! I have particular hankering for candied sicilian pistachios, they are dipped in the darkest of dark chocolate enrobing this green jewel with a handsome robe of coco. These dusky babies are not made for sharing at all, they make you completely selfish. You'll  prefer to save what you can't finish to eat alone later. I bought chocolate for some business acquaintances and about three miles past the shop I decided I would not give any away. It's hard even to imagine sharing chocolate this good with your own children!

Tristan's "simple" tablets with almonds or hazelnuts rewrite what you know about this chocolate bar, the perfect nut roasting to marry the chocolate. Today I'm writing about his staples but he is a fantasist and accordingly the shops filled with cocoa whimsy.

PS On Tuesday's they are officially closed but production and mis en place is in full swing so knock on the door next to the shop and they willingly let you in backstage and will willingly sell to you.

Grand Rue
CH 1172 Bougy Villars
Closed Sunday - Monday - Tuesday
Opening hours 10h-12h - 13h30-18h30
Saturdays open without interruption NB SATURDAYS IS OFTEN PACKED!!!!

(Closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Auberge de Soleil a happy mistake

I love happy accidents or rather, accidental discoveries. Today I wanted to stop in Luins for some Malakoffs a swiss ball of breaded molten cheese fondue which is a specialty of this town but they were closed. I drove off unfulfilled but then bumped into The Auberge De Soleil 5 minutes down the same road. That was a good detour.

I walked in to the Bistro, gourmet restaurant is also within and discovered a chef with humor and a room filled with cusine laughs. (See Below)


You see what I mean! I was worried that the food might also be laughable then I saw or rather my nose saw something at the bar that sung my name and perfumed the eaterie.

Are you starting to realise that I was in fact in exactly the right joint for lunch; well I was.

I started with a beautiful cauliflower soup that tasted more like cauliflower cheese than Dubarry but what a brilliant dish.. Hey I photoed the soup. 

Want some? Then came the fois gras with fig compote.

This was silken and superb. Lovely presentation for a bistro!!

Then came Tagliatelle with black truffles, but and I want to apologize with a big but, I forgot to snap it. It was my guest who ordered it but I was taken about by the shear generosity of the truffles that I immediately took one huge shaving and buttered my bread with it. Then I tasted the goods and before you know it, it was gone.. and so was my picture. The people I ate with adored my dilemma, they laughed.

Next post the best chocolate shop I know! Watch this blog!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hokkaido Gyoza and Ramen Shop

There is something quite nurturing to me about certain foods, I feel safe and comforted. I find that Gyoza; well made Gyoza and steaming ramen broth go a long way to insulate from life's sharper edges. In Paris, there is a Japanese quarter near Opera whose median is the Rue St Anne that is packed with grocery shops, travel agents and restaurants.

Higuma (Also spectacular) is the Ramen 200+ seater but it is Hokkaido Ramen that is more delicate, less industrial and more personable. Altogether more Japanese!  The menu is broader and in my book has more finesse than Higuma. The dumplings rely less on garlic and more on fragrant veggies and seasonings to send the taste soaring.  I love making a dipping sauce of sesame, japanese chili oil, white vinegar and soy for the Gyoza. The ramen is filled with freshly julienned ginger and flavor packed pork. The tatsuta age (Fried Chicken) is fried dry crisp and served with an excellent Japanese slaw and homemade tonkatsu sauce. Hokkaido is a yum station if ever there was one.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chez Vincent "The Institution"

There is a place I have visited in Paris over 20 years and I have followed when it moved. It enshrines the passion I look for when eating in a restaurant, in fact eating at any point. I took my week old children, both of them two years apart to Chez Vincent to make sure they caught the buzz early and clearly it worked. Vincent Cozzoli owns Chez Vincent he now holds court driving his antipasti bus ensconced in the Buttes Chaumont Park. The food is the best of the best, fresh basil is his perfume, Italy his larder. When you enter the restaurant the Vincent throne is before you.

Here you see the salad station. Not mine but I was drawn to capture it.

It all starts with a PIZELLE.  A mini pizza with a matzo crisp base, minute mushroom clippings and fresh buff-moz and finally anointed with a dab of pesto. I loved them so much that I posted two pictures to show you. All my pictures are good resolution so you can click on them to see the close-up goings on. Tonight rather than the steller squid I went light and had the Beef Carpaccio, I would wager it is one of the all time best; made all the better by the time it takes for him to prepare each serving. The Proscuitto platter was so moreish my party hit the plate before I could even take a picture. The pasta, Bolognese is like no other, the meat is veal paillard that is grilled first, then hand chopped into the marinara sauce by order, the Carbonara is punctuated by smoky pancetta as the creams foil. Rounding this meal off is the home made Pistachio ice cream and tiramisu that nestles into the last little stomach crevice I  reserved in its honor. 

Chez Vincent is  my Italian in Paris.

Vincent's hand at the tiller preparing my Carpaccio
The Legendary Pizelle

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bistrot de Pekin

Chinese + France usually equals bland.  The exceptions, Zen Garden, Shan Gout and Yamtcha are my current faves. I have been hearing good things too about the Bistrot de Pekin,  supposedly the first Authentic Schezuan restaurant in Paris. Well it's ok, I went there for lunch, below some pictures of the Peking pork and Salt and Pepper Shrimp the shrimp was really finger licking work but worth it not over cooked, still succulent. Probably only return if I found myself close by, I certainly would not make a special trip.


I rarely eat breakfast, as I collected my evening baguette (still warm) I saw my other favorite bread, Hazelnut and Raisin wholewheat, super crusty and begging for well made artisan jam. Today I chose wild blueberry. It was only one slice with my Pasqualini expresso but it was worthy. If you look closely to this picture (click on it) you will see the CRUST close up it frames this wonderful bread and marries the nuttiness to perfection .

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Shepard's Pie or Hachis Parmentier as it is called in France

Wow at around 6 this evening the chorus of Hachis was sounded, so it had to be made. First I sauteed four large red onions with three star anise, (thank you Heston) once caramelised I brown two or three chopped: carrots, leaks, ribs of celery. Two cloves of garlic, some thyme, rosemary and three shallots.
after this browns it too joins the onions. (All with olive oil) I season my meat (good ground beef )with MALDON salt and fresh black pepper and brown it in a little olive oil. Then I mix all of these three batches together and heat on taste to correct the seasoning at this point I also add some white wine.  I worked a quarter cup of Lea and Perrins, some celery salt in it as well. I add stock  to make the gravy. Then I slake in a little potato starch with water to thicken the sauce just a tad. Potatoes are the BINGT variety for mash I like floury varieties which then get smushed with milk, creme fraiche, butter and MALDON smoked salt. Before I cover the mince I top  with a few further shakes of Worcestershire sauce, a little white wine and some dark balsamic. Then I cover with my mash finally scrulpting the top with a fork back and forth. I put the pan in the over (190c) for 25 minuted to brown. YUM

Schwartz Deli Marais Paris

Woke up with a Deli desire today. I thought I'd check out 
Schwartz Deli the Marais New boy! 
It actually looks quite hip, but as for the food the menu is a karaoke of a deli!  Menu is on the shortish side. If truth be told and I must fess up, The Pastrami Sandwich billed as BEST in Paris was damn delicious, with good sauerkraut and a Kosher pickle on the side! Service is french rather than NY but we are in Paris afterall. Burger was so good, with a real grilled taste NB Perhaps the best I have tasted so far in PARIS; and the Cheesecake was spiked with a cinnamon crust....

I would make some additions to the menu pronto. EGG MAYONAISE SALAD/Sandwich (The FRENCH LURRRRRVE THIS), TUNA SALAD and CHICKEN SALAD (With Celery, pickle and mayo a la USA) for start. So much is here, great location 16 rue Des Ecouffes but the menu needs more deli ITEMS Owners take note!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LUNCH TODAY Violon D'Ingres

A Dutchman and a Scott joined me for lunch, when it works the Eurostar is quite facile. Christian Constant's Michelin one star in the 7th was the scene of the crime. The kitchen (open) was a buzz when I arrived with wafting whiffs perfuming the joint. Christian his judge of TOP CHEF France with begins on M6 next week. I started with a magnificent Crudo of Oysters and Sea Bass.
Dutch boy started off with Bass and Oyster Crudo quite awash with the sea's iodine!

Contre Filet on the Rotesserie with Truffles and Carrots 
This is the kind of comfort food that insulates from the wind and blowing drizzle, the burned edges of the warm rare crimson steak was cut with sweetness from the almost confit'ed carrot.

This was my main course Caramelised Scallops, on crispy bacon, ratte potatoes and Black TRUFFLE

Oh TATIN, can anything be so exquisitely welcoming to finish a meal on, oh there is one thing.....

A Vanilla Souffle with salted caramel poured through the middle.
You see it makes sense to have a certain intimacy with those you dine. It's the best way to poach a taste!


It's funny to me that around 12.00 each day I figure out what I want to eat for lunch. Sometimes it is something I whip up myself, like last night when I cooked a rocking Penne Amatriciana with wonderful smoky bacon, onion and tomato sauce. I few minutes ago, my work mates from London called to say they were in Paris and available for lunch. Soooo I thought, where shall we go or rather what does my mind/tummy (sometimes entwined) want to be tantalized with. After lunch the pictures. S

Violon D'Ingres

Heading to the Violon D'ingres in Paris today for Lunch. Can't wait to see what Stephan Schmitz has got bubbling on the stove. Pictures this afternoon!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tandoori Broccoli fiendishly simple from AMAYA London!

I am in love with this dish like perhaps no other veggie dish. I travel to London and I'm thinking about the burnt magnificence. Truth be told the whipped ginger, shallot sauce is the miracle that binds this baby and makes it soars!!! Don't let this simple picture deceive you. I love this so much that I always get two! I insist that they deliver one when I sit down and order another as it is placed before me. I cannot rave enough about this. Like fish with BUERRE BLANC Amaya Broccoli is beyond moresome!