Posts Tagged ‘La Fourchette’

I Love Half Price Food

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Last night was one of those evenings where the completely unexpected happened and I came away feeling so happy to be living in Paris. My friend and ex-boss, Claire, had put me in contact with a fellow Perthian, Pak. Claire described him as a fellow foodie which made him instantly my friend. In less the 24 hours we had been introduced and had decided to go for dinner and make the most of an awesome restaurant deal that is happening across France. For one week, restaurants ranging from local brasseries to top-end haute gastronomie, are offering 2-for-1 deals on set menus. So essentially, you book a table for two and you’re eating for half price – a great excuse to try higher-end dining. Being a lover of bargain food experiences, I was pretty damn excited.

We ummed and ahhed for a few hours during the day, trying to pick a restaurant that would satisfy our palates as well as offer a great dining experience. Most of the haute gastronomie restaurants had been booked out weeks ago, so we finally found a restaurant in the 11th arrondissement – a restaurant called Le Tintilou that I had read many reviews about and had heard it was good.

And was it ever! Pak really is a foodie, eating his food with an inquisitive eye (tongue?) trying to work out each of the ingredients and how dishes were put together. His descriptions were delightful. Meanwhile my response to the food ranged from, “Yeah, it’s awesome!” to “Oh man, that’s good.” Either way, we both enjoyed our meals.

We started with thin slices of toasted baguette served with a broccoli and bean dip. It had a touch of spice which was exciting and was a brilliant bright green. Very fresh and enticing.

Tintilou dip

So green.

For entrée I had vegetarian ravioli which were spiced with cumin and served in a very thick sauce and some cherry tomatoes. Pak had prawns that were served with a coconut sauce that was also particularly thick. Both of us were a bit unsure about the sauces as they were almost soup-like. Mine was very tasty though.

Tintilou ravioli

Little bundles of yum.

For my main dish I had cod which was served on a delicious bed of spelt. Oh how I love grains. The fish was JUST cooked so it was moist without being underdone. Perfect. The spelt added a wonderful crunch and satisfied the wheat-lover in me. It was served with confit lemon which was a little bit over powering if you had too much in one spoonful. At the same time, when the proportion of lemon to fish to spelt was correct, it was exceptionally delicious.

Tintilou cod

Delicious fishes.

So wish the savoury dishes finally out of the way, I could concentrate on the important course – dessert. We had a choice between a meringue with baked apricots or a ganache with a soft ginger caramel. Not being a fan of meringue, I chose the ganache/caramel which was served with a warm madeleine on the side. The flavours were intense – the ginger was very strong and when mixed with caramel it was quite unexpected. Once you mixed it with the chocolate ganache layer underneath, everything somehow sorted itself out and the mix of flavours was wonderful. It took a few mouthfuls to get used to though and it was extremely rich and buttery. But with small bites of cakey madeleines to cleanse the palate, my dessert soon disappeared. Delicious.

Tintilou dessert

Hooray for desserts.

Throughout this entire gastronomic experience, Pak and I had been getting to know one another and also having brief conversations with the couple at the table next to us. This being Paris, we were practically sitting on top of one another so it was hard not to have some sort of exchange. They were having the same menu as us and so we were soon chatting about the food, the wine and the restaurant. By the time we were eating dessert, we had made new friends with Arnaud and Ariane and were soon ordering digestives and making a non-Parisian amount of noise in the now empty restaurant. It was fantastic! I left the restaurant having eaten great food and wine and having made three new friends. A truly wonderful experience that happened thanks to Claire and the awesome world of food that is Paris.

 

Eating With Angels

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The month of May brought numerous visitors to Paris so I have had lots of opportunities to go and eat food. Always a welcome thing in my world where food rules. This month also involved four public holidays – May Day, Victory Day, Ascension Day, and ‘Next Monday’ (I am yet to discover what we are going to celebrate.) Public holidays in Paris usually mean that most shops and restaurants are closed, including my favourite restaurant in Paris, Le Jardin D’en Face. This meant I had to find a NEW place to take my friend/colleague, Brett to celebrate Jesus going to hang out with his Dad.

I previously spotted a restaurant on La Fourchette that looked nice and decided it was time to try it. Located in the 9th arrondissement, La Table des Anges (The Table of the Angels) is just up the road from my favourite café, KookaBoora and therefore couldn’t be bad. Now that I think about it, it was an appropriately named restaurant to go to considering the theme of the public holiday.

The restaurant was lovely – the very friendly but somewhat posh staff were attentive without being excessive and were very willing to translate their strangely difficult menu. Sometimes menus can be easy – other times they are written by someone who wants to use every possible ‘other’ word for chicken, just to make it tricky for innocent people like me.

The food was great – fresh, well presented and tasty, although it was a bit over priced compared to similar restaurants in the area. I had a piece of grilled cod that was served with deliciously buttery vegetables. The fish was slightly undercooked and could have done with an extra minute.

Table des Anges fish

Such delicious vegetables.

My dessert, an apple and rhubarb tart tatin was well done although I have had better. The rhubarb was a nice change from the traditional tart tatin but it could have done with more fruit.

Apple tart

If there is one thing I hate it is ice cream melting on top of my dessert...

Brett tried the chocolate dessert which was mousse-cake-thing that really didn’t quite reach expectations. A shame considering I had been thinking about Le Jardin D’en Face’s chocolate cake all day… really there is no comparison.

Brett commented on how in the two restaurants we went to during his visit (we also had lunch at Les Enfants Perdu a few days before. Just wonderful…) both provided us with great service and special additions that weren’t requested or expected but that added to the overall enjoyment of the meal. At La Tables des Anges, we were treated to a free helping of freshly sliced charcuterie for an aperatif and an apple liquor at the end to ‘aid sleeping’. It is the simplicity of these offerings that just make the whole experience.

Another to Add to the Dessert List

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

I have a few favourite desserts scattered throughout Paris that I seek out in order to satisfy cravings. There is the banana bread at Kooka Boora, gateau chocolate de Grandmère at Le Jardin d’en Face, and the créme brulée at Les Enfants Perdu. At one point there was also a chocolate and basil tart at Hotel du Nord but certain a grumpy waiter named Adrian has removed that from my list of must-eats. Shame, really.

Last night I managed to welcome a new addition to my “Top Desserts” list, something I was very happy to do. Let me state from the beginning that in order to be in my Top Desserts list, the dessert has to be exceptionally good. I don’t hand out this status willy-nilly! I have eaten MANY desserts and only those that really excite my taste buds and make me all gooey inside are allowed into the Top Desserts category.

Tom and I decided to celebrate my 50,000 word writing achievement and his recent skill at easily gaining freelance work by going out to dinner. We La Fourchette-d it and chose a restaurant that I had been wanting to go to for some time, Le Vernissoir. It is a cool and hip restaurant located in a side street that as we walked down it made me feel like I was walking in NoHo in New York. Very cool. Lots of little restaurants and plenty of BoBo’s hanging out and being cool-and-stuff-without-trying.

I wanted to have an early night as we have been going out a LOT lately so we booked the 7.30pm time slot. We were, of course, the only people eating and no one else came until at least an hour later. It didn’t matter – the staff were friendly and didn’t poo-poo us for being there so early. We both managed to order the exact same dishes for both mains and desserts so we didn’t really get to experience a large extent of the menu, but there were plenty of interesting items to choose from. Duck with truffles, a japanese tapioca risotto with mushrooms, and sword fish with sea urchin juice (yuck.) But we both went for the ‘thick cut’ beef with parsnips and we weren’t disappointed with our choice.

Beef

Mmm... Beef.

The meat was tender and deliciously cooked and the parsnips were a wonderful change from potatoes. I never cook with parsnips but I am now excited to do so. The sauce was soooo good although the plate was covered in a soup of olive oil which, while delicious, is sometimes a bit excessive.

Our La Fourchette booking required us to order desserts. DANG. It was an easy decision. The final item on the menu was a ‘mille feuille’ like dessert – two pieces of thin, flaky pastry with a chocolate mousse (with a very slight hint of chilli) inside and then a drizzle of salted butter caramel sauce over the top.

Chocolate dessert

Winner of Jess's Top Dessert Award

It arrived in front of me and I gasped with joy. OH YES. It was rich. It was good dark chocolate. The pastry was lightly caramelised and then the salted butter caramel sauce was just pure heaven. It was one of those desserts that you want to continue eating forever, no matter how sick you are feeling. By the end of it I was feeling very chocolate-afied and I needed a litre of water to quench my thirst but I WANT MORE!!!

And then came the joy of asking for the bill and paying a tiny amount for fabulous food and half a bottle of wine. The accessibility of eating out in Paris is something I am never going to be able to get over. I don’t know how I will survive back in Perth where for the same price as what we paid last night, I would only be able to get one main dish – no dessert, and maybe a glass of wine.

Here Comes the Harlequin

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Tom and I hadn’t been out for a dinner on our own for a while so I asked him out on a date. Yes, I asked him. But let’s not get stuck on who did what to whom – I chose the restaurant and I booked the table. Seeing as I was paying, I booked through La Fourchette to choose the restaurant with the cheapest menu and biggest discount. I settled on a restaurant just up the canal from us called L’Arlequin Café – it had received decent reviews, it was close by and the menu sounded a-okay.

An hour before our arrival at the restaurant, a woman from La Fourchette rang me and said that there was no response from the restaurant and that despite me receiving instant confirmation that I had a table booked, our reservation had been cancelled. Great. It was too late to book another restaurant on La Fourchette so we decided we would still go to the restaurant and see if they would accept us anyway.

At 8pm we were the first customers for the evening (typical…) and the waiter who served us was very friendly and welcoming and said we could still have the La Fourchette discount, not a problem. And so we stayed. Something I really dislike is being the only people in a restaurant. For the two hours we were there, only one other couple arrived. It was a Wednesday night and clearly things were quite slow, but it is so quiet and you feel like you have to whisper. Luckily they had some utterly terrible music playing slightly too loudly so there was a bit of background noise. The other thing I hate is restaurants with televisions and L’Arlequin had almost-naked ladies dancing around in video clips for us to enjoy. Then the football started and we got to watch Real Madrid play Lyon. Lucky us.

The food wasn’t bad – Tom had duck and I had beef but really we could have ordered the same thing. Both plates consisted of our chosen meat, a pepper sauce served separately in a little bowl, two lettuce leaves with a little bit of grated carrot for extra pizzazz, and what were apparently potatoes. I say “apparently” because we both reached the same conclusion without discussion that the potatoes had come out of a packet. No one can peel potatoes that evenly and make little round domes that are all exactly the same shape. Plus they were coated in salt and had an “I am a potato from the freezer section” taste to them. Despite our difficulties to decipher between our two plates, both of us thoroughly enjoyed our chosen meats – my beef was tender, nicely blue as per French standards, and had far more taste than my last steak at Le Bistro du Coin. The pepper sauce was particularly good – spicy, flavoursome and not too creamy. The lettuce was lettuce and we’ve already discussed the potatoes. Tom’s duck was also very good so if they could have managed to chop and sauté their own potatoes then it would have been a really great dish.

Steak and potatoes

Lots of 'potatoes', giant lettuce and a little (Jess sized) steak

As per La Fourchette requirements, we had to have dessert in order to receive our discount. Quel dommage! Tom had a crème brûlée which was nicely set and contained real vanilla beans which is always a good sign. I went against my usual instant decision of the chocolate fondant, and chose the tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream. The waiter informed me that I had made a very wise decision and that it was going to be ‘bon’. Excellent. He was right. It wasn’t your usual tarte tatin – it had huge pieces of apple, caramelised and soft, on top of a soft but tasty pastry. The vanilla ice cream was homemade, creamy and delicious, and if they have avoided putting a whollop of whipped cream (from a can) on the side it would have been perfect. It was a truly wonderful, homely dessert and I had to resist ordering a second round as I licked the last of the caramel off the plate.

Tarte tatin

YUM.

As we sat feeling overly satisfied (stuffed) with our meals, we were then provided with some light entertainment. A noise suddenly appeared outside and a woman around the age of 50 walked into the restaurant talking very loudly about something, something, police, something. I recognised her raised voice and intense way of speaking from a week or so ago when I had been walking up Rue du Saint Martin wondering what on earth that horrible sound was. I then saw her standing next to a bus stop, talking very loudly into a mobile phone but I’m not entirely sure that there was someone else on the other end of the line. So here she was again, looking very upset and demanding to speak to a policeman. The Prefecture (Police station) is just across the road from the restaurant and the two waiters strongly suggested she headed over there. No. She declared she would wait in the restaurant until the police came. But none were on their way – yet. One of the waiters went across the road to announce the presence of a noisy lady in their restaurant but he returned sans-policeman, however stated that the police were on their way. At least five minutes passed between the waiter going over the road and the policemen coming to investigate. Clearly they either had more pressing matters or they were in the middle of dinner. They eventually strolled over, by which time the woman had given up and had decided to move on, wandering down the street and around the corner. Instead of walking at a slightly faster pace in the direction that she had headed, the policemen wrote down a description on the woman and headed back to the Prefecture in order to get a car so that they could patrol the area. Because she was walking SO fast.

I spent most of the time laughing at how useless the policemen were and at the strangeness of the whole situation. The waitstaff were very apologetic and dealt with the situation well, plus it provided a little bit of entertainment for the evening and helped me stop staring at the television screens.

Now That’s a Steak

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I can’t remember if I have discussed this previously, but Tom and I are currently involved in a small competition with two other couples – Sonia and Guibril, and Becky and Vivien. The competition is boys vs girls and involves the daily punishment of sit ups, push ups and the plank (hold yourself up off the floor with your forearms and toes. Fun fun.) It is in its third month, with the first month involving 20 sit ups, 20 push ups and 20 seconds of plank. Month #Two was 40, 40, 40, and now we have 60, 60, 60. It’s hard. But the reward for the team who does the most exercises at the end of each month is a dinner paid for by the losing team.

The first month was won by the girls (WOO!) and the boys took us for indian at a remarkably good indian restaurant. Unfortunately, due only to Sonia being incapacitated due to a sore back and Becky having to spend an entire day on a plane, the boys won the second month. It wasn’t a particularly spectacular win but we let them feel good about themselves and took them to a restaurant called Le Bistro du Coin on Saturday night.

I had booked the restaurant via my favourite website, La Fourchette, which granted us a 40% discount on the meal. There was no way we were paying full price for the boys’ dinners. When we arrived at the restaurant we had to wait for our table as it had been given to someone else. That’s never a good start. The owner of the restaurant was smooth and relatively friendly, however he had that French cockiness about him that lets him get away with things like not having a table for us.

When we were eventually seated, it took a while until we were served and then the food itself wasn’t all that spectacular. I ordered a piece of beef which was chewy and a fairly ordinary cut, and the eschalot sauce was gloopy and unremarkable. Others had the duck that was small although apparently quite tasty. Tom was the winner – for an extra 11.50 Euros, he ordered the côte de boeuf. A huge 500g piece of meat, perfectly cooked and very, very tasty. Back in Perth, Tom would often choose the T-Bone steak and would hack away at the huge slab of flesh, and he hadn’t found anything that could compare in Paris. But here it was.

Bistro du Coin steak

It was even served with bone marrow

The desserts were ordinary – my moelleux au chocolate tasted like it came out of a packet and Tom’s profiteroles were mostly whipped cream. The other waitstaff were a bit strange, too – they managed to drop two wine glasses in the time we were there and one waiter kept asking us if we wanted the bill. None of the other food we ate was worth photographing – that’s how much I am not going to go back. Unfortunately Tom has now had a taste of the giant steak so will be wanting to return but I think he will be going on his own.

Six Months in Paris

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

I have been extremely slack with my updates lately. I have been busy working though… that in itself is a story but one for another time. Monday marked the six-month point of Tom and my stay in Paris. As I said when we reached five months, this isn’t exactly a good thing. But I have started thinking more realistically about what I can do next year and there are ways for me to stay in Paris next year – I just may not be able to work. I’m sure Tom will have a high-paying CEO job by then so he can support me. HA. I’m funny.

Anyhoo, to mark our six month moment, Tom and I went out for dinner. We spent about an hour scouring La Fourchette for a decent bargain meal and ended up picking a winner. We went to a restaurant called Le Muras, located not far from our place in the 11th arrondissement. The restaurant was in a very suburban area, surrounded by residential apartment blocks and it had a very ‘local’ vibe about it. The walls of the restaurant were painted bright red, yellow, blue and green and Tom was pleased that he got to spend the entire evening staring at a wall covered with a large image of a naked lady.

Le Muras

How French.

The owner of the restaurant welcomed us warmly and was a wonderful host for the entire evening. It was a relaxed and easy going place and clearly somewhere that people come back to regularly.

After being served complimentary homemade tapenade to nibble on while we worked out what we wanted to eat, I chose the salmon fillet while Tom couldn’t look past the words “Côte de boeuf” and “400g.” He has been missing his t-bone steaks and saw this as an appropriate opportunity to refill his system with a large slab of meat.

My salmon was delicious – perfectly cooked with a crispy skin and juicy flesh, it just melted in my mouth. It was served with what was originally described as a ‘white wine sauce’ but I think it was more butter than wine. Whatever it was, it was moorish and fatteningly awesome. The beans weren’t overcooked (MIRACLE!) and it was a light and extremely tasty dish.

Salmon

That's a good fish.

Tom was overjoyed with his beef and it fulfilled his dreams of meaty-goodness. I managed to score a bite; the meat was tender and not at all chewy like most French steaks and the pepper sauce was spicy and delicious.

Steak

That's meat.

For dessert Tom had the pannacotta with berry coulis while I chose a five-spice poached pear with home made vanilla ice cream. When I ordered the pear the owner of the restaurant informed me that it was “trés bonne” and I would have to agree. It was lightly spiced and matched perfectly with the ice cream.

Poached pear

It's (somewhat) healthy AND delicious!

Tom made “Oh wow” noises as he was eating his pannacotta, with one of the main highlights being the perfectly shaped and oh-so-sweet raspberries served on top. Berries in Europe are glorious. Yum.

Pannacotta

Look at those raspberries.

We left Le Muras feeling great – we have found another wonderful restaurant in Paris that I would happily return to. It is a great feeling when you find local restaurants that serve good food and have friendly and welcoming staff. It just shows that I haven’t completely wasted my six months here.

Good Eatin’

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Last week Tom and I ate some awesome food. Last Friday lunch time we went to one of our favourite local restaurants, Les Enfants Perdus – an amazing place with friendly staff and simply delicious food. It is a bit fancier than other places we eat at but we like to go there to treat ourselves every now and then.

During the week, they have a set lunch menu – 16 Euros for two courses (entrée + main + coffee OR main + dessert + coffee) or 19 Euros for all three courses.You have two options for each courses to choose from and they change daily depending on what produce was available and what the chef feels like cooking.

Menu

The first hurdle is being able to read the French handwriting

Tom went the full three courses and started with a parmesan ravioli dish that was oozing cream and cheese. It was death by dairy.

Ravioli
Mmm… cream and cheese…

Then it was time for our main dishes. Tom had duck in a pepper sauce with mashed potato. Very tasty. I chose the red mullet that was served on deliciously crunchy vegetables and coated in this amazing olive tapenade sauce. I have no idea what they put in that sauce but it may as well have been drugs but I am still craving it now. It was so, so good. This is the second fish dish that I have eaten at Les Enfants Perdus that I still dream about.

 

Duck
Tom’s delicious duck
Fish
My fabulous fish

The greatest thing about having menu meals is that you don’t have the “Should I or shouldn’t I?” conundrum of whether or not you can eat dessert. You pay for it so you eat it! Brilliant. Tom had the cheesecake which was rich and sweet. I had an apricot tart that was very… tart. It could have done with a touch more sugar as it kind of burned on the way down. But it was still very yum.

 

Cheesecake
Cheesy Cheesecake
Apricot tart
Tarty tart

So that was lunch. Saturday night we went out with Coup to celebrate (well, more commemorate with tears and general sadness) the fact that he is returning to Australia on Monday (today.) We had been meaning to go to an area near the Sorbonne university for some time and so we looked up a restaurant on our favourite website, La Fourchette, and booked a table.

We went to a place called Savannah Café that described itself as “Mediterranean” but had lots of curries, spices and hummos. We were greeted with the friendliest Parisian waiter that I have ever met who joked and laughed with us, asked us why we were in Paris and was generally happy for the entire time we were in the restaurant. A miracle.* We each ordered our food and it arrived with delicious smells and even greater tastes. It was superb – I had a lamb curry that was full of flavour and was actually spicy! I couldn’t believe I was eating something that made my lips tingle in France. They even had a vegetarian curry for Coup (another ‘never-seen’ in this country.)

 

Lamb curry

My lamb curry

As part of the La Fourchette deal, we had to have dessert (dang) so Tom and Coup had baklava and I had a brownie (how these fit with curries and hummos to create mediterranean cuisine, I’m not sure, but I like it.) Super tasty, super wonderful. It was a great night.

 

Brownie

A simple and tasty brownie

Savannah

At least it was easy to see why the place was called Savannah

Sadly now Tom and I have to eat on our own as our friends are quickly departing. Rom and Coup have now both left so the only other Australian is Pip (which is great but she’s a busy girl serving drinks in an Irish pub.) Looks like we might need to meet people. That sounds hard.

*Since writing this, I have learnt that the waiter was in fact Lebanese. That would explain a lot.