Posts Tagged ‘salmon’

Not Disgusting At All

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Restaurants should really change the name “Degustation” because, in my limited but existing experience, they’re not disgusting at all. HA. Get it? Hilarious.

Anyway, moving on from that pun, while visiting the South-West last weekend, my parents demonstrated how much they love me by taking me to The Studio Bistro for a degustation. I think they REALLY love me. I have never had a degustation menu before but my ever growing love for food has made the idea of eating that many courses potentially the best possible thing to do. Ever. I was very excited.

The Studio is a relatively new establishment with an art gallery and restaurant under the same roof. At dinner time, they spread tables throughout the gallery so you sit amongst paintings and sculptures contemplating what you will purchase after you have had a few glasses of wine. What I really liked about The Studio was the lack of pretentiousness – while the food was of a high quality and there was a general feeling of elegance, I didn’t feel like I was under review or that I had to sit with my hands folded in my lap. This was potentially due to a couple of the wait staff who were clearly still learning the ropes of how to serve in fancy restaurants. Walk to table, place hand behind back, pour water from jug slowly into glasses…

Our dinner consisted of five main dishes, plus numerous little surprises in between. One of my favourite dishes was the amuse bouche – a slice of nectarine wrapped in cured ham. Very simple yet very yum. We had crab, hot smoked tasmanian salmon (an entire fillet – it was incredible), pork belly, fillet steak and then a chocolate mousse cake for dessert. The salmon was a highlight – it melted in your mouth and has a soft smokey flavour. I had never tried pork belly before as usually the idea of eating that much fat doesn’t sit well with my stomach or thighs, so I was keen to give it a go. WOW. Who knew fat could taste so good? Well… lots of people, probably. But as a regular remover-of-skin-and-fat-from-meat, it was news to me, and I am pleased to announce that I ate every last drop of artery clogging flab. Amazing.

By the time we had reached the fillet steak, my stomach was questioning whether or not I really needed to eat more food. Shut up, stomach, was my response. The steak was beautifully cooked and despite thinking I was full, I managed to move things around in order to fit it all in. Then came the dessert.

When I had first read the menu I became instantly excited by the description of the dessert – Caraway and chocolate mousse cake with compressed stone fruits and vanilla. Oh, yes please. Sadly, the description was better than the real thing. I was expecting a real kick from the caraway but sadly I could barely taste it at all. Plus the consistency of the mousse cake was very strange – they had created multiple layers of cake, mousse, cake, mousse, but as a result, the cake had spread out through the mousse layers, giving it a very sandy texture. Mousse needs to be smooth – it’s a fact of life.

Chocolate cake

Degustation Dessert

I am still trying to work out how the stone fruit was ‘compressed’. It just looked and tasted like a piece of peach to me. Plus it was under-ripe peach to make things worse – the consistency was like eating an apple. The plate had a drizzle of a peach and vanilla sauce which was probably the highlight of the dish – lovely and refreshing. The dessert wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t what I had imagined it to be.

I found that to be the case with many of the dishes in the meal – while the food was of a high quality, the ingredients were generally fresh and the presentation was nice (except for the steak that looked a bit like someone had thrown up on it), there was something lacking. Sometimes it felt that the chef was putting too many things on one plate, other times the combination of flavours didn’t quite work. There were also far too many dishes with carbohydrate-filled root vegetables so by the end of the meal you were feeling very heavy.

It has, however, sparked a new interest for me in long, multiple-coursed meals and I plan on trying some more. I suspect the French do it very well – it is their word, after all.

No Gnashing at Nanashi

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

A few months ago, Tom and I walked past a cafe that caught my eye and stuck in my brain as a “What is this cafe and should I go there?” kind of place. Completely coincidentally, a few days later I was reading a restaurant review on a Paris blog and realised that they were discussing the place we had walked past and its sister cafe in the Marais. The reviews were good. My mind was set – I would try it one day.

Yesterday was that day, as Tom and I met up with our friend Pip for our regular lunch and shopping outing. Nanashi is an organic Japanese fusion restaurant, describing itself as “Le Bento Parisien”. It is definitely a mix of French and Japanese food using the best of both cuisines and focuses on using wholesome, organic ingredients. I have sampled food from other Japanese  restaurants in Paris and all I will say is that it isn’t Japanese. There were cheese sticks involved and you can only buy meat-on-a-stick or sushi. The French are missing out.

Nanashi restaurant

I love restaurants with chalk board menus

The restaurant is modern and simple and the French aspect of the restaurant is easily seen in the grumpy waitstaff taking your orders (when they feel like it.) The menu is limited and you have a choice of three bento boxes – vegetarian, meat or fish. Tom and I both chose the fish bento (a salmon cake) and Pip took the meat (veal.) The first good sign was the delicious sourdough bread they gave us, upholding the necessities of free bread in a French restaurant. Sometimes it is a relief to not be served baguette.

Nanashi bread

Good bread

Our bento boxes arrived and they were amazing – my salmon cake was full of fresh salmon, potatoes and spices and then coated in a crunchy crust. The bentos came with a delicious quinoa and lentil mix, as well as three different types of salad. It was a meal that made you feel alive and full of goodness. I know some people will look at this and think it is toffee-nosed food for health-freaks but it was absolutely scrumptious and filling.

Nanashi Bento

My salmon bento

I had read about the desserts at Nanashi and wanted to try them so was relieved when my fellow lunchers wanted dessert as well. We each chose something different – Pip had a carrot cake, Tom chose the chocolate and ginger fondant, while I took a risk and chose the matcha (green tea) cheesecake. I am so glad I did.

Nanashi cake

Blurry photo but amazing cake

It was soft and rich and the bitterness of the green tea wasn’t overpowering but softened the sweetness of the cake. I don’t normally choose cheesecake as I find them too excessive but I am currently drooling and dreaming about the day I can go back and eat some more. With regularly changing menus I will definitely be revisiting this restaurant. Plus I have to go and try the original Nanashi which is only a few streets away from my apartment!

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.