Sunday, September 18

Slow Cooked Beef Amongst the Big Guns in Paris

I have been enjoying the use of my kitchenette in my apartment recently with the exception of one of my favourite night's in Paris thus far...

Unexpectedly whirly due to the single gin fizz I picked up on the way to the restaurant at a local bistro, which cost an excruciating 12 euros, I stepped off the metro in Bellville in the twentieth. Lightly influenced and sitting across from Frédérick, a Parisian food journalist, I asked him, “So how did you get into it all?” Frédérick’s smile was something to enjoy watching due to the absolute passion he had for his day job. “I just remember my grandmother. You know, it is so rare now in France to have two grandmothers who cook.” I remembered my own grandmother’s soggy carrots and I was starting to realize I was from the wrong country. “I have this memory of when I was three or four. I was out picking griolles in the forest,” I nodded because I prepare crates of these mushrooms each week, “and I picked one up and it smelt of dirt but it had a musty and at the same time, fresh scent and I just remember being amazed that this came from the ground. You can’t do that in France anymore, it’s really a shame, but our fruit and vegetables are just not as fresh as they used to be.”

Frédérick told me about how he had first come to this restaurant ten years ago as a guest of Pierre Hermé, one of Paris’ most well known chocolatiers. This was quite a moment for me. As he continued to set the scene of the evening I thought back to my walk to the restaurant. Rue de Belleville is what I call Chinatown hill. It is covered foot to top with Chinese restaurants. And yet where we where, just off the road, was an insanely traditional French restaurant with exquisite food and an accompanying wine list with wines from all over France. “She is in the kitchen,” Frédérick pointed to a lovely looking women with stiff brown hair pulled behind her as she leaned over the bar, “and her husband stays out here.”

Frédérick’s partner, my friend who had invited me to this evening, had told me over coffee once that Frédérick was the type of person to trail across Paris to get the perfect olive oil for a certain dish. And I knew right then in that moment that he was someone I would enjoy meeting. He pointed at my plate. “This was cooked for 6 hours. It is so appel d’offres,” he turned towards his partner. “How do you say it,” and he raised his hands in front of his face and touched his fingers together and then slowly drew them apart. “What do you mean?” She watched his hands. “You know, appel d’offres.” She looked at his hands. I looked at his hands. And then she said, “Oh you mean tender?” I love how different languages communicate words without knowing them. We are all connected through our mannerisms.

At the end of the night Frédérick stood up and then looking across the restaurant his checks raised and he called out, “Pierre! Ça va?” And then he introduced me to Pierre Hermé, a man worthy of his weight. And all I could think while leaving the restaurant was that I had just had one of my favourite meals in Paris, not because the food was just as he said, exquisite, not because of the full bodied wines form all over the country that I live in, and not even because I met one of the kings of pastry, but because I got to learn about some one who is important to a friend of mine and I got to hear about someone’s passion which I could entirely relate with.

A part from dinners in restaurants there have been breakfasts in bistros and breakfasts at home.

A typical French petit déjeuner at a bistro consists of baguette with comfiture of butter and jam.

A typical French petit déjeuner at my kitchenette table consists of baguette filled with butter and cubes of dark chocolate as well a croissant smothered in nutella.

Recently my kitchentte has also played with the remnants of my trip to Italy. These have been effortlessly carried out with appreciation for the only plant in my apartment. It is now raining in Paris. One of my favourite moments to be a part of. And I am about to start making a fish stew with langoustines and gambas and Cabillaud for this evening’s dinner.

Names were changed for the sake of privacy.

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