Nicolas and I stumbled on this restaurant in Boulogne-Billancourt. We were there early and were able to get a table without a reservation, but the small space filled up quickly so it might be advisable to call in advance for a table. The clientele seems to be mostly young, hip, and well-heeled. The menu is small and changes daily.
Because we only came across the restaurant by chance and had no expectations of it, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality and inventiveness of the food.
The only description on the menu for this starter was "oeuf / cevennes / creste d'gallo". I only understand the word "oeuf", which is "egg", and I love anything with eggs, so I ordered it. Whatever it was, it was exquisite!
Nicolas and I were hoping to have lunch here on December 31st but it was closed when we turned up, which was how we ended up at Plantxa down the street. We returned for dinner at another time and I'm glad that we did. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough. The memory of it still has me swooning.
We had the bento, the contents of which were as follows:
Most of the food is traditional Japanese but some of it, like the miso soup with mussels, have a French flourish.
- The home cooking of Nicolas' sister and her husband.
Nicolas' sister, Nathalie, and her husband, Pascal, are excellent cooks. When we arrived, Nathalie had a wonderful leek quiche waiting for us, which we instantly devoured.
Then Pascal made poularde au vin jaune et morilles (chicken in yellow wine and morel mushrooms) with gratin dauphinois (a potato dish with creme fraiche).
Then, of course, they got us the specialties from the region like jambon persillé (ham and parsley terrine):
And Epoisses cheese, one of my favorite cheeses:
And, because Pascal works with one of the Chassagne Montrachet wineries, we were served only the best wines.
The first time I went to Avoriaz with Nicolas, we went through Geneva, where we visited with an old friend of his before hiring a car to take us up the mountain to a lonely winter station, where we were picked up by a horse-drawn carriage that took us to Avoriaz, a French ski resort town in Portes du Soleil.
Paris to Avoriaz was a bit more of trek. We already broke up the trip with a stop to visit Nicolas' sister, and the remainder of the trip was still too long. It took us two more trains (stopping at Bellegarde and Thonon), one taxi ride (to Morzine), a ski lift, and one of those monster ski-resort vehicles to finally reach Nicolas' family chalet in Avoriaz.
If ever you find yourself in this region of France, if there is one dish that you should have, it's the tartiflette, an evil combination of potatoes, onions, lardon (the French version of bacon), and reblochon cheese. Yep, your entire day's calorie requirement in one dish.
We inquired where the best tartiflette in town was and were pointed in the direction of La Boule de Neige. They were right. Nicolas made the mistake of ordering the raclette, which he shared with his mom. It was good, but not as good as my tartiflette. I think Nicolas still regrets his decision to this day.
Lyon is the food capital of the world. And Nicolas had never been. So we took up Lyon-resident (and our Cebu neighbor), Francis Dravigny's invitation for a visit and broke up our trip from Avoriaz to Paris to finally sample the culinary delights of France's third largest city (after Paris and Marseille).
A two-starred Michelin restaurant, its chef and owner, Christophe Roure, was named Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France) in 2007. If I understood him correctly, his restaurant is called Le Neuvieme Art - The Ninth Art - because there was a time when cooking was considered an art form. It has since been stricken off the official list of what is considered art and replaced by comic books. His restaurant is his homage to cooking as an art form.
This is what good food looks like on someone's face. (This very expressive face belongs to textile designer, Francis Dravigny.) The food doesn't have to have a Michelin star. It just has to have this effect. I get this face even when eating Chicken Joy from Jollibee!
Yes, we went to an Italian restaurant in Lyon. This is one of Francis and Sophie's favorites, and reservations are an absolute must. They are only open for lunch, from noon to 2:30, Mondays to Fridays. They're that good.
They don't have a written menu. It changes daily, based on what's available at the market and according to the owner, Marco Asti,'s mood. This is Marco at our table telling us what's on offer. He speaks fluent French and English, and Italian, of course. I caught him in mid "ou" - "or". He was reciting our choices for starters and mains. Everything we had was amazing.
Upon Marco's and the Dravignys' recommendation, I had this celery risotto, which did not actually contain any rice. It was celery chopped to bits and cooked like risotto. It was fantastic. I could have eaten ten more of these.
- The chocolate chip cookies at any boulangerie.
I know it isn't French and Nicolas and his mom are appalled that I am constantly eating these but, if you love chocolate chip cookies as much as I do, trust me when I say that the French know how to make a mean chocolate chip cookie.
The burger as reinvented by the French, featuring premium beef that is done according to your preferred degree of doneness, and French cheese that isn't pasteurized. Big Fernand calls its burgers hamburgés.
Choose the Bartholomé. It has raclette, smoked streaky bacon, caramelized onions, chives, barbecue sauce, and Big Fernand's homemade cocktail sauce. (Internet file photo.) Or you can customize your own burger and choose the meat, herbs, cheese, vegetables, and sauce that go in it.