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Birthday – La Gourmandista

Cooking in progress...

Etiqueta: Birthday

A Gem Found in Boulogne-Billancourt : Plantxa

Part of my culinary adventure and discovery of fine-dining cuisine included classes which I can classify as exceptional, since I think it is only in this environment where they are possible. Every other week we cross our fingers hoping that our mid-afternoon schedule is clear, since the school hosts a Guest Chef who comes to teach a class. It is a full two hour lecture with someone who not only works as the head chef of a brigade, but also has had an amazing trajectory, and who, with a bit of luck, even has a few stars in his/her arsenal.

I would have loved to attend more than the ones I actually had the chance to see, but I know I that I sat in on as many as was humanly possible. And I think the one with Juan Arbelaez is probably one of those that I will remember having left a good taste in my mouth.

The guest cook arrives to the session and literally performs a show. There are some who share something they prepare in their own kitchens and following them throughout becomes a small odyssey, given that they arrive with half their preparations ready and the class is taught in Fast Forward mode, just as if one were in a program aired by the Food Network or the Argentinean elgourmet.com. There are others who actually go and teach before the stove and share their pearls of wisdom while they prepare something simple like a soup that they then turn into a sauce or a gélée, or something of the sort. Yet, Juan had the students totally captivated for quite a simple reason: he, unlike any other guest chef who comes to school, is Latin American; Colombian to be exact. Also, he is an alumnus. His career path has resembled something that many young cooks long for, and despite it all, in less than 10 years, he has already had a great amount of accomplishments and awards which have even taken him to the popular television program TopChef in France, to regular appearances in the local news channels, and I even – if I recall correctly – recently appeared in an article in the paper where his name comes up as one of the talented chefs who will present their work at the second edition of the Taste of Paris festival which will take place in February.

After having witnessed Juan’s demonstration, we found the ffirst excuse possible so we could go to Plantxa, the restaurant Juan opened with his business partner and friend, Pablo Naranjo. There, they have reinvented everything, down to the hamburger. The place is right in the middle of the same suburb one can find the Roland Garros stadium. Therefore, as can be imagined, the clientele is demanding.

We reserved a table because we were a large party. We were celebrating a birthday, and the only condition for us to get in was that we would need to adjust ourselves to the Chef’s Choice of the Day, avoiding the menu. We were more than 10 cuisine apprentices who were all satisfied, happy, and even surprised with what we had been served, since the kitchen is physically pretty small, and the brigade can be counted on one hand, with fingers left over. For that reason, I think that Plantxa is another place well worth discovering – and even when it is on the outskirts of the city, it can still be reached by metro.

Address: 58 Rue Gallieni, 92100 Boulogne – Billancourt
Subway Station: Marcel Sembat
Phone Number:  +33 (0) 1 4620 5093

A hidden treasure in the Marais in Paris: Soma, by Sourasack Phongphe

Sashimi de callo de hacha

In the past, I have already made evident in this blog how stubborn I can be about celebrating accomplishments, anniversaries, birthdays, etcetera. I have always felt that it is important not to ignore the dates which, for one reason or another, have marked our lives. Thus, it is no surprise that the birthday of that special someone who makes my heart beat faster is reason enough to discover any unique place in this city which has captivated us over and over again in the last four years.

For me, it was an important day. So, I asked him to choose a place to go to, or at least to give me a hint so I could find a place we could consider as adequate to hold a celebration that such a day deserves. 5 decades isn’t something you celebrate every day…

He chose Japanese food… In silence, I thought ‘Shit, where are we going to go, now?’. Fortunately, about a year ago, I came across a guide which has been very useful and has lived up to the challenge of recommending places -and I feel I have become more and more picky every day. This thing about sharpening my taste buds makes it a real challenge to discover places that are totally unknown if I haven’t any knowledge about the place. It’s just a matter of not wanting to be disappointed, I guess. Anyway, I searched all around. I read one review here, and another one there, until I felt comfortable with the selected place. I then searched for it on the Internet, looked at pictures of some of their plates, and finally decided to call and make a reservation. At night, we left quite late, but it was a day on which it wasn’t worth having a fight. So, just like that, we headed to the place. The rain made its appearance to freshen up the summer evening. We arrived extremely late. The reservation had been already marked as a ‘no show’. I made a puppy face, with the teary eyes and everything, pleading for a place to dine… even if it was at the bar. The guy probably pitied us, and he found a table. We sat, and looked at the menu. Then, we turned to both sides and nodded; all the plates we were seeing pass before us on their way to the tables besides ours, though seemingly small, looked very appetizing to us.

Rice, sashimi, edamame… I think we asked for half the menu, but who cared, we were celebrating and the food was good. We had our meal with some white wine. We made it all the way to dessert. When the staff learnt we were celebrating, they even sent us a glass of sake each. The service was excellent, the products were fresh and prepared simply, yet adequately. We paid a fair price. Now I know why we almost ended up with no table.

Moelleux au Chocolat

Address: 13 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris
Subway Station: Filles du Calvaire
Phone Number:  +33 (0) 9 8182 5351

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