Deprecated: Optional parameter $prefix declared before required parameter $extension_name is implicitly treated as a required parameter in /home/lagourz/www/wp-content/plugins/mwt-unyson-extensions/mwt-unyson-extensions.php on line 86

Deprecated: Optional parameter $full declared before required parameter $zip_path is implicitly treated as a required parameter in /home/lagourz/www/wp-content/plugins/unyson/framework/extensions/backups/includes/module/tasks/class--fw-ext-backups-module-tasks.php on line 985

Deprecated: Optional parameter $option_id declared before required parameter $value is implicitly treated as a required parameter in /home/lagourz/www/wp-content/plugins/unyson/framework/extensions/megamenu/helpers.php on line 193

Deprecated: Optional parameter $method declared before required parameter $args is implicitly treated as a required parameter in /home/lagourz/www/wp-content/plugins/unyson/framework/extensions/social/extensions/social-facebook/class-fw-extension-social-facebook.php on line 104

Deprecated: Optional parameter $method declared before required parameter $args is implicitly treated as a required parameter in /home/lagourz/www/wp-content/plugins/unyson/framework/extensions/social/extensions/social-facebook/helpers.php on line 17
culinary experience – La Gourmandista

Cooking in progress...

Etiqueta: culinary experience

On One of my Favorite Restaurants in Paris : Welwitsch

Welwitsch is a restaurant I have the honor of having known since before it existed, because, even when I am exaggerating a little, it’s got it’s bit of truth. I met Patricia, the chef and owner of the place, from a distance when we were both in culinary school 5 years ago. We never shared a classroom, so I had no idea how she cooked, however, every time we ran into each other, she greeted me and we talked amicably. With time, we became friends.

We followed each other on social media, and from time to time we kept meeting each other at an event at school. A few months later I moved back to Mexico while she was working on opening her restaurant. When I returned to Paris to carry on studying, Welwitsch had just opened its doors. Without wasting any time, I went for brunch with another friend of mine from school as well.

I loved the place. Everything was done with high-quality organic ingredients. It wasn’t pretentious at all, however, when leaving the place, one was quite satisfied and did not feel having paid a whole month’s salary. I returned to Mexico really happy of having visited her new restaurant, but I never sat down to write about it. I don’t even know why. Maybe it was just because I stopped writing regularly.

When we were planning last Fall’s visit to Paris, we had to also choose where to go with each group of friends. Evidently, this is not done randomly, we thought about the place that would suit each group of people best. Thus, we chose to go to Welwitsch with those who would love homemade, organic food and who would appreciate Patricia’s creations, for I think they are creative jewels she shows in each seasonal menu. I logged on to her website, which by the way is available in more than 10 different languages. That, I was not expecting. However, knowing Patricia, who pays attention to the smallest of details, and that she is a polyglot herself, this isn’t difficult to understand. Anyway, once our table was confirmed, I was sure she would be expecting us: I wasn’t wrong.

Ensalada de temporada con betabel y butternut

We ate deliciously until we couldn’t have one more bite. Laëticia, who is now in charge of the front of the house did not stop the pampering. Of course, Patricia  came out to say hello as soon as she had a moment and could escape from the kitchen. Honestly, the culinary experience was even better than what I remembered, since, apart from the excuse of stopping by to say hello, for me this place has become one of those one shouldn’t miss when in the City of Lights. It has got, I think, everything one wants: good food, good quality ingredients, good service, and on top of all… good prices. To sum it up; it’s a treat.

Address: 91, rue du Chemin Vert, 75011 Paris

Metro: Saint Ambroise     Richard Lenoir           Rue Saint Maur

Ph: +33 (0) 1 4807 3787

Note: This restaurant has permanently closed.

Au Passage, the Parisian Restaurant Hiding in the Passageway

Cucumber and Yoghurt Salad

What would you imagine if your rendez-vous was in front of a restaurant whose name is translated as “In the Passageway” (Au Passage)  because its address is in an old passageway, and to top it off is described as ‘market cuisine, tapas bar, and wine bar’?

Honestly, when I arrived here it was one of those places I dared to enter only because those who recommended the place went with me, and because they like eating good food, and are quite demanding of it. If I were to describe the place and what I thought about it upon arrival, I am sure I would hear laughter that would echo in my head every time someone passed through here and read these lines.

La pièce de résistance: 8-Hour Roasted Lamb

Imagine a cafeteria or lunch place just besides a gas station on the highway which would lead you into the city of Chihuahua, Saltillo, or San Luis Potosí… or any other place in Mexico. I mean, they look clean, but they may not seem like the most hip places in town from the outside. And places looking like this -visually, that is- are abundant in my country as well as in many other countries in Latin America. But hey, I’m not saying it contemptuously, for one can go eat there, just as a passer-by, and be fully satisfied with a delicacy which originated from the region. As a matter of fact, as I write these lines, I’m remembering a place where we used to stop and buy sandwiches in bread similar to French baguettes but originally from Mexico, and which we call ‘tortas’. The place is located on a highway by my great grandmother’s hometown of Matehuala in the state of San Luis Potosí, if I recall correctly.

However, the difference with such places, and the one that I’m referring to in this post is that an English-native chef named Edward-Delling Williams is the person in charge of serving guests with what I dare to describe as an uncommon cuisine, if compared to the Parisian common denominator, since, in the middle of downtown Paris, one hears music, orders being called in English, and the guests laugh and share also in English one can identify as coming from all around the World more frequently than in French, but more specifically, a place where one can eat well, where from miles away one can see that regional products have been respected, and that they have been transformed into seasonal dishes their cooks feel proud of. Also, I have to emphasize that the prices are very decent; 35€ for a 6-course tasting menu is absolutely incredible, even more so when time has passed by and one is still capable of tasting the lamb from that evening.

Tomato Consommé

Anyhow, I left the blog post  unfinished. To my surprise,  I opened the last number of a very popular and well-reputed gastronomy magazine and found not only a piece on Au Passage, but even some recipes from their Autumn menu. I wanted to go back. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if I am staying in my beloved City of Lights, or if I am there just as a passer-by, this is one of those places worth going to, even when reservations are unavailable, and one has to wait for a table to be free for the second service. Good food, and a good glass of wine will surely be served.

Address: 1 bis, Passage Saint-Sébastien 75011 Paris
Subway Station: Saint-Sébastien – Froissart
Phone:  +33 (0) 1 7320 2323

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 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

Any Given Parisian Sunday

Discovering new places in this city may be easy, since it is only necessary to allow oneself to walk down a street, avenue, or even an alley dating back to the Middle Ages and dare to enter a place you’ve never seen before. I can’t really explain it, but there are places that you can tell, even from a distance, they have catastrophe written all over them, others which, in spite of their appearance, I never felt attracted to, and only dared to enter for the sake of courage or because they had been recommended to me by a reliable source – even when despite said recommendation I ended up wanting to run out. Then there are those places where one feels invited to enter just by looking at them, and last, of course, there are those that look so beautiful that one gets scared of even setting foot into, and where you’re required to take out a second mortgage on your house when the bill arrives.

Right by the Latin Quarter at the exit of the Odéon metro station there is a little alley that is over 500 years old. Here, you can find a Chinese man selling jewelry, a restaurant I have heard is good, but given it’s rather unhygienic appearance never attracted my attention in the least, and there is another place which seems to give away chocolates rather than selling them, since it’s always jam-packed and is impossible to get into. I tried to get a table twice, maybe even three times, but never succeeded. I never got to know why it was so popular, since it seemed to be of a certain price. I assumed it was one of those places that you “simply couldn’t miss because it’s so exceptional” which seem to be hiding all around the city.

With time, and a little bit of learning, I was lucky enough to not only know, but also to study under the Chef de Cuisine who opened the place. The owner is the maître chocolatier Pierre Clauziel, who, according to what I’ve read, still considers Sundays sacred. He thus created a place where all of our chocolatey dreams get together… Ok, so that’s my personal interpretation of the aim of our chocolate master. In fact, he actually calls this place a Concept Store, since one can find in it a chocolate boutique, a chocolate bar, a restaurant, and even culinary workshops. But, just between you and me, I would consider this place to be a marvelous restaurant with a chocolate boutique next to it, plain and simple. Admittedly, however, I didn’t walk through the entire place, and as it would be expected, the place is still very special, for every dish served in the restaurant contains cocoa or chocolate in some form.

For this man, sharing joy is giving a bit of his time, discovering, tasting, licking his fingers, laughing, learning the language of chocolate and writing poems with it. Therefore, my dear reader, you can conclude from these lines, that the place is simply unique.

Finally, we were able to get a table in the middle of the week, and not on the day the Lord rested – ha! We went with some guests worthy of such pampering. The service was amazing, and the food was quite an adventure – and yes, I found chocolate and/or cocoa from beginning to end. Now, I could spend the next five lines listing everything we ate and had a chance to taste together with our guests, however, I think the best would be to say that this place is worth making time for, whether it’s a Sunday, or a Wednesday. If you find yourselves in the City of Lights, give yourselves the chance to stop by Un Dimanche à Paris and let yourselves be captivated by the young Chef Jean-Pierre Jullien and the marvelous chocolate of master Clauziel.

Some of the delicacies served throughout the night

Address: 4 Cours du Commerce Saint-André, 75006 Paris

Subway Station: Odéon

Phone Number: +33 (0)1 5681 1818

“Taste of Paris”: One of the World’s Greatest Food Festivals I’ve Been To

Back in the end of 2011 or early 2012 I once heard someone say that whenever she came to Paris it was very difficult to get good food. As in that moment I was a newbie and could not say much more than a tourist, even though I didn’t agree at all with such a statement, I decided to keep my mouth shut and didn’t express any opinion whatsoever. Truly, I found that just as in any other place in the globe, good quality food is not given out for free nor does it include the 1€ crêpes sold on the sidewalks by the Latin Quarter -though I have met many who seem to be inexplicably in love with them.

Going a little back further down memory lane, I remember my mom saying that if I wanted to get to know a place and its population, one had to look at what they ate, where they went to amuse themselves, and what they read. She always encouraged me to have a palate worth taking adventures, for not only would I learn about places, people, and cultures, but I would also educate my taste. It is true that many times I became more open to new flavors abroad than at home. As an example, I can say that to this day I have no idea why I don’t like mamey sapotes; the truth is I have never even tried tasting them, maybe I should give them a real chance next time I get the opportunity to have one bite. Thus, getting to know how Paris tastes took a while. Firstly, it was necessary for me to know its products, its brands, what was industrial, and what was healthy. Then, I discovered the markets, and I was lucky enough to find my preferred merchants. From fruit to cheese, to the bakery. Now there is even room to have a Plan A as well as a Plan B -especially during the month of August, but that’s another story.

Evidently, finding the flavors of the restaurants in a city as Paris can take you anywhere and everywhere. There are places of all kinds. I have seen the most “scary” kind of Kebab places where I wouldn’t even let my worst enemy eat to what most probably is the most “chic” one on Avenue George V. If I recall for a moment, I talked a little about Parisian restaurants around here quite some time ago. I still have a long list of places to go grab a bite, however, I believe progress has been made.

But then, a few months ago I saw an advertisement somewhere –I think it was on social media- regarding an event which promised being extraordinary. Some of the greatest chefs in the country would all be under the same roof for a few days and share a just a tiny bit of their creations with the general public in such a way to allow more people to get to taste exceptional preparations. At first I hesitated, but in the end, and after some of my foodie classmates had given themselves the chance to experience the adventure, we also caved in.

We arrived early, and though we had already gotten our tickets electronically, we had to wait for a moment. Our tickets were then changed for tokens we could use to ‘buy’ our food at the pop up restaurants installed. It was like being in a humongous school fair with little stands that sold prime quality food. We decided to walk around at first and see what they were all offering, thus allowing ourselves to make the best decision possible regarding our tasting preference. Joël Robuchon and his ‘Atelier’ was there, just as Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy, Frédéric Simonin, Pierre Sang, Kei Kobayashi, Massimiliano Alajmo, and the only woman present among these masters of the stove was Stéphanie Le Quellec just to mention a few of them.

The task was difficult, but we finally decided what to get. Accompanied the lot with a glass of wine or a beer, depending on the choices, we not only ate very good food, but we also discovered places we hadn’t considered before as dining options and I even asked some of the chefs for photos as if I were a child behind Mickey Mouse on Disneyland.

By the end of the evening everyone had a full tummy with yummy and decided to go home promising ourselves to continue discovering new addresses that would lead us to new flavors.

What is the best Mexican restaurant in Paris?

As a Mexican, I feel proud of my land and its people. However, there is something that in my personal opinion is the crown jewel of my country, and that is its gastronomy. And no, I don’t mean the so-called Mexican food that you can now find all over the place. I’m not talking about Old El Paso burritos or the ‘delicacies’ sold at Taco Bell, so please, let us leave the Tex-Mex behind for a while, or at least for today. 

I close my eyes for a moment and go back to my childhood and teenage memories. Now, I am certain that I can associate every city I have ever visited in my country with a specific dish which has captivated me, or which is characteristic of their cuisine. From north to south, from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico; some of them are very elaborate, others not as much, but among my favorites are the delicious meat cuts from Monterrey, or their dry meat with scrambled eggs and red salsa, the flour tortillas from “Doña Concha” in the northern region of Torreón, as well as the various cheese types from the state of Chihuahua in the north, or the state of Oaxaca in the southeast, impossible to find anywhere in France. And what about the “pescado zarandeado” that reminds me of the stony beach of Yelapa in Jalisco, or the “chiles en nogada” which not only transport me back to Puebla, but to marvelous adventures in my own kitchen on more than one Independence Day as well. And of course, I can’t leave behind the Yucatecan dish of black beans with pork that my granny used to call “poor people’s food” because when she was young, this was easy and cheap to make. To me, this is one of the most exquisite delicacies I have ever tasted. Of course, I could continue on and let the list become infinite, given that the more I get to know my country, the more I fall in love with its cuisines.

Anyway, let’s carry on…

Personally, I think that when one is far away from their homeland, what one misses the most are the ingredients one is used to cook with, what is typical for one’s household… what one is used to eating, and we generally take it for granted before moving to a new and different place. Fortunately for me, I don’t miss chili and spicy food in my every day diet, but tortillas… I have to say that I do miss them. So, as we have come and gone between  our dear beloved Mexico and France, we have carried canned, dehydrated, and sous-vide products. From Spain we brought dehydrated ‘nixtamalized’ corn flour to make masa and we learnt how to work with our hands to be able to create delicious sopes, gorditas, and even freshly made tortillas to accompany the Mexican-style rice with mole that made us feel like we were in a Michelin-Star restaurant – especially when our meals were accompanied by a French wine. This resulted in the creation of new meals that I am proud of being able to produce, thanks to the help of my friends from La Costeña, Mi Viejito, Herdez, and other staple Mexican food brands.

However, part of the adventure is also looking for something and not stopping until you find it, and fellow nationals who we’ve met in this beautiful city we now call home, together with locals, have recommended that we go to various restaurants where they claim real Mexican food is served. And maybe a bit out of curiosity, but also we may had been craving cochinita pibil (a typical dish from the Yucatan Peninsula), or a simple cactus salad, but we headed to number 57 in Boulevard Montparnasse in district 6 towards the well-known Hacienda del Sol. We arrived, and a short, bronze-skinned Mexican server received us. He greeted us in French, but immediately switched to Spanish when we gave him the name the reservation was under. We had a marvelous meal… scrumptious, good typical homey Mexican food that I, to date, am not capable of reproducing in my kitchen due to a lack of know-how, in the case of the barbecue, and due to a lack of ingredients for the cochinita pibil – I have no annatto (achiote). Maybe this is why it tasted even better.

I’m not sure I would be willing to pay 8 Euros for a glass of hibiscus water again, but, it was worth it, since I was able to see so many French people having a good time, experiencing a little piece of the land that I come from, sharing dishes so that everyone could taste what they had all ordered. It was also worth it for having been able to hear a bit of Spanish that sounded similar to mine.

Address: 57, Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris, France

Subway Station: Port-Royal (RER)

Telephone: +33 (0) 1 4326.2653

Note: This restaurant has permanently closed.