remembering a recent week in Paris, where I gave a paper at a conference called Indigeneity and Diet. The conference was in large part about the effects of colonialisation on traditional diets, and how diets might be recovered. This was before the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, so it was a week of discussion and eating – not of distress and dismay.
I interviewed a couple of people. Anne Jousse is the president of a family company, B Signature, that owns a number of boutique hotels in Paris. Each has its own identity, all are in great locations. I ate in two of the hotel restaurants: Le V at the Hotel Vernet, rue Vernet, very close to the Arc de Triomphe. The food and decor are contemporary, but there is a wonderful 19th dome, designed by Eiffel (he of the tower). Listen to the interview here: https://soundcloud.com/travelwritersradio/anne-jousse-paris-luxe-boutique-hotelier-rita-erlich
That’s a small restaurant. So is the restaurant at the Hotel Montalembert, another in the group. https://www.hotelmontalembert-paris.com/ Very chic, and the cuisine is overseen by a one-star Michelin chef called Bruno Verjus. What was so good about the lunch I ate there was the focus on seasonal ingredients. In so many Paris bistros, where the food is perfectly pleasant (onion soup, terrines, plates of charcuterie, salmon, chicken), there is a dearth of anything green, a lack of vegetable life. But there, at the start of the asparagus season, there was a complementary appetiser featuring white asparagus, and I chose an entree of green asparagus. And then fish with a nettle sauce.
Perhaps small restaurants are the trend. L’Astrance in rue Beethoven, is even smaller. It’s been around since 2000, when chef Pascal Barbot returned from a two year stint in Australia, cooking at Tony Bilson’s restaurant. It’s had three Michelin stars for many years, down one this year, and it’s one of the finer meals I have eaten. There’s a sense of joy (as well as luxury) in the cooking. No menu here, just choose the number of courses, and say what you can’t eat. Listen to the interview with Pascal: https:///soundcloud.com/travelwritersradio/michelin-star-chef-pascal-barbot-and-his-tiny-paris-restaurant-rita-erlich