Archive | September 2014

Some of my favorites from Paris: Le Galopin

One of my favorite restaurants in Paris is Le Galopin, located in an up-and-coming neighborhood in the 10th arrondissement. The chef is Romain Tischenko, who won the Top Chef competition in France in 2010. He runs the restaurant with his brother Maxime. I really love this restaurant for a variety of reasons: it is tiny and very quaint; it is located in beautiful and colorful square; everybody who works there is friendly; and most importantly the food is very fresh, innovative, and delicious!

There is a set menu and on the day that we ate there it featured the following dishes:

Feta with green beans, red onions, radishes, and white currants.

Feta

Tomato and whelk soup with mustard seeds.

soup

Duck tartar with cucumbers (by the way, these were the most amazing cucumbers ever!), micro greens, and samphire.

duck

Cod served with clam, green peas, pea and parsley purée, artichoke, grilled green onion, and tomatoes.

cod

Iberico pork with grilled vegetables, girolle mushrooms, and tabouleh.

porc

Homemade raspberry ice cream served with chocolate and piment d’espelette (one of my favorite spices!).

dessert 1

Strawberries served with olive oil, cream, meringue, and rhubarb (stem and greens).

dessert 2

Every course looked like a piece of artwork! And everything was so delicious!

There is a lengthy wine list that changes depending on what’s on the menu. Customers can pick wines by the glass or by the bottle. We opted for a bottle that would go well with the entire meal: Pouilly Fumé Pierre Precieuse by Domaine Alexandre Bain. The vintage is 2012.

wine label

The Pouilly Fumé is a dry white wine made with the aromatic sauvignon blanc grape. It is from the Loire Valley, just across the river where Sancerre is produced. Because it is made from the sauvignon blanc grape, the Pouilly Fumé is a highly aromatic wine. It has earthy elements, characterized most typically by gunflint, which gives it steely mineral qualities.

In the Pierre Precieuse, you can really smell sweet and ripe white fruits as well as some hints of citrus (the citrus aromas are definitely not very strong). It also has sweet honey-like aromas. It has a beautiful golden color (darker than the typical Poully Fumé) and is a bit more full bodied than I would expect. On the mouth, it is very refreshing with great acidity and minerality (it is a mineral driven wine).

wine glass

While I generally would explore different wines to accompany such a diverse set of dishes, the Pouilly Fumé is a versatile wine when it comes to food pairings and it goes really well with grilled fish, shellfish, chicken, creamy sauces, smoked salmon, tangy cheeses like goat and feta, and even pork! Most of these foods were featured in the menu that day and the wine was a delicious complement to our dinner!

I think that the feta cheese in the first appetizer course was especially a great match to this wine. The feta works well with the Pouilly Fumé because it is a very refreshing and crisp wine, owing to its high acidity and minerality. These qualities in a white wine enhance and strengthen the creamy and salty flavors in the cheese. (For similar reasons, crumbly goat cheeses such as Crotin de Chavignol are generally great accompaniments to Sancerres from the Loire Valley.)

Both the entrées also worked well with this wine. The minerality of the Pouilly Fumé makes it a good option for seafood. At the same time, this Pouilly Fumé is not a simple wine. It has complex flavors, aromas, and a long finish. These characteristics make it a great option for seafood that has a bit more depth and structure. In that respect, the clam and cod are a great match to this wine.  Neither the wine nor the food overpowers the other. A lighter fish would not be able to keep up with this wine.

Another thing I love about having the Pouilly Fumé with this dish is that the citrus aromas (they’re not blatant but still present) in the wine provide a great complement to this seafood dish. I always prefer lemons with any seafood dish that I eat (while some purists frown upon citrus in seafood thinking that it detracts from the flavor of the food, I think they are a perfect match!) and I think the citrus elements in the wine work in the same way as a lemon wedge would with the dish.

Also the grilled vegetables and their light smokiness from the charred grill marks complemented the earthy and flinty qualities of this wine amazingly (after all, fumé does mean smoky in French). Both the entrees had grilled veggies (the artichoke and the green onion in the seafood course; the zucchini, peppers, and another green onion in the pork course).

A surprise match was the pork in the second main course. I didn’t expect this wine go well with the pork but it somehow worked! I thought this was a very interesting match and I will have to experiment with this further.

I really love this restaurant and it is always on my list of restaurants to visit when I’m in Paris. I can’t wait to go back there next summer!

Some of my favorites from Paris: Verjus

I’ve been wanting to write a post on the food and wine highlights of my summer in Paris but weddings and travels kept me super busy during the last couple of weeks. But I’m finally back in Abu Dhabi and I’m finally getting around to it 🙂 I will write about my favorites throughout the next few posts. This series of posts will be mostly about the foods that I ate at my favorite restaurants in Paris (not all of them may feature a wine pairing, though most do). The first restaurant I want to write about is Verjus in the 1st arrondissement, which is run by an American couple. You can either visit the restaurant or the wine bar downstairs. It is a very popular restaurant that attracts an expat clientele. The food is fresh, inventive, and modern. On the day that we ate there, we opted for the wine pairing to accompany the set menu. The first thing that we tasted was the semolina cracker with eggplant purée confit, mint, and caramelized eggplant. This was the amuse-bouche and there wasn’t a wine pairing served with it.

Eggplant

We then moved on to the first appetizer: Citrus cured pink trout with pistachio butter, heirloom beets, greens, sorrel oil and crème fraiche. This dish was served with “Romo” made by 2012 Domaine des Huards, Cour-Cheverny. This wine has amazing minerality – it is quite refreshing and you can really sense the wet stone aroma. This wine has the perfect amount of freshness to go with the rich trout! pink trout Romo

The second appetizer was a stinging nettle linguini with house ricotta, chanterelles, nettle pesto, and pine nuts, served with a 2010 Saint Aubin made by Patrick Miolane. The Saint Aubin has a very floral nose – white flowers. The taste is very fresh and fruity with a very nice buttery body. I loved the butteriness of this wine to go with the rich ricotta and pesto. And the freshness of the taste was a great balancing factor to the richness of the dish. Nettle

st. aubin

Next up was a foie gras mousse with shaved apricots, toasted hazelnuts, cocoa nibs, and apricot jam. This was served with a Corbières. “Clair” produced by Domaine les Promesses de la Terre from 2012. This Corbières has a very interesting aroma profile: yeast, toasted bread/brioche, and fried dough – fried dough is something that my mom and my grandma used to make when I was little and it was my absolutely favorite thing ever! This is a slightly sweet wine and that sweetness wonderfully  brings out the flavors of the foie gras!

foie gras Corbieres

Now on to the main courses. There were two. The first was a skillet cooked duck breast with smoked celery root, orange, caraway, and red cabbage sauerkraut. This was accompanied by a red Sancerre by Domaine Vacheron from 2012. This Sancerre is wonderfully earthy with aromas of dirt and wet earth. The taste is fruity – red fruits – and that is a wonderful complement for duck.

duck sancerre

The final course before the cheese/dessert is a tomato braised pork belly with grilled zucchini, tomato relish, garlic chips, and summer squash. The wine that we were served was a Côtes du Roussillon Villages, “Les Huit” by Domaine les Terres de Mallyce from 2010. This is the strongest wine of all and has taken on tertiary aromas like leather, animal, and a hint of licorice. There is also some fruity components like cherry. This aroma profile of the wine and the dish are very complementary and again the fruitiness in the taste of the wine works amazingly with pork. pork belly

roussillon

All the wines were a great choice for the courses. I especially loved the red Sancerre and the Roussillon and bought a bottle of each to take home with me.

Note: (I forgot to take pictures of some of the wines from that evening so photos of some of the bottles are not mine. However, all food photos are my own photos.)