Tag Archives: Paris Restaurants

Trusting in the Process


The little girl tugs at her mother’s sleeve.

“You”re not listening to me, mummy,” she says imploringly with a sense of urgency.

The mother looks up from her work and asks again for the little girl to repeat what she had said.

The little girl continues, “If Sophie has 2 more friends come to stay, we will not have enough chairs.”

“Oh, we will, we will, don’t worry,” the mother says absent mindedly, trying to steer the little girl away from the conversation. The little girl is adamant to finish her story.

“But mummy! Listen please!  Sophie and me makes 2, Ayaka and Emma makes 4, so if Sophie has 2 more friends over, that will make 6. But we only have 5 chairs in the kitchen. Where will I sit for dinner?”

It took me a few seconds to register what she had said. (For those of you who know me well, kawan kawan, numbers are really not my forte.)  She’s right, I remember thinking to myself. Hmmm! It took me some more seconds to realise that my little girl was doing mental maths. She’s right…. of course, she’s right, we have only 5 chairs at the dining table in the kitchen, so, indeed, where would she sit if Sophie had 4 friends over for dinner?

By the way, RN is only 6. She is still adding with her fingers and toes. How she understood this difficult concept of addition and subtraction within the context mentioned above is beyond me. But she was right in that if 2 more of Sophie’s friends came, we would have one chair too few. Indeed, where would she be sitting for dinner? Even if this mental gymnastic was based on selfish motives, I had to applaud RN. She was actually worried enough about her stomach to bring up the subject! Hahahahahaha!!! Is she my kid or what?

Why am I recounting this story, you ask. Well, this has something to do with me trusting in the process of my daughter’s education. She may not always get 2+2=4 or that 5+6=11 because she has only 10 fingers but she has understood that 6 people and 5 chairs just don’t add up. She has managed to work out that there will be 6 children by simple mental addition within a specific context. Okay, okay, she may have used her fingers to help….. but….

Mamma is soooooooo proud!

RN has had a good year at school. Apart from an apparition in the form of a  little blond girl who torments her from time to time, RN has grown taller, she has found her voice, learnt to take her friendships with certain individuals in her own stride, learnt to read and write, can add and subtract numbers up to 10 and can communicate her likes and dislikes. She can articulate the PYP Programmes of Inquiry by saying that she prefers Units to Maths Workshop and she can tell you why.

Mamma is soooooooo proud! Mamma is trusting in the process.

Mamma is also trusting in the process with regards to the teenager.  The teenager has blossomed into a more agreeable young lady with lesser tendencies towards severe mood swings. She is now pleasant to converse with and even has lots of interesting things to say.

I trusted in the process and left it to take its natural course. It was a difficult year for the mother and teenage daughter but they overcame it. That dark brooding cloud of lack – lack in self confidence, lack in self believe, lack in self worth – has finally drifted away into the far, far distance…. and may it always hover over there far, far away.

The teenage daughter bagged the first prize in her year group for a writing competition. Her story was about a dying artist fighting a relapse in memory who wants to capture the essence of his first love. His impending amnesia impedes his recollection and all he remembers of her is the colour red and all he manages to do is streak a white canvas scarlet. Entitled Scarlet, the story delves into the head of an old man capturing his frustration and anguish as he leaves this world torn between an impressionable experience and trying to recapture it through a fading memory.

The MYP has really contributed to a great l’anee scolaire for SS.  She is embracing the Learner Profile with each passing year and I can see that her learning is evidently becoming more inquiry based.

 Mamma is sooooooo proud once more. Mamma is trusting in the process.

 

When I first arrived in Paris and tasted my first morsel of Chinese food, I felt a sense of depression slowly seeping into my bones between mouthfuls of riz cantonnais.  How would I survive on such low quality Asian food?

You see, kawan kawan, I grew up in Singapore with the best quality street food in the world, in my opinion. Then I moved to London where Cantonese Roast Duck is even better than what you’ll get in Hong Kong. Oodles of noodles served with a whole lobster chopped up to make shelling easier and soaked in a ginger and spring onion sauce is so mouth wateringly delicious and affordable that I developed a craving for it during my second pregnancy and eating lobster noodles at the Mandarin Kitchen at Bayswater became a religious fortnightly ritual.

Yet I trusted in the process in Paris, kept an open mind and three years into my sojourn here, I will report that I’ve managed to find Thai food so authentic it’s like dining in Bangkok. Korean food tops any that I’ve tasted outside of Seoul and Japanese Ramen eateries galore serve up the best soup noodles in a broth so tasty that I look forward to my next bowl for the coming winter. Chinese food still has some catching up to do. However, if you are fan of rustic Chinese cuisine, there are plenty of eateries here in Paris to be found.

Kawan kawan, I’m no longer depressed when it comes to eating Asian in Paris. I trusted in the process and the process has given me eating buddies in the newly formed Lunching Ladies by mny. Through this group of gourmandes, I’ve discovered hidden gems where gastronomic treasures are prepared to outstanding quality.

I would like to end this academic year on a sweet note, kawan kawan. Today, I discovered Toraya, the japanese dessert chain store. Lunching there with the beautiful Jayde, blooming with pregnancy hormones and looking chic in her robe en noir and Chanel bag, I bit into my petite bouche size sesame filled mochi and was immediately transported to heaven. Teamed with sencha so pure and clean, I relaxed into my leather bound bench and sighed with immense pleasure. Sometimes, the best things in life are just so simple, just trust in the process.

Simple Pleasures

Kawan kawan, thank you for your support and for following my blog posts in the past year. I hope that I’ve managed to entertain where entertainment was necessary.  I hope that for many kawan kawan far away, it was a way for all of you to catch a glimpse into my Parisian life.

I will be back in full force at La Rentrée, energised by the sun in S.E. Asia and raring to discover more places to chow away in the City of Light.

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Let’s make it a Date night


The Italian asked me out the other day, much to my surprise!  Since the birth of RN, we’ve not had much time or energy to do the couple dating thing.  Of course, we’ve been out a few times, only when people have done the inviting or when we’ve organised a night out with friends, which by the way is really rather rare too! So what a rare treat it was for me when my husband of 6 years asked me out on a date!  I was starting to forget just how romantic he could be!

Well, I’ve been wanting to eat at Joël Robuchon for a long time.  The Italian surprised me by taking me to L’atelier de Joël Robochon  on the Champs-élysées. The dinner reservation was for 9:30 which for me is rather a late one but it was the only time slot available on a Saturday night.  We were early since the babysitter arrived at 8.  Champs-élysées is only a ten minute walk from our appartement so we grabbed the opportunity (or as the French would say, il faut profiter des bons moments) to have an aperitif at the bar next to the L’atelier which is located in the basement of a hip drug store over looking the arc de triomphe.

The summer evening was bright and the sun was still shining even way after 8 pm. However, it was a rather chilly evening for July though and I was glad that I had my Marni overcoat on me.  I dressed for the occasion, as you would expect. I dragged out my 20 year old orange and lime green Christian Lacroix summer dress; the one I wore to a friend’s wedding in Singapore many moons ago and I remember being looked twice over by the folks because this frock is really rather risqué to be seen in at a conservative church wedding.  This dress has a sash that you tie at the back which leaves some flesh showing – trés sexy, if you ask me! But maybe not appropriate for a church wedding, peut-être.

We were seated by the very friendly maitre’d and the Italian was surprised to be placed at the bar because the last time that he was there with 6 other people, they were shown to a room with tables. I quite liked being seated at the bar really because there we were right in the middle of the action.

In the Middle of the Action - the Kitchen island

I could see how the chefs prepared the dishes, all orderly and neatly with no one flapping anxiously like you sometimes see on some cooking programs.  The kitchen consisted of an island where the meat/fish/foie gras is pan fried.  They call this the tepanyaki after the Japanese style of cooking. There are heat lamps which are used to keep the dishes warm whilst they are waiting to be served.  I could also see how the dishes are plated and decorated with one leaf of salad here, a dash of sauce there, a drizzle of oil on the corner and a sprinkle of pepper here and there. The chefs were like artists, I thought, painting beautiful looking dishes with their bare hands.

Here is how our first dish looked – Le Caviar Imperial.  This consisted of a velvety chilled soup made of sweet corn accompanied by a jelly of beef stock and topped with crispy golden breadcrumbs.  I really loved this soup and the adjectives that were used to describe the ingredients, for example, the beef jelly was described as la geléé tremblotante which means, quivering jelly. It rather resembles the way the Chinese would describe their kung fu strokes or dishes – “fist of the crowning crane” or “buddha jumps over the wall soup”.

This soup was refreshing and strangely odd at the same time because I didn’t expect how chilled and sweet it actually was.  The quivering gelatinous beef stock married well with the sweet soup, leaving a mélange of sucrée/salée on one’s tongue, a taste sensation that the French absolutely love. The caviar which crowns a dollop of créme frâiche added a savoury crunchiness on the bite when combined with the thick sweet corn soup. This crunchy goodness was further enhanced by the 3 croûtons purposefully placed inches apart to decorate the soup ensemble.

Le Caviar Imperial

Our next dish was named Le Crabe which as the name suggests consisted of a portion of minced white crab meat accompanied by a bunch of crunchy French green beans. The plate is decorated with 3 dollops of wasabi flavoured sauce and a path of minced boiled eggs.

Le Crabe

A sliver of parmiggiano sits by the side of the haricots verts and this when eaten with the sliver of radish was absolutely delicious.  Just look at the chapeâu shaped potato crisp lending this dish a picture perfect perfection. It looked almost too good to be eaten.  But no regrets there – the dish also tasted as good as it looked – perfect.

La Girolle came soon after.  This is again another absolutely delightful dish. The pan fried mushrooms were served in a martini shaped glass sitting atop a frothy parsley mousse.

La Girolle

Now, this has to be my favourite dish – Le Foie Gras. This is a thick piece of pan fried  foie gras de canard served with 2 poached apricot halves and fresh almonds.  The combination of the warm  foie gras and apricots were simply sublime.  Then take a bite of the fresh almonds and you are at once in food heaven. If you’ve never tried fresh almonds before, you must! The oleaginous aftertaste of the almonds when masticated leaves you coming back for more.

Le Foie Gras

After this highlight, the next dish had much to live up to.  Le Bar was rather unexciting for me, malheureusement.  I thought that the sea bass, although very fresh, was a little on the bland side.  I am not a fan of pea soup so this dish didn’t do very much for me. The Italian felt the same way.

Le Bar

Next was a choice between the lamb  or la caille which is a type of small bird. I chose l’agneau de lait since the Italian had the bird.  The lamb cutlets were minuscule and sat in a circle enclosing a sprig of thyme and a clove of roasted garlic. These were really baby lamb chops as suggested by the name l’agneau de lait– milk lamb.  So the meat was sweet and tender with no traces of lamb at all.

L'agneau de Lait

We had two servings of dessert which I thought was one too many.  But still, we persevered and ate them even though by then both of us were really quite full. Dessert number one is aptly named le mango-mango.

Le Mango-Mango

Look, they even had a special Perspex dish made for serving this sweet.  The dessert was principally a dressed up mango mousse with a coulis of yellow fruits. I couldn’t make out what the ‘fruits jaunes’ were but I wasn’t thrilled by this dish. I thought it was very well plated and a delight to the eye more than the tongue.  I especially liked the sprig of gold leave covered chocolate that stood in for a fruit stem sitting in the scoop of mango sorbet made to look like a peach or apricot.

The second dessert – Habillé Rouge– was a meringue enrobed in a gold dusted red hue sitting on an island of wild strawberries surrounded by a caramel chocolate sauce. The crimson meringue resembled a toadstool usually found in the woods, only a prettier one.  I loved the strawberry flavoured chocolate twirl that sat on the left side of the dessert bowl.  If you’ve never had wild strawberries before, you have to try them.  They are usually hand picked and have a very intense strawberriness to their taste.  I love them immensely accompanied by chocolate.

Habillé Rouge

We’ve come full circle in terms of the colour theme at Robuchon.  As soon as we had  placed our order for the dégustation menu and our bottle of wine, we were served an amuse-bouche that consisted of a gazpacho of cherries.  It was very appetite whetting, if it did anything by way of amusing my mouth, which is the principal function of the amuse-bouche.

L'amuse Bouche

I love this L’atelier, kawan kawan.  It is really aptly named because the kitchen is opened planned where customers can see the chefs at work.  This is a fine example of a workshop and a wonderfully romantic place to go on a date night.