All things cheese in France

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Les Grèves, Foodies in Paris and the Search for Terroir

I have lived in Paris for a long time, so transportation strikes are nothing new, as a matter of fact, the 'big one' of November 1995 greeted me as I arrived. When these 'down-trodden' public servants decide they want to work less than a 25 hour work week or retire before 55 with 80% of their salary, they have the unpleasant habit of taking their employers, us - the public, hostage by disrupting services. Strikes are just something one has to put up with if you live here otherwise you will drive yourself crazy; think of them as part of 'the charm'. 

But tonight, I am not so easily charmed as I sit here stranded waiting for a metro, ANY metro, to take me to a dinner with two of Paris' illustrious American foodies who host The Paris Supper Club, Wendy Lyn (The Paris Kitchen) and Alex Lobrano (Hungry for Paris). I fret that my trip to discover the regional terroir of the Pays Basque, famous for Ossay-Iraty & Ardi Gasna, pimente d'Espelette and pork belly at Bruno Doucet's relatively new restaurant, La Régalade - St. Honoré is not getting off to a good start. 

Suffice it to say, I left plenty early just in case and somehow, as I slipped through the sun soaked Cour du Louvre past IM Pei's Pyramide, managed to arrive at the appointed time for apéros at the tiny boutique of the soon to be open Spring restaurant. Here, as I met Wendy and Alex and the rest of the guests, the earlier annoyance melts away along with the setting sun and the effects of a lovely chilled glass of white wine.  

We had the good fortune to meet the remarkable owner of Spring, Daniel Rose, who graciously offers to give us a tour of his almost completed and long awaited new venue over the road at rue Bailleul. For me the retired but ever and always interior architectural designer, I can say the spaces are sublimely Parisien and beautifully designed, which added an extra bonus to the evening. 

So on to La Régalade - St. Honoré around the corner and the Basque country. Here all the wonderful secrets from the southwest of France are given full stage and that's what I am searching for - the terroir of notable dishes and specialties from the Pays Basque. Sadly no cheeses from the region, but a mighty fine Rocamadour fermier from the wonderful little fromagerie, Martine Dubois in the 17th arrondissement though. Not to disappoint however, terroir was to be had in the terrine maison with cornichons and sweet pickled green peppers and a slab of carmelized poitrine de porc (pork belly) from the famous producer Louis Ospital served on bed of lentils.

So strike all you like folks, I'd walk to find this fabulous representative of the mysterious Basque country, I'd just add a slab of ardi gasna or ossay iraty with some confiture noire de cerises Xixtaberri to complete the picture.  

La Régalade - St. Honoré
123, rue St.-Honoré
1st Arrondissement
+33 (0)1 42 21 92 40
Lunch and dinner, Mon–Fri

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