David Swordy – The Blog of a Student a Bit TOO in Love with Food!

I have the great fortune to be writing this from Paris. My lovely girlfriend is a Parisian, so for a foodie like me, spending any time here with her family has me in food heaven. From the fresh baguettes for breakfast, to the fabulous restaurant fair, Paris food culture has me firmly in its jaws.

During this week I have eaten in both restaurants and from home. Home-made Salmon Gravlax one night, then Sushi at the wonderful Orient Extreme another – a restaurant which combines the classic Japanese cuisine of Sushi and Tempura with the interesting (and successful) addition of South American flavors. The best bit is, being a food-waste fanatic – they give you THE biggest doggy bag ever to take home with you – so none goes to waste folks. Doggy bags – not JUST for dogs 😉

The particular restaurant I will be reviewing however is the restaurant at the hotel La Forestière –  The Cazaudehore Restaurant Saint Germain en Laye.

Just outside of Paris, in the town of Saint Germain, the Cazaudehore restaurant – like the hotel – is surrounded by trees and accessed through one large gate; giving the restaurant a secluded feel – something which you certainly want when eating outside the city. The place originally was big for foraging, so wild food picking to make the most of the beautiful landscape and collect the food God gave us! Rather than buying tons from supermarkets and effectively throwing it away as soon as it becomes discoloured or ‘ugly’.

Due to the lovely weather sitting outside was a must. That period of pre-twilight that retains some of the heat from the day along with the atmosphere of a candle-lit dinner is – and was – the perfect time to eat.  Upon arrival the professional yet friendly front of house staff exhibited none of the snobbery one comes to associate with Parisian Waiters.

As per usual – due to my student status – money was as ever a consideration. Fortunately, various set menus were available, which also included the cost of a bottle of wine in to the price. We decided upon the Forestière menu, a well priced set-menu that still allowed for some choice within each course. To accompany this we selected a 2009 Chabili that we hoped might compliment our food.

Like any good set-menu,  there was an Amuse-bouche to start the meal. This was a salmon tartar that was incredibly good. When eating raw fish texture is important, however the thing that really determines the quality of the taste is its freshness. This Salmon was incredibly fresh, this, combined with finely diced shallot and fine seasoning was a great way to start a meal.

For my starter I had a fresh pea soup, lardon emulsion and foie gras. I expected a lighter dish due to the peas, but this dish was bold and gutsy. It was however surprisingly balanced, and also given that feel of extravagance with a healthy dose of truffle oil. In addition, the fact that it was actually a chilled soup served to balance it further and give a lightness to the dish.

Following this I had a dish that simply blew me away. I am undeniably carnivorous, I love all things meat. However I decided I needed to expand my tastes and went for the fish instead. I can safely say I was not disappointed. Rolled sea bream with aubergine fondant, garlic emulsion and stuffed conchiglioni pasta was the dish. Fish so delicate yet so flavorsome, I have never eaten. Aubergine – something which I’ve had very little of – slow cooked and seasoned to perfection made a wonderful combination with both the fish and the garlic.  My one criticism of this course; though the fresh pasta was very well made, seasoned, and stuffed, it did not match with the rest of the dish. My reasoning being that it was stuffed predominantly with aubergine, a flavor that already featured prominently within the dish.

Following this course we were served another Amuse-bouche, which I must say I found absolutely revolting. This was down to my personal taste however and not the fault of the restaurant. I strongly dislike Roquefort cheese; an emulsion of this with coco and nuts was not to my liking.

My taste buds soon recovered when served a deliciously decedent desert consisting of a rhubarb and white chocolate cake construction of some sort, served with a rhubarb sorbet. This was not a challenging dessert in terms of flavors and balance. However sometimes you can really appreciate just a good, tasty desert of wonderfully sweet tastes that leaves you – certainly full enough! The courses ARE  great size but the thing I’ve found in Paris is – they’re just enough and hardly anyone leaves anything on their plate – the culture, I noted seems to be much less wasteful than back in Britain.

This meal was delicious and fairly well priced at 71 euros. If you like staying at hotels that have their own (good) restaurant, then La Forestière certainly fits the bill.

David Swordy