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October 10, 2014


Subtle, streamlined, and honest, are the words to describe both Akihiro Horikoshi and his postage-stamp sized fish restaurant set on a quiet side street in the 7th arrondissement. Since opening the all-white, open-kitchen dining room in 2010, he has seduced us with a singular style of cuisine, offering dishes that both satisfy and surprise, amaze with their freshness, and always make us feel special to be one of the lucky few to secure a table at the 16-seat restaurant. For more than 10 years this slight, reserved, Tokyo native worked with Bernard Pacaud at the Michelin three-star restaurant L’Ambroisie. On his own, he’s not just the captain but nearly the whole crew of his tiny ship, working with just a single waiter. He shops, devises the daily set menu, cooks, cleans up, mans the espresso machine, all the while listening to his favorite operas, the music playing discreetly in the background.

Almost all of his food is white, whether it’s a single alabaster ravioli or a moist sponge cake, a portion of clean, ultra-fresh codfish, or a quenelle of rice pudding. From time to time he’ll add a burst of color, as in his minestrone de homard au jus de crustacés, a bright-flavored, slightly spicy soup laced with full-flavored lobster claws, cubes of crunchy zucchini, a touch of pasta, and fresh white cocos blanc beans bathed in a rich shellfish broth and topped with a zingy basil pesto. Just as worthy of our attention and respect is the plump codfish fillet bathed in foamy, buttery sauce, set atop a bed of warm, soothing cubes of potatoes punctuated with a generous dose of minced chives (photo). Fish lovers will likely swoon over his Saint-Pierre (John Dory) fillet sauced with a rich meat reduction and paired with a slim heart of lettuce, caramelized to a brown-sugar sweetness. It’s a treat to watch Akihiro perform his well-seasoned ballet in the kitchen, as he is clearly as disciplined and well-organized as any cook can be, working in a miniscule space that many cooks might scorn. The small wine list offers some treasures, including the tart and flinty white Sancerre from Fournier Pere & Fils and the classic pinot noir Chassagne Montrachet from Francois d’Allaines.  Note that while the restaurant opened with the name La Table d’Aki, it has officially been changed to La Table d’Akihiro. Also be aware that it is not always simple to secure a table here, since the restaurant is often difficult to reach by phone. But don’t give up, it’s worth the effort.

Table d'Akihiro
49 rue Vaneau, Paris 7
Tel: +33 1 45 44 43 48
Métro: Vaneau or Saint-François-Xavier
A la carte, 66-112€

Open Tuesday-Saturday. Closed Sunday & Monday

Reservations: Essential

Note: Reservations taken between 11am-3pm & 7-11pm

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October 06, 2014

I knew that I was going to have a good time on my first visit to Porte 12 – a brand new modern French restaurant in the 10th arrondissement ­– when, as we sat down for lunch and I heard them playing a favorite Nat King Cole tune, followed by the modern-day American jazz singer Stacey Kent, belting out a great song. There’s much to love, even embrace about this small, 30-seat restaurant with its simple, bright, contemporary décor, a bustling open kitchen, sincere and attentive service, not to mention straightforward, yet sophisticated, signature fare that makes me want to come back for dinner...which I plan to. Whimsical corset-shaped light fixtures all but swing from the high ceiling, echoing the space’s former incarnation as a textile and lingerie atelier. The one-bite starter of a miniature potato hollowed out, filled with an eggless aioli, a sprinkling of crunchy toast bits, and a few herbs sets a surprising and satisfying tone, and I’ll be serving a version of this to my cooking school students first chance I get.

The restaurant is overseen by Singapore chef André Chiang, with Vincent Crepel in charge in the kitchen. A native of Lourdes, Crepel has also worked in the kitchens of the landmark Swiss restaurant made famous in the 1980’s by Fredy Girardet, (now under the direction of chef Philippe Rochat and Benoit Violier), as well as, of course, in Chiang’s own highly celebrated restaurant in Singapore, Restaurant André.

Dishes that both inspire a cook as well as please the palate are always winners in my book, and Chef Crepel offers a stylish serving of moist and tender duck hearts bathed in a deep, dark poultry sauce all topped with an ethereal, thin, creamy potato puree, paper-thin toast crisps and a few tender, bright green wisps of salicorne, or edible sea beans. Also on the winners list goes his so simple yet brilliantly cohesive creation of ultra-tender strips of chicken breast set atop a full-flavored mixture of herb-infused fregola (lightly toasted Sardinian pasta that’s similar to Israeli couscous), and more of those crunchy, nutty, toast bits for added texture. The dish was brought together seamlessly by a delicate corn purée. His dessert (photo) – a plate of vibrant, warm, thickly sliced fresh figs, atop crumbled chocolate brownie, surprisingly tangy and not-too-sweet crumbled meringues, and a hazelnut ice cream that was light, yet made its presence felt, rounded-off a memorable, well-priced (€35) three-course lunch. The only disappointment of the meal was the rather timid plate of barely cooked mackerel-like chinchards set atop thick slices of crunchy, barely cooked potatoes, a pairing that was far from satisfying. The wine list is streamlined and offers some good choices by the glass, including a favorite Chardonnay from the Jura, from Domaine Labet. The 3-course lunch menu allows two selections for the first and main course, with a single choice appetizer and dessert. A smaller lunch menu of two dishes – starter and main, or main and dessert – is a very reasonable 28€. The more expensive dinner menu offers more choices, from 58-65€.

Porte 12
12 rue des Messageries
75010 Paris
Tel: +33 1 42 46 22 64
Metro: Poissonnière
Open Tuesday to Saturday. Closed Saturday lunch, and all day Sunday and Monday.
reservation@porte12.com
www.porte12.com (reservations taken online)


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September 19, 2014


With pleasure and anticipation I announce our cooking class dates for 2016. The season will begin, as ever, with our spectacular Truffle Extravaganza in January, when every meal includes the elusive "black diamond," with participatory cooking classes,  a truffle hunt and a visit to the truffle atelier, plenty of white Chateauneuf du Pape wine, along with restaurant and vineyard visits.

In April, our popular week-long Cooking in Paris will include plenty of seasonal hands-on cooking classes, a market visit, cheese, wine, and oil tastings, as well as a spectacular Michelin three-star meal. From June to September, we continue our week-long classes of  Cooking in Provence, gathering  heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables, herbs, fruits, and capers from the garden, sipping wine from the vineyard,  enjoying our fall harvest of olive oil and olives, as well as our Chanteduc honey,  visiting the spectacular market in Vaison-la-Romaine, meeting with winemakers and cheese merchants, and enjoying the cuisine of our local chefs.  Beyond the classes listed below we are always happy to accommodate  independent groups of 6 in Paris and 8 in Provence. Please contact us to arrange dates: asst@patriciawells.com

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May 13, 2014

The other day Walter and I were having lunch at our Paris neighborhood hangout, Café Varenne, and just as we were finishing a superb dish of ultra-tender and meaty tendrons de veau (breast of veal)  tossed with fresh pasta, carrots, and slivers of Parmesan cheese (perfect for a cold, rainy day in May!)  two women addressed us: “You’re Patricia Wells, and we are here because of The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris.” Indeed, the mother and daughter duo from Boston had just been to the Rodin museum, and as the guide and iPhone app suggest, this is a great address nearby. Owners Sylvain and Agnès Didier are gracious hosts and the food just gets better and better. Enjoy a sip of their white Quincy from the Loire and the fine, crusty baguettes from Boulangerie Secco right across the street.

36, rue de Varenne, Paris 7, Tel: +33 1 45 48 62 72, Métro: Rue du Bac or Sèvres-Babylone, à la carte 30€.

Open Monday through Friday 7:30AM to 10:30PM, Saturday 9AM to 8PM. Closed Sunday, holidays, and 2 weeks in August.

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April 05, 2014

This coming Tuesday, April 8, the lovely people at WH Smith will be hosting a book signing and talk around the release of the 5th edition of The Food Lover's Guide to Paris. I will be signing books between 6–7PM and giving a presentation on the guide from 7–8PM. Hope to see you there!

WH Smith
248  rue de Rivoli, Paris 1
TEL:  + 33 1 44 77 88 99
www.whsmith.fr

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March 13, 2014

Coretta, the three-week old modern bistro that’s a collaboration of three favorite Parisian restaurateurs, is a win! Chef Jean-François Pataleon of L'Affable in the 7th, and Beatriz Gonzalez and her husband, Matthieu Marcant, of Neva Cuisine in the 8th , have teamed up to create a super contemporary, approachable, just-good-food bistro that’s totally right for the times. The airy, two-story, expertly designed restaurant on the Rue Cardinet in the 17th overlooks the recently created Martin Luther King Park, and is aptly named after King’s wife, Coretta. I love the wood and marble design, the simplicity, the modern menu with food that’s just familiar enough and surprising enough to make us all happy. Do try the anguille fumé or smoked eel, teamed up with thin slices of raw veal, and a satisfying, creamy horseradish bouillon.  Silken mackerel is paired with miso, apples and ginger in a light, refreshing first course. I admired the elegant, aesthetic presentation of the lightly salted cod (cooked to perfection, breaking into giant alabaster flakes) flanked by a kaleidoscope of lightly pickled vegetables: turnips, beets, and radishes. The ris de veau --- veal sweetbreads – is already a bistro favorite here, served with panais (parsnips) cooked three ways: chips, mashed, braised. It was lunchtime, and I was not really in the mood for dessert , but soon I was glad that I changed my mind. Here, a simplified version of Beatriz’s chocolate sphere from Neva Cuisine is turned into a single chocolate disc, perched on a spicy pineapple concoction, melting into a puddle as warm chocolate sauce is poured over all. The prettiest dish of the day (photo) was the clementine sorbet joined by slices of fresh clementine, bites of crispy meringue, and a lemony yuzu (a pungent Japanese citrus), mascarpone-like cream. A few sips of Yves Cuilleron’s well-priced (7€ a glass) pure Roussanne vin de France rounded out the meal with perfection. Baker Jean-Luc Poujauran’s crusty bread is served from a warming wooden box, accompanied by a fat pat of soft butter. Downstairs , there’s a brief but appealing tapas menu.

151 bis, rue Cardinet, Paris 17. Tel: +33 1 42 26 55 55. Métro Brochant. 24€ lunch menu, 33€ and 39€ evening menus, à la carte 45 to 70€. Open Monday- Saturday. Closed  Saturday lunch and all day Sunday.

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March 05, 2014

To celebrate the release of The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 5th edition, our fabulous publisher Workman Publishing is offering the chance to win an amazing trip for two to France. The trip includes airfares, 3 days in Paris and a chance to dine in locations featured in the guide. Enter on the Workman website. Bonne chance!!

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February 04, 2014

This Wednesday I am going to be joining Ann Mah in a panel discussion at The American Library of Paris on writing about French Food. We will be talking about our respective books The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence and Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons on Food and Love from a Year in Paris. There'll be wine, snacks and the opportunity to buy the books thanks to WH Smith.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday February 5, 2014, 7:30pm

The American Library of Paris
10, rue du Général Camou
75007 Paris

Tel: +33 1 53 59 12 60

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January 20, 2014

The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris was the first book I ever published back in 1984, and on the year of its 30th anniversary, I am elated to announce the release of its 5th edition – completely revisited, rewritten, and newly photographed for 2014. This has truly been a labor of love – visiting, exploring, scouring Paris in search of the city’s best gastronomic offerings. While some of the favorites have stood the test of time, much has changed in Paris over 30 years. Chefs have come and gone, others who were just starting out in 1984 have matured to excellence and have become beacons for some of the best dining in the world, and mentors for a whole new generation of talent. Paris now is a much more casual place of course, so this edition includes a whole new chapter on cafés and casual eateries. I have also included my favorite markets, bakeries, pastry shops, chocolates shops, cheese merchants, specialty food shops, shops for kitchen and tableware essentials, and of course wine shops. And as always, there is the ever-useful (and updated) French to English glossary of food terms, and a ready reference section to help you navigate the myriad of dining options in the city. And so that you can enjoy a touch of Paris in your own kitchen, I have included 40 recipes.

This new edition is the perfect companion to The New Food Lover's Guide to Paris app for the iPhone and iPad.

The book (and e-book!) will be released on March 11 in the United States and on April 1 in Europe, and is available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and from Indiebound once released.

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January 09, 2014

David Toutain is a cerebral chef. Nothing is accidental and when you enter his brand new 7th arrondissement restaurant you are subject to his rules and his way of thinking. Yet you never feel as though your arm is being twisted. This is not a restaurant for a casual meal, but rather one that is meticulously planned and thought out, and begs for, yes deserves,  your attention. And it’s well worth your time.

Toutain, a farm boy from Normandy, appeared on the Paris scene like lightening a few years back at the wildly experimental Agapé Substance, and then disappeared almost overnight. I am so glad he is back.

The setting of the new restaurant on Rue Surcouf, seems at first somewhat of a contradiction. The sparse, cool space -- flooded with light from the floor-to-ceiling glass wall at the front of the restaurant -- feels relaxed, with its light wood and leather furnishings and minimalist décor. Yet the suited and formal service suggests a more serious approach to the dining experience. Immediately, this feels like a restaurant like none other.

As plate after plate arrives from the 68€ carte blanche menu, we are presented with flavors that explode in our mouth but do not overwhelm, as Toutain draws out the essential flavors of each and every ingredient. On the plate, he presents other-worldly creations, but in the mouth, flavors are familiar, calming, and even unusual combinations seem natural and obvious in his care.

Toutain’s ability to see new and interesting potential in ingredients makes him extremely unique – a bouillon of potato skins that smelled like someone walked past you with a dish of freshly baked potatoes, or Jerusalem artichokes transformed with a little sugar into an apple-like dessert. And who on earth would think of combining kiwi fruit with a raw oyster? And who would believe that, on the palate, the pairing would appear perfectly matched, totally sublime.

On one hand, this multi-course excursion can make your brain spin, even give you a headache. The food that comes from the hands of the boyish, mild-mannered Toutain reminds me of many meals I’ve experienced at the table of Pierre Gagnaire: the same cerebral attention, the same wildly experimental flash of genius, the same surprise and pleasure.

There is so much going on – porcelain, glass, cutlery that dazzle and beg for your attention – that a diner might lose sight of what is best about Toutain’s food. Each ingredient is impeccably chosen, each cooked to a perfection that makes me gasp. It’s as though he puts a camera lens on each ingredient and then blows it up, eeking the most honest flavor, texture, pleasure imaginable. He makes any oyster taste like the freshest, most delicious oyster you have ever tasted. He draws a new, welcoming seamless texture from a tiny cube of foie gras, turns what he calls gnocchi into a little pillow that melts in your mouth (photo). The meal is full of “why didn’t I think of that” combinations, like a sprinkling of freshly ground coffee beans at the edge of the plate, for dipping bites of exquisitely roasted pork.

To say that the 68€ menu is a bargain is an understatement. But for my money and time, I could have had a bit less food. And though I am not a huge fan of the no-choice surprise menu, I’ll put myself in Toutain’s hands any day. Service here is friendly and personal, and the wine list offers some real treasures. I loved the sommelier’s two wine recommendations: The Vincent Gaudry aromatic Sancerre was willing to serve as a quiet understudy to Toutain’s food, while Christophe Pichon’s 100% Syrah Saint Joseph was clean, spicy, and forceful. So go, sit back and enjoy, and don’t think too much – David has already done the thinking for you.

RESTAURANT DAVID TOUTAIN, 29 rue Surcouf, Paris 7. Tel: +33 1 45 50 11 10.Métro: Invalides or La Tour Maubourg. Open Monday-Friday. Closed Saturday & Sunday.davidtoutain.com reservations@davidtoutain.com Lunch & dinner: 68 and 98€ menus (118 & 158€ with wine), 158€ seasonal truffle menu (210€ with wine) Reservations: recommended.





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