Paris Food Adventures, Day 1: La Gazzetta

La Gazzetta is “a jazzy Art Deco spot in the 12th Arrondissement” on rue de Cotte, according to the New York Times, in an article about how the Parisian hot-spots are slightly more casual, bistros where you can get a real bargain for what you pay for (as opposed to a few of those top restaurants where a meal would cost as much as a week’s rent). This one has a Swedish chef, Peter Nilsson, (bjork bjork) and a great reputation. I don’t think the photo on the frontpage of the website captures how pretty it is. They should use mine!

I e-mailed them the week before and found out they didn’t do e-mail reservations, so I skype-called them from Amsterdam and not having a local Parisian phone number, called them on Tuesday afternoon to confirm my reservation for 9:30pm (they eat late here, and it was the second sitting). But it wasn’t much of a problem.

While I was perfectly on time to the neighbourhood with my Vélib, all the bicycle stations were completely filled up. I found 4 of them all chock-a-block, circled back the restaurant, explained my predicament, and then found a larger Vélib station at the next metro stop where I could return it. A brisk walk back from there to La Gazette worked up my appetite.

With the choice of a  5 course (39 Euros) or a 7 course meal (52 Euro), I decided to treat myself – and not before starting with a glass of fino as an appetizer. Anyways, come dine with me. You’re eating here too. I checked out a few other reviews here and there and it seems like they change their menu often! So, don’t expect the same if you eat here again.

Oeuf poché et navets, beurre noisette et bergamote. A few super thin slices of crunchy turnip, hiding a poached egg, with brown butter. I think the bergamot was worked into some bread crumbs, since there was a slightly sandy savoury texture mixed in here.

Maquereau brûlé-fumé et poireaux, rhubarbes et foin. Mackeral has always been a favourite of mine, here smoked and broiled with some perfectly soft and crunchy pieces of leek and…. hay. Well, that’s what the french-english dictionary said. I couldn’t identify the thin vegetable like wafers (reminding me a bit of a bamboo shoot). The rhubarb was somehow worked into the hay – a sudden lemony-rhubarb tang that hit the mouth after you ate the hay slice.

Céleri cuit au sel et algues, cabillaud basse température et ail des ours – cod cooked at a low temperature, very gentle, celery cooked with salt and algae and wild garlic (ah, that’s what the green stuff is – garlic of bears in French). But hidden under the fish here, the chef made a mille-feuille out of the celery and seaweed. A bit weird and earthy but things started to get interesting here…

Couteaux et pousse-pied, carottes. OK. Until this point, I was liking the food in as much an intellectual way as visceral, trying to figure out what it was, being pleasantly surprised with interesting flavours or textures. This is where I could barely stop making pleasurable eating sounds to try and think about what I was eating. A carrot gnocchi with dill, some ridiculously tasty sauce, and two thin slices of carrots cooked into an unfamiliar but pleasing texture. I was pretty sure I’d guessed what the seafood was in this dish, but I only got one of them. The dish here is goose-neck barnacles and razor clams. This dish was heaven.

Cannette demi-sauvage, salsifis et Carmine. A piece of duckling done perfectly. A bit of grilled belgian endive. Some perfectly roasted tiny parsnips. A very rich sauce. I’m not sure if the mushrooms (oyster I think) in the sauce imitated meat, or there were duck bits mixed in, but it tasted like a rich stewed meat. And Carmine, which the dictionary tells me is a red food colouring, and hey, it does look a bit pink. Another incredible dish.

Soupe de cynorrhodon et lait de chèvre, muesli et noix. I associate rose-hips with herbal tea that I don’t like… but in this case, it was a lovely sweet berry tasting soup. As an aside, google translator gives the alternative name for rose-hips as butt scratching. Honestly. The soup was poured over a hunk of chèvre cheese, and I’m not sure if half of the cheese was frozen and it tasted like a sorbet, or perhaps there was a cheese sorbet underneath, the two of them melded into each other. As well, a gourmet version of muesli, some candied walnuts and perhaps oats. Oh, and a few savoury leaves as well as garnish. That was weird, but I like to be challenged.

Baba à l’orange sanguine et sorbet amandes – yaourt de brebis. Mille feuille chiboust avocat, agrumes. Oh, I’m getting full, glad dessert is here. But there are two of them! How generous. Instead of a Rum Baba, the Baba was in Blood Orange, an almond sorbet (foamy), and a yogourt of sheep’s milk cheese. Also a mille-feuille with avocado pastry cream and cumquats. Oh my. Before I left, they also gave me a tiny piece of cake with apple jam.

I hopped back on my free bike, full, and very happy. High recommendation!




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