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Three Essential Dessert Finds in Paris

Three Essential Dessert Finds in Paris
© Annabelle Schachmes

Dessert has never been an afterthought in Paris. But where it has primarily served as the capstone to a standout meal or an on-the-go indulgence, it is the main attraction at these three delightful spots.

Dessance
It isn’t merely the novelty of being the capital’s first plated dessert bar that drives locals to book ahead at Dessance—a neologism blending “dessert” and “naissance” (birth)—but rather the concept of a multicourse sweet meal. Pastry chef Christopher Boucher challenges widely held assumptions about dessert by experimenting with unexpected combinations of flowers, vegetables and herbs (think puréed beets, cranberry compote and white chocolate) for dishes that surprise and satisfy the sweet tooth in equal measure. For the full experience, reserve a seat at the marble counter overlooking the dressing station and opt for the Carte Blanche menu, which includes unique drink pairings. 74 Rue des Archives; 33-1/42-77-23-62.

La Tarte Tropézienne
With the opening of La Tarte Tropézienne, devotees of the emblematic double-cream brioche cake no longer need to travel to its birthplace in St.-Tropez for a piece of the original. While the tea salon–cum–boutique boasts a modern look, its offerings hew traditional, working with founder Alexandre Micka’s tightly kept secret recipe from 1955 and production methods that haven’t changed, either. (The sugar crystals are still cooked in copper pots.) If the standard size makes you blanch, order the Baby Trop, which is, indeed, as cute as it sounds. At 3 Rue de Montfaucon; 33-1/43-29-09-81; latartetropezienne.fr.

Pâtisserie Ciel
Lined like jewels in serried ranks, the airy Japanese angel cakes (or chiffon cakes) at Pâtisserie Ciel are more than just irresistible eye candy—they are grounded in technique and taste, thanks to chef and cofounder Youlin Ly and his pastry team. Deceivingly light but packed with flavor, the colorful confections are turned out in a smart range of flavors (chocolate is pictured here; the yuzu lemon and recently released Sakura—made with the leaves and the buds of cherry blossoms and griottes cherry jam—deserve a special nod) and should be paired with a cup of Jugetsudo green tea by day, whiskey or sake in the wee hours. The L-shaped bar seats only eight, so call ahead to secure a spot. 3 Rue Monge; 33-1/43-29-40-78.

The Culinary Conclave Reports on the Future of Food

Culinary Conclave
Photo © Aki Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine

Two weekends ago, chef Ferran Adrià, of El Bulli fame, brought together nearly two-dozen members of the world’s food media to discuss the past, present and future of gastronomy at the Culinary Conclave, held at the 12th-century Spanish hotel and winery Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine (47340 Sardón de Duero; 34-983/680-368; ledomaine.es). Here, Andrés Araya, the event’s organizer and managing director of the hotel (pictured above [right], with Adrià [middle] and chef Andoni Luis Aduriz), shares a few tidbits—from thoughts on how eating has changed to El Bulli’s next big move.

Q: Tell us about some of the most significant gastronomic shifts over the last 20 years that participants noted.
A:
They identified historical moments that were gastronomic watersheds in their particular countries that demonstrated how gastronomy affects society, and vice versa. For example, an Italian journalist claimed that the Piedmont wine scandal in 1985 brought a new emphasis on quality that caused both Italian wine making and gastronomy to flower. A British journalist said winning the 1996 European Soccer Championship opened the door to accepting all things British—and notably that British cuisine has validity.

Q: Is there a sense of where the next great culinary hub might be?
A:
Rather than one great hub, the consensus was that the quality and awareness of cuisine is rising worldwide, influenced by internationally shared information on everything from the Internet to food shows on television. With the sharing of experiences on social media, we do not need to eat in bad places anymore—and have a good idea of what to expect before we even arrive at a restaurant or destination. A guide such as Michelin that once had a monopoly is losing its importance.

Q: As far as El Bulli, any details on the future plans?
A:
Adrià explained that he has been working with top business schools and universities, such as MIT, to help define both how he should present his foundation and safeguard his legacy for the future. The original buildings of El Bulli will be transformed and enlarged, including adding a recreational center, workshop, laboratory, and a permanent exhibition explaining his restaurant’s historical and culinary evolution. The complex is expected to open in March 2016. Another project, called elBulli 1846, after the number of dishes served at the restaurant over the years, will open May 15 in Barcelona, with a research laboratory and a creative team of 40 experts, in not only gastronomy but also other cultural fields. It will continue what was initiated at the Culinary Conclave at LeDomaine, with the main goal being the decoding of gastronomy’s genome. Finally, Bullipedia will be a curated online resource to inspire and teach, as well as provide proper descriptions of what cooking and cuisine are.

The Recipe: Bruschetta by Miraval

The Recipe: Bruschetta by Miraval
Dana Gallagher

It’s right around this time, a few months after the New Year has come and gone, when well-intentioned resolutions are all but forgotten. When it comes to eating better, however, the approaching spring makes fine-tuning a nutritional plan that much easier.

Enter Miraval Resort & Spa (5000 E. Via Estancia Miraval; Tucson, Arizona; 800-232-3969; miravalresorts.com), whose latest cookbook, Miraval’s Sweet & Savory Cooking ($30; shopmiraval.com), brings the hotel’s ethos of mindfulness straight to you with more than a hundred recipes created by executive chef Justin Cline Macy and his wife, pastry chef Kim Macy.

“At Miraval we don’t believe in restricting foods or using substandard ingredients; instead, we focus on achieving a balance of flavors,” says Justin, explaining his simple, healthy, truffled black-olive bruschetta. “The dish itself feels very light when eaten because there isn’t an excess of ingredients used, and we limit the amount of oil. However, the use of truffle oil definitely adds a rich flavor, thus making it appear more decadent than it actually is.”

Truffled Black-Olive Bruschetta
MAKES 12

1 tbsp. minced shallot
¼ cup seeded and diced tomato
¼ cup diced good-quality pitted black olive, such as kalamata
1 tsp. chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp. thinly sliced fresh basil
½ tsp. chopped garlic
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. truffle oil
¼ cup finely diced buffalo mozzarella or other fresh mozzarella
12 quarter-inch slices whole-wheat artisan baguette, cut at an angle
Olive oil

Put all the ingredients—except the bread and olive oil—in a small bowl, mix gently, cover tightly and refrigerate at least an hour to let the flavors marry. Heat the oven to 400° F. Spray the bread with a thin mist of olive oil and bake in the hot oven until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. To serve, drain off any liquid that may have accumulated in the topping bowl and then pile about 1 tablespoon of the topping onto each piece of toast. Serve right away.

 

Relais & Châteaux’s Inaugural GourmetFest

Relais & Châteaux’s Inaugural GourmetFest
Brian Canlis

It’s one thing to travel around the world to taste Michelin-starred chefs’ brilliant creations. It’s another entirely to have many of them all in one place ready to serve you. In honor of Relais & Châteaux’s 60th anniversary, the collection of fine hotels and restaurants will kick off a yearlong celebration with the inaugural GourmetFest (March 27–30)—a four-day wine-and-food festival in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, hosted at the hotel L’Auberge Carmel.

The fine-dining affair spotlights 15 curated events. Winemakers from the likes of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Krug, Weingut Dönnhoff and Weingut Künstler hold wine and Champagne tastings. Chefs host demonstrations and talks, such as a primer on caviar. A wild mushroom hunt takes guests across 20,000 acres of the Santa Lucia Preserve.

But the highlight, of course, is a number of gourmet meals prepared by some of the world’s best chefs, like Michael Tusk (Quince, San Francisco), Michael White (Altamarea Group, New York), Barbara Lynch (Menton, Boston), Christopher Kostow (the Restaurant at Meadowood, Napa Valley) and Jean-Michel Lorain (La Côte Saint Jacques, France).

“This is about a quality and unique experience for food lovers,” says David Fink, founder of GourmetFest and owner of L’Auberge Carmel. “It would be impossible to have this level of Relais & Châteaux chefs in one place with the incredible wine estates in attendance and many of the owners and winemakers present. [It is] a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Tickets start at $160; 831-622-5907; gourmetfestcarmel.com.

Ladurée Opens a SoHo Tea Salon

Ladurée Opens a SoHo Tea Salon
Courtesy of Ladurée

Sweets lovers, rejoice! Famed French macaron purveyor Ladurée has officially opened its long-awaited tea salon in New York’s SoHo. The new venue—encompassing a retail bakery, a tearoom, a garden and a full-service restaurant (serving breakfast, lunch and dinner) with two dining rooms—sets a sumptuous scene, featuring details like pastel china, marble, blue velvet banquettes and a frescoed ceiling.

“Our Madison store was like a jewel box,” says Ladurée USA president Elisabeth Holder of the first New York boutique, located on the Upper East Side (864 Madison Ave.; 646-558-3157). “The new tea salon is a trip to Paris in the 18th, 19th century, inspired by our muses like [interior designer] Madeleine Castaing and [mistress of Louis XV] Madame de Pompadour.”

The menu touches on classic French dishes (lamb gigot, foie gras, vol-au-vent), savory items inspired by pastries (goat-cheese mille-feuille, truffle religieuse) and, of course, various sweet treats, including its famous rose-flavored Ispahan cake and macarons.

“We provide the Ladurée dream, which consists of the French art de vivre in every detail,” says Holder, “from food to decor.” 398 W. Broadway; 646-392-7862 (boutique), 646-392-7868 (restaurant); laduree.com.

Three Must-Try Ramen Restaurants

Three Must-Try Ramen Restaurants
Courtesy of Ippudo

Perfect ramen is well worth the wait, proven by the lines of hungry New Yorkers who frequently stand by for an hour or more for springy, chewy noodles nestled in rich broth. The three restaurants below are at their soul-satisfying best during the cold winter months—pick up your chopsticks and get ready to slurp.

Ippudo
Upscale Ippudo is an import from Japan with an original East Village outpost (65 Fourth Ave.; 212-388-0088) and a second midtown location (321 W. 51st St.; 212-974-2500). Go early—possibly a couple of hours before you actually want to eat. (The restaurant will text you when a seat is vacant.) The minimal dining room has an open kitchen and a helpful staff that will walk you through the menu. Best known for the Japanese-style tonkotsu pork broth (pictured above), Ippudo serves up rich, intensely satisfying bowls with thin, straight noodles made in-house. ippudony.com.

Totto Ramen
A line of Japanese expats often forms before Totto Ramen (366 W. 52nd St.; 212-582-0052) even opens its doors. Write your name on the clipboard outside and join the queue or venture a few more blocks to its second location (464 W. 51st St.; 646-596-9056), which has more seating and shorter waits. Here the popular paitan ramen gets its intense flavor from a rich yet light chicken stock that cooks for hours. The noodles are spot on. Our paitan topped with chicken, kikurage mushrooms and bamboo shoots made an ideal Saturday lunch. tottoramen.com.

Yuji Ramen
The mezzanine level of the Whole Foods Market Bowery is the unlikely home of one of New York’s most exciting bowls of ramen. After sparking long lines at Smorgasburg (a massive food market held in various Brooklyn locations), Yuji Haraguchi found a home for his popular mazemen—a newer style of ramen made without broth—in the grocery store. This no-frills counter promises a flavor-packed experience. Order the mazemen with smoky bacon, a poached egg and thin ribbons of kale, stir all the ingredients together and dig in. 95 E. Houston St., 2nd fl.; 212-420-1320, ext. 281; yujiramen.com.

A Recipe for the Chinese New Year

red bean pudding
Photo by InterContinental Hong Kong - Yan Toh Heen

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, which began on January 31, the InterContinental Hong Kong’s Michelin-starred restaurant Yan Toh Heen (18 Salisbury Rd.; 85-2/2313-2323; ihg.com) is offering an authentic way to experience the holiday. As a follow-up to the special New Year meal Yan Toh Heen hosted in-house, the restaurant offered a selection of homemade desserts, led by pudding with red beans served with Japanese brown-sugar syrup. Common year-round in China, the pudding is particularly popular during New Year festivities.

Thanks to chef Lau Yiu Fai, adventurous cooks can attempt to recreate the seasonal dish at home using his traditional recipe. (Ingredients can be found in most Asian grocery stores.)

New Year Pudding with Red Beans
makes 2 puddings

26.5 oz (about 5.5 cups) glutinous rice flour
8.5 oz (about 1.75 cups) yam flour
20 oz (2.5 cups) coconut milk
8 tsp peanut oil
25 oz (a bit over 3 cups) water
10.5 oz black cane sugar
19 oz yellow cane sugar
8.5 oz (about 2 cups) cooked red beans

Mix the glutinous rice flour, yam flour, coconut milk and peanut oil in a bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the black and yellow cane sugars and stir until the sugars are completely dissolved. Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and add in the cooked red beans. Mix thoroughly. Lightly grease 2 equally sized pans and divide the mixture evenly between them. (If using aluminum-foil pound-cake containers, do not fill them to the top with the mixture as the pudding may not cook through completely.) Cover the pans and place on a rack over a pot of boiling water or in a steamer. Steam for 80 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares. Serve.

A Vegan Supper Series in L.A.

A Vegan Supper Series in L.A.
Courtesy of Crossroads

Crossroads, a fine-dining vegan hotspot in Los Angeles, is adding something new to its menu this winter. On December 15, chef/co-owner Tal Ronnen kicked off a new Sunday Supper series (5–10 P.M.; $80, $110 with wine pairings), which will run every week in collaboration with a range of visiting chefs.

“I started missing other foods that I used to cook,” says Ronnen of the inspiration behind the dinners. “The series allows me to deviate from our traditional Mediterranean menu.”

Each prix fixe is themed according to the guest chef’s expertise. Celebrity chef Art Smith’s inaugural southern-style tasting menu featured highlights like sweet-potato biscuits with maple butter and ricotta fried green tomatoes. Other notable chefs will include Theo Schoenegger of Sinatra (located in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas) and his classic Italian fare (February 16); Adam Fleischman of Umami Burger (February 23); and Ricardo Zarate (of Paiche, Picca and Mo-Chica in California), who will offer a Japanese-Peruvian–inspired spread (March 2).

And while the series will add diversity to the touted contemporary seasonal cuisine at Crossroads, it won’t abandon the eatery’s vegan ethos. “It gives people a chance to try plant-based dishes from a professional or highly respected chef or restaurateur who is not recognized for cooking this way,” says Ronnen. “It is a one-of-a-kind experience.” 8284 Melrose Ave.; 323-782-9245; crossroadskitchen.com.

The Recipe: Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Chocolate Cake

The Recipe: Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Chocolate Cake
Relais & Châteaux

While there’s nothing finer than an exquisite dessert at a first-class restaurant, there’s something even sweeter about making what a chef might whip up for themselves at home. Chefs at Home Desserts ($30; 877-334-6464), the newest cookbook by Relais & Châteaux, gives you the chance, offering 73 favorite recipes from some of the world’s most prestigious culinary geniuses, including Michael White, of Marea in New York; Michael Tusk, of Quince in San Francisco; and Normand Laprise, of Toqué! in Montreal.

Here, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten shares the method behind his famous chocolate cake. “This recipe was the result of what I thought was a catering disaster,” he writes in the book. “I was serving warm chocolate cake to guests at a party, but when I saw them taking their first bites, I realized that all the cakes had been undercooked. It was the best mistake I ever made.”

Chocolate Cake by Jean-Georges
Serves 4

½ cup butter, plus some for buttering molds
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp flour, plus more for dusting

1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. While that’s heating, beat together the eggs, yolks and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick.

2. Beat together the melted chocolate and butter; it should be quite warm. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.

3. Butter and lightly flour four 4-oz molds, custard cups or ramekins. Tap out the excess flour, then butter and flour them again. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)

4. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Bake the molds on a tray for 6 to 7 minutes. The centers will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set. Invert each mold onto a plate and let them sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately with a smear of chocolate sauce, chocolate crumbs and vanilla-bean ice cream.

Dinners Par les Femmes in Paris

Dinners Par les Femmes in Paris
Jeanne Detallante & Twice

The peripatetic food and music festival Le Fooding, known for pop-up events in cities like New York and Los Angeles, is in Paris for its latest offering: Le Clan des Madones (November 15–17; lefooding.com)—a three-night dinner series in a repurposed parking garage celebrating the country’s female chefs, sommeliers and winemakers.

Two seatings each night (7 P.M. and 10 P.M.) will offer three courses, each prepared by a different cook. Camille Fourmont, of the beloved Parisian eatery La Buvette (67 Rue Saint-Maur; 33-9/83-56-94-11), will prepare canapés; sommelier Laura Vidal will oversee a course-by-course pairing of wines by Catherine Breton of Domaine Breton. Other participants span a range of restaurant styles and food, including Adeline Grattard of French-Chinese eatery Yam’Tcha (4 Rue Sauval; 33-1/40-26-08-07; yamtcha.com); Federica Mancioppi, of Italian restaurant Caffé dei Cioppi (159 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine; 33-1/43-46-10-14); and Anna Trattles, of the coffee shop Ten Belles (10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles; 33-1/42-40-90-78).

“Restaurant cuisine has for a long time been dictated by guys,” says Le Fooding founder Alexandre Cammas. “The women that we selected are all courageous, talented and even pioneers in a certain way.

If you want more, Le Fooding Guide 2014, the organization’s 13th annual collection of restaurant reviews (complete with art by top illustrators) just debuted. (A supplement featuring chic hotels, from Bordeaux to Corsica, is included.) And Lefooding.com, an excellent resource for restaurant inspiration in Paris and throughout France, should be fully translated into English by the new year.

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