I nipped off to Paris for a wonderful little brake last week. My ridiculously brilliant friend Beth, who you’ll have no doubt come across via her blog Local Milk invited me to experience the Parisian way of doing things, and what a blissfully polar change from the dusty Marrakesh Medina it was. The heaviest snow fall in 10 years had turned the city of lovers into a monochromic photo opportunity. However I didn’t work too hard capturing it, as it was definitely a trip more about indulging in some serious gastronomic pleasures, rather than rushing about trying to photograph everything. We rose late, stayed up later, drinking many cocktails until the not so smallish hours that could, at a push, be someone else getting up time! Well, ‘when in Paris’!
What I most wanted to tell you about was the superlative meal we had at Dersou a fusion Japanese French restaurant where each of the 7 courses was paired with a cocktail. It was the first time that I really entered into the theory that good pairing, whether it is cocktails or wine, can add an entirely new dimension to a dish. The Yuzu cocktail that became a bright singing note above the scallop sashimi. The almond liquor that turned into a marzipan element of the vanilla foam. It was a revolutionary experience and was one of the meals that will change the way I view dining forever. Truly exceptional meals can do that, create a permanent shift in your perception, of what is possible, of what is achievable. And it is those meals that I live for.- Incidentally the last mea,l prior to this, that I know had a similar affect was a meal in Kyoto at Monk. That was an absolute celebrations of simplicity, and how truly it can be the highest form of sophistication. Since that day I have tried to refine my cooking, to use the least possible number of ingredients, I have attempted to let the individual ingredients do the talking, not masking the flavours. I wonder how this newest meditation in cocktail pairing will manifest in my food from now on.
Here’s a few vignettes from my trip