A Little Piece of Mine

Prince of a fundraiser: The Goals for Life Gastronomic Cup

Prince of a fundraiser: The Goals for Life Gastronomic Cup

Rio-based chef Claude Troisgros called in a few French friends to help him cook up a storm in Paris last night. The occasion? A fundraiser for the Pequeño Príncipe (Little Prince) children’s hospital in Brazil’s southern city of Curitiba. Brother Michel, from the celebrated Maison Troisgros in Roanne, provided a chilled broth of crayfish, beetroot and radish just zinging with sweet & sour & crunch  – and almost too pretty to eat. Brazilian trailblazer and ex-Presidential chef Roberta Sudbrack followed with a foam-filled martini glass hiding a superbly gooey egg on a bed of crispy crumbs and creamy foie gras. Claude served up a nugget of roasted cod paired with wonderfully sticky banana, coriander butter and Brazilian spice urcum. The dish that makes-you-go-ooooh moment, though, belonged to stove-top legend, Pierre Gagnaire, who sent out a snow-white slice of pressed chicken on a bed of crispy fennel, white cabbage and just mustardy barley, accented with acerola berry butter. Dessert, a decadent sliver of chocolate, mousse, mascarpone and fig from Cordon Bleu chef Nicolas Jordan brought an end to life in the feast lane. The hospital’s connection with France has its roots in literature rather than cuisine, with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book, The Little Prince, providing its care manifesto. “There was on a star, a planet, mine, the Earth, a little prince to be comforted! I took him in my arms and rocked him gently”.  Brazilian soccer legend Pelé is a committed supporter of the Hospital Pequeño Príncipe via his Goals For Life Program and Claude Troisgros is patron of the Goals for Life Gastronomic Cup, a series of five gastronomic events featuring celebrated chefs preparing dishes using Brazilian ingredients. The first Cup was held in Curitiba in 2011, the second in São Paulo in August 2012 (Le Chateaubriand’s Iñaki Aizpitarte took part along with Spaniard Ignacio Echapresto and Brazilians Alex Atala and Roberta Sudbrack), with the latest edition in Paris. In 2013, it moves to New York (Daniel Boulud will be on that menu) and Rio de Janiero in 2014, just in time for the World Cup.

Ecrevisses aigrelettes à la manoa by Michel Troisgros


Date with a Plate: Arola

Sergi Arola’s tapas is a thing of beauty. Elfin patatas bravas – slow baked, then deep fried and filled with spicy tomato sauce topped with a beret of aioli; golden salt cod fritters so light they might take flight; smoky braised eggplant with a crunch of pine nuts and a kick of balsamic; and tempura prawns standing to attention in a dollop of punchy shellfish stew. This is pica pica, a bunch of bite-sized dishes built to share. The good looking food dreamed up by the two-star Michelin chef with a fondness for tattoos, rock music and Harley Davidsons tallies nicely with the slick W Lounge at the W Paris-Opéra. As far as hotel bars go, this is a cut above. With its curvy black panels studded with light, drawing of a shaggy haired couple puckering up (“French Kiss”) by Paris artist Shoboshobo, groovy soundtrack (DJs during lunch and dinner), and bend-over-backwards staff (yes, in Paris!), its more club/bar and less watering hole for the timid tourist. Separation from the hotel lobby and its own street entrances help. Not sure if the “cockteals”, cocktails teaming alcohol with tea, will ever replace martinis but the DIY sessions, where punters get behind the bar and mix up a potion aided by the barkeep, are proving popular. Pica pica from €8 (sardines) to €11 (patatas bravas - pictured above) and up to €16 (langoustines). There’s also a fine dining restaurant upstairs and Barcelona boy Arola is usually in the kitchen one week a month. 4 rue Meyerbeer, 75009 

Lasting Impressions: Normandy


Sadly I need to wade through a European winter before I can bathe in the warmth and soft light of the great Impressionist masters in blossom-soaked Normandy. Le Festival Normandie Impressionniste kicks off for the second time around in April 2013, taking water as its central theme. Monet, after all, dubbed the Seine his “studio” and the ponds, pools and pounding seas of the region inspired him and his cohorts no end. Exhibitions worth a special trip include: Reflected Colour – Impressionism on the Water’s Surface, which assembles works by Monet, Pissarro, Caillebotte, Renoir and Sisley, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen; The Cliffs of Monet, Those Other Cathedrals at the Musée des Pêcheries de Fécamp; Summer at the Water’s Edge – Leisure and Impressionism at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen; Pissarro and the Ports at the Musée d’art moderne André Malraux (the one reason to visit Le Havre!); and Impressions Dior, which looks to link haute couture with Impressionism by way of Christian Dior’s frocks and photographs of his garden at the Villa Les Rhumbs in Granville, the designer’s childhood home. Giverny’s Musée des Impressionnismes will channel Monet’s waterlilies via works by the Japanese painter Hiramatsu Reiji, and showcase pointillist Paul in Signac, the Colours of Water. The canny festival organisers have more than 600 events lined up (double their first effort in 2010), including contemporary art installations on the streets of Rouen, regional orchestras playing The Sea by Claude Debussy (by the sea naturally), a seaside themed lightshow on the façade of the Grand Hotel at Cabourg, a presentation of the silent film La Belle Nivernaise, with a specially composed sound-track played by the orchestra of the Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie, readings, open-air cafés and dance halls and déjeuners sur l’herbe (clothing recommended for the ladies!) beside the Seine. One million visitors turned up in 2010 so better start planning…now!  Le Festival Normandie Impressionniste from April 27 – September 29, 2013, throughout Normandy.

Hiramatsu Reiji, Giverny, Monet’s Pond; Noise of the Wind © Hiramatsu Reiji

Pure Invention: Imaginez L’Imaginaire

Pure Invention: Imaginez L’Imaginaire

Ebullient President Jean de Loisy describes the Palais de Tokyo, one of Europe’s biggest art spaces, as anything but institutional. He’s right. Even the stairwells are cast as exhibition area. It’s more anti-museum – messy, imperfect, uncontrolled, dusty even, like some of its artworks. Example: Peter Buggenhout’s colossal suspended corpus of dust mite-friendly debris in the entrance – The Blind Leading the Blind sculpture. The Palais’ latest expo “Imaginez L’Imaginaire” (Imagine the Imaginary) looks to examine how contemporary artists think and how their artworks take shape. It’s an eccentric and fun exercise, especially Ryan Gander’s “Esperluette”: a library of 60 objects that can only be glimpsed for a second as they slide past a window on a conveyor belt. A vacuum cleaner, a computer keyboard signed by Steve Jobs, letters, a Japanese table setting, pyjama pants, uggies and roof tiles; Gander’s mental landscape is obviously choc-full of ‘stuff’.  Then there’s Fabrice Hyber’s “Matières Premières” (Raw Materials), a world with ponds of salt, sponges, chillies and coppery coins, huts that blow a gale (a riff on air con) or rumble with thunder and rain when you open the door, a shiny cocoon of a wall that tips into a floor and vice-versa when you step on it, an arbour of corn stalks, a vegetable man (cauliflower hair, banana hands and cucumber legs) and a square football designed for games in square-shaped rooms! The expo romps from the 400 travel photos taken in the 50s & 60s by Russian-born French philosopher Alexandre Kojève and curated here by Russian philosopher and art historian Boris Groys through Damir Ocko’s musical score ‘drawings’ and films (his latest featuring a neon sword swallower, a contortionist and a volcano) to a three-metre-high model of the mechanical theatre, complete with pole climbing chameleons, designed by Markus Schinwald for the nave of Bordeaux’s CAPC museum. There’s a nifty mix of media in the show from both new and established artists and curators, including a couple of “I-just-don’t-get-it” pieces but then the Palais de Tokyo is all about the experience, it’s a kind of permanent art lab with things always on the boil. Emerging from the cavernous lower ground galleries, a blast of sunshine rips through the seven giant comic strip covered windows  KABOOM! CHOMP!  eliciting a cry of “super” from de Loisy. Right again! 13 ave du Président Wilson  75116  Until February 11, 2013

Photo: André Morin. Fabrice Hyber “Matières Premières”, Palais de Tokyo


Mode to Measure

The Eiffel Tower has taken a back seat in the flashiest-girl-in-town stakes the past few weeks as Paris Fashion Week held court. Hotel prices went up. Celebs jetted in. Traffic slowed down.  It ground to a halt one day on rue St-Honoré as a man in a van stopped to cook up a batch of floating white meringues (actually huge soapy bubbles reading “mode”, a cute PR stunt by Mairie Claire mag) and the pack of fashion hounds and puppies snapped pix as they romped between marooned cars and dodged pavement tables en route to the JC Castelbajac show at the Oratoire du Louvre. The major action might be on the runway but when the invitation gets lost in the mail (yet again), the women and men outside the shows never disappoint. Bondage stilettos and a backless dress, checked cuffs with totally tassled bootees, platform loafers and mini camouflage pants topped with a snug blueblood blazer, a wide brimmed hat and even wider legged shorts, overalls paired with a trunk-load of pearls, tartan, bouclé, flannel, tomato, lemon, spearmint, and many a spray of fuschia: skyscraping hot pink heels running from the Dior show (teamed with an electric blue frock), a gold-rimmed clutch in highly polished pink, and the ultimate iPhone accessory – a hot pink pouch from Chloé complete with wrist strap. Meanwhile across town at the Paris Motor Show (lucky for fashion-depleted spouses and rev-head execs the two events overlap), it’s been a symphony in blue: a sleek Porsche Sport Turismo in icy blue, an Audi RS5 Cabriolet in cornflower blue and the incandescently blue Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive drawing the most loving looks. There’s also a slew of silver (Lexus, Ranger Rover, Clio, Bentley) and fashionable splashes of colour from a citron Lamborghini, an orange Mclaren P1, and a cherry F-Type Jaguar 2-seater (launched with a serenade by red-lipped siren Lana del Rey). The Paris Motor Show runs until October 14, then maybe the traffic – such as the 200km maze that jammed the city and surrounds and me last Friday – will thin out…but then with the upcoming Salon du Chocolat, which features the ‘Chocolate Fashion Show(pic 2 below), maybe not. Salon du Chocolate October 31-November 4, Porte de Versailles 75015

Chocolate Fashion Show © salonduchocolat

Quick Word: Bite-sized thoughts

Chic Magnet

The Louvre might be closed on Tuesday but Cafè Marly is open, from 8am, so grab a table on the elegant terrace overlooking I. M Pei’s glass pyramid and contemplate the old and the new over a coffee or two. Or, take a seat inside where just a simple glass panel separates you from a luminous interior courtyard displaying Guillaume Coustou’s celebrated Horses of Marly, completed in 1745 under Louis XV. Just my cup of tea!