Who would have thought that Sven Chartier, the hottest chef in Paris at the moment, was a Scrabble geek? That the 24 year old Arpege and Racines trained chef came up with the name SATURNE (God of Wine, and anagram of NATURES) during a heated session of the board game, or at least he confessed to me yesterday with a twinkle in his eye. Almost the same childish look that he gets when he talks about his philosophy of cooking:no additives, no preservatives, no sauces, no spices, nothing out of season or imported. Simple, natural. Period. Although the foodie blogosphere's bandwagon- jumping made him the flavour of the month, and filled his tables for the last three months, Sven hasn't had the time to refine his philosophy or put it into action, and his kitchen team isn't nearly ready. He is very excited about becoming fully self sufficient and is putting the touches on his very own garden(s) and within a few months should be coming up with some very interesting things. Sven also seems to be very interested in others aligned with the same philosophy, especially Magnus Ek, and spoke of a recent meal at Rene Redzepi's Noma, which he enjoyed. For someone who hasn't hit 25 yet, this chef has got me more excited than pretty much anyone lately. And when he takes that pilgrimmage to his Grandfather's homeland to explore his culinary roots, gets the experience he's looking for and has a team working in perfect harmony, he's going to kick some gastronomic ass and probably usher in an important new trend.
PS The natural wines impressed us less, and Ewen, Sven's partner in crime seemed a bit more reserved and less voluble than the chef..
Paris' perfect brunch spot? For those with their heads in the sand, the opening of the new Le Bal photographic arts centre has had all the hipsters and bloggers with their panties in a bunch when it opened up a few months back. Located in a tiny, pleasant passageway with a garden view and run by two great girls: Alice Quillet (former ? journalist and chef) and Anna Trattles (Saint John Bread and Wine, Rose Bakery) this modern little table serves up what they call Modern British cuisine.
Yesterday, brunch hunters coming after 12 faced a 30 minute wait, so packed was the dining room with funky lunetted hipsters scoffing down eggs and bacon and pancakes.
High points were (Paris' only?) kedgeree, a dish created by Scottish soldiers stationed in India in Victorian times and composed of basmati rice, smoked haddock, curry and eggs, and, obviously, "Rachel's cheesecake" (there, I said it..).
Ultimate winter comfort food at Frenchie : speck salad with clementines, mint and parmesan, smoked sardines with brussel sprout leaves and a squash purée, gnocchi and beef ragout with radish and horseradish, followed by rapid degustation of a 1907 artisinal absinthe (brought by my friend Peter) . No pictures, too busy enjoying myself. Go soon: in 2011, lunch will no longer be served..