Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Like most ordinary diners, I haven't been to many restaurants in the world's top 100. I always like reading the list though – in the same way you might enjoy reading a catalogue of beautiful art you can't afford.
I also like how it's a great chance to trade front-row stories with people who have been lucky enough to go to the first or third or 10th-best place to dine in the globe. Like when Susannah described the sensation of having the Watermelon Carpaccio at Mugaritz or Joanna told me about El Bulli and its 30-plus dishes (some designed for just one or two bites) – including a sheet of ice sprinkled with mint and sugar, that you then break up to eat.
Locally, Tetsuya's is a stayer on the list (even if it has tumbled from its Top 5 best position), and while I had a fun dinner there for my last birthday, one of my favourite-ever food experiences cost a fraction of that.
The last time I saved enough euro-exchangeable dollars to go to Paris, I had a lovely lunch at a bistro near the Bastille. It was so breezy and relaxed, it reminded me of a line I read in a magazine once, "The hour is lunchtime forever." I love that unhurried mood, where you feel like an excellent meal can be endless and any possible problems have – for now – been cleared from your life (not even the shame of greed or laziness can break the spell).
Dessert also helps. And I'll always remember this one: Sheep's Milk Yogurt Mousse with Rhubarb Soup – it was so tangy-sweet and memory-blazingly good (and perfectly paired with a slice of millefeuille, corrugated for maximum crunch, raining of pastry flakes and buttery deliciousness) that I left a dorky, gushy note when I paid l'addition (only $30ish for three excellent courses).
When I saw that it had landed at #80 in yesterday's 100 best announcement, I felt very happy for the place. It's called La Gazzetta, it's on 29 rue de Cotte, and its head chef is Peter Nilsson. From here, the cost of travel fare is ridiculous, but the bill is not. Visit it if you're lucky enough to be in the neighbourhood.