By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
The entrance of Le Clarisse
The first thing we noticed about Restaurant Le Clarisse was the wall window that allowed us to see the interior of the dining room from the seventh arrondisement street as we walked toward the entrance. Once inside, the contemporary decor with wood floors, high ceiling, light filled room, wallpaper, metal chandeliers, cushioned built-in seats and armless chairs and unadorned black wood tables with gray runners in lieu of tablecloths drew our attention. When we reached our narrow dining space we appreciated that a staff person had taken our winter coats.
The place settings were simple but elegant
While we perused the menu and sipped on aperitif drinks accompanied by Baby Scallops and Gamba Carpaccio bites we observed the pretty silverware and dinnerware, central red bar, recessed lights, street view that mirrored the one we had seen from the outside, and a partial loft space with additional guests upstairs. The wine list concentrated mainly on French selections ranging from 36 to 700 euros. There was also a sake list with twelve choices available chilled by the glass and by the bottle.
There was a dried ham by the window
A young woman offered us crusty bread with sesame seeds, poppy seeds or country bread. She refilled our bread plates often although no butter or oil were on offer.
Following the amuse-bouche, we had Carpaccio de langoustines, gelee de ponzu (Carpaccio of Dublin Bay prawns, ponzu sauce); Ravioles legumieres, carottes, curcuma, coriandre, celeri rave, curry, romarin et agrumes (Small ravioli with vegetables, carrots, curcuma, celeriac, curry and citrus fruit). Served in a light bouillon they were buttery and light. One was spicy.
Carpaccio de langoustines, gelee de ponzu
Ravioles legumieres, carottes, curcuma, coriandre, celeri rave, curry, romarin et agrumes
Noix de Saint Jacques, eclats de noix, taboule de quinoa rouge, couteaux, blettes rouges, reduction de cidre et pousses de shizo (Scallops with walnuts, red quinoa tabbouleh with razor clams, Swiss chard, cider sauce and shizo leaves) were mildly crunchy, toasted with a rich flavor and served on a white plate. La joue de boeuf, marinade bourgogne et lavande, shiro-miso en neige (Ox cheek braised in pinot noir and lavender, beaten shiro-miso) was prepared with a satisfying hearty sauce and a chestnut puree we enjoyed.
Noix de Saint Jacques, eclats de noix, taboule de quinoa rouge, couteaux, blettes rouges, reduction de cidre et pousses de shizo
La joue de boeuf, marinade bourgogne et lavande, shiro-miso en neige
The exotic fruit crumble with whipped cream was crispy, lightly sweet and barely tart. The Souffle au chocolate (Chocolate souffle) had brown sugar on the rim, cassis ice cream and white chocolate coulis.
The exotic fruit crumble
Chef Sadaki Kajiwara
We liked the restaurant’s modern decor, attentive service, English speaking staff and well prepared and presented French meal. What surprised and will draw us back were the Japanese ingredients Chef Sadaki Kajiwara added to the dishes to make them distinctive. In addition, we found the seven-course menu for 79 euros good value for money. Le Clarisse (29, rue Surcouf, 75007 Paris, France, + 33 1 45 50 11 10, www.leclarisse.fr, email@example.com) will be on our short list anytime we are in the neighborhood.
By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
Some of our favorite macaron flavors for the holidays
For several years we have been fans of the Pierre Herme shop, specifically the macarons, on rue Napoleon in the Latin Quarter of Paris. On our most recent visit to the French capital, we made our usual stop at the shop and also visited, for the first time, its larger sister shop on the rue de Vaugirard in the fifteenth arrondisement.
An exterior view of the Pierre Herme shop on rue Napoleon in the Latin Quarter
The special Jardin Collection
We had our favorite macaron flavors of Ispahan made with rose, litchi and raspberry, Truffe Blanche et Noisette (white truffel and hazelnut), Infiniment Caramel (caramel and salted butter), Rose, and Chocolate and Foie Gras. We also sampled the special Jardin Collection, a box of 12 macarons only available once a year with a roundup of the monthly Jardin Collection flavors. There was one of each of the 2012 flavors: Jardin Marin made with green tea, chaterelle mushroom and lemon; Jardin du Pardis made with aniseed and saffron; Jardin d’Ete made with lemon and caramelized fennel; Jardin Oriental made with orange blossom, rose and ginger; Jardin Parfume made with rose and jasmin; Jardin d’Eden made with vanilla and basil; Jardin Sauvage made with chocolate and lime; and Jardin d’Antan made with violet and aniseed. There were two each of Jardin Enchante made with lime, raspberry and espelette pepper and Jardin Secret made with rose, vanilla and cloves.
The vanilla tart
Pastries at the Latin Quarter shop
While macarons are the reason we go to the Latin Quarter store every time we go there we are tempted by seasonal specials, chocolates and pastries. This time we decided to expand our tasting selection. We sampled a lemon tart, reminiscent of key lime pie with a tart finish, a vanilla tart, sweet with distinctive and extra rich vanilla bean flavors, and chocolates. The best selling items in the Latin Quarter shop? Ispahan cake (a long time favorite), Tarte Infiniment Vanille (the one we sampled), 2000 feuilles and of course macarons and chocolates, according to a company spokesperson.
A lime with fresh strawberries dessert
We sampled Pierre Herme chocolates made at the Manufacture Pierre Hermé Paris in Wittenheim, Alsace
On previous visits to the shop the staff had offered us samples of their chocolates. When we tried to buy the ones we had sampled we discovered it was only possible to buy a box with a variety of flavors. Disappointed we desisted. This time we threw caution to the wind. We acquired two boxes of 14 delicious bon bons, made mostly of 64 percent dark chocolate from Mexican cocoa (45 percent for the three milk chocolate ones), in mid December 2012. The Pierre Herme chocolates were made at the Manufacture Pierre Hermé Paris in Wittenheim, Alsace. The brown square box with a red center and a red leather string around it weighed 120 grams and expired January 3, 2013. With all the tempting foods available during the trip we missed the expiration date for one of the boxes. We sampled the chocolates in late January and they were still good. Our expanded tasting was a success.
While Pierre Herme macarons are sold elsewhere in Paris we prefer, whenever possible, to visit the company shops. In our experience they offer greater character and more merchandise choices. We remain fans of the original shop, our favorite of the two for sheer cozy ambiance and geographic convenience, and are now new fans of the rue de Vaugirard boutique. The two shops are on our list of city favorites: Pierre Hermé Paris, 72 rue Bonaparte 75006 Paris, France, +33 (0) 1 43 54 47 77, and Pierre Hermé Paris, 185 rue de Vaugirard 75015 Paris, France, +33 (0) 1 77 37 20 96, www.pierreherme.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article and photos by Chester Godsy and Joni Johnson-Godsy
Looking out at the bush from Kitich Camp
In the 1920s, Martin and Osa Johnson traveled from the United States to remote places in Kenya and brought back stories, films and photographs that helped define the American idea of the African safari. Their book entitled I Married Adventure helped peak our curiosity about the mountainous region in Kenya north of Nairobi. It was exciting to imagine that on our trip we were recreating part of their journey nearly one hundred years later.
A Samburu warrior in traditional dress
The Samburu people of Northern Kenya live much the way they did back in the days of Martin and Osa Johnson. A Samburu village lies only a couple of miles from Kitich Camp, a walking safari tented camp part of the Cheli & Peacock portfolio, where we stayed on our trip to Kenya. Lamario, one of our guides, took us to this village and helped us bridge the gap between languages and cultures. The Samburu people we met were warm, curious and inviting. Only a few white skinned people had been to the village before us so curiosity was mutual. Visiting this village gave us insights into a time when a community was more important than an individual.
The dining area at Kitich with photos of local Samburu on the walls
A young woman in the village invited us into her home, where we spent time with her and asked her questions about the Samburu lifestyle and culture. We saw the creative ways they live in harsh, arid conditions. We learned about their lives, values and culture. We came away in awe of these people. We had an experience we will treasure for a lifetime.
The pool at Joy’s Camp
From there we made our way southeast to Joy’s Camp, its sister property in the Shaba National Reserve still north of Nairobi. Named for Joy Adamson, a well-known naturalist, artist and author, the camp offered comfortable accommodations dramatic views and good wildlife sightings as well as access to the nearby Samburu National Reserve.
Part of the common areas at Joy’s Camp
By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
The windows featured a view of the chefs at work
While staying in the fifteenth arrondisement in Paris we had lunch at Le Quinzième Cyril Lignac (14, rue Cauchy, 75015 Paris, France +331 45 54 43 43, www.restaurantlequinzieme.com, email@example.com), named for Cyril Lignac, an ambitious up and coming young chef from the Aveyron region in southwestern France. When he first arrived in Paris in 2000, he worked at L’Arpège, one of the most celebrated restaurants in the city. Only five years later he opened Le Quinzième on the French series Oui Chef! By 2012, he had expanded his culinary company to include bistros, a bakery and a cooking school and received his first Michelin star at the fifteenth arrondissement restaurant.
Our bite size starters
To work up an appetite we walked part of the way to lunch. From the street we could see the kitchen staff at work through large glass windows before entering the restaurant from a side street. To reach the entrance we passed through an awning covered terrace devoid of guests on a rainy and gray winter day. Inside, the dining room was beginning to fill up. Brown carpeting, black tiled walls and recessed lights set a cozy tone. Pretty table settings, comfortable built-in sofas and armchairs invited us to linger over our meal. From our back corner table we could glance through oversize glass windows onto the terrace.
Scallop from Brittany with Tandoori spices
A glass of rose Veuve Cliquot accompanied quince jelly and cheese, crispy goat cheese and chorizo roll, foie gras and white beet root warm cream bite size morsels to start. Smoked salted butter and several types of bread were on offer: crunchy cereal (a favorite), olive, baguette, and thyme and lemon.
Christophe Tran, manager, Le Quinzieme
Sole de Petit Bateau slowly baked in herbs Viennoise
Our multi-course meal with four wines was outstanding. We had Scallop fished in Brittany roasted in salted butter with Tandoori spices, fine puree of parsnip and sesame cream; a light and flavorful Sole de Petit Bateau slowly baked in herbs Viennoise, shrimps, yellow wine sauce, Ratte potato puree with vanilla zest; Breton Lobster cooked in nut-flavored butter, green Sechuan berries, flavored potato gnocchi, lobster cream and Parmesan cheese, a winning blend of ingredients that highlighted the lobster without overwhelming it; Tangerine sorbet with fresh mint juice; Beef Simmenthal roasted in semi-salted butter brioche bread-crumbed with foie gras and black truffle that had well balanced flavors served with memorable mashed potatoes; and Roquefort with a poached pear.
Beef Simmenthal roasted in semi-salted butter brioche bread-crumbed with foie gras and black truffle
For pre-dessert there was Muscovado sugar crumble with lemongrass emulsion, mango sorbet and Bhaba (au Rhum) gelee. Our first dessert, reminiscent of key lime pie, was Lemon from Nice cream and preserved lemon, thin shortbread, and Bourbon flavored vanilla ice cream. Next we had Madagascar light chocolate cream with Tanariva milk chocolate, crisp praline flake and lime ice cream. The staff served chocolates with the espresso at the end.
Lemon from Nice cream
Lunch was accompanied by a slightly sweet honey colored Alsatian 2007 Gruenspiel Marcel Deiss, 2010 Chassange-Montrachet Domaine Fontaine-Gaganard, 2006 Saint-Foy Bordeaux Reserve de la Famille Chateau Martet, and 2010 Vouvrey Petillant Vincent Careme.
Madagascar light chocolate cream with Tanariva milk chocolate, crisp praline flake and lime ice cream
A well presented and prepared meal that focused on the flavors of the ingredients, attentive service, and a pleasant setting will bring us back to Le Quinzieme the next time we are in the neighborhood.