If Paris has not yet become as cosmopolitan at the table as New York or London, the city has become vastly more international during the last ten years or so. Unlike the two English-speaking cities, the reason for this flowering isn’t immigration, but rather the fact that France still exerts an irresistible international pull on the gastronomic ambitions of young chefs from all over the world.
They come from Japan by the dozens, but also Mexico, Italy, the UK, the US, Brazil, everywhere really, to have the experience of an exigent French culinary education, the thrill of cooking with the best Gallic produce, and the frisson of attempting to seduce discerning Parisian palates with their cooking.
This is why there’s something especially poignant about the flavourful Franco-Brazilian cuisine served by young chef Alexander Furtado at Bistro Paradis, his vest-pocket table with a sleek modern décor by Kristin Gavoille that takes its name from the street on which it is located in the ever trendy 10th arrondissement. To wit, this young chef has such an eager desire to please, and most of the time he does too, with dishes that are based on the French technique he mastered while working at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at the Dorchester in London and then several of Christian Constant’s tables in Paris but made personal and very delicious by the use of Brazilian ingredients like coconut milk and shavings of toasted coconut, guava, mango, acai and pecqui.
Furtado’s menu will evolve according to the seasons and his inspiration, but dishes to look out for here include three excellent starters: tartare of salmon and sea bass seasoned with lemongrass, ginger and zest of combava; artichoke velouté with grilled shrimp and chicken-and-lardo-di-Colonnata quenelles; and a sauté of wild mushrooms with poached egg and shavings of toasted coconut. Stand-outs among the main courses include marinated steak with manioc fries and a sauce of meat drippings flavoured with acai berries; and cod in a lush ‘moqueca’-style sauce (a moqueca is a Brazilian stew of salt-water fish cooked in coconut milk with tomatoes, onions, garlic, coriander and a little palm oil).
Finish up with the banana éclair or the ‘pudim’ – an egg-rich version of crème caramel found in Brazil and Portugal – served with a garnish of sweet potato marinated in caramel.
Bistro Paradis, 55 rue de Paradis, Paris 10th. Tel: +33 7 71 01 32 26. Lunch menu €23, average price à la carte €40.
From France Today magazine