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Wandering Chef: David Falk in Paris

Chef David Falk tries to visit Italy and France as often as possible to immerse himself in the local cuisine and bring home ideas for his Cincinnati restaurants Boca and Sotto. Falk recently visited Paris and Provence. His eating itinerary included an over-the-top black tie affair, casual bistros, and countryside restaurants. Here, he shares highlights from his most memorable meals.

2013September13WanderingChefDavidfishL’Ami Jean
“The tasting menu was awesome. We ate lots of foie gras, but in really interesting combinations. The stand-out dish was mackerel and seared foie gras in a chicken bouillon. The chef also served a super simple braised beef cheek with carrots, leeks, and pink peppercorns in the broth. It was simply divine and perfectly cooked and paired with a Côte Rôtie that blew my mind. Also, the rice porridge dessert with caramel sauce was over-the-top. The service was great too. Overall it was a fantastic meal.” 27 Rue Malar, Paris, 33/(0) 147-058-689, lamijean.fr

A La Biche Au Bois
“This is a simple, straight forward neighborhood bistro that serves great oeufs mayonnaise and coq au vin paired with a red Burgundy and a steak au poivre paired with a very simple Medoc. It is near the Bastille and one of Paris food writer Alexander Lobrano’s top ten bistros. It was the polar opposite from the other restaurants we dined in.” 45 Avenue Ledru-Rollin, Paris, 33/(0) 143-433-438

Le Meurice
“Le Meurice was unbelievable and over-the-top. The space is very palatial. My friends and I all suited up and went black tie because it’s a fun experience to go black tie in Paris. The décor was stunningly beautiful. Philippe Starck just redesigned it, but without going too modern. Even though the chef had just left, it was still a spectacular meal. I wanted to surprise a couple dining with us because they were celebrating their 16th wedding anniversary so we ordered a 1997 Bollinger La Grand Année Magnum champagne to start the meal and it was spectacular. One stand out dish was an amuse bouche. The servers 2013September13WanderingChefDavidinFieldcame out with a bowl garnished with herbs and a white speckling of fresh horseradish and they poured a beet and turnip consommé into the bowl. It had unbelievably pure flavors. The other dish that stood out was pan-fried croutons with caviar. That was one of the best bites of caviar I’ve ever had.” 228 Rue de Rivoli, Paris, 33/(0) 144-581-010, lemeurice.com

Bastide de Moustier
“The top dish at Bastide de Moustier was a rabbit confit with pine nuts and olives. The rabbit seemed to be candied in the rabbit jus and reduced down to this great glaze. The ratatouille with octopus was also a stand out. The view was amazing as well.” Chemin de Quinson, Moustier-Sainte-Marie, Provence, 33/(0) 492-704-747, bastide-moustiers.com 

Bistro de Marie
“Bistro de Marie makes a ratatouille with just eggplant, tomato, and shallot that was so fantastic we ordered another. We also had a simple but great côte de boeuf. Rémy-de-Provence isn’t particularly known for its food, but this place was tucked away and was absolutely sensational. It was actually a last minute find and a complete surprise to all of us.” 1 Rue Jaume Roux, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, 33/(0) 490-900-218

Vallon de Valrugues
“One of the greatest wines of the trip was a white Domaine Hauvette that we had at Vallon de Valrugues. We drank and ate al fresco overlooking the countryside. The view was just stunning. One of the most interesting courses was a beet carpaccio with tomato sorbet, esgarot. The dish had lots of flavors that don’t typically go together, but it was actually really fun. We also had a foie gras millefeuille with English pea. The star of that dish was a candied bacon biscuit. The top dish here was the lamb.” Chemin Canto Cigalo, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, 33/(0) 490-920-440, vallondevalrugues.com

Photos courtesy of David Falk