Friday, January 06, 2017

Oreo Ice Cream Bars, France

I won't give you the spiel again.  For the past few weeks, I've been posting about the assorted ice cream I found while visiting my Paris office, like the Mars brand ice cream bars, the slightly more interesting Trufo bars from Kalise, and the unidentified chocolate pistachio cones.

The final item I tried was an item and brand I know well, but, in a form I hadn't ever had before: Oreo Ice Cream Sticks, sold in both France and Germany.  It was really quite good.  It tasted exactly like an Oreo.
Oreo Ice Cream Stick.
"Ice Cream with Oreo Biscuit Pieces".

The description wasn't exactly comprehensive.  I opened my package to discover a chocolate covered item, generously dipped and coated in chocolate.

This chocolate shell at first was off-putting.  It wasn't a shiny, smooth, chocolate shell as is common with ice cream novelties on sticks.  It was ... gritty.  I expected the extra bits of cookie crumbs in the ice cream, but the gritty texture in the shell was unexpected.  But once I was prepared for it, and realized that was my cookie component, it made total sense, and I enjoyed it.
Oreo Ice Cream Stick: Inside.
Inside was indeed "ice cream with Oreo biscuit pieces", white ice cream with visible chunks of oreo.

The ice cream was actually decent.  It tasted exactly like the "stuff" inside an Oreo.  It was decently creamy.  There were more bits of cookie integrated throughout, but most of the cookie elements came through the shell.

Overall, yes, this was good.  Yes, it tasted like an Oreo.  I don't really like Oreos, but I immediately wanted another one of these.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Blé Sucré, Paris

When I visited Paris, of course one of the things I looked up was where to get the best croissants.  Because I was there for a business trip, I stayed close to my office, where the pickings were slim. It was shopping-ville and tourist-ville, filled with overpriced and underwhelming items.  The hotel breakfast at the W had abysmal croissants, and even the croissant from the famed Ladurée was awful (to be fair, they are known for macarons).   The only halfway decent one I found close by was from Liberté and that wasn't particularly awesome.

So when Saturday rolled around, I had one mission: to find the best croissant in Paris.  My research lead me straight to Blé Sucré, located fairly far from my hotel in the 12th arrondissement.  In fact, it turned out to be right next to East Mamma, where we had dinner the previous Sunday, but arrived by car.

I knew it was far away, an hour walk from my hotel, but reviews of the croissants, and chocolate croissants, were just too good to pass up.  But rather than walk, I grab a Vélib' bike from the station right outside my office, and risked my life on the city streets of Paris, just to get my treat in half the time.  (Don't worry mom, the ride wasn't really that bad, the bike was in good working order, and the route mostly sorta had a bike lane!  If you are ever in Paris and want to get around quickly, I highly recommend.  A day pass is only 1.70€, and from there, you can take unlimited <30 min trips for free, or pay a little for additional time.  I made it in under 30 mins, and there are stations seriously everywhere.


Blé Sucré is located on a sunny, quiet sidewalk alongside a park.  It is far off the beaten tourist path, and I could instantly tell that this is where normal people go for their casual morning treat.  Unlike most boulangeries, they actually had a small amount of seating, a few colorful tables on the sidewalk under the awning.  If you choose to eat there, your treats were put on a tray rather than bagged, and you were charged an extra 1€.  Also unlike most boulangeries, they did have coffee (although only regular, only espresso drinks).
The seating was fine if you actually wanted a table there, but the shop is literally right on Square Armand Trousseau, an adorable tree filled park with plenty of benches, and a playground (filled with what I presume were neighborhood children).

I took my treat there to enjoy, and appreciated just fitting into the scenery.  The park was crowded, filled with children and adult's voices alike, all speaking French, not a word of which I understood.

I loved it.  Finally, out of the tourist area.

The Goods

But back to Blé Sucré.

I entered, not entirely knowing what to expect.  Blé Sucré doesn't actually have a website, so I had read reviews, and seen some photos, but I had no complete sense of what the lineup would be.

The first wall was filled with jams.  Uh, moving on.
Display Case #1 ...
Things quickly got more exciting.

On top of the main display case were packaged little goodies.  If I didn't have epic plans for Michelin starred dinner that night at Goust, I most certainly would have grabbed some of these to go.  There were all sorts of little cookies, but also palmiers, madelines (their signature item), and of course, fancy flavored artisinal marshmallows.

Below them, the treats began.  Beautiful fruit tarts, including a crumble topped one.  These came in two sizes, but even the smaller ones were huge, and 14€, so certainly not an individual sized treat.  There were also a bunch of stunning other desserts, including the first baba au rhum I've probably ever been interested in.
More Sweet Treats ...
The case continued, with a St. Honore that I wanted to devour on the spot, and all the classics: paris brest, millefeuille, etc.
But it was breakfast, and I was there for the croissant!  I sought this place out, for the croissant after all.   I had to get a croissant.

I expected that perhaps I'd opt for the chocolate croissant, since people love that too, but I wasn't expecting to be taken in by ... well, everything I saw.

My intentions of getting a croissant vanished.  How could I get something so basic?

I was overwhelmed by indecision.

I surveyed the selection, and stepped out of the way as I pondered.  Everyone else knew exactly what they wanted, stepped in, ordered their croissant or chocolate croissant, a baguette, and dashed out the door.  Not me.  I took it all in.

Seriously, everything looked incredible.  Yes, the croissants, down on the end on the bottom shelf, did look perfect.  They were huge, super crispy and flaky.  But the pain aux raisins above them glistened at me.  Next to them, the roule aux amandes took it up a notch.  And next to those, the kouign amann honestly looked amazing (now, kouign amann is pretty much *always* amazing, but these looked absolutely sugar and butter infused, caramelized beyond belief.  OMG.  If I hadn't devoured a Praluline the night before, I'm sure this is what I would have gone for.  But I couldn't quite take something quite that decadent.  Or so I thought ...)

Shocking to me were the brioche framboise and brioche caramel, bottom row, right hand side.  I've never seen anything like them.  They looked like soft, doughy bread, studded with either raspberries or caramel.  Not as rich as a croissant or the other pastries, but sugary and sweet too.  I came so, so close to getting the caramel one.

But, I was there for a croissant.  I didn't want crazy sweet, right?  Too many days in a row of feasting on sweets was catching up with me.  I was going to just get a croissant.  Or a chocolate croissant.  Right?  Right?!!

Finally, I stepped up to order, quite hesitant, because I hadn't really made up my mind, and, well, I hadn't heard a word of English spoken, nor seen a single sign I could read.  I pointed at what I thought was the caramel brichee, with the viennioseries menu in hand, and just asked if that is what it was (I still wasn't quite sure what that thing was).  The woman politely told me yes, and she responded in English to me, so I was relieved, and just blurted out, "Do you have a favorite?"  She pointed at the kouign amann of course, and then the roule aux amandes.  I honestly had no idea what the later was, it looked like a raisin swirl, but without raisins, and with almond flakes on top, and it was glistening.  Um, sure, why not?  I'm not sure what got into me.  I was supposed to be getting THE FAMOUS CROISSANT!  I went with her suggestion instead.
Roule Aux Amandes. 1.60€.
Anyway, yes, I wound up with the roule aux amandes.

It was made with the same laminated dough as a croissant, just, well, rolled up.  I'm pretty sure there was a small amount of almond paste between the layers, because I could taste almond other than just in the topping, or perhaps there was an extract baked into the dough?  I'm not sure.  I did unroll it, and never actually saw frangipane.

It was just a different spin on an almond croissant or almond danish.  Same dough, same almond flavors, just a different form.

I wasn't quite sure I liked it at first.  I think at some level it just wasn't actually what I wanted, but I honestly had no idea what I did want at that point.

The exterior was super flaky and crispy, the inside layers, moist and soft.  The softer layers had a slight chew to them, that wasn't quite enjoyable.  The dough had a sweetness to it, and was very, very buttery.  It actually might have been a bit too rich for me, particularly when covered in sweet glaze too.  When I lifted my treat up, after only having set it on the paper for a moment to take this photo, it was soaked through in grease.  Wow.

It was large, and a few bites in, I didn't expect that I'd finish it.  But ... it grew on me.  Soon I craved more sweet buttery-ness.

In the end, I did enjoy it.  I wished Blé Sucré was closer by, as I would like to return to try the regular croissant, as I set out to do in the first place.  I'm sure it was buttery too, but not in quite the same way.  And some of those other desserts ... swoon.  Next time.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Dinner at East Mamma, Paris

When in Paris, go get pizza, right?  Yeah, an odd decision, but we had dinner plans with a friend's family (including children), so this seemed more appropriate than Michelin style dining.

East Mamma is just basic Italian cuisine, known for  housemade pasta, the pizza, burrata, and  desserts (particularly tiramisu in every variety imaginable, including banoffee, called, I'm not joking, Banofeemisu!).  Well, you know me, I do like my carbs, cheese, and dessert, so, this did sound right up my alley.  Plus, it was a recommendation from a friend and gets great reviews.  Family friendly, afordable, cheesy, sounded like a good choice.

We went.  We dined.  I took notes.  I wrote a blog post.  And somehow ... the post did not save.  And my notes have long since been thrown out.  Thus, today's review is mostly a photo-tour only.  My vague memory is that everything was fine, but not particularly memorable, and that they no longer had the banoffee tiramisu I was so eagerly looking forward to.

The Setting

Oh, another detail that I clearly remember: they do not take reservations.  And are very popular.
Lining Up.
We got there before they opened, as instructed by my friend who recommended it, to find a line down the sidewalk.  Way down the sidewalk.  We took our places, along with the others.
We did manage to get in the first seating, once they opened the doors and we all filed in.
Open Kitchen.
The kitchen was open, but we weren't seated near it, so I didn't get to watch the action.

The big buckets of Nutella on the counter were for their Nutella pizza, another signature dessert (besides the tiramisu).  When they serve it, they bring you an entire pail of Nutella and a spatula and you can smear on as much Nutella as you want.
Water Pitcher.
We were given a beautiful water pitcher to serve ourselves from.
Piggy Plate!
Plates were equally beautiful.
Place Setting.
We were provided menus (French only) and silverware with real wooden handles.

The Food

The fairly straightforward menu is all basic Italian comfort food.  Everything is family-style.


Starters include cheese, charcuterie, and bruschetta.
Once we ordered, we were given a burlap sack of bread and our own bottle of decent quality olive oil.
Jambon. 9€.
We selected one charcuterie, some type of ham.  Other choices included bresaola, mortadella, and something truffled.

It came thinly sliced on a plate, alongside the bag of bread.
Grosse burrata crémeuse. 11€.
We also went for one cheese, burrata of course (other choices included several types of mozzarella, ricotta, stracciatella, and parmigiano).  I sorta recall being disappointed by the burrata, but I might be making that up.

It was drizzled with a bit of olive oil and cracked pepper.


Pizza is Napoletana style, cooked in a wood fired oven, and ranges from basic marinara (made with San Marzano tomatoes) to a spicy version with n'duja, about 7 options total.
Mammargherita DOP. 12€.
"Mozza di bufala, tomates San Marzano, basilic frais."

We kept it simple with the "Mammargherita", a margherita with buffalo mozza.


East Mamma is also known for the pasta, and it is all made fresh daily in house.  Here we also had a handful of options, again ranging from basic tomato sauce to squid ink pasta with calamari.  Pasta is available in two sizes (individual, or for 4 people).
Truefes. 18€.
"Truffes noires d'été de Bologne Crème de mascarpone et petits champignons."
We went for the signature dish, fresh homemade pasta in a rich cream sauce with mascarpone and fresh truffles.  Oh yes.


And then, dessert.  I was fairly devastated that the banoffeemiso was not on the menu.  Instead we had regular tiramisu or a lemon version, panna cotta, lemon sorbet, or the aforementioned Nutella pizza.

We tried both varieties of tiramisu.
Limonemisu light. 7€.
"Célèbre tiramisu au citron."

The lemon one came plated, a HUGE slice.  Seriously, it was 3x a reasonable size.
Il tigramisu. 6.5€.
The regular tiramisu was served tableside from a huge bowl, spooned onto our plate in front of us.  At the encouraging of one of my fellow diners, we received an extra scoop.  I kinda suspect that is common practice.

I remember not being thrilled with dessert, but I don't know if I didn't like this tiramisu, or if I was just upset about the lack of banoffeemiso.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

American Airlines Admiral's Club, CDG Airport, Paris

For the past few months, you have been reading all about my adventures in Paris.  At the end of my first trip, I flew back via London, and the flights began at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, where I spent the night beforehand at the Sheraton (breakfast was meh, executive lounge was worse).

My first stop after getting through airport security was the American Airlines Admiral's club.  I was flying with British Airways, but they do not have a lounge at CDG.  I had the choice of American's or Cathay's Lounge, or, of course, both.

I started with the Admiral's Club because I had been advised that the food was much better.  It ended up being great looking, and extensive, but not actually anything special.  The lounge was very nicely laid out though, comfortable and with abundant power ports (including usb!), and the food was all very clearly labelled in English and French.  Staff were also very friendly and efficient, nothing went unstocked.

The Space

Both the American and Cathay lounges are laid out the same way, and while the Cathay one looks nicer, the American space is more practical, with better power port placement.
 All the airline lounges are located right next to each other, just past duty free.  Very easy to find.
Cafe Seating.
Adjacent to the food area are tables with chairs and soft benches.  Every seat has power ports, including usb.
Full Lounge.
The lounge runs all the way to the windows, with views of aircraft taking off.  It is filled with assorted soft seating, all with small side tables nearby, all with power ports.  Clearly a newly renovated, functional, space.
Bar Seating.
I choose to settle at the high bar, with comfortable bar stools, foot rests, and overhang, and, yup, more power ports/usb.

Food and Drinks: 8:30am.

I visited in the morning, so it was mostly breakfast service, but, there was savory food and desserts too, so no matter what time of day it is in your head, they can accommodate what your body wants

Since I already had breakfast at the Sheraton earlier that morning and planned to visit the Cathay Lounge next, I had to limit my choices to just the things that jumped out at me the most.  Everyone said American had the better food, thus the reason it was my first pick.  (I thought both lounges had about the same quality of food, but Cathay had a better drink line-up).


The Admiral's club drink selection was fairly standard.  Cathay wins on this one.
Cold Drinks.
A fridge with cold drinks had ginger ale, sprite, 7up, ice tea, coke, and sparkling water.

Next to that was a coffee machine that ground fresh beans with both decaf and regular, plus tea.  I had a decaf, it was fine, not remarkable.
Hard Alcohol, Snacks.
Of course, if it was 5pm in your world, a selection of hard alcohol and bar snacks (olives, peanuts, pretzels) was readily available.  I didn't notice wine, but it must have been somewhere?


The food lineup spanned breakfast, snacks, lunch, and ... desserts!
Desserts: Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Cream Pudding, Cottage Cheese with Fruit, Yogurt.
The first thing I saw when I entered the food area was the desserts.  Puddings.  Oh, be still my heart! I love puddings!

Sadly, the excitement died down when I tried them.

The vanilla pudding had a really strange, off flavor.  It was garnished with almond slices.

The chocolate mousse was super thick, and didn't have a great flavor either.

I didn't try the more breakfast appropriate cottage cheese with fruit or yogurts.
Pastries: Croissants, Chocolate Croissants, Apple Turnovers, Raisin Swirls.
Everyone says the Admiral's Club pastries are actually pretty good, so I went for a basic croissant.  When in France ...

It was ... fine.  Better than the hotels I had stayed at (like the W in Paris) but not really remarkable.  Slightly crispy exterior, but kinda greasy inside.

Simple strawberry jam, assorted butters, and Nutella were available on the side, none of which really enhanced the croissant much, not premium ingredients..
Toast and Cereal.
Next was bread and baguettes, and simple cereals.  I quickly moved on.
Juices. Charcuterie and Cheese.  Salad.
Assorted juices and milk came next, alongside some savory offerings.

There was decent selection of charcuterie and cheese, and if it were later in the day, or I was not having 4 breakfasts that morning, I certainly would have tried some.

The cheese lineup included emmental, a nice looking english cheddar, brie, coeur de lion, la lome.  Rally, a decent selection.

The salads were a greek salad, a "piemontaise salad", and fruit salad, with a few different salad dressing options.
Next came sandwiches: curry chicken and turkey.
Hot Breakfast Foods.
The hot foods lineup included breakfast standards: chicken sausages, scrambled eggs, roasted mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, baked beans, bacon, salmon quiche, and pancakes.

I tried a turkey sausage cuz they looked so cute, but it reminded me of a canned vienna sausage, not exactly good.
Chocolate Cake with Creme Anglais.
And the final station, chocolate cake ... with a pot of crème anglaise on the side.  Again, yes!

Until I tried it.  Dry, fairly flavorless chocolate cake.  And the anglais.  It actually tasted like ... nothing.
Breakfast of Champions?
Sadly, this all looked and sounded better than it was.  The croissant was the best item, but not memorable.  It was time to move on to the Cathay Pacific lounge.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Dinner at Goust, Paris

Paris is a mecca for Michelin star dining.  The city (and surrounding metro region), boasts 70+ Michelin stars (10 of which are 3 stars).  Given my Michelin star dining crusade from Tokyo, where I consumed 8 stars in 3 days, you'd think I'd be in my element there.

But, during my first trip there, we mostly decided not to do fancy dining.  One reason was simple: fine dining in Paris is crazy expensive.  I was traveling for business, and I certainly could not use my expense account for those sorts of meals.  Second, many were closed for the August holiday.  And thrid, most Michelin establishments only offer very large tasting menus, aka, 12 courses with no choices for any, and I just wasn't in the mood for long, drawn out meals during the busy work week.

So during my entire time in Paris, I only ate three Michelin stars.  Two were at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for lunch the first weekend with Ojan, which was good, but not outstanding (although an incredible deal, price-wise).  The other was dinner at Goust our final weekend in Paris, with two other colleagues.

Goust was recommended by our hotel concierge.  It was located only a 5 minute walk away.  I'll be honest: I assumed it just another one of the slew of mediocre single Michelin star places in Paris, recommended only due to proximity.  It also didn't seem very popular, only a handful of reviews could be found, unlike more famous places.  But the reviews that did exist were positive.

What really drew me in to Goust was the menu.  Online, they just provide the basics, explaining that there is a seasonal menu, always evolving.  I of course needed to know more, so I e-mailed the restaurant to find out the advance menu.  Unlike other places I contacted, they responded, and did so in English, and in a friendly manner.  The moment I saw the menu, I was sold.  I was able to easily make a reservation via e-mail (appreciated due to my not speaking a word of French!).

A small fraction of our dishes!
We had a good, albeit long, meal.  Since I'm used to eating earlier than folks in Paris, I opted for the earliest reservation time, the moment they opened, at 7:30pm.  It was after 11 when we left.  I went into the meal not knowing much, because there just weren't many reviews online, so I had no idea that what I thought was going to be a reasonable 3 course meal was really going to include so many bonus dishes.  If you count every dish, we had ... 17 different dishes ... EACH.  I had spent the day walking around Paris, visiting all the patisseries I wanted to check out, so uh, I'd been indulging and eating all day long.  I wasn't really prepared for that level of indulgence.  Next time, I most certainly would not be eating pastries at 4pm before heading to dinner a few hours later!

There were some misses (desserts weren't great, mains were fine but unremarkable, and amuse bouches looked better than they tasted), but the starters were incredible, with one very memorable high, the best non-dessert/pastry that I had in Paris.  I'd go back again just for this one dish alone, in a heartbeat.  The food was also just very interesting, and kept us engaged throughout the entire meal.  Lots of molecular gastronomy, some more successful than others, but again, interesting and enjoyable.

The Setting

Service was stellar.  Our server seemed to anticipate our needs before we even realized we had them.  He was friendly, and easily spoke English with us.  It was the only place we dined where I didn't feel bad that I was speaking English.  As you'd expect in a Michelin starred establishment, the basic service elements of having cutlery swapped out between courses, crumbs cleared, etc were handled, but it also never felt stuffy.  When I got up to use the restroom, my napkin wasn't refolded, a practice I always find just too much.
The space was broken up into two small rooms, each with only a handful of tables.  Our room had only 4 tables.  It was small and intimate, dimly lit as you can tell.  The noise level was very low, but, it certainly didn't feel like somewhere you weren't allowed to enjoy yourself either.
Place Settings.
Tables were set elegantly, with white tablecloths, fancy gold embellished plates, and ornate silverware.  Tables all had small candles, and real red roses in fancy glass holders.

Still, it managed to not feel stuffy.

I don't have a photo, but the bathroom was stunning, with slate sinks, and real towels to wipe your hands on.

Food & Drink

The menu was not large, only 4 options each for starters and mains, and 3 desserts, but you don't need tons of options when the menu is all great.  Most importantly for me, they actually offered a la carte at dinner, a rarity.  I wanted to be able to size my meal appropriately, and pick my dishes, so this was very appealing to me.  The other menu option was the tasting menu, for the whole table only, 4 courses for 85€ (wine pairings for a very reasonable 35€).

Prices were reasonable ... for Paris, and for Michelin starred.  Starters ranged from 32-36€, mains 39-45€, and desserts were 16€.  Certainly not for a random night out, but no where near the insane prices of many of the other Michelin establishments I researched.

The wine program was unique.  Yes, they had a wine list, by the bottle.  Besides that, you could opt for a wine pairing at the per dish level, at a fairly reasonable 10€ each.  The interesting part is that they wouldn't tell you what the wine was, until after you had it.  You had no say in what you were getting.  No other options were available by the glass.

We ended up enjoying this creative wine program.  The server made sure to bring us the wine before our dish would arrive, so we could taste it and think about it.  He always asked us to guess what it was, before presenting us with the bottle.  He congratulated us when we got the wines correct.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Crackers, Amuse Bouches, Breads

The moment we sat down, we were offered still or sparkling water.  Our water glasses were kept refilled throughout the night.  This was nice, except, it ended up being fairly pricey.  We weren't aware of the water prices in advance, but the price for all those bottles really did add up to a shocking amount.

And then, our meal began.  With 8 dishes (!), before we even got to our appetizers.
Welcome Snacks: Crackers and Grissini.
Also, within moments of sitting (literally, less than 3 minutes), we were brought initial snacks: grissini and colored crackers.  They were served in paper cone, with a metal holder.

The grissini were crispy and crunchy, with tons of olive oil flavor.  If I was at all munchy-feeling, I would have loved them.

The crackers came in three colors (red, green, and yellow), but all tasted the same.  They were thin and actually fairly flavorless, but fun for nibbling while we settled in.  None of us had any idea what they were.

I hadn't even settled into my seat, much less brought out my pad of paper and pen, so I entirely missed the description of what they were when the server brought them.  One diner commented that they reminded him of fish food, you know, the flakes that you sprinkle over a tank?  He wasn't wrong, although I know that makes them sound unappealing.

These welcome snacks set the tone for what was to come.  So much food was about to come our way, more than half of which we weren't expecting.
Welcome Bites.
Soon after, probably still within the first ...5 minutes that we had been seated, more food arrived.  This was a trio of welcome bites, all stunningly presented, on a slate.

Note, at this point, we had not even ordered anything.  I hadn't even told them about my allergy.  Food was coming fast and furious, and I was totally unprepared!

From back to front, we had: daikon and goat cheese "ravioli", a carrot gelee "airbag", and a Bloody Mary juice sphere.

I sat back for a second, stunned.  The calibre of the meal about to unfold started to become obvious.  I was clearly not just going to perhaps share a starter and get a main dish myself, and have a easy, but tasty, small meal as I had anticipated.  It was about to get far more involved than I expected.  We were in for the long haul apparently.  Well, ok then.

The others all dug in immediately.  I was still frantically trying to pull out some paper and a pen, and jot down the descriptions before I forgot them entirely.  My companions comments however made me very excited to dive in, as they were very intrigued by the flavors and textures of the bites.

Since I don't like goat cheese, I didn't have my ravioli, but these were ridiculous cute.  A thin slice of daikon, stuffed with goat cheese, folded in half, and secured with an absolutely tiny clothespin.  So cute (the clothespin was just for keeping it together, it wasn't edible).

I started with the "airbag".  I thought this was going to be a filled item, but I'm not quite sure why I thought that.  Rather, the "airbag" was just the base, a puffy, but unfilled, crispy cracker.  On top of it was the carrot gelee, formed as a round disk.  I didn't particularly taste any carrot.  The garnish on top was a tiny bit of Spanish sardine. This I liked, as it brought some saltiness.

The final item was the one that the others all couldn't stop talking about.  A Bloody Mary juice sphere, perched atop pearl spoons.  We were told that yes, it had vodka.

You clearly needed to put the whole thing in your mouth and eat it, as it was liquid inside, and burst easily.  It was a very flavorful bite, I understand why the others were raving.  The tomato flavor was very strong.  I didn't taste any alcohol.  They all really liked it, but to me, it was far too oily.  Oily tomato juice wasn't very interesting to me. 

So, overall, I didn't actually like these bites.  One was just a cracker, with a flavorless gel, and a bit of salt, and the other, an oily tomato juice.  They did show off a lot of technique though, and were a fun way to get started.
Bread and Butter.
Once we ordered, more food started arriving, this time bread service and an amuse bouche (no, those other things were not the amuse!).

Since our meal started with the crackers, I thought that there might not be a bread service, but I was wrong.  The server came with a bread basket, and served us each a slice of two breads, one was a soft white bread, the other a crusty wheat bread.

The white one, focacia-like, was soft, but lacked the decadence of an oily focaccia, so it was fairly unremarkable.

The wheat had a nice crust, and was soft inside, but it was a bit sour (as in, sourdough), which I don't like.

For a city known for amazing boulangeries, the bread did let me down.

As I was pondering the bread, my table mates were going crazy over the butter.  The butter was served with a special knife alongside, able to stand up on its own end (as you can see above).

I understand why they were going nuts.  Butter in France is unlike anything I've ever had in the US.  Our hotel had a highly mediocre breakfast, but even there, the butter in the buffet was better than any I've had in the US.  And I don't have words to tell you about the absolutely incredible butter we had at my office.  I had no idea butter could taste this amazing, really.  I ate it with toast or croissants at breakfast.  I ate it with walnut bread after lunch.  I may or may not have literally eaten it by the spoonful.    I don't want to think about how much butter I consumed in my two weeks in France.  So, I understand freaking out about butter.

But to me, the butter at Goust, while certainly good, certainly better than US butter, was nothing like our office butter.  I'm not sure any of the others had tried the office butter though.  They all kept slathering more and more butter onto their bread.  I quickly rationed some for myself, worried it was going to run out.  Which it did.  I gave the ration I had claimed away to the highest bidder, who eagerly took it all.

Of course, our attentive server noticed the moment the butter ran out, and brought out a fresh one, including a fresh knife as well.  Bread plates, for those who were loving this course, never went empty.  Our server was excellent.  He also told us about the butter, where it was made, etc, but I missed the details.  I just know it was handmade?
Amuse Bouche: Almond Panna Cotta / Red Pepper Jelly / Black Garlic and Greek Yogurt "Foam".
So as I said, all those previous surprise dishes were not actually the amuse bouche.  The amuse bouche was much larger.  It was ... savory panna cotta!

Oh, be still my heart!  And as I said, I didn't even know Goust served an amuse bouche, let alone one right up my alley.  I love puddings and custards, sweet or savory, hence the reason my blog has a label just for puddings, and, yup, for panna cotta in particular too.  I love to see savory spins on these.  As I jotted down notes, trying to capture the details, the others dove in.  Are we noticing a theme here?  I was always a few steps behind the others (which isn't actually normal for me).

You see, normally when I dine, I have a notes template ready.  I write out the known components of the dishes I order in advance, so I can fill it in as I go.  If I'm going somewhere that I know has extras thrown in, I have those ready in the notes too.  This makes the dining experience more relaxed, and takes away the awkwardness of frantically writing things down at the table, even if my fellow diners don't mind it.  But here I was totally unprepared.  Thus, I was always behind the others, which gave me a chance to take in their responses as well.

And again, they all loved this.  I think Ojan had even finished his before I took my first bite.  I dug in with eager anticipation.

The panna cotta was creamy, with a decent almond flavor.  The red pepper jelly, just like the Bloody Mary sphere, was very flavorful, but again quite oily.  The foam had a nice texture, but I didn't taste any black garlic.

So again, another dish that was presented in a beautiful fashion, full of textures and flavors, demonstrating great technique, but fell pretty flat for me.  But like I said, the others really liked it, and Ojan gladly polished mine off.


So here we were, not even having received our starters yet, and we'd had two types of crackers, two types of bread, 3 bite size items, and a very large amuse bouche.  I feared for my stomach, but, the starters were the courses I was most looking forward to.  And indeed, the turned out to be the highlights of the meal.

The menu had only four choices for starters, but, quite frankly, I wanted them all.  And ... I got to have them all.  I ordered one myself as a starter, and opted to have another as my main dish, since I wanted a lighter meal (note, we ordered long before I knew how many extra courses were going to be sprinkled in, I had wanted a smaller meal from the start!)  It was no problem to have a starter as a main.  Our other two dining companions each ordered the final two choices, and of course let me try a few bites.
Wine Pairing for Foie Gras: Late Harvest Gewurztraminer. 10€.
Three of us opted to have the wine pairing with our starters, not knowing really what we were getting into, but we all wanted wine, and didn't want to pick a single (very pricey) bottle from the list.  Plus, this way, our wine would best match what we were each eating at the time, right?

As I mentioned earlier, our server was sure to bring us the wines before the starters themselves.  We each tried our wines, trying to figure out what we all had.  Since we all had different dishes, we all had different wines.

I enjoyed the guessing game.  When my wine arrived, I took a sniff.  It was clearly a sweet wine, appropriate to go along with my starter involving foie gras.  But it wasn't as syrupy sweet as a sauternes.  Thus, I decided it must be a late harvest riesling.  I wasn't far off, it turned out to be a late harvest Gewurztraminer.

It was fine, and the right thing to have alongside foie, but not really what I wanted at that point in the meal.
Mediterranean Red Tuna Tartare, Mango Egg. 35€.
One of my dining companions opted for the tuna tartare, a dish I was interested in, not for the tuna tartare itself, but for the "mango egg".

The plating didn't shock me at this point, as I'd come to expect things to be fairly elaborate.  Tuna tartare, topped with microgreens, with the mango egg in the center, and dots of purees in assorted sizes and colors on the plate.  It did look like a classic steak tartare, egg and all, from a distance.  It looked yet another application of molecular gastronomy.  Honestly, I was a bit let down by the restaurant so far.  We had seen all these spheres and gelees, but none really delivered any flavor. Great techniques, yes, but, I wasn't impressed.  Until this.

To begin, the tuna tartare was itself one of the best I've ever had.  I do like raw fish, but for some reason, tuna is rarely my favorite.  This however, was quite excellent.  The seasoning was just spot on.

But the really amazing part of this dish was that "egg".  Wow.  It wasn't just another sphere, another gelee.  It was ... mind-blowing, really.  I expected that it would be just like the bloody mary sphere, liquid when pieced.  But it wasn't.  Instead, it was gelatinous on the outside, and runny inside, but not liquid.  It oozed just like an egg yolk.  I couldn't get over how well they nailed this.

I also did like the mango and tuna pairing.  My favorite sushi restaurant in San Francisco has a roll on the menu with tuna and mango, so I know the flavors go well together, but they were a new combo for the others, and they found it a bit strange.

Anyway, a successful dish for sure.  Finally, a dish that delivered on flavor and not just looks.  My second favorite dish of the night.

It was paired with a pinot gris (which we all guessed was an unoaked Chardonnay).
Albufera Bomba Rice with Razor Clams, Cockles and Lemon Emulsion. 32 €.
My other dining companion opted for the specialty of the chef, paella.  The chef is Spanish  and this is a dish he is most proud of.  It was also available as an add on to the tasting menu, the only one with that option.  She got it because she figured someone needed to get the chef's specialty, right?

We were warned when she ordered that it would take at least 20 minutes to prepare as he cooks it al la minute, but, given our parade of other food, this was not a concern.

I am not really a fan of rice dishes of any kinda (except dessert rice pudding of course!), but the appeal in this one for me was the razor clams.  I've only had razor clams a handful of times in my life, but when I have, I've really enjoyed them.

The molecular-ish element at play here was the lemon emulsion, which was really more of a froth.

The rice was nicely cooked I guess and flavorful, but I was in it for the razor clams, expecting a full razor clam perched under the foam or something, but instead it was just bits of clam, chopped up and mixed into the rice, with bits of cockles as well.  They all just turned into chewy little bits.

Not my thing for sure, but the person who ordered it loved it.  Even Ojan, no never likes paella, really liked it and kept talking about the great flavors.  My second to last favorite.

This was paired with chardonnay, served in a wider mouth glass than our other two white wines.
Duck Foie Gras and Horchata Eclair Glazed with Pedro Ximénez, Caramelized Apricots. 34€.
And last, but most certainly not least, my choice.  A foie gras eclair.

This was of course the reason I decided to visit Goust.  You know me.  I love pastries.  I love foie gras.  I've probably mentioned a few times how much I like horchata too.  This dish sounded like, well, a pretty perfect dish for me.

And ... it was.  Ojan and I had decided to share a starter, and the moment I took a bite, I regretted it.  If I hadn't thought it was too late, I would have cancelled my order for my second course, and just gotten another one of these.  I wanted another for dessert too.  It was, simply put, incredible.  It not only lived up to, but far exceeded my expectations.

So, what did we have here?

The eclair was not a fancy spin on an eclair, it actually was just choux pastry, filled with a foie gras cream.  Now, this obviously sounds like something that would be good, except that I usually don't like eclairs/cream puffs/etc, because the choux pastry is always a bit eggy, and I don't like that flavor.  This wasn't at all eggy.  It was light, fluffy, and airy.  The filling was an incredibly smooth foie gras cream.  The foie flavor was fairly subtle, but the texture was just amazing.  It had a sweet glaze on top to just really seal the deal.

Pastry + creamy foie + sweetness = amazing.  This was so, so good.

The horchata showed up as a foam.  It too was light and fluffy, and was really full of rice flavor.

The apricots were soft, sweet, caramelized, and quite delicious.  A bit of additional apricot flavor came from dots of puree on the plate as well.

Every element of this dish was a winner.  The components all worked together in harmony.  Great textures.  Great flavors.  Amazing pairings.  I still can't get over how great this was.

Best dish of the night, best dish of my trip to Paris, and one of the best dishes I've ever had.


The main course menu also had only four options, two seafood, two meat.  While I wasn't excited by the meat options themselves (beef or pork chop), they both had side dishes I really wanted (one had gnocchi, and the other, sobrasada stuffed gyoza!)  One of the two seafood dishes sounded awesome too.

But I opted to get one of the starters for my main, trying to have a slightly smaller meal.  I was of course intending to share everything anyway.

Ojan and one other diner both got the seafood dish I was most eying, and the other opted for the dish with the gnocchi.  I couldn't convince anyone to get the pork chop, because no one wanted pork chops, no matter had badly I tried to sell the sobrasada gyoza to them ... seriously, how incredible does that sound?  Still, I got to try everything else.
Wine Pairing for Gazpacho: Rosé. 10€.
For our next round of dishes, we all opted for another round of wine pairings.

Mine was clearly a rosé .

It was dry, very floral.  Not something I would have ever picked, as I don't like dry wines, and I'm not into floral either.  This is the downside of the pairings, as I obviously would have rejected it if it had been described to me.

The only interesting part to me is that it was produced by Brangelina?  Yes, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had a wine made from grapes on their estate.  It actually gets good reviews too, not just celebrities slapping a label on a lackluster bottle.
 Strawberry and Tomato Gazpacho with Wakamé, Blue Lobster Medallions and Tomato Stuffed with Lobster (before). 36€.
My dish was technically a starter, chilled gazpacho with lobster.

It arrived at the table like this, not looking, well, like any gazpacho I'd ever seen.  Shouldn't there be a broth?  I assumed at this point that it must be a play on a gazpacho, and thought that perhaps some of the items in the bowl were not what I expected, and would burst open, letting out liquid perhaps? (which, was true, but not in the way I thought).

Instead, the broth was poured tableside, after I got a chance to take it all in.  This allowed me to see all the components before they got a bit lost in the gazpacho.
 Strawberry and Tomato Gazpacho with Wakamé, Blue Lobster Medallions and Tomato Stuffed with Lobster (after). 36€.

The broth was, well, tomato and strawberry gazpacho.  Such an unexpected combination.  Sweet.  I'm not really sure I liked it, but it was really quite fascinating.

There were four chunks of lobster in the bowl.  I never really like lobster, so I'm honestly not sure why I ordered this.  It was ... exactly what I think of as lobster.  Kinda chewy.  Never as good as crab.

The other components of the bowl were very fascinating however.  There was just a chunk of strawberry and a confit cherry tomato.  And then something that looked like a cherry tomato, which I put, whole, into my mouth.  Imagine my surprise when it burst open with liquid, and the flavor was most certainly not tomato.  It was strawberry.  Sweet, really sweet, strawberry.  I didn't like it in one bite like this, and it would have been good perhaps if I had cut it open and mixed it in, but, well, I thought it was a cherry tomato!

The final element was the "tomato stuffed with lobster".  It was highly unexpected.

To start, well, it wasn't a tomato.  It looked like a tomato, but instead it was a red shell, that I have no idea what it was made from.  Inside was lobster salad, I think with mayo.  Very ... different.

Overall, this reminded me of the earlier dishes.  Interesting, with assorted techniques at play, but I didn't actually like it.  Nor did Ojan.  One other person, who does really like lobster, said she did like it.  My least favorite dish.
Seared fillet of John Dory, Heirloom Tomatoes Tartare with Date and Girolles, Yuzu Hollandaise and Onions in Tempura. 42€.
The seafood dish I would have ordered, if I got a regular main, was the John Dory.  Ojan and one other ordered it, so I got to try plenty.

The fish wasn't remarkable, a decent sear, moist, but fishy.  Maybe that is just how John Dory is?  I've only had John Dory a few times before.

On top was the yuzu hollandaise, one of the selling points in the description for me, because, well, creamy sauce!  I didn't taste yuzu, which was fine by me, but it also just didn't enhance the dish at all.

On top were a couple tempura onion rings.  They weren't really crispy, but the batter was flavorful and I liked it.

Under the fish however was the heirloom tomato tartare.  This was delicious, super flavorful.  That alone made this my third favorite dish of the night.

It was paired with a white blend, again served in a wide mouthed glass.
Seared Txogitxu Beef Fillet / Pumpkin / Gnocchis. 39€.
Our final dining companion went for the beef.

I didn't try it, but he devoured it.

I did of course ask to try the gnocchi.  The gnocchi and the pumpkin were plated together, interleaved, similar shapes.  The gnocchi was just ... gnocchi.  Nothing really interesting.

This came paired with a red wine, a syrah and grenache blend, way too tannic for me.

This was easily the least innovative dish.  Nothing really interesting going on.  Even the plating didn't offer anything special, besides the gnocchi/pumpkin sizes.  This was only dish that really seemed overpriced.

Cheese, Pre-Dessert, Dessert, Mignardises

Ok, moving along to dessert.

The dessert menu had only 3 options, plus a cheese course.  None sounded particularly great though, but we felt lame not getting dessert, so we opted to all just split one.  We were all stuffed anyway, and of course, just like it began, the meal did keep adding on extra courses.

The one dessert turned into another hour and a half of dining, since there was a pre-dessert, and a platter of mignardises afterwards.  If we hadn't ordered dessert, I'm not sure how much of all of that we would have gotten, but the extras alone certainly would have been plenty for me.  The desserts were the weakest part of the meal, sadly.  I just wanted another foie gras eclair.
Marie Quatrehomme’s Cheese and its Glass of Wine. 19€.
But, before we got into dessert, the server came over with a huge block of cheese, and asked if we wanted cheese.  The other two said yes, not really knowing what they were getting into.

They each received large portions of cheese, a single, hard cheese, and another piece of the focaccia-like bread.  It really was too much cheese.  Share plates were brought for Ojan and I, but still, it took us a while as a group to get through all this cheese.  I think if we had known that it was just going to be the one cheese selection, and in such quantity, we might have decided differently, maybe just getting one portion?

It also had a wine pairing, which I forget entirely.  I was getting sleepy at this point!  It took nearly an hour between the cheese and our real dessert.
Pre-Dessert Prep.
After we finally got through the cheese, it was time to cleanse our palettes in preparation for dessert.

An elaborate cart was rolled over, with two large metal canisters.  One was a sorbet, the other water to dunk the sorbet spoon into.

Our server scooped us each out a scoop, tableside.
Pre-Dessert: Peach Sorbet.
The sorbet was peach, although it was red.  But the flavor was unmistakable.  Yes, this was peach.

The flavor was incredible.  Out of control peach flavor.  Ojan thought he tasted raspberry, but I think it was just his mind playing tricks on him.  All I tasted was peach.  Pure peach.  The peaches apparently came from a vineyard.

It was very sweet, very creamy, and served as full size scoops each.  The flavor was incredible, but in this quantity, it was just too much.  It didn't cleanse my palette, it left me with a sweet overload.  In a smaller serving, this would have been more successful.  Yes, I just said a dessert would be better off smaller.
Strawberry Bavarois, Red Berries and Pistachio Ice Cream. 16€.
For our single dessert, we opted for this.  None of us were particularly excited about it, but it was the most interesting of the choices.

I'm not sure any of us really knew what to expect either.  What is a bavarois?

Anyway, it was a layer cake, two thin layers of a light cake interleaved with two thin layers of a white chocolate cream, topped with red berries (raspberries and blackberries), and a scoop of pistachio ice cream on top of it all.

The ice cream was creamy, with a strong pistachio flavor.  They do know how to get flavors into dishes here.

On the side was fruit gelees, super sweet.

Nothing about this was very memorable, although it wasn't bad.
And finally, a platter of more sweets, four each.  I never really care for the migs at restaurants, but these were above average.

From top to bottom:
Chocolate Financiar:  My least favorite.  Crispy exterior, a bit bitter.

Lychee Lime Gelee:  Super flavorful and sweet.  Third pick.

Matcha and Black Tea Cake: Dense, moist, nice flavors, although quite strong.  No questioning that there was matcha and black tea in here.  I couldn't really enjoy this because I didn't want the caffeine so late at night, but, it was my second favorite.

Cream Puff: And ... my favorite.  A tiny little cream puff, stuffed with vanilla cream.  Fluffy outside, creamy inside.