It’s a well known fact that journalists will go to the opening of an envelope, provided there’s a drop of bevy and a nosh on offer. You know the scenario: the launch of yet another glossy cookbook, but the author Eric Kayser certainly made sure that man/woman can live on bread alone.
Slim as a baguette, the wheaten-haired one, a fifth-generation miller and baker from Alsace, was offering not only a bakers’s 12 but 50 varieties of fig, cheese, nut, raisin, olive bread, ekmek. There’s pita, paul and mary, you name it, all piled high with cepes, anchovies, scallops.
The tasting/book launch took place at the recently opened Boulangerestaurant, a bright convivial canteen in the 17th. Kayser’s tome, 100% Pain (say it pan) has a preface by Alain Ducasse, the two are in business together at Boulangépicerie. “Times have changed but the mysterious alchemy, the art of the boulanger is a tradition of daily life, unchanging, requiring precision and passion. Thank you for continuing to be the ‘boulanger magician’, whose bread I appreciate every day”, writes Ducasse.
“It’s the flour, it has to be organic”, insists Kayser. “The quality depends on the harvest”. In 100% Pain, Kayser deals with the history, breads of the world, bread today and 60 recipes to be your own Kayser. He sees bread as touching the five senses–sight, aroma, touch, taste, and L’ouie, which is the sound bread makes when it comes fresh from the oven. It’s also the liquid leaven which gives Kayser’s bread the delicate taste of milk, the hint of hazelnut and honey. Ask him about his Fermentolevain the machine he invented and patented, which other bakers buy but which has a secret basic ingredient that only Kayser knows and can supply!
“My bread is baked by Eric,” admits 3-star Michelin chef Guy Savoy as he nibbles on a tartine of fresh cepes, with a nice glass of red. “We present them on a bread wagon, seasonal breads, say, the classic baguette Monge (golden, crusty, with a honey-comb centre!) with a gélee of tomatoes in summer, a sarrasin bread with the meat, and rye with fish and seafood.” If it’s good enough for Guy…there is also Adjani, Ines de la Fressange, Sacha Distel and many distinguished politicians Kayser’s not prepared to name. Bakers are the new rock stars.
While most people eat pastry (which he also makes to perfection) Kayser eats bread. “Bread is my pastry, the first thing I eat each morning,” he declares. Since he was six, watching his father and grandfather baking and making in their little village boulangerie in Colmar, Alsace, Kayser has wanted only to make the best bread. “Bread is like wine, each loaf must possess a bouquet worthy of great wines: true honey, broom, roasted hazelnuts, vanilla, fresh almonds.”
100% Pain. Editions Solar
8 & 14 rue Monge, 5th (Métro: Place Monge/Maubert Mutualité
T: 01 44 07 01 42
85 Boulevard Malesherbes, 8th (Métro: Madeleine)
Talking of Guy Savoy, he just transformed the romantic left-bank classic (where Bardot and Vadim once noshed) L’Atelier de Maitre Albert, with architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Open for dinner only (private parties at lunch), the main feature is the rotissoire. The club feeling comes from the fumoir, bar and library (packed with Savoy’s impressive collection) and a wine wall created by the genial sommelier Eric Mancio. Starters from 10€; mains from 19€; pudds from 10€
1, rue Maitre Albert, 5th. (Metro: Maubert) Valet parking.
T: 01 56 81 30 01
Café Moderne restaurant, café and bar–in fact it’s everything and anything you want it to be. From breakfast to midnight Frédéric Hubig (ex-Hotel Blazac, Hotel Meurice) and David Lanher (ex-rue Balzac) are on hand to help you choose from a menu cooked by the talented Nicolas Vienne and Olivier Simon. Good reports from delighted clients, who love the space punctuated with art-works, hip lighting and excellent food.
Menu €24 -€29 + A la Carte.
40 rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 2nd (Métro: Palais Royale)
T: 01 53 40 84 10
Born in Britain and now based in Paris, Margaret Kemp graduated from The Cordon Bleu and spent a year working and watching in the kitchens of top chefs from Sydney, Australia via Bangkok, Hong Kong, California, New York and France. Realising she would never win the coveted 3-Michelin stars, she decided to write about the people who do, the “disciples of Escoffier”.