Buzz: Le Jardin des Sens and girls, girls, girls

Buzz: Le Jardin des Sens and girls, girls, girls

Print Print
Email Email

According to research, researched by the boffins at the University of Leicester (say it Lester, dear), in the English Midlands, punters spend more money in restaurants with classical music playing than, say, the latest hit by Eminem. Apparently, listening to Bach or Mozart really does it for diners, giving them a zen impression of being “out to lunch”. For three weeks Softleys, a restaurant at Market Bosworth, near Leicester, used their unsuspecting clients as guinea-pigs. And this is what they came up with: Classical music playing = €34 per meal. Pop music = €31, and, get this, only a mere trifle at €31.8 when there’s the sound of silence. 

Professor Adrian North, lecturer in psychology at Leicester University told Bonjour Paris. “Listening to classical music while eating brings on a feel good factor of richness, well-being and good living”. According to the professor, punters are more likely to order a dessert while Brahms, or Beethoven is playing.

So will restaurant owners think twice before loading the B & 0 with CD’s? Yes, according to James Davis, the genial owner of Softleys. “Before this experiment I always put on the music I wanted, rather than studying what the clients would like. Now I really think before I sock it to them!” Hope that goes for the food as well James….. 

If you asked the eight “mères cuisinières” their opinion, they’d probably all say, “any music is OK when you’re creating a dinner for 159 gastronauts”, sort of whistle while you work syndrome. Last week the 8 mères came from Europe and the USA to cook for the charity “Autisme Alsace” at L’Auberge de l’Ill, Illhauesern, the fabulous “worth the detour” *** maison where Marc Haeberlin lets his girls to take over his pianos for the night.

“This is the third “festin” for women chefs, previously we’ve cooked in Paris (chez Darroze) and New York (chez Bernadin),” said Christine Ferber the chef patissier who makes the world’s best jams. “We’re all good mates, so it’s a great opportunity to cook in harmony, exchange ideas, and this time raise some money for charity,” Ferber explains. Frankly I imagine there must have been a little tension at some point, but Ferber is not saying.

The wines, from Alsace, had impossible to pronounce labels, apart from the champagne schlepped from Paris by Hélene Darroze, who did a mise en bouche of three tapas. To follow, Elena Arzak, from Spain, did a soup of txipirons (I don’t know either, I think they’re calamari!). Swiss chef Judith Baumann was the oven- baked stuffed célery rave, emptied, then stuffed with a cream of celery, bolets and cèpes, and a smidgen of coffee!

Boston-based Barbara Lynch served “American Lobster” with white truffles and a sauce of old Reisling. Nice touch, Barbara! Pork ravioli, a chestnut bouillon with a hint of licorice and a touch of Pinot Gris 200 “Comtes d’Eguisheim” from Domaine Léon Beyer by the Italian Valerie Piccini.

The lovely Léa Linster from Luxembourg stunned everyone with her signature lamb in a potato crust (which won her Le Bocuse d’Or a few years back) and Ariane Daguin from NYC created American “well-treated” foie gras de canard, roasted with cabbage and cèpes. Wow! 

Christine Ferber did the cheese (Munster) with her signature sweet and sour jams. And so to Ferber’s dessert, as if anybody had any room left, but they did. Figs and caramel with cinnamon roasted quetsches, quince ice-cream. Went down very nice with the Pinot Gris 1989 Sélection de Grains Nobles du Domaine Francois Schwach.

If you’re in the area (Haut-Rhine) you can stay at the Hotel des Berges which is a renovated tobacco factory at the end of the garden of L’Auberge de l’Ill. A bucolic idyll, believe me. It’s a classic maison with modern ideas. Like what? Well, there’s an outside Jacuzzi and breakfast can be served in a little boat… Tel: 03 89 71 87 87

Now let’s hear it for the boys. The Pourcels, twin brothers, with *** Michelin at Le Jardin des Sens, Montpellier (does that mean they’ve got ******?) have been creating fabulous food since they were in short pants. Identical; impossible to tell the difference, even their own mother etc… Not a lot of people know this, but it’s Jacques who talks a lot, Laurent who agrees with him. Or is it the other way round?

Anyway, the good news is, they launched a cookbook in Paris last week. It will become a classic. “We’ve travelled so much, we have been inspired by the world, always return from trips with our valises stuffed with spices, souvenirs and ideas”, explains Jacques with a faraway look in his eye. Travel inspired the Compagnie des Comptoirs, the Pourcel’s hip designer brasseries, in Avignon, Montpellier, on the hip beach canteen at La Grande Motte and coming soon, London. In Tokyo, check out Sens & Saveurs.


The recipes in Destination Cuisines are an invitation to travel with the twins, on their culinary discoveries. Just looking at the visuals, by Bernard Winkelmann, gets the gastric juices flowing! “We’ve made the recipes simple to follow, with easy to find ingredients,” says Jacques. There’s even a vegetarian section, but it is written in French! Go on, make an effort! If not, you can taste the dishes at Compagnie des Comptoirs.

Le Jardin des Sens                                                                                         11 avenue Saint-Lazare, Montpellier.                                                                                                        T: 04 99 58 38 38
If you like chocolate, make a date for the now classic Salon de Chocolat 29 October-2nd November at:
Le Carrousel du Louvre –                                                                                    99 rue de Rivoli, 1st.                                                                                            Metro: Musée du Louvre.
Have a delicious week. 

Previous articleSalon du Chocolat
Next articleStencil Art -- A Form of Graffiti?
Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, 'gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she'd be Alain Passard's Millefeuille “Caprice d'Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !