Buzz: Shang Palace, Toast at Le Balzac, Alain Passard, Musee Nissim de Camondo and Michelin NYC

Buzz: Shang Palace, Toast at Le Balzac, Alain Passard, Musee Nissim de Camondo and Michelin NYC
  Shang Palace at Shangri-La Hotel, Paris 16th When Cantonese chef Frank Xu arrived as head chef of Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris, he declared his restaurant would introduce diners in Paris to one of the most refined cuisines in the world. He ignored Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh‘s comments on Chinese eating habits: “If it has four legs and is not a chair, if it has two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.” Leaving aside the Prince’s comments, the restaurant has been fully booked since its recent launch. Shang Palace, and its three private dining rooms are located in a majestic, contemporary, space, in the heart of what was once Prince Roland Bonaparte‘s mansion, now transformed into the Shangri-La Hotel. Décor for Shang Palace is by Hong Kong-based LRF Design. Using exceptional artwork, mahogany screens, chandeliers radiating soft light and backlit jade columns, you’ll feel as if you’re in China without leaving Paris. The menu features at least 80 dishes to try. Where do you begin if you’re not an expert? Bear in mind, Prince Phil, that Cantonese cuisine does not need elaborate treatment or  masked flavors. Many of the dishes are fish based because of Canton‘s proximity to the sea. Chef Xu says the French products he’s using are the most exciting he’s used in his 30 years of culinary passion. If you want the signature lotus leaf wrapped, clay-baked Beggar’s Chicken, you’ll need to order it twenty-four hours ahead. Legend has it the dish is named for a beggar who stole a chicken in old Canton. He was chased by the butcher, so he swiftly buried his bounty in warm moist soil. Returning, in the dead of night, he discovered it had developed a hard clay shell, which he smashed with a hammer, releasing incredible aromas. Enter the Emperor, attracted by the fragrance. Intrigued he invited the poor beggar  dine with him. Awarding the Beggar’s Chicken the equivalent of 3 stars, Emperor added it to the Imperial Court‘s menus, naming it Fu Gui ji: “rich and noble chicken.” Shang Palace will present you with a symbolic limited-edition hammer to commemorate your Beggar’s Chicken dining experience (145€). Or, as an introduction, why not go for a Shang Palace menu composed by Chef Xu. “Jade” is a six-course tasting menu that includes dim sum basket with dishes of your choice brought to table for all to share, such as Ha Kao, Siu Mai, and scallop dumpling. Or creamy tofu soup made with shredded curd and green vegetables. Then a thick cut of perfect flash-fried cod in soya sauce. Next, steamed chicken with black mushrooms and red lotus wrapped dates. Fried rice, diced scallops and egg white follow and, to finish, chilled mixed fruit pancake rolls with whipped cream and fresh seasonal fruits. Drink Oolong tea throughout, although there’s an extensive world wine list, with, hopefully, some Chinese vintages coming soon. It’s all good, and there are many Chinese diners, always a good sign. And, as for Prince Philip’s comments, Chef Xu points out, with elegant diplomacy, that he paraphrased a modern saying, used by Chinese from other regions, in reference to Cantonese culinary habits. HRH get yourself, and Her Maj over there ASAP, Shang Palace translates to “aromatic scent” and “place for royalty.” Restaurant Shang Palace Shangri-La Hotel Tél: 01 53 67 19 98 10, avenue d’Iéna, Paris 16th Métro: Iéna Open Thurs-Monday lunch and dinner Shut Tues-Wednesday Lunch average spend 70-98€ + wine Dinner 98-128€ + wine Valet Parking Tél: 01 53 67 19 98 Qui Plume La Lune & Le Cinema Balzac Alert readers will recall I flagged up Le Cinema Balzac a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have dementia (yet), it’s just that as I wrote about Jacky Ribault‘s plans for a unique dinner at Le Balzac, his bistro, Qui Plume La Lune, was flooded. Most unpleasant; and Ribault closed Qui Plume, but that didn’t stop this past week’s Balzac bash. Arriving guests were handed flutes of Champagne and mise en bouche, created by Chef Sébastien Bauer of Angelina, rue de Rivoli. Then they watched a pre-release screening of Toast, the nostalgic  1960s film based on British chef Nigel Slater‘s life. It’s Billy Elliot meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and for some reason background music is all by the late great Dusty Springfield. Lots of food–nice and nasty–in the film, so everyone was starving by the time it ended. On cue, enter a team carrying trays of Ribault’s signature Soupe de lait coco parfum d’Asie, Crevettes vermicelles, cacahuètes. Followed by Tataki de saumon, Shiitaké, pleurotes, sauce gingembre wasabi. 250 excited cinemagoers washed dinner down with a crisp, Les Auréliens, 2010 Domaine de Triennes à Nans les Pins (Var). “Certainly beats the hell out of popcorn, n’est-ce pas,” joked Jean-Claude Schpoliansky, charismatic owner and creator of all things magic at Le Balzac. Dessert by Angelina was Paris—New-York, a Paris-Brest revised and corrected with pecan nuts. Departing, guests (who’d paid 62€ for the evening) received a box of chocolates by Hugo & Victor and a precious advance copy of tomorrow’s Figaroscope was thrown in for good measure. Log on to the Balzac site for details of future…
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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 !