Monday, May 10, 2010

Le Céleste Gourmand - Paris

This is Sichuan, Bitches!
Who comes to Paris and eats Chinese? Me, that's who. Forget that bland French food once in a while and take a walk on the spicy side. I talked three of my colleagues into it and they sweated their way to happiness. One is a doubting Indian who mopped his brow and smiled at me as he chewed. Top, for me, were these juicy chunks of chicken - maybe the juiciest chicken I've ever had. These were only mildy spicy, which was a good way to start off the night.

I put some of my shaky Mandarin to use, ordering some large bottles of Tsing Tao. Thanks for that lesson Puffin, it impressed the Brits. That beer would later be a lifesaver as I bit into the wrong end of a few chilis. These pork chunks were mild to my taste buds, but they had the necessary fattiness that made them a winner.

The surprise of the night for me was this simple dish of corn. I'm not quite sure how it was prepared but man it was good. Slightly salty, slightly sweet and really fun to eat with chopsticks.

It took me quite a while to convince a few of my co-eaters that these green strips were simple, harmless bell peppers, mixed in with pork. They observed me eat two or three in a row before they were convinced. Why were they so shy, you ask?

This is why - the hottest dish of the night: lamb with chilis. I managed to navigate my way through it without hitting anything explosive but I was the only one. This one dish put the sweat on everyone and amused the staff who kept asking "Ca va?", which means in this case "You alright?"
4th Arondissement

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  1. The best Japanese food I ever had was actually in Paris! But the best Chinese food I ever had was in a small alley somewhere in a Yuangxi province village. Excellent stuff. Great pictures, now my own bento box suddenly feels very inadequate...!

  2. @Tokyobling - the best burger I ever had was in Tokyo - Kichijoji to be more specific. Thanks for the kind words but YOUR food photos make ME hungry. More food posts, please.

  3. Quick question? What is the price point for Celeste Gourmand? I live at St Paul, so I was excited you had posted about this place. Also I ate at Noodle Bar on Rue Nationale last night. Family oriented and friendly staff. Nems tasted homemade. Recommend the crispy chicken with noodles, and the beef and nem with rice noodles (more of a salad). The chef even came out at about 11:30 to check on the diners and shake hands. Cute!

  4. @Nicole - hmmm, best I can recollect, it was around 100 Euros for four including two mega-beers and two bottles of wine. So, for Paris, not too bad. I'll have to check Noodle Bar when I get back, thanks for the reco.

  5. How come when I am in Paris we only go to those small chinese shops around the house.... and you go fancy places without me?

    Wonder if they have Dan Dan noodles??

  6. @Puffin, this is no fancy place, rather ordinary looking. Hey, that's a good question, they should have dan dan, right?

  7. The first rule of Celeste Gourmand is you do not blog about Celeste Gourmand. The second rule of Celeste Gourmand is you do not blog etc.
    If this gets out the masses will descend and the chillies will go back in the cupboard.

    I think this is my favourite eatery in Paris right now. I will keep an eye on your blog to see if you manage to unearth anywhere else that will serve up a spicy dish for non-Asians.

    In the meantime, here's a suggestion.
    If you want to really have an excuse to down a litre of beer with dinner, try Tibetan restaurant Tashi Delek at
    4 Rue des Fossés Saint-Jacques. The food is very pleasant and made with a lot of care. The lamb curry in particular is just fine and better than you will find in any Indian restaurant this side of La Manche. Then ask for "du piment" to stir into your sauce. They will bring you a small saucer of the hottest most concentrated chilli paste I have ever encountered. It's home-made. The waiter will do his best to dissuade you but insist and he will bow his head in prayer for your soul and bring it over.

    Great blog btw!

  8. @Simon - the place you recommend sounds pretty good, I am going to have to check it out. I have lots of good recommendations for my return in a week - thanks for adding another.