Anne-Sophie Pic, Queen of Spades
A last free afternoon in Paris before flying home and I was running round doing last minute shopping to clear my list….done, now what? I made a reservation for a lunch at La Dame de Pic planning to spoil myself one last time.
The restaurant is small intimate yet contemporary – lots of white but with details. Repousse art on the walls. The kitchen is unobtrusively open to the room. As expected, the service staff was impeccable. Everything is in harmony, so I sat back and indulged in the tasting menu.
This is not my first time crossing paths with the award winning chef – an amazing woman who has picked up the ties to a family affair at culinary greatness. Anne-Sophie is the fourth generation at Maison Pic in Valence. Her great grandmother started the business in 1889, then her grandfather Andre was awarded a Michelin star in 1934, passing on the torch to his son Jacques, whose untimely death in 1992 left it up to Anne-Sophie to take up the reigns. And that she has, between raising a family and teaching at the school in Valence, she has opened four more restaurants and garnered three stars. She created history as the first female chef in France in 56 years to receive such a rating.
In the small town of Valence the family has grown Maison Pic with a five-star hotel and even better a cooking school; Scook in a sleek open space. Here there is the sensory discovery of the philosophy and flavors for the plate. After working in Japan much earlier in life, Anne-Sophie has embraced some Asian flavors in her cooking – delicately and thoughtfully – just as the green space outside Maison Pic has an Asian tranquility.
Back to Rue du Louvre, the courses came and I savored, but there was one startling but beautiful flavor that knock me back. It may sound strange but it was the butter! The butter had been infused with a spice…I had to ask about it – what and where could I find that flavor. I was told it was an aromatic pepper called Voatsiperifery, a wild pepper from southern Madagascar, it grows on vines in the upper most part large trees. The where, was Chef Olivier Roellinger the spice king of France who forages for all these amazing spices from around the world.
I went from the lunch table directly to Espices Roellinger a short walk away. Scored my pepper but was introduced to the amazing shop of spice blends, raw spices, seeds from paradise, nature’s bounty from seaweed ocean spices to Celtic spicy vinegar! The shop was a treasure trove of dizzying flavors and aromas and a knowledgeable staff. I left the shop with additional wild pepper called Andaliman from Sumatra that has a light flavor of kaffir lime.
All in all, it was a great last day in Paris. I’ll be back soon.
La Dame de Pic, 20 Rue du Louvre, Paris 75001
Espices Roellinger, 51 bis Rue Sainte-Anne, Paris 75002