Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-bicycles-courtyard

Bicycles in a Parisian courtyard. © Paris Update

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Stick up for science
> The Paris March for Science begins at 1pm at the Jardin des Plantes (Place Valhubert), April 22.

Silent films from Switzerland?
> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, April 20-May 2.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, April 19-29.

Photo walk
> Eight Paris galleries hold special photography shows and events for Parcours Fotofever. Various locations, Paris, through May 1.

Photo shows galore
> Le Mois de la Photo has been moved from autumn to spring, with 96 exhibitions taking place all over the greater Paris area. See Web site for locations and dates.

Art videos
> The theme of this year’s Videobox Festival is “noise and movement.” Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 27-29.

Take home a winemaker
> Winemakers from Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux come to Paris to offer tastings of their products in wine bars and private homes for the event J’Irai Déguster chez Vous. Various venues, Paris, April 20-22.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Bedos’s Monsieur & Madame Adelman preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 21.

Polaroid pix
> The “Expolaroid” exhibition features Polaroid images by nine artists. La Maison des Ensembles, Paris, through April 25.

Binge-watching
> Festival Séries Mania shows TV series from around the world and holds debates, conferences and special guests like Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife,” all for free. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 23.

Travel yarns
> Travel fanatics get together at the Paris Travelers Festival to swap tales of their adventures. FIAP, Paris, April 22-23.

Street art indoors

ParisUpdate-UrbanArtFair-Felipe-Pantone-2
The gallery Art in the Game will be showing works by Felipe Pantone at the Urban Art Fair.> Some 30 galleries show street art at the Urban Art Fair. Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 20-23.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.

Before and after ecological disaster
> The Chic Planète festival presents two types of films, those celebrating the bounty of the earth and science-fiction views of what will happen after an ecopalypse. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 13.

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Restaurants - Classic

 

Au Bascou

Basquing in
Fine Food and Drink

au bascou restaurant, paris

The food and welcome were all that could be desired, but the decor could use a little refreshing.

Reading Jonathan Nossiter’s musings on wine, the universe and everything, reviewed here last week, and Hugh Johnson’s delightful A Life Uncorked, a Christmas gift, has made me eager to delve deeper into the dreadfully complicated world of wine, so I rather pushed the boat out at Au Bascou, where Bertie the gastrohound and I dragged my girlfriend, Katherine, and John, a long-time friend, the other evening.

The wine list is concise and, this being a Basque restaurant, includes a strong contingent from Southwest France: Irouléguys and Madirans and Jurançons, along with a generous sprinkling of bottles from the other French regions. We chose a half-bottle of 2005 Chablis for the first course and followed that with a 2001 Château Maucaillou Moulis. Both were excellent, the Moulis still having quite a lot of mileage in it, judging by the tannins, and the Chablis with a big, honeyed nose.

We took to the place as soon as we crossed the threshold, where we were greeted warmly by the serving staff and chef Bertrand Guéneron, who took over Au Bascou last year after loyally serving Alain Senderens at the three-star Lucas Carton and his subsequent upscale eponymous brasserie. Guéneron has tweaked the menu of Bascou, a long-time favorite of many a discerning Parisian, but has left the down-market decor as it was: wood paneling, ocher walls stained a deeper yellow by cigarette smoke (no more of that now, hallelujah!), posters for all the Basque apéritifs you could want and a pictorial course on pelota, not to mention the mandatory strings of dried Espelette peppers.

I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I don’t see why French restaurateurs are so attached to the folkloric aspects of their terroir that they must festoon their dining rooms with dusty bric-a-brac. Still, that was a small price to pay for an excellent meal comprising first courses of a sautéed shrimp and fennel salad, scallops with a serving of slightly cooked mushrooms, and snails and ham cooked with Patcharan. This last was as earthy as it gets and warmed to the Chablis.

Main courses included a juicy pyramid of hen pheasant on a serving of Savoy cabbage, the whole topped with a sliver of pan-fried foie gras – lovely to behold and completely lacking in artifice. A veal hanger steak was served on a heap of carrots cooked with orange, ginger and parsley, a fine way of dealing with a vegetable I find a bit boring without a little help from its friends, and a joue de boeuf vigneronne, beef cheek stewed for an eternity in a red-wine and a shallot reduction as black as tar. This cheap cut absorbs all the flavors and is nowhere near as stringy as other stew cuts can be. It melted all too quickly in the mouth, along with the circle of mashed potatoes it sat on.

Katherine sipped a sweet Jurançon, which came with a haunting nose of quince, for dessert. I had a Basque cheese served with preserved cherries – a bit too much for the subtly smooth cheese – while John opted for the gateau au chocolat coulant, satisfyingly chocolatey and runny in the middle and complemented by the house vanilla ice cream.

Altogether a standout meal. I don’t think even fans of Au Bascou’s genial former owner, Jean-Guy Lousteau, will be disappointed by the restaurant’s new incarnation.

Richard Hesse

Au Bascou: 38, rue Réaumur, 75003 Paris. Métro: Arts et Métiers or Réaumur Sébastopol. Nearest Vélib’ station: 57, rue de Turbigo or 7, rue Sainte Elisabeth. Tel: 01 42 72 69 25. Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner. Closed Saturday and Sunday. A la carte: €35-40.

© 2008 Paris Update

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