My day would start in Paris, with bread from Chambelland, eaten at home with a cup of coffee. Their bread is made entirely without gluten, mainly using rice flour. I like it slightly toasted with half-salted butter. This resembles what I ate for breakfast as a child, with home-made jam and milk from the farm where I grew up in Castel-Serrazin in south-west France. My grandmother was a great cook and nearly everything we ate came from our land, though the butter was from the farmers next door. For me, the smell of the food comes before the taste. If there is an additional pleasure from eating, it’s in the smell.
I would go to Tokyo, look for a small noodle shop and buy a bowl of cold soba noodles. It’s a simple pleasure, but it makes my day when I find a good one. Or, for sushi, I would head to Futaba Sushi. This restaurant, located in Tokyo’s Ginza district, opened in 1877 and has been run by the same family for five generations. They make authentic Edo-style (traditional) sushi, and even the decor makes you feel as though you have travelled back in time. Is it the best sushi? I don’t know. But for me it is the most moving experience. It’s about the way the fish and rice is plated, the gestures of the sushi chef, the way he manipulates the fish, the temperature of the fish. I follow the suggestions of the chef in what to eat. It is a matter of trust. This all contributes to the experience. I would drink the lightest beer on the menu and the house sake.
Back to Paris for a finger sandwich and French pastry at Hotel Le Meurice. Everything at Le Meurice is about comfort and elegance. Located in front of the Tuileries Garden, it is one of the oldest hotels in Paris. Salvador Dalí stayed there and the café in the lobby is named after him. An afternoon tea here is an excellent opportunity to taste Cédric Grolet’s patisseries. I would choose his Citrus, which looks exactly like a lemon but, when you break the peel with your spoon, you discover the most delicious and subtle textures and flavours.
First, I would go to the bar at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée to work up an appetite with a cocktail of Grey Goose vodka, sake, lime and pomegranate juice. I would pair it with foie gras served on a rye cracker with apricot, date, orange and fig chutney. For dinner I would go to Frenchie, a small bistrot run by Gregory Marchand, a young French chef. He travelled the world and, when he returned to France, he was able to find his own expression of the experience, creating a cuisine that is contemporary and generous, and at the same time based on solid French technical foundations. I would let him surprise me with his “Four Times Menu” – the dishes change according to the seasons.
Alain Ducasse was talking to Patrick Cole