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Dominique Ansel has an offally good time

Dominique Ansel

The French inventor of the cronut and patissier célèbre is known for his intricate pastry creations. Now based in America, he has never lost his love for simple food from his homeland

The French inventor of the cronut and patissier célèbre is known for his intricate pastry creations. Now based in America, he has never lost his love for simple food from his homeland

February/March 2018

Breakfast
I had breakfast at the Wolseley recently and ate kedgeree for the first time. It was delicious. I didn’t even know what it was. The place is very charming. It reminds me a little of a brasserie in Paris; the high ceilings, the lighting, the leather on the sofas. I’d definitely go back. But, since it’s a perfect day, I’d have a second breakfast: dim sum in Hong Kong at Sun Tung Lok. Dim sum is usually casual but this place has two Michelin stars. They make beautiful dim sum from shrimp and pork that look like sushi. The skin of the suckling pig is seared and the shrimp underneath is steamed so you get the contrast of textures. I remember eating it and thinking, “thank God I’m sitting on a chair.” I was jetlagged and tired and not really hungry at all but it was so good. I’d go to Hong Kong just for this.

Lunch
Le Baratin, in Paris, is a little French bistro owned by a husband and wife. It’s very small but the food is so good – a mix of home- and Michelin-star cooking. I had veal brain there with a buttery lemon sauce and some fried potatoes on the side. It was amazing. The brain was poached; brain, if you overcook it, tastes bad and the texture gets grainy. But this was perfectly cooked. You can’t get food like this anywhere outside France. Why? Because they have the ingredients – the good butter, the good veal brains – they have everything they need to cook it perfectly. If you ask me to choose between a fine-dining restaurant and a bistro, I’ll tell you a small bistro. And then I would always try dessert – not because I want to eat sweets but because I’m curious to taste things, to see what people do. I had a poached pear in red wine. It sounds very simple but that’s why it was so good. I love simple things even if what I do is elaborate.

An aperitif
Maison Premiere is this small, charming place in Brooklyn. They make beautiful cocktails and every time I go I try a new one. And they serve oysters. I don’t like lemon or tabasco or horseradish on them, just shallots and vinegar. For me, if you add more than this, it screws up the flavour of the oyster.

Dinner
About a year ago I went to this place in Tokyo called Sei Ryo En. They specialise in beef tongue. It’s probably the best grilled meat I’ve ever had. I grew up eating beef tongue. My grandma used to make it for lunch on Sunday and then we’d eat the leftovers made into soup at night. But in Japan they slice it almost like sashimi, marinate it and then grill it. The different parts – the tip and the middle and further back – have different textures. At this restaurant, they have a barbeque in the middle of the table but they have no vent for the smoke. My eyes were tearing up – I was crying and I was laughing because it was so good and so ridiculous. I hate eating alone. It makes me sad. Food is meant to be shared. It’s a way to connect with people and it’s a way to share what you love – and I love food.

Dominique Ansel was talking to Josie Delap