About every 7-8 months I have to satisfy a craving. That craving is for world class food, in an old world setting, served with the best French wines available. I’m talking about real gourmet cuisine. Prepared by proud Master Chefs who create heavy, artistic, superbly sautéed and sauced dishes that reflect a century of skill and preparation in their closely-guarded recipes. Where do I go to satisfy such a craving? Allard’s of Paris of course!
For almost 90 years, Allard has been considered the crème’de la crème’ of gourmet bistros in this historic city. Located in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Pres section of Paris, this restaurant is the most sought after address for a table by other accomplished culinarians.
There is a saying in the City of Lights, “ … the secret of experiencing extraordinary table fare is to dine where the greatest Chef’s dine!” Allard is a place of history that has catered to dignitaries, world famous food critics and some of the world’s greatest Chef’s. Allard’s was founded in the 1930’s and today it still carries on that exceptional commitment to the finest cuisine that can be created under the ownership of Alain Ducasse.
In the spring of 1992 I made my first visit to Allard. I was actually visiting a culinary school attending a saucier seminar. One night after class, a few of my classmates and I decided to share a bottle of wine over a late dinner. A debate ensued over where one could find the best Snails in their Shells in the city and one of our group declared we must visit Allard’s! I have since returned far too many times to count.
One interesting fact that sets Allard apart from most other fine bistros in Paris is that at Allard, women do the cooking. As the original Allard family founded their establishment on the matriarch of the family, Marthe Allard, running the kitchen, Alain Ducasse has continued that tradition by placing his faith in Fanny Herpin as the Master Chef at the restaurant Allard.
Having now dined at this bistro with three different Chefs at the helm, I can honestly say that while each maestro of the kitchen brings their own subtle nuances to these remarkable recipes, the quality and level of exceptional flavor lovingly infused into each dish has never wavered.
In fact, I will confess (against Wolf’s advice) that the only meal I can honestly say I have ever eaten that was not prepared by myself, and was perfectly executed, was the seared veal sweetbread with black truffles and winter vegetables at Allard. To this day… and as I write this… I am savoring this memory.
During one of my visits several years ago I was fortunate enough to be invited into the kitchen for a “tour of excellence” as it was whispered into my ear. Our server was excited to let me know that my request for a peek into the kitchen had been approved. My wine glass was refilled and so began my behind the scenes visit to the heart of Allard. The first thing that struck me was that there was a tremendous amount of pride in how the kitchen looked and was maintained. Every pot and pan was treated with the utmost reverence.
It was during that tour that I was introduced to a quote from one of the original Allard family members;
As an example, our Paris 9.5” 3.3 Qt Sautéuse with fitted cover is perfect for long, slow simmering. It can go directly from the stove-top to the oven. It is indeed difficult to find a cooking vessel that will work equally well on ceramic cook tops, gas ranges as well as electric burner stoves… creating no hot-spots at the bottom of the vessel. However, that is exactly what Wolf and I made sure we accomplished.
All of our Paris Series have “stay-cool” long handles on the sauce pans and fry pans to make it easier to go from a heated cooking surface directly into the oven for “finishing.” This is exactly the technique I witnessed at Allard so many years ago! While my requirements in developing this cookware were simple… it had to be the best quality possible, my partner Wolf’s requirements made the effort a bit more difficult.
If you have followed our company for any time now, you know that Wolf came from very meager beginnings. For that reason, he is emphatic that while our product must be uncompromising with regards to it’s quality and performance… it cannot be ostentatiously priced! That is why you will never find a greater value than Fleischer & Wolf cookware!
… a Whine Cellar!
It was once said by one of the world’s foremost Sommelier’s that, “…a great wine can make a common meal palatable and an exceptional meal unforgettable!” It was during one of my visits to Allard that I was first exposed to “unexpected pairings,” of wine and food. My wine pallet has since become a huge fan of Bordeaux wines with non-traditional dishes and white burgundy wines with fowl dishes!
It doesn’t matter whether you are dining out at a Michelin 5-Star establishment or a family owned corner eatery, your wine should be chosen by taste and not by reviews written by professional critics. You can of course allow them to guide your selections as descriptions like dry, buttery, oaky and full-bodied will no doubt help you to discern the basics. However, the final decision rests with you. That is why Wolf and I believe that being able to create your own amazing dishes in your own kitchens (with your own wine parings) is what the definition of fine cuisine is all about. After all, it is the memories we create with friends and family in our own homes that last the longest.
Allard- Alain Ducasse
41, rue Saint-Andre’ des Arts