July 2016 France “Impressionism and Gourmet Travel” Chapter 2-5: L’Aspérule, a Michelin 1-star restaurant in Auxerre by a Japanese chef

July 2016 France Impressionism and the journey of gourmet
July 2016 France Impressionism and the journey of gourmet

Visit Date: July 22, 2016

To Burgundy again, Auxerre, the capital of the Yonne department

From the Franche-Comté region, we came back to the Burgundy region. We stayed at Auxerre. It is the capital of the Yonne department in the northernmost part of Burgundy. Chablis, famous for its white wine, is located near this city. It’s about halfway between Paris and Dijon.

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By the way, Auxerre is such a town. It’s a small and beautiful city. There is a river flowing in the city and we stayed at a hotel near the river. It’s a little bit far from the restaurant.

Near the City Hall, the center of the city is around here. It’s a fairy-tale clock tower.

Japanese Chef’s Restaurant

本日の目的はこちらのレストラン[highlight]「L’Aspérule」[/highlight]です。ミシュランガイド1つ星レストランに選ばれています。お店の場所はオーセールの旧市街の真ん中にあります。小さな街なのでどこからもアクセスしやすいと思います。

こちらのレストランのシェフは[highlight]日本出身の「木村圭吾」さん[/highlight]

She was born in Yamanashi Prefecture. After graduating from high school, he attended a vocational school in Tokyo and started his career in cooking. In 2000, he moved to France and first trained under the famous chef Marc Veyrat in Annecy, Rhône-Alpes. After that, he worked for Joël Robuchon and Christopher Coutanceau, and it was in 2007 that he visited Yonne, where he is currently working.

After that, he worked in Paris, but came back to Yonne in 2014 to open L’Aspérule here in Auxerre. He was already a highly reputed chef, so when he opened the restaurant, it received a lot of attention from the restaurant media.

Originally, it would have been best if we could have dropped in on the day we arrived in Burgundy, before visiting Dijon, but it was closed on Sundays and Mondays, so we decided to drop in just before returning to Paris (we started the next day).

In the end, we ended up going to Paris → Loire → Dijon → Arbois → Auxerre → Paris, but actually, it would have been more efficient to go to Paris → Auxerre → Dijon → Arbois → Loire → Paris. That’s why I didn’t want to miss this restaurant in Auxerre. That’s why I didn’t want to miss this restaurant in Auxerre, because I wanted to meet Japanese people who are active in the real world.

Phone reservations only, but in Japanese OK!

ところでこちらのレストランですが、ウェブサイトを見ると[highlight]「Nous prenons la réservation uniquement par téléphone:電話のみ予約可」[/highlight]となっていました。人気のレストランなので予約は必須、しかもある程度事前に予約しないといけません。

I was a bit nervous, but I thought it would be a good practice to speak French, so I tried to make a reservation by phone in French. It was just one week before I made a reservation. By the way, I called them on the way to Normandy.

Because it was a simple reservation, I managed to tell the date, time, number of people, etc. safely in French. However, right after I told him my name, he asked me “Are you from Japan by any chance? over the phone. The staffs were Japanese, so I was told that I could use Japanese at the restaurant on the day.

I’m glad. Well, I wanted to practice my French, but I felt a bit saved because I had been having such a day after day.

Quaint restaurant in a corner of the old town

Well, this restaurant is located just a little bit away from the center of the old town. There is a small square and it is only a few tens of meters away from the square.

The restaurant was booked for 7:30pm. We arrived a little early, so we were the first to arrive. The staff was from Japan as I was told on the phone. I think there were several of them. They guided us to our seats in Japanese. They gave us a seat at the far end.

Now, if you make a reservation, it seems to be only this 60 euro menu (course). Basically, you have to make a reservation to enter, so everyone seemed to be this course.

A bottle of wine, please.

By the way, there was a plan to enjoy 4 glasses of wine, but we decided to order a bottle as usual. We ordered a bottle of Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru. This time, we attacked the Côte de Beaune. Auxey-Duresses is very close to Chablis, but I wanted to drink Pinot Noir from Burgundy, so I chose this wine.

The wine list is updated regularly on their website.

Avant Amuse

First, the avant amuse before the amuse. I think it’s called “gougères”, or Burgundy-style cheese-flavored choux crim.

amuse

And an amuse. I’m sorry, I forgot what it was.

Blanc de seiche, à la plancha, artichaut, épinard, celtuce

The course starts here. First, white cuttlefish. I was surprised to see the squid suddenly. Is it normally eaten in France in Ia m? Well, it was inland, but it was very fresh, tender and delicious. I think the garnish was spinach and lettuce. à la prancha is teppanyaki? It’s a dish with a hint of Japanese.

Turbot, brulé, légumes verts croquants, jus d’arêtes à l’ugli

Next was the flatfish brulee. I think the sauce was a Japanese orange. The flounder was thicker and crunchier than I expected. The delicate flavor was magnificent.

Boeuf, en carpaccio mi-cuit, radis blanc, nectarine

Beef is served here, but is it still a starter? Slightly cooked beef is sandwiched between radish (radis blanc) in a millefeuille shape. Do you know the sauce? It was a plum flavored sauce. This was a very delicate dish. It’s definitely a dish that you can’t find in other restaurants. It was so delicious that it was gone in an instant.

Pigeon, cuisse confite, foie comme une moussaka, ailes en jus

The main course is followed by two pigeon dishes. I think it was confit. And the moussaka (a local dish around Greece) made from pigeon liver was a side dish. Pigeon has a hard image, but it was cooked very softly, so it was easy to eat. The moussaka had a rich taste and was delicious.

Pigeon, Suprême grillé Binchotan, risotto de courgettes

The next pigeon dish was grilled over binchotan charcoal. I was particularly impressed with this restaurant because all the dishes were grilled to a very warlike yet powerful degree (can you tell from the grilled squid and flounder at the beginning? ), but this might be a typical example.

Binchotan seems to have been imported from Japan on purpose. After all, is it only because there is Binchotan that it can be served juicy in a warm state without getting cold all the time? To be honest, I don’t have a good impression of pigeon food, but I think the pigeon food here was excellent. Yakitori culture is great. (Would it be rude to the chef if I said that?

I wanted to eat more chunky food.

Camenbert à la fêve tonka

The fromage before the dessert is Camembert. The one next to it is called Tonka bean. It was a good accent.

Cerise de l’Yonne en soupe froide, parfait glacé au mais, pistache

The last dessert was cherries from Yonne. Cherries seem to be a specialty in this area. It was a gentle taste.

Then, as usual, we occupied at the cafe, and this is the end of the course.

impressions

If you look at each dish alone, it’s very light and easy to eat, but if you take the entire course, it’s quite large. However, it was so comfortable that I didn’t feel it. This was a very welcome quality, especially since we had been eating heavier dishes at two Michelin star restaurants every day. Also, although it is a lovely restaurant, it is not stuffy like a so-called high class restaurant, which made us feel very relaxed. I can say that this is a great restaurant that I would like to visit again and again.

By the way, we were first in line when we entered the restaurant at 7:30pm, but a short while after the meal started, the restaurant was full in no time. It’s very popular!

After paying the bill, I walked past the kitchen on my way out, so I lightly thanked the chef, Mr. Kimura. I apologize for being so busy, but I just wanted to say thank you. But he seemed to be busy, so we couldn’t talk much.

Especially for Japanese people, it is very nice that you can make a reservation by phone in Japanese. Please visit Auxerre to support these talented chefs who are working so hard in France. I would like to visit Auxerre again too. By the way, according to the article I mentioned above, they are planning to expand the restaurant. By the way, according to the article I mentioned above, they are planning to expand the restaurant and it looks like they are going to work on the second floor of the building.

さて、お腹いっぱいのグルメ編は次回で最終回。次回はパリのビストロをご紹介します。(続く)

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