Thursday, January 29, 2015

Art and Food Pairing™: La Galerie Africaine and Chez Fifi - Miss-Yolo

Aude Minart and La Galerie Africaine have kicked off 2015 with an intimate and powerful exhibition of African art called A Nous L'Afrique. It is being shown at Mu Gallery in Paris' 9th arrondissement. Tom and I attended a reception for the show a few days ago.

A Nous l'Afrique flier (left) and Aude Minart (right)
© Discover Paris!

Mu Gallery
© Discover Paris!

This corner of the 9th was known as Black Montmartre in the early to mid-20th century, and the gallery is only a block away from the former location of Florence Embry Jones' famous nightspot, Chez Florence.

The exhibition features works by one of Aude's preferred painters, Senegal's Camara Gueye.

l'Oiseau rouge
Camara Gueye
2004 media
© Discover Paris!

La jeune fille en rouge
Camara Gueye
2008 media
© Discover Paris!

Exquisite traditional and contemporary sculptures, artisanal fabrics and masks, and fine crafts are also part of the show.

A Nous l'Afrique - paintings and sculptures
© Discover Paris!

A Nous l'Afrique - masks and fabric
© Discover Paris!

A Nous l'Afrique - crafts and fabrics
© Discover Paris!

A Nous l'Afrique closes on January 31, 2015. If you're in Paris, it's worth taking the time to see it!

Mu Gallery
53, rue Blanche
75009 Paris
Metro: Place de Clichy (Lines 2 and 13), Blanche (Line 2)
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 12 noon to 8 PM

About a 10-minute walk from Mu Gallery is an African restaurant called Chez Fifi-Miss-Yolo. It used to operate under the name Au Braisé d'Or, but is now under new management.

After a lovely time at the gallery, Tom and I walked over to the restaurant for dinner. The sign with the new name has yet to be installed on the façade.

The dining room at Chez Fifi is large and modestly decorated. A red carpet extends from the doorway to guide you to tables located next to the front window, along the right wall, and at the rear of the restaurant. Maize-colored walls are accentuated with brown molding and African-themed appliqués. Large tables covered with brightly pattered cloths are flanked by brown vinyl benches. Curtains are made from the same cloth that covers the tables.

Dining room at Chez Fifi-Miss-Yolo
© Discover Paris!

There was a problem in the kitchen that evening and several dishes listed on the menu were not available. But we were both happy with the dish we selected, which was a Congolese preparation called Ngolo-liboké. Catfish is one of the very few fishes that I eat and I'm pleased to report that this home-style rendition of it was excellent!

Our server was careful to explain that we could have the fish cooked one of two ways - braised or cooked in banana leaves (liboké). We chose the braised version and were served an entire fish with the head still attached. The flesh was tender, meaty, slightly smoky, and incredibly flavorful. A simple lettuce and tomato salad dressed in thick vinaigrette was served on the plate as well. There was no other garnish.

As accompaniments, Tom ordered kwanga (manioc) and I ordered aloko (fried plantains). A generous portion of each was served in a separate dish alongside. The plantains were firm and slightly sweet, while the manioc was spongy and slightly sour.

Braised catfish, kwanga (left), and aloko (right)
© Discover Paris!

The waitress placed the obligatory condiments - lemon juice (reconstituted), Maggi seasoning sauce, and home-made pepper sauce - on the table, but the fish was so well seasoned that we didn't need to use any of them.

© Discover Paris!

I had hoped to order bissap (hibiscus juice) or ginger juice as a beverage, but neither was listed on the menu. So I ordered a lightly carbonated, fruit-flavored Cameroonian soft drink called D'jino instead. Tom ordered a Guinness Extra Fort stout, a brew that is dark and strong (7.5% alcohol).

D'jino and Guinness
© Discover Paris!

Even without ordering a first course, the fish, salad, and sides were too much to finish!

Our servers were quite accommodating and took all the time we needed to explain what was offered on the menu. Just as we were noting that our meal was taking longer than anticipated to arrive at the table, one of the servers came out and apologized for the inconvenience. She said that it would not be too much longer before we'd be served, and our food was delivered to us less than ten minutes later.

Chez Fifi-Miss-Yolo is in a lively area of Paris, just north of Place de Clichy. It is by no means upscale, but it is clean and the food will remind you of what you'd get from your mother's or grandmother's kitchen. We plan to try this restaurant again to see how things unfold here.

Chez Fifi-Miss-Yolo
3, rue Capron
75018 Paris
Metro: Place de Clichy (Lines 2 and 13)
Hours: Every day from 12 noon to 2 AM


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