Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cameroonian Chef Is King at Cuistance

My husband Tom and I love dining out and we do so quite frequently to write our weekly Paris Insights restaurant review.

A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a fine meal at a restaurant near Les Halles called Cuistance.

© Discover Paris!

The menu borrows from the Spanish theme of tapas. The restaurant serves small portions and encourages customers to order three of these as the equivalent of the traditional French entrée-plat* and share them with their dining companions. The selections were fresh and exciting with international touches - examples included Tataki de boeuf (Japan) and Ecrasé de burrata (Italy).

The restaurant is narrow and the decor is decidedly contemporary. Our servers were happy and proud to speak English with us. And we were pleased with our choices from the menu:

  • Œuf de poule poché, petits pois et champignons de saison, crumble aux herbes, écume de bouillon, paille de vitelotte
    Poached egg in mushroom broth was served with a crumble of breadcrumbs and herbs de Provence with a side of matchstick purple potatoes - all atop a bed of green peas and mushrooms.
  • Cromesquis de risotto aux girolles, copeaux de parmesan, riquette, sauce forestière.
    Risotto croquettes were redolent with parmesan cheese and studded with chanterelle mushrooms. A wild mushroom sauce was served alongside.
  • Ecrasé de burrata, flocons d’avoine, pickles de mini maïs, riz soufflé, vinaigrette de noisette grillée, cress de basilic pourpre - This was our favorite!
    A flattened portion of burrata cheese (a pocket of mozzarella containing fresh cream) covered with toasted wild rice, ears of pickled baby corn, and purple basal, all dressed in toasted hazelnut vinaigrette.
Ecrasé de burrata
© Discover Paris!
  • Déclinaison de cochon de lait, purée de Granny Smith rôtie, mini poireaux, jus de cochon.
    Three small portions of piglet, one shredded (somewhat like pulled pork in the U.S.) and two served in their skin, were accompanied by baby leeks and puréed, roasted, Granny Smith apple.
  • Pavé de lieu jaune, légumes primeurs en persillade, palets de brioche, viennoise croquante, écume d’arrêtes au thé vert Matcha.
    Skinned pollack covered with bread crumbs and herbs de Provence were served with a frothy fish broth flavored with Matcha tea and carrot and turnip on the side.
Pavé de lieu
© Discover Paris!
  • Royale de foie gras, crème de riquette, pomme Fuji, gelée d’une sangria, gaufre.
    A small glass dish contained a flan made from egg, cream, and foie gras (fatty duck liver), to be eaten with waffles! The plate was artfully decorated with a sauce made from arugula, tiny cubes of Fuji apple, and dots of sangria jelly.
  • Soupe de mangue-coco, crousti de filo au miel, duo de shiso cress.
    Mango-coconut soup topped with a honey-coated filo-dough crust that resembled the crust of a crème brulée served as our dessert.
Soupe de mangue-coco
© Discover Paris!

The wine list is lovely as well, including the wines by the glass. I enjoyed a glass of Pouilly Fumé – Domaine des Fines Caillottes – 2012 (Loire Valley) with the cromesquis de risotto and a glass of Maucaillou – 2011 (Bordeaux) with the cochon de lait. Tom settled for a beer (Sol, from Mexico) with his meal.

As we were waiting for the dessert course, Chef Henri-Serge Manga emerged from the kitchen to inquire among the customers about their satisfaction with his handiwork. We asked a few questions about the ingredients in our dishes, to which he readily responded, and then he graciously posed for the photo below.

Chef Henri-Serge Manga, Cuistance Restaurant
© Discover Paris!

Chef Manga is of Cameroonian origin. He studied at Thames Valley University near London and has cooked in Japan and the renowned Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire, Great Britain. He worked at a wonderful little restaurant called Bon in Paris' 16th arrondissement prior to taking over the kitchen at Cuistance. Seeing him come out of the kitchen and learning that he was the chef was a bonus for us because we knew nothing about him when we made our reservation.

The bill for two, including one glass of champagne, one beer, two glasses of wine, and seven dishes came to 124€. It was a fair price to pay for such an inventive meal. Our only regret was that there was a limited selection of desserts (only four) from which to choose.

We'll definitely return to Cuistance to enjoy the Ecrasé de burrata and to sample other items on the menu!

14 Rue Sauval
75001 Paris
Telephone: 01 40 41 08 08
Métro station: Châtelet Les Halles (Lines 1, 4, 7, and 14; RER A, B, and D)

*If you don’t know what entrée-plat means, then you may be interested in reading our new e-book Dining Out in Paris. For more information, click here:


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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Toli Nameless Performs at the 6B Open House

By Tom Reeves

When Jamaican-born musician Toli Nameless performed at the 6B open house in mid-May, Discover Paris! was there!

“6B” is the name of a vast office complex in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis that was transformed in 2010 into a six-story residence and workshop center for artists, architects, musicians, film makers, designers, and other creative types. On May 17, it held an open house to allow art and music lovers and the simply curious to explore the studios there.

Le 6B - garden and façade
© Discover Paris!

Arriving by train from Paris, I found the complex, made my way around the artists’ garden, and entered the building.

I was given a map at the welcome desk, which allowed me to find my way up to the third floor where I found musician, singer, and dancer Toli Nameless relaxing between musical sets.

Toli Nameless
© Discover Paris!

She gave me a tour of her studio, which she shares with video artist Nicolas Baillergeau.

Artist Nicolas Baillergeau and Toli Nameless
© Discover Paris!

Nicolas had arranged a screening of his work, which he projected onto a wall.

Art by Nicolas Baillergeau
© Discover Paris!

Following the screening, Toli sang her latest number "Sexy Time" and played the trombone.

Toli playing trombone
© Discover Paris!

Every year Toli organizes a one-day training session for girls ages 8 to 16 who want to gain performance experience. Entitled “Paris Girls Rock,” the workshop and concert will take place this year at the Palais de la Porte Dorée during the Fête de la Musique (Paris' annual all-day music festival) on June 21st.

The photograph below was taken at last year’s concert. It was held in September on the square in front of the town hall of the 11th arrondissement.

Paris Girls Rock 2013
© Discover Paris!

Read about it here: Toli Nameless and the Paris Girls Rock Adventure.

For additional information about Toli, visit her Web site at

Tom Reeves is the co-founder of Discover Paris!


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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Connie Fredericks-Malone Sings at Festival of African Culture

By Tom Reeves

American singer Connie Fredericks-Malone recently sang at a festival of African culture that was held in the Paris suburb of Achères.

Connie Fredericks-Malone Sings Gospel
© Discover Paris!

A former actress and vocal performer, Connie hails from a family of talented performers, including a renowned brother, blues musician Taj Mahal, and a sister, Carole Fredericks, whose soulful voice made her famous in France. An experienced arts manager and public relations professional, she works now as manager and spokesperson for the Carole D. Fredericks Foundation, whose mission is to preserve the memory of the late Carole Fredericks and to promote her musical legacy.

The festival, entitled Journée Histoire et Renaissance (Day of History and Rebirth), featured conferences, expositions, poetry, film projections, literary debates...and a competition for the best African hairstyle! A number of vendors supplied African and Caribbean food, books, jewelry, and art at stands that had been set up around the periphery of the conference hall.

The event was organized by Dieudonné Gnammankou, research scholar and author of a book on the African ancestry of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, and Joëlle Esso, artist, actress, dancer, singer, and author of a children's book about soccer star Samuel Eto'o Fils. Esso and Gnammankou invited Connie to perform at the event during a meeting held at their publishing house – Degan Editions – where they gathered to discuss an independent project.

Joëlle Esso and Dieudonné Gnammankou
© Discover Paris!

Connie sang three songs - "Amazing Grace," "Children Go Where I Send Thee," and "This Little Light of Mine." She explained that each of them has a special place in her heart:

I've sung "Amazing Grace" for many years and I have my own a capella arrangement of the song. Audiences of all backgrounds recognize the song and love it.

"Children Go Where I Send Thee" is another traditional song that I learned as a child. I first heard Mahalia Jackson sing it, then folksingers Peter, Paul, and Mary. It is a fun song that allows the audience to clap along.

"This Little Light of Mine" was my mom's favorite song. My mother, Mildred Fredericks Williams, was a fantastic singer in her own right. She thought "This Little Light of Mine" was an important inspirational song. I couldn't agree more.

Each of these songs has a strong message which spiritually lifts the listener (and the singer)!

During the festivities, Connie was interviewed by Christina Okello, Paris correspondent for ARISE NEWS. ARISE is a 24-hour news and entertainment channel with broadcast hubs in London, New York, and Johannesburg.

Connie interviewed by Christine Okello
© Discover Paris!

Click HERE to watch ARISE NEWS' coverage of the event - including a few notes of Connie's singing as well as her interview. (Story begins at 20:22 minutes and runs for approximately two minutes.)

Connie and her husband, Jim Malone, spend several weeks in France every year. The Journée Histoire et Renaissance presented a wonderful opportunity for them to connect with the black community in France...

Connie Fredericks-Malone (left), Bwemba Bong (historian and author - center), and Jim Malone (right)
© Discover Paris!

Joëlle Esso, Connie Fredericks-Malone, AfricaSam (photojournalist), and Jim Malone
© Discover Paris!

and sample African and Caribbean cuisine. Connie said among the dishes sold by vendors at the event, she liked the curry and fried fish kebab best. She enjoyed herself so much that she told me she "Can't wait to do it again next year!"

Tom Reeves is the co-founder of Discover Paris!


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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Latin Rhythms at the Luxembourg Garden

Last Saturday was unexpectedly and delightfully musical!

Tom made arrangements for us to meet colleagues on Saturday, May 31st at the snack bar near the Sénat kiosk in the Luxembourg Garden.

The weather was perfect as we set out for a leisurely stroll to the garden. When we arrived, we found a full-fledged concert of Latin American music underway at the kiosk!

We didn't want to be late for our rendezvous, so we didn't pay much attention to the trio that was playing mellow music when we arrived. But as our meeting broke up, we heard strains of "Oye Como Va" as played by Santana coming from the kiosk and decided that we should go over and investigate.

Carlos de Nicaragua y Familia was the band performing this Latin rock classic. Their repertoire is a mix of salsa and reggae music.

Carlos was intent on getting the crowd up on its feet (French audiences can be very quiet even when they are thoroughly enjoying themselves) and he left the bandstand several times to get "up close and personal" to attendees.

Carlos de Nicaragua y Familia
© Discover Paris!

Carlos de Nicaragua
© Discover Paris!

He was especially attentive to two children who planted themselves at the edge of the stage to get a closer look at the band.

Children watching the performance
© Discover Paris!

Carlos and the kids
© Discover Paris!

I later learned that Carlos' full name is Carlos Wiltshire. He was born in Nicaragua, lives in the Le Havre area of France, and studied at the Université de Paris X in Nanterre. He fought in the Nicaraguan Revolution.

As Carlos and his band vacated the stage after their performance, we began looking for a poster or some other kind of information about the event. We walked over to the mixing table and saw a list of eight performers for the day:

Argentina - Cuarteto Cedron
Venezuela - José Alejandro Delgado
Ecuador - Trío Diamante Latino
Nicaragua - Carlos de Nicaragua y Familia
Colombia - Nancy Murillo
Bolivia - sextet (name not listed)
Chile - Kerube (folklore group)
Dominican Republic - violinist (name not listed)

We surmised that we missed the first two groups and that the group that was playing when we arrived at the garden was Trío Diamante Latino.

Tom spotted a colorfully dressed woman nearby and guessed that she might be one of the performers. He approached her, engaged her in conversation, and found that he was right.

The woman was Nancy Murillo. She lives in Paris and speaks fluent French. She was kind enough to give me a copy of her latest CD - Tia Yova - and pose for a photo with me.

Monique and Nancy Murillo
© Discover Paris!

We stayed to listen for the first couple of numbers that Nancy sang and were happy that we did! The crowd was warmed up after Carlos's performance and it took little effort on Nancy's part to get people up and dancing.

Nancy Murillo
© Discover Paris!

Two young women joined her on the stage to perform a routine...

Nancy Murillo and company
© Discover Paris!

...and then Nancy descended the stairs to engage the audience.

Several people hopped up and began salsa dancing. The couple pictured below was especially good!

Dancing to the sounds of Nancy Murillo 1
© Discover Paris!

Dancing to the sounds of Nancy Murillo 2
© Discover Paris!

Dancing to the sounds of Nancy Murillo 3
© Discover Paris!

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and regretted that we could not stay until the end of the concert.

Click here to learn more about Carlos de Nicaragua (information in English).

Click here to learn more about Nancy Murillo (information in French).


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