After our gossip-filled breakfast with Daria, we jumped into a taxi and rushed to Les Halles and got off on the corner of rue Etienne Marcel and rue Montmartre to meet family/friend (it’s a long story), Tonger, for lunch at Comptoir de La Gastronomie. Last time we saw each other was for breakfast in late January and before that was fourteen years ago so there’s been quite a lot of catching up going on.
Tonger is a real foodie and so we have that in common. The last time we met, he brought us two hunks of cheese – Comte and Mimolette – that we brought back home to Marbella. This time, I promised to get him some jamon Iberico and as a special treat, I also brought some jabuguitos (chorizo Iberico) and a bottle of Balsamico al vinagre de Jerez (sherry vinegar glaze) but he surprised me too with an Eiffel tower chocolate mold from kitchen emporium Mora across the way.
After we said our hellos, we settled into a banquette and checked the menus out. Comptoir de La Gastronomie is a delicatessen and boutique selling gastronomic ingredients and delicacies – from fresh foie gras d’oie (fresh goose liver) to andouillete (white sausage), from tapenade (black olive spread) to wines, from magret de canard fume (smoked duck breast) to sel de guerande (Guerande sea salt). Founded in 1894, the wooden shelves and moldings have been retained and the atmosphere of an antique epicerie prevails. There are two entrances – one that goes directly into the deli and the other to the small restaurant alongside which serves most of what’s available at the deli. The menu is limited with a couple of foie-gras starters, cassoulet, several salads and a few simple dishes like steak tartare.
My mind was made up ahead of time as Tonger had been raving about the foie gras carpaccio and I couldn’t resist ordering something I had never tried before. Tonger had another specialty – the pan-fried goose liver while my mom and A both had the cassoulet. Tonger ordered his favorite Loire wine, Cour- Cheverny (a white wine made from Romorantin grapes usually served with foie gras), JM Tendresse from vigneron Michel Gendrier. According to the server, it was unavailable so she offered us a Chenin blanc, from Montlouis-sur-Loire, a Domaine de La Grange Tiphaine.
Our food came quick – the cassoulet served in an earthenware dish filled with chunks of sausage, bacon and a duck leg confit over white beans. Tonger’s sauteed foie gras came with toasted pain d’epices (spice bread) and a small green salad. It was seared perfectly on the outside, soft and creamy inside and delicious. The star of the show though was my foie gras carpaccio – a large plate (almost a platter) of very, very thinly sliced fresh foie gras, layered carefully, drizzled with honey and balsamic vinegar glaze and sprinkled with sel de guerande. It came with a dollop of caramelized onions and some slices of pickled ginger. The foie gras was melt-in-your-mouth delicious but the addition of the tart balsamic vinegar glaze, the sweetness of the honey and the crunch and flavor provided by the sea salt made each mouthful delectably different. The accompanying caramelized onions and pickled ginger (just like the one served with sushi) was a welcome flavor contrast to the richness of the foie gras – a very interesting combination and a memorable gastronomic first.
We ended the meal with espressos and finished the rest of the wine. As we were leaving, Tonger whipped out another surprise – a bottle of the Cour-Cheverny he wanted to have with lunch which was available at the deli, for us to take back home. We said our quick goodbyes at the door and off he rushed back to work and we wandered down the rue Etienne Marcel in search of a taxi while the pleasurable memories of lunch lingered on.
Comptoir de La Gastronomie
34, rue de Montmartre 75001 Paris
Tel: +33 01 42 33 31 32
Orders can be made online via their website: http://www.comptoir-gastronomie.com