For tonight only, an evening in FranceIf France were to feed Kathmandu for a night, what would it serve? The French are rightly proud of their cuisine, which boasts more iconic dishes than one can count. And Kathmandu will soon be able to get a taste of some of them.
If France were to feed Kathmandu for a night, what would it serve? The French are rightly proud of their cuisine, which boasts more iconic dishes than one can count. And Kathmandu will soon be able to get a taste of some of them.
Nine Kathmandu restaurants are bringing their favourite French dishes to the city for Nepalis as part of the annual Goût de France festival, on the night of March 21.
The French tourism initiative, which translates to “taste of France”, was first celebrated in 2015, to highlight the many flavours of the country’s gastronomical scene. This year, more than 5,000 restaurants in 150 countries across five continents will take part.
Some of the restaurants celebrating are run by French natives, who are passionate about sharing their cuisine with Nepal, but others are Nepali chefs who have been trained in the French cooking.
Restaurant La Terrace—at the Global Academy of Tourism & Hospitality Education (GATE), as well as the eight other restaurants—has organised a fixed menu for the evening with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
There is more to French food than cheese and wine, says Upendra Sagar Joshi, executive chef at La Terrace. “A lot of people don’t really know about French cuisine, it’s totally different [from Nepali food],” says Joshi. “But the awareness is slowly growing.”
GATE is one of two hospitality schools to join the celebration, with students whipping up French-inspired dishes for all to try. Most restaurants will have French wine and plenty of French cheeses made in Nepal, throughout their fixed-price menus. Restaurants will offer a four-course menu, with salads, cheese platters, soups, desserts and main courses on offer. Pauline Driard, who owns the restaurant Pauline’s Garden, believes Nepalis are almost as mad about cheese as the French. “If you asked me 10 years ago, I would say Nepalis didn’t know much about French food and, if they did, it was just about Chez Caroline,” says Driard. “But now things have changed a lot.”
There are French-inspired restaurants around the city now, and French items make appearances on the menus of many restaurants. For Nepalis who might want to try something French but don’t exactly know where to start, here are a few French classics to look out for during the evening of March 21:
Tartiflette, Pauline’s Garden Restaurant
With three French cheeses from Himalayan French Cheese, layered on top of parboiled potatoes, bacon and wilted onions, the tartiflette is a rich, cheesy French classic that is traditionally served in winter. Hailing from Savoy, a region in the Southern Alps of France, this dish is certain to be popular with Nepalis any time of year.
In its most traditional version, reblochon cheese is used, a washed-rind soft cheese native to the area. But Pauline’s Garden will use a combination of three cow’s milk cheeses—creamy camembert, mild tome, and Himalayan French Cheese’s flavourful Belkot.
Mille Feuille, The Philosophy Restaurant at Silver Mountain School Of Hotel Management
Light and airy, this classic piece of French patisserie is based on custard and pastry. The name means “1000 sheets”, which refers to the many layers that constitute the pastry. The sheets of pastry are typically divided by different fillings, such as custard and fruits, to create a contrast of crunchy and velvety textures. This dish is one of the most famous French desserts, found all around the country’s restaurants.
Coq Au Vin, La Terrace at the Global Academy of Tourism & Hospitality Education
A rustic French country stew, coq au vin traditionally uses an older rooster as its star ingredient. Cooked slowly in a rich sauce containing red wine, La Terrace will be doing its own version of the French classic using white wine instead. With a rich gravy made up of the wine and crispy bacon, this contemporary version of the classic French chicken dish will be served with sauteed vegetables and mashed potatoes.
Moelleux, Pauline’s Garden Restaurant
While everyone loves chocolate cake, the French have mastered every possible version. One of their most famous chocolate desserts comes in the form of the fondant, a cake baked so the insides remain almost liquid. The moelleux is baked slightly more, so it’s not a chocolate cake, according to Pauline Driard, rather its interior is “at the perfect point” of gooeyness. The dish is not necessarily region specific; rather it is a popular dessert across the country, says Driard.
Gout de France will be held on the evening of March 21 in nine Kathmandu restaurants—The Philosophy Restaurant, Silver Mountain School Of Hotel Management; Pauline’s Garden, Baluwatar; Olive Garden, Radisson Hotel; La Terrace restaurant, Global Academy of Tourism and Hospitality Education; Garden Terrace, Soaltee Crowne Plaza; The Chimney Restaurant, Hotel Yak and Yeti; The Old House, Durbar Marg; and Vino Bistro, Lazimpat.
Photos by Anish Regmi