The other day, when my friend Louise Brody suggested that we meet for lunch at “an inexpensive Asian fusion place” in her neighborhood, I couldn’t have been happier.
I’ve been in such an Asian mood lately, and can’t stop thinking about Sriacha and crispy nems – whoops, I meant eggrolls — and big bowls of pho…or ramen noodles at the Japanese place on rue St. Anne that I love…or that Szechuan restaurant in the 13th that I want to try…
We met at Mian Fan in Montparnasse, and I ordered up a big bowl of noodles, sprinkled with both white and black sesame seeds and drizzled with sesame oil, while Louise filled me in on her latest projects (swank “Mad Men” cocktail parties that she’ll be throwing with Alisa Morov of Sweet Pea Baking — more on this as it develops, I promise) and her current show.
Louise has boundless energy, and is one of the people that encouraged me to follow my crazy cowgirl dream and start my catering and cooking class business a little more than two years ago. She’s an incredible designer and has, for the last two years, turned the home that she shares with her architect husband into an occasional gallery, atelier 7, where up-and-coming artists and photographers are featured every other month.
In Montparnasse, just a hop and a skip from the Raspail metro, her atelier is where a now very well-known artist named Picasso lived, and created his first cut-paper collages in 1912.
It’s a magical space. And I love her gallery-salon concept, where the art revolves, and after an always standing-room-only opening night party, art lovers may make an appointment and have a personal guided tour during the 5-week show.
She has an eye for talent, and is always looking for the next show. Currently, she’s got a mixed media paintings by Marielle Guégan, who she discovered when she asked about the art on the wall at her favorite Italian restaurant down the street. Turns out, the paintings were by the owner’s wife, who she soon met and signed on.
Until now, Guégan’s been part of group shows, and through another friend with a booth at Clignancourt, Paris’ big weekend flea, she sold a couple of paintings to an American with a penchant for all things vintage (and who just opened a store in St. Germain), Ralph Lauren.
What’s great about Louise’s shows is they’re as interesting for collectors like RL as they are for those of us on, ahem, a smaller budget, and are just starting to collect art. For example, her current show features black-and-white limited edition etchings that start at 50 euros as well as grand scale paintings that cost a few thousand.
I’m still thinking about one of the prints that she showed me after our lunch.
I’ve also not been able to stop thinking about these noodles, so I decided to make my own version – plus, I just bought a new wok at Tang Freres (for around 15 euros) and I was dying to take it for a spin.
The only time this takes is the chopping, which I did ahead of time, so I could just throw this together in 10 minutes. I used the teensy vermicelli rice noodles, because that’s all that they had at the stinky stinky Franprix, but this would be better, even, with thicker rice noodles, or wheat noodles like I had in the restaurant.
Makes 2 servings
3-4 tablespoons canola oil
1 carrot, sliced into 3-inch matchsticks (about 1 cup)
3-4 green onions, sliced in half, and into 3-inch pieces
1 head broccoli, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
1 Thai chile, finely chopped, with seeds (or leave out the seeds if you don’t want it spicy)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4.5 oz. vermicelli/rice noodles
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame oil (or to taste; I drizzled a little more when serving)
handful chopped cilantro
lime wedges, for serving
1. Put the noodles in a medium bowl and pour hot water over them, so they soften up. After 3-5 minutes, drain the noodles in a colander.
2. In a wok or skillet, drizzle 2 tablespoons of canola oil and turn the heat on high. When it’s nice and hot, add the carrots, and cook them only until they begin to soften (you want these to be cooked but retain their shape and crunch). Put a mesh colander over a bowl, and when the carrots are cooked, just pour the carrots and the oil into this, so you can reuse the oil.
3. Using the oil from the carrots and any additional oil, repeat this process with the green onions. Then, the broccoli.
4. Now you’re ready to put it all together. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok or skillet again, add the ginger and chile, and turn it on high. You’ll need to work quickly. Stir this around and now add the veggies and the noodles and stir, stir, stir. Break two eggs into the side of the wok and scramble these up and break it up as you do this and mix it in with the veggies and the noodles. Add the soy sauce, the sesame seeds and sesame oil and toss again a time or two until it’s all mixed in. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Divide into two large bowls and serve topped with chopped cilantro and lime.
242 blvd Raspail
Open Wed – Friday, 3 – 7 p.m. without an appointment
06 14 21 48 12