After years of trapezing with me across airports, in and out of international borders, baggage screening, fashion weeks, yacht cruises, lying quietly under air flight seats, cabin baggage, or, carried on my shoulders in hippie Pero sling bags, my partner in mission, my laptop, decided it needed a break. From me 😊 My pace of life had caught up with it. It slowed down, froze in the middle of conversations, hung up, gave me the silent treatment over the weekend, and then eventually ghosted me. When my buddy turned relationship coach advised that we take time out, I decided `Yeah, we can do that,’ and promptly plugged it in for a systems update. Seems it had been giving me `signals,’ while I am the `Let’s talk about it’ person. Communication needs to be straight and open to make any relationship a success. Gentlemen, please do note 😊
SINGLE IN THE CITY
So, single and on a break, I strapped on my heels, seductively made up my Chanel lips, generous squirts of J’Adore to uplift my energy, and Miles Davis wooing the headphones, I hailed a Grab and headed to Chez Gaston (12G, Jalan Bangsar Utama 9, Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur). Parisians always know how to make a girl happy with wine and food, non? I had the wind in my hair.
The charm about the French, is well, they are charming. And that’s how ma cherries, I walked into Chef Nigen Florian’s cute little open floored bistro with a quaint no-fuss laid back personality. No grand signage to announce the location, just a simple banner that you may blink and miss. So look carefully around the road corner even when your Google location announces you have arrived.
Tables placed at a generous distance from each other, good looking French men lazing over drinks and desserts, my table ready with some flowers and faint strains of French music floating around my aura, I settled into my seat and dived into the menu. A delicious, fresh and all mint iced Mojito with Rum infused lime juice glided to my table. Just what I needed to take the moody edge off.
Chef Nigen’s big smile greeted me a warm welcome. How easily good energy settles the balance between awkwardness and warmth. `I’ve prepared just the menu for you,” he smiled effortlessly. “I hope you can eat all of it,” he jested giving me the look over, and then pointing to his generous belly. “Now you know where the food goes,” Chef Nigen joked loudly. I had already forgotten my grumpy laptop by now, the Mojito sending all the happy bees with sunshine into my head 😊 I noticed the table in my line of sight getting more louder, as curious blue-grey eyes met mine and heads nodded in greeting. Remember to flow where energy goes, always 😊
FEAST FOR A LADY
Most of the food at Chez Gaston is inspired by the delightful cuisine of his father’s very successful restaurant Le Gilles de Bretagne at 22380, St Cast, Le Guildo, France. Recipes drawn from over 30 years of traditional home cooking, passed down one generation to another, and celebrated by traveler and locals with praise and revelry. Just enough incentive for Chef Nigen to bring some of those recipes to Malaysia and disrupt local palates.
Making thus perfect timing for the Escargots Bourguignon (bestseller on the menu) to demand my attention. Edible land snails baked out of their shells with hot butter, parsley and garlic French pesto, cooked deliciously. Each snail soft like marshmallow with its butter soaked entrails, and representing a curtain raiser to an afternoon of true French culinary experiences. “Don’t go too much on the bread,” Chef Nigen cautioned, “there’s a lot to eat,” he laughed, as I gingerly picked each each moist snail, warm notes of running green fields with sunflowers and rice paddy harvests flooding my sensory nerves.
The Mojito was perfectly paired to accompany the culinary entourage to follow, as the Charcuterie Platter made its big appearance. A generously endowed delicious pork platter filled with cured and smoked pork (cured in-house), complete with a Salad, two kinds of homemade pates, salami, chorizo, parma ham, gherkins, shallot jam.
A great appetizer to start a full bodied takeover of a neighbouring country with the right politically inclined company 😊Finely cured meats each bearing a distinct flavour, unique and elegant in contrast with the other, and yet bound to each other by a symbolic relationship of taste, tradition and texture. Rural France as bountiful in its produce in as much as the robust spirit of its folks. A strong emotion of home-ness flooded over me. Familial and comfortable, like eating by a wood fire, a generous jar of red Porto to satiate a thirsty throat, the taste of wood and the feel of warm clothes. Loud traffic noises disturbed me back to my real space and time. Must mention, the table to my side unusually lingered on, while smiles went back and forth to the time zone of now. Isn’t it always smart to just walk over and say hello to a lady?! That’s why the old school is my preferred school.
TUNE IN TO CANDID CONVERSATIONS WITH CHEF NIGEN FLORIAN ON THE ETHEL DA COSTA CHANNEL
AND THE MAIN CURTAIN CALL
I like it when a Chef ensures he knows what you don’t like. It shows that he is truly concerned, and connected with his food and voice. I do not eat oysters for our history of bad love-hate break-ups. It was time for the Mains – A Rouge en Papillote (best seller). A French style red mullet baked in the oven with vegetable julienne and beurre blanc. Prepared by Chef Flo, how do I say this, it was like a delicately sophisticated mademoiselle breaking out of her bedroom down the balcony water pipes, to go run to a village dance with her girlfriends. Let me remind you, again, that food is a visual mood board for me. Guess that’s why I take so long at the table eating each morsel slow, and at my own time 😊
To the uninitiated, the beurre blanc might seem to overbear the mullet, and that’s why you have the bread to balance texture (if needed), till you get to the vegetable julienne, and sip on the Mojito to create a connected story line. The Mojito, by the way, was perfect to run through my lunch, complementing all the dishes to enhance and cleanse in preparation of the next course. Which was the Beef Bourguignon, braised in red wine and beer stock, with a little side of potato and cauliflower. Every bite an ode to a cooking skill perfected with patience, expertise and homely love. A protein high for sure, considering the wine soaked into every fiber of its meat. Really really good.
AND HERE’S WHY THE FRENCH ARE ARTISTS OF DESSERTS
Where would French cuisine be without Marie Antoinette’s cakes, though The Vanilla Crème Brulee – the classic French delicacy with a rich custard base and topped with a layer of hardened caramelized sugar – was just the truce that should have been shared with the masses to stop her beheading.
After a spoonful of two, I put down my cutlery admiring the light and tasty flight to happiness I felt. Blessings of gratitude washed over me. The Chocolate Mousee (bestseller) reminded me that Malaysia was indeed a gift bestowed on me for years of walking the path less trodden to my personal bliss. The reward for popping the Red Pill very early in life. It was way beyond closing hours when I finally said au revoir to this wonderful charming man. Now to go and make up with Mr Grumps machine at home. Enchante!
*If you’re free this weekend (October 17-18), Chef Nigen has a special 3 course menu out (RM 58+). Call for Reservations @01139930036.
Stay happy and safe, my darlings. This too (CMCO) shall pass soon.
Check Facebook for weekend details: https://www.facebook.com/chezgastonkl
Open : 12.00pm-2.30pm & 6.00pm-10.30pm.
Photo credits: Chez Gaston, Ethel Da Costa
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