Since late summer of 2015, pop-up restaurant Gustafson has called one of the Dutch capital’s most hip & happening hotspots, the Westergasfabriek, home. In anticipation of the warmer months ahead, Gustafson recently opened a large terrace, GUUS, which seats up to 150 people and weather permitting, profits from round-the-clock sunshine. But that’s not all. The trendy and multifaceted establishment is also a podium for design, music, expositions and a variety of other cultural events.
On Friday, we finally had a chance to check out Gustafson’s menu, and though the weather certainly did not lend itself for dining on their new terrace, the experience inside did not disappoint.
Though I love eating out, I am everything but a food snob. OK, with the exception of the ‘Salade Riche‘ I so much adore (and had last weekend again) at one of my favorite French restaurants, Bel Ami. I guess that salad would classify as rather snobbish with its abundance of fish and duck liver curls. But aside from that sensual dish of pure gastronomic indulgence, I am not partial to fancy restaurants that serve ‘artistic’ cuisine with smudges of food, flowers, geometric patterns or foaminess that reminds me of spit. Nor am I impressed by ‘well-known’ chefs or their Michelin stars. In fact, the type of food (and type of restaurant) that I most enjoy is down-to-earth. Real food. Real people. Real passion. And sometimes, there’s a great deal of passion to be found in those ‘simple’ restaurants, which unfortunately are either never discovered or too ‘plain Jane’ for some.
This past summer we visited Duras once again — that lovely village in the southwest of France that stole my heart years ago and which I plan to call ‘home’ one day. Over the years we fell in love with a few of the restaurants both in Duras and in the surrounding area. I have my favorite place to eat a good duck confit, a place that makes a consistently perfect omelet and a place that serves the best menu du jour ever. That place is called La Terrasse (4, Place Jean Bousquet), and that place was the inspiration for this wonderful dish.
I was supposed to write a follow-up to my last post, but France didn’t let me. We got back to our apartment after a lovely dinner at Restaurant Du Marché, and the only thing I wanted to do was let the whole day just sink in.
We ate at Du Marché last year, but I had no idea it was such a popular place until last Saturday evening. Swarms of wealthy Parisians started pouring in at around 8PM, removing their fancy fur coats and ordering glasses of champagne. The place was absolutely buzzing, and the food was great. I had the Marmite Du Marché, a rich fish soup with cream, mussels, cod, salmon and potatoes. So incredibly good! How I wish I would’ve had room for dessert. Instead I had a Grand Marnier. Majorly bummed that they didn’t have Armagnac.
The next day was Easter Sunday and even though we weren’t home, I still tried to make our table a little festive. We had a nice breakfast (though everyone was so not amused with my stinky Maroilles) and then headed out for a drive through the countryside and beaches. If you know me, you probably know that my heart belongs to Le Sud Ouest. This region, however, has something magical. I feel that every time I look out over the endless hills or breathe in the salty ocean air.
Our drive took us through a few different places, including Wimereux, Audresselles and Ambleteuse, where we stopped for lunch.
When hubby suggested where we should go for lunch, I hesitated. From the looks of the place, called ‘Le Freestyle‘, I wasn’t too convinced. We went in and were greeted by a very friendly young man who quickly seated us. Just in time, because moments later, everyone who came in was turned down. It was a simple resto, all decked out in American style (license plates everywhere, blues and country music playing in the background). The food (and wine) were surprisingly good. I had the regional specialty, potjevleesch, which is a cold meat terrine, somewhat similar to Burgundy’s jambon persillé. If I’m back in the area, I will definitely return.
I even had room for dessert, a yummy café gourmand, with a kick ass mousse au chocolat and crème brûlée.
The rest of the day included a little relaxing and more walks on the beach. We certainly took advantage of the beautiful weather.
That night we also made a late dinner reservation, just so we could see the sun set. It was stunning. We walked down the boulevard as the sun slowly went to sleep, not saying ‘good-bye’, just saying ‘until next time’.
Our dinner reservation was at Café Leffe, one of the few places that was not fully booked. I think all of Paris arrived (and quickly booked every restaurant!) the day before. Luckily, this proved to be a lovely place, too. I started with oysters and a glass of Chardonnay. My main was the leg of lamb (succulent and beautifully cooked), and for dessert, I had to have the crêpe with salted caramel. Yes, I was stuffed, but it was worth it!
That last day was well-spent. The next morning, after a pain au raisin, we headed back to Holland.
Can’t wait to see you again, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage!