Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-SquareLouvois

The Square Louvois, with the Biblio-
thèque Nationale in the background.
© Paris Update

© JR-ART.NET
© JR-ART.NET
 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

All-night art
> Nuit Blanche is an all-night festival of outdoor art events, plus special happenings in museums, which will stay open late for free. Various locations, Paris, Oct. 1.

Strange Happenings in St. Germain
> The exhibition Bizarro, with works by a number of artists, fills seven Left Bank galleries with “Bêtes de Scènes et Sacrés Monstres.” Don’t miss the Meta-perceptual Helmets by the Irish duo Cleary/Connolly
at the Librairie Alain Brieux, which allow the viewer to see forward and backward, for example, or the way a cyclops or horse would see. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 30.

Two meals for the price of one
> Restaurants participating in Tous au Restaurant offer a second fixed-price menu for free. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 2.

Feel-good films
> Classic movies starring the Marx Brothers, Peter Sellers, Cary Grant and more are sure to raise a smile at the festivalQu’est-ce qu’on Attend pour Être Heureux!, Forum des Images, Paris, through Oct. 2.

Indian films
> Indian film festival. Musée Guimet, Paris, through Sept. 30.

Chanson française
> L’Estival features singers performing in French. Various locations, Saint Germain-en-Laye, through Oct. 8.

Antique fair in a bucolic setting
> A visit to the Foire de Chatou antique market and regional products fair makes a great weekend outing. Chatou, through Oct. 2.

Contemporary arts festival
> TheFestival d’Automne presents leading talents in art, dance, film, theater and more from around the world. Various venues, Paris, through Dec. 31.

Classical, world, jazz & electronic
> The Festival d’Ile de France holds concerts in various locations in Paris and elsewhere, through Oct. 9.

Music & more in park bandstands
> Kiosques en Fête brings life to the bandstands in Paris’s parks with concerts, writing workshops, club meetings and even a square dance. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 31.

Music on the beach
> Sandy beach and nightly concerts or DJs at La Plage de Glaz’Art. Paris, through Oct. 1.

Amazing gardens
> The popular Festival International des Jardins de Chaumont-sur-Loireis held annually in the park of the Château de Chaumont in Chaumont-sur-Loire, through Nov. 2.

 

Restaurants - Non french

 

Madame Shawn Thai Cuisine

Key Learning: God Is in
The Thai Royal Basil


I was so furious with myself. What kind of a food critic turns up for a return visit to a restaurant he wants to review without booking? And, what’s more, right before his deadline? Downright unprofessional, that’s what I’d say. But, as the human resources pundits would have it, it was a key learning” (ugh!). I promise it won’t happen again if I can help it. Luckily, I managed to nip back for another try at lunchtime the next day.

Madame Shawn’s owner, Jittini Wangsin, is something of a serial entrepreneur, with three branches of her Thai restaurant, plus a stylish boutique selling Southeast Asian homewares. She must be a formidable businesswoman to run a small empire in this business-unfriendly country of ours. Her place near République offers a very fine sampling of Thai recipes that combine all the right flavors, uncompromising heat from the chilies and fetching presentation.

The decor is cozy, understated ethnic, with lots of wood and rattan, a dark slate floor, bas-reliefs of blissful Buddhas on the walls and an orchid on each table. It seats around 40 and probably does a couple of hundred covers a day, judging by the crowds I saw at my second (unsuccessful) and third (successful) visits. Reservations are obviously essential.

My lovely pho pia starter – a cross between Chinese spring rolls and Vietnamese nem, with a peanut/fish dipping sauce, fresh mint and carrot – ignited a warm glow, while my companion and I were both ecstatic about her marinated raw shrimp with garlic and mint.

We chose an organic wine from Domaine du Petit Roubié, a Vin de Pays de l’Hérault, at a very reasonable €25. Petit Roubié’s cheap, pleasant, entry-level tipple is one I buy from Nysa on Rue Montorgueil for everyday quaffing, but this one, L’Arbre Blanc, was definitely a cut above. Madame Shawn also sells it by the glass. It has all the character it needs to give great pleasure in its own right and act as a foil to the assertive Thai cuisine.

A red chicken curry in coconut sauce was more than I could hope for, and a dish of stir-fried spaghetti (not noodles) with plump shrimp had enough distinctive Thai royal basil and lime leaves in it to prove the existence of God (a much more convincing argument than the “prime mover” one I was fed at school).

I could go on, because the only time I’m happier than when writing about food is when I’m sampling it, but I do have to get on the phone to book my next table. No more screwups...

Richard Hesse

Madame Shawn Thai Cuisine: 34, rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris. Tel.: 01 42 08 05 07. Metro: République or Jacques Bonsergeant. Nearest Vélib stations: 14, rue de Marseille; 8 Place Jacques Bonsergeant. Open daily for lunch and dinner (closed May 1). Fixed price lunch menus: from €12.50. A la carte: around €25*.See Web site for other locations: www.mmeshawn.com

*three courses, not including wine

© 2008 Paris Update

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