Photo of the Week

Paris-Update-Tuileries

The Tuileries Garden at dusk. © Paris Update

 

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).

French artists at the Grand Palais
>
The Salon des Artistes Français gives over 600 artists a chance to show their work. Grand Palais, Paris, Feb. 15-19.

Affordable art

Calixte

Painting by Calixte.

> At the Grand Salon d’Art Abordable, prices for artworks range from €50 to €5,000. La Bellevilloise, Paris, Feb. 17-19.

Contemporary textile art
>Exhibition of new textiles from around the world. Le Beffroi, Montrouge, Feb. 22-March 19.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Dominique Cabrera's Corniche Kennedy, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, Feb. 17.

Indian film scene
> The festival India Express takes a tour of new and classic films focusing on the subcontinent’s major cities. Forum des Images, Paris, through Feb. 26.

Tribute to the graphic arts
> The Graphic Design Festival sponsors various events, including exhibitions and sports graphics on street furniture. Various locations, Paris, through Feb. 22.

Young European photographers
> The Festival Circulation(s) features emerging photographers. Centquatre, Paris, through March 5.

Frank Capra Retrospective
> The great American director in the spotlight. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Feb. 27.

Chinese New Wave
> Nouvelles Voix du Cinéma Chinois screens films by a new generation of directors beginning around the turn of the 21st-century. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Feb. 20.

Winter sales
> Retail sales all over France: through Feb. 21.

 

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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