How do you become picky ?

I have two main passions in life: tango and food.
About the first one – I have a little tango school in Paris, I organise a bunch of events, I became a professional dancer and teacher and together with this job we've been living a happily ever after.
As for the second one… we've been having a secret romance since couple of years. And the day has come….to make this affair public ! I can't hold it for myself anymore, so it's time for the world to hear it ….. FOOD, I LOVE YOU !

Ok, now seriously :) When I moved to Paris couple of years ago, my world suffered numerous cultural transformations. The biggest and most pleasant shock was (and is) the discovery of The Big World of Gastronomy. See, in comparison to Europe, Russia is a bit late on the development of High Cuisine, Quality of products and finesse of taste. When I was growing up, I haven't been hearing anything about "season" of products or it localness and basically considered "good" anything more or less eatable… and if you have some butter in it – that's a party.

So when I came to France, I was kind of skeptical. I mean, how can good can a dish be ? In the end, it's a simple fuel for your body. But out of curiosity, I followed a classical touristic path :

I went to a big Brasserie with Red Roof that looked to me "so romantically French"…. I would eat there French fries, some fat steak, onion soup, and think with disappointment "so this is what they call fine French dining?". ( I also ate a lot of croissants, until my French teacher told me one day that French people don't actually eat it for breakfast EVERY DAY :) )

Anyway. The day I already felt that I was profoundly fooled by all this collective lie about magnificent French food, one guy (guess who ;) brought me to a restaurant, or, as they call themselves – Contemporary Bistro "Le Timbre". Everything about that place seemed… unusual for my Russian standards J The outside banner was completely unremarkable, the kitchen was small, the sitting area - even smaller ! Waiters were saying "tu" and not "vous"… Who knew, was it a life-transformational lunch !

4 years later I can hardly remember what exactly was on the plate, but I remember the sensations – the vegetables were crunchy and juicy, the fish melted in the mouth, the dessert seemed completely butterless – and, yet, good !!!

Boy, was I astonished : how did they do it ? Why does it taste so good ? How come I've never heard of this place ? How can I find other places of similar format ? Not a Michelin star restaurants, something more affordable, yet refined, with chef's "touch" and "character" in the plate, with taste, with atmosphere ?

Aaaannd that's how it started J I started to learn about seasonal products - how does it work and why is it important? About origin of products and why local is better. I've learned stories of different chefs, their way, their vision and how have they arrived to where they are. About Fusion of numerous food cultures, about natural wine… I've started following different food guides, I've started to do my groceries and to cook differently. Bref ( as the French say), I got completely food-obsessed. Obsessed by the best products, by searching for the new exceptional French restaurants, hidden from a touristic eye, diligently choosing every meal I have, every shop I go to, every restaurant I step in. And you know what ? I've become really picky ! Not so easy anymore to please my palette ;)

So I've been kind of thinking of ways to share it all with the world… maybe starting a blog ?…. I do have a name – Picky !

So from now on I'm going to start presenting you my discoveries about Parisian food culture here - comments on my favorite places and other gastronomical adventures :)