Let me tell you. I did not imagine all this kale excitement two months ago. It is such a thrill to be hands-on with all the restaurants and chefs as they prepare kale for the first time.
About three weeks ago, my husband and I finally checked out Au Passage. This venue was recently added to my “restaurant list,” mainly because they offer natural wines and I want kale & natural wine to be friends. I had no intentions of bombarding the owners or chef as it was proper dinner hours and figured after I checked out the place, I would come back later that week during a reasonable time.
But as I’ve noticed, just like what happened with Frenchie, I by chance was put in close proximity with one of the kitchen staff, eavesdropped and then butted in about our adorable cruciferous green which led me to the head chef, Shawn. I love when stuff like this happens. Shawn, who is originally from Australia, but most recently worked at St. John’s in London, with another chef Edward. Automatically, these guys broke down a few barriers since 1) We were all native English speakers and 2) They both knew of and really liked kale.
Then I had the first event at Verjus, went to Texas and while there called Shawn to set-up the next potential kale-immersion in Paris. And on my first night back received the text that the kale was official ordered. The Kale Project & Au Passage were ready to go.
Shawn and Edward could not have been more welcoming and friendly to me. Talking about kale, moving to Paris, not speaking French very well and more kale. We talked about kale in New York and in America and how kale is served in London corner pubs.
When discussing kale in New York, I brought up the fact that almost every top restaurant serves a raw kale dish, which shocked both of them because they had never fathomed eating kale raw. So what else could I do but show them a raw kale salad step-by-step? Which being the nice guys they are, let me do. And they’re professionals so I knew that after one peak, they’d be pros at the kale massage.
So what did Au Passage do with their kale? It was perfect for a mid-autumn lunch with a choice between mulet or magret over blanched kale, marinated in pig’s head broth with shallots (can you see the English influence?)
And the best part is that because it was a set lunch menu, it was like I had my own focus group of French people learning about and tasting the kale. And everyone gobbled it up. Comments were, “love the taste,” “an actual taste compared to other cabbage,” “loved the consistency,” “is it new? can we find more?”
To top it off, Shawn loves kale and while he of course won’t use the ingredient every day because all wonderful chefs like to keep variety in their menus, do not worry because kale will make an appearance again.