dessert by daniel morgan

Tracking down Daniel Morgan in Paris

I hadn’t seen Daniel Morgan since his pop-up at Carousel in London.  After which he left a message of thanks on my blog post, adding “I hope we meet again some day”. That day was to be nearly five years later, at Robert, where he is now head chef, in Paris’ foodie 11th arrondissement.

Staying in nearby Belleville, I thought booking would be a breeze… however, Robert is only open for dinner, and it was booked solid for the week. Luckily people cancel.

I was buying wine at Les Cave du Pantheon, in the 6th arrondissement, when I got the call, “Can you make it here by 7pm?” I answered “yes”, as a yes opens up new frontiers. The next 30 minutes were a bit of a sweat as I raced across Paris to the exotically named rue de la Fontaine au Roi, roughly between the Canal Saint Martin and Belleville.

My other options to chase for cancellations had been the pop-up by Adrien Cachot at Le Perchoir Ménilmontant, also in the 11th, and Mosuke par Mory Sacko in the 14th. But I wanted to catch up with Daniel, to see a familiar face, even if he did not remember me, and to feel that there was a thread to life.

From the north of England to Paris & back

Daniel grew up in the countryside near Sheffield, in the north of England. Like me, he had had a ‘foraging’ childhood, although unlike him I do not have any gipsy blood, just Irish. He has worked at some of the world’s top restaurants: Noma in Copenhagen, Narisawa in Tokyo, Frantzen in Stockholm, and MazeThe Square and Sketch in London.  From his pop-up at Carousel, he went to Bogotá, Colombia and then back to Paris. He became head chef at Robert in April 2021 – the year he was awarded the Best Chef Award 2021 by Le Fooding.

Food & wine at Robert from the Loire

Robert is not just a restaurant. It also has a two-hectare ‘garden’ in the commune of Léré in the Loire. Each week the vegetables, herbs and fruit arrive from the garden, aptly named Le Jardin sur Loire. In addition, the garden serves Robert’s brother restaurant, Martin, also in the 11th. It is this produce that writes the menu, while the fish is wild, the meat raised ‘consciously’ in France, and the wine is biodynamic.

There is no à la carte, just the Ménu Découverte du Jardin, at €58. Eating without choosing is so much more fun: you place more trust in the chef, and It creates more of a shared experience with other diners.

There was no written menu – a sign of the times, perhaps; for each course, the waiter took the role of the story teller. My memory is visual, so unless I see the words, I don’t remember. Anyway, it is best to ‘feel’ and ‘experience’ food rather than ‘mentally analyse’ the tastes. Otherwise it is like going to an art gallery, and spending more time reading the little blurbs on the wall rather than looking at the picture.

And, yes, Daniel came out to say hello. It was good to pick up again with someone who you last met, and first met, nearly five years ago. Will I keep track of where he goes next? This time I’ll leave it to fate. But for sure, watching where chefs go, is a bit like seeing where footballers go, or where artists pop up.

Rabbit thigh with white dots on piece of paper
First up. Rabbit. Caught in the garden? I wondered.

The next two images have no names, no details… just memories, good memories:

Round slices of food with white cream on plate
Egg yolk on green bed with stripes

Then I took the ‘additional’ dish…. the one you pay a bit extra for. It was biche, or deer. Was it from the garden? I wondered.

Slice of meat on bed of greens

And so on to dessert, with the follow-up dessert being the dish in the main image…

Green soup with pear

Then it was a ten-minute walk back to my hotel in Belleville. Feeling very content with life.

Notes about foraging

Here are some notes I made about foraging when I first met Daniel at Carousel in London:

  • The modern diet has very little variety. The world is home to around 50,000 plants used in medicine (Source: Grow Your Own Drugs – James Wong). We can probably eat many tens of thousands of these varieties, but we don’t. We stick to broccoli, carrots and peas.
  • Foraging also fits with my belief in the Ayurvedic approach to eating and to living, which I experienced during my trip to Sri Lanka. It’s all about eating fresh, seasonal, local and as wild and as varied as possible.
  • We have a basic need to forage. In our consumer society, people forage to buy clothes, book holidays, redecorate their homes, trawl the internet. They sift through for the bargain or the ‘nugget’ that they then pluck and proudly claim as theirs.
  • Foraging in nature is far more naturaland satisfying. Only recently in our evolution as humans have we lived in cities, and as for the digital world, that is just for a pinhead of time. Our ancestors ran around in forests and across plains, up hills and down valleys.
  • Nature is like a great keyboard on which our highest sentiments are played out. We turn to it, as we might turn to music, to evoke and strengthen the best in us,” writes Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor in Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity.
  • Foraging teaches you to be flexible, as nature is exceedingly fickle.

Daniel’s menu at Carousel London in 2017

Ajo Blanco, Fresh Almonds, Marinated Cucumber, Fermented Cabbage Root

Raw Cuttlefish, Smoked Perilla Vinegar, Ginger, Finger Lime

Borlotti Beans, Cockerel Kidneys, Sardine Vinaigrette, Lardo Di Colonnata

Arepa, Fermented Mushroom, Goat Bacon, Grasshopper (from Cornwall) and Sea Lettuce

Dry-Aged Lamb Shoulder, Juniper, Beach Herbs, Juiced Courgettes

Hay Grilled Strawberries, Elderflower Vinegar, Woodruff

Man with beard looking at camera
Daniel Morgan in 2017 at his pop-up at Carousel, London

As for my foraging, it’s about blackberries, mushrooms, wild apples, sea kale… and I would add the woodruff in my garden, if it weren’t for the many foxes who trot through it.

Oh, and by the way, Daniel has tattooed BUTTER on his left outer wrist and BREAD on his right. He showed me that at Carousel. I presume it’s still there.

This blog post is an update of the original article about Daniel’s pop-up at Carousel which was posted on 2 June 2017.

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2 Comments
  • daniel morgan
    Posted at 16:08h, 05 August Reply

    Such a lovely article . Great writing . I hope we meet again someday . I shall keep you informed on my future projects. And best of luck with your future endeavours . Try and get the book food for free . Rereleased by Hugh Fearnley whittingstall… A very good d
    Guide too our sublime coasts forests and pastures in England .

    Thankyou again and very lovely to meet you .

    Bises

    Daniel Morgan

    • Gina Power
      Posted at 08:26h, 07 August Reply

      Hi Daniel, Thank you! I also really believe in you and what you are doing. Yes, please keep me posted on future projects. In the meantime, I’m going to track down that book. More and more I believe in ‘natural’ eating… as close as possible to nature. Lots of love, Gina

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