It's not really fair to say that Wally le Saharien makes the best couscous on the planet, because his is like no one else's. It was born, like Wally himself, "somewhere in the Sahara," and even though he is now encamped on the lower flanks of Paris' Montmartre, to eat chez Wally is to feast with a desert prince.
For those accustomed to the typical North African couscous of Paris (moist yellow semolina granules doused with spicy stew fast, cheap and filling), Wally's $55 Tuareg banquet is a camel of a different color. Diners have one choice: red wine or white. The set menu is a cavalcade of flavors so perfectly balanced that it hasn't changed in 30 years. First is chorba, a spicy tomato soup rich enough to restore life even after a day fighting the hordes at Versailles. A refined pastilla, a sweet-savory pigeon pastry dusted with cinnamon and sugar, floods the senses with visions of The Thousand and One Nights. After a pair of grilled fresh sardines comes the masterpiece: a plain dry couscous of ethereal lightness, as hot and fine and white as the sands of the Sahara. It takes two days and much hand-fluffing to achieve this miraculous texture; the spectacular roast lamb and spicy sausage become mere side dishes.
Wally's cooking method is designed to minimize the amount of water and wood needed to render the grains to perfection, but couscous is still an extravagance in the desert. And for Parisian couscous seekers, Wally Le Saharien is a rare oasis. 36, Rue Rodier; tel: (33 1) 42 85 51 90