Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back for more, and more takes on new meaning

We went back to Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore well worth the visit, (I actually read Bleak House on the way over and then read the Julia Child book about her life in France on the way back, I think Martha recommended that, and heartily agree!) and then decided to go back to our favorite restaurant, Le Loir dans la Thiere. This time, John ordered a lamb stew which was absolutely incredible, to die for stew. I had a yummy spinachy thing and we can't recall what Ren had, but she loved it. I had strolled past the dessert table on my way back to the restrooms (true test of a restaurant: how are the restrooms? These are EXCELLENT) and spied an apple tart that looked pretty good. So when the waiter suggested dessert, we were in! But John asked her what she recommended, she said the tarte citron was their specialty.

Two things you need to know:
1) John does not like meringue
2) The first time we were here, the dessert table had a meringue pie dessert that topped all Greek diner meringues in height and voluptuousness.

You know what the end of the story is: He order the tarte citron. We got the meringue to the sky. Yes, the citron part was fabulous. The meringue was the most velvety smooth and silky, and tallest, meringue ever. If you were ever going to like a meringue, this would be it. Three of us were unable to finish it.

Sunday dinner

Ren preferred eating in while we were in France, but we finally prevailed and convinced her that we came to France to enjoy eating out. It was Sunday when we accomplished this. On Sunday, French folks eat home. Nothing is open!
We asked her host family for a recommendation for a place we could have a nice dinner out, and they were perplexed at first and then recalled a place near Notre Dame that was open on Sundays, La Bouteille d'Or. We walked through the drizzle, past Shakespeare & Company (note to self: go back when open, on Monday) to the restaurant, and unsettlingly, we were the only people in the place.
The waiter was young, nice and then we were turned over to a young person who seemed to have completed her restaurant training in the US: Unlike most of the people who had served us so far, this person avoided making eye contact with us for almost the entire meal.
The food was fine, if not memorable. I think John had lentils and osso bucco? and Ren went for veal, and I had a filet done the French way (why did the waiter ask me how I wanted the meat if it only comes the French way, which luckily was how I like it?). Berthillon Glacier ices for dessert. A nice Croze Hermitage. A pleasant, but not necessary to repeat, meal.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

La Petite Rose

One of my favorite cookbooks is Joie de Vivre, which talks about how in France, about 3 o'clock, one takes a break for some refreshment, usually chocolate in nature.

One of the drizzly days, we waited for Ren over a glass of wine in a café across from her metro stop and one of the many carousels (How can you not like a city filled with carousels?) and when she joined us, we skittered next door to one of her favorite patisseries, La Petite Rose. I think John let her have a little of her gateau.

Eating in and liking it

Oddly, our daughter preferred to eat in while we were in Paris. This was somewhat disappointing, since John and I eat in a lot at home, and would enjoy the opportunity to eat out in a city filled with good eating out places. However, Paris is also filled with good eating in options: Picards. Monoprix. The French have perfected frozen food! I am moving to Paris and never cooking again!
We were staying in a little apartment, nicely appointed with lovely china, an eentsy kitchen with all the essentials, and very nice large wine glasses, so eating in was pleasant, as was the opportunity to just sit and chat with each other. (And so nice that Paris has little street crime so not too much of a worry for Ren to go home late alone! Even if we did live just around the corner from one of the historic "ladies of the night" sections of town. my gracious.)
So one night it was noodles and fruit from Monoprix, and one night it was moussaka from Picards. Amazing.

Trés mignon

While John was at Rotary, and then visiting with Guatier, the Rotary exchange student, Ren and I took the opportunity to visit the Bon Marché unsupervised.

Apparently, there is a tradition at Smith that for Convocation, the women show up pretty much in their all-together, with the exception of the seniors, who wear hats.

The Bon Marché has swell hats.
I felt that Ren should have a chapeau for her senior Convocation.

Our favorite place

John was at Rotary, Ren was studying, I had the day to get my hair cut and mosey around on my own. Rambled through the drizzle into the Marais, into the Jewish and gay section, got peckish, and tried to eat at the Jewish deli there, but it was packed, saw something that looked cute and smelled good, so opened the door to discover it was packed and had a line. Noted the address (3 Rue de Rosier) and followed some other disappointed folks around the corner to a Dome that looked kind of OK. But not really. The menu included Croque Madames, which I didn't know what was, but know I like croque monsieurs, so decided to try it. Hmmm, comes with a sunnyside egg on top. Not fond of sunny side eggs, and the salad was a little wilted. Oh well.

However, the next day, I was able to convince the team to go back to 3 Rue de Rosier with me. What a find! Cozy funky theatrical place with old armchairs, movie posters, and a friendly atmosphere.
John had lentils & sausage - wonderful, Ren chose linguine (how to pronounce linguine in French?) with a lemon sauce - delicate and delicious, and I had a spinach and Camembert tart - so good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Berthillon Glacier

Conveniently, the Sainte-Chapelle, Marché aux fleurs et oiseaux, and the Notre Dame and are located on the Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint Louis, where Berthillon Glacier is. A quick buzz through the cathredrals, and on to the real business at hand, superb ice cream. The seating area, elegant and cozy, with charming waitress, a perfect afternoon activity.

The glacés were scrumptious, and I had something I'd only made from cookbooks but never had as the genuine article, Poires Belle Helene. Scrumptious vanilla ice cream and pear ice, a bit of sponge cake, poached pear, enrobed in chocolate and garnished with am almond tuile. Ah.


Ren and James found a wonderful Tapas bar, les Piétons tapas bar, in the Marias near Les Halles and Ren wanted to go there. The first night we went, they were crammed full, so we made a reservation for the next night and asked for a recommendation for another place in the neighborhood (a strategy that worked in Copenhagen) and were referred around the corner to an odd spaghetti place, in fact called Curieux Spaghetti Bar, designed particularly to make the older folks in the group feel older, and where John had possibly the worst beer. Something called blonde or white beer. Don't have that. It is nasty.

Ren and John shared a big pot of spaghetti and meat balls, and I had excellent mushroom risotto.

The next night, Tapas! Delicious, fun, great waiter, bring us more! and more!

Ren had the last bite.

Monday, April 21, 2008

John goes to Rotary

John enjoys going to Rotary wherever he visits, and he particularly looked forward to Rotary in Paris, giving him a chance to visit with Gautier, the French Rotary exchange student. Remarkably elegant and enjoyable (and expensive) lunch.

One of these is the Rotary lunch, one is Napoleon's dining room. Can you tell which is which?

Mariage Frere

Tops on the list: Go to Mariage Frere and have tea. In the Marais, right near (surprising how small Paris really can walk everywhere.) our little apartment.
Tea was delightful, served by charmingly efficient young men in white tie and tail coats. Delicious scones and preserves. I had Afternoon Tea, Ren had Birthday Party Tea, and goodness knows what they put in John's teapot.

OK, where shall we eat next?

We've been in France!
April 6, Juneau to Seattle. Lunch at Anthony's in the airport.
Foolishly I did not have the crab/mango salad with chowder like I usually do.
John had French fries, to get in the mood.
When we landed, it was snowing! Bienvenue Alaskans!
By afternoon it melted off and settled into a typical damp chilly day. Lebanese food for lunch (delicious), then aperitifs at cafe near our apartment.

Dinner in our apartment, Chinese noodles from the Monoprix!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

More Food Fans

Our good friend and fellow food fan Hunter arrived last night so we ate late. John designated me as airport shuttle while he prepared a delightful repast of roasted potatoes, mixed vegetables, a tossed green salad with freshly made garlicky croutons, strawberries and kiwi in kirschwasser, and just as we left the airport, he put the steak on the barbecue. We arrived in short order, and he was just contemplating whether to whack the steak into three portions or slice it neatly into thin slices. Personally, I got my portion nicely fanned out. Capped with Hedges CMS and I think Hunter was drinking something called Meantime, and we talked well past our bed time. A fine repast.