PostHeaderIcon Is This The Best Restaurant in Paris?

Saturday – the trip is winding down. We had snagged that lunch reservation at Agape Substance the day before, but it wasn’t until 1PM. So, we figured we’d walk around that area again to work up an appetite. We walked over to Saint-Sulpice cathedral, which is a beautiful one, with a big plaza with a fountain in front of it. We went inside and Marie lit a candle for her dad. I had read about the organ recitals that are given free after Sunday mass, so we might go over there if we can wake up early enough. We took a leisurly stroll to the restaurant and sat down for what turned out to be an eating marathon.

Agape Substance is a very small 24-seat restaurant with one large counter that seats the majority of the diners, and a few tables for 2 scattered around.  It’s a bit cramped, and we were surrounded by two Japanese-speaking couples, so there was no opportunity to strike up conversations. There are mirrors all around, even on the ceiling, which is a good thing, because this place could get claustrophic. But, the food! This is a one-of-a-kind restaurant that blows away anything we’d had in Paris.

There’s no way I can describe every one of the TWENTY-ONE dishes that were were served. But, virtually every one was amazing, with multiple flavors, textures, colors, and aromas. They even passed around some of the raw ingredients so we could see and smell them. The only complaint I had was that it looked like the people on either side of us got a couple of dishes that we didn’t get. I think they just lost track of what we’d been served, since they tried to bring us a duplicate dish of asparagus. I guess I can’t complain too loudly, 21 dishes was still a crazy amount of food. We had a bottle of 2007 Pouilly-Fuissee for 64 Euros, which went well with virtually all of the dishes. The lunch menu was 99 Euros each, so with the wine and coffee, the bill was 280 Euros. Yes, very expensive, but I think there aren’t more than a handful of restaurants in Paris that can match this food. Here are pictures of all of them:





We were in a bit of a food coma by the time we walked out of the restaurant at 3:45pm (that’s 2 3/4 hours for lunch!).  We took a walk along the Seine, where we saw the Pont des Arts, which is a pedestrian bridge that has chain-link fences on either side to which there are hundreds of padlocks attached by lovers (they throw the keys into the river below). I took a photo of Marie on the bridge:

Marie on the Pont des Arts

Marie on the Pont des Arts



We headed up to the apartment after that. I had seen a poster for a concert at the oldest church in Paris – Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre on our walk, so I walked over there and got tickets for the 7pm concert. The singer was excellent, as was the piano accompaniest. The concert ended around 8:30, and neither one of us felt like eating another meal. Plus, it was pouring rain by that time. So, we went back to the apartment and had a snack of leftover pastries from Eric Keyser that we had bought for our meal at home a few days ago.

PostHeaderIcon Spring Into Spring

Friday the 4th was a food day (not that the others haven’t been). We had lunch reservations at Spring, one of the hot nouveau bistros in the 1st. It was a pretty nice day, so we took the Metro over to Les Halles and walked to the restaurant. Unfortunately, we got out of the Metro at the farthest point from the restaurant and had a pretty long walk, made more complicated by a major construction project at the shopping mall. Plus, it had started raining, so the walk wasn’t very pleasant.

We got to the restaurant about 1/2 hour early, but there was no problem seating us right away. We had a great meal and very friendly servers. The chef/owner’s wife/girlfriend had a baby the night before, and he told the staff to open a magnum of champagne and serve everyone a complimentary glass. So, we had a nice welcome. The food was excellent, perfectly prepared and very tasty. We started with a dish of radishes, some salted butter, and a dish of smoked fish (I think mackerel) and raw fish (no idea what it was). Here it is:

Radishes, Butter and Fish at Spring

Radishes, Butter and Fish at SpringNext



Next was asparagus (a recurring theme on this trip) with a honey-lime vinaigrette, hazelnuts, and greens/sprouts. We loved this dish.

Asparagus at Spring

Asparagus at Spring



We then had fried oysters, with a panko coating. Very crispy, and cooked perfectly, although Marie said she prefers them raw.

Fried Oysters at Spring

Fried Oysters at Spring



The “main” course was surf-and-turf, with a veal loin wrapped in chard substituting for the beef. It was done perfectly, with the veal just pink, and the lobster still moist and tender.

Surf and Turf at Spring

Surf and Turf at Spring



Dessert #1 was strawberries with goat-milk sorbet topped with glazed pistachios. The sorbet wasn’t goat-y, so I enjoyed it, as did Mare.

Strawberries and Goat Milk Sorbet at Spring

Strawberries and Goat Milk Sorbet at Spring



Dessert #2 was a praline cream with whipped cream, topped with a chocolate crumble. Loved it.

Pralines, Cream, and Chocolate at Spring

Pralines, Cream, and Chocolate at Spring



We had some coffee, which was served with some butter cookies.

Coffee and Cookies at Spring

Coffee and Cookies at Spring



We both loved this meal, and felt it was the best yet. The rain had stopped by the time we finished lunch, so we decided to walk over to the Rue Montorgueil shopping street. But, the construction around Les Halles was so bad that the streets we needed to walk on were blocked, and I couldn’t find a good alternate route. So, we just walked around the Les Halles pedestrian streets, where we saw this car, which we had to take a picture of:

Marie and the Tiny Car

Marie and the Tiny Car



We hopped on a Metro and headed back to the apartment, where we crashed for a while.

We figured we’d get a light snack at l’Avant Comptoir in St. Germain des Pres, which had been featured in No Reservations. It was a pretty easy walk, and on the way over we stopped in at Agape Substance to try to get a dinner reservation for the next night (Saturday). No dice, reservations fill up 3 weeks in advance. But wait – the maitre-d’ said there had been a cancellation for Saturday lunch, did we want it? Sure, and we were booked.

L’Avant Comptoir is a little hole-in-the-wall wine and snack/crepe bar next to the Le Comptoir restaurant. It was crowded, with people milling about waiting for the restaurant to open at 8:30. It wasn’t something we felt like doing, so we walked across the street to les Editeurs, a little cafe where we figured we could get a light dinner.  It was a success, Marie had a nice lentil salad and a cheese plate, and I had beef carpaccio and a “pain perdue” with caramel ice cream and caramel sauce. The dessert was amazing, but didn’t tempt Marie who chowed down on the cheese.

We walked back to the apartment, since the weather was cooperating nicely. We really like the St. Germain des Pres area, it’s nicer than the area right around the apartment, which is always flooded with tourists.

 

 

PostHeaderIcon Back to the Old Stomping Grounds

Marie still hadn’t found the perfect bag, so we headed over to the Marais for some shopping. Her first stop was “Heaven” a boutique that sells clothing made by the owner, and some other interesting objects. Sure enough, the perfect bag was there, a turquoise (!) one made of artificial leather (!). She also bought a cool top designed and made by the owner, a friendly English woman.

We strolled up rue Vielle du Temple into the heart of the Marais. Marie found a jewelry shop where they make mix-and-match necklaces, allowing you to pick the chain and the stuff hanging from it from a selection of cool silver objects. She got a dark-colored chain with some “washer-looking” things, and actually wore it out of the store. She declared that her shopping was done for this trip, so we just window-shopped for a while. I wanted to eat lunch at the Breizh Cafe, a crepes restaurant with a big following. There was a 1/2 hour wait when we got there at 1:00 PM, so we walked over to a small park/playground and just chilled on a park bench.

The lunch was nice, and the crepes lived up to their reputation. Marie had a “Complete” with artichokes, and I had one with a confit of onions. They both had “oeufs miroir” (a fried egg) on top. They were just enough for a nice lunch.  I had a glass of cider to go with it, and Marie just had some water. Here’s one of the crepes:

Crepe at Breizh Cafe

Crepe at Breizh Cafe



Since we’re trying to get a couple of pictures for our “Paris wall” on the stairs at home, we walked over to the Bastille to take pictures of the tower. I think I was successful, we’ll see when I get home and look at them on a real monitor. We also wanted a picture of Notre Dame, and, since it was somewhat sunny, decided to try to get that picture as well. We took the subway there (it’s only a couple of minute’s walk from the apartment), walked along the Seine, and got some photos.

The day before we had tried to do a load of wash, but we couldn’t get the clothes to dry. We called the owner, who came over and declared it broken, and promised to get a repairman over the next day. He was given a window of 1PM to 6PM, so someone had to be in the apartment all day. He didn’t expect us to wait around, so he sent his housekeeper over for a while (she was here when we came up to drop off Marie’s shopping booty), and the owner was here when we came up at around 4PM. He left, asking if we’d be around until 6PM, which we were planning to do anyway.  The repairman called to say he’d be late, and he actually showed up around 7:15. By then the owner had returned, since we called him and told him we had dinner plans.  It was fixed when we got back after dinner.

We had reservations at Le Pantruche in Montmarte, but neither of us felt like schlepping up there. We cancelled that reservation and looked at the list that owner had provided. We decided to stay close by and go to “Balzar”, a 5-minute walk. We had a really good dinner there, it’s typical brasserie food, but it was well prepared and very tasty. Here are the dishes we had:

Feuillete of Morels and Spinach (delicious!)

Feuillete of Morels and Spinach (delicious!)



Chicken With Mashed Potatoes

Chicken With Mashed Potatoes



Onglet de Veau with Frites

Onglet de Veau with Frites



Floating Islands

Floating Islands



It was a delightful night, so we took a detour on our walk home. We were amazed at how long the days are in Paris at this time of year. Here’s a pictureI took of Marie at 9PM (she’s holding up 9 fingers to remind us when it was taken):

Marie at 9pm on May 3, 2012

Marie at 9pm on May 3, 2012

PostHeaderIcon The First Day Without The Sun

Considering the forecasts and the weather in Paris for the last month, we’ve been pretty lucky. This day (May 3) was the first one during which we didn’t see the sun.  But, it didn’t keep us down.

We headed over the Rodin Museum before the rain started. We decided to look around the garden first, since rain seemed imminent. It’s filled with Rodin’s sculptures, including “The Thinker”, and it a really nice spot, with the dome of Les Invalides hovering over the fence. After strolling around the garden, we decided to go to the cafe for a light lunch. It was surprisingly good, nothing like what you’d get at a museum restaurant in the U.S.  We had a really good vegetable soup with a fresh roll, and really enjoyed it. Here’s the soup:



After lunch we went into to the “Hotel Biron” which houses the rest of the collection. Half of it is closed for renovations, but there was plenty of art to see. It’s not overwhelming, just enough to see in about an hour or so.

It was raining pretty steadily by the time we were done, so we ducked into the nearest Metro and headed home for a relxing afternoon.

We had 7:30 reservations for Le Chateaubriand, a small nouveau bistro. We headed over there in rush hour, and navigating the crowds was no fun. Plus, we had to change trains at the Chatelet station, which is a huge maze, my most hated Metro station. But, we didn’t get wet. The restaurant was only a few feet from the Metro at the other end, so we stayed dry.

The meal at Le Chateaubriand was very interesting and innovative.  I can’t say it was “to die for”, but there were some very creative preparations. I really reminded me of Komi in DC, with small plates flavored with intense spices, powders, and even granitee.  Here’s the menu, which doesn’t include 3-4 amuse-bouches.

Menu at Le ChateubriandWe opted for the wine pairings, which is a bit of a rip-off, since it’s an extra 55 euros per person, but we figured it would enhance the experience, which it did. But, we could have ordered a really nice bottle for 110 euros, so I probably wouldn’t do it again.

Here’s the food, with my best recollections of the amuse-bouches:

Gougeres topped with Poppy Seeds

Gougeres topped with Poppy Seeds



Ceviche of Some Fish (Can't remember what kind)

Ceviche of Some Fish (Can't remember what kind)



Shellfish (mussel or clam/octopus) with Baby Spinach, Radishes, and a Green Sauce

Shellfish (mussel or clam/octopus) with Baby Spinach, Radishes, and a Green Sauce



Beef Tendon with Artichoke and 6-spice seeds

Beef Tendon with Artichoke and 6-spice seeds



Celery Soup with Roe (Shad?)

Celery Soup with Roe (Shad?)



Bonite (tuna) de Saint-Jean de Luz, with Rhubarb and Brie Granite

Bonite (tuna) de Saint-Jean de Luz, with Rhubarb and Brie Granite



Cabillaud (cod) with White Asparagus and "Pil-Pil" sauce

Cabillaud (cod) with White Asparagus and "Pil-Pil" sauce



Volaille (chicken), Super-Thin Potato Chips, Tandoori

Volaille (chicken), Super-Thin Potato Chips, Tandoori



Cheese Plate (Marie's Dessert)

Cheese Plate (Marie's Dessert)



Glace au Riz, Pune (My Dessert #1)

Glace au Riz, Pune (My Dessert #1)



Tocino del Cielo

Tocino del Cielo



The dessert above was something really amazing. It was an egg yolk cooked still liquid in the center, with a coating of crunchy caramelized sugar, served in a small tart shell. Of course, I dug in before remembering to photograph it. It was amazing.

We had a really nice time at the restaurant, and we wound up talking with an Australian couple that sat next to us. The woman (Kylie) was a dietician, and the man (Doug) was an emergency physician originally from Silver Spring, MD. They were very nice, and we chatted for at least an hour after we had finished our meals. Doug didn’t like fish, and had a hard time with a lot of the food, but was a good sport about it. Kylie promised to email me some restaurant recommendations, which she did the next day.

It had stopped raining by the end of the meal, and we headed home by Metro.

 

PostHeaderIcon A Beautiful May Day

It’s May 1, the equivalent of Labor Day, in France. Everyone is off from work and school, and it’s a beautiful day (contrary to what most weather forecasts had predicted). We started our day at the Place Maubert market, where we picked up some food to go with the duck confit we bought the day before. We’re planning on cooking dinner at home. We got some big fat asparagus, some small potatoes, marinated artichokes (for Marie), pate de compaigne, saucisson with figs, bread and pastries from Eric Kayser, and a bottle of wine. Oh, and Marie got a cool necklace. We brought the food back home and headed out to the Parc Buttes Chaumont, since it was a perfect day for it.

We walked over to the Chatelet metro and went to the Place des Fetes, near the park. It was market day there too, so we walked around there to scope it out, but didn’t find anything. We headed up to the park entrance, and pick up a sandwich, a Coke, and a piece of chocolate cake for a picnic lunch.

We walked through the park and climbed up to the little Temple of Sybill at the top of the butte. There’s a great view from up there, including Sacre Coeur. Well worth the climb. We h eaded back down and stopped at a park bench to eat. We then went down to the lake area and sat for a while to people-watch. The park was crowded with people enjoying the glorious weather. It was very pleasant. We then took a walk through the neighborhood, which wasn’t anything special, and took the Metro back to the area around the apartment.

It was too nice a day to be indoors, so we walked some more, around the streets near the apartment, over to Notre Dame, and then strolled along the Seine. It was great to just take in the scenery and the great day. We had noisettes at Cafe Lutece on blvd. Saint-Michel, and walked some more. There was a HUGE demonstration at the corner of Saint-Germain and Saint-Michel, so we took in that scene. We left and walked some more! The narrow streets around the apartment were teeming with people, and when I turned around to look back at something a little girl stepped in my path and I tripped over her, falling to the ground. Luckily, no damage was done, but I got a little shaken up at the prospect of injuring myself in Paris. Thank goodness I walked away with just a little bruise on my knee.

When we’d had enough walking, we crashed in the apartment. All that walking took a toll on our lower backs. Marie’s was worse than mine, and she was pretty uncomfortable. I prepared dinner, which was pretty good, although the confit was a little tough. It was a nice realxing evening after a pretty busy day. Here’s the dinner:

Marinated Artichoke

Duck Confit, Asperagus, and Roasted Potatoes

Brie de Mieux

PostHeaderIcon Le Shopping

It’s Monday, the day before a national holiday in France (and much of the rest of Europe). It seems like a lot of people have made a long weekend  out of it, and the streets and stores are teeming with people. We decided to head over to Galleries LaFayette to hunt for the outfit that Maya asked us to get her, and to look for the “perfect” handbag for Marie.

First, Marie wanted to mail a “May 1″ card to her mom, so we had to find La Poste. I looked up the addresses of the Galleries and the post office, and accidentally mixed up the building numbers. So, instead of looking for #78 rue Taitbout and #40 Blvd. Haussmann, we looked for #40 rue TaitBout.  N’existe pas! There was no #40, and we walked back and forth for a while until we found someone that pointed us in the right direction. The card was mailed, and we walked over to the store.

It was a sea of humanity, especially in the handbag section, which was HUGE. There were busloads of Chinese tourists lined up to go into the designer boutique sections (the big houses each had their own little “store-within-a-store”), especially the Longchamps section. Combined with the tourists and the French people on holiday, it was really crowded.  Marie looked at hundreds of bags, with no luck (she was kind enough to rule out the ones over 1000 Euros). The perfect bad eluded her.

So, we went up to the 5th floor where the children’s clothing was. Again, each designer had a little section devoted to it, and the prices were eye-popping. We managed to find a cute top and matching pants, which set us back $135. But, anything for Maya!

I had read about the amazing gourmet food section at the Galleries, so we went on a quest to find it. It turned out to be in a separate building that houses the men’s store and the epicerie. We decided to to take a lunch break before doing any more shopping, and sat down in the first place we found, which was an Italian bistro-like place inside the store.  We both had the lunch special, which was penne with tomato sauce and thinly sliced pancetta, along with a glass of wine, for 19.90 Euro each.  It was just OK, the tomato sauce was a bit bland.

After lunch we browsed a bit and found some duck legs confit, so we bought a couple to have for dinner that night. We had had enough of the store, so we headed back in the direction of our apartment. We crashed in the apartment for a while, and caught most of TMOS, and heard Marc’s story about getting Lucy and her first few days at home.

Since we had the duck confit, we figured we’d go out and pick up food to go with it, hoping to find a traiteur that would have some prepared vegetables, etc.  No luck, and since it was a nice evening, we decided to go out for dinner and shop for food the next day at the Place Maubert market, which is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays. While we were out, Marie shopped some more for that bag, but again, no luck. We had a nice stroll along rue Saint-Andre des Arts and looped back on Avenue Saint-Germain.

We got back to the apartment by about 7PM and I researched a place to eat that wasn’t too far. I found a lot of good press for Bistro des Gastronomes, a 10-minute walk from the apartment. We tried to make a reservation, but got their recording saying to leave a message with our reservation. We decided to just walk over and hope for a table. By the time we left it had started raining lightly, but we took our umbrellas and headed over there.  When we arrived, the front gate was pulled down half way and there was no one eating in the dining room. We could hear dishes clanging inside, but it looked like they were closed, so I opened up some apps on my phone and found another recommended place (Best Restaurants of Paris app) called Le Petit Pointoises, only a few blocks from where we were standing. We walked over, and were told they were booked, but we could eat at their sister restaurant next door, “Petit Pointoise… Aussi”. It was pretty empty when we got there, but filled up as the evening went on. The lone waitress was working her butt off trying to deal with a full dining room of 35-40 people.

The meal was another one of those “just ok” meals. We started by sharing the foie gras appetizer, which was an encouraging start to the dinner. It was tasty and didn’t have that strong taste that terrine of foie gras sometimes has.  Marie ordered the fish of the day(!), dorade, in an attempt to eat something healthy. I ordered the Saint-Jacques (scallops) with a saffron sauce. Marie’s fish came whole, head on, and roasted simply. It was, IMHO, overcooked and dry, although she actually enjoyed it. But, it was a bit much for her to filet it at the table, and had to fight with the bones. She ate about half of it. My scallops were undercooked and slimy, and the sauce was pretty bland.  There were only 4-5 of them, and I finished them, and then worked on the other half of Marie’s fish. We shared a bottle of white Sancerre, which was fine, for 38 Euros.  With 2 aperitifs, and a 1/2 bottle of fizzy water, the bill came to 120 Euros. Restaurant prices in Paris continue to shock me. Here are some pics from the evening.

Clean-shaven Lloyd at Petit Pontoise

Foie Gras at Petit Pontoise

Cool Ice Chiller at Petit Pontoise

Sancerre at Petit Pontoise

Marie's Dorade at Petit Pontoise

Scallops at Petit Pontoise

L'addition at Petit Pontoise

 

PostHeaderIcon Day 2 – Sunday Dinner :^(

Day 2 (Sunday) was another changeable weather day in Paris. We both slept in a bit, and I went out at around 9AM to pick up some bread, etc. for breakfast. It was pouring rain, so it’s lucky the bakery is only a short walk from the apartment (it seems that no one in Paris has to walk far to get to their local boulangerie/patisserie). Unfortunately, I went to the bakery that caters mostly to tourists, so the quality left a lot to be desired. Still, we always enjoy our Parisian breakfasts of bread, pastries, jams, Frnech butter, and strong coffee.

We lazed around for a while, and lo and behold, the skies began to clear. We decided to walk over to the Place Monge market and then to the rue Mouffetard market street. We walked around the market, and Marie resisted the hard sell of the silversmith selling his jewelry. It was really bustling, the open markets are really a big part of the Parisian culture and they love to buy their produce this way.  We then walked the few block over to rue Mouffetard, where we had gone on the last couple of trips to Paris.  The streets are closed to traffic during the market days, and the people are wall-to-wall. There’s a combination of boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and food markets that’s fun to browse through.  Marie found a pink scarf in a store she remembered from the last trip.

We stopped at an open-air cafe (Cafe Delmas) that’s on a small place. We’ve been there before for coffee, and this time we had brunch. I had eggs benedict, and Marie had a very yummy chees plate.  Here are our dishes:

Eggs Benedict at Cafe DelmasCheese Plate at Cafe DelmasWe both enjoyed the leisurely meal. While we were eating, a piano player set up his little portable piano and gave a us nice show. The guy could really play! Here he is:

Piano Player at Cafe Delmas

After we ate, we walked around the area some more, heading up to the Pantheon (we didn’t go in) and the area around it (the Corsican store we tried to visit last year was CLOSED again!). At that point we were running out of steam, so we walked back to the apartment for a rest.

Sunday night we went to Semilla, a new restaurant. I had seen some great reviews, including Patricia Wells, who is very well respected.  We were disappointed to see that they serve a completely different menu on Sundays – a few appetizers and some meat (roast beef on the day we were there) as a main course. It was good food, but not anything to rave about. We didn’t know about the menu because our “concierge” had made the reservation. Others we spoke to in the restaurant told us that they were informed about it over the phone. No pictures from that meal, sorry.

So, that was day 2 in Paris. It’s starting to feel like home.

 

PostHeaderIcon

We’re back in Paris! The trip over was fine, even with the stop in Frankfort. We got to the apartment at around noon and met the owner, who showed us the apartment and all of its accoutrements.  It’s a really nice place, more comfortable than the one last year even though we don’t have a separate bedroom.  The kichen is much better equipped and roomier, and the whole apartment is bright and cheerful.

After we got settled in, we walked around the immediate area around the apartment.  It’s very lively, with tons of tourists, since its right across the river from Notre Dame. We walked down Blvd. Saint-Michel and stopped at the Monop’ and the Monoprix to pick up provisions for the apartment. It turns out to be very conveniently located, with everything we need within an easy walk. The restaurants in the are, however, have a lousy reputation (probably because they’re catering to tourists), so we’ll be traveling a bit to eat well.

Speaking of eating, we went to Brasserie Julien for dinner, on rue Faubourg Saint Denis in the 10th. It was an easy Metro ride from the Saint-Michel station. The only hitch was that we went into the Metro entrance going in the wrong direction, which I realized AFTER we used our ticket, and we couldn’t get to the other side without paying another fare.  Lesson learned for next time! It was a short walk from the Strasbourg – Stain-Denis metro to the restaurant and we arrived right on time for our 7:30 reservation, which I had made online a few weeks ago, on the recommendation of Alan Korman, who told me it was a prototypical Parisian brasserie.  He was right – it was like walking into the past, with murals covering the walls, stained-glass ceilings, and well-dressed waiters. Here are a couple of pics:

Ceiling of Brasserie Julien

 

The scene at Brasserie Julien

 

Our dinner was pleasant. We started with a shared entree of “Fine tarte de Chevre”, a tart with goar cheese, figs, and a red onion compote. It was very tasty, and I evern liked the cheese, which was pretty mild. Here it is (after I had divided it up):

Fine Tarte of Chevre

Marie had the special of the night, Filet Mignon of Pork, which was a pork tenderloin and roasted potatoes. Unfortunately, the meat was overcooked and dry, but the sauce was good and the potatoes were pleasant. I had a “coeur of rumsteak”, one of those French cuts of meat that we don’t see too often.  It was perfectly cooked, nicely chewy, and had a nice sauce to go with it. It came with pommes dauphinois in a little coquotte. I enjoyed it. Here are the main courses:

Coeur de Rumsteak

Filet Mignon of Pork

We finished with a shared dessert of “mi-cuit” chocolate cake, a molten chocolate cake, served with salted caramel ice cream and creme anglaise. It was good, although it would have been better if the cake had been served warm. Here it is:

Molten Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Ice CreamThe waiter worked out the bill to our advantage, since we had ordered 2 of their 32-Euro menus, 2 glasses of champagne and 2 glasses of wine.  He posted it as one 39-Euro menu, which included the champagne, the entree, and the dessert, and just charged us for the one main course.  I guess they know how to work the system.  Here’s the bill:

The bill from Brasserie JulienIt was a pleasant meal. There was a family of six seated next to us, the oldest daughter was celebrating a birthday, and the restaurant dimmed the lights and brought out a dessert with a sparkler lit on it. A bunch of waiters came over and sang Happy Birthday to her great embarrassment. Everyone sang along and gave her a round of applause.

We Metro’d back to the apartment and zonked out from jet-lag and Ambien. We both slept through the night, always a bonus for the first night in Europe.

 

PostHeaderIcon Three Days To Go…

We leave for Paris again in three days. We can’t wait to return to the city that we love so much. We were there last year at virtually the same time, and had great weather, with only one cloudy day out of ten.  This year may be different – Paris has had a miserable run of weather in April after a balmy, sunny March, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to clear out any time soon. But, the forecast is for “showers”, which in Paris is typically just periods of light rain, so hopefully it won’t be a complete washout (those of you who know me know that I obsess over the weather before I go on vacation).

Our apartment this year is in the 5th, just across the river from Notre Dame Cathedral and a few blocks from the Sorbonne. The area seems really nice, with plenty to do. It will be a new experience for us, since we haven’t spent much time in this section of Paris. It should be interesting to get to know another neighborhood.

We have some restaurant reservations set up, and the one I’m particularly excited about is Le Chateaubriand, which has been getting rave reviews since it opened, and was featured in the “No Reservations” 100th episode, where Eric Ripert and Tony Bordain heaped mountains of praise on the cooking.

Other than restaurants, we have no firm plans. The weather(!) will probably have some input in what we do, so we may go to some museums and maybe even some movies (I hear that most English-speaking movies are shown in their original language with French subtitles). We want to go to the Parc Buttes Chaumont, especially after watching an amateur video that showed the amazing “buttes” overlooking the lake. The last time were there it was pouring rain (that was a few years ago), so we didn’t spend much time walking around. With any luck we’ll get a break from the weather and be able to explore.

The time leading up to a trip like this is always the most exciting.  The nerves about the traveling are a little disconcerting (I’ve had a couple of almost-sleepless nights obsessing over the trip), but having the whole vacation in front of you is so exhilarating, with limitless (well, almost) possibilities for discovery.

See you all in a few days, when I’ll be writing from our apartment.

PostHeaderIcon Squeezing Every Last Bit Out of Paris

The last day! What a feeling it gives you in the pit of your stomach to know that the fantasy is over and you return to reality tomorrow. Vacations create an alternate reality, one without everyday stresses. And they give you a new, fresh routine that hasn’t yet turned into a rut. Mais, c’est finis. Nothing we can do about it, the pull of home transports us back to the rut, although there’s some comfort in knowing that it’s there waiting for you. Old friends and family are nice to return to, and at the end of a vacation we usually start thinking more and more about them – isn’t that why we buy trinkets for them? They’re never far from our thoughts no matter how far we are from them.

We started the day at the Sunday Bastille market, and it still surprises us with its sheer breadth of goods. It was a little before noon, and it looked like the peak of the shopping time. The aisles were shoulder-to-shoulder, with the occasional baby stroller or shopping cart creating blockades. Alas, no food today, we can’t take anything like that home. But, Marie found one more piece of jewelry, a heart-shaped gold-plated necklace from a vendor.  Here she is modeling it:

Marie wearing the heart necklace(You can click the image to enlarge it)

After the market we went up to the Pere LaChaise cemetery. In it are buried some very famous people, so we decided to head to the MOST popular ones – Jim Morrison of the Doors, and Edith Piaf. It was quite a long walk because those two graves are pretty far apart. It’s a very pleasant place as cemeteries go, with tree-lined streets and some VERY old mausoleums and grave. It took us an hour or two to do the tour, and since there’s only one exit, we had to make it a round-trip.

There was a little cafe just outside the cemetery grounds, so we sat and had a simple lunch (no pics, sorry). Had it been any other day, we probably would have headed home, but it being the last day, we made one more stop at the Canal St. Martin. We walked up and down the canal, which is a bustling, young neighborhood with an avenue on either side of the canal. It was a nice way to finish our sightseeing. We headed back home at about 4 PM.

After chilling for a while, we figured it was a good time to pack up, since it would be pretty late by the time we got back from dinner. We made dinner plans at the last minute, at Chez Paul, about a 20-minute walk from our apartment, on the other side of the Bastille. We were both in the mood for steak-frites, and Chez Paul was supposed to be a good place for that. There were lots of steak options, but alas, no frites. They did have sauteed potatoes, so we each ordered a steak with sauteed potatoes on the side.

Marie’s steak was an entrecote, which was served with a Flintstones-sized bone alongside it. We couldn’t figure out what to do with the bone, and speculated that they just keep using the same bone over and over, since there was nothing on it but gristle. The entrecote came with a delicious roquefort sauce (if you like that kind of cheese), and it took some willpower for Marie not to finish it. She asked for it “a pointe” and it came exactly as ordered. Here’s the entrecote:

Entrecote at Chez Paul

I ordered steak au poivre, also a pointe. It was a big hunk of an unfamilar cut of beef, a little chewy, to be expected from French cuts. It was cooked just right, and the pepper sauce had quite a punch. Both steaks were served with some un-dressed greens, I think roquette (arugula). Marie liked it, but it needed some dressing to make it appealing. Here it is:

 

Steak au Poivre at Chez Paul

They served us a big plate of sauteed potatoes to share. They were good, almost as good as frites, and we both enjoyed them:

Sauteed Potatoes at Chez Paul

I ordered Iles Flottante for dessert, which was very good, nothing unusual, but nicely done, with a proper creme anglaise and some caramel sauce at the bottom. (Sorry, no picture of the dessert).

We had a 50cl pichet of cote-du-rhone wine, which was 6,80 Euros, a good value for a nice wine. The bill was 53.80, a “cheap” dinner with no starters. Here’s the bill:

Bill from Chez Paul

We took a leisurely walk home and went to bed, since we had to get up at 6:30 for our 7:30 pickup. One more post to come to summarize the whole whirlwind trip.