Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Days 3.6 - 4.3: It's all a blur!

Having Caroline here, and then starting to think about my "re-entry" back home in a couple of weeks, has had me in a whirl, and the days are starting to run together. :-)

On the walk back from Shu on Friday night, we stopped at Maison Georges Larnicol, where I'd seen these intriguing pastries called kouignettes.  We bought four and had them for breakfast Saturday morning -- an almond, a framboise (raspberry), a chocolate, and a salted caramel.  These things are simply unreal -- basically each one is a half-stick of butter, bound densely together with a little flour, a lot of sugar, and whatever flavorings are mixed in.  Good but just outrageously rich.

We had slept in pretty late (noonish by the time the princess got up), but we still managed to squeeze in a full day -- a visit to the Musée de Cluny (a museum of medieval arts, where the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are housed), a stop at Starbuck's, a walk up to the Pantheon, a stop in the Tuileries to sit quietly and read for a while, then a run to the Metro station when the skies turned dark, and a race from the Grands Boulevards station through the rain to Bouillon Chartier, the restaurant and French institution that John and I discovered on our very first trip to Paris together.  

We ate cheek-to-jowl with strangers, as is always the way at Chartier, and had escargots (the toughest-to-remove little critters I've ever had), a salade frisée aux lardons, boeuf bourgignonne, and lamb chops.  The food is always decent -- not the best in France, but good, and way cheaper than almost any comparable restaurant you can find.  Instead of having dessert there, we stopped once again at Amorino (I didn't make any progress towards my try-every-flavor goal, since I only had repeats: pistachio, chocolate-hazelnut, and raspberry).
Caroline had a midday flight Sunday, so we took the train out to Charles Degaulle pretty early.  We had planned to buy a crêpe along the way, but I didn't realize that the kiosks would all be closed Sunday morning!  Very disappointing -- Caroline had to settle for the mediocre packaged madeleines from the Metro vending machine for breakfast.  Once I sent her off through security, I stopped at the airport Starbuck's and had the intriguing American pancakes with maple syrup (you can't get these at a Starbuck's in the U.S., interestingly -- they're not bad, actually) and an iced chai latte (which was disappointingly weak and watery; I guess I really will have to wait until I get back to the U.S. for my fix).

On the way back, I stopped at St-Sulpice for the weekly organ concert (a female organist this time, quite unusual I think!)  I had lunch at Café Six, which I'd walked by before and thought looked good.  It was pretty tasty -- taramasalata and duck confit (and odd combination but it worked).

I was supposed to meet a friend later for a walk and coffee or dinner in Montmartre, but I ended up cancelling and just falling asleep for a while in the afternoon -- it had been a long week!  That evening I went to a sushi/yakitori place I'd seen nearby, but made a booboo -- I walked in and sat down; they brought me a little amuse (plate of two snails -- I ate one but it was oddly fishy and not very appealing) and the menu.  I didn't see the combination meal I had planned to order, so I asked the waitress whether they had any formules or combinations, and she said, no, but the sushi meal (for 35 euros!!) included soup, but no salad or anything.  Um, this is not what I thought I was getting into.  Suddenly I remembered that there were two Japanese places on that street and I wandered into the wrong one.  I almost let myself be social-pressured into staying but decided that was just too ridiculousl (Tsukizi)y expensive and not even what I wanted to eat.  So I awkwardly excused myself, left, and walked down to the other place (Yushi), where for 15E, I had soup, salad, sashimi and five skewers.  It was decent, nothing to go out of your way for but perfectly fine.

On Monday, I decided to go out to breakfast, which I don't usually do.  I went back to the place I'd most enjoyed my simple café and croissant, Le Pré aux Clercs on Rue Jacob.  Very nice -- just simple, open and bright, nobody bothering me, so I sat for a while, did some work (no wifi, though, of course), read a bit, and lingered over the meal.  I wasn't actually hungry at lunchtime, but felt sort of out of sorts, so just wandered for a while, picked up a few more English books at a used bookstore, and ended up getting a snack at McDonald's (which I regretted; I really wasn't in the mood for junk food, especially not secondhand junk food, but I just couldn't make a decision).

Dinner, however, was wonderful.  Pavlos invited me (and his other colleague Yannis) out to dinner at La Petite Chaise, which is the oldest restaurant in Paris (they've been serving food at that location as an inn or restaurant since 1680, and still have the original iron grillwork in front).  I had the assiette nordique (three kinds of smoked fish, with lime sorbet), magret de canard, and the gâteau au chocolat. We shared a bottle of Beaujolais, and I thoroughly enjoyed the food, the wine, the company, and the ambience.

Yesterday, I just had yogurt for breakfast, worked for a while, then went to lunch with Bruno at a Japanese restaurant he had recommended -- Higuma, near the Palais Royal.  The menu is basic -- ramen (which they call "lamen"), a few sauteéd items, and donburi.  I had the miso ramen set - miso ramen soup with bamboo shoots and roasted pork, plus a plate of gyoza.  The miso soup was good -- basic comfort food, tasty and filling (and twice as much as one person could possibly eat!) but the gyoza were just fabulous, crispy on the outside, succulent juicy filling.  Really super.

Last night I thought I'd get an inexpensive takeout dinner.  I was two-thirds right.  I went to the épicerie I've been to before (but haven't bought prepared foods at before) -- asked for a small container of crevettes mayonnaise (shrimp in dill mayonnaise sauce) and a small container of mushroom salad, plus a plum clafoutis, a sesame roll, and a chilled bottle of rosé.  The total came out to over 40E!  I was shocked but figured, well, what am I going to do, refuse to pay after they've filled the containers?  When I got to the apartment, I checked, and it turned out that the shrimp (maybe about 15-20 small-to-medium shrimp) cost over 10E, the mushroom salad was an outrageous 8E, and the pastry was 6E.  Which means the wine (which was not particularly fancy) was probably 15E, which is a ripoff too.  Well, the food tasted good anyway, though not nearly 40E good.  At least it turned out there was enough of it that I made a second meal of it for tonight's dinner.

Today I had leftover sesame roll and jam for breakfast.  For lunch, I was aimless and wandering again, and ended up at Le Pré aux Clercs, where I'd enjoyed breakfast so much.  Really bad idea.  I ordered the roast chicken with fries, and it was maybe the least enjoyable chicken I've had anywhere -- really tough and dry meat, rubbery skin.  The fries were OK.  So then I was kind of mopey, thinking how I'd wasted the opportunity for a perfectly good meal, and figured I'd indulge in dessert.  I got the pear-Nutella crumble, and that was pretty good if not amazing -- gooey inside, crisp and buttery on top.

Dinner was the leftovers, plus a demi-baguette and le Royal pastry from Artisan Boulanger across the street (I love their bread!).  Le Royal turned out to be a chocolate mousse with a layer of crispy chocolate stuff underneath.  Really rich and yummy.  Too much dessert for one day, though -- I am going to force myself to get up and go running tomorrow for the first time since before Caroline came to visit!

No comments:

Post a Comment