Sunday, October 5, 2014

Day 5.7: My Father's Diamond Birthday

I couldn't have had a better last day in Paris.

I got up early and went to the Musee d'Orsay before they opened -- it is the first Sunday of the month, so all of the major museums in Paris are free.  When I arrived at 9:10am (20 minutes before opening), there were already more than 100 people inline.  Today was the first raw, chilly, windy day that I've had in Paris -- the only day that I was really glad to have my jacket (it was maybe 55 or 60 Fahrenheit, with a chilly, damp wind).  I spent a few hours at the museum, mostly in the Impressionist galleries but also enjoying the decorative arts galleries. I'm always amazed by how stunningly beautiful the building itself is.  It's hard to imagine that if things had gone differently, the Orsay could just be a big commercial mall or something -- looking at it now, it seems so inevitable that it was always meant to be a museum, but of course that's not the case.

My original plan was to pick up a sandwich and have lunch in the garden at the Rodin Museum, but given how chilly it was, I was too tempted by the menu at the Restaurant de la Musee d'Orsay and ate there instead.  The restaurant is in one of the gorgeous, classical spaces, with gold filigree, high windows, and painted ceilings.  And the food is extremely good.  I started with the chilled pea soup with smoked salmon:

and then had the fish and chips, which was light and crispy, with a really tasty, fresh tartar sauce.

Naturally, I had to end with the cafe gourmand, with a chocolate macaron, mango(?) jelly, and some other kind of yummy gelatin-like dessert.

Afterwards, I took the Metro back to my neighborhood and stopped at Gerard Mulot (a really awesome patisserie) to pick up macarons and chocolats to bring back home.

Then I went back to finish packing (NO WAY will my suitcase be under 50 pounds, but I have an collapsible carry-on duffel that I can hopefully offload enough to avoid the surcharge).

My dad and Flora stopped by just before 6 to see my apartment and walk over to our celebratory dinner for my dad's 75th birthday, at Joel Robuchon.  We had the tasting menu with wine pairing, and wow was it good!  There are few things in life that are more wonderful than having a world-class meal with the people who mean the most to you.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The first amuse-bouche was king crab with daikon, which was just light and refreshing and delicious.  The second was "half-cooked salmon" (seared on the outside, basically raw on the inside) with caviar and other garnishes.  Wow.  At this point, it was clear we were in for an amazing meal.

Next a perfectly cooked scallop, with lardon (bacon) foam and other delicious garnishes.

Then we had a chestnut soup with crême fraiche.  It is impossible to describe how unctuous, luxurious, and simply wonderful this soup was.  It is one of the best things I have ever eaten.

The foie gras was absolutely perfectly cooked -- seared on the outside, meltingly sensual on the inside, served with -- well, it's hard to explain, but it's basically the world's most perfect fruit roll-up: apple strips marinated in hibiscus.  Again, one of the most absolutely memorable dishes I have ever had.

Then chicken gyoza (which I sadly was too busy lusciously enjoying to photograph) and John Dory with salsify:

We had a choice of three main courses, but luckily there were three of us, so we got to try all three -- lamb chops with essence of thyme, quail with foie gras and truffled potato puree, and steak with shallot confit and black cardamom.  All very good, but the quail was just remarkably tender, and the sauce it was served in was so intensely reduced, it was like pure wonderful flavor.  (And I was too busy eating to take pictures, especially since at this point we were on the third glass of our wine pairing, and I'd started with a kir royale...)

Then two desserts -- lime-coconut cream with rum granita and "chocolate temptation," just chocolate amazingness with mousse, cocoa nibs, and I don't even know what else.

Finally, decaf espresso (which of course came with a tiny madeleine and a petite caramel):

What a wonderful, unforgettable celebratory dinner, and what a perfect last night in Paris.

Now it is time to finish packing, go to bed, and try to get some sleep before tomorrow's departure.  It's just so hard to believe that this amazing adventure is over.  I will never forget this experience.

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