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Am I crazy? Maybe it's spring fever...


therese
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Seems like I just got back from Lisbon, and I'm planning two weeks in June in Italy, but somehow I've managed to wedge another week of holiday in there somewhere (a week I'd otherwise have lost, as my vacation days don't roll over to the next year). April 28 through May 4, so I'm expecting splendid weather in Paris.

I usually rent apartments when I travel, but this time I'm solo and availability was a bit tight last minute, so I'm at Le Meridien Etoile (via Priceline), a very boring large business hotel in the 17th next to the Palais de Congres. Convenient to metro as well as the Air France bus from CDG (really, I'm trying to make myself feel better for having ended up in this non-refundable lodging), so obviously I won't be doing much cooking.

Most of my meals will likely not be near the hotel, but tips for the occasional meal close by, as well as a source for breakfast items would be much appreciated. Prospective local dining or coffee partners welcome to contact me via PM.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Lucky you, you can't be closer to L'Orénoc, the restaurant of Méridien Etoile, with Claude Colliot as chef. Try it.

Cool. I'd notice that the hotel had a restaurant, but didn't pay too much attention beyond that. Very good information.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Lucky you, you can't be closer to L'Orénoc, the restaurant of Méridien Etoile, with Claude Colliot as chef. Try it.

Cool. I'd notice that the hotel had a restaurant, but didn't pay too much attention beyond that. Very good information.

I'm glad Ptit said this because it's gotten universally good reviews, unanimous, great, fabulous, everybody loves it - but me. I went with another eGullet celebrity to celebrate her 21st birthday and we had what I must describe as passable food. My thoughts:
Good product, good cooking; so, why weren’t we more enthusiastic?

2.5 L’Orenoc, 81, blvd Gouvion St Cyr (Hotel Meridien) in the 17th, 01.40.68.30.40, closed Sundays and Mondays was taken over by Claude Colliot, exBamboche, and got three hearts in Figaroscope.  It’s an elegant space; we had a primo window table in a true no smoking room; and the service was impeccable.  My guest ordered the 38 € lunch menu and I ordered a main and dessert (the entrée prices were off the charts.)  She started with a cold cauliflower soup with divine little shredded veggies.  She then had a pot au feu where the chopped cabbage in a cabbage leaf was spectacular but the beef was flavorless (I know, it often is.)  My St Jacques were terrific product but the accompanying carrot puree enhanced with orange flavor again was so spectacularly better than the main ingredient that I stopped to ponder the situation.  Finally, she had marinated grapefruit slices around a custard, topped with a cassis sorbet which all together worked while I had a “larme” (big strips) of chocolate with a mound of confited black olives alongside, which were again, so much more dazzling than the chocolate.  Illy coffee, bless them, was serré as ordered.  Bill = 116 €.  Not excessive for a birthday celebration but not consistently great either.

“Should one go?” If you’re struck at the Meridien Hotel or Palais des Congres, think about it.

Since I'm in a grouchy mood, let me tell you another place around there I hate - the Maison de Charly - Colette and I went one night, after being told it had the best tagine in Paris and my charming wife decided she'd just share some wine while I had dinner; Nope, not possible; you're taking up space better occupied by paying customers. NB: it was empty. We slunk/slank/schlepped off to the 13th where we had a great meal.

That said, Therese, the hotel is not terrible, indeed, it's quite nice and since I'm at the Palais often myself for Congresses, I find eating nearby not horrendous - it's not all Chez Clement. And recall my mantra: any place in Paris is but a few minutes away by Metro.

Bon chance.

John

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Since I'm in a grouchy mood, let me tell you another place around there I hate - the Maison de Charly - Colette and I went one night, after being told it had the best tagine in Paris and my charming wife decided she'd just share some wine while I had dinner; Nope, not possible; you're taking up space better occupied by paying customers. NB: it was empty.

Heh. Sounds like Charly all right. You didn't miss much anyway. Never have couscous in the 16e or 17e anyway (unless it's somewhere near the Batignolles).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Back from Paris now and home and work life tidied up in the week since, so finally a chance to post some photos from that trip. This was my second trip to Paris in the space of 14 months, but a very different experience to the first, as the children weren't with me.

So, day by day...

My direct flight on Delta from Atlanta left on time and arrived early. Coach, but I'd scored a bulkhead seat in an emergency exit row (so plenty of leg room) and had ordered a special meal, seafood, which arrived early and was comprised of a quite reasonable piece of cold poached salmon with dilled potato salad, accompanied by the usual free glass of wine (do other U.S. airlines do this on transatlantic flights? one free drink with meals?) and an Ambien 30 minutes later. I slept.

I'd booked Le Meridien Etoile at Porte Maillot via Priceline ($140 per night), and as Ptitpois and John Talbott point out it's actually quite a good location. I did not, unfortunately, manage to eat at L'Orenoc, but otherwise found the hotel very nice indeed. Ice machines and a pay coffee/tea dispenser next to elevator, and the minibar fridge (exquisitely sensitive----I took care to not touch a single item, and yet it still recorded three items consumed) had a shelf free specifically for your own items.

I'd arrived via the AirFrance bus directly from CDG (the bus stop is directly across the street, and while I'm mentioning it I'll point out that the metro and RER are one block away, and there's a taxi stand in front of the hotel). I'd emailed the hotel two days before to request early check-in and two twin beds, and both requests were honored. My old exchange partner from high school, D, was to meet me later that morning, so I used the short time in between to go shopping for food. I ended up at the Champion just off Rue Ternes, where I purchased cherry tomatoes, yogurt (Actimel, actually, very convenient for this setting), carrot-strawberry juice, and these:

gallery_11280_4636_46632.jpg

Pretty, and pretty much identical to berries that I get here at home (from Florida).

Can you pee in the ocean?

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D arrives and drops off her bag and we head out to see Paris. In the course of planning this trip (which was very last minute) I'd already made a few plans for Sunday, so I gave D free rein to plan Saturday. Unfortunately D is simply not into food in any way: she doesn't cook (more about this later) and although she likes to eat she's not particularly discriminating about it. We remain friends in spite of this fact. :wink: She also doesn't drink much alcohol.

The plan for the afternoon was to visit Montmartre. Assuming that I'd be tired she'd found a sort of tram that shows you various sites, along with commentary, but as it turned out the first tram of the afternoon had left by the time we arrived. So I convinced her that we really needed to eat lunch, and we sat down to eat here:

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Had we eaten inside we'd have had a nice formule to choose from, but as we chose the sun we were limited to salads. Not necessarily a bad thing, and mine was perfectly acceptable:

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I did have dessert, having spied floating island on the list:

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It was very good, with a nice liquid (if too sweet) base and very fluffy meringue.

After lunch we went back to catch the tram, only to find that the entire thing had been booked by a group. I was not unhappy, and suggested that we walk down to take the funicular. When the funicular turned out to be out of order we walked. Again, just fine with me.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Parts of Montmartre pretty much choked with tourists, but it's not difficult to get away from the worst of it. We eventually stopped at this pretty little bar, La Maison Rose, for a drink. I think I had a kir.

gallery_11280_4636_85979.jpg

Somewhere in this neighborhood, we came across a restaurant that looked promising, and I asked D if she'd booked for dinner (because I was pretty sure she hadn't, and it was Saturday), and if she hadn't we could just do it here. But she was unwilling to commit, as she thought it might be too far from where we were spending the early part of the evening.

Said early part of the evening was great fun, a play called Arrete de pleurer Penelope 2. Not high brow, but very funny, particularly for somebody who happens to belong to the demographic portrayed. The show's at a smal theatre called Theatre Fontaine. No intermission, so I had a drink at the bar beforehand:

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Dinner ended up being quite a distance away, in an area that D knew from having worked nearby (La Motte Piquet). Something like Chez Pierrot, right at the entrance to the metro (a location that is not without its charms when you're very, very jetlagged) where I took the formule at 10 euro something, choosing leeks in vinaigrette, steak (saignant) with puree, and fromage blanc with strawberry sauce for dessert. A Fernet Branca for me afterwards, and then back to the hotel for a well-earned night of slumber.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Sunday was my day to make the days plans. I'd actually made these arrangements before I knew whether D would be able to make it to Paris, so they were things that I'd enjoy alone as well as in company.

We awoke early to breakfast on coffee (for D) and tea (for me), both from the dispenser near the ice machine. Strawberries and Actimel completed the meal for me. I forgot to mention another purchase that I'd made at Champion the previous morning, toothpaste. I routinely buy toothpaste when I travel abroad, as I end up with unfamiliar flavors, etc. This one ended up being one of the most unusual ever:

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Anybody know what makes it so unusual?

The morning's plan was a cruise on the Canal St. Martin. There are two companies (so far as I can tell) that do these tours, and I chose the one that starts at the Musee d'Orsay: Paris Canal. The cruise takes 2.5 hours, and includes pretty interesting commentary (in French and some English, two tours in one for me as the English content wasn't the same as the French content). Cool scenery as well, including the many locks (which I find ridiculously fascinating, probably due to having lived in Keokuk, Iowa at a crucial point in my cognitive development) as well as this canal-side kitchen:

gallery_11280_4636_75154.jpg

Can you pee in the ocean?

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A wonderful and fascinating report as always, Therese - keep it coming!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Therese, I so appreciate the chance to travel with you via your reports. Many thanks.

My pleasure, actually, in not in a perfunctory way---I enjoy the anticipation of and recall of experience at least as much as the experience itself. And yes, Proust is my favorite author.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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The boat trip up the Canal St. Martin ends at Parc la Villette. And as it happens, that's very close to our next stop, Hammam Medina Center. For those of you who aren't familiar with hammam, it's a sort of spa that's traditionally related to both public baths as well as ritual bathing. This particular one is not connected to a mosque, and is really just a very extended (and damp) version of the "ladies who lunch" experience (some hammams are "mixed"---this particular one only accepts men on Saturdays).

And lunch is exactly how we started the afternoon, after changing into bathing suits and robes. D had tabbouleh, and I had a salad plate, with tuna, hard boiled eggs, and various raw and blanched vegetables. Nothing amazing, but then one does not want a heavy meal before embarking on the hammam experience.

We finished in time to catch the 5:20 train to Lisieux (we'd packed our suitcases that morning and had taken them along with us), where we dined at D's friend's country house:

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The garden on the bank beside the house is an herb garden (which means that this photo is on topic, but it's also foreshadowing). My bedroom was the corner room closest to the photographer, with the window open.

One of the buildings on this property houses the following item:

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Here's a closer picture of the business end of it:

gallery_11280_4636_51112.jpg

Any guesses as to its purpose?

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Dinner Sunday night stared with aperitif of Ricard, followed by a meal comprised largely of these:

gallery_11280_4636_92538.jpg

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Close inspection demonstrates that they are still alive, as oysters should be. We also had bulots, prepared earlier in the day by D's friend. And that was pretty much it, so good thing that I like shellfish, and do not survive solely on a diet of hamburgers and freedom fries (as D had warned that her friend assumed to be the case).

Breakfast included some lovely home-made jam, shown here with the wax seal still intact:

gallery_11280_4636_44960.jpg

Can you pee in the ocean?

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No pictures to share from Monday, apart from the breakfast confiture.

But it was an interesting day food-wise, though in some unexpected ways.

We spent the morning visiting a chateau in the neighborhood, and returned home for a lunch of boiled fish, boiled zucchini, and boiled rice. Dinner that night was at D's apartment in Deauville, and guests included people that I'd known in high school (when I was an exchange student there) that I'd not seen since. Lunch conversation turned on precisely what to make for dinner that night, and eventually I made a few suggestions, and in the end it was decided that I'd actually do the cooking.

So I did, shopping with D. at the E. Leclerc supermarket in Deauville. We had melon with prosciutto to start, followed by risotto and roast chicken with lemon and rosemary (rosemary from the garden depicted upthread), followed by cheese, followed by strawberries and raspberries with creme chantilly. We skipped salad in the interest of time, and bid our guests adieu at midnight.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Tuesday also largely pictureless (except for one at the very end, which has a story to go with it), but in no way slow-moving.

I got up early at D.'s, enjoying a breakfast of tea and madeleines (which I'd remembered to buy the previous evening at the corner shop, as we returned from a visit to D.'s mother's house 'round the corner, where we'd gone to say hello and borrow a bowl in which to whip cream). I first tasted madeleines when I was 17 and living in Deauville, where they were occasionally offered for breakfast. My very favorite breakfast was a sort of breakfast cookie, a large square one about 10 cm on each side, about 1 cm thick. Great for dipping in tea. I haven't seen them recently---do they ring a bell with any of the local readers?

I'd actually purchased some madeleines for my 16 year old son to take to school for French class the day before I left on this trip, explaining to him the Proustian significance which I'm pretty sure he did not relay to his classmates. They were from a very nice bakery here in town, Alon's, and vastly superior to the supermarket product I ate on Tuesday, but in this instance it was mostly about context.

The train from Deauville left at 9:30, and I was on the train by 9:10. We pulled into Gare St. Lazare right on time at 11:46, and I sprinted for the metro, making it Porte Maillot and my hotel by a few minutes after noon. I was in a hurry, you see, because I needed to be at Opera by 1:00. Not because I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Le Pen (this being May 1, and May 1 in between elections to boot), but because I had a lunch date, and I really despise being late.

So, in the course of changing into the sort of clothes that a person might reasonably wear to a swish landmark restaurant with somebody she'd never met, I realized that a number of things had gone missing from my room while I was in Normandy. A housekeeping snafu as it turned out, but an irritating and inconvenient one, so I was late after all. But not too late, and I was able to offer as an excuse both the tossing of my room as well as the hordes of skinheads and police presence in the area.

Lunch was at Cafe de la Paix, with John Talbott (who reviews it here. The carrot soup was bleah, the joue de boeuf okay, but not as good as the baby fava beans and green peas that accompanied it, and the fraisier for dessert was lovely. Very pretty room, and pleasant if not too attentive staff. People watching just amazing. Over coffee we were unexpectedly joined by a very small but very distinguished visitor, M. Souris.

Lunch over, I headed back to the hotel to address the issue of missing belongings with the duty manager (which of course required filling out some forms) and then off to visit the sights in the neighborhood, starting off with Parc Monceau, then Arc de Triomphe, then Champs-Elysees (where I stopped for a glass of wine at Flora Danica, and was subsequently reminded of the charming French custom of "draguer"), down to the Tuileries (closed by that point, as it was dark), and along the Rue de Rivoli.

And Rue de Rivoli is the setting for my only food-related photo of the day:

gallery_11280_4636_65197.jpg

Can you tell what it is? Can you tell why it's here, in this unusual (in my experience, at least) location?

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Therese, I so appreciate the chance to travel with you via your reports. Many thanks.

My pleasure, actually, in not in a perfunctory way---I enjoy the anticipation of and recall of experience at least as much as the experience itself. And yes, Proust is my favorite author.

I feel exactly the same way. What I journal I remember, and memory seems like the half-life of the experience to me.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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My two guesses to your two questions:

I think the first is some sort of wheel for a mill.

The second looks like an egg. The question is, is it a chicken egg a shopper dropped or a wild bird's egg fallen from a nest?

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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My two guesses to your two questions:

I think the first is some sort of wheel for a mill.

Yes, it works like a mill, but the name doesn't actually use the term mill ("moulin"), and most of us wouldn't think of the end product as having come from a mill.

The second looks like an egg. The question is, is it a chicken egg a shopper dropped or a wild bird's egg fallen from a nest?

Neither dropped by a shopper nor fallen from a nest. It is a hen's egg, by the way.

And there was a third question up there as well, the one about the toothpaste.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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