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Kim Shook

A Seriously Belated Paris Trip Report

29 posts in this topic

This is probably the most delayed dining report ever to appear on eGullet. We went to Paris in May of 2011 and I am just now getting to the point of this report. What can I say – life intervened. But some folks are still PM’ing me with hints about this report, so I thought I’d go ahead for anyone who is interested. We got lots of help and advice on the trip before going from eG folks, especially Forest who we were fortunate enough to meet and have dinner with. If you want to see the England part of our trip you can start here: http://forums.egullet.org/topic/139686-england-trip-report/


Wednesday 5/25/2011

That morning we took the train from St. Pancras station in London to Gard de Nord in Paris. We left so early that we didn’t have time to stop for a last English breakfast and had to make do on the train with a Crunchy, an apple and a pain au chocolat. Train food being train food, the Crunchy was the best part!


Arriving in Paris was otherworldly. Everywhere we went in England felt like my natural home, but Paris was ‘foreign’ in a very special and wonderful way. You must remember that this was the first time I’d ever been anywhere that English wasn’t spoken. It was exciting and scary all at once. My Mary Tyler Moore moment as the fact of actually being in Paris really washed over me:

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25-20m by ozisforme, on Flickr

Our hotel was the Familia in the Latin Quarter on rue des Ecoles. Family owned, small and charming with a wonderful, welcoming and helpful staff. When the young lady who served us coffee and croissants in the mornings realized that I didn’t like coffee, she brought me (unasked) fabulous hot chocolate every morning.

After checking in and hurriedly dumping our luggage we hit the street. We were still ravenous after our train snack, hour long taxi wait at the station and open mouthed drive through Paris so we stopped at the first place that smelled good and bought two quiches to eat as we walked:

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by ozisforme, on Flickr

A mushroom for Mr. Kim and a Lorraine for me:

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by ozisforme, on Flickr

Not fabulous, but perfectly good and much better than any street food that we are used to.

We took a bus to the Eiffel Tour area. And, as an aside, we found the Paris bus and Metro system incredibly easy to use. Mr. Kim has a little French and I can say “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you” and recognize lots of menu French, but even so I think that I could have gotten around on my own fairly well, I think. I was raised in Washington DC and that Metro is supposedly based on the Paris one. I think it must be true because I found the maps very familiar.


We walked and gawped and grinned for some time. I loved finding the food stores and wished I had a kitchen:

8500323875_3db086cee0.jpg25-33kby ozisforme, on Flickr


8501432252_33f33ae98b.jpg25-34kby ozisforme, on Flickr


8501432218_432f8af7e9.jpg25-35kby ozisforme, on Flickr

And, of course, the bakeries:

8501432186_e28ec37d87.jpg25-36kby ozisforme, on Flickr


8501432182_b938f0b773.jpg25-37kby ozisforme, on Flickr

Some of the canned goods gave us a bit of a giggle:

8501432122_fe0622a487.jpg25-56k2by ozisforme, on Flickr

8500323637_40c3a7fe60.jpg25-56k3by ozisforme, on Flickr

The food that French people don’t want us to know about!


And, dear Lord, the cheese shops:

8501432032_3241abfea1.jpg25-56k4by ozisforme, on Flickr

Since we were taking an evening Seine cruise, we had an early dinner at Café Constant:

8500323183_b040da98b8.jpg25-61k9iby ozisforme, on Flickr

I’m sorry that I can’t remember who recommended this to us, but thank you! Every single dish was excellent. And the restaurant itself
was charming with a nice mix of old and modern:

8500323563_3b34162669.jpg25-61k9bby ozisforme, on Flickr

8501431994_f051153103.jpg25-61k9aby ozisforme, on Flickr

We had a nice chat with the waitress and bartender while we were waiting for our table and it turned out that the waitress had worked in
NYC for some time. Again, as I noted in my England report, folks on my side of the ocean don’t do near as much traveling as the British and French folks that we met.

I started out with Bisque de crustaces aux queues d’ecrevisses a la crème legere:

8501431926_71875904d4.jpg25-61k9dby ozisforme, on Flickr

Creamy shellfish bisque with crayfish tails. Perfect. So light and intensely flavored with the shellfish.

Mr. Kim’s starter was Terrine of ‘Kako’, pressed foie gras and pork shin, lentil salad:

8501431884_09dce0fc85.jpg25-61k9eby ozisforme, on Flickr

No idea what ‘Kako’ is, but this was stellar. Albeit a tad scary looking to a fellow raised on middle class American food, but he bravely tucked in and cleaned his plate!

Mr. Kim’s main was duck and potato pie with crispy apples:

8501431842_160edfd179.jpg25-61k9fby ozisforme, on Flickr

Perfect pairing and really good.

My main was veal cutlets from the Basque country with white Tarbais beans:

8501431790_83a870d975.jpg25-61k9gby ozisforme, on Flickr

Just gorgeous. Tender and flavorful and the beans were so perfectly cooked firm, tender and each one separate. And that little wedge of lightly grilled romaine on top:

8500323273_e828ab6172.jpg25-61k9hby ozisforme, on Flickr

was just astonishing in its simplicity. I’d love to know how that was done. Of course, I couldn’t possibly find such perfect little lettuces in Richmond VA, so I’ll just have to make do with the memory. More than a year later, I can still feel the texture and taste it.

The cruise was wonderful. One of those things that seem slightly too touristy before you go, but something that I’d recommend to anyone visiting Paris for the first time. Especially if you only have 2 and a half days there. Since it was an evening cruise, we got to see Paris light up for the night. Breathtaking!

After the cruise, we walked along the Seine and took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe and wandered down the Champ-Elysees. I ended up having a head cold for most of the trip (irritating, but not bad) and was hoping to find something like Sudafed. Just down from the Arc is the Pharmacie du Drugstore des Champs-Elysées. The sign indicated that this was an ‘American Drugstore’. Translation is everything. This was NOTHING like an American drugstore. Gorgeous place with little specialty shop-type areas, amazing confections, Joël Robuchon’s L’Atelier in the freaking basement. Tres posh. But alas, no Sudafed. At least not that we could find.

One of the travel guides that we read said that when in Europe resistance to McDonald’s was futile. That, no matter what we thought ahead of time, no matter how lofty our culinary standards, we’d end up in a McDonald’s. Primarily because of the bathrooms. Once inside, it posited, we’d succumb to the familiar fragrance and the cheap food. Well, we didn’t eat there, but strolling along the Champs-Elysées, we DID need a bathroom and lo and behold there was McD’s. So, we’ve been into a McD’s in Paris. But not even a cup of coffee passed our lips. We felt like we’d passed some arcane test. Cab ride back to the hotel – around the Place de la Concorde, past the Louvre, across the Pont Marie and into the Latin Quarter. To our first view of Paris at night from the balcony of our room:

8501431636_315a204cab.jpg25-150kby ozisforme, on Flickr


Coming up - first full day in Paris and my favorite meal.

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Great post Kim

Looks like it was a fantastic trip

Can't wait to see more :smile:

Shane

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Grilled lettuce? It never in a million years occurred to me.

Wonderful post. Keep it coming!

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Thank you for posting. We were there last September and had a great time as well. Surely know the, "wish I had a kitchen" and McD's bathroom feeling. I also felt that Mary Tyler Moore "thing" upon arriving in Paris from London, all though, did not at that very moment. Thank you for clarifying that feeling I had.... :)


And I want a table for two and a chicken for eight o'clock.

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Our 2nd day - Thursday 5/26/2011

Breakfast was our first at our hotel. Just the typical “continental breakfast” – croissant, baguette, juice and coffee (or, in my case, hot chocolate):

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26-1m by ozisforme, on Flickr

Good, but nothing outstanding (except for the chocolate – that stuff was fantastic). Thursday morning was devoted to Notre Dame and the Crypt Archeologieque. Gorgeous and fascinating. We are mad about ruins (the only castle we toured was Corfe – a lovely ruin in England) and archeology (the only real museum exhibit we went to was the ancient Egypt one at the British Museum) so the Crypt was something of a ‘must see’ for us. Being able to see walls and rooms from ancient Paris back to the 4th century was incredibly interesting to us. After all that dusty, dark and gloomy history, it was lovely to come up into the sun and find a street-side crêperie next to Notre Dame. She wouldn’t let us take a picture of the process (not sure why since her method didn’t differ from any of the other dozens we saw during our trip), but I took one of our Nutella and banana crêpe:

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26-75k by ozisforme, on Flickr

I knew that the pastries in Paris would be calling to me the entire time that I was there and that I wouldn’t be able to eat every one that I wanted to, but I knew that I had to have a crêpe. It was every bit as good as I hoped. Perfect combination and made so fast that the crêpe was still warm enough to make the Nutella all melty. Lord.

Our next destination was Pierre Hermé 72 Rue Bonaparte. On the way we passed some food stands on the street:

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26-91k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-132k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Pierre Hermé is lovely – more like a jewelry shop than a pastry shop:

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26-96k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Thanks to recommendations from daisy17, drago and Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, I knew that we would be going and that it would be remarkable. And it was. The selections are astonishing and irresistible:

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26-98k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-99k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-104k by ozisforme, on Flickr

There you go, KA!! I thought about you as soon as I saw it!

Although one of everything didn’t seem excessive (to me, anyway – probably it did to Mr. Kim), we were really here for the macarons to take back to our daughter (and have as our lunch dessert) and for one other thing (more about that anon):

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26-97k by ozisforme, on Flickr

I don’t even remember now what kinds we bought, but I know that they were all astoundingly beautiful and delicious and made me despair of every achieving my own macarons at home! We did take quite a few home and I hand carried them the entire way, holding the Pierre Hermé bag in front of me like it contained dynamite. Minibus, two planes and three airports and not one official ever inquired what was in the bag. Had I known that it would be so easy, I’d have stocked up on some good cheeses while I had the chance.

For lunch we wandered over to Bread and Roses 7 Rue de Fleurus for freshly made sandwiches and stopped at a little shop for fruit and chips. We walked to the lovely Jardin du Luxembourg and found benches, the most adorable little French toddler to watch and opened our picnic. My sandwich was jambon, cheese and cornichon on a baguette and Mr. Kim had a chorizo and chèvre roll:

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26-107k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-134m by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-108k by ozisforme, on Flickr

And, of course, a couple of macarons. Picnicking in a Parisian jardin is something that one must do on one’s first visit. This didn’t feel forced or obligatory at all. The food was wonderful and the atmosphere gorgeous. We got to watch some folks play boules. We saw gorgeous gardens and fountains and sculpture. It was a magical time.

Our daughter was insistent that we see the catacombs, but when we got there the lines were horrifying. Our feet beginning to give out, we flagged a cab and went back to the Latin Quarter in comfort. Weinoo had recommended French grocery stores for goodies and gifts to take home. There was a Carrefour near our hotel, so we stopped in for some food sightseeing and goodies to take home. It was a small store, but we were still delighted with the food and packaged goods on offer. We found some lovely treats to take home as gifts (what exactly they were are lost to the mists of time). We were also delighted, as in England, with the fascinating assortment of crisps:

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26-133k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-134k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-135k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Now is time to mention the ‘other thing’ that we purchased at Pierre Hermé and I have drago to thank for the recommendation. Drago said, “If you go to Pierre Hermé, his croissant ishpahan…is unmatched by any croissant I have ever eaten.” Bless you, drago. We were lucky enough to get one of the few left:

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26-138k by ozisforme, on Flickr

This astonishingly lovely and delicious croissant is glazed with a sprinkling of candied rose petals and filled with a light rose scented marzipan and a mixture of raspberries and litchees (which I never thought I liked):

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26-139k by ozisforme, on Flickr

It was so wonderful and appropriately enjoyed on our room balcony overlooking the Paris street:

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26-141k by ozisforme, on Flickr

After our snack, a rest, a shower and a change of clothes, it was time to find the restaurant that Forest had recommended (and also made reservation for – merci, Forest!!!), Cave a’ los a Moelle on rue de Lourmel in the 15th. We found the restaurant with no problem by taking the Metro – we were even serenaded by violin during our ride. The restaurant:

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26-158k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-147k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Very casual place – seating is at communal tables. You can order wine, but the food is just what they are having that night. Some things are brought to the table and others are on a bar at the back of the restaurant. We shared our table with two young Canadian girls – one a doctor and the other a dental hygienist. As far as we could tell, we four were the only foreigners in the place.

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26-150k by ozisforme, on Flickr

This is leek and potato soup – fairly clear, not a creamy soup.

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26-151k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Soft boiled eggs in warm olive oil. Oddly enough, this was the thing that I remember best from our entire trip. These warm, gooey, oily, perfectly cooked eggs smeared on good crusty bread made me wish that I could have them every day. I still think about those damn eggs.

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26-152k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-146k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Assorted crudité and a warm, oily, fragrant aioli. Wonderful, especially those lovely long radishes.

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26-148k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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26-149k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Our plates – they include duck rillettes, pork terrine, celery root, beet root, carrots, green beans, blood pudding, artichokes and good, good bread.

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26-154k by ozisforme, on Flickr

This was a lamb and turnip soup and so good that we even ate the freakin’ TURNIPS!! Our rule in traveling is TRY EVERYTHING and this place certainly rewarded us for that leap of faith.

Our after dinner plates included floating meringues, flan, cakes, fruit:

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26-155k by ozisforme, on Flickr

And this gorgeous assortment of cheeses:

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26-156k by ozisforme, on Flickr

We couldn’t have had a meal more suited to how we wanted to eat in Paris. Everything was delicious and fresh and seemed like food that we would be served by people who really cared about eating. We waddled back to the Metro station and made our way to our hotel replete and happy.

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Ahhh, the surfeit and the abundance and the tongue-curling photos and descriptions!

The crudite and aioli---in Paris, radishes are a revelation---and the dessert plate and the cheeses would have been enough, but THIS. . Just looking into Herme' IS akin to a jewelry-shop, but I could have taken EVERY SINGLE tomato in that market stall home. In a bag. Past airport screeners, if necessary.

Thank you for all the sharing of your lovely adventures.

love and,

r

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Great write up! You are bringing back fond memories of my first visit to Paris.

That was more years ago than I care to admit, but the charm of the city remains the same.

Can't wait for the next instalment.

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Friday May 27, 2011 – Our Last Day

We started the day with croissant, baguettes, coffee and chocolate at the hotel and set out for our full day. On the agenda for this day were Invalides, Montmartre, Sacre Couer, and dinner with Forest.

We had coffee and chocolate at the sidewalk café at Café du Musee near Invalides:

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27-8k by ozisforme, on Flickr

and got to watch a little street theatre with our drinks. A man on a motorcycle took a corner too fast, skidded and lay his bike down on the road. He was on his feet almost immediately and obviously unhurt. Less than 30 seconds later a little van arrived with a whole passel of uniformed police officers. They surrounded him and questioned him and within about 10 minutes let him pick his bike up and continue on his way. We were astonished! About the only place in the states where this kind of thing would result in such a response is in front of the White House. We assumed that something about the location must have cause a mini security alert.

After visiting the church and museum at Invalides, we made our way via the Metro to Montmartre and Sacre Couer. I loved wandering around the rows and rows of shops devoted to fabrics and notions and such. I thought about our Maggie the whole time and knew how much fun she and I would have had – ducking into one shop after another buying fabric and trim to make a thousand new apron designs! Poor Mr. Kim was VERY patient. I think that this was my reward for spending the morning uncomplainingly looking at countless suits of armor at the military museum at Invalides! We did see a couple of food related shops:

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27-100k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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27-101k by ozisforme, on Flickr

This was a sweet shop – cookies, candies, etc. Beautifully arranged.

After Sacre Couer and wandering Montmartre (where artists we begging me to model for them – I had no IDEA I was so lovely) we had a late lunch at Chez Plummeau just a few streets away from Sacre Couer and next to the Dali museum. It is rather tucked in a corner and feels worlds away from the tourist crowds of Montmartre:

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27-127k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Now, you real French folks may have to look away. Please remember that I was ordering as an American that has romanticized France forever and forgive that instead of being adventuresome, I ordered what has been my favorite ‘French’ meal since I was probably 7 years old, being taken to Chez Camille in Washington DC. Camille G. Richaudeau, the owner, always remembered me and would exclaim, “les chats, les chats!!” because he had taken in 2 of my cat’s kittens. I would then be taken into his office to see the pictures of the cats and he would tell me all of their recent exploits. Monsieur Richaudeau would then oversee my unvarying meal of onion soup, escargot and chocolate mousse. Well, I didn’t get the chocolate mousse, but I DID order the soup and the snails:

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27-131k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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27-132k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Mr. Kim ordered the Salade au Ste. Marcellin:

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27-133k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Salad greens with tomato, lardons, croutons, raisins and hot Ste. Marcellin cheese. His salad was fantastic, as was my meal (but I can’t swear sentiment didn’t influence my taste buds that day).

We didn’t order dessert because I was hoping to find something in a pastry shop. Lucky thing. Walking towards the Montmartre Cemetery we stumbled across Gontran Cherrier Artisan Boulanger 22 rue Caulaincourt:

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27-150k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Another magical Parisian shop full of things that make choosing so difficult:

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We finally, with great deliberation chose this impossibly thin, crisp and tender tart aux pommes:

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27-151k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Truly, one of the loveliest and simplest things I’ve ever eaten.

Unfortunately the cemetery closed its gates just as we walked up, though we did get a good look and some photos from the rue Caulaincourt overpass. We wandered down to Boulevard de Clichy to gawk at the Moulin Rouge and found this delightful fellow:

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27-156k by ozisforme, on Flickr

And this sign, which, since we are infantile, gave us a giggle:

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27-157k by ozisforme, on Flickr

We were too early for our dinner reservations, so we toiled up rue Caulaincourt to stroll along rue des abbesses and marvel at the shops and bakeries:

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27-178k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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27-180k by ozisforme, on Flickr

We sat on a bench in a tiny triangular ‘park’ and watched folks on their way home from work get in line at the narrow Boulangerie Alexine and exit with long, fragrant baguettes wrapped in paper under their arms. We stopped for a glass of wine at (I THINK) La villa des abbesses:

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27-80m by ozisforme, on Flickr

Glass of wine, sidewalk table, smoking like a chimney, Paris, getting ready to eat at a good restaurant. Any wonder that I’m smiling?

We met eG’s Forest and her friend, Thibault, at Mon Oncle 3 rue Durantin:

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27-181k by ozisforme, on Flickr

This is a lovely, quiet little place – intimate and a little dark. It was wonderful meeting Forest and Thibault. It’s funny – we’ve met a few eG folks by now and without exception we’ve been simpatico. We certainly talk about food, but not a single one of them has been one-note. We always find other things to talk about and other interests to share. We found that most people in Paris spoke English or were more than willing to decipher Mr. Kim’s French (I stuck to “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you”), but it was lovely having French-speaking people with us to place orders and ask questions. We had a delicious meal and a wonderful time.

Our wines:

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27-192k by ozisforme, on Flickr

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They brought an amuse for the table:

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27-191k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Baguette slices topped with billowy mascarpone and something that I can only describe as sweet pickled bell peppers. It was positively addicting. I am NOT a pepper fan, but oddly enough I love pepper JELLY. This had a nicely sweet pepper jelly-like flavor. A classic nibble in the Southern US is Ritz crackers with a cream cheese and pepper jelly smear. Hmmmm. Makes you think.

At this point, I’m not sure who had what, but I CAN identify everything – perhaps Forest will chime in with more information if I’ve left anything out.

Country pâté:

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27-193k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Garden pea soup:

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27-194k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Buckwheat crepe with salmon roe:

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27-195k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Smoked mozzarella, Italian ham and marinated artichokes:

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27-196k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Sirloin of beef w/ pebre sauce (a Chilean salsa):

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27-197k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Swordfish w/ basil and cherry tomatoes:

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27-198k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Two sides were really good roasted potatoes:

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And this amazingly good dish:

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Fondant leeks. No idea how these were done, but they were incredible – creamy, rich and delicate all at once.

Dessert:

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27-202k by ozisforme, on Flickr

Yogurt mousse w/ salted caramel and a Biscoff biscuit (one of my favorite store-bought cookies). This was delectable.

And cheese and quince marmalade to finish:

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27-203k by ozisforme, on Flickr

A lovely dinner with lovely company. The perfect finale to our too-short time in the loveliest city we’ve ever experienced.

And then – next morning - back to our real lives, immeasurably enriched with memories that recur every day.

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Beyond imagination---it feels like my time with the Grandchildren, cramming a whole month into a few days so as to get all the possible goodness.

I'm SO glad that you two got to share this trip of a lifetime, though I hope you another as soon as possible. C'est Magnifique!

rrrrrr

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[...]

Now, you real French folks may have to look away. Please remember that I was ordering as an American that has romanticized France forever and forgive that instead of being adventuresome, I ordered what has been my favorite ‘French’ meal since I was probably 7 years old, being taken to Chez Camille in Washington DC. Camille G. Richaudeau, the owner, always remembered me and would exclaim, “les chats, les chats!!” because he had taken in 2 of my cat’s kittens. I would then be taken into his office to see the pictures of the cats and he would tell me all of their recent exploits. Monsieur Richaudeau would then oversee my unvarying meal of onion soup, escargot and chocolate mousse. Well, I didn’t get the chocolate mousse, but I DID order the soup and the snails:

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Believe it or not, these also happen to be two of my favorite things (and the mousse as well!)

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Beautiful. I to love Paris.


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Merci, Kim! A wonderful report filled with shared memories, including a lovely dinner at Café Constant and the unforgettable Pierre Hermé (it was a rose macaron that blew us away).


Edited by hsm (log)

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I enjoyed this immensely. Thank you!

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Kim..great meeting you in real life too and love the recap of all your Paris food adventures. BTW, that night we all had dinner was the first night Thibault and I had gone out as a couple. All new then...but, now, we're living together! But, i often think back that that first night we went for the first time "together"! And as for identifying things....i've got brain drain. But I'll ask T - he's better at that stuff than I am. So, when are you getting back over here? :)


52 martinis blog

@52martinis

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Oh, Lord, Forest! From your mouth to God's ear! I think about our trip every single day - the places we saw, the people we met and the food we ate (even more - the food we missed). Mr. Kim and I agree that if we'd made the trip in our 20's or 30's we would have moved heaven and earth to relocate to England or France. If not for our obligations and responsibilities here, I'd go in a minute and never look back. Another vacation is something we talk about all the time, but don't know when or if it would be possible. I'm just so glad that I got to do it - even if I never come back!

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What an absolutely knockout report, what dishes you had and had us all goggling at them. , Oh and a great smile, 'A glass of wine and smoking like a chimney ', Ah, memories.


Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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Thank you so much for bringing back some wonderful memories. "Mary Tyler Moore moment" is just the perfect description! I always thought I loved England more than any place on earth, but walking along, turning a corner and suddenly seeing the Tour Eiffel - well! I rarely burst into tears (of joy) in public, but I sure did then. If I'd been wearing a hat it would've gone flying!

Now I'm going straight to your England report, and thanks in advance for that!

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Thanks to everyone for the kind responses. I'm sorry it took so long, but at least it is done now - my personal blog is stick in Winchester, I think! Time to get back to that!

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