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Megan Blocker

Strasbourg, Champagne, and Paris...

101 posts in this topic

One story I forgot to tell in my last post...

During the tasting, "Clothilde" answered our questions about the wine and the history of the house and the region. I had done some reading about Champagne before we left, and had been quite intrigued by the stories of how the vignerons and cellar-workers lived in the caves to escape German bombs during both World Wars. I brought this up, and asked if the cellars at Moet had been used for the same purpose.

Our guide replied that "Yes, but, that is war, yes? There were also lots of parties, too." :wink:

Dinner that night (at the hotel, again), was very nice, though nothing too memorable. The best part was the wine - we shared a bottle of Pol Roger Rose, 1996. Delectable and indulgent, to say the least.

The next day we headed to Reims, eager to see the cathedral and to visit Pommery, where we had an appointment for 3:45.

A quick bit of non-culinary history: the cathedral at Reims stands on the reported site of Clovis' baptism in 496, and was the site of the coronations of most of the French kings from Phillippe II in 1180 to Charles X in 1824. It was heavily bombed in both WWI and WWII, and the facade is still undergoing repairs. It is famous for its Chagall windows in the transept, and also for this sculpture on the central portal, known as the Laughing or Smiling Angel. It's also where Charles VII was brought, by Jeanne d'Arc, for his coronation in 1429.

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The towers seemed a bit stumpy after the soaring spire in Strasbourg, but the interior of the church was breathtaking. You could really feel the history of the place, the layers of the past unpeeling. Quite a remarkable church.

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After visiting the cathedral, we stopped for a quick bite to eat (sandwich jambon for me, and toast with chevre chaud for Louisa) and then headed across town, toward Pommery.

The Pommery maison is really something - huge, and with this faux-Elizabethan architecture. You enter what used to be a huge storehouse to begin the tour. Right now, there's an art exhibit called Supernova installed in the lobby space and in the caves. Our guide, Aline, told us that the artist intended for the caves to represent space, and for the upstairs to represent Earth. There was even a giant UFO in one room, and a landing capsule in another.

The experience felt younger than Moet, geared toward a slightly different demographic. Like the Moet tour, Pommery started with a short film about the history of the house. We then descended a really long staircase down to the caves. The Pommery estate is on a hill, and most of its early cellars were placed in existing chalk pits, which had been dug by Roman slaves in the first and second centuries. The ceilings in almost every room reached up to ground level, though the galleries had low ceilings, just like Moet. There were several giant carvings in the caves, carved directly out of the chalk, in the dim cellar light. The artist went blind after completing the last one in the series.

Much was made of Louise Pommery's interest in the arts, and the house's ongoing support of artists.

Unlike at Moet, at Pommery we were able to peek into the bibliotheque de champagne, housing bottles of champagne dating back to 1874! Louisa and I were quite excited about this...one of our favorite movies, traditionally screened each May Day at Bryn Mawr (while sitting on the lawn, drinking champagne), is The Philadelphia Story. Its plot hangs quite heavily on the following quote, spoken by our fellow alumna, Miss Katharine Houghton Hepburn '28:

You see, there are certain things about that other girl, that Miss Pommery '26, that I rather like.

Alas, we remembered the line incorrectly, conflating it with her graduation year...there was no Pommery '26, but we managed to snag a photo of the '28!

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We also took a photo of the oldest bottle in the cellar, from 1874:

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We did the Prestige tasting, which included a flute of of the Cuvee Louise. We supplemented that with a flute of the Springtime Rose.

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Aline mentioned that Pommery is far more popular in the UK than it is in the States, which rang true with me - you don't see it very often over here, which is a shame. The champagnes were both pleasantly dry but not overly so, and the rose in particular was lovely, lightly tinged with red fruit.

And so it was back to the hotel for a good sleep - Paris in the morning!


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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(PS - I also have discovered that these Tarte Flambee places in the country seem to be "smoking obligatory" - they're so dense with cigarette smoke that you can't see into them.  The first time, we endured it for the experience; when we tried to go back the next year, we couldn't do it, and turned around.  Maybe when the new law passes...)

Two things I noticed about France this time around...alcohol becomes like water the second you cross the border, and cigarette smoke starts to smell awesome.

The former needs no explanation, I expect. The latter was discussed at length througout the trip. I'd never noticed cigarette smoke in Europe before, but hadn't been back since the law passed here in 2003. This time, I noticed it, but it was really quite pleasant. I didn't mind it in the bars, and in the restaurants, it was just sort of lingering a bit in the air...like everyone had just had one or two cigs with coffee, not chain-smoked all night.

Unsurprisingly, we did not feel so happy about the smoke in the CDG lounge. That's just nasty. :wink:


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Ah! Before we head for Paris, I have some pics to add! Louisa has sent me her photos, and there are some great shots from Champagne.

Here's the outside of Pommery:

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And here's one of the chalk carvings from the Pommery cellars:

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There were vines that came right up to the hotel, and we decided to see if any grapes had fallen to the ground, which would mean we could, you know, check 'em out. Taste them? I won't admit to that... :wink:

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"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Wow, reading this report has been like being on a mini vacances. My favourite french cafe here in Hanoi is run by an Alsatian, and his flammenkuche is spectacular. I can't imagine how fabulous it must be in Alsace! I have a feeling I would love it there - my favourite wines have always been reislings and guwertztraminers (sp?), and who isn't a fan of copious amounts of creme fraiche, chevre and pork? Thanks for the great pics...if I'm ever in Europe, it'll be on my must visit list.

As for cigarette smoke, I think the less it's around, the more bothersome it is. In Asia, smoke is everywhere...I don't even notice it anymore. But I remember when I visited Canada, I really noticed it the few times I smelled it.

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Wow, reading this report has been like being on a mini vacances. Thanks for the great pics...if I'm ever in Europe, it'll be on my must visit list.

Yes, thanks Megan for such an amazing report. Were you able to visit any of the villages that surround Strasbourg along the wine route? The whole area is full of charming, beautiful little villages, so beautiful that they seemed unreal to me. And the food is so different. That's the beauty of France, each region is distinct with its own cuisine and specialities. Paris is wonderful, but the French countryside can be breathtaking. I am so glad you are sharing this with everyone.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your Paris experiences :smile:


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Wonderful report, Megan, especially about the Champagne region. Even in real life I've never seen so much of it. You grasped the atmosphere of that place beautifully.

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Wow, reading this report has been like being on a mini vacances. Thanks for the great pics...if I'm ever in Europe, it'll be on my must visit list.

Yes, thanks Megan for such an amazing report. Were you able to visit any of the villages that surround Strasbourg along the wine route? The whole area is full of charming, beautiful little villages, so beautiful that they seemed unreal to me. And the food is so different. That's the beauty of France, each region is distinct with its own cuisine and specialities. Paris is wonderful, but the French countryside can be breathtaking. I am so glad you are sharing this with everyone.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your Paris experiences :smile:

Thanks, Felice!

Sadly, we didn't get to visit the villages around Strasbourg on this trip. Next time, though, I plan to make a point of it. But with only three and a half days, and given how enamored I was of the city, I just couldn't bring myself to leave.

That said, I've been lucky to have spent much time in the countryside of France in previous years. One summer I spent six weeks traveling up from Nice, through Montpellier, to the Gorges du Tarn, then the Loire Valley, and finally, ending in Paris. Spent lots of time on that trip (which was far too long ago) in smaller towns and villages, and I agree - the countryside is absolutely wonderful.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Upon arrival in Paris, we were famished! We dropped our bags at our hotel, which was located on the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and rue de Seine, and headed out in search of a cafe.

I had an omelet nature, a green salad, and a cafe grand noir.

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We then walked north to the Seine and made our way to the Musee d'Orsay, where Louisa made a pilgrimage to Manet's Olympe, and I visited the decorative arts. We crossed to Place de la Concorde to board the metro and head to the Pompidou Center. However, when we got there, we saw this:

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Humph. So, to ease our disappointment, we hopped back on the metro to Saint-Germain-des-Pres, and went to the Rue Bonaparte outpost of Laduree. Their famous macarons (of which I saw lots and lots on Friday night, when I watched Marie Antoinette) fill the windows.

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We were seated in the downstairs salon, which is decorated in a sort of chinoiserie-jungle camp theme.

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Napkins and sugar packets both sport the famous Laduree green.

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I had one of their new pastries, a religieuse fraises, which was filled with strawberry pastry cream, stewed strawberries, and fresh strawberries. It was delicious, and you should have seen how pink my tongue was!

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Louisa had a tarte au citron - the pastry in this was amazing. It broke without crumbling and melted an your tongue. And the filling was pure, concentrated lemonness.

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"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I had one of their new pastries, a religieuse fraises, which was filled with strawberry pastry cream, stewed strawberries, and fresh strawberries.  It was delicious, and you should have seen how pink my tongue was!

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Louisa had a tarte au citron - the pastry in this was amazing.  It broke without crumbling and melted an your tongue.  And the filling was pure, concentrated lemonness.

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OMG!!!!!!

They both look delicious.

I see from their website that they have other versions of Religieuse, such as:

Truffle

Tomato

Caramel

Rose

Blackcurrant - Violet

Fleur de Orange

The Ladurée "Baiser" (Kiss) also looks very interesting.

I wonder what the Muguet (Lily of the Valley) macaroon tastes like?


Edited by Swisskaese (log)

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Megan, I don't have anything to add or any burning questions to ask, but I just wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed reading this SO MUCH! It's brining back great Europe memories for me. Thank you!


-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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Megan, I don't have anything to add or any burning questions to ask, but I just wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed reading this SO MUCH! It's brining back great Europe memories for me. Thank you!

Thanks, MissAmy! It's a great way for me to relive my memories, too. :wink: I'll be finishing up over the next couple of days...am currently stalling because I have a dinner report with no pictures, which is always harder. :biggrin:


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I have been devouring, and loving this report!

Sadly, we didn't get to visit the villages around Strasbourg on this trip.  Next time, though, I plan to make a point of it.  But with only three and a half days, and given how enamored I was of the city, I just couldn't bring myself to leave.

This is so, so true! When I first discovered Strasbourg, we'd go for extended weekends (4 days), and we'd do it several times a month over a 6 month period. But we never left the city. People would tell us that we hadn't seen the "real Alsace", and we'd read and hear about all the great places we could drive to, but we still couldn't bring ourselves to leave Strasbourg proper. It was a long time before we ventured out of town into the surrounding region. It is indeed an enchanted city.

Thanks for bringing back all these memories. It was like going there for the first time again.


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Megan,

How did you find navigating in these areas without a car? Or, did you ever wish you'd had a car? After reading about Arne's walking tour, and thinking back (or ahead) to our various cycling adventures, I'm always interested to hear about local transportation options. Do you think you would have had any trouble venturing outside the cities without a car? Were the taxis an adequate source of transporation around Champagne? (I liked your tram picture!)

Also, did you ever have problems obtaining cash? We'd heard several years ago that ATMs were sometimes tricky to find.

On your trip, you've managed to nail three places that we'd like to take the bike to...and the fourth (Paris) that we've visited several times already.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Megan, a wonderful blog about several wonderful areas of France. Your recount of Reims and Epernay brings back many happy memories! Next time (and there will be a next time for you, I'm sure), you'll have to spend some time exploring the Route du Vin in Alsace.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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For our evening dining in Paris, we relied heavily on eGullet recommendations, mostly from this handy compendium of bistro-focused threads: click!

Our first night, we went to Aux Vieux Chene in the 11th, on rue du Dahomey. It was easy to find (unlike some of our other outings; more on that later), and when we arrived for our 8:30 reservation, we were one of only two tables seated. Over the next fifteen minutes, though, the place filled up.

I didn't have my camera with me that night, so it's strictly words this time around. Louisa and I both started with a cold tomato soup, which was served with a scoop of parmesan gelato on top. It was unseasonably warm in Paris, so the soup was perfect - light, not too sweet, and the gelato was creamy and just barely cheesy.

For my main, I ordered the poitrine de porc. I was pretty sure that meant pork belly, and I was right (and very happy, too)! Served with baby vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions), it was very rich, and delicious. Louisa had a duck dish, though the details escape me right now. I believe it was duck breast served with an apple compote of some kind...very autumnal.

For dessert, we shared a raspberry crumble, which was just ok. Starting from the bottom, it was a baked crumble topping (closer to muesli than to crumble, really), fresh cream, and raspberries. Very odd.

The wine list was great, and we shared a bottle of Coteaux du Languedoc.

The next morning it was up and at 'em - we were headed for the Opera Garnier, something we'd both missed on our previous visits to Paris. We wanted to have a cafe and croissant in a cafe, but were thwarted when we were hit on by an incredibly aggressive man who wouldn't leave us be until we pretended to walk down into the Metro. So, pressed for time, we grabbed breakfast at La Croissanterie, which made me think of Au Bon Pain, but with decent pastry. I had a cafe and a brioche sucre.

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We decided to find an internet cafe, which took up a bit of our time, and by the time we'd caught up on our emails and assorted other business (like reading about the plane that flew into the Upper East Side, and, of course, the North Korea nuclear test), it was time for lunch. No, really!

We decided to try Lex Deux Magots, not unlike our friend Daddy-A! Louisa had an omelet, and I had what I'd been craving for a week and a half, but saving for Paris: steak tartare. And a Perrier.

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The tartare was ok - not as tangy as I like it (no cornichons studded like jewels throughout the meat), but not bad, either. It was served with a little salad, dressed with some lovely balsamic vinegar:

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The most impressive thing about the cafe were the waiters - they carried these incredibly laden trays, impressive because the majority of the cargo was wine bottles, and we didn't see a single one tip over. We did hear a couple of glasses crash, though. :wink:

Once we'd finished lunch, it was on to the Opera Garnier...which was AMAZING. So baroque, every edge is finished with a flourish. Quite different from our home base, the Met. My two favorite rooms were the rotundas - Rotonde du Soleil and Rotonde de la Lune.

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In the bar area, each panel of the circular room is decorated with a painting representing a different beverage. This is "Tea."

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After the Opera, we had some time to kill before our next patisserie jaunt, so we decided the time was ripe for...E. Dehillerin!!!!! I was unreasonably excited for our pilgrimage to the mecca of French cookware. Shopping for cookware combines my two passions - shopping and food. I am helpless in the face of Williams-Sonoma, so I knew I would melt upon impact when I entered Dehillerin. The experience did not disappoint.

The store is high-ceilinged and crowded, with shelves that reach ten feet in the air, and full of men in forest green coats shouting at one another. As soon as we walked in the door, one of the men (not in a green coat, maybe a manager) asked me what my name was. I replied, "Megan, comme la voiture." (There is a car made by Renault called the Megane, and it's the easiest way to tell people how to pronounce my name in French.) He asked me how I was doing, but I didn't ask back, and he didn't let me forget it for the rest of the hour we spent there! (Though, on the way out, I passed him one last time. Before he had a chance to say a thing, I shouted, "Comment allez-vous?" and he replied, "Tres bien, merci!")

I picked out many, many things, some of which were gifts. For myself, I bought a rectangular tart pan, a mini-madeleine pan, a tapered, unfinished rolling pin, a copper gratin pan, two wooden spoons, and...um, that's all. Yes, I had to pay the $25 fine to get my suitcase home. :wink:

Here's a shot of the interior...

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And here are Louisa and I each out in front!

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I'm so excited that I can't get my shoulders to stop hunching.

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Louisa has a bit more self-control than I do. She's very poised. :wink:

And this was our adorable salesman:

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Next stop on this bus: Pierre Herme!!!


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Oh, the kitchenware shop is wonderful! I wanted to go there when I was in Paris, but didn't fit it in. Had you been to it before?

And, gorgeous sun ceiling in the rotunda...

It was amazing. I'd never been before, but I knew I had to make a point of stopping in.

Also, I didn't mention this above, but the prices were really quite good. The tart pan, for instance, was about 5 euro, so about $8.50. At a store in the States, something of similar quality would easily go for $15.00.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Later that afternoon, we headed back to our neighborhood to go to Pierre Herme, which is just on the corner of rue Bonaparte and Place Saint Sulpice, only a few blocks south of Laduree. It's Ling heaven! :wink:

The tiny patisserie does not have an associated salon, so we waited in the out-the-door line to get a Tarte Plenitude (for Louisa) and a Tarte au Cafe (for me). Neither of us are big macaroon fans (I hate the texture of meringue against my teeth), but we were quite taken with the sheer beauty of Herme's macarons, some of which were SPARKLY.

The cashier was lovely and gave us two little sporks with which to eat the tartes (though the gentleman who boxed them for us was rather snide about the fact that we weren't buying anything else - humph), and we settled onto a bench in front of Saint Sulpice (which was huge - far larger a church than I expected) and dug in.

That's my Cafe on the left, and the Plenitude on the right.

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I am not exaggerating when I say that the Tarte au Cafe was, without doubt, one of the best pastries I have ever eaten. It had a pate sucree crust, then a coffee-soaked chocolate wafer cookie, then coffee-flavored chantilly cream, then a coffee glaze on top of that. The pate sucree was even better than Laduree's, crisp and buttery, and the fillings combined into an utterly rich, decadent, caffeinated experience.

The Plenitude was also quite good, though I tend to think that very rich chocolate isn't as good or interesting as other flavors, like COFFEE. But that's just me. :wink:

We rolled back to the hotel to get ready for dinner in the Marais.


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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That night, we went to dinner at Camille, a bistro in the Marais, on rue des Francs Bourgeois. We had a terrible time finding it - our Plan de Paris was not exactly top-notch. Camille was a real neighborhood place, comfortable, full of families and couples. The owner was standing on the sidewalk when we arrived, and he ushered us in and seated us at a banquette toward the back of the restaurant (which meant I had an excellent view of all the goings-on). The menu was written on a chalkboard (as was the wine list, brought later), and we turned down the offer of the printed, English menus.

We started off with Kirs, served with a bowl of peanuts.

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Our waitress was positively delightful, and we had a fantastic time - even before the food started arriving. When Louisa ordered her main (steak tartare), the waitress jokingly asked, "Bien cuit?" Took us a beat to catch up, and she had quite a giggle at our expense. We ordered our dinners and a pichet each of wine (Cotes du Rhone for me, Bourdeaux for Louisa, both excellent and a steal at 5.50).

For our entrees, I ordered the escargots, which came dressed in basil and garlic and BUTTER. Luckily, we had some light, crusty baguette to soak up the goodness.

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I hadn't had escargots in a while, and I'd forgotten how thin their shells seem once they've been cooked...these were delicious, balls of hot butter and garlic and salt, and they weren't even terribly chewy. Just good.

Louisa had a salad with (big shocker here) chevre chaud to start.

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The salad was a mixed green salad with a very mustardy, creamy vinaigrette. The two slices of chevre were served on a golden slice of toasted brioche, and the thing was massive.

Louisa's steak tartare was amazing - it blew Les Deux Magots' version out of the water. A mile out. This version was very tangy, mustardy, but not too spicy. It was filled with cornichons and finely chopped onion, and came with the most delectable frites we had on the whole trip. Clearly cooked in duck fat, they were crispy but still fleshy, and were piping hot - a wonderful contrast to the chilled tartare.

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My main was magret de canard with a potato gratin. The duck was served medium rare in a ridiculously good sauce made with honey, black pepper, demi-glace, and something mysterious that we think may have been star anise. The gratin...oh, the gratin...it was crispy, cheesy goodness, with exquisitely thin potatoes and a dark, broiler-finished topping.

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For dessert, we had the first and only fantastic creme brulee of the trip (I skipped over a soupy monstrosity in Champagne). It was shallow and wide, which is the perfect way to ensure excellent brulee to creme ratio, IMHO. :wink: The custard was cold and creamy, dense and flavorful, and the brulee was really well done, dark but not burned to the point of bitterness.

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The meal at Camille was really second only to the meal at Chez Yvonne in Strasbourg - absolutely wonderful meal, and only 80 euros total - which is a bargain for three courses plus wine plus a cocktail, at least for people used to NYC prices.


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Two funny stories about that meal at Camille...

Right after we got our main courses, a young American couple were seated a table away from us on the banquette. They were having trouble deciding what to eat, and we played obnoxious New Yorkers for a moment so that we could lean over and evangelize about the steak tartare.

She wrinkled her nose and said, "Isn't that raw?" And he had the same reaction, just non-verbal.

Imagine our amusement when their meal arrived (they both ordered entrees only, no plats), and he had ordered the carpaccio. :wink:

Second story - a few minutes after the carpaccio hilarity, a French couple were seated at the table in between. They seemed pleasant enough, and from the snatches of their conversation that I caught, they were talking about people that they had in common. At one point, she was describing someone he hadn't met, and he glanced at me and said "Comme la femme a ton gauche?" ("Like the woman on your left?"). Well, I do speak French, and my expression is even stronger than my conversation these days, and so, I did what you do automatically when people are talking about you - I looked right at him. He turned pale, which makes me think that he was talking about us when I wasn't eavesdropping. Or he just felt silly for assuming that the American girls don't speak his language. Silly, silly man. :wink:


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Megan, I would just like to add that I am truly enjoying your travelogue with all it descriptive posts and absolutely heavenly food pictures. Thanks for taking us with you.


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

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Thanks, Domestic Goddess! I'm enjoying putting this all down on "paper."

The next morning, we had breakfast at Paul, a patisserie on Rue du Buci. The coffee was great - I had a grand noir (encore!).

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We were a bit late for breakfast, so my quiche Lorraine came with a salad. It was very good - the crust was puff pastry, and what's bad about eggs, bacon, onion, and potatoes?

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We wanted to go see Saint Chapelle (we've both been before, but thought it was worth seeing a second - third, for me - time). However, when we got there, the line was an hour long, and they were closing for lunch in 45 minutes. So we decided to walk to the other end of the Ile de la Cite to see the Memorial to the Deportation (the Deportation refers to the removal from France of the French victims of the Holocaust). It's a very powerful memorial, one I really recommend spending time in.

However, the memorial was also closed for lunch. This seemed like a good time for a street snack, so we grabbed crepes next to Notre Dame. Sucre for me, citron sucre for Louisa.

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We did a lap inside Notre Dame, went to the memorial, and headed back to our neighborhood for some more pastry at Laduree. Yes, I know, I know.

We were seated upstairs this time, in a low-ceilinged, navy blue room. Louisa ordered a pear charlotte, and I ordered another religieuse, for comparison's sake - chocolate, this time. I enjoyed it - it was very rich - but not as much as the strawberry.

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Then it was home for a quick nap before our 9:00 reservation at Aux Lyonnais.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Megan,

I'm glad to hear that you liked Au Vieux Chene. I went sometime last year after reading that it got Pudlo's distinction of best 'rapport/quality prix' (quality for price) but I was disappointed and never went back. I'm sure it was just an off night then which certainly happens.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Megan,

How did you find navigating in these areas without a car? Or, did you ever wish you'd had a car? After reading about Arne's walking tour, and thinking back (or ahead) to our various cycling adventures, I'm always interested to hear about local transportation options. Do you think you would have had any trouble venturing outside the cities without a car? Were the taxis an adequate source of transporation around Champagne? (I liked your tram picture!)

Also, did you ever have problems obtaining cash? We'd heard several years ago that ATMs were sometimes tricky to find.

On your trip, you've managed to nail three places that we'd like to take the bike to...and the fourth (Paris) that we've visited several times already.

MelissaH

The only place where not having a car was even mildly an issue was in Champagne. The rest of the trip was spent in walkable metropolitan areas, all equipped with excellent public transportation, and, in the case of Prague, readily available, call-when-you-need-them, cheap taxis. (BTW, everyone recommended the same company - our hotel, Rehovot, the guidebooks...AAA Taxi.)

In Champagne, having a car would really have allowed us to do more exploring, to see some of the smaller, out-of-the-way houses, and to fit more into our day. The taxi rides were hugely expensive (we spent more per day on taxis in Champagne then we did per night on our room in Strasbourg), but, in some ways, it was nice not to have to worry about how much of that tasting flute you were going to finish. I'm not sorry that we didn't have a car, but if I ever go back, I'll definitely be renting one (which means I really need to learn to drive stick, a challenge for a carless Manhattanite).

We did not have problems finding ATM's anywhere - the only real money issue we faced was the coin problem in Prague - the ATM's dispense huge bills (1,000 or 500 koruny), and no one seemed to be able to accept them (except restaurants - who paid each night was often determined by who needed to break 1,000 koruny), even when we'd managed to get ourselves down into the 100-200 koruny bill range. This sounds silly, but it was actually quite frustrating (for instance, the National Museum almost didn't let us in because we didn't have correct change).

I think biking in France would be lovely...Strasbourg is a very bike-focused city (something like 400 km of bike paths in the city proper), and I think it would be a really neat way to see things.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Megan,

I'm glad to hear that you liked Au Vieux Chene.  I went sometime last year after reading that it got Pudlo's distinction of best 'rapport/quality prix' (quality for price) but I was disappointed and never went back.  I'm sure it was just an off night then which certainly happens.

It was definitely a good meal - not "traditional" in the way that Camille was, but definitely very strong. I would definitely say that it had a good value for the price, but I would definitely send someone to Camille for steak tartare on their first night. :wink:


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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