Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Back in Paris, baby!

Could someone please stop the clock!  I can't believe it's been 9 months since I last posted.  Here's a quick update since my last post ~ I had a hard time adjusting to my new job at first ~ a complete career change at age 52 doesn't come easily, especially for an anal perfectionist like moi!  I did a lot of second guessing myself in those first few months, as I chose to remember only the best parts of my old career (like flexibility, lots of vacation time and the great people I worked with).  Trying to cram new information into this old broad's head took its toll, as I spend many weekends studying Canadian pension and old age security legislation.  I'm not satisfied just doing something, I have to do it well from the get go.  The first few weeks on the phones were a little terrifying but I soon got the hang of it.  I get so much satisfaction when clients tell me that I've helped them and I love going home and leaving the stress behind.  So I think I've made the right choice for myself (but I sure do miss my friends from my old job ~ thank goodness we have stayed in touch and make sure we get together every few months to catch up.)

Anyways, back to Paris ~ we landed at CDG on Saturday morning and were in our perfect little apartment on rue Bourg Tibourg in the Marais 2 hours later, thanks to our wonderful driver from Shuttle Inter.  We have rented once again from Thierry from Paris Best Lodge and we just love our place.  It's right in the middle of the Marais, we have a FranPrix supermarket right across the street (as well as a great little bar for le Happy Hour!) Once we checked in, we took a stroll around our new neighbourhood and had a delicious lunch at Les Philosophes ~ salad with magret, Serrano ham, chèvre on toast, avocado, all with a light vinaigrette.  We sat outside and basked in the joy of being back in the city we loved.

We walked around the Marais for about an hour and then went back to the apartment to take a little nap.  Going without sleep for 18 hours will do that to you, lol.  Once refreshed, we wandered back out and had a little Happy hour on a bar on rue Rivoli, Champagne for me and a Caprihna (or 2) for Den.  Dinner was easy ~ great pasta at Pizza Momo, a Paris tradition for us.  We ended the night with drinks at the Lizard Lounge, a great little bar right across the street from our apartment. We then went home and crashed for the next 12 hours!

Sunday morning came around very fast and all of a sudden, Den is 53 years old!  Life could be worse than celebrating your birthday in Paris.  After a leisurely breakfast in the apartment, we went out and strolled around Ile St Louis, the Marais and the 12th arrondissement, making our way slowly to our lunch destination, Le Baron Rouge.  This is a little wine bar near le marché Aligré that I've wanted to come to for years, but just never made it.  Well, we made it there today and I'm so happy we did.  We had a great lunch of cheese, charcutrie and a great little Muscadet.  We chatted with the trio next to us and found that they had reservations at Septime and Le Bistro Paul Bert on the same nights as us.  I flirted with one of the great waiters and we had the time of our lives for 41 euros!

After ambling back to the apartment, via the ateliers on rue Viaduct des Arts, we got ready for dinner with our friends from Montreal.  Celia and Yves were ending a 2 week trip to Portugal with a night in Paris, which just happened to be on Den's birthday!  We took the 96 bus to Montparnasse and started our evening with champagne at le Ciel de Paris on the 56th floor of La Tour Montparnasse.  We then took a cab to Le Pere Claude, a tradtional bistro in the 15th, just behind the Eiffel Tower.  We scored a great little private table in an alcove and enjoyed a wonderful dinner, great wine and even better company and conversation.  Time flew by and before we knew it, it was past 11pm and the restaurant was empty except for us!  We walked to the Eiffel Tower to watch her sparkle (I never, ever tire of this sight) and then we said our good nights.  Celia and Yves took a cab back to their hotel and we strolled along the Seine, enjoying the balmy fall air and the view of the Tower as she followed us on our walk.  We made it to our favourite bridge, Pont Alexandre III and then caught a cab home.

We both slept in until 10:30 this morning and had a light breakfast of yogurt, coffee and OJ.  We took the 67 bus to Place d'Italie and meandered around Butte Aux Cailles, discovering the little streets and houses that give this area a true village feel in the middle of Paris.  After a quick stop for lunch at a little turkish place where I enjoyed a mixed plate of middle eastern spreads and Den had a spicy duram wrap, we continued onto rue d'Alesia for some shopping.  I scored a beautiful coat at the same little shop where I got lucky 3 years ago and also bought a cute Desigual purse to go with my new coat.  We  made our way to Gare Montparnasse where we took the 96 back to our apartment for a rest before dinner.

About 90 minutes later, we were back out, making our way to Terroir Parisien, a great restaurant in the 5th.  Our landlord, Thierry, had invited us, along with a few of his other tenants, for some wine and nibbles.  I was so happy to see our new friends Jane, Joel and Roniece make it to this gathering.  We had a great time getting to know each other and it felt like we have been friends forever!  I also loved seeing Thierry's parents again after meeting them a few years ago at the same type of gathering.  Before we knew it, it was time to go.  Thierry had graciously arranged a driver to bring us to Septime, where we had a much sought after dinner reservation.

What can I say about our meal ~ it was sublime.  It's a no choice, market driven menu prepared with pristine ingredients and served by a charming and professional waitstaff.  The decor is minimal, with an open kitchen so you can see the genius as it happens.

We were given a wonderful table, and started with a glass of champagne.  We asked the sommelier to pair our wine to each 2 half courses (there are 6 ~ 2 entrées, 2 mains and 2 desserts).  Since we did not know what we were eating, this was a great way to enjoy the perfect wine with each course.

Our first course was octopus served with smoked lardons, cucumber, celery, mâche, dill in a sweet broth that was out of this world.  We drank a young Gamay which went very well with the fish.  Second course was girolles and cèpes served with a mousse aux oeufs on an almond base.  This was so earthy and delicious that every last drop was mopped up with the artisanal whole grain honey wheat bread on the table.

Next came the first of our two mains ~ a velouté de tapenade d'olives et cress with lieu jaune (fish), served with mini leeks, wilted roasted lettuce.  This was paired with a beautifully fresh Sauvignon Blanc. The second main was a pintade printaniere with baby turnips, beets, squash, braised zucchini and parsley.  The meat was so tender with a nice crunch on the outside.  Just beautifully presented and so flavourful.

Our desserts started with an unbelievable sorbet au poire topped with crumbled feta ~ something you wouldn't think would work together, but it so did!  The combination of salty and sweet, cold and warm was over the top and induced a few food orgasms.  Our sommelier paired this with a wonderful dessert wine which was a melange of chenin blanc en maturation.  It was the perfect accompaniment.  Our last course of the evening was poached pears with mousse à la vervaine, served over a brown sugar galette.  Our meal lasted over 2 and a half hours and every bite was a delight (hey, I'm a poet!).  We dined at a nice leisurely pace, every course was properly explained to us and we were always invited to ask questions or make comments.  Our bill for 6 courses, 2 glass of champagne, 6 glasses of wine and one of the best dining experiences of our lives was 186 euros (and of course this includes taxes and tip, as it always does in Paris).

We strolled home hand in hand, giddy with the pleasure of a well enjoyed meal.  I know we will be back to Septime next time we are in Paris ~ it is a place you tuck away as a favourite, knowing that the surprises that await you next time will be as wonderful as those you experienced the very first time you were lucky enough to dine there.

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