Saturday, 16 November 2013

My blogging failure....

Well, we've been back over a month and I haven't blogged since we had margaritas for dinner on October 3rd. Coincidence?  No clue, but thank goodness I emerged from my food and wine haze every day to as least post pictures on Facebook. Those little status updates will help fill in my foggy memory so I can at least try to paint a picture of what we did for our last 9 days.  Don't worry, I won't try to fit it all in in 1 post ~ first off, I do have to go to work (damn it) if I want to be able to go back to Paris. Secondly, well, it's hard enough to get through my ramblings when I cram 3 days into 1 post ~ I won't impose a 9 day marathon on anyone still hanging in there waiting to see what else we did in Paris besides walk, eat and drink (short answer ~ not much!)

So, let's get on with this, shall we?  Friday, October 4, our 7th day in Paris ~ we had lunch reservations at Spring, one of our favourite restaurants in Paris.  We have been lucky enough to enjoy Daniel Rose's hospitality 5 times (6 if you count our private cooking class with Daniel and Marie Aude in 2009, but that would be bragging, wouldn't it?) since 2008.  Spring is on a tiny street in the 1st arrondissement, not far from the Louvre but miles away from the grandiose and reverential atmosphere of the world's largest, most opulent museum.  Dining at Spring is to put yourself in the chef's hands, as Daniel serves a no choice menu, chosen from what's freshest that day.  Your only choice is wine and we usually let the staff pair our wine to our courses since we don't know what we will be served.

Here's some pictures of our fabulous lunch:

foie gras w/sel de guerand ~ yum

trout filet cooked with a blowtorch on a reduction of olive oil and honey

veal tenderloin with a puree of cepes

the rest of the veal and mushrooms ~ all for us!

roasted figs w/honey

chef at work

We spent the rest of the day of the afternoon walking off our delicious feast, strolling through back and forth between the bridges connecting the 1st with Ile la Cite and Ile St Louis, making our way back slowly to our apartment for a little rest before going back out around 6pm.  We had tickets to a show at a wonderful little theatre called Essaion, very close to Beaubourg and just a few blocks from our apartment.  We were going to see Caroline Nim as Edith Piaf.  The theatre is in an ancient building off a little lane.  The stone vaulted ceiling added to the cabaret atmosphere.  Caroline is a wonderful jazz singer who has played in London and Sydney Australia, among other players.  She become Edith Piaf on the little stage, accompanied only by a pianist and bass player.  She tells the story of La Mome, her start in the working class arrondissement of Belleville, her rise to stardom, the loss of the love of her life and her sad death at an early age.  She engaged the small audience (the room holds maybe 30 people, so it was a very intimate show) with her sultry voice, her perfect intonation of Piaf and her warm personality.

We really enjoyed the show, which was a little over an hour long.  We decided on an easy dinner after our gourmet lunch and ended up at Pizza Momo again.

drinks before the show

the tiny stage where Edith Piaf came to live again

Den's lasagna at Pizza Momo

my veggie pizza
The next day was Saturday, October 5 ~ Nuit Blanche in Paris.  Nuit Blanche is a night where many artists around the city put up temporary art exhibitions and the city turns out all night to explore these unusual art offerings.  The city makes public transportation available into the wee hours of the morning in the areas of Paris that are participating.  It's a unique event where you can see Paris in a very different light and take in some very different art that's gone the next day. We had big plans to stay up all night, but like many we've made before, these plans peter out as soon as our energy does, lol.

But since Nuit Blanche takes place at night (duh), we have another day of walking and exploring ahead of us.  We decided to visit revisit the 9th arrondissement, starting with the magnificent Opera Garnier. Although we had enjoyed a ballet here a few years ago, we've never been inside this sumptuous building in the daylight.  Our tickets allowed us to tour at our leisure and we spent over an hour just walking around gawking at the majestic marble staircase, the over the top gilt ceilings, the outdoor balcony overlooking Paris and the opera hall itself, decked out with red velvet seats, private boxes and the famous Chagall ceiling.  Although we saw the ceiling during our ballet evening, this was the first time I noticed that the scenes depicted are from various ballets.  We also enjoyed the tapestries in one of the side halls that were woven at the famous Gobelins tapestry house in the 14th arrondissement.

who needs Versailles, lol

Chagall Ceiling

sing it, Den!

After walking around Garnier drinking in the over the top surroundings, we walked over to Le Galleries Lafayette with the intention of doing a little underwear shopping (for Den, lol), but the crowds and the noise made us leave a few minutes after taking the obligatory pictures of the stained glass ceiling and the surrounding inside balconies.  We had thought of having lunch on the top floor of the store so we could take in the great views of Paris, but the mass of people everywhere made us change our mind.  After a quick stop at the C&A across the street (where Den did finally get some underwear, the first of many bought this trip), we walked down one of the little side streets behind les Grands Magasins looking for lunch.  We found it at a little cafe where I had perfectly acceptable moules frites and Den had andouillette.

After lunch, we decided to explore a little more of the 9th arrondissement.  We slowly ambled along more side streets to Boul de Clichy, stopped in at Denise Acabo's l'Etoile d'Or for some of the best chocolate available in Paris (she is the only one who can import the Bernachon bars made in Lyon) and then made our way down rue des Martyrs, a wonderful street full of cafes, cheese shops, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, some destockage places (where Den got more underwear) ~ all the wonderful places that make Paris what it is.  I told Den that I much preferred walking along this lively street full of affordable marvels than the Faubourg St Honore, which houses all the world famous designers one could hope to find, but where we are both truly out of our element.  We continued our walk along rue du Faubourg de Montmartre, passing the old fashioned A la Mere de Famille chocolate and candy shop and stopping for a well deserved café creme before hopping on the metro to take us back to our hood.

one of the beautiful churches of Paris, somewhere in the 9th

I just liked the name, lol

A l'Etoile d'Or, a chocolate lover's paradise

Bernachon bars

it's mushroom season

Den admiring the goodies at La Mère de Famille

Tonight we had reservations at one of our favourite bistros in Paris, Au Vieux Comptoir in the 1st arrondissement.  We left the apartment and slowly made our way over to the restaurant, enjoying the throng of people out in anticipation of Nuit Blanche.  There were already a few exhibits up around Hotel de Ville and we got a schedule of where and when the events were taking place.

We arrived at Au Vieux Comptoir a few minutes before our 8pm reservation and were given a great little corner table.  The place was full of Parisians out for a Saturday night meal ~ this place is usually full of locals along with a few in the know foodie tourists.  We've been coming here for the last few years after it was recommended to us by a local we met during another great meal at a little Italian place in the Marais that is sadly no longer there.

We started with foie gras for Den and beautiful mushrooms grilled in a skillet with serrano ham for me.  Den's foie gras was silky smooth and unctuous and served with a warm loaf of walnut raisin bread that was baked in house and was decadently perfect with the foie.  I then had scallops in an orange sauce that was unfortunately too salty and Den had a steak with creamy mashed potatoes, but the steak was more medium than rare as requested.  Service was also a little off that night, which sadly surprised us as we've been coming back here in part because of the warm efficient service and the always spot on bistro classics.  I guess everyone can have an off night once in a while, but it was a disappointing start to our evening.

huge meaty mushrooms topped with serrano ham

Den's perfect foie gras and warm loaf of house made bread

a rare picture of the two of us!

my scallops ~ they look great but were too salty :(

Den's cafe gourmand

my salted caramel rice pudding ~ it almost redeemed the scallops, lol
Well, no matter, off we went into the night with big plans of staying up very late and seeing fireworks on the Seine and exhibits at Le Grand Palais.  Ah, the best laid plans, lol.  We decided to start by walking towards the Pompadiou Museum since it was so close and it was open late tonight.  We had hoped to take a peek at the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit but alas, it was closed.  We did take the escalator to the top for a great view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.  It was almost 11pm by the time we left the museum and our energy and enthusiasm for walking to the Berges des Seines for the fireworks put on by the genius who was responsible for the Beijing Olympics fireworks was long gone.  We decided instead to walk around the Marais and take in whatever exhibits we came upon along the way.  We walked around, surrounded by a mass of people all looking to make the most out of this singular event, stopping in whenever we happened upon a display.  We made it home past midnight, which, if you know us, is pretty good, lol.  Ah, Nuit Blanche.....we hardly knew ya!  Next time (yeah, right)

from the top of the Pompidou 

I guess it's art?

We woke up pretty late on Sunday and got ready to entertain some Paris friends in our little apartment.  Roniece, Michael and Eric showed up right on time at 1pm and we proceeded to go through 4 bottles of wine, some cheese, saucisson, bread and chocolate over the next 6 hours.  We had originally planned to chat, eat and drink for an hour or 2 and make our way to Le Baron Rouge for a late lunch, but we had so much fun and the conversation (and wine) were flowing so well, that we just decided to stay and enjoy the afternoon.  It's funny that even though we had only met Roniece and Michael earlier that week and were meeting Eric for the first time, we all felt so comfortable with each other.  We talk and laughed so much that before we knew it, the day was gone (and so was the wine, lol).  I have to say that this was probably one of my favourite days in Paris, not just of this trip, but ever.  It was so much fun and so relaxing to just kick back with such truly nice people and the modest cheese, bread and chocolates were made as delicious as any gourmet meal we've had by the company we enjoyed that day.

Before we knew it, it was 7pm and time for our friends to make their way home. Eric took a picture of our courtyard on the way out which made its way onto his wonderful website, Paris Daily Photo.

We truly had the best time just hanging with these 3 and felt like we had known each other forever.  We had no ambition to go out for dinner, so a few hours later, I walked over to rue des Rosiers and got us some monster falafel sandwiches which we scarfed down like little piggies.


  1. Again a lovely report, makes me homesick for Paris, and my freinds, Roniece, Michael and Eric!

    ... but all that food. Oh lala! makes me feel full jst looking at it all!

    How do you stay so thin? LOL!

    Love Denise xx

    1. Not so thin, especially after that last trip, lol. It's getting harder to lose those extra pounds with every year I get older. So I just wear more black :)
      We all missed you and spoke about you. I know there will be a next time.