Where we're staying

Click here to check out our apartment rental in Montmartre.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Warning: goofy, sappy story **

Yes, Tom and I succumbed to the goofy, romantic "love locks." We purchased a small lock at a little hardware store, some hot pink nail polish from the Monoprix, attached our lock to the Pont de Solferino, held the key, and on the count of trois, dumped it into the Seine. Will it be there next time we're there? We'll see. The Parisian government was recently suspected of removing a bunch of locks from the nearby Pont des Arts. You can see the locks, including ours, in the foreground of the first picture.

On our last night, we did a little cafe hopping. For the first time, we went to the Cafe des Deux Moulins (it was only a block away from the apartment!), made famous by the Amelie movie. It was, as expected, loud, crowded, and full of tourists, but less expensive than I thought it would be given its fame.

Next we went to the Cafe Carolus on the Boulevard de Clichy, which was the only cafe open last Sunday morning. We liked it on a Friday night - lively, lots of locals and sports fans.

We ended the evening at Chez Julien.

It was a hoot on a Friday night - so packed, we had to take a table (as opposed to our usual bar spots). Here we are, after many glasses of wine.

We told the owner it was our last night in Paris, but that we would definitely be back.He was such a nice guy - always ready with a big smile and a "Ca va?"

Check out time at the apartment was 10:00AM. We talked about taking our bags to the Gare du Nord for storage, but it was our crappiest weather day yet, so we decided to plop ourselves down at a cafe for several hours before finding a cab to the airport.

While it was raining and chilly, the terraces have heaters, so we sat outside. For those who don't know, it is incredibly more expensive to sit outside, so we usually limit the number of times we do that. But it was our last morning...

Here's the terrace (most other customers were sitting next to us or behind us) with the large heaters.

My cafe creme with tartine (baguette with butter - simple, but good):

It's a tradition for us to get a pack of Gauloises and smoke some at a cafe, which you can still do outside in certain sections. You don't need to understand French to get the warning on the package, right?

Au revoir, Au Petit Poucet, and thanks for being a perch for watching Paris go by for the last couple hours.

The taxi stand was right across the street. This was the cheapest airport ride I ever had (about 35 Euros) - probably the Saturday factor. The cab driver was a little scary. He kept talking to himself and wiping his brow. I think he was a nervous driver. Great! But we made it.

Unfortunately, the way the timing worked out, lunch was at the airport. A couple pieces of quiche, some red wine, and a water set us back 27.6 Euros, about $38!! Ouch. Airports.

The flight was uneventful and on time, and we rolled in around 9:30 last night.

This last shot was taken the other day, in our 'hood. Thanks to everyone for coming along on our wonderful (albeit quick) trip to Paris.

** Edited to add that we don't condone the love locks! When we did it, it was not the massive problem it is today, and we certainly would not have done it had we foreseen the consequences. It is a big problem and has already damaged some Paris treasures. Here is a fairly recent article on it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

You gotta love it when your lunch comes in the pot it was cooked in

Coming at you from the Airport...

My good-bye Paris tears are done (I think) but we'll see...

Where was I?

Oh yes, lunch!

We went to Paris Boheme. We really liked this place - great atmosphere (beautiful covered courtyard/atrium and a cozy room), great service (nice people), good value, and very good food. I believe we were the only non-locals in the place. It was a mix of business people and families & friends out for a leisurely Friday lunch. Thanks, Pete!!!

We started with salades: one with braised leeks, and the other with warm goat cheese and walnuts. Yummy and fresh.

I had a class mussels marinieres (white wine and LOADS of garlic) and Tom had cassoulet, chock-full of the plumpest white beans and lots of meat: sausage, duck, ham. Delicious.

We did some wandering, a little shopping, and then off we went on the number 68 bus to the Musee d'Orsay for the after 4:15pm reduced price.
View from the bus:

No pictures allowed in the Orsay, but we spent a wonderful 1 hr 45 minutes enjoying as much art as we could take in. I love this place, and the structure itself still leaves me awestruck despite having been there many times.

Well, we're about to board, but come back for the last post, covering our last night and last morning!

Combien coute cet chien a la fenetre?

The one with the waggly tail?

We almost had an international incident yesterday. OK, I exaggerate a bit, but I SO wanted to take this pooch home. My reasoning was sound: since he is French, it will help us stay in touch with the language and culture. Right? Tom reminded me of how long he would have to stay in quarantine. There were three puppies in the window, and while the others were romping around and playing, this one just sat and posed for us with those eyes that said "Emporte-moi chez vous." (Take me home!)

This might be one of the slowest trips to Europe we've ever had, but there's something about that last day that makes me stress a little. How can one possibly decide what to do with ONE day in Paris?!

Well, first we went in search of a spice store in our neighborhood. Awhile ago, I had purchased some Herbes de Provence in Oyster Bay, NY, and the address on the package was in Paris, in our 'hood, no less! But alas, the store is gone. Too bad. So...let's get lunch!

A few years ago, my brother-in-law worked in Brive for awhile. On one of his train trips, he met someone who owned a restaurant in - you guessed it - our neighborhood.

Well, the cleaning lady is about to come kick us out of the apartment, so I'll get back to this later...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring is in the air

Well, at least it was yesterday morning, before a cold front came through and suddenly (well, in typical Paris fashion), it was overcast and chilly. But first, some pictures from the Arènes de Lutèce (never been), one of the last vestiges of ancient Rome in Paris. Neat place, so quiet and peaceful, even with children playing soccer and several couples lunching.

Then we went to Les Jardins des Plantes. It's a much prettier place in spring and summer, but it sure is something else anytime - such a vast expanse of green space in the middle of the city.

Then it was off to our splurge lunch at La Truffière. This was our fourth time, and it remains a favorite and certainly a good value with a 30 Euro 3-course lunch and 5 Euro glasses of wine.
Our entrees of fresh mozzarella ravioli (so light and fresh) and pork terrine:

And plats of haddock and foie de veau (veal liver; those odd-looking things are gnocchi!), both very good.
Apparently, we then lapsed into a gastronomic coma because there are no pictures of our desserts (cheese cheese cheese) nor our after-dinner bon bons.

Oh! For the first time EVER, we sat in the upstairs room, not in the dungeon with the other English-speakers. Did this mean we had finally arrived? Non! I booked on a French web site, similar to Open Table. In the phone number fields, I put our apartment phone number (why not?) and I'm pretty sure they thought we were locals, based merely on the reservation info. he he he.

While it was a wonderful meal, we both decided it will not be on the must-do list for the next trip. Time to move on and find a new favorite...

Last night was my turn to cook dinner chez nous. Here's the menu:

And here are the veal chops with rosemary, roasted potatoes, and lentils and green beans (leftovers from the other night), washed down with a nice, little, fruity 5-Euro Burgundy.

Lastly, for those who don't know, the French have led the way in aerospace technology, high-speed rail, and the chemicals industry. Laundry, on the other hand.... ;-)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Isn't it nice to be able to walk to dinner at our friends' house - in Paris?

Last night was Seafood Blowout II (number I was back in March 2009) at Nancy & David's. Their friend, Patrick, from Hong Kong joined us.

Here is the plateau des fruits de mer. Isn't it a thing of beauty? Shrimp, crab, raw oysters and sea snails - not to mention homemade mayo and mignonette. It was wonderful.

Next was perfectly cooked pasta with pesto sauce (no pic - oops!) and then the desserts.

Cheese - we drizzled buckwheat honey on one of the goat cheeses. Oh my.


And one of the best tarte au citron I've ever had.

Here we are before devouring the platter.

Nancy and Patrick. He was a great guy. His son, who lives in Brooklyn, is a musician and is on tour in Europe; Patrick has become a roadie, of sorts. ;-)

It was a great evening. Lots of fun, lots of laughs, lots of great food and great wine.

The walk home was very pleasant - lovely, mild night. This is what we see a few blocks from the apartment...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A bientôt!

See you soon! That's what the owner (or at least the guy who works there A LOT) said to us when we left Chez Julien last night. And Tom got a handshake. I do believe we have achieved "regular" status!

We got home late last night...er...this morning.

By the way, after wine and a busy day, that was REALLY funny last night. Not having a 24-hr clock at home, we found the 0:11 HI-larious.

We got to Chez Julien around 11:00, not having eaten dinner. Thankfully, they were still serving their charcuterie et fromage (meat & cheese, but doesn't "charcuterie" sound better than "meat"?) platter. It was very rustic - no quince paste here - and very good.

Last night's main event was a one-man show called "How to Become Parisian in an Hour." It's performed in English, lasts a little over an hour, and was very funny. No one was spared: French, Americans, Africans, Germans, Spanish - all the best - and worst - stereotypes.

The big January sales are finally over! Tom kept reminding me whenever I pressed my nose against a window, but I'm not a big shopper and don't need anything.

OK, so let me be wild & crazy, and continue working backwards on yesterday. It was so relaxed! We spent a couple hours in the late afternoon in a cafe, writing postcards.

Since we knew we'd be having dinner/snacks out, we did take-out for lunch.

This is my sandwich of country ham, mozzarella, and tomatoes.

Tom was hungrier. That's a bacon & leek quiche along with what was called "Bruschetta Maxi" - all kinds of grilled veggies. That was our favorite.

In the morning, we went to the Musee de la Vie Romantique. I loved the warmth of this room, especially because it was drizzly and cold outside.

We loved this portrait of George Sand.

This is a bust of Ernest Renan, a frequent visitor to the Sand household. His daughter ended up inheriting the house. He looked so happy and jolly.

And finally, this was Tom's breakfast - rhubarb is one of his favorites!

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we are completely up to date! I think I am getting the hang of this blogging thing. ;-) For those who have left comments or emailed, thanks, we're so glad you're enjoying the blog.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Scallops so fresh they taste like the sea

And what does the sea taste like? WATER!!! OMG, these were so disappointing. We bought them from the nice, little old lady at the fish store, Tom cooked them perfectly, but they were totally devoid of flavor. Here they are, with their roe:

We googled around and Jamie Oliver said you can cook them and eat them with the roe, so Tom did. The roe was a slightly different texture, but had the same flavor, i.e. not much.

Here's our Valentine's table. The haricots verts (green beans) were delicious, as was the bread, of course. Oh, and the champagne, "Malard" was wonderful.

After dinner, we went out. We decided before we got here that we wanted to become regulars somewhere over the next week. We want that look of recognition when we walk in the door. On Sunday night, we went to a wine bar called Chez Julien. 3.50 Euro glass of wine at the bar, looking good. Last night, I wanted to try somewhere else, figuring we still had time to become regulars. The Cafe Bruant was perfectly fine, but didn't feel like us, so off we went to Chez Julien. There was a different staff tonight, but this will definitely be our place - we like it. Lots of locals and last night's bartender was playing the Beatles, the Doors, Hendrix, etc. Very lively, very casual atmosphere.

When we got home, we had a Kir Royale with our dessert. This is from that same frozen food store from the other day; we had to thaw it in the fridge for a few hours. We're still not quite sure what was in it, but it was SO good. Shaped like an apple, inside there was ice cream, a buttery cookie on the bottom, fruit sorbet, and the apple "stem" was made of a piece of vanilla bean. Just good. All in all, a fabulous Valentine's Day!!