Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris

Filet Mignon
2006/05/28 01:47:53

Saturday we split a quick baguette with cheese at the local bakery. I told the lady at the counter, "Fromage". She just stared at me, confused. I summoned, "Bob." He said, "Fromage." She said, "Ohhhh. Fromage!"

We walked over to the Notre Dame and took some pictures. There was a big white tent in the center of the square with DJs chattering away. It looked like a promotion, so I ignored it until I noticed a giant mixer. I dragged Bob inside, and the tent was full of confused tourists wondering what was going on. Bob asked, "What is it?"

I saw rows of baguettes, and totally panicked chefs feeding puff pastry dough into a giant machine. "It's like the French Pillsbury bake-off!" What a great thing to stumble upon! We watched the competition for about a half-hour before heading over to the Centre Pompidou, the modern art museum.

Outside of the museum, there was a really gnarly 3-way bum fight. I whispered to Bob, "Do you think that this museum is modern enough to have performance art?" He said, "No, I think that's a genuine bum fight." The Pompidou building was once very controversial, as it looks like the builders forgot the walls. It is a series of exposed pipes and beams. The escalator looks like a giant habitrail, and as a child I always dreamed of living in a giant habitrail, so I rather liked it. They were having a film exhibit, called Le Mouvement de Images, so in addition to the anticipated Warhol and Braque paintings, there were Man Ray and Legari films running.

Bob had specifically wanted to see their exhibit of German artist Hans Bellmer, which didn't really interest me. The warning at the door read:


Maybe this won't be boring after all.

I can say this, Bellmer definitely had vision. Sometimes this vision is as grand as defying the nazis by opposing their concept of the perfect form with cool distorted doll-puppets. Sometimes this vision is as prurient as an obsession with women's bodies. Sometimes the vision is vaguely Dalinian with repetitive shapes and people made out of bricks or with the art-school figure-drawing lines still showing. The level of detail in his drawings, smaller and smaller and smaller, hints at madness. If nothing else, he was prolific.

We had 10pm reservations at La Bouquinistes, one of Guy Savoy's restaurants. I had brought a long gown, so even though it wasn't his "fancy" place, I decided I wasn't going to cart that dress around for 2 weeks without wearing it. There was a wait, and other Americans were loudly complaining. I was just happy to have gotten reservations on a Saturday night. A large party had just left, and the exasperated maitre d' just turned to the crowd, and called out, "Please seat yourselves." While the others were grumbling at the indignity, I happily zipped over to grab my favorite table in a restaurant ...near a window, and in the corner. I was definitely not overdressed in my long gown and diamond earrings. I wonder what I would have had to wear to Guy Savoy's "nice" restaurant? My wedding dress?

They brought an amuse-bouche, which is always a nice touch. We got a tapenade, while some of the other tables got "mushroom cream" in a shot glass. We both started with crab ravioi. Wow. I was disappointed to find that the "froth" craze is still going strong, but nonetheless it was a lovely, buttery froth. Plus, there were langostine tails mixed in. Bonus. Bob had rosemary-scented lamb. I normally don't like lamb as it is too gamey. This was the first time I had ever eaten non-gamey lamb.

I had the foie gras. It was gigantic and delicious in a delicate sweet sauce with tropical fruit. Alongside was a surprising slice of french toast. Gourmet chicken and waffles. The french toast was stuffed with a cream-cheese type cheese, only better. It was perfection. And my doctor would have slapped me in the face if he had seen that plate. I couldn’t get a picture in focus, and Bob said, "That's because the picture just slides off of the grease."

The young French couple at the next table was celebrating the girl's birthday. Bob mumbled, "Serious jewelry." I looked over as she opened the ornate box to find a diamond necklace. She was clearly upset, and he was desperately trying to fix the problem. He pulled out a small catalog, showing her other necklaces she could trade it in for. Bob asked, "Why is she so upset at such an expensive gift?" I peeked over and noticed that her left ring finger was bare.

Nuff said.

Les Bouquinistes 53 Quai des Grands Augustins 75006 Paris 01 43 25 45 94

Filet Mignon
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/28 02:04:43
What is amuse-bouche?
Filet Mignon
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/28 02:14:34
Maybe Lleechef or another French-speaker can tell us the French interpretation. I think it is probably something like "Amuse the mouth" or "Tickle the mouth".

It is a little teensy-tiny appetizer, maybe one or two bites, that the chef sends out for free before you order. In New Orleans, you would call it "lagniappe" (Emeril always has them at his restaurants). To me it says, "We are happy you are here."
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/28 03:04:12
Yes, an amuse-bouche is exactly that. Bouche in French is mouth and of course amuse is amuse. So as Elise said, it's basically a little itty-bitty bite before the real appetizer. When we would have serious VIPs eating in the restaurant I would send out several "amuse bouches" before they actually got what their appetizer or main meal was.

The pictures are great! Even the one of the foie gras made me drool. Glad you got to the Pompidou Center. Did you make it to the Orangerie to see the Impressionists? Well, you can't see everything in Paris. I lived there for years and didn't see it all.
Filet Mignon
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/28 03:37:23
"If it's Impressionism it must be Sunday"

...that will be my next entry. Believe it or not, this account is only my second full day in Paris...recap:

Thurs evening: Eurostar from London, Roger a la Grenouille

Fri: Louvre, Au Pied de Cochon

Sat: Notre Dame, Baking contest, Pomidou, La Boquinistes

Sun: Pho 67, Memorial des Deportees, Berthollian, Eiffel Tower, Musee Orsay, Dinner Party

Mon morning: Eurostar back to London

I could have stayed another week, easily. Next time, sigh...

PS: I am noticing the sneaky way you are correcting my spelling, and making the appropriate changes. Very smooth, Missy.
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/28 05:17:58
Who are you calling Missy? Me?? Woah! That's WAY better than what I ordinarily get called!

The MFA Boston had a showing of "Monet in the 20th Century". Elise, I went THREE times to see the same painting. I just sat and stared at it. He painted it in Giverney. Beautiful. Etheral. Breathtaking. Go to the Orangerie and see the Monets. You'll go crazy.

You enjoy Paris my friends. It is truly fantastic and beautiful. Eat more foie gras and I promise NOT to correct your spelling ever again.
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/28 13:08:23
Elise- I am enjoying every momment of your posts of Paris and London. I loved Paris and miss it dearly. I think I staying in a hotel not to far from yours. You stayed in the Latin Quarter right? I recognize the church.

I absolutely loved the Musee d'Orsay. Musee Picasso was my favorite though and I really enjoyed the Dali museum near Sacre Coeur. Missed the Dali Museum in London though.

Filet Mignon
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/28 15:09:40
I think the Dali Universe is a new development.

Yes, we stayed at Henri IV Rive Gauche on Rue St. Jacques, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It is a "boutique" hotel, no pool or business center if you need that kind of thing.

Next trip, I promise I will go to the Orangerie and Montmarte (and the Dali museum there). We just didn't have enough time.

I also didn't get to eat at Perraudin, Cafe Le Petit Pont, Un Chien Que Fume, Le Deux Magots, Chez L' Ami Louis or Fils du Dragon either. Next time (if I ever pay off THIS trip)!
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/28 17:14:35
I wanna travel with you. You look at the world through different eyes -- such as your cathedral picture.
Filet Mignon
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/28 18:54:31
At first I was excited to go to the top of the cathedral to photograph the gargoyles, but every single post card in the shops had the exact same gargoyle picture. I realized, do I really want to take the same pic as 5000 other people today? So I didn't even go to the top, and tried to take pics that would make me dizzy.

mr chips
Filet Mignon
RE: Elise Eats Europe 5: Paris 2006/05/29 14:41:48
Again what marvelous photos and stories. You brought back memories of my Paris whirlwind. The Lourve, the Orangerie, the Rodin museum, St Stephen's cathedral, Hapoleon's tomb and the wonderful museum of tapestries. I remember sitting in the garden of the Rodin museum and weeping for joy because I was seeing so many beautiful works of art. Walking along the Seine(regretfully alone) reminded of the French films that helped me to learn about the wonders of the cinema.