Paris was cold, then hot, and some days very wet. Still, we had things to do, places to see, people to meet and lots of eating to accomplish. It wasn't our first visit and this time I did not bother, as I had in the past, to map our eating destinations, and we ate whenever we felt hungry and took our chances. Which turned out quite well, even discounting the fact that we were traipsing around the heavily touristed parts of the city.
Every morning we ate a splendid breakfast which was part of our hotel package. The spread was by no means extravagant but quite adequate with the usual cereals, baked goods, fruits, yoghurts, cold cuts, fried bullet sausages, over-crisped bacon, hash browns and even instant ramen. The coffee was good, most mornings they have the most delicious stewed prunes which can be further improved by a dollop of fromage blanc, add some bread with gorgeous butter and voila, I was ready to charge forth into the city.
We found ourselves in a cafebar quite often. These unpretentious places with formica counters and dinky jugs are where the locals drop by for a quick drink and a cigarette, the food is not too bad too, especially after spending a cold morning checking out some depressing apartment prospects.
My default order was usually steak frites. The frites looked startlingly yellow when the whiskery old man set the plate before me but it tasted fine. The meat was a little charred but still juicy and tender inside. The best steak frites of this trip was definitely the indulgent creamy version at Chez Omar's, where we met up with food blogger Roboppy. She has pictures of the steak sauce over at her blog.
In between the naughty steaks, we ate loads of salads too. This salad above, at the Cafe Comedian next to our hotel for example, contained all the ordinary boring ingredients like tomato, ham, boiled egg, corn and lettuce, none of that chi-chi mesclun or rocket leaves, but the ingredients were fresh and everything came together beautifully. We also ordered Diet Cokes which turned out to be very expensive, more expensive than wine or water, hmm, anyhow, lesson learnt.
Above, a salad of spinach, smoked duck, emmenthal, pears, tomatoes made a very satisfying lunch after browsing the food shops at Rue Montorgeuil.
Fourth sister, who came over from London for the weekend, had a handkering for cheese, and her cheese platter was excellent with a good variety and just-so ripeness. The Eurostar is only 2 hours and a bit from Waterloo, London, we will definitely be seeing more of each other.
One rainy night we yearned for noodles and took the metro to Port d'Ivry for a big bowl of pho and further stuffed our stomachs with their perfect spring rolls. There wasn't enough room for flambeed bananas which I would have loved too, alas.
And yes, there were pastries and sweet treats aplenty since every street corner had one or more of boulangeries and patisseries. Laduree, Stohrer, Y. Martin, Stohrer and a few others whose names I didn't remember. Pierre Herme I went into but walked out without trying anything because it was for takeaway only and I wanted to keep my hands free to change my camera lenses and I didn't want to eat on the streets, must be the only stupid tourist to walk out without succumbing.
While husband went to Sweden for work, I stayed back to meet with dubious agents and do homework like find out how much things costs at the supermarket. Fortunately I was rescued from this tedium by a friend from Singapore. He was with a well known wine expert for a boozy trip to Burgundy and invited me to join his friends for lunch on the day he arrived in Paris. The venue was Relais Louis XIII on Rue de Grands-Augustins -opposite a very famous house where Picasso painted the very famous Guernica btw- a small but elegantly appointed restaurant with a reasonable 45 euro lunch menu and an excellent wine list. There was a delightful amuse-bouche of cauliflower foamy something, lightly grilled fish, pork leg done two sinful ways and finally a classic poached pear dessert altogether making this one of the best lunch of my trip.
Finally we found an apartment we liked. To celebrate we decided to go for a nice lunch, so we called our hotel concierge and he recommended Chez Andre. We duly made our way there and when I saw the menu of once again, all the french classical and traditional dishes like entrecote and oysters, I said no, we want cuisine inventif. And the concierge directed us around the corner to Spoon. Even I've heard of Spoon so we went to check out this Alain Ducasse restaurant. It is very trendy, very modern, and the menu is made up of small dishes called Spoon-sum and for those in a rush there is a bento set of sorts but served on a large square plate. I tried the Spoon-sum set which seems to be what everyone else was eating. It came with 3 appetisers, 1 meat, 1 fish and a trio of desserts, everything in small tasting portions. Husband ordered the day's bento-plate.
The food was modern with plenty of new world and Asian influences, inventive certainly but not always successful. The Spoon 'ravioli' was very much like our wonton, a sliver of grilled duck was a little too sweet but I loved its accompaniment of a paper-thin potato crisp, cod was served almost raw with a weird white sauce that husband liked and I didn't. Husband's lunch of couscous was beautifully cooked and flavourful and I liked very much the grilled liver that came with his lamb skewers. Desserts were very pedestrian cheesecake and ice cream but the fresh cookies that came made up for the disappointment.
And then we had to rush to the bank, and to his work appointment, and back to the agent, and well, all over town. Five hours later, hungry again, we ventured near our hotel and looked in the windows of Japanese and Korean restaurants. Finally I decided to go into a tiny and slightly shabby sushi joint, where the fish was fresh, the food authentic and the prices nearly the same as Singapore's. But I shall not say the name of the place, it is really too small and may get overcrowded.
There's much to do from now on, first- I must get a flat bottomed wok, the apartment is nice but it doesn't have gas cookers.....