jeudi, septembre 14, 2006

Chocolate, Ají Mirasol, and BHV

So, first, the pictures:

I saw this lovely façade as I was heading down avenue Sébastopol from the Pompidou Centre towards BHV. Apparently, it's now running as a theatre, although the engravings on the lintels say épicerie, which is a sort of grocery store, but they also say "all for one and one for all." I'll have to find a way to get in there for a show and get a closer look. Here's a detail of the lovely art nouveau doors:

So, after a day of convalescing from a cold, I got up and went to work. My head was still a bit full, sinus-wise, but nonetheless I was ready for work. I had a couple of slices of bread with mustard and rillettes (I don't think I'm allowed to buy rillettes for at least a week, lest this become a habit), and then I took off. Although the weather outside was rather brisk and threatening rain, the tunnels and trains of the métro were disgustingly hot. Actually, I think it's just my métro line (ligne 11), because other subway lines are only steamy on hot days. Anyway, I arrived at work already steamed like a dim-sum dumpling.

Work itself was mostly unexceptional, although I stayed late to help my boss install a new hanging LCD projector. The old one broke, but we couldn't remove the hanging fixture, which was securely installed right through the false ceiling tiles. So we had to do a fair bit of bricolage to make the new projector's supports work with the old projector's fixture. I got out about 3 hours late, but that was OK, since I had taken Wed off.

Afterwards, I had a few "errands" to run: buy some chocolate at Maison du Chocolat, check out that traiteur péruvien to see if they sold the peruvian foodstuffs that I wanted, and a swing by BHV to get a set of fine pliers (to put my earrings back in) and some removable adhesive hooks.

Stop #1 was at the Place Madeleine location for La Maison du Chocolat, where a young french guy did his best to perform French Snooty Formal Service. It came out as a bit of a caricature: excessively polite forms of address, without a hint of a smile and more than a hint of disdain. Thankfully, I was there for chocolate, so I didn't care much what he thought of my presence. I ordered a handful of bonbons, and then a 100% cacao chocolate bar and a 34% cacao milk chocolate bar. Later that night, again ruining my appetite for dinner, I ate all the bonbons.

I then took the métro to the Étienne-Marcel métro station to look for this Peruvian restaurant/store, Casa Picaflor. As I came out of the métro, I was completely confused as to which way to go. This is unusual for me; usually I can walk out of a subway station, lok around, and quickly "feel out" the cardinal directions. I don't know what it was about the landscape there, but even with a map it took me almost 10 minutes to figure out which direction I needed to take to get to this place. The place itself was a narrow, 10-seat hole-in-the-wall kitchen that nonetheless seemed to serve good food. I'll have to return for a night of ghetto Peruvian sometime. In the meanwhile, I checked out their selection of Peruvian foodstuffs. I got 2 bottles of ají amarillo molido (mustard yellow, smoky and spicy), one bottle of ají rocoto (bright red, very spicy), and one of ají panca (dark red, tastes like hot peppers without the bite). Mission accomplished! I'm one step closer to making real peruvian food. These hot pepper pastes, along with fresh and dried peppers from the region, provide the base flavoring for almost all Peruvian food. It's a bit like garlic for Italian food. So, I bought those bottles of ají, took note of the other Peruvian things they had for sale, and then got a can of Inka Cola for the road. (By the way, is it just me, or has every indie boy in Chicago started wearing Inka Cola shirts? What's up with that?)

My final stop was at BHV. An acronym for Bazar Hotel de Ville, the store's name is a pretty accurate description. It was one of the first grands magasins (the 19th-c. version of a department store) in Europe, opening in 1856 across from the Hotel de Ville (city hall). Unlike other grands magasins in Paris, BHV actually models itself as a sort of large, multi-floor bazaar. As a result this store is a dizzying, cluttered, but very useful collection of everything you might hope to find. If you need 1000€ bedsheets, you'll find them here. If you need a specific size of gasket for your plumbing, you'll also find it here. So I got there with about 30 minutes to spare before the store closes (again, most stores close here around 7:30pm!), and zipped around looking for a pair of fine pliers to put my earrings back in (I had taken them out for a passport photo). I found them just as the store was closing, but had no luck with my other project: removable adhesive wall hooks. You know those 3M "Command Adhesive" things that you can use to hang a hook and then remove it later without ruining your paint? Yes, well, that's nowhere to be found in France. I don't know why, since that sort of thing would seem really useful for a populace that still largely rents their home. If anyone reading this has successfully bought one of these things in Paris, please email me ASAP. I don't get why this is so !@#$ difficult. Meh.

When I got home, I settled in, ruined my appetite with chocolate, did a bit of blogging, and then ate some leftover risotto and hit the hay.

3 commentaires:

leo a dit…

No, it's not just you! I have also noticed that Inka cola is suddenly the non-alcoholic PBR of Chicago.

Travis a dit…

Yeah, if only those indie boys could get their hands on a can, they might toss their shirts out: not because the cola's not good, but because of the Coca Cola corporation's involvement in making it. Oh, but wait. They're probably being ironic. Maybe they should start dressing like the man from La Maison du Chocolat. Just a thought.

LMGM a dit…

That would be funny, because the guy at La Maison du Chocolat was wearing a full 3-piece suit. Oh yes, that's right.