mercredi, novembre 29, 2006

CarlaVisit Day 8: Long Walks and Moroccan Food

Off I go to work. Carla stays behind and then eventually makes her way out to the Cluny Museum (medieval history). I go find her after work and it's not too cold out, so we start walking. After several days of TOO MUCH FOIE GRAS, we decided to go Moroccan that night, so I made reservations at a place that had been recommended by my boss and a friend. But it was 3pm and our reservations weren't until 7:30pm or so. So off we go on a brief walk past Notre-Dame and over towards Ile Saint-Louis.

By the way, I found this last Sunday in the same neighborhood, but forgot to post it. So here it is, as a quick break from The Walking Story.

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As seen near the Shakespeare & Co. Bookshop.
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Anyway, we hit Ile Saint-Louis and hit that olive store that I love, Oliviers & Co., only to find that the usually friendly saleswomen have been replaced by the most dispassionate and my-soul-is-black-like-my-turtleneck salesguy I've ever seen (and that's saying something in Paris). On the upside, there was this rather working class North African guy working on the heating duct right above the cash register, so it was a bit of fun watching the clerk ring through my purchase with his face about two inches away from this (brown)(non-élite)(rough-speaking)(slightly frangrant) HVAC repairman's ass. It had all the Marxist/Marx Bros. markings of "mass cult" comedy of the Chaplin era.

Then we hit Berthillon for a couple scoops of heaven. Unlike when we visited this place on a Sunday afternoon in June last summer, there little to no line this time (it ain't summer no more) and we were cheerfully eating our ices within minutes. Carla got pear and some sort of chestnut & liquor combo, while I got a scoop of strawberry and a scoop of turrón (an Iberian nougat, not to be confused with Peruvian turrón de doña pepa or similar things). All delicious and overwhelming. I had to stop walking just to properly take in the full power of its amazingness.

I realized as we walked off the island that there was a little restaurant on the isle, called l'Ilôt-Vache (the islet of the cow) that I had been meaning to check out. We walked by, wrote down their phone number, and agreed to try and make reservations for the following (and final) night.

Then we walked our way through the Marais to the the rue des rosiers, the main drag of Paris's oldest Jewish district (more Askenaz than Sephardic, from what I can gather, but I'm not an expert). We hit l'As de Falafel for a Lenny-Kravitz-approved falafel (apparently he dubs this the best Falafel in Paris). Luckily we were there during low tide, so we were seated quickly and not hustled out of the restaurant. The last time I was there, we were nearly shoved out the door when we took to long to pay and gather our things. In the evenings, there's usually a huge crowd outside waiting to get in. Anyway, it's worth the execrable service. This is the best damn falafel I've ever had anywhere (admittedly, I need to spend more time in NYC comparing falafels, but still...). There "special" falafel includes cabbage, eggplant, hot sauce, tahini, the whole thing. Anyway, we took our falafel-y pit stop, then passed by la boulangerie Matineau (on rue Vieille du Temple around the corner) to get a canelé (cinnamon-sponge pastry).

We headed north past Fragonard and Muji (stopping at each, of course) and by then it was getting close to dinner time. We headed towards place des Vosges to admire the gorgeous two-story ceilinged apartments, and then continued on to our final destination for the evening: Au Petit Cahoua (24 rue des Taillandiers, 11eme).

We got to this place (just east of Bastille) a little early, so we took a brief walk along the street and noticed a couple of vintage shops, a fondue restaurant, 3 (dance) record shops, and a DJ gear store. I made a mental note to return here during business hours. Looks like fun.

When we got back to the restaurant, they were ready to seat us and we got started. We didn't think to get mint tea (next time!) so we missed out on our waiter's spectacular tea-pouring style, but instead we ordered some Moroccan wine by the glass and some water. However, we didn't miss out on the tagine and pastilla. Carla's tajine was the chef's special, which included chicken, dried apricots and cinnamon. My pastilla was just pastilla (i.e., a thick spicy shredded-pigeon filling wrapped in phyllo pastry and covered in icing sugar), but that was all I wanted. It was delicious. Mere words do not express. Also, there was this little antipasto-style side thingy that I snacked on that seemed to be essentially vegetables in a simple pickle with a LOT of cumin. I have to try that at home.

For dessert, I had a simple "salade d'oranges," which was a purist plate of orange slices (peel removed) with a thin layer of icing sugar. Carla had this "pastilla du lait," which was essentially dessert version of my main dish, but substituting a milk-based custard with orange flower blossoms instead of the meat filling. It was also to die for.

Then, for no good reason, we each had a shot of liquor after the meal as a digestive, and staggered home.

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