jeudi, novembre 30, 2006

CarlaVisit Day 9: Shopping and Cows

That morning, I took Carla to work with me, showed her around, introduced her to my co-workers, and then set her loose on the Cour Saint-Emilion region nearby (by way of the footbridge named after Simone de Beauvoir). The Cour Saint-Emilion village is named after the town and wine region near Bordeaux; this is because there used to be a train station here that would deliver all the wine from that area, and then the wines would be stored in little single-story buildings to age. As a result, the area is one of the few where there the equivalent of what you might call "simple" houses. Of course, most of them are trendy new shops rather than cute housing, but at least they preserved the buildings.

When my day at work was done, I met Carla at the métro station and we headed over to Galeries Lafayette (see previous visit here) so that she could finally see that amazing dome (and also so that we could shop like crazy). We spent a good amount of time hitting the first few floors, buying a couple of cute scarves, and then heading up to the top-floor observatory. Although Galeries Lafayette is certainly more affordable (and more "popular" in the French sense) than Le Bon Marché, the prices still weren't low, either.

We took a rather middlebrow high tea at the little Maxim's shop on the third floor, made fun of the high-fashion collections in the women's department, ogled shoes, went over to the men's section to make fun of their high-fashion collections (note to Karl Lagerfeld: what have you been SMOKING?!) and then had a good snark in the men's underwear section. The male undie mannequins were as iron-assed as last time, and Carla pointed out that they could also "lead a parade" with their huge, anatomically-correct-but-proportionally-alarming penises. I LOVE that you can buy underwear with a see-through ass in this store. Very posh.

I had been shopping for gloves (Paris doesn't really get into freezing temperatures, but the wet cold takes a toll on my hands), but I couldn't find anything satisfying. I have this now-romanticized memory of THE.PERFECT.GLOVES from more than 10 years ago and now anything else I see is always profoundly disappointing. On the other hand, I did leave with two beautiful french-cut Thomas Pink shirts (thanks, Carla!).

Afterwards, we finally headed off to l'Ilôt-Vache (scroll down on link) on Ile Saint-Louis for dinner. The place is adorable. The owner apparently has some sort of bizarre cow fetish, because the place is wall-to-wall cow-tchotchke; my sister even noticed a lovely oil painting of a mad cow behind my head. The table settings are mis-matched china and glassware (although the serving dishes that come out of the kitchen are of a uniform style), and the floral arrangements are massive, complex, tropical, and statuesque. Apparently, the floral arrangements change frequently and is part of the spectacle here.

For an entrée, I ordered this fantastic roquefort and pear pastry, while Carla ordered something equally cheese-intensive (I can't remember...). For the main dishes, Carla got a roast duck breast in a tart red berry glaze, while I got a steack aux trois sauces. This steak came with three sauces and they were HOLY CRAP! amazing. There was a pepper sauce, a roquefort sauce, and a béarnaise sauce, and they all explained to me why saucier (sauce chef) is the highest position in the French kitchen, after the head chef. When I ran out of beef to dip into the sauces, I turned to the bread, then eventually to a fork. I was shameless.

For dessert, Carla and I shared a coupe normande, which was essentially a large glass sundae goblet filled with Berthillon's green apple and pear ice creams, covered in an ounce of calvados (apple) liquor. It was to die for. And we might have (from over-eating), if we didn't order a coffee to kick us back up a couple of notches ("BAM"). We lurched home at a reasonably early hour (for us) and set Carla off to pack for tomorrow's odyssey to the the airport.

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