mardi, mai 29, 2007

Carla&Friends Day 11: L'Ilot Vache and whimsical racist-kitsch rice bowls

I had to run a video conference at work that afternoon, which kept me bound to work a bit longer than I usually like. Nonetheless, I managed to make a few phone calls and reserve a place for dining tonight and Thursday night. Tonight, it's L'Ilot-Vache, which Carla and I had visited last November. Essentially, it's a cute, beef-centric restaurant with décor that is a mixture of quaint and kitsch, plus floral arrangements that are always gorgeous but nearly lethal in size. For Thursday, we're hitting La Brasserie du Dôme, which Carla and I visited last April, and is apparently known as the best place for seafood in Paris.

We met at the restaurant at 21h00, with Carla sporting one of her new scarves (don't ask her how much she paid for them, but note that one of them is a Kenzo scarf). We headed inside, where we were greeted warmly and sent to a round table near a window, with a HUGE flower arrangement in the centre.

After spending a fair bit of time translating the menu and pondering the wine list, we ordered our dishes. For an appetizer, I had a warm foie gras with fig jam and coarse salt, while Carla and the rest of the group had some salads with various delicious things on top. For the main dishes, one of us had the steak with 3 sauces (béarnaise, roquefort, and green pepper), Carla had the steak with mushrooms, one of us had he lamb, and I had the duck confit (which was AMAZING). Since I knew we weren't going to drink much wine, we went for a half-bottle of something much more expensive (I wish I could remember the precise vintage, but it was a Burgundian red, 1999). It was a fantastic wine, although I felt that I could've gotten similar results with a mid-range Bordeaux. We managed to embarrass ourselves by pouring our water into the wine glasses, which were so oversized as to look proposterous for wine-drinking use.

Anyway, the food was great and dessert was fantastic (I had the coupe normande, with green apple and pear sorbets covered in calvados liqueur), and we enjoyed the attentions of an adorably cheerful waiter. After dinner, we wandered over to Notre-Dame so that part of our group could take some nighttime pictures of the façade. On the way, we passed a store called Pylones (several locations throughout Paris), which had this set of racist-kitsch rice bowls in the front window. This, along with the minstrelsy-inspired "plantation" statues that I see all the time in the dollar store near my house, provide a good example of how differently the boundaries of racial discourse are placed in France (and Europe in general, I think).

Anyway, after getting a few photos of the cathedral, a few photos of the préfecture across the street (while nearly getting accosted by an angry bag-lady), we headed back to Hôtel de Ville on foot, taking a few more pictures of the building itself before disappearing into the métro station.

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