mardi, mai 22, 2007

Carla&Friends Day 4: Chez Denise

Before going on about my day, I need to post this adorable picture that my sister took of DJ and I after drinks last night at Café Hugo. This was taken on rue des Francs Bourgeois just east of Musée Carnavalet. Take a look at the stoplight just above our heads (you may have to click on the image to get the full-size version to see the detail). Poor DJ, who already gets enough flack for adopting some of the mannerims of French masculinity, will have much 'splainin to do with this picture.

So, a large chunk of my day was taken up at work, as a sort of "perfect storm" of stuff came up all at once. After getting home and working a bit on blogging and email correspondence, DJ and I left from our place to meet my sister and her friends over at Chez Denise for dinner. While DJ and the girls got either the mutton stew, the onglet (hanger steak) or the lamb chops, I decided to go with the tripes au calvados (tripe in calvados sauce). I know, I know, tripe is some nasty shit, especially when you considering that you're eating the stomach lining of a cow. However, here's the problem: I LOVE the broth that is made from tripe (as featured in "special" Vietnamese phỏ soups and Mexican menudo), so obviously tripe itself must be delicious, once I get past the awfulness of the texture.

As it turns out, Chez Denise has some sort of magic touch when it comes to preparing offal, because the tripe had none of the chewy, wriggly texture that I recall from previous experiments, but rather a firm and meaty texture. With the texture much more palatable, I found the flavour--especially with the calvados sauce--exquisite. That much being said, I'm still undecided as to whether I'd order that again; this experience taught me both that tripe can be tasty, and that tripe is usually poorly prepared (since no tripe I've tried before tasted like this).

As our meal was coming to a close, a woman sitting with a large and recently-arrived group began to sing. She was clearly trained in the 3-mile-vibrato school of operatic vocal technique, butchering what sounded like a 20th-century English song setting and turning it into a warbling mess. She only sang a few bars before stopping, which was a relief to me, since she was making my skin crawl. However, some well-meaning and obviously drunk/insane people at other tables clapped afterwards, and a few minutes later she burst out in a complete rendition of the same song. Thankfully, I had my back to her table, so I didn't have to embarrass myself by being impolite. However, it may have been worth it if seeing me writhe in pain might have prompted her to stop sooner. When she finished were impromptu performance and people started clapping, one of the servers zipped over and said rather plainly, "Stop singing." The singer didn't seem to speak French (although she spoke English with an American accent), but one of her compatriots tried to protest to the waiter; the waiter shrugged and said "This is a restaurant, not a concert hall," and walked off into the kitchen. He was quite right; music is rarely an element of fine dining in Paris, and more likely to be found in bars, cafés and brasseries. As we were paying for our bill, Carla noticed that there was faint background music pouring out of speakers in the ceiling (which had been unused all night and in every visit prior to this one). Clearly, someone was making a point.

After dinner, we meandered back to Carla's apartment to eat dessert; Carla had swung by La Durée during the day and brought back a payload of tartes and pastries and macarons. We enjoyed a raspberry and rose petal réligieuse, an "ivory bollywood" (a bit of meringue wrapped in a big frothy ball of flavoured cream and covered in shredded coconut), and a pile of tasty macarons. From there, DJ and I wandered our way back home and off to bed.

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