So today’s plan was to begin by securing ticket’s to the ballet currently showing at the Opéra Garnier, Raymonda. We’d buy them for tonight ideally, and then book a really late dinner after the show at Chez Denise.
Neither of these things came to pass. Raymonda was sold out for the entire run, and Chez Denise didn’t have any tables open tonight. Nonetheless, we managed to make a good day of it.
My sister and I set out to the Opéra to try to buy the tickets, while my parents went off to discover the jardin des plantes (the botanical gardens). When we found out that the tickets were all sold, I sent a text message to my mom to break the news, and then Carla and I consoled ourselves by shopping. I took her to the nearby Galeries Lafayette and Printemps to look at the famous display windows (much like I did last week with my parents), which she loved. She was especially smitten with Lafayette’s Alice in Wonderland theme.
We also checked out purses, all of which Carla declared to be boring. It’s a bad season for purses, apparently. After hitting C&A to buy some stockings (Carla says they’re better here) we headed down rue de la Paix so I could show her all of the super-fancy jewelry stores.
Once we made it to rue St. Honoré, we walked over to Colette, the posh concept-store that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. We ended up buying a set of really adorable vinyl wall stickers for Carla’s apartment, but I couldn’t help being annoyed by how invasive the store employees are there. I just want to shop, thank you.
We decided to cross the river and hit the other grand magasin, Le Bon Marché. We did this partially to check out the hat section for some gifts for friends of Carla’s back in NYC, but it was also partly so we could hit Le Bon Marché’s Grand Epicerie (“Great Big Grocery Store”), which is like the Saks Fifth Ave of foodstuffs. Carla wanted to stock up on some flower-scented syrups that she hadn’t been able to find since her last trip to Paris. We only found a couple of them, but I made a note to myself to come back after the holiday season to see if they had been re-stocked.
We had the bright idea of hitting the winter market in front of Saint-Sulpice, which had the (totally unintended!!) advantage of taking us right near the Pierre Hermé pastry shop. When we got there, however, there was a lineup all the way down the street, so we said—and I quote—“Fuck it” and kept going. The winter market netted us little in gifts, other than some interesting chocolates made with olive oil (gifts for friends back in NYC). So we headed home to catch up with the parents.
So, after recounting our respective days to each other, we got ready for dinner. I called over to Chez Denise and they actually had no tables available at all the whole night (except for something like 23h00), so we gave up on that. I tried calling Le Dôme du Marais, but they were closed. We were ready to give up and just wander around the neighborhood looking for a likely place when I had a thought: L’Ilôt Vache!
L’Ilôt Vache is one of those painfully cute restaurants makes food several notches above its décor. The restaurant is named after the history of the island on which it is located, l’Ile St.-Louis, which was first a grazing pasture for cows before being populated. The décor is this odd mix of mismatched plates, cow-themed kitsch on every available flat surface, and yet toweringly elegant and exotic floral arrangements on every table. And the wine list is nothing to sneeze at.
Anyway, I called ahead and booked a table, and then we walked over to the island. After a brief stop at an "ethnic" shop called Diwali to buy some of those light crinkled-cotton scarves they sell (chech scarves) as gifts to various people back home, we headed into the restaurant. Again, here’s the point-form roundup:
- Very fine food, good service, excellent Berthillon ice cream and sorbets.
- Appetizers: foie gras for me, the house terrine for mom and Carla, and a salmon-citrus marinade.
- Main: magret de canard (breast of fattened duck) in raspberry sauce for me, a goat cheese salad with smoked magret for my sister, the catch of the day for my mom, and a large beef skewer with béarnaise sauce for my dad.
- Dessert: tarte tatin for my dad, nothing for mom, and Berthillon sorbets for my sister and me.
In a welcome contrast to the last two nights, we returned home feeling only mildly overfull.