lundi, janvier 26, 2009

Last Night in Paris

Sassmouth and her hubby had one more full day before returning to London, so we took advantage of it to spend the day seeing the city. I called in sick to work (don’t look at me like that! I never take sick days, so I deserve it, dammit) and then we set out for a day of walking.

I had wanted to take them to see the Musée d’Orsay, where there was a magnificent pastel exhibit, but it was closed on Mondays, so instead we headed over to the Picasso Museum. That actually worked out well for me, as it was one of the art museums that I still hadn’t seen. They had an interesting temporary installation in the building, involving a mirrored wall that bisected the whole building, creating an uncanny mirror-effect if you stood in the right place. The mirrored wall continued through the building, so at times you would be in an exhibit room and the room would be sliced in two by this mirrored wall, which was pretty neat.

From there, we wandered in a zig-zag around Le Marais, stopping at Muji and then in the old Jewish neighborhood. Since Sassmouth and her husband are both fans of falafels, we had to stop for a “falafel spécial” at L’As du Falafel, the best falafel joint in Paris and approved by Lenny Kravitz (I kid you not).

I took them on a walk through the cluster of medieval houses in the southern portion of the Marais (Village St. Paul), and then over to the islands on the Seine. We stopped for a coffee at a café on the Ile Saint-Louis, and checked in with Fantômette, who had wanted to meet Sassmouth before she left. Fantô was still waiting for her girlfriend to get home from work, so we kept on walking, heading over to l’Ile de la Cité and wandering around in the Nôtre-Dame cathedral, just as they were about to close.

After having a bit of a chuckle at the souvenir shop in the church nave (moneylenders in the temple, anyone?), we headed out and went over the river into the Latin Quarter. I took them on a quick walking tour of the crowded streets around rue de la Huchette, where we were of course relentlessly hounded by restaurant hosts and hostesses, trying to wave us into their establishments.

By the time we got back to the fountain at Saint-Michel, it was getting cold and we were in the mood to sit down again. I sent a text message to check in with Fantô and then we hopped into the subway over to her neighborhood, near Les Halles. On the place des Innocents, we found a café bar called the Coeur Couronné (The Crowned Heart), which seemed like a good place to hang out. We got a bottle of wine to share and sat around chatting while we waited for Fantômette to catch up with us. One of the nice things about French cafés is that they don’t hustle you from your table after you’ve finished your drink—especially if you’re sitting in the front window.

Anyway, Fantô eventually made it over to us and we spent a while recounting our stories from the weekend, talking about music production and DJ gigs, comparing various techno scenes, and figuring out who we knew in common. After a while, I looked at my watch and realized it was already 21h30. Crap! We hadn’t had dinner yet, and we needed to get back to my neighborhood if we were going to hit the bistro I wanted to hit before the 22h00 seating closed up.

We made it to Au Pied de Fouet a bit after 22h00 and the waitress happily seated us. Mind you, she was definitely in a hurry to get our order from us, which was a bit annoying, since I was always busy trying to translate the menu items when she would jump in to ask if we were ready to order.

Anyway, besides that, the meal was great. Sassmouth had an endive and blue cheese salad, while I had the house terrine of poultry livers (why do I love this but can’t stand chicken livers?). For the main dish, I had the cassoulet (which was OK), Sassmouth had the pollock fish in a beurre blanc sauce (which was awesome), and her husband had the duck confit (also delicious). For dessert, I had the most raspberriest raspberry tart I’ve ever had, while Sassmouth had an excellent chocolate fondant cake. The highlight of the meal for me, though, was the wine; a Marcillac, which I’ve never tried before. It was a southwestern French wine, with all of the body and character of a southern wine, but without the tannins or coarseness. It was perhaps a bit too light-tasting for more robust foods, but the suppleness and low viscosity of the wine went really well with our meals.

So, after stuffing ourselves to the gills, we headed home again and got ready to head to bed. My guests had a very early train back to London (6h00), so we called a taxi for 5h00, set our alarms for 4h30, and then tried to fall asleep.

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