Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eat, drink, and be thankful

This is a yellow lab puppy born recently at Guide Dogs for the Blind, one of my clients. He's so tiny, he fell asleep in his food bowl!

I hope on this Thanksgiving, you have the good fortune to be off work, surrounded by family and friends, full of delicious food, and headed toward a similar blissful state as this puppy (though hopefully you'll manage it with more dignity). I know I am thankful for good health, good luck, good people in my life, and my very good dog.  Wishing you all the best, too.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Paris, France

Since we returned from our trip a few weeks ago, many friends have kindly asked what we did in Paris. We have answers: we ate great food, went to museums,  saw lots of churches, strolled along the Seine.  These things are all true. But, the real beauty of the trip can be explained in our daily routine: wake up (late, because a 9-hour time difference is no joke), eat something delicious for breakfast, walk around, see some art or old buildings, eat something delicious for lunch, walk around,  stop for a glass of wine, walk around some more, take a short nap back at the apartment, go out for an apertif, eat something delicious for dinner, find a place to drink a last glass of wine outside and people watch until midnight or so.  This may seem repetitive, but no two days were alike and every day was perfect.

Here are some things we did and saw.

Admired the many enormous blue doors.

Ate tiny French donuts.

 Went to the Musee d'Orsay.

Ate salty shrimps with creamy mayonnaise.

Admired this brilliant contraption: bread slicer designed like a paper cutter.

Marveled at the tiny gas stations.

Drank coffee.

Pondered life at the Rodin Museum.

Had glasses of wine here.

 And here.

And here, a wine bar and bookstore.

We ate apple turnovers alone the Seine.

And perused the local farmers markets, which were full of beautiful produce, as well as stands selling the usual charcuterie and crepes, but also Moroccan and African food.

We ate here (burrata with mozzarella, prosciutto, olive oil, and crumbled hazelnuts; monkfish with spinach; dourade with tomato risotto).

And here (crab and potato cake; tartare of oysters, salmon, and shrimp; sea bream with pesto and vegetable fritters).

And here...

Where I had haddock vitrine with sweet pepper puree...

And roast chicken with potatoes Dauphine.

We rode the Batobus.

And admired the skyline.

Shopped for books and art along the river.

 And ate cured meats and cheeses at every opportunity.

We saw French dogs and pined for ours.

Sighed over the Hotel de Ville at night.

Looked at art.

 Looked at people looking at art.

Ate American cheeseburgers.

Wondered what this was and contemplated stealing it for a joy ride.

 Stumbled across this guy.

 And practiced looking French.

In addition to the food described above, we had lovely meals at past favorites Fish and Le Comptoir du Relais. But some of our favorite experiences were at new, very casual spots: a tartine of creamy cheese, smoked duck, and walnuts (which were in season and therefore everywhere) at La Tartine; chicken tagine with dried apricots and polenta at Glou; ham and butter sandwiches from one of the many local bakeries. At Les Temps des Cerises, they won my heart from the moment we sat down and they placed before us a plate of perfect French radishes with a tiny wooden bowl of sea salt.

Some of the best food we had was at Frenchie, where we not only enjoyed foie gras with figs, guinea hen with eggplant, squid ink, and olives, and trout with kale and spaghetti squash, but the company of Camille and her husband, Nick. Camille is the pastry chef for Frenchie To Go, which was pretty lucky for us because we were able to ride her coattails and get star treatment that night, including complimentary champagne and the most outrageous last course I have ever had, a small sort of shepherd's pie. I don't often think of eating oxtail stew topped with bechamel (or mashed potatoes, as the husband claims--either way it was deliciously creamy) at the end of a meal, but I can no longer think of a reason why not.

After a second trip to Paris, I am 100% convinced it is the best place on earth. It's not perfect, but it's beautiful, interesting, (mostly) progressive, easy to navigate, and seems to be populated by people who understand that living well is less related to how much you work or earn and more about how much you stop, sit, and look around, preferably while drinking a glass of wine and eating charcuterie.