So I’ve been a bit MIA lately (so much for the daily posting…), but in my defense, I think I have a good excuse.
I’ve been eating. (Prepare yourselves for some rapid-fire restaurant commentating)
I figured that since we had already gotten the museums and sites and whatnot out of the way, I’d devote my mom’s last few days here to taking her to as many different restaurants as possible (so…three), ticking off the boxes in terms of Parisian/French ‘must-tries’ that she had not yet experienced – and would quite frankly be hard-pressed to find back in the states.
One of these things were Breton-style crêpes, and in particular the savory buckwheat galettes served with a pitcher of crisp, dry (my personal preference) cider. Normally, I would have taken her down to Josselin near Montparnasse for this, but as I didn’t want to chance a wait (the rain was being finicky that day), I opted instead to take her to Breizh Café in the Marais, a place that I had been keen on trying for a while but had yet to make it to. As far as crêpes go, the menu offered the traditional ‘completes’ of ham, cheese, and egg, as well as some more interesting combinations like the one I chose, which came with prosciutto, camembert and a salad. Overall, I think I still prefer Josselin to this place – crêpes are more filling, and the prices are a tad friendlier, though even in the Marais, crêpes have not gotten too exorbitantly priced – but for the ease that came with being able to reserve a table (highly recommended), I would gladly come here again.
And really, it was a good thing we did not overstuff ourselves because Thursday’s dinner was a trip to what is still my absolute favorite place to go out to eat in this city : Chez Gladines
Now, Gladines has a few locations around the city, but the original restaurant in the Buttes aux Cailles neighborhood in the 13th arrondissement is still the best of the bunch. The fact that its a bit tucked away from the main tourist areas of the city means that it still retains a lot of the lively spirit and soul of the immediate area – which, coincidentally, happens to be frequented in large part by students living at the Cité Universitaire, my old graduate residence, and only a short tram/metro ride away. As the photo above suggests, portions are incredibly generous, but prices are definitely reflective of the budgets of most of the clientele. And yes, the fact that the dinner crowd – especially later in the evening – is comprised primarily of 20/early 30-somethings means that it can get rather…jovial…in there after a certain hour, but this energy becomes rather infectious, especially when it is evident that the staff is having just as much fun as the patrons. The fact that the food is also delicious – those potatoes are still some of the most beautiful, garlicky, fried things I have ever consumed, and the salad still makes me laugh with its attempt to add a bit of ‘health’ to this atomic calorie bomb – and wines by the glass start at around 3/3.50euros, almost makes you never want to leave.
Finally came Friday, my mom’s last night in Paris, and thus a night for some more…’typical’…parisian dining.
Le Temps des Cerises is a bistro located in the 4th arrondissement, off a side street just down the road from the Place de la Bastille. The bistro itself has been around for a while – I think the building, which looks like a little house, may have conservation status – but it hasn’t fallen into the trap of resting on its years to the detriment of the food, as some other historical eateries have. There’s a small dining room downstairs, and when we arrived, I feared that we’d be waiting a while, even though we had made a reservation, as all the tables were full. Fortunately, we were ushered up the stairs to another small room on the upper floor, this one a bit quieter than the bar/dining area downstairs. And maybe you can glean this from the photo, but there was an unmistakable warmth and coziness that enveloped the room and almost made me want to curl up in my chair and fall asleep, perhaps with a large mug of tea. Thankfully, I had had my afternoon espresso earlier that day, so I was able to stay wide awake for my meal.
We split an order of escargot to start, followed by chicken and fried potatoes for my mom, ray, mashed potatoes, and micro greens for me, and then finished with a tarte tatin for dessert, all of it washed down with a lovely carafe of white wine (and I didn’t note which one we chose, but I believe it was a Languedoc…). A stereotypical bistro meal, I guess you could say, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to add this place to my rotation of eateries I take people to when they visit me.
And then Saturday (yesterday) morning, I dropped my mom off at Charles de Gaulle, leaving her with one last treat for the long trip back to San Francisco : chocolates from Jacques Genin.
Last night also included a visit to the Experimental Cocktail Club, another place I have been meaning to try since I was last living here, as well as marked another personal first : going to a bar alone. Okay, this one might not count because the reason I was there alone was that I was waiting for my friends to arrive, but saddling up to the bar, ordering my cocktail – as the name suggests, their menu changes frequently with new creations, so the fact that I had something called an Old Cuban last night will probably make no difference should I, or any of you reading this, choose to visit this bar in the future – and people watching for a bit was not as awkward or uncomfortable as I originally thought it might be. There’s a part of me that would maybe consider doing something like this again, but perhaps next time I’ll do it on a weekday…oh and bring a book.
All this brings us to today which consisted of going to a drop-in acting class, seeing the French entry for this years foreign language Oscar race (120 Battements par minute / 120 Beats Per Minute, a film centered around the Paris chapter of Act Up and the French government’s (non) response to the AIDs crisis in the 1990s), and then heading to La Fontaine de Belleville to do some reading. Tomorrow it’s back at the BNF where I will continue with the super fun task of continually convincing myself that my project is a good idea (that is, assuming I get a better handle on the thing). Dissertations are a bitch.