Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Monday Dinner in le Marais

24, rue des Francs-Bourgeois
75003 Paris
01 42 72 20 50

Dinner in le Marais. Yes, it was a bit of a tourist spot. And, the food was pricey. But, the setting was really wonderful and the staff was more attentive than I've seen in a restaurant in a long time. We waited about 15 minutes for a table, but they were quick to bring us a couple of Kir on the house.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I Love You

In Montemarte, "I Love You" in 311 languages.
More info....

Rainy Sunday in Paris

Sunday, April 20, 2008

To Market on Saturday Morning

I'm a bit behind on posts, but things have moved quickly and there's little time to actually post them. But, I did want you to see what the wonderful visit to the local street market in Stephanie's neighborhood yielded us.

We were set to buy stuff for our home cooked meal (living on budget.) And, the market was full of amazing things.

First we stopped by the butcher where we accomplished two things: 1) We confirmed that Friday night's meal was not Kidneys, and 2) We bought an incredible freshly butchered chicken... complete with head and feet on, and most gizzards well attached. We waited for about 10 minutes for the young butcher to prep the bird for us.
Next we wandered past seafood, pastries, clothing and other wonderful good. But we had our eyes set on the cheese.... a cheese selection that would make the entire DeKorte-Ramsey family sit still in the kitchen before a Thanksgiving dinner.

The final stop was for vegetables. Fresh artichokes, haricot verte, lettuce, olives and radishes from the largest pile of radishes I've ever seen. Dinner was fun to cook. Simple roasted chicken & vegetables followed by wonderful cheese and topped off with an early night's sleep. More tomorrow!

I think I've seen this movie before... it was a classic

On Saturday afternoon, Steph and I set out to explore the city. Ever so timely, this month’s Travel+Leisure magazine had a story on “Europe’s Hidden Neighborhoods.” So, after the market we were off to the Abbesses quarter. This is a neighborhood at the foot of Montmarte and below the Sacré Coeur Basilica – both favorite stops in Paris. But the Abbesses wasn’t new. In fact, I remember discovering the neighborhood three years ago on my last trip to Paris.

I was traveling through Europe with my good friends Ran Borgersen and Jeff Shewey. Paris was our second stop after Amsterdam and before we went down to Provence, Cannes, Monte Carlo and ended with a few days with a larger group in Tuscany. Sadly, it was truly a once in a lifetime trip. Jeff died about a year ago.

Being Jeff’s friend was a wonderful experience. Traveling with him brought that experience to entirely different dimension. He had a sense of adventure and of humor that made life exciting and, usually, well over the top. We took turns planning different parts of our trip and, of course, his parts were always just a bit more fabulous – including wonderful hotels in both Paris and Cannes.

His desire for everything to be perfect, and – yes – his temper that flared from time-to-time, also meant is was often challenging to travel with Jeff. For example, he was in charge of the driving – barreling down the French interstates at well over 100 mph. I remember the one (yes one) morning that I was allowed to drive and I asked him to get out and check behind me as I was backing-into a parking space. (I know there was a concrete barrier behind me somewhere.)

As he grudgingly got out of the car, Jeff pointed out that, “You should know how to back up a car. Back in Enid (Oklahoma where Jeff was raised) my father taught us all how to back up the family van without help."

It was right about then that Ran looked at me and whispered, “Do as he says, and no one gets hurt.”

And, it was true. Not only did we not get hurt, but by doing what Jeff said, and planned, we usually had a lot more fun.

I do remember our weekend in Paris as typical of that mantra. What started as an early day of tourist activities wound into an adventure that included wandering into the Abbesses looking for the Moulon Rouge. Later we shopped our way through the city and discovered a great local family-style restaurant where met many new friends and laughed through most of the night. Leading the way, throughout it all was Jeff with that mischievous grin and sense of adventure.

Ran and I were talking this past week about what we’re going to do to honor that adventure – and where we should all travel to next. While we haven’t picked a destination yet, we know for sure that we’re going to do our best to make sure it’s an adventure in the true spirit of Jeff Shewey.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I HOPE that was kidney....

I don’t speak French. I took Spanish for four-plus years. (Notice I said, “took” and not “speak”.) But, I didn't take nor do I speak French.

However, I’ve always been proud of my ability to speak “Menu French.” I thank my parents for an early education in learning the ins and outs of a French menu.

I failed my test last night. As, I should point out, did Stephanie.

After a leisurely walk down the rainy streets of le Marais last night, we popped in to Le Coude Fou, a charming bistro. The menu was true country French cooking. Our appetizers were a goat cheese, about the size of my fist that seemed to have been broiled in cream and butter. Hmmm. Hmmm. Stephanie had a wonderful salad with bacon and shaved foie gras. Her main course, a seared tartar of duck. Mine: Well, we’re actually not quite sure, but do know that it was veal.

I’m not one for “organ meat.” So, when the rognon de veau was placed in front of me it took me by surprise. (I was expecting a medallion or cutlet.)

Checking the English-French dictionary we’re hoping that the rognon was actually kidney. Alternate translations raise the possibility that the organ on my plate was something entirely different and only found on the male of the species.

Thankfully, dinner was followed by a stroll over to the Ile Saint-Louis for "the best ice cream in Paris" at Berthillon Glacier. It was a wonderful way to end the night, sitting in the shadow of Notre Dame.
Update: They weren't kidneys. We stopped by the market and saw the difference.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Safe and Sound

Made it to Paris safe and sound this morning. Stephanie was kind enough to meet me at the airport. A great (if a bit cold and rainy) day wandering the city and eating... eating... eating. To paraphrase a friend of hers.... "Here's to animal fat and the countries that know how to enjoy it."

More pictures and stuff tomorrow.