"Bacon is the candy of meat."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Paris, Day Deux

Well, Day 2 was all about getting blisters on my blisters. We've been walking everywhere, and haven't set foot in a Metro so far. I even had to buy (poor me) a new pair of comfortable and cute leather sneakers at Camper.

We started the day with baguette, butter, and jam in the coziness of our own little eat-in kitchen. Mr. Gateau went out to the Boulangerie (and Starbucks, for his mocha) while I slept the sleep of the righteous dead. We then headed out to the Centre Pompidou to see a large chunk of the permanent collection of modern art. We had lunch in the beautiful rooftop restaurant. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the views were spectacular. I had a nice cheese and mushroom omelette, and Mr. Gateau had a sliced chicken dish with a rich curry sauce, chutney, and rice, and we shared a half bottle of rose. My coffee came with little squares of dark chocolate, so Mr. Gateau was content.

After lunch, more museum, and the sneaker shopping, we took a nap at the apartment. I had a bath to soak my aching muscles and feet, and then we decamped to a very nice cafe on the corner near our apartment. I started with tea, but we both ended up with beers as we sat and watched workers at the Ministry of Culture building come and go, stopping for after-work drinks. From there we walked over to Les Halles, where we bought postcards and souvenirs for the kids, then sat in the plaza outside of St. Eustache.

We had dinner reservations at the venerable Chez Denise, where we sat with a couple of pretentious middle-aged Americans (one married to a Parisienne) to one side, and a pair of delightful young French men who work in hotels to our left. At Chez Denise you share tables and bread baskets with others, and the portions are huge and ungarnished. This is not a place for being delicate, and the cheek-by-jowl setting makes it very festive. I'd eaten there with my parents 20 years ago, and I was looking forward to seeing how it held up. Answer: very well. We started with a platter of assorted charcuterie: rillettes, pate de campagne, head cheese, various salamis, saucisson sec, and ham. This was served with a basket of country bread, hot mustard, and a crock of cornichons with wooden tongs for table. There are several house wines served by the bottle, but you only pay for the amount you consume (an eminently reasonable system). With that we had a frisee salad with croutons and hard boiled egg. Just for a little green, you know. We did respectably with the starters, even though they were huge. Next, we shared one order of hanger steak, which was served medium-rare and came with piping hot pommes frites, plus a dish of grayish sea salt. We managed to eat about half the steak -- astonishing when you realize that the French patrons were ordering one steak or cote de boeuf (with marrow bones) per person and polishing it off themselves. Never believe in the myth of the delicate eating, slim Parisienne. These ladies can pack away their steak like any Texan.

After dinner we decided to stroll across the river. It was a beautiful moonlit night, so we walked through the Ile de la Cite and made a reservation for the following night at a lovely place we found in Zagat. From there we headed back into the Latin Quarter, and magically found we could manage some ice cream, so we got gelato (bitter chocolate and hazelnut for Mr. Gateau; pistachio and creme caramel for moi). We strolled along eating those, taking in the sights of the various cheap ethnic and student restaurants and bars, until we came to a bar we just had to stop in: the Great Canadian, though there wasn't much Canadian about it. Indeed, we each got a beer and remained transfixed to two screen showing events taking place in Forest Hills -- the Sunday night Mets game against the Phillies, and the men's finals of the U.S. Open. From there we headed back to the apartment, to crash once again.

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