Friday, December 25, 2009

Paris Visit I


Blogging confirms the first law of writing, which is that if you sit down and write a little bit every day, or even most days, before you know it you have a whole lot written without a great effort.  Most of it is terrible, of course, but even if a quarter of it is any good you are way ahead of the game.  Speaking of writing every day, I have also found lately that it is much easier to get motivated to blog when I am unhappy; now that things are going smoothly it’s easier to let it slide.  I suspect this phenomenon explains a lot of the negative tone you see on the internet.

That, and it’s hard to resist handing out little pearls of wisdom once you feel like you have a platform.

Anyway, we got to Paris… when was it?  A week ago last Sunday.  Exhausted like you always are.  We were staying at the rental apartment owned by our friends Sandy and Philippe, a beautiful little one-bedroom/studio that has to be the best deal in the city.  They had picked up the keys from our Monsieur P., our architect, so we headed over to Rue d’Ouessant to meet them.  They showed up with Moulan in tow, as always.  Once we got into the apartment we realized that pictures had not done justice to how completely demolished it was.  Where the tiles had been ripped off the floor there was just concrete rubble in between the floor joists.  Wires were sticking out of the walls everywhere, and grooves had been cut in all the walls where the new wires are going to go.  There were workers everywhere, mostly Polish, though they spoke French, ripping down wallpaper and smashing old ugly shelves with crowbars.

We hung around for a while, and took some pictures.  Here are some familiar ones of the kitchen and bathroom, or what’s left of them.

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Oh, and the view is still there, as is all the beautiful light that streams in.

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Afterwords we had lunch at a little Cafe on the Place Contrescarpe, near Sandy and Philippe’s apartment where we were staying.  Contrescarpe has to be one of the most scenic little squares in Paris, perfect Bohemian 5eme.   it was late by then and we knew we had dinner reservations, so we were trying to eat light.  I had onion soup, which was good not great, and CAM had an omelette fromage, which was perfect, soft just to the point of a little runny at the center.  As these cafes always are, the place was full of French people eating real meals, drinking wine.

We then went back and rested for a while, and headed back out to see the beautiful little place that Sandy and Philippe just purchased in the same wonderful neighborhood.  More wine and cheese, and by the time we left we wondered if it was really worth going out to eat.  We were tired, we had basically been eating all day, we had to get back on the metro to get to the restaurant.  But what the Hell, so we set out to Le Marcab (If you follow these links, you will find that French restaurants have very fancy websites, too fancy if you ask me.  tons of flash animation.  Usually I just want to look at te menu.), on Rue Vaugirard, in the 15eme close to our new apartment.  Carol had found a review of the place at John Talbott’s excellent blog.

As it turned out, we had the best meal we were served all week.  Like most French restaurants, along with individual selections they offer a “menu” with a shorter list of items at a better price.  Entree (appetizer in French), main course and dessert.  Sometimes for lunch you can choose a main course and either an entree or a dessert.  Anyway we almost always order from the prix fixe menu.  The one that night had only a single set of offerings:  a cold course, creamy pumpkin soup topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, a hot appetizer, smoked salmon mi-cuit (half cooked, smoky on the outside and still cool in the center) surrounded by a wild mushroom puree, and then roast pork with an emulsion of foie gras and a pile of french fry sized sticks of baked polenta with cheese.   Dessert was a pear crumble with a layer of hot fundge and homemade cinnamon ice cream.

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