This summer I put together a list of things to do in Paris over the next year. It is divided into “Paris To Do”, “Food Things To Do” and “Shops to Check Out”. It won’t surprise you that the food list is by far the longest. It is also detailed, including entries like “Corsican sandwich at U Spuntinu, 9th” and “Zoe Bouillon for soup lunch, 19th”. The specificity gives me a sense of purpose. I am not just going to the 19th to have lunch. No, I am going to Zoe Bouillon and I will order soup.
This weekend was a good weekend for the list. With Barbara as an enthusiastic list-tick side-kick, I earned myself six ticks. Oh, and some pretty good memories too.
We began on Thursday evening, with dinner at L’Usine de Charonne. We got off on an iffy start when the waiter brought me the wrong drink (only after downing half my apple mojito in seconds did I realize he had brought me a regular, alcoholic mojito; my head was spinning) and the wrong main course (burger and bagel are apparently close in sound). I forgave him, however, when he brought out (the right) dessert: strawberry soup with white chocolate chantilly. The soup had full-on strawberry flavor that made the slightly cool evening feel like high summer. I did not care too much for the combination with the sweet, fluffy cream, but solved that problem neatly by eating the cream first, in big, billowy spoonfuls. And when I was done scraping the last bits of deliciousness from my glass, I realised the bagel/burger mix-up was a blessing in disguise. I now have a perfectly legitimate, burger-testing reason to go back. And you better believe that I am saving room for dessert.
Friday evening found Barbara and me in Montmartre for the next tick: buying cheese at Chez Virginie. Hoo boy, did we ever earn that tick:
That’s soft, luscious brie de meaux, full of barnyard flavour but without a trace of harshness. It’s also blue cheese matured in rum and rubbed with cocoa nibs, a soft, tangy round of goat’s cheese and 30-month old Comte. All of it was so good much of the dinner conversation that night consisted of “mmmmm”and “yumyumyum”. It is a fine thing for my wallet I don’t live closer to Virginie’s cheese heaven, because that is one item that would get ticked over and over again.
Recovering from all that cheesy delight (and from the nocturnal chat until 3 AM) took time, so we had a slow start on Saturday. That did not, however, prevent us from getting a good few ticks in. First was coffee at Café des Phares, which I decided ticked the item “hear a Sunday morning debate” there because the waiter was so spectacularly unwelcoming I have no desire to ever go back.
The grumpy waiter was quickly forgotten, though, when we sat down to eat a croissant at the Place des Vosges. We shared our pastries with the local contingent of little brown birds, got occasionally sprayed by the fountain and listened to the multi-lingual chatter around us. This is touristy, grin-inducing, photogenic Paris at its finest and we were v. happy to be part of it. After an ice-cream from Amarino around the corner, we set off for a stroll through the Marais to create room in our bellies for the next tick.
That came a few hours later, over tea and tart at Le Loir dans la Theiere. Another lovely place to be, but the tart was disappointing. We came for the lemon-meringue, but by the time it was our turn to order, they had sold out for the day. Humpf. We got apricot tart instead, and were momentarily cheered up by the sight of a large, moist slice, liberally spread with pistachio marzipan. Alas. The apricots were soursoursour and the marzipan entirely not sweet enough to balance things out. Barbara soldiered on and bravely ate her share, but I gave up after a few bites. Which left me with room to spare for a dolmade sandwich with big dollops of tzatziki from Chez Marianne. (Tick.)
We had planned on finishing our trip with a final tick for falafel from L’As du Falafel, but were thwarted in our attempts by L’As’s sabbat closing. No matter, though, because the Marais is only a bike ride away. And that is a price I am entirely willing to pay for a tick.