My Parisienne culinary experience started even before that! While Genevieve and Cooper had class for three hours on Friday morning, I systematically stalked every croissant on the Rue de Passy. I got a croissant at one bakery, a sugar brioche at the next, and sat and read the papers on a bench. I couldn't even wait to take a picture before I tasted the brioche, you see...
Next I sat at a cafe for almost two hours (ooh la la!) and tried another croissant. Out of all of these, my favorite was definitely the brioche. The sugar on top actually looks like sea salt it's so big! So it's crunchy and then chewy, and even better when you get it hot like I did this time!
Next up was a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower - very cliche, but fun nonetheless! Baguette, jambon cru (like prosciutto!) and camembert, with a splash of red wine to wash it down. Cooper and I snuggled.
Friday night we met up with some of Genevieve and Cooper's French friends. They brought along some friends from Quebec who were visiting, and trying to decipher their "French" was like trying to carry on a conversation with a Scot! Or worse. The French kids said they had a harder time understanding Quebecois than our English. But dinner was great, and pretty cheap. I got a "boucher au cacao" - I'm not sure exactly how to translate "boucher". It literally means "butcher", but it's a cut of beef, really tender. And it was in a sauce of its own juices and bitter cocao powder, served with these amazing, crispy roasted potatoes. Between the group of us (8 people frantically trying to understand and communicate with each other), we split 3 bottles of wine, and the tab still only came to 20 euros per person! And the setting was great - the restaurant itself was kind of dark, but the menu was still legible, and the walls were painted vibrant red with grafitti-like writing all over it. In the bathroom, appartently, there's usually a marker so you can write whatever comes to you, but unfortunately, there was no marker on Friday night, so my inner poet couldn't flow. Damn.
Saturday morning brough more culinary triumph! Genevieve and I made a simple breakfast of fried eggs, kiwi, toast, and coffee, but the eggs were fresher, the yolks more orange, and the coffee (a supermarket brand) was "BANGIN'", to quote Genevieve. For lunch (Mom and Dad, I know I already talked your ears off about this lunch, so bear with me...) we picnicked on the Rue Mouffetard and made the best sandwich I think I've ever had. A baguette that was so crusty it almost made the top of our mouths bleed (that's how you know it's good stuff), with "raisin de la maison" cheese (a soft cow milk cheese with mixed raisins, not very strong) and fresh rotisserie chicken thigh, with the skin, of course! To go along side, we got olives nicoises, and some of the potatoes that were roasting at the bottom of the rotisserie, some of which were crusty with little brown bits, all of which had sopped up the chicken juice and fat dripping from six feet above. For dessert, perfect little strawberries that would make Michael and Jason proud any day!
The chicken and potatoes before we got to them:
Later down the road, Genevieve and I found this abandoned restaurant just BEGGING to be adopted! So we decided that with all of your help, we'll buy it and call the signature sandwich Le Mouffetard after our aforementioned incredible sandwich :-) Matt, you're maitre'd.
Can you handle any more tales of culinary excellence?! Hang in there! There's more! Saturday night, though we didn't think it was possible, upstaged the rest of our tastings. We ate at Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie, a small restaurant in the 2nd, far from Gen's apartment, but we figured it was worth the schlep, since one of Scott's friends is the chef there, and anything that Scott approves of must be good! When we arrived, we were a bit concerned because it was so quiet - not empty, just calm, which is different from any of the other restaurants around or any we'd been to in the previous 48 hours. We should have known then what we figured out later - this place was for serious foodies! Not raucous twenty-somethings! Our old souls fit in just fine though. Here's what we ordered:
Appetizer: Scallops St. Jacques in a brown sauce with julienned vegetables and good french bread to sop everything up with
Entrées: Genevieve got a piece of rockfish with a ratatouille-like vegetable mix under it. Neither of us had tried it before, but were pleasantly surprised. It was mild, perfectly cooked, of course, and altogether delicious. I got the filet mignon du porc with roasted potatoes and apples in a saffron-infused cider sauce. Mmmm.
Dessert: We both agreed that this was possibly the best dessert we'd ever tasted, and certainly the most interesting. It was three figs poached in spiced red wine (cinammon, nutmeg, lemon, and probably some other things we couldn't identify), with an almost crostillant and honey lavender ice cream. I wondered (aloud, I think...) why anyone makes pumpkin pie! This reminded me of the classic Thanksgiving dessert, but it's so much more interesting. Too bad I won't be stateside for T-day this year, but watch out for 2009...
(No pictures from this restaurant. I already felt a bit juvenile to be there, so I didn't want to bust out a camera...)
After all of this, you'd think we'd be sick of eating. But being the troopers we are, we rose the next morning, and after a quick cup of Gen's BANGIN' coffee, we headed off to brunch in Le Marais district with Cooper, where for 15 euros we got café au lait, jus d'orange, perfectly cooked double-boiled buttery scrambled eggs, a green salad, a chicken kebab, potatoes, fruit salad and fromage blanc. Life is good in Paris...
And Genevieve found her street! Rue de la Montagne St. Geneviève!
...and for those of you wondering about my apartment, I'm here! I took time off from settling in to update you on the more important things in my life (i.e. food, eating, my trip to Paris...), but I'll take and post pictures once I've got it into an acceptable order.