Monday, September 26, 2011

Bon Voyage!

So we have arrived in Paris and even in 24 hours we've already packed more foodie moments into our day (and two nights) than I usually cram into weeks in Canberra. My feet are also aching from all the walking, but I am pretty sure - given the good food and wine we've been consuming - that all this exercise is probably for the best!

Here are some of the highlights so far - I cannot believe we have a whole week in Paris to enjoy!

Hotel du Louvre

You see some weird and wonderful things on the streets of Paris. Our jet lag took us walking on the streets in the dark of early morning, watching the delivery vans unloading produce and the street cleaners going about their business. In small cafes staff were setting up their tables and joggers sweating their way along the cobbled back streets.

A morning cafe au lait

There's something beautiful in the quiet, hushed dark of the earlier morning. But finally, the sun was up. We consumed a morning cafe au lait and were on our way, walking through the Tuileries and down the Seine on our way to find Julia and Paul Childs' Parisian apartment on the Left Bank.

Julia Child's apartment

Several photo ops and rest breaks (thank god for the cafes on every corner) we found it! Photos were taken, a small dog walking past was petted and our only regret for the morning's excursion was that we had neglected to buy a pat of butter to leave as an offering on Julia's old doorstep. I can't imagine what the dog's well-heeled owner would have thought of that little eccentricity.

A bridge over the Seine

Next on the Julia Child Tour of Paris was a walk back across the Seine and through the financial district (La Bourse) to Dehellerin, an kitchen ware store reminiscent of old hardware stores and one of Julia's favorite spots. We indulged in a pair of sturdy chicken scissors (the kind you use to chop whole chickens onto pieces) and a good sharp knife for the journey to Gascony later this week. The fact that everything in the store needed a good dust and the store room with the copper pots is a bit of a fire death trap just served to make the place that much more magical. Strange how the French manage that!


Then onto the Marais for a spot of lunch. Our feet aching, we decided on a cafe famous for its Breton buckwheat crepes and apple cider. Sadly for us, on arrival following a long, sweaty walk past the Pompidou Centre we found the place closed for renovations and our hopes of a nice chair and hot cider dashed. It was really for the best, as it turned out, because it meant we wandered a bit further and found the marvelous Le Loir Dans La Theiere (The Doormouse in the Teapot) on Rue Des Rosiers. And what a find it was!

The Doormouse in the Teapot

The Doormouse in the Teapot

One perfectly cooked steak with caramelized red onion, one deliciously light linguine with rocket and lemon zest, and two glasses of vin blanc later and we were refreshed and relaxed enough for me to turn my attention to the desserts. Incredible! The tarte aux nectarines was a wonderful combination of crisp pastry, sweet nectarine and smooth custard, but they also had a lemon meringue pie that looked as if a mountain of fluffy meringue cloud had touched lightly on top of it, a fig tart that was a close second for my nectarine choice, and an millefille of vanilla cream and crisp, dark puff pastry that looked delicious. Even the service was fabulous - friendly, fast and very understanding of our incredibly poor French language skills...some would say non-existent. And it was a revelation to me that nectarines and rosemary work so well together!

The dessert display

More desserts!

Tarte aux nectarines

Restored, refreshed and slightly more relaxed from the wine, we wandered down Rue Des Rosiers to admire the Jewish bakeries lining the street. Filled with a sweet melange of Middle Eastern, Eastern European and French-with-a-twist baked goods, these are a must see - just make sure you go before you eat your two course lunch, and not after like we did!

Finkelstein's bakery

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