Thursday, October 22, 2009

Food Field Trip: France – Unexpected and Much Appreciated Food and Wine Finds

All night flight… morning spent wandering around Paris… and finally, lunch. BUT, we wisely (note the sarcasm) decided to leave our guidebook and itinerary matrix (yes, we actually make up a restaurant 'options' matrix for each day – we do work in DC after all) at the hotel. So while B and I fully intended to revisit La Coupole, a bustling bistro on Paris's Left Bank that we tried out on our first trip to France years ago, we could not find it for anything. And given that my French pronunciation skills border on unintelligible, anyone I asked for directions just kind of looked at me with a blank stare or pointed, and in conflicting directions.

So, after an hour of wandering around Montparnasse, with B and I both asserting time and again that yes, this is the street, and then deciding our heated conversation made us look like that couple who always argues on any season of the Amazing Race, we gave up. At that point, our stomachs were not going to take any more wandering around.

This turned out to be a great decision.* We found a quintessential little café with plenty of heated outdoor tables, and settled in for our first of many glasses of wine with lunch (I love the European way of life) and two perfectly buttery ham and cheese omelets. While, yes, we were hungry, these omelets were simply divine. They were served in just the right amount of butter, which in Paris is about a stick of the cultured stuff, and filled with flavorful European ham (not the wimpy American kind) and rich, gruyere cheese. We also ordered a side of fries which were thin, crispy, and delicious.

So what is the name of this great café? I have no idea. Where are the pictures? Sorry. And now you are probably thinking, why do I read this blog again? I apologize and promise full details including names, pictures, and websites for the rest of the meals we ate in France. As noted earlier, this stop was not planned.

*One nonfood issue that would continue to irk me at all the little cafes in Paris: the bathroom set-up. The urinal is placed in the open (!) between the men and women's toilets. Now, I may be a prudish American, but I never got used to this and always approached the situation with my eyes focused squarely on the floor.


Liquid Dessert: After lunch, now really full, but fighting to stay awake we headed up to Montmartre. We had read in the NY Times travel blog section of a wine festival happening that weekend. This was a great decision and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon wandering around booths stocked with French wine, cheeses, and pastries, and sipping excellent French champagne for 5 euros a glass.

(No idea what the black cheese, hockey-puck pastry things are but they were very popular)

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