Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Paris In-Between

I left work "early" tonight (i.e. 5:00) with the intention of getting lots of little nagging tasks done.  I've got a couple of loads of laundry in, but my mp3 player won't let me add more music to my workout playlist...and I don't feel like remembering what else I was going to do.

So I'm going to blog.  Now where was I…?

Oh, yes, Versailles and Giverny.  Well, actually there was a day between those, so let me backfill a bit.  The evening after our hot and sweaty visit to Versailles, we took it easy at home—that’s the evening we bought dinner supplies on the block and ate at home.

I neglected to show you the plain pasta Miss Chef had made, with just delicious creamy French butter on it.  Well, there it is.

As we finished dinner, the long-announced thunderstorm finally arrived, to help drop the temperature, as well as some rain.  I have rarely heard thunder in France, even though I’ve had four long stays there (two school years and two summers) in different parts of the country.  That night though, we got to enjoy flashes of lightening, loud thunder, and this gorgeous sunset.


I’ve lightened the photo a bit so you can see the clouds better.

Our in-between day started out with food.  First we went to L’Epicerie at Le Bon Marché, one of the oldest department stores in Paris (if not the world).  The épicerie is a separate food store, kind of like the Fortnum & Mason’s of Paris (or maybe F&M is like the BM of London…).  Anyway, we had reservations in the area, and I figured this would be a good place to stock up on all the tasty food products were somehow going to fit into our suitcases for the trip back!

Just a couple of pictures, as I then saw a lady being chastised by a staff member for taking photos!

IMG_0827 pasta
party hat pasta!

IMG_0830 dessert
the requisite hunger-inducing photo: dessert, anyone?

We spent quite some time here, browsing for ourselves and for gifts…and killing time until our 2:00 (sorry…14h) lunch reservations.  Why so late?  ‘Cause we were lunching at a one-star Michelin restaurant!

IMG_0838 Atelier
If you don’t have your glasses on, that’s Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier.  (Miss Chef looks confused because someone was about to walk in front of me, and she didn’t think I’d take the photo so fast!)

As at the Artichoke, we did the tasting menu, though this time we only had a couple of glasses of wine each instead of the full set of pairings.  Here’s a shot of the menu posted outside.

IMG_0852 Menu

For those who don’t read French, a very brief run-through: lobster carpaccio, lentil & pea soup, seared foie gras, a “poached” egg in a mushroom cream sauce (the egg was essentially raw and neither one of us liked it), small turbot filet, then a choice of lamb, quail or veal (I had quail, Miss Chef veal), a strawberry dessert and a weird coffee dessert thingy.  Phew!

The set-up of the place was pretty cool.  It was essentially one big bar around “the line,” where the final cooking takes place (the rest of the kitchen was behind doors.  It was very modern, all black and chrome, with colorful points of (fake) fruits and vegetables as decoration.  It looks better than it sounds!


Service was done right over the top of the bar.  It was pretty cool listening to the servers and cooks doing the kitchen patter in French!  I learned that the French version of “order!” is “service!”  (That’s what the servers say when they’re ready for the chef to fire the next course.)

Notice there’s nobody in the kitchen?  Ours was the last seating, and they were cleaning up and cooking family meal as Miss Chef finished her coffee.  You can see the clock on the wall says it's almost 4:00! (oh, right...16h)

I did take one picture of the meal…the most fabulous foie gras!

IMG_0846 Atelier

After lunch, we went back to the apartment to rest a bit and go through our booty from Le Bon Marché.

IMG_0853 goodies

Check out Miss Chef’s fancy-pants fruit roll-ups in the front.  What we’ve got is pasta, tea, chocolate, a bit of liqueur, soaps, mints, a fig vinaigrette...oh, yes and my little jar of pâté de campagne (not the foie gras kind).  Still haven’t opened that yet…

Are you ready for more?  Because we still had an evening ahead of us, and it wasn’t getting dark until 11:00 at night (sorry, 23h).  I wanted to visit the “village” side of Montmartre.  I had taught there, and I hoped I could change Miss Chef’s mind about the area, as all she’d seen was the touristy, scam-artist-ridden side of it.

The part of the school where I taught used to be a chapel.

Down a sloping street, one of the few remaining windmills which used to pepper the area when it truly was a village, separate from Paris.

a closer view

Montmartre is quite hilly!

Miss Chef could not fathom why this restaurant would be closed, when just steps away the Place du Tertre was seething with tourists and their money.  So we considered perhaps we should just take it over…

Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacré Cœur)

Same cathedral, different side, about an hour later.  This changing light is a photographer’s dream.

IMG_0883        IMG_0884
Details of the exterior of a pretty touristy café.  I would like to think they’re originals from a 19th-century butcher’s shop specializing in game…but I don’t know for sure.  They are preserved behind glass, though, so I’m probably right. Winking smile

Looking out across the city, we saw a familiar, if distant sight…
Once we were done sight-seeing, we finally did something I’ve being describing to Miss Chef for years.  We stopped at a crêperie and got a butter-and-sugar crêpe to go.  And it was warm and delicious and rich and sweet, and we bickered over the last few bites all the way down the hill to the metro home.

The End

Not really; there are still partial days in Paris and London…so stay tuned!


  1. I missed much of your post because my mind was fixated on the party hat pasta - wowie! Then I came to just in time to read about warm sugar crepes - wowie! I just love your holidays...

  2. I don't usually say "Omigod!" but.... Omigod! What a wonderful post and FABULOUS photos! (I am also overdoing the exclamation marks but it's that kind of a piece!) I wish I knew more about famous eating places - I'll have to do some research before my next trip. :-)

  3. Awesome, awesome, awesome photos! I Love them and did I mention I think they're awesome?

  4. I gotta say I am with Miriam. You could have made an entire post out of the hat pasta thing. We are easily entertained here, apparently.

  5. Hmmm....I wonder if crepes can be made in a car...

  6. Yep, the party hat pasta got me too. Who knew the French could be frivolous about food!

  7. I am sooooo jealous! I just caught up on your vacation posts and can't believe how much fabulous stuff you packed into your trip-- All that AND a photo of pasta party hats! It sounds like a delicious trip.
    Cheers, jj

  8. Fabulous photos - brought back some lovely memories of my times in Paris. I saw the bottle of creme de cassis in your haul. I would give my eye teeth for that!! Bon Marche is always a must-see-and-do in Paris! I think the way they display things makes it art just as much as food!


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