Friday, May 9, 2008

édition spéciale vient à vous de la france!

I've had the misfortune of dining in Paris the last 10 days...pauvre moi.

Day 1
Let's see, for starters, the first thing I did when I got to Paris was sink my teeth into a fresh baguette..there's nothing like it. The first meal we had in the city that never sleeps was the most AMAZING salade at Le Relais de Gascon. Let's see, what's so special about a salad you may ask?... This was no ordinary salad. The version that I got was composed of salade, oeuf (egg), tomate, poulet (I'll let you figure that one out), and fried garlic potato slices on a big bowl, with a dijon dressing - made to was heavenly. The wine I ordered was not the greatest (only because we ordered the cheapest house wine), the wine here is ALL good for the most part, price does not matter, we just weren't as fortunate that evening.

Salade at Relais de Gascon
Day 2
Next morning: baguette, camembert, coffee.

Lunch: crepe au jambon et gruyere.....street style.

Dinner: Croque-Madame (french bread with jambon, smothered in gruyere, broiled, topped with a fried egg...delicieux.) Salade avec tomate, jambon, gruyere, et oeuf.

Day 3
Scrambled eggs, baguette, jus de pamplemousse.


My favorite dinner in France: Terrine a ma Maman (Micheline), Rillettes de Crevettes au gingembre, Souris d'Agneau. For dessert, fraises et framboises au fromage blanc....holy heaven. I  had a scrumptious bottle of Cote du Rhone to accompany the meal.

Day 4Baguette with broiled cheese on top...yum.

Salade Nicoise (not the greatest salad.) I LOVE rice in a salad and this is what sold me on this one. It had egg, rice, and potatoes!! It was mediocre.

Made dinner at the apartment, because I could.  Found some delicious sausage from a 'charcuterie' and made a pasta. Lots of wine of course.

Day 5More bread, more cheese.

Met some friends of friends for dinner at an AMAZING restaurant off a beaten path called Le Hangar (A wonderful little restaurant full of locals, tucked away in a tiny alley by the Centre Pompidou). I had Scallopine de Foie Gras. For dessert, we all had creme brulee safranee (saffron) was perfectly done. A very famous French director named Pascale Ferran sat at the table next to us, she won multiple awards for her adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lovers, D.H. Lawrence's erotic tale.

Day 6
More bread and cheese and a pain au chocolat.

Had a Croque-Madame.

Got to Lyon at 7pm and began to hunt for a restaurant that would have 'pied de porc'..pig foot. My favorite place is small, off the main drag, quiet, friendly. I found the place and they had 'pied de porc'. It was beyond my expectations...far beyond. It was a foot, the whole foot, skinned, roasted to medium rare, covered in an egg mixture, topped with bread crumbs. The foot lay in a bed of sliced potatoes au gratin. I've died and gone to heaven. Oh wait! To start off, I had a salad composed of 'museau de boeuf et jambe de veau' cow muzzle and veal leg..nice.

Also tried Salade Lyonnaise, which is lettuce, tomato, egg, ham, and a lovely dijon dressing and croutons. For dessert I had a Lyonnaise specialty, praline pie avec fromage blanc..jizz..jizz...

Day 7

Pate de Campagne

First meal at our B&B in Pierrefeu-du-Var, Provence, our host used to be a chef in Belgium and enjoys to cook for his guests. He made rabbit in a big pot with vegetables, tomatoes, white wine. I drank a TON of wine from his winery, a few different syrahs of various years.

For dessert, a homemade custard with raspberry seeds.

Day 8
Baguette & croissants

No lunch!! What?!

For dinner, I settled on Italian food, it seems to be very popular everywhere. I had a very thin-crust, fire baked pizza....deelish.

Day 9
More baguette & croissants

Salade w/ pamplemousse, avocado, shrimp, a few different greens, and a poached egg.
Panini w/ jambon & gruyere.

For dinner, the B&B host cooked for us again - had duck this time, perfectly pan roasted with veggies. A cheese course followed as well as another custard.

Day 10
Baguette & croissants (my jeans still fit!)

Baguette sandwich w/poulet on the TGV.

The final meal...we went very traditional French. Met some other friends and had a 4-course meal with lots of wine.
I had a foie gras starter (they call the appetizer the 'entree' in France), nice way to start. As my main (plat) I had rabbit again, cooked in my very own little pot with lots of veggies and wine..mmmmm... We were then offered a cheese course from a platter that was the size of our table! Last but not least, one of my least favorite items of the trip, a bad creme brulee au cocoa. It had obviously been torched a while back and then refrigerated. The top was soggy and unappetizing.

The highlight of the trip was food and wine. Everywhere you look there is history, art, and buildings that have been around for centuries. Every street has a bar or a cafe, or a brasserie, life, the city is full of life. People know when to end a work day and to enjoy life. My kind of place. Having been employed in a retirement home the last 2 years, I've realized that life is shorter than I'd previously thought...people keep reminding me to enjoy every minute, now.