Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Too Much is Never Enough

Gay Paree.

photo: Jilly Reid

There’s nowhere quite like it – a city frozen in time through literature and song, immortalized and sometimes impenetrable in its coincident age and agelessness.

This past weekend the streets were particularly empty as many Parisians were enjoying their mandatory skiing holiday (oh, la vie dure), and the eeriness of the city sans youth imbued the broad gray boulevards with an awesome silence reserved for cathedrals. A cathedral of culture.

photos: Jilly Reid

Not that this stillness stopped us –

In icy January, JR and I were languishing on her couch, painfully hungover and feeling itchy but without the ability or impulsion to leave the house. So we decided to do the next best thing – book a weekend away from London, far enough into the future that we could lie dormant in our over-served comas. The interweb is great - pressing ‘purchase’ counts as productivity, no?

And lo and behold (a solid phrase, that), a dear friend of ours used this great accomplishment as impetus to cross the pond from New York for the week, including Paris in her plans. Even better! So we went.

From the moment the Eurostar pulled out of St Pancras, a switch flipped – those formerly carb-minimal went carb-maximal, we drank wine like water, and my abs are still sore from laughing until some of us snorted (looking at you, JB).

And we ate.

Staying just off the Champs de Mars, the slick neighbourhood patisserie Les Gourmandises d’Eiffel was perfectly suited for picking up the flakiest croissants, still warm from the oven, or a surprisingly delicious chausson à la crème d’orange, filled with a delicately flavored custard and sealed with a candied orange slice, to messily munch while walking down rue Cler. The market street is scattered with vibrant fruit stands, pungent fromageries, and the Italian charcuterie Davoli hung heavy with ham.

photo: Jilly Reid

After a more substantial breakfast, we traipsed through the Saint-Germain to Café de Flore for a reminder we were back in Paris – restorative grands crèmes, spongy baguette, creamy butter, and eggs with marigold yolks, all served in the most ‘correct’ fashion.

photos: Jilly Reid

Bread and eggs continued to play a large part in our wanderings – after ‘taking some culture’ in the newly-renovated Musée d’Orsay, wandering across the Seine and through the Tuileries, nothing but a bottle of chilled red and a croque madame could match the quintessentially Parisian morning. Pain Poilâine, a wafer of ham, crusty cheese, a vivid yolk melting over the whole. Parfait.

photo: Jilly Reid

As it was the holidays and the weekend, some heavies on my hit list were distinctly fermé, including Verjus, Frenchie, Aux Deux Amies, and the fan favorite Spring. Spring Boutique, its wine shop and pantry, was open however, so we met a friend there to sample the goods. A young and clearly passionate American named Brendan gave us a tour through a lightly sparkling white, a Petit Chablis which defied all previous experience with buttery-oaky American Chardonnay and a red from Olivier Cousin. From Brendan’s explanation, Cousin seems to be a bit of a badass in the wine world - his method of biodynamic and horse-only farming seemed to almost be reflected in the characterful but straightforward red.

After more red to accompany our dinner of terrine, steak tartare, and crispy frites, followed by a moreish salted caramel chocolate mousse served in a jar, the rainy evening dictated we hole up somewhere for a few more than a few nightcaps. Prescription, the third and newest bar from the Experimental Cocktail Club, was just what the doctor ordered – the cozy speakeasy’s space was just heaving enough, served up deadly tequila-based and cinnamon-laced Cannelitas, and stayed open until 4am.

photo: Jilly Reid

Alors, we ate too much, we drank too much, and yet somehow in Paris it’s never enough. À bientôt...
photo: Jilly Reid

Les Gourmandises d’Eiffel
187 Rue de Grenelle (7)

Café de Flore
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain (6)

Spring Boutique
52 Rue de l’Arbre Sec (1)

23 Rue Mazarine (6)

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