I had made plans after we'd done quite a bit of walking and of course shopping during the day. We'd already done nearly 12 miles and would end up at nearly 15. Of course there was the requisite nap and taking a leisurely walk before dinner.
It is indeed the city of light, regardless of what the true story behind that nickname.
Just take a look at Invalides, lights shining brightly even on a foggy night like this.
We meandered our way to our dining destination; Restaurant David Toutain in Arrondissement 7. I picked David Toutain because of the namesake's innovation and skill, especially with vegetable dishes, something the Missus is leaning toward these days. I thought I'd save the heavier and more traditional dishes for Burgundy, where we were headed in the morning. I'm not going to make this a very long post, as while we really enjoyed this meal, and found a wine that we kept searching for throughout Beaune and Burgundy, a fabulous and amazing white from the Domaine Alain Gras in Saint Romain (we even went to the Domain), this meal was over shadowed with an amazing meal from Sola that we'd have on the way back.
Still, that is not to say the meal wasn't innovative, starting with the amazing combination of Salsify with White Chocolate.
Earthy tones with a very mildly sweet and creamy "dip".
It was a show of creativity and the presentation was quite interesting.
This brioche was addictive.....
An interesting variety of textures and techniques; a bit of molecular gastronomy here and there.
Yes, there was quinoa, fried, airy pork skin, thin slices of walnut.....
And one spectacular piece of Cod, that had the Missus and I staring at each other. The texture was so decadent and buttery; I'm thinking this was sous-vide.
We're still talking about how amazing the fish in this dish was.....
Another fantastic dish was the Smoked Eel in Black Sesame; not something I'd generally think would go well together.
But the strong, smoky flavor of the eel really stood up well to the powerful nutty flavor of black sesame. The toothsome texture of the fish and the thick sauce complimented each other as well.
At the end, there was dessert.....a lot of dessert.....
The Entremets (palate cleansing course) was another amazing combination of flavors that worked together; Cauliflower Puree with White Chocolate and Coconut Ice Cream.
Dessert is of course, the Missus's thing and She really enjoyed Herself.
I thought the presentation of the Churros was a bit much.....
The staff here was amazing; professional yet friendly and warm. When the Sommelier noticed we enjoyed the Alain Gras so much, he gave us a second glass, and then matched it flawlessly with a few other dishes to display the fine range of the wine. The actual restaurant is quite discreet, no big signs, just a simple "DT" carved in the doorway.
While I'm not sure we'll be back soon; I'm glad we had the experience.
Restaurant David Toutain 29 Rue Surcouf 75007 Paris, France
We walked back to our hotel, quite happy with our time in Paris. Heck, even the Eiffel Tower surrounded by fog looks quite romantic, don't you think?
After our very nice and refreshing stop at Laduree, the Missus was itching to do some shopping.
I was however, quite surprised that She kept a rather leisurely pace as we headed down Champs-Élysées.
And while we didn't visit the exhibition at the Grand Palais, which was actually built as an exhibition hall for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the building has had many uses over the years. During World War I it served as military hospital, during the Nazi occupation a truck depot.
We stopped at the statue of Charles de Gaulle on Place Clemenceau to take a photo.
This area, full of lovely green spaces is called des Jardin des Champs-Élysées and is quite lovely. There are many statues and fountains located on the garden grounds. This one, named "Fontaine des Ambassadeurs", also known as the "Venus Fountain" dates back to 1840.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées ends at a large public square, Place de la Concorde, know for its two grand fountains.
And one dramatic looking, gold topped obelisk, which was originally located at the entrance of Luxor Temple in Eqypt. If you've read our posts on Istanbul, Rome, and even Brno, you'll know that the Missus has a thing for Obelisks, so we had to stop here. The Luxor Obelisk is supposedly over 3000 years old and was shipped from Luxor in 1832, arriving in Paris late in 1833. The pedestal details how the obelisk was transported to Paris, quite an engineering feat back in the day. The original pedestal resides in the Louvre. The gold leaf Pyramidion was installed in 1998 to replace one that had been missing since the 6th century.
It's quite a busy area.
We were going to check out Place de la Madeleine, but by this time the Missus was focused. So we turned left on Rue Saint Honore, then left on Rue Cambon, and arrived at the Missus's destination in the very upscale Opera Neighborhood.
They flagship store of Chanel......sigh. It was quite an experience, with one on one service, refreshment, and so on. I won't go into how much $$$$, or should I say "€€€€" the Missus spent. But let's just say She was quite happy...except for not having shoes in Her size.
In case you're thinking about stopping by:
Chanel Cambon 31 Rue Cambon 75001 Paris, France
The Missus, disappointed in Chanel not having the shoes She wanted, had a plan B so we headed off. At least I know why they call this area "Opera". It's because of the Palais Garnier, the striking looking Opera House.
Around the corner from the Opera House on Rue de la Paix is a location of Repetto. Repetto was founded in 1947 as a maker of ballet shoes. It is super popular in Japan. Being married to the Missus has its hazards; I know more about handbags and women's shoes than any red blooded male should. Anyway, the shoes are quite beautiful. The Missus requested black; but the savvy saleswoman brought out a pair of the Repetto BB in Flame Red and told the Missus they were the number one selling shoe in Japan! I gotta admit, they did look good, so I told the Missus buy them both (She's since bought four more.....sigh). Here's a wonderful blog post if you want to know more about Repetto shoes. There was one funny thing that happened. As I paid for the shoes, the young lady who helped us looked at my name and started talking to me in fluent Japanese! Ok......tis was starting to get a bit surreal. In chatting I found out she was one-quarter Japanese, though she didn't look it at all, and felt more comfortable speaking in Japanese than English!
Boutique Repetto 22 Rue de la Paix 75002 Paris, France
Lest you think I've gone around the bend and this has suddenly become a fashion blog.....
The Missus and I were getting somewhat hungry. While we didn't want too much to eat since we had quite a dinner planned, a croissant and coffee was just not going to do. Looking at my trusty Google Map, I noticed one of the places I entered, an interesting concept restaurant named Boco.
Created by two brothers, Vincent and Simon Ferniot, the shop is basically what I'd call Fast-Casual...or perhaps "Fast-Bistro". It has definitive French twist. Most of the items are served in a "bocal" (glass jar), which, in additional to being recyclable, means you can eat it in the restaurant, or take it home with you. In fact we saw two folks come in and leave with bags full of jars. I read that most ingredients are organic, and here's the kicker, are recipes from a star studded cast of chefs.
You basically pick your stuff out....let them know if you want to eat in, whereupon they'll heat up the items that need it, or take it to go.
Word of warning; this ain't super cheap. Especially if you visit the shop in Orly Airport. But just wanting a smaller sized meal, this proved to be quite relaxed and nice.
We started with Rabbit Rillettes and Celeriac...sorry no photo, we were hungry and just whacked this.
This recipe was courtesy of multi-Michelin starred chef Stéphane Décotterd. It was refreshing, the lapin perhaps a bit on the dry side, but the celeriac and mustard-aioli based sauce was really nice. Not too rich, nice acidity.
The Missus loved the Ouef Moelleux et Mousse de Courge au Lard.
Think of it as a perfect poached egg in a pumpkin mousse, with bacon. This recipe courtesy of Gilles Goujon, whose name I recognized. He is the chef and owner of Three Michelin starred L'Auberge du Vieux Puits.
My favorite dish was the lamb confit over winter vegetable ratatouille.
So perfectly gamey...at Orly, the whole dining area of Boco there smelled like this. Kinda scary to Americans, comforting to me. Loved the sauce, a bit of acid, some tanginess, I think from a tomato product, with an interesting sweetness. The lamb was both tender and gamey...the flavor of the green pasture coming through.
Overall we enjoyed this meal. It was comforting, the portion sizes not too large, definitely not like your friendly neighborhood Chiptole, Five Guys, Luna Grill, or Panera. The young man working here was very friendly. Not everyone's cup of tea....but if we had one on the corner, I'd be there quite often.
boco 3 Rue Danielle Casanova 75001 Paris, France
From here we headed back, walking through the Jardine de Tuileries. Folks were out and about, socializing. We stopped to watch this game of bocce.
A couple of the guys waved me down...wanting me to embarrass participate. I just laughed and nodded a solid negative. Where was the uptight and serious French folks told me about?
Surely not here in the park...enjoying the fall colors or lounging by the fountains.
We walked along the Seine and past Place de la Concorde.
Passing by the steady gaze of the statue that represents the City of Lyon.
And over the bridge.
We meandered our way back to our hotel on Avenue de la Bourdonnais.
We decided to take a short nap. As we unloaded our bags, you could see that the Missus had "made out".
Our first night in Paris was rather low-keyed. We got a great night's sleep and the Missus was ready to go in the morning. The skies were overcast and hazy, but that didn't stop folks from enjoying the Eiffel Tower....like these Nuns, with smartphones and iPads, taking selfies even!
We had an outline of what the Missus wanted to do on this day and crossed the Seine on Pont d'lena.
I guess they decided not to turn on the fountains in Jardins du Trocadero because of the rather dreary weather on this morning.
From the Palais de Chaillot, the Missus decided She watned to wander Avenue d'Eylau and Rue de Longchamps to Avenue Victor Hugo where we stopped for some espresso and shared a croissant. Up Victot Hugo, we then crossed the super crazy roundabout and headed up Avenue Raymond Poincare to one of the richest and most prestigious streets in Paris; Avenue Foch. Finally stopping at the Arc de Triomphe.
This iconic to celebrate and symbolize France's victories and those who fought for and died for the country in a very Roman way. Take a look at the sculpture of Napoleon being crowned by the Goddess of Victory.
And while Napoleon died long before the completion of the Arc, his remains were passed through the Arc on its return from Saint Helena, on its way to Invalidies.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I was buried here on Armistice Day in 1920.
We decided to take the stairs, all 284 of them to the top.
The stairs weren't too bad, but somewhat dizzying.
The view from the top, even on a overcast, foggy day was still stunning.
And we'd be crossing over to Avenue des Champs-Élysées upon leaving.
There were a few "musts" on the Missus's list for being in Paris for the first time; one of them was a walk down Champs-Élysées. It was a pleasant walk, but really didn't have any of the type of shopping for the Missus's taste. There were some interesting things though, like why no "Golden Arches" for what is considered the "the largest McDonald's Restaurant in the world"?
Apparently, there's some strict sign codes on the Champs-Élysées and if Mickey D's, or "MacDo" as they call them here, wanted to operate on the Avenue. By the way, did you know that the second largest market for McDonalds is France? WTH..... But, according to this posting in NPR, there may be some really good reasons why.
The one must stop for the missus was the Flagship store of Laduree, established in 1862, one of the two "King of Macarons" in France; the other being Pierre Herme, whose namesake used to work for Laduree.
Man, this place was quite....well fancy schmancy.....the boutique and even the counter.
We decided to head to the back area; the "Bar Laduree", which has a bit of a strange underwater theme. Had me humming "Octopus's Garden" by the Beatles.
It seemed to be just the right place to take a break and the Missus's sweet tooth was telling Her it needed to be tended to.
I started with a café noir. I love the way that these lovely shops always provide a little piece of chocolate with your coffee.....or rather, the Missus loves collecting these little tidbits.
Not being big on sweets, it was the Missus ordering all the way. A couple of macarons, which we ended up taking with us. And something from the dessert menu called the Ispahan, which are rosewater macarons sandwiching raspberries and lychee. Not cheap at 12,5€, but it was something that even I enjoyed.
Note overly sweet, with a nice balance of tartness. This was quite fragrant and very elegant as I felt like a complete barbarian trying to eat this.
The Missus loved it and She also enjoyed Her macarons which we ended up taking to go.
The service was very professional, the vibe relaxed. It was a nice little stop on our walk down the Champs-Élysées.
Ladurée 75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France
Yep, so there I was....sipping a café noir, munching on a frou-frou dessert, in a underwater themed bar on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Who'd have thunk? My day dreams ended quite quickly when the Missus nudged me and said, "ok, enough of this....let's go spend some money." A phrase that sends shudders across my wallet.....
Thanks for reading!
For other thoughts on Laduree, please check out Kirbie's posts, here and here.
Paris had been "on the list" for quite a while. The Missus had been wanting to see Paris and one of Her bucket list items was seeing the Eiffel Tower at night. I'd been kind of putting things off. You see, during my younger days, I knew folks who visited Paris and had a terrible time.....somewhat clichéd, but the stories were similar. This dampened my motivation to visit Paris and kind of stuck with me. However, in recent years, folks whom I knew enjoyed their visits....I think things have changed. Plus, this just seemed like a bucket list year for the Missus....perhaps She's thinking I'll be "kicking it" soon?
We flew from Seattle, with a mere one hour layover at Keflavik Airport. It turned out to be more than enough time to exit our plane (in the freezing rain on the tarmac), get through immigration (Iceland is part of the Schengen Area) amazingly efficient and quick, and then to our gate (sort of a cattle call type situation) in less than 30 minutes. Our flight from Keflavik was to Orly Airport, not Charles de Gaulle. We exited our plane and found the Le Bus Direct stop; paid our Euros and headed off. We were to exit at Rue Jean Rey, near the Tour Eiffel...the Missus was thrilled. When got off the bus at the stop and it looked like an ordinary city stop. The Missus was a bit disappointed, "there's really nothing here...." Until we turned the corner and there it was......
I gotta say; I was ready to be disappointed, but even on an overcast day; the Eiffel Tower is pretty darn impressive.
Having just smaller carry-on, Tom Bihn bags, made the walk to our hotel; the Hotel la Bourdonnais a snap. Located near the Ecole Militaire, this turned out to be a great location for the Missus, who just wanted to stare at that tower.
Our room was small; but comfortable, we could enjoy the street scene below and at night you could even see the Eiffel Tower peeking through the trees. We rested a bit.....took a short nap which we badly needed, then walked around. I, scoping out potential stops like Fromager Marie-Anne Cantin (amazing cheese) and Les Gourmandises d'Eiffel (baguettes). Unfortunately, we had an amazing time and sadly never partook of their products. Next time.....
After spending so much time in airports and on planes we really weren't in the mood for anything heavy, so with my trusty list and my Google Map (God bless pocket wifi...or weefee as they say here) we ended up on charming Rue Saint Dominique. The Missus loved all the little shops in this area. Near Le Fountaine de Mars......
Is Les Cocottes de Christian Constant. I'd read about the place taking no reservations and photos of the dishes looked like just what we'd want after a long flight. The place was quite empty when we arrived.
It was just before 6pm......the sun had already set; but the place was devoid of customers. I asked the nice young man who seated us if we were eating early by French standards. He smiled and said, in what we'd find is a typical French understated manner, "oh, just a bit". The young woman who waited upon us was a total joy....cheerful, ever so pleasant.......English so perfect it made us nervous that we were in the wrong place. She had a great sense of humor and I even tried out my very, very poor French. Though even I knew when to stop; unlike the Korean family who came in a few minutes later. The middle aged gentleman insisted on trying to speak French, even though no one could ever understand him. I gotta give him credit though....
We started with the very rustic and very delicious Country Style Pate.
We both loved this; a nice balance of earthy flavors with nice texture.....there's quite a bit of filler, but it's not wasted. I love dishes like this; it shows that one could really make an great version of a humble pate, one that doesn't use expensive ingredients, but rather sticks to its peasant roots.
The Missus enjoyed the Foie Gras.
After the pate; this was rather nondescript....something like I've had many times. Weird, I know, but it really didn't stand out. Still, it is foie gras, but it really didn't have enough of that earthy, slightly offal flavor that I enjoy. Strange because I'm not a big fan of liver; but I do like a touch of it, minus the metallic flavors in my foie gras. The Missus enjoyed this.
A cocotte is a traditional small cast iron pot. And our favorite item of the night, while nothing braised or stewed came in one. We really enjoyed the Poached Egg with Bacon and Rocket Salad.
There was of course, the very nice poached egg, of which the Missus approved. We also really loved the lardons; the bacon had a slight crunch then a nice silky finish, it was coated in a sweet and slightly salted dressing. The crisp, crunchy, peppery arugula was perfect with the runny egg and bacon. We both loved that the salad was simply dressed, letting the flavors of all the parts speak for themselves.
We also quickly noticed that nothing was particularly salty and the flavors were nicely balanced, something we'd find at almost all the places we ate at.
Of course we had to order the Potatoes Stuffed with Pig's Feet.
Strangely, we thought this dish was all about the potatoes, which was nicely caramelized and had also absorbed the better part of the pork flavor. Actually, we both didn't enjoy the texture of the pork too much; finding it mushy with a greasy feel. And yes; these are basically fancy potato skins, right? As with the other dishes; we loved the greens.
So here's where it gets kind of odd....we noticed that about 80 percent of the customers in the place were Korean. So I basically asked our Server, "why all the Korean customers?" She just cracked up and in a slight whisper told me; "it's the next wave......three years ago; it was so many Japanese....now...it's the Koreans!" I figured the place must be on some Korean food show or something. So while doing my search; I came to find out that Anthony Bourdain ate here on one of his shows....now how the heck did I miss that?
Regardless; we loved the service, the food was just what we needed after a long trip over, and the prices were not too bad. I know, not the traditional bistro meal....we'd kind of avoid that in Paris and save it for Burgundy. Not haute cuisine, but just what we wanted.
Les Cocottes de Christian Constant 135 rue Saint-Dominique Paris, 75007
After dinner we strolled around Rue Cler, then Champ de Mars.....the Missus was soaking it all in; we were indeed in Paris.
That's the Monument des Droits de l'Homme, a human rights monument finished in 1989, but it looks much older. It is said to have been designed to resemble an Egyptian Temple, but with many Masonic features.
And then of course; there was this, which needs no introduction.
Cross another one off the Missus's bucket list.......
Which quickly answered the question with a question of why we came here......"Why not Paris?"
There was a small grocery right next to our hotel. While walking through the place, I noticed a rather odd looking beer and decided to buy a can.
Man, this was pretty bad....."Rum Flavoured Beer", what was I thinking? Man, this was really sweet and artificial tasting! Luckily, this was probably the one bad move I made during our time in Paris.
We both crashed early. Tomorrow was going to be a shopping day for the Missus and I needed to rest up my credit card for the beating it would take!
We finished up our time in Paris visiting.....well, those must see locales.
And capped things off with what might be one of the best meals we've ever had.
We then headed off to our current location. A place where you can experience the power and wonder of nature. Now a very popular destination during the summer. It is still impressive during the slow season.
In a single word......breathtaking.
And the cold and rain hasn't dampened our spirits as we've gotten to see some amazing things.
The food here is distinctive. With items like minke whale.....
Trout smoked over sheep dung.
Mashed fish......they make fabulous rye bread here too.
They also claim to make one of the best hot dogs in the world too.
The sun is setting on our final day here.
Tomorrow we head to an interim destination then home. It's been an unforgettable trip.
We haven't had a bad meal yet. I hope this last one will not end the streak
It's been a really busy couple of months. Work has been crazy and we needed a break. So with Cathy and Ed from Yuma always willing to help keep the blog going, the Missus and I are taking a nice break.
To where you may ask? Well, I think you can figure things out in 4 photos. So here goes.
This is where we started.
Then we ended up here.
And we are enjoying our last evening in this region.
As expected, the meals have been great. What's even more surprising is that we haven't had a bad meal yet. Rubbing this little guy's head is supposed to be good luck. Maybe it worked.
Because the eats sure have been good.
And we've been having a blast as well. Beautiful countryside.....
And cute little villages.
So hopefully things will work out and I'll get another post in sometime. You know, to give you something to chew on.