Thursday, April 14, 2011

Paris 2011, Part One

Here is a recap of what we did during our Paris trip in April 2011.  You could follow this exactly and have a great time - we sure did!

Day 0
Went to O'Hare.  We flew United to Paris so left out of Terminal 1.  Which meant we got to eat at Tortas Frontera the new restaurant at O'Hare from Rick Bayless.  I had been there before and knew the tortas were huge so we split the Conchinita Pibl.  Don't be fooled by the sauce - use it sparingly.  The woman next to us dumped it on her sandwich and P. felt bad for her since it was really hot.  The couple had come to Chicago because of Rick Bayless.  Guess they had met another couple at a Bayless book signing in CA and visited them in Chicago.  Too funny.  A good start to the trip.  We watched "Mesrine: Killer Instinct" on the flight there on the iPad and it's a good film and helped kill some time.

Day 1 (Wed)
Arrived in Paris around 9:30 in the morning.  Shaky start in a bad van trip to our apartment on Rue Marie Stuart (next time we will take the train).  The apartment was in a great location off the Rue Montorgueil which is very lively.  Above is Monet's representation of it.  Not too far off - the place is swinging all the time.  We cleaned up and hit the ground running.  First meal was at Au Rocher de Cancale which was right at the end of our street and written up in a New York Times article.  Then we did some walking around and happened upon a parade which seems to be a theme for our vacations lately.

P. had read about a wine bar near our apartment called Le Garde Robe.  After a nap we decided we would go check it out and wanted to get there when it opened because it gets crowded.  The time listed on the site we had was wrong - we thought it opened at 6 but it did not open until 7 so we walked around the neighborhood.  We happened across the Spring Boutique.  It sells wine and other food items and the woman there told us that the restaurant (also called Spring but not in the same location) is booked for dinner but sometimes lunch has openings.  So the chef, Daniel Rose, was there and he took our reservation for lunch the next day.  This guy and this place are a big deal - just written up in Food & Wine along with another store we wandered into while killing time for Le Garde Robe to open - Uah.  After stalking Le Garde Robe it finally opened and we had some of the best meat and cheese and wine ever served by a twin of our Chicago friend A.  After hanging out there we ate dinner at a place near our apartment and then hit the hay.

Day 2 (Thursday)
Up early for Pain Au Chocolate and espressos.  Thank you high school French!  I can at least order breakfast.  Then to L'Orangerie to get my Impression fix.  Beautiful walk through the Jardin des Tuileries.  (Except for the hairless cat being walked by his owner which will continue to haunt me).  We had wonderful weather the whole time in Paris.  Very interesting museum and a good size - you can spend an hour there and see everything.  After that we walked to Spring for our lunch reservation.  Yes, I went all the way to Paris to have lunch prepared by someone from Wilmette.  The irony.  Now the day before when we made our reservation we were asked if we had any food allergies.  No.  Any food phobias?  No.  This place has one menu so it's not good for picky eaters but if you are open this will be one of the best meals you ever eat.  Don't ask me to recount what we ate I just remember enjoying every part of the meal.  The restaurant has an open kitchen so you can see the people at work and hear them talking - a mix of French and American English.  Dessert was in 3 parts if that tells you something.  And get the wine pairing - they know what they are doing.

After lunch a nap.  Then we went in search of a record store P. had found near where we would eat dinner.  If you like music and are in Paris you must go to Bimbo Tower.  It's so small and hard to find the door - we had to ask the hipster in the bar around the corner where it was.  Pascal, I'm assuming he is the owner, is a shy record guy who probably speaks English just fine but was not comfortable.  So instead a Russian guy spoke English to him for us - not sure how that was any better.  They gave P. some suggestions and he came away with a good selection and a suggestion of a show to go to the next night.  After you go to Bimbo Tower go to the bar on the corner with all of the Teenage Fanclub and Smiths posters to get a beer.  The guy working there was planning for a vacation to New York.

Our dinner.  Whew.  Also a suggestion from New York Times among others.  Thank you to A. and K. for sending me the article.  From Spring at lunch representing New French to Restaurant Astier which represents classic French.  Great comfort food.  Amazing meal (again).  The only time someone asked us if we knew what something was - P.'s appetizer.  The cheese tray is crazy - you cut off what you want and they send it along.  After dinner we walked back to our Paris apartment.  Doesn't get much better than that.

Tomorrow - more about our trip but this is a long post but it's good - it's helping me remember all that we did during our vacation.  I'll have more pictures from next days including Sarah's Reign of Quinze.

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