Séjour à Paris: Première Partie « blogging for burgers

Séjour à Paris: Première Partie


I wrote this while in Paris, so it’s written in the present-time, for those of you who are too temporally aware in writing.

Bonjour à tous!

BG and I have been in Paris for two days now, and we have already done some serious damage (to our arteries and all muscles used for walking). for only a couple of days, but we have been here long enough to do some serious eating.  And some serious walking, so it seems to be balancing out.

Within hours of our arrival, we found ourselves at Bread and Roses, an organic bakery very near the Jardin du Luxembourg.  We walked in for a light lunch of a salad with fines herbes and giant pieces of quiche.  BG had a goat cheese, leek, and asparagus, and I went with the mushroom (girolles- chanterelles, which are in season here and are all over the place).  I don’t normally like quiche too much, but these were great.  Creamy but not heavy tasting.


Le Timbre

After walking around for a few hours, it was time for dinner.  After hearing some good things from members of the burgergal clan, we walked over to Le Timbre, an aptly-named restaurant in the 6ème arrondissement, and snagged the last available table.  To the best of my knowledge, the place has three employees: a dishwasher, a chef, and a server.  And they rock out some pretty good food.  I started with some pork head cheese with capers (hure de porc… when in France?) and BG started out with a quick sauté of girolles (chaterelles), lardons, and a heap of butter.  I figured I had already started the day off with heavy cream and eggs, so why stop the fat-train from rollin?



Paired with crusty french baguette, it was like a light salad.  For our mains, I kept the cross-section of meat theme, and had the boudin noir, which I always love– I mean, seriously, how can you go wrong with a meat brownie?  Burgergal was a little limited in options, so she went with the pheasant with cabbage, which looked delightful.  I was mostly upset because my Laguiole knife was missing its bee.



We also drank a delightful bottle of wine, a Fleurie.  Dessert was good but unremarkable, but BG had a mille-feuille, and I had wine-braised figs.  Then we walked back to the hotel and passed out.


Day 2

Day two started with an almond croissant and pain au chocolat at a local patisserie.  Then a bunch of walking and a little musée d’Orsay action.  Saw the James Ensor show, which was great.  Also caught this little gem, to the delight of uberchef.  After a bit more of the sightseeing and a picnic in the Champ de Mars, it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner.

And this was no ordinary dinner– it was the big night for dinner at Le Comptoir du Relais Saint Germain.  This is one of the hardest reservations to get right now in Paris, so it had to be good, based on the expectations alone.

After a bit of a mistaken identity issue, we started out with a couple of comp’d glasses of champagne, along with some foie gras on toast.  Not a bad way to start off a meal.  BG ate foie gras for the first time, and she actually enjoyed it (a member of the monthly dinner club appropriately called it “meat butter,” and I think that BG finally understood how applicable that is).

After this, some mini gannat (cheese bread), which was just brought around for a couple of laughs.

Then came the wine, a 2007 Chambolle-Musigny from Philippe Pacalet, a winemarker from Burgundy who uses traditional winemaking techniques and uses few chemicals in the process.  He is like the French slow food winemarker.  I didn’t know this when ordering it, but a little Google action has given me the low-down.

Then came the first course—the menu item was two lines long, and I forgot to take the menu at the end of the meal, but, it was basically cream and artichoke soup with various lobster parts (flesh and roe), some made into a foam.  It was one of those French food items that has around three hundred ingredients, but you can really just describe the flavor, which, I suppose, is the way that it should be.  It was smooth as silk, and had only a faint taste of the ocean.  The bits of lobster were delicate and perfectly cooked, and the dish as a whole was a great start to what I knew would be a delicious (and buttery) meal.

The second course was a pan seared monkfish with country ham and and cauliflower, with a cauliflower mousse and caviar.  While I found the dish to be good overall, I found my particular cut of monkfish to be a bit too sinewy.  The “poor man’s lobster” tasted a bit too much like the former and not enough of the latter.  The fish was perfectly cooked, but the cut was just did not do it or me.  BG ate about half of hers, about which I was proud, since she never eats fish.  I even made a point of telling the waitress this, who understood my pride after her initial shock wore off.

After the monkfish came the main courses.  Normally, the menu tonight included a pigeon, but the chef was making sure that everyone ate pigeon before preparing it, since it has a “particular and strong taste.”  In its place, there was also a rack of lamb that could be substituted.  Regardless of how BG felt about this, I told the waitress that we wanted one of each, and I told BG that she wouldn’t like pigeon, which turned out to be correct.  Now, I don’t know why they were warning people about the pigeon—I thought it was superb (I used the word “sublime”).  It was just half of the little guy, served with a heavy sauce that must have been made from a pigeon/game bird stock, because it was deep chestnut brown and extremely heavy on mineral taste.  It was cooked medium-rare and was as tender as could be.  BG had the lamb, which was very delicate and also tender.  The lamb must have been quite young, because it had none of the gamey lamb taste that the standard carré d’agneau would have here.  The fat had a little bit of that going on, but in general, very subtle.

After the mains they brought out the cheese tray.  They basically bring you a giant tray of cheese and tell you to go to town.  We shared the tray with the people next to us, who were of unknown origin, but we enjoyed it all.  There were about 10 cheeses on the board, and quince paste, black cherry jam, fresh honey, and a pepper jelly on the side.  All of the cheeses were excellent, and they basically give you free reign of the board until you stop.  To give you a sense of how much cheese there was—take the lid of an outdoor garbage can and cover it it with blocks of cheese.  That’s about how much cheese there was.  (Jean Luc, the maître d’ and general man about town (he was the Comptoir representative at Le Fooding, and he told us that the second night was actually much better), told us that they will often do an appetizer board as well, since there is only one seating per night.  The cheese board was good enough, I suppose.)

After the cheese course came dessert, which was tapioca pudding with chestnut ice cream, brown sugar “spaghetti” and various other fruits.  Not really being much of a dessert guy, I thought the pudding was good, but it had too much citrus for my liking.  Europeans love citrus in everything, but the supremed orange wedges, figs, banana, and grapes didn’t really do it for me.  I would have preferred to have the pudding and ice cream and the spaghetti only.

All in, the place was worth the hype.  At 50 Euros per person (for the food, at least), the experience and quality of food render it a veritable bargain.  Since they only do one seating per night, they maximize the experience, and the casual atmosphere contributes to a general feeling of ease and relaxation.  The staff were friendly and helpful, and if you don’t speak French, fear not, it appeared that they speak English (kinda).
More to come, in la deuxième partie…

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