Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sobriety and Dieting

Are you ever sober and do your clothes still fit?  Those are the 2 most frequently asked questions I've heard since moving to Paris, or more specifically, since I started my blog.  I have to assume that you wouldn't be quite as interested to read about my yogurt and apple for breakfast, or my salad and water I had for lunch today.  Now that said, I don't think the Council on Clean Living will be approaching me anytime soon to be their spokesperson.  Yes, I can probably drink you under the table right now, and yes, there will be more of me to love when I get home at Christmas, but my Paris trip wasn't meant to be a detox or a cleanse.

Of course most of you who know me realize there's no way I could go without any exercise while I'm here, though the first few weeks were a complete bust.  You really need to take the time to properly recover from jet lag and acclimate to the environs, and there was the food poisoning on the ride over which did have its advantages.  Then reality and beaucoup de fromage set in, and I started to run.  I have 3 great paths I like to run here, each with a different view - canal, river and garden.  When it's too cold and rainy, I stay indoors and do a DVD. I've bought a series of DVDs from the guy who created the crazy workout P90X.  This intense workout is called Insanity and they're not kidding.  It's a daily 60 day workout that includes a whole lot of jumping, cardio and sweat.  I'm on more of a 120 day plan with this, but it should be good for winter, and then unfortunately, I feel like I can eat anything I want after.  With that behind us, can we now get to the good stuff and what I've been eating and drinking this past week?

The French love their wine, and so must I.  When you go to lunch with friends, you have to drink wine.  I feel like it's rude not to, and it enhances the meal, and the day really, so pourquoi pas?  I had a lovely lunch with 2 fellow winos last week, though I should clarify - one is a Sommelier and the other just got accepted to the Masters of Wine program which is no easy feat, so my role was more of wine intern, but really nice ladies who I hope to continue sharing glasses with - day or night.  I had a nice lunch with my friend Doni at a new local find around the corner called Chez Margot.  We were attempting to eat light and found great salads with lots of vegetables, which sometimes can be elusive, and well, we should drink to that.

Sadly, my Cordon Bleu wine class is coming to an end this week, complete with test and Champagne tasting, and I'm not exactly sure in which order they will come.  The last 2 weeks we covered some good selections from the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux.  The Rhone delivered a solid Chateauneuf du Pape, Cote Rotie and a surprise sweet Muscat de Beaumes that was 100 times better than the last one I had, so I can now add this back into rotation again.  After Rhone night, several more people than last time stuck around and did some extra tasting, which was a bit disconcerting, but I can share, and I was still able to take a bottle home, so sobriety still stays at arm's length.  The pours on Bordeaux night were pretty light and for some reason, the class has been getting smaller each week so they only opened a bottle of each selection leaving no leftovers, which is just as well.  And back to sober again.  See, it all balances out.

I checked out the infamous Willi's Wine Bar a week or two ago, and was not disappointed.  Willi's is an institution and has a nice big bar up front where you can belly up with a glass and usually speak with others in English, though it's frequented by people from all over.  They have unique, colorful posters all over since they've been having artists design wine related prints for over 30 years now.  The small restaurant behind is full most nights, and I understand why after having a few of their dishes at the bar.  The scallops and foie gras will definitely have me coming back for more.

I was able to get into the exclusive Frenchie wine bar with a little help from my friends.  It opens at 7pm, and my friend Stephanie was there a few minutes before and managed to score us the last table.

If you're not there when it opens, be prepared to wait and wait, and drool while watching others eat the fantastic food as this fabulous little spot.  The restaurant Frenchie is directly across the street and next to impossible to get into because you have to call during very short windows of time on specific days and if and when you do finally get through, they will be booked.  So we settled for their new wine bar across the street that shares the same kitchen, and even scored a reservation for the restaurant a month from now by walking into the restaurant and writing our name in the book.

Every single thing we ate was off the charts good.  The rabbit terrine was wonderful with a fig chutney on the side. The Iberico ham didn't need chewing.  It just glided down your throat.  That bread on the side had a sweet, mashed pumpkin on top.  Of course it did.


You can't go wrong with foie gras and truffles.  The smoked trout with sweet onions was as beautiful as it was good.


 We seriously considered getting an additional order of these brussel sprouts because they were that good.

But instead we ordered this seemingly boring, tiny white dish of dessert.  I now believe that good things come in small packages, because one bite of this, and there's no holding back the moan it will surely elicit.  It's a sinfully rich mouthful of chocolate and caramel.  You are more than satisfied after 2 bites.  The 3rd bite will make you feel a little sick, but in a good way that will at least make you stop eating.

In order to properly digest our food, we went to Experimental Cocktails afterwards.  Vodka is a digestif, n'est ce pas?  I got folks all over town making me dirty martinis now, and they're working out just fine.  This spot is a great little dark bar with exposed brick and beams, which could easily have been an of-the-moment bar in Soho, minus a few French accents.

If you're not drunk yet, there was one more wine event last night and if you check you calendar, you know it must be Spring's Wine club pick-up day.  The first Friday of every month, there's a party to taste the wines in our new shipment while we snack on cheese and pate and learn about our stash.  Usually there's 2 bottles, but Josh the wine man, couldn't decide between all the great wines from Cotes du Marmandais, southwest of Bordeaux, so we got 3.  Both reds were great blends and highly enjoyable, and we finished with a white of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, which was on the sweeter side so you could also drink it with spicy food.  All bottles were under 20 euro - a very good bargain.

Needing more wine than our 3 "tastes," I managed to spot a new wine bar that just opened across the street from Spring, called Racine.  They have another smaller, less glamorous location that I hadn't had the opportunity to try, but we snuck into this one, scoring the last seats for the night.  We sat at the end of a beautiful, large, marble lit, communal table.  The kitchen is the most open I've ever seen - like a kitchen flowing into your living room.  The homey atmosphere is reflected in the small market driven menu that is brought to each table on a chalkboard with the evening's handful of dishes.  We ate a good collection of beets, carrots and radishes in a nice, tangy sauce, with a well cooked white fish and creamy risotto, along with a mound of chevre that had a mozarella or burrata like consistency.  A nice little spot that should be here to stay.

I may have just gotten drunk and gained 5 pounds from recounting these stories, but they did take place over a week or two, but no excuses, though now might be a good time for some more Insanity.  Bon Appetit and Salut!

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