Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ending with raw deer, pigs in a blanket and French food

I think I covered most important food groups during my final week-end in Paris for 2011.  Thursday night I went big and wintry with an evening described as the “Night of the Hunter.”  4 well known chefs in town, including Aizpitarte from Chateaubriand and Camdeborde from Relais Saint Germain, were assigned to cook up some game.  You buy tickets to exchange for food and drinks, only the tickets were actually empty, gun cartridges to get you in the mood.   

The first room we walked in had a thick terrine and an enormous slice of rustic, crusty bread, with a shot of Single malt whisky to wash things down and warm things up, and man, I got warm quickly.

The venue was a really interesting old, wooden home and you got to wander through as you searched for your next bite or drink.  

There was some big game as you can imagine, like a warm rabbit stew with a hint of chocolate in the sauce, but my favorite was the deer tartare.  Yes raw Bambi.  It was a nice break from some of the other heavier items and had a good sweet sauce with a little kick.


There was wine and whisky being poured, and sometimes you’d get the whisky in a flask, that we assumed you get to take home with you?

After big game night, I shifted, and did a complete U Turn to some down home Jersey shore treats as a friend and her husband are moving to NJ and wanted a theme.   

You can imagine my delight at seeing pigs in a blanket next to a large vat of Velveeta cheese dip.  There was popcorn, jello shots and lots of Bruce playing. 

Little did I know, but an entire new dinner spread came out around 10pm with customized sliders, meatballs, RIBS, and MAC and CHZ. 

I was in heaven…at least until I ate so much I couldn’t move.  My friend moving is also in the wine business, so there was much wine to drink to help lighten her load home.  Needless to say, my load was pretty heavy leaving her place.

Last night was my holiday farewell with some of the friends that I’ve been lucky enough to collect during my stay, and it’s probably no coincidence that these folks love to try a new restaurant and go for a drink, so that’s what we did on our final night together.  We started our evening with dinner on Ile St. Louis.  The main street on the charming island was all decorated with sparkling lights and decorations, making for a fitting and festive adieu.  

We dined at the vegetable laden, farm to table French restaurant, Mon Vieil Ami.  It was a small, but warm room, and the 6 of us got to share the end of a long, communal table.

The presentations were lovely like my deep bowl of colorful beets with caramelized chicken.   

Then I had a perfect round of fall off the bone lamb shoulder, perched in a sea of beans, that were slightly al dente for my taste.  

2 of the girls shared a beautiful breast of pork with mashed split peas.   

My dessert was a pear, which honestly tasted canned, with a whole lotta cream and caramel. 

I’d say the company was better than the food, but sometimes that works just as well.

After dinner, we set out for some cocktails at Curio Parlor.  The dark, hip den is painted all black inside, and had stuffed forest creatures peeking out from various corners of the bar.  

Seeing as this was a true “cocktail” bar where the bartenders spend 10 minutes making a drink, I was feeling confident that I would be having a proper dirty martini.  I started describing it, and the waitress gave me the oh yes, of course, we can make that.  Well, yes of course there was too much vermouth or Martini Rosso in it (I’m still determining if those are the same things here).  The next drink (and there had to be a next drink for educational purposes) I told her to hold the vermouth, Rosso, and any other little tidibts that weren’t vodka or olive juice.  This drink was much better, and much stronger.  Voila.

Today is Sunday, and I’m doing the final pack and clean today before I fly out in the morning.  This should be easy, but some stuff is staying in my apartment here, but needs to be put away while the landlady and possible renters are here.  Then there’s stuff coming home, never to return, and then I’m wondering if I have anything appropriate to wear at home for the few weeks I’m there.  I’m going to assume and hope so, or I’ll be wearing a collection of misfit clothes that didn’t make the cut here.

Ironically, my final meal in Paris was with friends from the US who are visiting and staying down the street.  I chose this as a good opportunity to revisit a nice, casual, neighborhood bistro that I had been wanting to get back to, Café des Museés.

I ordered mushrooms stuffed with escargot, which were equally as good as the garlic sauce they were served in.  My pheasant pot pie was a home cooked, heart warming, fabulous dish, but Lori did walk away a winner of both the biggest beer and plate of fries.

I ended on a high note of a crepe with not one, but two, sweet sauces - chocolate and caramel to create the perfect combination.  A great final meal, with two great people.

Now as I do my final pack, I’m filled with anticipation, like a kid on Christmas Eve.  It’s interesting to love Paris so much, but to also be so excited to go home.  The two cities couldn’t be more different than each other, but perhaps that’s why I appreciate both.  I’m looking forward to some sunshine, lots of time with family and friends, and of course a little food and perhaps a real dirty martini!

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