Wednesday, June 6, 2012

American Eats, le Premier Picnic, Drinking Where Wilde Died

After a week of eating like a Queen with my dad, I brought things back to reality with a bit more simple fare. It started with a visit to the much talked about, and delayed, opening of Paris' first Chipotle.  Yes, this is news in Mexican starved Paris.  So Stephanie and I ventured out to see if there was anyway it could taste like home.


It had a similar set-up with the build to order selection of tacos and burritos, with the same selection of fillings.
 

Everyone knows what the true test was going to be - how was the guac?  The guac, c'est bon!  It was chunky with avocados, but like the chips could have used a little salt, though I really can't complain! 

 

They did have margaritas that we overheard a man complaining about in his plastic cup, but they also had Mexican beer and some wine for the Frenchies not truly ready for a full on fiesta.  By the time we left around 9p, the line was double wrapped through the store and out the door.  We're not the only one's who like Mexican food!


We continued the American food trend by going to Blend, a fairly new burger joint in the 2nd that's capitalizing on Parisians new found love of the hamburger.  They now just need to stop eating it with a knife and fork!


There's many different ways to get your ground beef (or even veal or vegetarian) burger, with many types of cheese and a creamy secret sauce, but it seemed like there was no going wrong with the "cheesy," and right I was.


I was a fan of the sweet potato fries with a ketchup/BBQ type sauce, and the Parisian beer Gallia (yes, as it turns out Paris makes beer too) was the perfect drink to wash it all down.  Next time, I'll save room for some of the luscious looking sweets.


Saturday we were treated to a fabulous day of sunshine and warm temperatures, so we had to do as the French do - no, not eat more Mexican food and hamburgers, but have a picnic along the Seine.



We met at the tip of Ile de la Cite, which is surrounded by water on all sides, as well as many French people excited for a (short) break from the rain.



We started in the park, but then were told that they close the park at 8, so we had to move to the pavement, but at least we were close to the water, and we were just thrilled that the security guard wasn't coming to tell us we couldn't drink in public.  Ha, I forgot where I was for a second.  This is where you see people drinking on the metro!

 

The Seine was filled on all sides with people drinking wine and eating elaborate spreads like ours of multiple creamy French cheese, a plethora of charcuterie, crusty French bread, and nacho cheese Doritos.  Ok, maybe not as many eating the chips, but they were devoured in our camp after several bottles of wine.


We even had a bachelor/bachelorette party in tiger costumes next to us - jumping rope.  Pourquoi pas?


Later in the evening, a parade of colorful homemade paper boats went floating past us, adding to the already beautiful night.

 

We had quite a nice line up of wines, starting with champagne, moving to Rose and then finishing with some whites.  Luckily I didn't take a picture of all of the bottles as there's no need to keep track of everything.  We're in France after all.


The evening was a nice tease (and I say tease because it rained the next day) to what I hope will be a summer of sunshine filled with more wine, cheese and picnics with friends.

 

Back to work this week, I went to research a new hotel partner for Girls' Guide to Paris.  The non-descript building on a quiet street in St. Germaine was quite a surprise to walk into. 



A few steps in is this beautiful atrium that allows you to see each floor up to the roof, and down again.  The hotel dates back to 1824 and Oscar Wilde lived here for his final year until he died in 1900.  Since then rockers like the Rolling Stones, Beatles and Jim Morrison have stayed here liking the privacy and quiet luxury. I agree.  What's not to like?


Their 1 star Michelin restaurant is closed on Monday's, but not wanting to keep their beautiful dining room closed, they've started offering free music on Monday's.  There was a nice duo playing acoustic piano, guitar and violin.  It was a lovely way to spend the evening - drinking a cocktail in a gorgeous room while listening to nice music.  Can you find my drink in this picture?  Shouldn't be too hard.


Girls' Guide to Paris founder and friend Doni was back in Paris this week and we had a nice meal at Terroir Parisien, the casual bistro of Yannick AllĂ©no, uber chef at 3 star Le Meurice., where I had the good fortune of dining last week. 


This is Yannick's (yes, we're on a first name basis after I met him) more wallet friendly locale, but still with the same keen eye to top notch ingredients from some of the best local purveyors.  He even has a chalkboard at the front of the restaurant with the current ingredients available and where he's getting them.


It was a meat extravaganza as we had a nice charcuterie platter with some not so traditional pieces and I got "museau" which is basically the pig's snout, but you put that in as good as a vinaigrette as they did, and it really could have been any part of the pig.  It was delicious.  The deconstructed onion soup was also terrific and didn't leave you with onions and cheese on your chin, and the inability to eat again for 8 hours.














 We had lovely steaks and also a great lamb sandwiched between onion and potatoes.











 

I liked the airy space with an open kitchen and a big wrap around bar in the middle so you can drop by for a glass or a bite without a reservation, which I look forward to doing soon.


Now it's time to fast for my big upcoming meal at Noma this week, which some people claim to be the best restaurant in the world!  Well just see about that.

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