Dessert we both agreed and ordered the same thing based on online reviews – Croustade aux pomme carmélisées, granité à l’Armagnac. Ok, right there from the French name you know anything with semi-frozen alcohol must be good. It was. We savored each bite.
Transatlantic travel in cattle-class, even Air France, is tough. You can’t ever get comfortable. It’s either too hot or too cold. And at our age, going without sleep for 24+ hours can make you feel a little rough around the edges. Air France does it better than our American airlines, I’ll give them that. Real Food Was Served…with Wine. It was good and didn’t cost extra. Try to find that on United in the back of the plane. But still, when we arrived we felt, well, scruffy.
All that withstanding, we made it with all our luggage – even Boneless Rabbit. Unpronounable Volcanic Ash cannot keep us from Paris. I think.
It kind of looks like many other European cities. Except for everyone speaking rapid French (or Greek, I’m not sure…just goes to show you that 100s of hours spent with Rosetta Stone did not help me…no one is standing next to a yellow bicycle asking “What is she riding?” Un vélo jaune!). Well, how do we know we are really in Paris?
Not much time to explore when we arrived on Friday. The most important thing to do first was, of course, get provisioned and have our fist French meal. Then we had dinner reservations at a nearby restaurant called Bistrot de l’Oulette. Based on a recommendation from the friendly hotel receptionist, Eskender, and some good reviews found on Chowhound.com, we had a very memoralbe first meal. Are you ready?
We chose the bistro over the restaurant – same chef, lower price, less formal – and selected the fixed price menu for dinner – only 33€ for an entrée (starter), plat (main course), and dessert. Pretty good deal. I did not tell Boneless Rabbit (kept her in my purse) as I ordered Salade d’effiloché de lapin à l’estragon avec croûtons aux oignons rouges which basically translates to succulent shredded rabbit with tarrogon red onions on toasted bread. This had a very clean, fresh taste which the carmelized red onions on the toast went really well.
The other starter was a fantastic brick croustillant au fromage de chèvre avec crevettes et cumin – or to us heathens – crispy pastry filled with goat cheese and shrimp mixed with cumin. Délicieux…Ok, get ready for the main courses…
First up, what everyone on Chowhound raved about…Cassoulet maison aux confits. This was comforting bean stew with duck, pork, and sausages. Every cook who ever secretly called themselves a chef has tried to make Cassoulet – some succeed, many fail. This chef had it just right. Ted and I fought over this one. Warm, deep complex flavor, and good to the last spoonful.
But not to be outdone was the other main… Magret de canard rôti, jus au port. Duck breast with port. Say no more just move over and let me in. Even as good as that was, it was almost outshone by what accompanied it…the smell of the creamy potatoes au gratin was divine. It wafted up from the plate and made me just hum – yum. That dish we had to split evenly or there would have been a fight.
Even after all that great food, I still wasn’t sure we were in Paris. I need to see the Eiffel Tour in person. Then I’ll know.
But, sleep happens to weary, well fed, semi-tipsy travelers, so that must wait until Saturday.