Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spring has sprung...provisionally

Yesterday felt like spring. The sun was out although lingering clouds reminded us that they were in charge and could come back if they felt like it, so watch your step!

This flower shop had the latest spring fashions for sprites...fluttery dresses made of rose petals in your choice of colors.

The holiday pont, the long weekend after a mid-week holiday, makes clear the differences between tourist and residential areas in Paris. The Marais, Saint-Germain, the Champs Elysées are jammed with tourists, the sidewalks impassable. A few blocks away the streets are deserted, few cars driving, no trouble parking for those still here, and many cafés, shops and restaurants closed and shuttered.

We've gotten over jet lag more easily this time, maybe because we forgot to take the No Jet Lag pills we've been using for several years. Walking around the city we're reminded each visit why we love it so much. How could you not when the streetlamps look like this?

Shall we mention the food? We dropped in to le Comptoir de St-Germain the other evening and were lucky, a table on the sidewalk terrasse available right away (a few minutes later there was a line of hopefuls waiting). We had foie gras on toast and a boite of marinated sardines served with algae butter, followed by petit salé de joue de porcelet (a small casserole of pork cheeks with lentils, yum!) and my favorite main there, cochon de lait, a slice of suckling pig, also served with delicious sweet lentils. Ths restaurant gets a lot of press and has a lot of foreign customers, but the quality has not dropped; it's one of our favorites and we try to come at least once each visit.

On May 1 an open restaurant was hard to find. We had planned to go to a Senegalese place in the Marais, owned by someone Martine knows, that she wanted to try but it was closed, as were many others. We wound up with Martine, Yves and Odile at Casa Bini, a Tuscan place near Odéon and had a great meal of very fresh vegetables and pasta and fish in good company. (Martine, who is very involved with French Socialist Party politics, is a big fan of Barack Obama and was happy to have the campaign sticker and pin I brought her. The pin went right on her coat immediately.)

Last night we wanted to stay in the neighborhood for a simple meal and wound up at Les Fines Gueules near Place des Victoires, a wine bar that distinguishes itself by serving impeccably fresh simple food sourced from the best names among local producers. We had a terrine of fish with leeks and eggs baked with barely smoked haddock to start (here's the terrine de poissons, discreetly snapped for your edification) and shrimp Provencale and a gorgeous hand chopped tartare de boeuf. Dessert was an entire peeled poached peach (can you say that 3 times, fast?) with a sauce of caramel laitier, a milky unctuous cream. A stroll back home and we were happy campers.

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